Monday, November 23, 2015

Supercross Cup 2015

I was hoping that it would rain and got nasty.  Alas, that didn't happen.  It was more like diffused sunlight.  No hard shadow.  It was actually quite ideal for photo taking especially if you are into soft skin tone and all.  But it could also mean flat and lack of contrast lighting.  It becomes a challenge when I want to shoot at 1/2000s and maintain an ISO of 800 or so as light fades in mid afternoon and under the shade.

My technique, I do have some, is
(1) to shoot high shutter speed at 1/1000 or above.  Aperture f/2.8.  Try to maintain low ISO.
(2) to shoot low shutter speed at 1/125 or slower and pan, Aperture can be as small as the camera thinks it should be.  Lowest ISO possible.
(3) to shoot with a flash, rear sync, pan at 1/125s and f/8.  I use my Sunpak 120J at 1/8 of manual power, ISO 400.  Add or remove power for taste via settings, just like cooking.

My D7000 and Speedlight were basically destroyed by last year's cross because of water damage.  I paid a hefty fee for Nikon to fix them.

The D7000 is more responsive to the D700.  The shutter is definitely faster.  But, there is always a but, the D7000 seems to have a smaller buffer so it's fast but after a burst of some shots, say four, I can't shoot any more as the camera struggles to clear the buffer for the next shot.  The D700 is a bit slower and I haven't experienced similar episode with the D700 yet.  I like the D700 tone and color better.  The D7000 feels a bit flat.  The D7000 probably can use some post processing.  But.

The pictures could be found across the usual social media.  I don't want to subject my readers to further eyesores.


Both of my D7000 and D700 are capable cameras, and they can shoot reasonably high frame rate, around 5 I think.  I shot 1960 frames between 10:30 to 3:30.  Imagine if I have a D4s, I can't imagine how many frames I have to go through when editing.  It's just a nightmare.  The D700 and the D7000 files are all that big even when shooting raw NEF files.  The new Nikon prosumer models are now 24MB to 36MB, more pixels more storage and I guess more processing power.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Everybody takes photographs in his own way.  There is really no right or wrong ways.  Of course, I am just lying.

For most of my cycling shots, I prefer to shoot at 1/1000s or higher; if I can shoot at 1/2000s or 1/3000s, that's even merrier unless of course when I want to pan my shots then a 1/125s would be acceptable or even desirable.

Most of my shots are done with my 80-200 or 70-200 lens.  In terms of f-stop I have no problem using f/2.8 so I can have higher shutter speed and shallow depth of field, not necessarily bokeh for bokeh's sake but to isolate the subject.

I used to shoot almost exclusively in aperture priority(A or Av, not adult video) whether action or non action.  Now I shoot a mix of shutter priority(S or Tv, not television), aperture priority(A) and manual exposure(M).  For the life of me, I could not figure out why someone shoots in program mode all the time.  Unless of course you don't care much about shutter speed or aperture or ISO or their combination.  There are situations when shooting program is kind of acceptable I guess.  Shots you don't care, like shots of family members or friends.  Or shots that shutter speed or aperture or depth of field don't matter.  Or when I shoot fill flash.  Anyway.  Seriously, I can't fathom myself shooting in program mode most of the time.  I can't give up controlling at least one parameter.  I control the aperture and let the camera control the shutter.  I control the shutter and I let the camera control the aperture.  I can't let the camera control every possible parameter even with some idea of where those parameters would be.  Shooting manual gives the most consistent result and sometimes it's really the preferred way assuming the lighting doesn't change the duration you use the same setting from shot to shot.

Of course, it's your camera, your pictures, you shoot however way you desire.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hai-Tien Chorus Live at the Flushing Public Library on Main Street

This was shot with my D7000 at 24fps 1/50 and f/3.5.  I suppose I should have or could have shot it at f/4.  I thought people in general like their video bright.  I put the camera on my trusty tripod and ball head.  Not the best for video but hey what's the best anyway?

For stills, I use the D700.  I brought my two Sunpak 120J with two light stands and radio transmitter and receivers--I tend to overdo things.  In the end, I just used one 120J for a handful of shots in the end, powered by the power pack.  It was a minor struggle as I had to juggle with the camera and flash settings.  I guess one always has to struggle when shooting events and there is little time for preparation or prior experience.

The video is just straight out of the camera.  The 20 minutes recording time is not too bad, it's an inconvenience but not a show stopper.  Again, I accept that and work around it.  I don't have one single song that lasts long than that hard limit.  Even I didn't know the program details prior but it wasn't too bad.

The 20-35 is wide so I have no problem taking in the whole stage.  On the other hand, the 70-200 is too long especially on a DX body for this purpose.  The 70-200 was with my D700 for stills.  I did use the 16-35 for the group shot in the end and some super wide shots close the stage shots.  The only drawback of shooting the 20-35 is that there is no way I can zoom close to the performers if I want to.  The 24-70 would help.  Perhaps it's an advantage not to zoom so there is no distraction.  You just put a camera in front of the even and let it unfold, my kind of video taking or story telling.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Shotwell on Ubuntu 15.10

Something never changes.

Shotwell is still excruciatingly slow in importing photos.  May as well give up being some sort of photo manager.

As bad as Nikon's software is, the Nikon import is lightning fast.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Ubuntu 15.10

Somehow I never learned.

I had the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS running for a few months, with warts and all, like the most dreaded random reboots.  So again I forgot or ignored the pain I ran through and decided to upgrade to 15.10.  There isn't any direct upgrade path from 14.04 to 15.10 so I had to upgrade to 15.04 first.  And in the process something somehow wasn't done right, I got problems with stability and dependency and something was not installed in the course of the upgrade.  So in the end, the computer won't restart properly or booting into Linux.

Learning, surprise, from my last experience, I figured it's more time effective just to re-install or install the OS from an USB thumb drive than trouble shooting it forever.  So I downloaded the ISO image of 15.10 and made it into a bootable thumbdrive.

I was able to reboot into 15.10.  I thought I had an absolute clean install but I guess not.  I kept my partition as it was and thought I installed 15.10 over whatever I had.  When installing 15.10 it did say I had 15.04 which I guess was actually "installed."  I guess I had absolutely no luck with 15.04.

I experienced one random reboot after 15.10 in the few hours that I was using it.  I almost think it's a hardware issue now.  So it is pretty hopeless.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

PDN PhotoPlus Expo 2015 Write-up

I don't remember since when the name became what it is today.  I think it used to be shorter.

I wonder what would happen if one day Nikon or Canon decide not to be part of the expo.  They are the tent poles of the event.  Sony actually might be just having as big a presence as Nikon or Canon, especially in the last two years.  Fuji sticks around.  And I don't think Kodak bothers to show up anymore.  Leica got a respectable show booth and gets a bit bigger every year.  It is somewhat comparable to their brand allure.  I am surprised to find Hasselblad but their presence seems a disservice to the brand.  But it is what it is.

Nikon basically provides the most generous display of merchandize for users to play with.

I hand tested or played with the new 24-70 as well as the 200-500.  The 200-500 is slightly outside my comfort zone.  And I wonder how useful it would be for me practically speaking--I am not practical so it doesn't bother me even it's totally impractical.  The thing is big but not too unwieldy to hand hold.  And actually with VR, I think you can acquire pretty sharp images all and all even at 500mm.  The price tag in relation to all things Nikkor is practically free--I know it sounds obscene but if you look at the pro lens price tag, they are sure around $2500.  The 24-70 is a 24-70 and I am not particularly turned on by it.  I guess everybody shoots differently.  My lens combination has always been the 20-35 and 80-200 or 16-35 and 70-200 or some variations of them since last year.  I find them most useful for my liking.  Most of the time I carry one camera and if I feel a bit insecure then I carry two.  I don't know how the 200-500 would fit into my shooting MO.  If the lighting condition is sub optimal you may need a better camera body that can give you better ISO performance than what I have now.  Talking about camera, I am again impressed with the D4s.  I shot mostly between the D4s and the D810 at the expo.  And I have to say I like the image on the D4s' LCD screen better.  It is by no means scientific or objective at all as I hardly go through the settings of each camera.  The exposure and the color seem better on the D4s: no blown highlight and color is vivid and saturated, again on the LCD.  Silly as it sounds I am really sold on the D4s.  I read somewhere the sensor on the D810 is actually better, so what do I know?  My next camera upgrade hopefully is a D4s or a D810.  Maybe my next single digit D camera is the D5 or D5s so it dovetails with my Nikon F5 from the film day.  I can keep dreaming, eh?  Camera choice for me is really a personal choice, it goes beyond specification and rationality.

I probably regret not having my D700 sensor cleaned at $40.  Oh well.  Just don't shoot at f/16.