Rodney Campbell's Blog

Archive for May, 2010

Autumn Leaves…

by on May.29, 2010, under Life, Photography

Well Autumn is here in force (at least down here in Australia) and it is a great time to get out and take some shots of the interesting colours and textures in the turning and falling leaves…

The following were all taken with my Nikon D90 and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

I hadn’t taken this lens out for much of a spin since I bought it a few months ago. However I figured it would pay dividends to force myself to use such a restrictive single focal length (on my camera this 50mm is essentially a short telephoto 75mm equivalent) which would force me to actually move my feet and compose shots (rather than simply use the zoom). For a significant part of the last day of the music camp from last weekend (also dictated by shooting a lot indoors so the fast glass @ f/1.8 helped) and also for an entire day now I’ve stuck with this single prime lens.

Some of the portraits I was able to take (@ f/3.2 & f/4 for instance) were fantastic and razor sharp. I’ve been very pleased with the results from this bargain lens (it only costs AUD$165).

What follows however were some of my shots of the Autumn leaves:

1/125 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200, 75mm equiv


1/400 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200, 75mm equiv

The following is my youngest daughter and a friend running through the fallen leaves at our local school – must be fun to be a child :). I could have used a smaller aperture (like f/8) to try and get both girls in focus (and it was hard enough to focus as it was 🙂 ) but I needed a decent shutter speed to stop the girls running and I desperately wanted to blur both the foreground and especially background. I’d love to retry this shot at another time with my neighbours new toy (the beautiful Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f2.8 macro).

1/400 sec at f/3.2, ISO 200, 75mm equiv

I took the following in late afternoon (5PM – which is just before sunset at this time of year) and tried to get a silhouette of the row of trees with the ribbons of golden sunset clouds in the sky behind. I’m not quite sure whether I like the shot or not – I guess I’ll leave it to the viewer to judge:

1/60 sec at f/9, ISO 320, 75mm equiv

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Music is the Rhythm of Life…

by on May.24, 2010, under Life, Photography

My daughter recently attended her schools annual music camp and I was fortunate to be able to indulge my photographic passion by documenting the event. The vast majority of the shots were of the children and their instruments however I did take a few ‘artistic’ photos during the weekend.

All the shots are taken with my Nikon D90 and most of the below were using my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens.

First up are some macro shots of instruments. This first a close up of part of a flute taken handheld (both the camera and flute):

1/160 sec at f/4.5, ISO 200, 135mm equiv

and this second is a violin handheld macro with my SB-600 flash wirelessly triggered to camera left and bouncing off the ceiling:

1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 135mm equiv

The next macro is a very close up of the eye of one of my daughters friends. Again this is handheld and was extremely hard to take – both the subject and camera were moving slightly of course and the front of the lens practically touching the subjects face. With a depth of field that was probably less than a millimetre deep is was nearly impossible to get the lens perpendicular to the eye and the surface of the eye to be tack sharp in focus. I ended up taking about 20 or more shots to get this one which gives a good result.

1/200 sec at f/4.5, ISO 200, 135mm equiv

Reflected portraits of three girls all wearing red. I took the shot facing down at the puddle of water filled with autumn leaves with the three girls on the other side looking down as well – I then flipped the image vertically and you get:

1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 640, 135mm equiv

The one shot here not taken with the Tamron 90mm – instead this was taken with my Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens racked out at 200mm. It was taken facing up into the tree with the bright sky behind (candidate for CA here) with the afternoon sun above and to the right:

1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200, 300mm equiv

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City Shooting with the Sigma 8-16mm…

by on May.20, 2010, under Life, Photography

I took the opportunity at lunchtime today to have a little wander in the city near my office and take some shots with the D90 + Sigma 8-16mm UWA lens.

Firstly some shots inside the Queen Victoria Building and the things that spring to mind immediately here are the colour vibrancy and the relatively low noise levels even at ISO 3200 (I did perform some noise reduction on these which has smoothed the flat areas of colour more however even before doing this they were remarkably good for such a high ISO level).

1/60 sec at f/6.3, ISO 3200, 12mm equiv


1/40 sec at f/8, ISO 3200, 12mm equiv


1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 3200, 12mm equiv


1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 800, 12mm equiv

Now outside the QVB

1/80 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

The following is a shot almost directly upwards of the Centrepoint tower taken from the Pitt St mall. This is an HDR that I’ve processed out of three shots taken at 0, -2 and +2EV.

1/100 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

This last shot is taken down the centre pathway in the middle of Hyde Park.

1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 640, 12mm equiv

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Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM UWA Lens at Night…

by on May.16, 2010, under Life, Photography

Last night I took my new Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM UWA Lens for spin down on Sydney Harbour – and this time I took my Manfrotto tripod with me for some decent support with these very long exposures. It also allowed me to make use of my ML-L3 wireless remote control.

I grabbed this first shot on the way down to the harbour – some light trails work above the freeway heading towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge near North Sydney.

15 sec at f/16, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

This first shot is a straight single shot long exposure (123 seconds!) – the massively wide angle of view allowed me to take in both the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the Sydney city skyline around to the Sydney Opera House on the left.

123 sec at f/11, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

and now for an HDR version which was processed from the merging of four separate manual exposures. All were taken at ISO 200 and f/8 @ 8mm (12mm equiv) but with manual bulb shutter speeds of 16, 29, 57 and 112 seconds.

16-112 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

the following is another HDR taken from just in front of Luna Park and is one of my favourites from the evening and is composed of three exposures taken at ISO 200 and f/9 @ 8mm (12mm equiv) but with manual bulb shutter speeds of 16, 32 and 61 seconds.

16-61 sec at f/9, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

Another HDR taken practically under the bridge and is composed of three exposures taken at ISO 200 and f/9 @ 8mm (12mm equiv) but with manual bulb shutter speeds of 16, 31 and 76 seconds.

16-76 sec at f/9, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

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Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM UWA Lens Review & Samples…

by on May.16, 2010, under Life, Photography

I’ve had my new Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM UWA Lens for a few days now and have left just this lens on the camera and taken a number of shots with my Nikon D90. I’ve pretty much taken almost all of the shots at maximum wide (8mm – which equates to 12mm equivalent on my 1.5x crop sensor) to exaggerate it’s effect for each purpose.

The first shot below was taken to show both some perspective distortion and close focusing as well as how the lens would fare from a chromatic aberration (CA) point of view. CA would appear as colour fringing (a sort of purple or green halo around the boundaries between very light and dark transitions in a photo). One of the new technologies touted with this new lens is Sigma’s new FLD glass elements (four of them), which Sigma claim have the performance equal to fluorite glass (which is only found in the most expensive of lenses) to compensate for colour aberration.

This shot was taken with me lying on the ground and facing the camera up to the sky with the girls leaning in close to the lens above me – it does show that the closer to the centre the less distortion and the closer you get to the edges the more distorted the view. I needed to expose for the girls faces which were pretty shadowed facing down and this resulted in totally blowing the sky as expected. I only had a moment to take the shot before they’d all run off however the HSM focusing was fast and accurate and the CA seems to be reasonably well restrained even under these most extreme of conditions.

1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 640, 12mm equiv

The next shot after is probably a more typical shot where you might see problems with CA with lots of leaves against the bright sky and even at 300% I can’t really detect anything I’d be worried about.

1/160 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

In the following shot the hard afternoon light (after 4PM) is streaming in from just to the right of frame behind her hair which does introduce some lens flare – then again I’m almost pointing the lens into the sun so…. Again I’m fairly close to her which has provided distortion and the beginnings of some background blur even at f/8 @ 8mm.

1/100 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

The following image is an HDR I processed out of three bracketed shots at 0, -2 and +2 EV. This shot has actually turned out as well or even better than I might have hoped so I’m pretty happy with the result.

1/125 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 12mm equiv

Some more perspective distortion shots of the girls – big feet and big heads are always good for a laugh.

1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 400, 12mm equiv


1/60 sec at f/8, ISO 720, 12mm equiv

Thus far I’ve been pleasantly surprised and happy with the new purchase.

I had been expecting to see some fairly significant vignetting (darkened corners of the photograph) especially at the wide angle end and if you take the camera at 8mm indoors and point towards a white wall you can fairly easily see that the corners of the frame are darker so vignetting is definitely there. However in real world use I didn’t see a lot of obvious corner darkening in my everyday shots so I’m more than happy with the actual use.

Another thing I tried but didn’t include shots of here were photos taken indoors of rooms with my SB-600 flash with the diffuser at maximum wide and bounced off the ceiling for maximum spread (still not enough to cover the lens field of view but good enough 🙂 ). Basically you can stand near a corner and the frame will take in both walls leading away from you and the whole room (making it seem stadium sized).

It appears to be sharper than I had been expecting for such a wide and distorting lens (I’ve yet to take any shots wide open so will reserve judgment under f/8). The HSM focusing mechanism has been fast, quiet and accurate in all lighting conditions I’ve used it in so far.

The lack of VC (Vibration Control – or VR in Nikon parlance) is probably pretty much irrelevant at these focal lengths and for the purposes I’m likely to use the lens for.

I’m very happy with the build quality so far – it feels solidly built with no loose parts and the the zoom and focus rings are smooth to use.

In my next post I’ll cover a number of long exposures I took with the lens last night down on Sydney Harbour.

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