It's more than the gear ...

August 05, 2012  •  2 Comments

I just finished editing a shoot from last week, a pro photographer friend and I were at a sunflower farm from sundown until midnight, we wanted to try shooting the flowers in the moonlight. Lots of tripod work, of course ... 
 

So I packed up my camera and all my lenses, my Cokin ND filters, tripod, and took off for the farm country. On arrival I realized that I had forgot some important things: the holder and rings to attach my filters to the lenses, my infrared remote trigger, and worst of all the plate which attaches my camera to my tripod! So it was time to be creative and make do with what I had. Nor had I brought a flashlight, but I had an app on my phone :)
 

Fortunately I had also brought a light stand, so at least I had something to work with! But I was stuck with landscape orientation and VERY limited adjustment of the view, vertical only. So I spun my camera down onto the light stand and tried my best.
 

The results were amazing! I used gaffer tape and a folded up reflector under one of the light stand legs to adjust the view, but rocks would have worked just as well. I couldn't remote trigger to prevent the vibration of touching the camera causing blurring, so I used the delay timer. At 2 seconds I still saw some blurring, the stand was still vibrating from me touching the trigger. So I maxed the time out to 10 seconds and it looked good.  All manual exposure determined by trial and error, no metering was possible even with a full moon. Looks pretty good to me!
 

Moonlight Sunflowers


My lesson here was that the gear was not so important! Yes, the more and the better gear you have the easier it is to capture pictures, but that has very little to do with the quality of the pictures you create. This was shot at f8, ISO 800, and shutter of 30 seconds. My 7 year old D70 could have taken the same picture, no magical features of my D7000 were needed here. I shot the Eiffel tower at night by resting my old Nikon N2020 and kit lens on a backpack and guessing at the right exposure, and I got great results! (wish I could find the negs, but that was about 30 years ago!) Of course, the band shots I work with nowadays would not be possible without the ISO capability of my newer body, the D70 tops out at ISO 1600 and has a ton of noise at that speed. 


And the same goes for editing software, in my opinion. There is a lot of very inexpensive or free photo editing software out there which can do a great job. My photographic style is very realist, I don't do much editing other than level and color balancing, maybe some noise filtering when the light is bad. I don't have the full Photoshop, the Elements version is more than good enough and it can do amazing things for about $100! I also use Hugin (freeware!) for my stitching my panoramic images together, it does an awesome job and even corrects for spherical distortion in my lenses! It is an open source project and many different programmers contribute to it.


So for me, its the vision that is so much important than the gear! Trust your eye and your instincts ...

 



Comments

2.Larry Affelt(non-registered)
Franz, you are more than a beginner my friend! Just keep shooting and experimenting, that is how I learned :)
1.Franz Denk(non-registered)
Excellent Larry and the tips you have highlighted to us mere mortals (read that as Beginners) is a valuable lesson in preparation as well as being flexible and working with what you have.

Personally i have just the basics a D3100 a couple of lenses and a tripod and i just play with settings and shoot and try to replicate the good shots again and again

So keep up the great work Larry a lot of us in the group admire your work
Cheers Mate !
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