Monday, December 07, 2009

New D300s as of December 2009

I was really resisting this camera so well. I had blogged I would NOT be getting another new camera, not this year, and that I was going to wait for the D400 or something like that next year (2010).

And then my D300 broke. It was hit with the glitch where the mirror doesn't go back to the down position after taking a shot. It came on gradually over a couple days. It would occasionally get stuck in the up position. Then I could use the focus lock button and take a shot, and almost all the time it would come down, and stay down.

Then it got worse and it became a VERY annoying problem. It kept happening to me the day I was shooting the cheetahs at the zoo hoping to get motion blur shots.

Body In Motion

After a while that day I shot exclusively with my Fuji S5 *( S5's similar to a D200 but only shoots 2.5fps, but has higher dynamic range).

And finally it wouldn't come down at all, the mirror would bounce down during part of the shutter sequence, but would end up resting at the end in the up position.

I've got a couple other sort of functional dSLRs so I decided to go shooting the day after the zoo day with my Fuji S5 as well as my D200. The fuji is slow and behaves much like a 6MP camera, even though technically it is a 12MP camera. The D200 was my faster, better, backup camera. But it has its own issue after taking a beating and shooting over 160,000 or 170,000 shots. The grip was falling off until I glued it back, but the real pain in the butt was that the rear wheel is broken so changing settings like ISO, exposure, are hit or miss and mostly miss. And when any kind of action requires a fast change, it was useless.

After a frustrating day shooting with those 2 cameras I ordered the D300s. I didn't want to, really, I have enough cameras! Later I realized that I did have the D300 for nearly 2 years, and have taken something like 75,000 shots with it. And I WILL get it fixed. I googled the glitch with the mirror and it can be fixed for under 200$ I think, some sensor goes and it's not that big a deal to correct. When that's fixed, and if I get the rear-wheel fixed on the d200 I'll be setup nicely, and might convert one (d200 probably) to infrared...

The addition of video in the D300s will be good to mess around with. I got a boom mic that mounts in the flash hot-shoe on the camera and allows for stereo audio vs. the on camera mic that's just mono. I also plan to use that mic with the little marantz audio recorder I got, but which I don't use much since the built in mics are not that good, this mic should really help improve the sound quality.

Here's my first video done with the D300s that I've posted. I have taken a couple others but it took a little experimenting to get a decent clip out of it. The rolling shutter problem is annoying when the camera moves, or if the subject moves and you need to track it, and adjusting focus is tough. I also didn't know how to adjust the exposure of the video but someone at the zoo showed me ;) (thx Simba!)

The video is a much lower resolution than the still images, so when I added the 1.7x TC to the lens the quality of the video really didn't seem to suffer (used on above video).

The other cool thing is the 2nd card slot. I put the video on that card. I might change it to write backups there, or IDK maybe just overflow.

Finally, I've had focus issues, and have wondered if it was my copy of the D300 or just the normal performance of the camera, etc. Plus I think my camera was bounced off the floor at my local camera shop during the return trip from a cleaning/tuning, etc. (Grrrr). So a nice new fresh from the box camera, with supposedly improved focus over the D300, will be at a minimum assuring to me and I will wonder less. Now I can focus a little more on the results I'm getting and then see if I need to go to manual focus for certain tracking situations, or tweak settings like focus-lock, or focus point counts, etc.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Flickr 4 Year Anniversary

I joined flickr 4 years ago today. All I can say is what a 4 years it has been. Flickr's been awesome. Thank you!

500,000 stream views, almost 3* million photo/video views (~4* million combined), hooked up with Getty Images.

Here's to the future.

interesting on flickriver


Flickstr #304

Monday, August 03, 2009

DC Sunset

DC Sunset
Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon]
Tonight August 3rd 2009. Sunset was at 8:17pm today - summer's latest sunsets are behind us. The days are getting shorter, sunset is later too now after 6am.

I went out tonight to shoot with my Fuji S5 and a few shorter lenses, and a tripod. This one was shot handheld since the park police frown on tripod use on the momument themselves, the stone parts...

This photo has been fully tweaked in case you are wondering weather it is right from the camera or not. It's not. 1 RAW/RAF file processed through jpgs at different exposures and then Photomatix, and then again in Photoshop adjusting levels and contrast. I usually accomplish that with layer copies and masks and adjusting blending mode.

DC Sunset

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Things I didn't know about dSLR photography

#1) I really didn't know just how easy it was to get dust and junk on the sensor of a camera.

Using puffers, and cleaning material, it all seems like a failed attempt.

Dust has a way of winning. So be extra careful, I wish I had been more careful when I got started w/ dSLR photography.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nikographer 1h2009 - mid year update

I just worked on my mid-year review at my day job so I thought I'd look back on my photography from the first half of the year as well.

An easy first thing to do is look at what Scout found.

Here's what is currently in flickr Explorer:

That's 12 shots from 2009 currently in. 5 are fox photos - 3 from Bombay Hook and one from a 2009 secret osprey spot, and one from last year at Blackwater Refuge. Another is an Osprey from my secret osprey spot, a paddler at Great Falls, a Black-crowned Night Heron from the DC Zoo, Snow Geese from Bombay Hook, A GBH from Blackwater, Kibibi and Mandara from the DC Zoo and finally the rocket bus from the Patuxant Naval Air Station Air Show / Expo.

From those stats I'm happy that a couple of spots that are new to me in 2009 have resulted in some photos that were liked by others, and trickled up via's Explorer.

This is the secret osprey spot's Osprey shot:

And here's another from a new/secret spot of a mother fox - she was with her 4 kits pretty well hidden when I spotted them. She walked across a little road and then in to the field and stopped to look back at me a couple of times:

I am not happy about having "secret spots", but a crowd can ruin things. And I don't just mean that shots might not be unique because of other photographers. It is really not that at all- it is that when out alone at a nature/wildlife spot exploring or watching you can see more and disturb less.

When I run in to people that I know, or am about to get to know, it is natural to talk and shoot the breeze and pass the time. But at some point I often catch myself, and want to shoot more and talk less.

What else about 2009?

I shot the 4th of July in Washington D.C. for just the second time. I've been around DC now for over 10 years. Around 10am I met up with Clyde at Roosevelt Island. We wandered around DC all day and then around 5pm settled in to a spot along the Potomac River's VA side just up from the Memorial Bridge:
Happy Birthday America!

I took a ton of shots, and the day was too long, but I am super glad I went and made parking and the logistics a done deal by going so early. In 2006 when I shot before I got to the river late and was forced to a non-ideal spot down river from the airport/ DCA.
4th of July Fireworks - Washington DC (7/4/2006)

What else for 2009?

I got the grip for my D200/Fuji S5 and ALSO got a grip and uber battery for my D300. The grips add a nice chunk of weight which adds balance/inertia, and also make battery life on a single day a non issue if fully charged to start.

And I've sent my D300 back for repair of focusing/sharpness AGAIN. I had issues with focus going slow and not locking on birds, tried my d200 the next day and it performed much better so - realized that the d300 was acting up again.

This shot should really have been sharper, and other shots were missed due to trying to lock focus.
MD Osprey

This on the other hand shot with my D200 looks way better!
MD Osprey 6 of 6 - handheld D200

What else for the first half of 2009?

The BCNH's at the DC Zoo have a dark side.

A long drive on a snowy day is worth it if you plan and gamble right.

Left to Right is better than Right to Left - thanks Wayne ;).

I did finally get a good shot of a Baltimore Oriole!

I discovered this multipanel thing on flickr and posted some of my own multi-post images...

*Ok. I might come back and update this, but for now that's a good post.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Fav Photogs #1

There's no way I will include everyone.

I have like 1400+ contacts on flickr, and I added them because I like something they did or lots of somethings they did.

In no particular order here is my first pick-

These are some images from some folks photos on flickr that I really admire, like, wish to emulate, wish some of their work was mine, etc, etc, etc..........

James Neeley and his awesome HDR work:

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hawks take baths, who knew!

A Juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk takes a quick bath...

In the past I've seen eagles taking a bath in the Potomac River:

Splish-Splash - Eagles take a bath in the Potomac @ Great Falls Maryland - 1 2 [3] 4

But I'd never seen a hawk take a bath...


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

New PC - AMD 3.0G QuadCore via

I had a little bit of trouble with my 4+ year old PC, and spent a few hours trying to fix things, and then just ordered a bunch of parts from to build a new, faster PC.

My old computer was a Pentium 4 2.8Ghz (single core, with hyper-threading). I have a ton of hard drives in it, and that was what went wrong, all but the OS drive seemed to fail. I've got backups of all the data, so nothing was lost, and I've gotten some of the hdds to work since but, it was time to build a new fast PC. I've spend thousands recently on cameras and lenses, and it was time to let my PC catch up.

The quick description of my new pc (order Saturday, parts arrived Tuesday, and it's now built already) is:
AMD Phenom II 3.0 GHz Quad-Core - uber fast, rocks!
4 GB RAM (I've already ordered another 4GB since it was just 50 bucks)
1 x 1TB HDD for OS install/C drive
RAIDMAX case with 500 watt powersupply - N82E16811156062
EVGA 512-P3-N841-AR GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
cpu gel

And finally the motherboard, that supports a bagillion USB and SATA connections:
GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

The above all cost under $700. I've since added 4GB more of RAM, plus now a DVD writer, 2 more 1.5TB HDDs, and a copy of Vista 64bit which came with a free upgrade to Windows 7 64bit.

This new computer is so friggin fast compared to my 4+ year old PC it is amazing.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Overdisk - report file system usage


This tool and others for macs was mentioned on TWiP. I just installed overdisk and it seems cool.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A word or two about me and what goes through my head.


I like to shoot nature and wildlife. Sometimes I go to the zoo too for the captive animals. You get to know the animals a little, they're often exotic, and not the kind of thing you can see in the wild just anywhere.

The above photo is one that I took at Centennial Lake a couple of years ago. Here's another:

These shots show off something in how I view the world. Anything can be amazing and photo-worthy. Even if it is not what I set out to shoot. This day I was looking for birds, eagles, maybe a landscape image.

I saw the father and son moment happening, the perfect light, and snapped a few shots. A bit later I approached his wife, his mom and we spoke for a while. We traded info, and I eventually sent them a few images and it became (according to them) an awesome Father's Day gift to the dad in the photo and his dad, and the in-law's dad/folks I think.

All that because I went shooting, saw something, took a risk shooting it, took a risk approaching them, etc, etc.

The reason that I decided to post about this now is two fold: 1) I was recently back at Centennial Lake in Maryland (May 2009) and walked fully around the lake, for what turned out to be OK for bird photography but not great, and good for some exercise (it's a couple mile loop). And 2) because as I was wrapping up my walk I passed a different husband and wife and child and decided to take a risk.

Picture this section of the lake:

Missed it, Missed it, Got it.

As I was walking I saw the family of 3 and the dad was taking a photo of his little girl. They were all on the paved pathway, and he was shooting looking down towards his girl, with the pavement in the shot. I made a decision as I was about to walk past them to take a risk.

I said "you should take that shot again of your little girl, but walk down the hill 10 feet first". He had what looked like a nice point and shoot, and I had nearly 8 thousand dollars of lens and camera hanging over my shoulder, and he paused, and as I kept walking, I think it clicked for him, and me, and it was worth it.

As I kept on walking, I looked back a number of times. He did walk down the hill a little, his girl started to follow him and both parents urged her back to the path, so he could try the different angle/shot. Then a moment later his wife sat down next to their child, and that's when it was best for me. Why?

I turned a passing thought, how to take a better image, remove the pavement, add some perspective, change the angle, to their snapshot, and they were receptive even though it was only a sentence or two from me as I kept walking past them, not stopping for a beat, but offering a "knowing" bit of advice. And it was all worth it because even if the shot didn't turn out better (it must have!) I might have imparted something that could stick with them. DON'T JUST TAKE SNAPSHOTS. Take a moment to see it, plan it, reposition, etc. That little girl will only be that little girl once.

What I hope happened but will probably never know is, will that be the image they love the best? Will the message have been lost in long run? IE will that change of angle, of perspective yield for them the single image that sticks with them for ever? IDK, I hope not. I hope it turns in to a great image in a long line of great images as they all get older.

And I thought as I kept walking, should I take a shot of them? Some way to know who I spoke to, to record the moment, and for me I knew I did the right thing. I did NOT take their image. The moment was theirs, not mine, and the risk was just in what I did and it paid off...


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Reflecting Pool - Washington D.C.

I spotted this officer riding through the drained reflecting pool, and did my best to document the scene. The sun was setting, and made for some awesome light as he approached. I bracketed all the shots at 3 shot and 1 stop per shot (-1,0,+1) and I'm glad I did.

I've posted a couple to flickr and the rest are here.

Lincoln Memorial


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to make a flickr badge.

Flickr lets you search your photos and make an html or flash based badge of your images.

Here's one of mine:

february / html

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jean Keene (wiki) passed away yesterday at age 85.

I saw the news on Gregg's photo.

Rest In Peace - Jean Keene

From wiki:

Keene's career as the "Eagle Lady" began shortly after her arrival in Homer, when one morning she noticed two bald eagles on the beach near her motorhome. Keene saw offering food to the eagles as a natural extension of her practice of keeping bird feeders filled with sunflower seeds for wild songbirds. She began to bring home surplus fish from her job in a bucket, and each morning would throw some fish to the eagles over the short driftwood fence she had made around her motorhome. By the end of that spring, a half-dozen eagles were showing up for breakfast.

Here's Gregg's photo tribute:
Rest in peace Eagle Lady

And here's a couple of Woody's photos from his trip to Alaska and the Eagle Lady's place.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Western Low Land Gorillas at the US National Zoo - baby born January 10th 2009.

Mandara's new baby was born yesterday (1/10/2009) at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

All the Gorillas are still on exhibit, including the 1 day old baby.

I'm going to post one image to flickr, and a bunch just here.

Mandara and New Born Gorilla @ US National Zoo 1/11/2009

(here only)