Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Fricken Peony Post!

Yes, I popped out to the garden today for another crack at those pesky Peonies of mine. Today, several have fully opened and already some of them have dropped their precious pollen onto their prodigious bottom petals ... and it looks stunning on film in my opinion.

I was actually just fooling around with my very best lens, the Nikon 105mm f2.5 AIS, circa 1972 or something like that. This is the lens that captured the ubiquitously-known Afghan Girl image, and I can't say enough about it. I've never met a sharper lens that I could afford :-)

Seriously, this lens is the buy of the century for a couple of hundred bucks. The catch is that it meters only on prosumer bodies (e.g. D300) and above and it is strictly manual focus. But the pleasure that comes with the pain is undeniable.

To get better magnification (it does not focus very close at all), I added the Kenko 2x teleconverter form yesterday's shoot, and I must say that the lense is so sharp that there was no significant impact on the output. It remains stunningly sharp.

Today's shoot was in the rain ... and it was coming down hard enough that 5 minutes outside covered the cam in water droplets ... large ones. The D300 is weather sealed and it did its job, but this was more rain than it is meant for to my knowledge. Anyway ... a paper towel made short work of that and it continues to work perfectly well.

Oh yeah ... I was too lazy to drag the tripod out in the rain, so I shot all of these hand-held!

I am trying another new trick today; it's called Uni White Balance, or UniWB for short. This trick is designed to make your histograms perfectly accurate. That is, for them to tell you when one of your channels is blowing out and thus no longer capturing color in that part of the spectrum. This can really sour an image, not only throwing white balance off, but eliminating details that should be visible. So anything that allows you to spot this clipping helps a lot.

Far more experienced photographers than I have explained the concept, so I won;t belabour it any further. Suffice it to say that so far I am impressed. My images today look far nicer than they did yesterday. It also helpes that I was not fooling around with Colorefex Pro today, that left a green cast on my images yesterday I am told.

The first Peony I saw looked spectacular. In fact, I shot it a couple of times, and then a similar one another two times. Here they are in order of capture ...

I didn't like the bottom petal being so intrusive, so I tried again after stepping to the left a bit.

That was a little better, but there was a nicer looking Peony beside it and pointing off to the side.

Almost there ... but let's have a peek inside ...

Bingo! That one I really like.

I also captured another white Peony shot ... just because it was there.

And did I mention that this was a really short shoot? Because that's all there is :-)

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