Saturday, September 24, 2011

Black Sand Diva

Arli Liberman on guitar, Jason Orme on drums
Very challenging lighting last night at the Toolroom.  All stage lights were floor mounted and significant areas of the stage were quite dark.  Quite a challenge for the autofocus on the Nikkor 35mm f1.4G and I must admit to resorting to manual focus on several occasions.

Shadows were pretty strong and I found it really quite difficult to get the lighting right.  I decided to expose for the musicians face, but this hasn't always worked.  Take a look at the second shot in this image and you'll perhaps see what I mean.  Jason looks quite "stark" in this shot and much of his surroundings are quite dark.  Frustrating?  I suppose it was a bit, but the music was great and Arli was, as usual, superb.
Jason Orme on the drums.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A bit of something nice ...

Kowhai, 35mm f1.4G wide open.
Preparing for a session with Cat Tunks at Titirangi's Hardware cafe I've managed to borrow to lovely Nikkor 35mm f1.4.  I'd taken a few shots in the Toolroom at the Hardware cafe a few months ago as part of the Titirangi music festival.  Light was a problem then.  Well, light and the somewhat cramped environment in which the musicians performed.  I'd used my 50mm f1.8 last time, but this time fancied something a little faster, and also something that would be sharp with the lens open.  My 50mm f1.8 is a great lens, but isn't the sharpest at f1.8.  The 85mm f1.4 I was playing with last week was quite lovely even wide open, but would be a little long for the cramped environment of the Toolroom.

So there you go, that's why I've got the 35mm f1.4.  I intend using just this one lens at Cat's performance tonight at the Toolroom, but will it be as sharp as I hope?

Off into the garden again to have a little play and come to terms with the lens.

First shot in this post is of the kowhai blooms at the top of my driveway.  Really quite lovely flowers and the setting sun has given a wonderful golden glow to the flowers.  Nice and sharp, quite shallow depth of field and the bokeh effect isn't too bad.  For me, not as pleasing as with the 85mm f1.4, but that's OK.
Weeds!  35mm f1.4G, wide open
Still keen to see how sharp this lens is wide open, curious about the bokeh and intrigued by how close I could focus we now get the second shot.  These are some weeds in the lawn by the garage door.  I was quite pleased here.  I can see the hairs on the flower stems, but there's some quite nice blur both in the foreground and background.  This shot was focused manually as I was having a few problems with the autofocus whilst so close to the weeds.

Right, now all I need to do is get something to eat, have a wash, get changed and drive over to the Toolroom.  I'll post some more photos of Cat and the band later today or tomorrow ... depends how much fun I'm having!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A bit more fun ;-)

Hard not to have fun with this stunning piece of glass!

I headed off to Auckland's Botanic Gardens on Saturday morning, set the aperture to f1.4, ISO 200 and aperture priority mode on my D300.  First shot in this post is of a kowhai bloom.  Just look at the way the 85mm lens blurs the background.  Gorgeous!  Well, I think so anyway.  I thought the image was quite sharp considering the lens was wide open.

Second shot in this post was again an attempt to see how the lens blurs the background.  This shot has a couple of kowhai trees in the background in full bloom providing the yellow haze to the pink cherry blossom.  Again, main subject nice and sharp and a lovely smooth blurry background.  This lens really is a gem.

The third shot was taken at f5.6.  It was such a bright day that at ISO 200 and f1.4 1/8000sec wasn't fast enough!  This shot is lovely and crisp and only convinces me more that this is a quality piece of equipment.

Last shot was taken at f16, which is the smallest aperture the lens affords.  Nine aperture blades help with the lovely boken effects I've noticed in previous shots, but now, just look at those highlights and the star burst effects.  Dream lens?  I suspect you know what I think.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nikkor 85mm f1.4G

Meryl Cassie (ISO 1250, f1.4, 1/250)
I was right.  This really is a dream lens.  It's a light magnet!  It's quite sharp wide open and it's an absolute joy to use.  I went out to see Contagious last night at the Cock and Bull.  They have pretty good lighting, but I wanted a reasonable shutter speed so was choosing ISOs in the range 800 through to 1600.  Aperture, well, that remained fixed on f1.4!  Even wide open the lens remained sharp ... surprisingly so.  I'd taken a few shots in the garden earlier in the day ... you may remember these from the previous post, and to be honest I suppose I was kind of expecting a bit of softness to the images.  Well, the lens well exceeded my expectations.  This lens is fast, sharp, has wonderful bokeh and behaves well with colour and point light sources.  Dream lens?  Never has a truer word spoken.

Anyway, I've added a few shots here for you to look at.  Each shot has been reduced in size, but apart from having the watermark and converting to JPEG there's no changes made to the image.

I must admit to being quite fond of the shot of Brett Robertson (second shot in the post).  I've never really found it too easy to get a shot of Brett, but the blur this lens has achieved has really helped make him pop out from the background.

There's only a few images in this post so if you'd like to see more perhaps head off here to my Facebook Page.  You might "Like" what you see.
Brett Robertson (ISO 800, F1.4, 1/100)

Meryl Cassie in some pretty strong green light! (ISO 800, f1.4, 1/125)

Terrance Guillard (ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/200)

Carlos Cameron (ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/100) 

Carlos Cameron (ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/80)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dream lens?

I feel extremely privileged to have been loaned this gorgeous lens.  Heavy, well perhaps, but I'm not finding weight an issue at all just now.  I really wanted to try the lens in low light situations shooting the bands.  What with all the paraphernalia littering the stage a wide aperture helps blur these into obscurity whilst enabling a lower ISO or higher shutter speed to be achieved.  I've been using my 50mm f1.8 which is nice and sharp when I get up above f2.8, but how would I fair with an f1.4 lens ... and wide open?  I should be able to tell you later tonight.
Unable to resist having a bit of a play with the lens, and somewhat desperate to see what type of bokeh I could achieve with this prime lens I headed out to the garden.  I haven't applied any colour changes, white balance changes or sharpening to any of the images ... just added a watermark and cropped a couple slightly.

First shot is of kowhai tree flowers at the head of my driveway.  It was a tad breezy, so the flowers are not as sharp as I'd have liked, but it was the background I was interested in.  Is that a lovely blur or what?  Depth of field is very shallow as you'd expect at f1.4, so that may be a challenge tonight with the band!
Second shot is of some Asian Cherry blossom also on my driveway.  Again I was looking for the background blur and this is perhaps not the best of shots.  Good detail in the foreground branch, flowers not as sharp as I'd have liked, but the lens was really showing its quality with the colour rendition and foreground sharpness.  I was starting to become very fond of this lens.  Very fond indeed!

Remember it was quite breezy this evening which caused the blooms to move about a bit.  I was also keen to persist with f1.4 and you can see just how shallow the depth of field is as you work your way along the branch.  Should be a challenge with the band tonight.  Mind you, the lens focusses VERY quickly indeed and with virtually no noise at all. Very sweet indeed.

My final shot is of a daffodil in my front garden.  Still shooting at f1.4 but again the bloom itself seems a tad soft.  This may well be due to me in an excited state romping around the front garden and shooting anything that looked vaguely colourful!  Depth of field is wonderful as is the blur of the lichen covered tree to the right.  The lens is clearly a quality optic.  I just hope I can achieve something worthwhile when I go to see the band tonight ... just couldn't resist taking a few shots in the garden before I head out.  Perhaps I'll catch you back here later tonight with some low light shots from the band along with some more feedback on the Nikkor 85mm f1.4G

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tuis in the garden

Really felt pretty rough today, but the tuis feeding on the cherry blossom was a pleasant distraction from the headaches.  I was quite amazed with how many tuis came into the tree.  It was hard to count them all as they can be quite boisterous and leap around from branch to branch.  Anyway, my son managed the shots you see here.  All shot with a Nikon P500.  Quite impressive really.  The lens was at maximum zoom and aperture was wide open if memory serves me.  ISO was 160 and shutter speed was down around 1/125 or so.  I was quite impressed with the results.  Perhaps let me know what you think?
Anyway, the birds were between 20 and 30 metres away from where we were.  I was sitting on a chair, engrossed with the birds' activity whilst my son captured the images with camera mounted on a tripod.  A little further up the garden are some kowhai trees, so we may try to get some shots of the tuis in those trees  over the next few days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony

In case you hadn't heard, the 2011 Rugby World Cup is being held here in New Zealand.  New Zealand has been preparing for this event for the last few years and with great excitement and anticipation the event opened on Friday.  It has been great to see people preparing for the games with flags of the various nations on buildings, cars and even people's faces.  Part of the opening ceremony was an impressive firework display from barges in the harbour and a number of buildings in the city.  I headed up Mount Hobson to get a few shots along with a few hundred other people!  The atmosphere was great.  People just keen to have a good time.  Very friendly and great fun.  I just hope this continues throughout the event.

With the fireworks over we enjoyed searchlights streaking light through the smoke from the hundreds and thousands of fireworks that made up the display.  Quite amazing how much money is spent on the fireworks and how quickly the show is over.  Anyway, VERY impressive and I think everyone enjoyed the show.

The match on the opening night?  New Zealand vs Tonga.  The winners?  New Zealand's All Blacks of course ;-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Father's Day!

One of my favorite days in the year today ... Father's Day.  Lovely sunny day, blue skies and the family around to make it special.  Just opened the bottle of wine you see in the image to the left ... smells gorgeous!  A Malbec wine that promises some intense flavours.  I'd always associated Malbec with South America ... Argentina in particular.  Anyweay, this particular bottle holds a New Zealand variety and I'm really quite excited to see how it tastes.

I'll let you know what I think ... I suspect I'll like it and will be heading off for a few more bottles before they're sold out!