Category Archives: Op-Ed

Five things you can do today to improve your photography

Lincoln Memorial at twilight, Washingon, DC.
Lincoln Memorial at twilight, Washingon, DC. This shot would be impossible without a tripod.

Want to get better at photography? Then here’s a quick list of some things you can do right now to start getting better.

  1. Step away from the gear forums and the endless debates over what the best camera/lens is and just use the gear you have. All the online advice in the world is no substitute for getting out there and capturing images.
  2. Get a good tripod and ball head, and use it. Yes, the tripod can be cumbersome at times, but the degrees of freedom it offers you in terms of creative options are worth it. With a tripod, you can capture long exposures that would be impossible to do hand-held. Plus, using the tripod will force you to slow down and think about your shots more.
  3. Learn to shoot RAW. Even if you aren’t a master of post-processing, shooting RAW today means that you’ll be able to have maximum flexibility with your images down the road. Since RAW editing software continues to improve, you’ll be able to use new tools on your old shots and get great results.
  4. Practice zooming with your feet. Use either a fixed focal length lens, or put some gaffer’s tape on your zoom ring. You’ll get a feel for perspective and composition, and it will force you to try new angles.
  5. Get out of Program Mode and tell your camera that you’re in control. Try using Aperture-priority metering to control depth of field. Compare images captured wide-open (low f-number) with those captured while stopped down (high f-number). Use auto ISO if you’re shooting hand-held so that you can get sharp images, or use your tripod for the best results.

Happy shooting!

Choosing the glass that’s best for you

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 AFS G lens is part of the “holy trinity” of FX lenses. Should it and its brothers be in your bag?

It’s shopping season again, and I want to talk a little about that obsession we have with camera lenses. Often times, you’ll hear, “get the best glass, you won’t regret it.” This is certainly the case in terms of total image quality, but is it practical advice? I mean, there are entire websites devoted to the minutia of MTF charts and brick-wall photos trying to convince us which lenses are the best, and which are marginal. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, especially when going through my images and examining my gear needs as they have evolved. Continue reading

A few more thoughts on Nikon Capture NX-D

This is what happens when using Capture NX-D for more than 30 seconds.
This is what happens when using Capture NX-D for more than 30 seconds.

I managed to get the beta of Nikon’s Capture NX-D working again briefly. For some reason, it did not like working with files that weren’t in my home directory (I keep my images on a separate external drive).

Between reader comments and playing around more with the software, I’ve discovered a few more tidbits, some of which I’ve added to my previous post.

To add to the list of missing features:

  • Effect opacity
  • Auto Retouch Brush
  • Lasso Tool

So you won’t be able to do ANY retouching in CNX-D Continue reading

Nikon Capture NX-D: The end of Capture NX as we know it

Nikon Capture NX-D: A return to 2004 RAW editing workflow.
Nikon Capture NX-D: A return to 2004 RAW editing workflow. I made this screen capture before the beta software stopped working on my Mac Pro.

Along with the Nikon D4s announcement, Nikon yesterday also announced a long-awaited upgrade to Capture NX2. Called Capture NX-D, this Nikon RAW converter is being offered for download while in beta form. Public beta testing is something Nikon has been reluctant do to in the past, and it’s something I applaud them for. I downloaded the beta of Capture NX-D to see what it would do. Unfortunately, it is clear to me that this new product is more notable for what it lacks than what it offers. Continue reading

Busting Nikon D800 Myths: Is Abject Fear Stifling Your Creativity?

Sweeping skies over Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Nikon D800e with 16-35mm Nikkor lens, 74s@ f/22, ISO 100.
Sweeping skies over Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Nikon D800e with 16-35mm Nikkor lens and Singh-Ray 10-stop solid ND filter; 74s@ f/22, ISO 100. According to the Internet, I should not have used these settings with this camera (Click for a larger view).

I have a Nikon D800e. It’s an amazing camera and I love using it. Maybe you have one, too. But if you handle the camera based on some of the sage advice offered up around the interwebs, you might be missing out. While the advice, from a pure technical standpoint, might be valid, it might also be causing you unnecessary stress. Let’s take a look at three common technical warnings for D800 users.

Continue reading