Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Best Day in Costa Rica

I was recently in Costa Rica with a group of students from my school. We had an awesome time, but the best moments from my perspective were during an afternoon visit to a small rural school on our way to Monteverde.

Our visit started with a group of students from the school performing several traditional Costa Rican dances for us. The school building was in very poor condition and basically consisted of cinder block walls and a cement floor. There was a skylight in the roof which provided some very interesting lighting. During the dancing I set the exposure on my camera to 1/1250th of a second, f/5.6 and ISO 400 to ensure that the action was stopped and that the background was dark. When the dancers moved through the shaft of light from the skylight the light was beautiful. In the above photo at left, one of the boys looked at me just as I released the shutter.

After the dancing, the dancers changed out of their traditional costumes and then hung around in the shade while the older kids got involved in an impromptu soccer game. I had a great time, taking photos and trying to communicate with the boys. What a great afternoon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nikon D90 - Early Thoughts

1946 Mercury 1/2 Ton Truck taken at 1/2000, f/4.8 and ISO 800

I recently sold my Nikon D80 to a friend and replaced it with the new Nikon D90. I haven't had a lot of time to play with it yet, but I wanted to get a few pictures and a video posted. Yes...a video, the Nikon D90 takes HD video in addition to fabulous pictures. Last Sunday morning, I spent a few hours at the Bar U Ranch, south of Longview, taking photos and trying out some of the new features of this camera.

While at the ranch, I came across this character who had two beautiful old trucks on display. The first, is the two-tone custom 1946 Mercury 1/2 ton, pictured above, built on a Camero chassis with a Camero engine. The other truck, below, is a 1947 Mercury and is rebuilt in stock condition.

1947 Mercury 1/2 Ton Truck taken at 1/2000 s, f /4.0, and ISO 800
Looking at old vehicles, talking with this guy and taking photos was a great way to spend a morning. Just before I left, I came across a blacksmith demonstrating how to make horseshoes, so I decided to try out the video feature on the new camera. This video was taken hand-held with my Nikon 18-200 lens. It gives you an idea of what camera can do.

Taking video with the D90 is going to take some getting used to. The video feature has several pros and cons. The pros are; camera and video in one unit, being able to take HD video with awesome Nikon lenses and a shallow depth of field. The cons are; no auto-focus in video mode, a tripod is almost essential, sound quality is just OK. It is pretty cool however to be able to take HD video clips with a digital SLR. I'll post more on the video features in a later post.

My initial impression of the D90 is... I love it. As I've said before, I like the D80/D90 form factor because it is a full-featured digital SLR in a very small and portable body. The D90 has inherited lots of features from the D300 including an improved sensor with much improved noise suppression over the D80. I've lamented in previous posts that my rejection rates with istockphoto were creaping up because of the noise levels with my D80. I'm looking forward to submitting some of my pics from the D90 and see if they get accepted.
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