I shot the below image of the Maroon Bells in Aspen last weekend. What camera do you think I used to capture this photograph?
During my last trip to Florida, I was fortunate to attend Carlos Santana‘s concert, during which I had a good opportunity to take pictures and video with Nikon D3s DSLR and Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens. As I have pointed out in my previous D3s articles, the performance of Nikon D3s in low light environments is incredible.
Take a look at the following shot of Santana:
I was not really planning on photographing the fireworks on July 4th, because I was enjoying a short vacation with my family at Glenwood Springs. When I was told that the fireworks would be fired from an open area behind the hotel where we were staying (less than several hundred feet away), I decided to take the challenge and see if I could capture anything interesting from that close of a distance. As I pointed out in my how to photograph fireworks article, it is generally not a good idea to stand too close to fireworks. I wanted to see what other challenges I would face, considering that I only had two lenses with me – Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, shooting on an FX body.
Do you know that Lightroom 3 can now easily fix geometric distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting issues in your images without having to open Photoshop? In this article, I will show you how to fix lens issues in your photographs, in addition to adding a lens profile to Lightroom 3 if your lens is not supported by Lightroom’s Camera RAW.
1) What is Lens Correction in Lightroom 3?
Lens Correction, also known as “Distortion Correction”, is a brand new feature that was introduced in Lightroom 3 to allow photographers to fix such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. This is a great addition to Lightroom, since all of the above had to be manually performed in Photoshop using a Lens Correction filter, which was a rather tedious task (especially for a large number of images). The beauty of the lens correction feature in Lightroom 3, is that just like any other setting, lens correction settings can be copied from one image to another, or applied to hundreds of images at once without having to open each image individually. Take a look at the following image that was taken with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens:
Move your mouse over and out of the image to see what it looks like before and after Lens Correction is applied to the image. The curves around the edges are straightened and the building looks more natural. This is not an extreme case with distortion, but you get the idea. The corner darkness (vignetting) is also taken care of.
Wondering about how to photograph fireworks on 4th of July, New Year or some other event / occasion? In this quick article, I will provide some basic tips on how to best capture fireworks, what type of equipment to use and what camera settings to use during the process. Although the process is relatively simple, there are some things that might be worth considering, as outlined below.
Less than a month is left until Scott Kelby’s 2010 Worldwide PhotoWalk takes place on July 24th. With close to a thousand photo walks all over the world and almost 20 thousand participants, this annual event is the largest photo event in the world. This year is my third year leading a photo walk and because I have some experience with the process, I wanted to point out the reasons why you should join a photo walk near you. Just for clarification, I am not here to advertise Scott Kelby or his websites – I do not get any commission from him or his affiliates, this is purely my personal opinion and my suggestion.
Reasons to join a Photo Walk
- It is free – that’s right, you just need to sign up to an existing Photo Walk and show up. No surprises here.
- Minimum requirements – you don’t need a fancy DSLR to participate in the Photo Walk. You can take pictures with your iPhone or your point and shoot and you won’t be judged by others.
- Have fun – going to a photo shoot with photographers like you is a lot of fun, even if you do not know anybody. The Photo Walk ends in a local restaurant, where you will not only enjoy great food, but also get to share your photographs and make many new friends. Overall, the Photo Walk is all about having fun!
- Learn – depending on the size of your Photo Walk, in most cases you will find at least one knowledgeable photographer who is ready to share his/her knowledge with others. I have personally learned a lot from other photographers and other participants also found the Photo Walk to be a good learning experience. Think of a Photo Walk as a mini workshop, where everybody gets to learn.
- Network – getting to know other photographers by asking questions is a great way to network with people, especially if you have plans to become a pro someday. Exchange business cards and get connected with others through Email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – who knows, maybe you will partner with some of them in the future.
- Review photo gear – what happens when many photographers meet in one place? They obviously discuss their equipment :) During my last two Photo Walks, it was great to see that most people did not mind sharing their equipment with others and giving honest opinions about their gear. One of my good friends showed up with a fisheye lens last year, after borrowing it from another participant and trying it out during the 2008 Photo Walk.
- Try a different style – photographing streets and people is fun, something I am definitely not good at. The Photo Walk is all about street photography, so if you have never tried it before, now is your chance to try something different. Besides being a good learning experience, it is also a great opportunity to reevaluate your photography style.
- Great prizes – while the Photo Walk is not about winning a prize, if Scott Kelby likes you picture, you might get rewarded with a grand prize (which was worth $11,000 last year) or “honorable mention”. If your image does not make it to Scott Kelby’s favorites, you might be chosen by your Photo Walk leader, in which case you will get one of Scott Kelby’s books as a prize.
This article is about birding in Florida, where I will share my birding photography techniques and discuss some of the best birding spots in Central Florida, near Orlando. The below pictures are from my most recent trip to Orlando – the best bird images can be found in my Bird Gallery.
I have just finished reviewing images from my recent trip to Orlando and I will be posting some images of birds tomorrow. I figured it is a good time to do it now, since I will be heading back to Orlando next week again. Here is one of my favorite shots:
This above image was shot with the Nikon D3s + Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens with a Nikon 1.4x TC @ 420mm. To freeze the bird in flight, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/1600 of a second at f/5.6 aperture (wide open with the 1.4x TC). ISO was set to “Auto ISO” with minimum shutter speed set to 1/1600 and maximum ISO set to 6400 and I shot in Aperture Priority mode. As for metering, I used spot metering – my normal metering mode when shooting birds.
In this fourth issue of the Photography FAQ, I will focus on Nikon-specific questions that have been sent by our readers. Big thanks to our readers for continuously sending questions to us and participating in the comments section of our blog. We truly value your feedback and we do our best to respond to your queries as soon as we can.
- Should I enable Active D-Lighting on my Nikon DSLR?
It depends on whether you shoot in JPEG or RAW format. If you shoot JPEG, then yes, I would certainly recommend enabling Active D-Lighting. Use “Auto” setting, if it is available. If “Auto” is not available, then use “Normal”, which should work well for most situations. However, if you shoot in RAW format, then enabling Active D-Lighting is only going to be useful if you use Nikon’s Capture NX software. If you use Lightroom or some other third party application for post-processing your images, then Active D-Lighting is a useless overhead that you do not need – it will only darken your images a little. The reason why this happens, is because Active D-Lighting is essentially a tone curve applied to a RAW image in Nikon’s proprietary format. Current Adobe products are unable to read this data, so they automatically discard such data as Active D-Lighting, sharpening, color saturation, etc.
- I have a Nikon D80 that I have been using for a while and I was wondering if the D5000 represents a step down from what I currently have?
Yes. While Nikon D5000 might seem like an upgrade for a D80 user, it is actually a lower-class camera. Nikon D5000 is an upper-entry-level camera, while Nikon D80 is a semi-professional camera that has more features (almost twice as many custom functions) than D5000. If you are currently using the Nikon D80, then you should be looking at D90 if you want to upgrade. A more detailed comparison of features can be found in my Nikon D5000 vs D90 article.
- Do you have any information on when an upgrade to Nikon D90 is supposed to be released? Will it happen this year?
I get this question a lot. If you look at Nikon’s release schedule in the past, then yes, there should be an update to Nikon D90 at the end of this summer. However, nobody can tell you for sure, because the information is kept in secret and Nikon makes select people sign special “non-disclosure agreements” (NDA) before they can see any of the unannounced products. I personally do have a problem with a possible summer update of D90 and I think that it is not going to happen. Why? Because Nikon has not released a new sensor on the professional DX line this year. Nikon released the D300s, but it uses the same sensor as in D300. This does matter, because historically, Nikon released semi-professional DX cameras only after a major update to the professional DX cameras (D80 came out after D200 and used the same sensor, D90 came out after D300, same sensor). So, if an update to D90 does come out this summer, would Nikon reuse the same sensor as in the current D90? I don’t think so, it just wouldn’t make much sense. Adding more features to D90 is also not a good option, since Nikon would not want to threaten the current D300s sales with a more capable D90.
NOTE: Nikon D7000 has been announced, no D90 update is planned for 2010.
- What about an update to Nikon D700?
Everybody was hoping for a Nikon D700s or Nikon D700x this spring, but it didn’t happen. Since Nikon D3s has a brand new sensor, a Nikon D700s would make the most sense. The Nikon D700 was released on July 1, 2008, so there could be a Nikon D700s announcement in July or later in the year (most likely November announcement for general availability before Christmas), but again, it is just a mere guess. There is also a possibility that it will not happen at all this year, due to Nikon’s financial situation. I hope Nikon understands that a lot of people are waiting for a D700s/D700x release – it will surely be a hot seller, especially in the wedding photography business.
- You recommend Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX and Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lenses for low-light situations. If I have a room lit with just candle light, can those lenses create good, acceptably sharp images?
If you are shooting hand-held in a candle-lit room, then no, neither the 35mm f/1.8, nor the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 would help. Remember, there is a big difference between low-light and dark. Candle light is dark. What I consider low-light is your typical indoors light in your room, with one or more 60-100W light bulbs. Also, don’t forget that focusing with a camera in low-light situations is extremely difficult and even though you might get a camera shake-free image, it could be soft due to bad focus. If you have a camera with good high ISO performance like the Nikon D700/D3 or D3s, then you could certainly bump up ISO to a really high number and get acceptably sharp images, but you would once again have to watch for possible focusing problems. Having fast-aperture lenses does not mean that you can photograph night scenes by just hand-holding the camera.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
If you convert RAW files to DNG as a part of your workflow in Lightroom like I do, you probably get frustrated with the fact that Windows does not display DNG image thumbnails or let you view files in Windows Photo Viewer. Windows by default does now know how to read DNG files and the only operating system today that has some support from Adobe, is Windows Vista. Adobe officially released a 32-bit DNG codec for Windows Vista, but it does not work with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows XP or Windows 7, making it pretty worthless. Gladly, there are a couple of workarounds to get all Windows operating systems to display DNG thumbnails and open them in Windows Photo Viewer and I will show you how to do that in this quick article.
DNG support in Windows XP
Interestingly, Windows XP (32-bit) comes with full DNG support, but it needs to be activated from the Windows registry. If you are running Windows XP, here is what you need to do:
- Download this registry file and save it on your desktop
- Double-click the file, which will ask you to confirm if you want to add entries to your registry. Click “Yes”, which then will modify the registry as needed.
- Reboot the computer.
- Go to a folder with DNG files and switch to thumbnail view. Verify that you can see the thumbnails, as you can see with JPEG files.
- Delete the downloaded registry file from your desktop.