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Lens suggestions for mountain photography

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:01 am

Another from the lens of Mr. Leber:





Image

Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby Bean » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:39 am

Any style or technique that can be easily dated with a quick look is nothing but a fad. For example, if it looks "HDR" it's probably from 2009, if it's selectively desaturated it's probably from 2008, and in both cases it's probably junk.
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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby waolsen » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:16 pm

WOW! Thanks for all the suggestions. I feel a bit out of my depth. I've always used a point and shoot camera on the trails and had good results. Last year I started backpacking with my 4 years old. To say the least the trips are shorter than usual and there is a lot of downtime. I've always enoyed shooting pictures and enjoy sharing the places I go with others that don't have the opportunity. Uncle Sam treated me well this year so I decided to dive in with the D90 and force myself to learn the ropes.

Landscape photography is what I enjoy best. Any recommendations for any books that may help me with landscape photography? It is clear to me that I need to learn the vocabulary and basics, so I don't want to get overwhelmed.

Thanks again. You guys are awesome.
"The mountains are calling and I must go"

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby kimo » Mon Mar 29, 2010 12:35 pm

Dancesatmoonrise wrote:In the hands of a poor craftsman, one gets a poor result. In the hands of a master, one gets a masterful result.


With any skill, becoming a master takes time and practice. I'm sure Mr. Leber put many hours of processing into that beautiful photograph of aspens. And I'm sure he spent countless hours over many years practicing his craft. A pro photographer for National Geographic came to speak at our company for Engineer's Week. He admitted spending upwards of 40 hours post-processing a single image for print.


waolsen - with respect to your original post:

Have you considered investing in a few different lenses for $600? I ask because you may find an inexpensive fast prime useful for early morning photography. I own the Nikon 35mm f1.8 AF-S lens and I am very pleased with its performance. Both of the photos below were taken before sunrise at 35mm, f1.8, shutter speed of around 1/80 sec. The pictures are a mess (the focus is off) and that's easy to do when the DOF is so narrow. I'm still learning the craft every time I take the camera out of the bag.

Image
Image

A nice well-rounded kit that got me through my first two years of SLR photography and costs less than $600 includes the following lenses:

18-55mm VR AF-S $150
55-200mm VR AF-S $220
35mm f1.8 AF-S $200

Add another $450 for the Sigma 10-20mm ultrawide.

Since the D90 has a built-in focus motor, you are not limited to AF-S lenses like I was with the D40. That opens up a whole range of new and used lenses to you.

I recently posted a trip report of photos from my D90 using the 18-105mm kit lens. None of the photos were cropped or post-processed. Those are straight from the camera, except for a resize and conversion to JPEG.

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=7776&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

To others - thanks for the comments regarding the Lake Isabelle HDR photo. :)

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby merrion13 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:36 pm

Landscape photography is what I enjoy best. Any recommendations for any books that may help me with landscape photography? It is clear to me that I need to learn the vocabulary and basics, so I don't want to get overwhelmed.


The book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is a great place to start. $17 on Amazon and will do a great job explaining the basics and vocab, plus he uses different variations on the same subject to demonstrate what is achievable with different settings. Allows the novice to understand that there is more than one way to take a great picture, and also teaches you to think beyond just pointing and shooting.

As for landscape lenses, you will want something wide or ultra-wide. I think the Nikon 18-85VR would be great for a beginner to grow into, and it costs $630 new. Another good option is the Nikon 18-70 for $460. Either one of these will be great landscape and general walkaround lenses, but as others have mentioned, if you get into sports you will want to invest in a good telephoto.

Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby Bean » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:48 pm

Don't underestimate the capabilities of a kit lens. Sure, they aren't as sharp as some good glass, but they work. I'd love to have a 70-200/f4 L, but it's not in the budget right now. Besides, it's a pound heavier than the 55-250IS, and if I smash my telephoto lens (which is a real possibility, given the fact that I almost exclusively take my SLR out for skiing, climbing, etc.), I'm out a lot less money for a replacement. Someday (maybe) I'll spring for something pricier and sharper. For now, I'll stick to improving my skills.
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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby kimo » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:16 pm

waolsen wrote:I feel a bit out of my depth.


It is the most important question and one I'm still learning to answer: the great humanist and photographer Eugene Smith once asked “What use is having a great depth of field, if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?”

I try to answer that question whenever I am out with the camera.

When it comes to D90 use and handling, I have found all of my knowledge on the web. And through hands-on practice. I can't stress that enough. I take hundreds of photos on each trip, many of the same subject using different exposure settings and slightly different angles. The only book I have purchased is a user guide to Capture NX2 (Nikon's photo editor developed by Nik Software).

With regarding to your particular camera, Ken Rockwell's guide is about the best available at no cost, or with a donation if you choose:
http://kenrockwell.com/nikon/d90/users-guide/index.htm

With regard to skills, depth of field is the one I most enjoy practicing:
http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/guides/understanding_dof/index.html
http://www.uscoles.com/depthoffield.html

I shoot 95% aperture priority mode (A on the exposure mode dial), 5% shutter priority (S on the exposure dial). An explanation of camera settings is here:
http://www.idigitalphoto.com/aperture-explained/
http://www.idigitalphoto.com/shutter-speed-explained/

I feel the D90 overexposes photographs. I usually dial in some negative exposure stop, typically -1.0 stop. For bright snowy Hallett Peak, I used between -.3 and -2.0 stop. I like to stop down the exposure in order to preserve highlights (bright areas). If needed, I'll lighten shadows in post-processing (using Nikon's View NX or Capture NX2). But I don't usually bother to post-process images unless I plan to print them.

Here is a good explanation of exposure compensation:
http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam/User-Guide/995/EXPOSURE/EV-compensation.html

I believe you'll take better pictures if you spend more time shooting (and hiking!) and less time in post-process.

And as a general Nikon resouce, Nikonians can't be beat.
http://www.nikonians.org/

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:04 am

My favorite lenses are fast lenses.

Get your first f/2.8. You'll love it.

BTW - I've never had an ultrawide lens for landscape work. 28 is great. 35 will do. (This will be debated - just my opinion.) But get that fast glass, it will change your photography.

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby kimo » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:13 am

Dancesatmoonrise wrote:My favorite lenses are fast lenses.
Get your first f/2.8. You'll love it.
BTW - I've never had an ultrawide lens for landscape work. 28 is great. 35 will do. (This will be debated - just my opinion.) But get that fast glass, it will change your photography.



OK waolsen, ready for information overload? Because Jim brings up a great point. The Nikon DX image format (aka, APS-C) found in the digital D90 is roughly 2/3 the size of the 135 film format (aka, 35mm film).

From Wiki:

The 1/3 smaller diagonal size of the DX format amounts to a 1/3 narrower angle of view than would be achieved with the 135 film format, using a lens of the same focal length. Strictly in angle-of-view terms, the effect is equivalent to increasing focal length by 50% on a 135 film camera, and so is often described as a 1.5× focal length multiplier.

This effect can be advantageous for telephoto and macro photography as it produces a tighter crop without the need to increase actual focal length and sacrifice depth of field. However it becomes disadvantageous for wide angle photography as a wide angle lens for 135 film effectively becomes a normal lens for the DX format (e.g. 28mm × 1.5 = 42mm 135 film equiv.). This has led to the increased development of the DX format-specific lenses for the Nikon F-mount. Since these lenses do not need to cover the 135 film area, they are smaller and lighter than their 135 format counterparts of equal angle-of-view. The production of DX-specific lenses has also enabled the production of affordable wide angle lenses for the format (e.g., 12mm), whereas costly ultra-wide angle lenses from the 135 format were formerly required.

When DX format lenses are used on 135 format (35mm film or FX format) cameras, vignetting often occurs, as the image circle does not cover the entire area of the 135 format.


waolsen, what this means for you is that the Nikon 18-55mm VR DX lens has an equivalent focal length of 27mm-82.5 on a 135 (35mm) film camera. A 12-24mm Nikon DX ultrawide lens has an equivalent of 17-35mm on a 135 film camera. So when Jim says 28mm is great for landscape work, the equivalent Nikon DX focal length is 18mm. Most kit lenses for both Canon and Nikon APS-C sized SLRs start with a focal length of 18mm. You get good wide-angle performance for less money.

And I agree with Jim on the fast lenses. They are fun. I absolutely LOVE my Nikon 35mm DX f1.8 lens (thats 52.5mm equivalent focal length on a 135 film camera). It is fast, and contrary to some reviewers, I think the bokah qualities (smoothness of blur) of the lens are fine. However, fast zoom lenses are considerably more expensive than fast primes. The 35mm f1.8 prime can be had for $200...

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-35mm-AF-S-Digital-Cameras/dp/B001S2PPT0

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:14 pm

Since the weather and snowpack are going through some totally weird changes right now... may as well piddle around with the computer, right?

A crop sensor has another advantage when paired with a full-frame lens: less vignetting. It essentially "crops" it out.

You know, I used to think the other side was greener. Those darned Nikon shooters could shoot in the dark with those high ISO's. My XSI only goes to 1600, and it's nearly worthless at that level, for all that. The 40d (classic) goes to 3200 but when a friend and I compaired them shot for shot in low light, it was close to being a whole stop better - her 1600 looked almost as good as my 800.

Of course, being the light-weight that I am, the XSI, at 18 or 19 oz, seemed better than a 40d or 50d at 10 oz heavier. But who cares? The lenses still weigh a ton. And they feel better balanced on the heavier camera.

Nikon is still a mystery to me, I have to confess - kind of like being a lefty - you guys are capable of some very artistic shots. The Canon shooters seem somehow more literal, as a general statement.

Still - I'm a Canon guy. Hopelessly Canon.

Seems most of the alpinists are shooting Nikon. Guess I'm a renegade.

Still, the funniest thing is when a girl comes up to me at a party and hands me her D60 and asks how to work it. OMG. Sorry, I'm ten thumbs. I'm sure the Nikon controls are not as tough as they seem to a dumb Canon shooter like me. : )

But back to glass- yeah, primes, and fast primes - totally great stuff. Go shoot a live band! It is so cool to have shots of those deep red spotlights on the guitarist's face as he's pulling off some great riffs - you can't get that with f/4. Even with ISO 6400. Canon has a 50mm/1.8 prime for $80. It's pretty rugged at 1.8 and 2.0 but by the time you get to 2.8, it flattens out beautifully. Can't beat that for 80 bucks.

(Here's the blur plot for 1.8 - still useful for portraiture or centrally-placed subjects):

Image


Here's the rest of the range for that great, "cheap" lens:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/zproducts/canon50f18/tloader.htm

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby prone2jodl » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:13 pm

completely agree with above posts, bean in particular re: improve your skills first. composition, understanding light, etc etc make a much bigger difference than the lens until you get a sense for them. I'm not much for post-processing,because, well, I'm lazy and spend enough time at work in front of a computer. If you can get a great image without needing to alter it, I think that is the goal. And if you do want to edit it, the better the original, the better the result will be...

not to hijack the post, but i figure we have already given the OP significantly more than he bargained for here... I read an article on the NY Times the other day about a woman who set up a flickr account or something and then was contacted by getty images, who offered her a per-use contract for some of her images. I was wondering... have any of you guys set up a website or photo account and actually had any financial success with it? (Kimo, I noticed that one HDR shot you had was watermarked.) I keep adding to a pretty good portfolio of images, and I would love to find a way to make a couple of bucks off of a hobby (maybe I could even get one of those fast lenses you all are raving about).
Stünd ich, Natur, vor dir ein Mann allein,
Da wär's der Mühe wert, ein Mensch zu sein.

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Re: Lens suggestions for mountain photography

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:24 pm

prone2jodl wrote: have any of you guys set up a website or photo account and actually had any financial success with it? (Kimo, I noticed that one HDR shot you had was watermarked.) I keep adding to a pretty good portfolio of images, and I would love to find a way to make a couple of bucks off of a hobby (maybe I could even get one of those fast lenses you all are raving about).


It's a grind, like anything else. Friends that are pros support themselves with weddings and the like. Most do portraiture. Even then, it's competitive, lots of expenses, lots of grief.

I"ve been fortunate enough to win some competitions. But sell something? What's that?! :roll:



The folks that are selling are hustling, too. You have to get your name out there, get showings around town, have a website presence and ways to direct traffic to your site - I suppose. I say suppose, because I'm not into all that - so I'll probably never make a dime with my work. I'd like to, but not enough to hustle. That lady you mentioned, I would say that certainly is newsworthy. Everyone thinks that's going to happen. In reality, it never does. The closest I've come is last month when an administrator for a major mountaineering website saw my catwalk shot on Humboldt and wanted to use it in a new route description.


Yes, that would be Bill. :lol:

No pay, but the infamy was great! :D


But then, we're very fortunate to have a free site, and without any obnoxious advertising! =D>
(Thanks Bill!)

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