Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sometimes it just takes an awesome lens

Well I am putting up another quick post here. This time I am going to show off some photos that I took with an absolutely incredible lens. Now, I always say that the best camera is the one you have with you. But with that said, sometimes it truly is about the equipment. However, that equipment still does not need to be outrageously expensive. I have been wanting for some time to get the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens. It is a great portrait lens on the crop sensor bodies, like my D80. It is very fast, meaning that the aperture can get wide open. It also has a wonderful look for the short depth of field with a low aperture. And to top it all off, the lens is only around $130.

So I decided to just take some random shots with it to see just what this little lens could do. Now, I could have gotten fancy and setup a studio shot, but I wanted to see just what I would get taking photos in more natural situations. I have always told my students that this lens, and the 35mm f/1.8, are great lenses for Christmas morning, meaning they let in a lot of light, and allow for natural light photos of the kids. So I wanted to test out that theory. So what better to start with than kids and dogs. First the dog shot.


This is one of our dogs, who just happened to be hanging out in the living room the other morning. The lighting in the room is actually quite dark. Just one light and some early morning cloudy sky light from a window. Not bad for a simple shot.


Next is the kid and dog shot. When you make this photo big you can see just a touch of blur to it. I think my son moved just a touch, and I was not super fast for shutter, but it worked anyway. Notice in both these photos how the background is very soft and kind of "out of the way" of the photo. You know exactly what I am trying to shoot.


And here is probably my favorite photo so far with this lens. We were hanging out at a little cafe on Hope College campus in Holland, MI and I was able to get this of another son. I shot several photos to see how it was working, and the muses and fate were in my favor. I got such a great shot. If you knew him you would know exactly how great this photo is. It is soooo him!


Of course parents have to embarrass their kids right? This is one of my daughters (princesses). I love the shot, although she hates it. Oh well, when your dad is as much a photography freak as me you just learn to live with it I suppose.

I love this lens. I love the wide aperture. Now I am looking at the 35mm f/1.8 and also the 85mm f/1.8 lenses. You just cannot get something that fast in a zoom lens, and wow that DOF (depth of field) is so nice. I typically want to get photos of people, and I think that the shallow DOF is just perfect for these types of photos.

One other thing I am hoping soon to do is to master the creatively shaped apertures so that the bokeh (I will explain that term next time) can be shaped how I want it to be. It is an amazing trick.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sometimes it is fun to just experiment

I have an Android phone. It has a pretty nice camera on it. I recently purchased a way fun program called CameraFun. The application has a lot of really cool filters built in. You can take the photo with special effects at the time you take it. It is kind of like a version of PhotoBooth that you get to carry around with you. So I have started to take some photos and just have a little fun with it.


One of the first photos I took was my foot. Not the most exciting subject, but for some reason I just really liked the way it looked. Kind of artsy. Besides I think my athletic shoes look really cool this way. Wish I could get them to look like this in real life.


I did the same subject matter with embossed instead of neon. Totally not nearly as cool. It is actually a pretty boring shot. I think that if i printed it large it might be nicer, but it does not really blow my socks off (hahahaha). I like the out there type of look often. And I think that is why I don't like the embossed. Some others really liked it though. This shows how photography is an art and not a science. It is so up to interpretation.


Next I tried the sepia sketch feature. I like the basic concept, but there is a certain lack of detail. I have a feeling if I set up the photo with better lighting and not so busy that it would look even better. In thinking about that, I am thinking of setting up an actual photo shoot with this camera and application. It would be interesting to see what I would get if I was not just walking around shooting photos.


The kids really liked this photo. The filter is called thermal. I am not sure exactly how it is done, but I have a feeling it is not about actual thermal detection. Again, there is a certain lack of detail in the photo. If I do a formal photo shoot with this app I will need to make sure to do thermal as part of it. This is a fun one with kids though. I should try it outside on a sunny day at some time too.


Here is an interesting shot. When I took it I immediately thought SciFi movie. He looked like some sort of alien. Wonder how I could do this in a video camera for a movie. The only challenge is that the background warps as well. Oh well... it was a great idea for a moment.


How about a two headed monster? I think with a little bit of work with the clothing, and doing it where I could replace the background easily I could make this one work out really cool. The more I type up this blog posting and look at these photos the more I think I am needing to take the phone into a studio setting to do some of this and see how creative I can get.



Here are two photos I took at a birthday party. I love the effect here! These both could easily end up on the wall printed and framed. I am not sure if I like the top or bottom one. On the top one though I think I want to take it into photoshop and pull that hand out that is on the lower left of the clear area at the edge of the table. It would be a fairly easy fix. And her right eye has some sort of odd little glare that needs to be touched up. The bottom one is pretty solid.

The one challenge I found with the phone and this application is that it takes so long after hitting the shutter button for it to focus up and shoot the photo. I had a lot of times that I lost the shot because the camera took too long. But it was way fun.


Here is one last shot from the party. It is another sepia sketch. Again, it lacks definition and is too cluttered. So this seems to be a filter that only works for shots that are well lit with a lot of definition on the subject.

I have pretty much talked myself into doing an actual studio shoot, or staged photo shoot outside with the phone to see what I get. I love some of the effects for quick photos, and the kids absolutely love them. I am going to get a couple printed so I can see what they look like big as life.