Shooting in the dark...& keeping it straight with the 28mm f1.8 Nikkor

July 10, 2012  •  1 Comment

The Old Qwensel House museum in Turku is a dark (and dangerous, read the jar labels!) place but with the D800's great low light AF and files and the wonderful 28mm f1.8 lens, what used to be off the menu is now on. Mostly shot at higher ISO and at F2 or thereabouts, an atmospheric interior that might have turned to mush with an M9 or banded mush with a 5DII - and would have been pointless with most Medium Format gear unless heavily supported with lighting or serious tripods - is now a drive-by shooting opportunity. Not my normal kind of stuff but fun to be able to do it without tears.. 

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 ...well, almost without tears: the downside of this lens is its distortion and if you don't get it right when you shoot, no amount of perspective correction in post will make it look quite right.

My advice: don't trust the in-camera horizon. Close but no cigar. Use your eye to first find a vertical and get it perfectly upright using the grid lines as a guide. This vertical is your only friend so get it right.

Then use the in-camera yaw indicator (again close but harder to do by eye). Once that's done, move your camera delicately from side to side (without disturbing your vertical and your yaw - easy huh?) so as to ensure that the horizontal lines are parallel to the frame. This is the best way of getting the sensor parallel to the subject and if you get this wrong you'll weep later. Take the shot. Open in Lightroom if that's your poison (excuse the topical pun) and enable lens corrections BUT choose up to 200% distortion correction and THEN go to the manual tab and add more if required, which it often is. You'll end up with something close to rectilinear if you shot it right! 

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And don't be afraid of the 'blinkies': they are affected by your choice of settings for JPEG even when you are shooting RAW, and in any event they always start to blink an overexposure warning before the area actually blows a channel. Get used to this and you can get the best out of the camera's phenomenal DR. Also, it is entirely appropriate to allow some areas, such as the stripes in these curtains, to blow a little. It looks natural and it allows light into the rest of the scene.

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Finally, White Balance. Hmmm. Not everyone can be bothered to grab the WhiBal card and risk looking like a nutter or attracting attention. I personally find the D800 WB not so great, but then most cameras aren't much good at it. So look for a white and balance off it in post BUT... don't be a slave. Some scenes just looked a bit red or blue or sometimes green, just because that's how the light WAS. So allow the feeling to come through and not the theory. It's your photo.

And remember, most whites aren't neutral white. Not like the neutral whites and grays on a proper balance card. Choose something that looks like it'll do and you'll play Russian Roulette, which might be fun and might be not...

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Comments

SkyDreamer(non-registered)
Hi mate, great writeup and pictures!
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