This Weekend I Bought a D700 Part 3- Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G

The 85mm G has a reputation of being one of the sharpest Nikon lenses out there and I see no reason to argue with that. For it’s price it really does a great job with bokeh, sharpness and colours. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

First, the comparison from f/1.8 to f/5.6:

f/1.8

f/1.8

f/2.8

f/2.8

f/4

f/4

f/5.6. Note the slightly hexagonal bokeh.

f/5.6. Note the slightly hexagonal bokeh.

And a few more examples:

D700 with Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G D700 with Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G D700 with Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

Andrew and Erin’s Wedding – A Quick Bokeh Panorama in the Park

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Andrew and Erin’s wedding in Waterloo Park and Victoria Park.  The day went off without a hitch, with perfect weather, great people and absolutely fantastic food.

Once I’ve edited my way through the massive number of photos I’ll write a full blog post, but for now I can say this. I have never been happier with the way my equipment performed at a wedding. The D300s + Sigma 50mm f/1.4 combination was an absolute dream when the girls were getting ready early in the day. The D7000 + AF-S 85mm f/1.8 worked flawlessly for portraits later on. Exposure and focus accuracy were at an all time high. Even the white balance was more accurate than normal. Together these are all adding up to a much more pleasurable editing experience than I’m used to.

To celebrate I had some fun playing around with a 50+ shot Brenizer method bokeh panorama of the bride and groom that I took in Waterloo Park with the D7000 and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. First I’ll show the version that’s close to what I’ll give Andrew and Erin and then a more vintage-y black and white.

brenizer, stitch, waterloo park, bokeh panorama, wedding, nikon, d7000, af-s 85mm f/1.8G

A multi (50+) shot Brenizer method bokeh panorama with the D7000 and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

brenizer, stitch, waterloo park, bokeh panorama, wedding, nikon, d7000, af-s 85mm f/1.8G

A multi (50+) shot Brenizer method bokeh panorama with the D7000 and AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

Blog Week Day 3 – Catlantis

Day Three!

On the weekend I did a little photo shoot with Milosz for our new musical project, Catlantis. This particular photo is a bokeh panorama comprised of a full SEVENTY shots with a wide open Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8. My technique for making this kind of image, often known as a Brenizer Method composite, is to set the camera to small JPEG, manual focus, manual exposure and fixed white balance (not AUTO). There’s no need in having a large size JPEG as each shot will only make up a small part of the final. Manual focus, exposure and fixed white balance are important to keep the same look from shot to shot.

I use either Photoshop or Microsoft ICE to do the stitching. ICE seems to handle more complicated stitches better than Photoshop and has a very simple operation where you just drag the series of shots into it and let it run.

So here it is, my biggest Brenizer yet. Shot with the D300s with AF-S 85mm f/1.8G at f/1.8 1/500s ISO 100.

DSC_1018_stitch-Edit

Blog Week Day 2 – The Many Faces of my Favourite Spot on Three Bridges Road

For the second post of my blog-a-day week I’ll share what I consider one of the loveliest spots near Waterloo, the crossing of the Conestogo River on Three Bridges Road. Located just west of St. Jacobs and a short drive from where I work, it’s a great spot to go during lunch or at the end of the day to grab a few shots.

In the summer, the river is shallow and slow-moving. In the late winter and early spring with a heavy melt, it’s a torrent and the low bridge is lost completely beneath the water. Regardless of the seasonal changes, I’m still amazed at how many different types of photos I can get at the same place. It just goes to show that you don’t have to travel far to get great shots (or pretty good shots, at least).

I used a wide range of equipment for these photos. The bodies (Nikon D300s, D7000 and N80, Bronica ETRS) were paired with lenses (Nikon 17-55 f/2.8, Nikon 35 f/1.8, Nikon 60 f/2.8G Micro, Nikon 85 f/1.8G, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, Tokina 50-135 f/2.8, Sigma 50 f/1.4, Bronica MC 40 f/4, Bronica EII 75/2.8). On the self portraits I used Nikon SB-700 and SB-900 strobes with CLS control.

I’ll give a prize to the person who gets the most correct gear-to-photo matches!

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New Batch of Developed Film – Part 4

In this fourth and final post from the recent batch of developed film I’ll show some scans from a roll of 35mm Kodak Portra 160. I shot these with the Nikon N80, an autofocus film body that can handle the most modern Nikon lenses with AF-S and VR. That means that the lenses I use on my digital bodies are compatible with the N80. Even more exciting is that, since I normally shoot with a DX (cropped) digital sensor, this is my only opportunity to use my FX prime lenses as they were intended. Photos from three lenses are shown in this post. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and Nikkor AF-S 85mm f/1.8G are both fantastic lenses on both DX and FX digital sensors and here on 35mm film. I also used the AF-S 35mm f/1.8G here and while it is a DX lens the image circle is about big enough to work on 35mm although the corners often vignette depending on aperture and focus distance.

The roll of Portra (as well as the others in the previous posts) was developed at Dwayne’s in the USA. I had them make prints of this roll and it is interesting to compare how my scans and digital editing compare to a standard print. Often they are quite similar in that we both agree on colour balance and brightness. I tend to prefer a bit more saturation and contrast than Portra provides so I enhanced both on many of the images using Photoshop.

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Blending with Soft Light – A Quick and Simple Way to Increase Contrast and Saturation in Photoshop

DSC_0292-Edit-2Today I’d like to show you a really effective, but simple, way to boost contrast and saturation in an image by walking through how I arrived at the above image. The trick is using a layer blending mode called ‘Soft Light’. Photoshop has the ability to blend different layers with each other using a number of methods. The Soft Light mode works like this:

  • Areas that are brighter than 50% grey get ‘screened’, meaning they become lighter depending on the lightness of the lower layer.
  • Areas that are darker than 50% grey get ‘multiplied’, meaning they become darker depending on the darkness of the lower layer.

I’ll demonstrate. Here is a layer in Photoshop that is a simple gradient going from white to black, left to right. In the middle is 50% grey.ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.32If I add an adjustment layer on top of this, say ‘Levels’, and change its blending mode to Soft Light the lights get lighter and the darks get darker depending on how light or dark they are. In the middle, 50% grey, is unaffected. In the image below, the top half has been blended with Soft Light. The bottom half is the same as the previous image. Notice that the gradient becomes more steep… the transition between white and black is shorter. This is an increase in contrast.ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.35In an image with colour, Soft Light blending can also increase saturation. I’ll demonstrate with an image. First, I’ll show the image as it is first pulled out of Lightroom into Photoshop.ScreenHunter_13 Mar. 12 19.57If I add a Levels layer and blend it with Soft Light the contrast and saturation increase dramatically.ScreenHunter_15 Mar. 12 19.57I can scale the effect back by lowering the opacity. Here I’ve set it to 47%:ScreenHunter_15 Mar. 12 19.58I’m finding that there’s still too much of an effect on Mitzy so I’ll paint some grey into the layer mask over her. Grey will decrease the opacity of the mask by another 50% where I’ve painted it in.ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.00I’m happy with how the Soft Light blending has improved the image so let’s finish it off. First, I’ll remove some of the messy details in the bottom right corner using the Spot Heal Brush in a new layer.ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.04Next I’ll brighten Mitzy a bit further using a curves tool, masked so it only affects her.ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.05Here, I’ve decided that I want to bring a bit more of the contrast back in to the background so I increase the opacity of the Soft Light layer.ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.06Finally, I add a bit more contrast into the right side of the image with a masked Curves tool. The image is done!ScreenHunter_16 Mar. 12 20.08So there have it. Soft Light blending. Quick and simple!