Borkware Photoblog

January 4, 2009

New Gallery: Casino 2008

Filed under: Aperture, CLS, D3, flash, gallery, monopod, Nik, Nikon, Photoshop — Mark Dalrymple @ 10:53 pm

solo-angel.jpg (click the picture to visit the whole gallery)

Every year, the Casino Theater in Vandergrift PA puts on a Christmas program. Sometimes it’s a musical, sometimes it’s an oratorio. This year was a smorgasbord of songs and skits.

They were kind enough to let me run around with a camera during the dress rehearsal this year. They even allowed me to use flash, which was a surprise.

These were shot with a Nikon D3, with 70-200 f/2.8 and 24-70 f/2.8 lenses. An SB-800 flash served as a master to an SB-600 slave, positioned behind an umbrella to provide extra light. I was surprised at how much light it could pump out. I used a monopod with the larger lens since the whole package (D3, SB-800, lens, extra blocks of depleted uranium) became rather heavy.

Important lesson learned: It’s better to have a very good exposure at a high ISO than a bad (under)exposure at a lower ISO. Some of the images that I had to pull out of a dark basement did not look good at all. (I know, duh!, but it’s one of those things I had to learn the hard way.)

After the images were made (~900 during the 3 hour run of the show, running up and down stairs from balcony to main floor level), I triaged the images with Aperture. 1-star for adequate sharpness and composition. Then went through and chose good shots for 2-stars, and then 3-starred the ultimate contents of the gallery.

I edited each image in Photoshop using Nik filters. This was an excuse for Extreme Photowankery™, as well as learning how to use the filters, and playing around with a basic Wacom Graphite tablet that Uncle Google gave me. The general workflow was

  • Basic ACR adjustments, white balance, etc.
  • Noise reduction with Dfine.
  • Pre-sharpening with Sharpener Pro.
  • Adjusted lighting and colors with Viveza. I love Viveza. In nearly every case I darkened the stage and brought some brightness to the actors.
  • Retouching, especially cleaning up the stage floor. The Casino stage is filthy. I am now a master of the spot healing brush and the clone-stamp tool.
  • Dodging and burning using an Overlay layer. (fill with a neutral 50% color, then paint in white to lighten and in black to darken the image.)
  • Additional filtering using Color Efx pro. “Darken/Lighten Center” was used for most of the vignetting effects. “Tonal Contrast” was frequently used, especially to bring out detail in clothing.
  • The black and white images were done with Silver Efx Pro.
  • Final sharpening with Sharpener Pro.

I’m hoping next year they’ll let me shoot again. If they do, this is what I’d do differently:

  • Attend one or two more rehearsals. I had no idea what the show was about (except that there was a Waltz of the Flowers that included Bubbas in tutus), so each scene was a total surprise, and I frequently had the wrong lens. “Big dance number! And I have the 70-200. ack!”
  • Have two speedlights, one on either side of the stage (instead of the single one on stage-right) to balance out the speedlight coverage.
  • Watch the corners of the viewfinder. (another duh!) There is a railing in the balcony that appears in a number of shots. I did not notice it (outside of using it to not fall off the balcony) until after I started processing the photos.
  • Bring the power plug for the laptop and some blank DVD medio. I ran out of power before draining the last card. A show representative also wanted some images to display in the lobby, needing the images ASAP. It would have been nice to have been able to burn a DVD of rough-cut jpegs right there.

March 29, 2008

New Gallery: Bones And Stones

Filed under: D3, gallery, technique — Mark Dalrymple @ 3:23 am
C92A5D91-62F9-436B-81C7-F344DDC544E7.jpg

New Gallery, where Torin and I go on a photo shoot in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. Originally we were going to do street / architecture stuff, but the weather was truly dreadful, so we went into the Carnegie Dinosaur Museum Thing, and also Heinz Chapel.

For folks who question the usefulness of the Nikon D3(00) Live View mode, I must say that it made many of these shots much easier, both in getting critical focus, and for composition where the camera was in an awkward position on the tripod. Much easier to see the screen than to look through the view finder upside down hanging by a rope, or something like that.

February 13, 2008

New Gallery: Zoo Time With Torin

Filed under: D3, gallery — Mark Dalrymple @ 3:47 pm


F5EADE65-976D-4797-B5C1-1F9F00A39B25.jpg

I spent the day at the Pittsburgh with my buddy Torin, the first real shoot with the 24-120mm lens on the D3. There are a couple of nice ones in there, but for the most part, just ‘adequate’. Looking at the specs for some images, I have no idea what I was thinking. I really didn’t need ISO 2500 and f/11 outdoors. Granted, the D3 makes high ISO like that pretty good, but still not generally smart.

Zoo Time With Torin

February 4, 2008

Inside view of the D3

Filed under: D3, Links, Nikon — Mark Dalrymple @ 6:13 pm

http://dc.watch.impress.co.jp/cda/parts/image_for_link/126232-7885-2-2.html : D3 sliced in half. Hopefully it was a unit that failed quality control.

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