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2005-09-06 15:05:17.163188+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Next time I take the faster glass and use the camera image processing settings a little more proactively. And maybe buy some extra memory so I can shoot 'em in raw mode:

[ related topics: Photography Dan & Charlene's 2005 Alaska Trip Alaska ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-06 19:52:49.897711+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Cool shots, Dan! What ISO were you using? On the D60 I have found ISO 200 to show very little grain. ISO 400 is still very usable, and even ISO 800 can be used in some circumstances with that camera.

A general rule-of-thumb suggests that 1/500th second should be fast enough to cover camera shake (1/focal length), and I should think that 1/1000th second would be plenty fast enough to freeze 99% of the whale movement and sea spray at that shooting distance. When pressed to shoot quickly, however, I have found that the D60 often focuses on infinity (if it's a significant part of the background composition). Focusing performance (or lack of it) for action photography is by far the weakest aspect of the D60, in my opinion.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-06 20:24:31.818023+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think that most of the grain in these images comes from the fact that the overcast made the contrast so low. So in stretching out the contrast range as I processed these for the web, the small dynamic range got stretched too far.

Next time I set the camera to "high contrast", so that it uses the available bits of the JPEG for a much smaller contrast range, and use faster glass. I'll have to go back and look at the EXIF data, but I'm fairly sure I wasn't anywhere near 1/500th of a second like I should have been, and setting even my D60 to ISO 400 in conjunction with the high contrast and full saturation settings would have given me reasonable output.

Because I was using the 75-300/IS with its ultra slow focusing servo, I focused "somewhere out there" and kicked everything to manual. For the most part, when a whale started to breach it was "hold down the shutter and hope", sometimes I didn't even get the camera up to my eye, I just pointed it in the direction I thought I'd get something. I think the 70-200/2.8 might have fast enough motors to catch up, but I'll bet that much of the blurring I'm seeing there is camera shake and lens softness anyway.

And if I could spend a few weeks up there, like the real photographers do, I suppose that eventually I'd have everything come together where I'd catch a whale close enough and in smooth enough water that I'd be able to see the difference in the surfacing before they breech and be able to get the whole thing, rather than just the "once they're out of the water" state.

But if I wanted really good shots, there are some awesome coffee table books out there; others have already done better images than I can do on a few trips out. These have meaning to me because I was there.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-06 20:53:54.829739+00 by: jeff

Right on ... I got excited just looking at the photos. I can only imagine what the experience was like! Awesome!