I am sure this resonates with everyone – You ask your wife, husband, family member or friend what they would like for Christmas and they can’t think of anything.
Suprising a photographer isn’t easy though as your need to know what they have and what system they use, right? Well not really – there are many camera aids, tools and ideas that any photographer would like no matter whether what system they use. Listed below are what I think would make any photographer delighted. All these ideas will work for any camera system they use – so you can be sure that you are getting them something that they will love.
Why not go out and surprise them this year? (I have put some links in below to where I purchased the items – to hopefully make it easier!)
Budget: less than £10
Op/Tech Rainsleeve – Twin Pack >> - £5.43 (from Amazon)
Budget: £10 – £20
This will instantly improve the quality of any photos. Whether you are doing still life or portraits. It massive helps create professionally looking images. It is great fun trying to collapse it as well!
Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 7 >> - £15.00 (from Amazon)
Money no object! £100 – £1,000
I was lucky enough to pick one of these up recently and it is an awesome camera. It is photography as it should be. No zoom, no interchangeable lens and awesome image quality. You would get a lot of brownie points for this!
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I don’t write many technical blogs and I don’t think I have ever written one on printing technique. However, it has taken me days to get the best settings for Hahnemuhle fine art paper and I thought it was worth sharing.
For those of you that have never used Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308g paper before it is a matt fine art paper. It has a smooth but very slightly textured paper and certainly isn’t like the Epson Archival matt paper which is much brighter white and very very smooth. When printed on correctly it is an amazing paper and the detail and colour saturation are amazing. Full settings below.
All images were printed from Lightroom 4.3.
The settings that I used were
Lightroom Print Module
Printer profile: HFA_Eps3800_MK_PhotoRag.icc
Print resolution 300ppi
Print sharpening: Standard / Matt
Print Dialog (Mac) / Print settings
Media Type: Velvet Fine Art Paper
Color Settings: Off
Print Quality: Superfine – 1440dpi / High speed – OFF / Finest Detail
Print Dialog (Mac) / Paper configuration
Color Density: 0
Drying Time: 3 (This is critical)
Paper Thickness: 5
Platen Gap: Auto
I found 2 of the settings that did make a big difference were turning on Finest Detail and Drying Time of 3. I experimented a lot with the drying time and a longer drying time resulted in significantly improved detail. This maybe my specific printer but these settings created amazing prints.
I have had my Nikon D800 for 1 year now.
This anniversary of getting my D800 falls quite nicely with my 1st photographic exhibition that features photos taken with the camera over the last year. The exhibition will showcase images from the Peak District and surrounding area. I have printed the photos on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Paper and some are enlarged to 65cm wide showing the true potential of the large megapixel sensor on the Nikon D800. Most of the photos are taken with two lenses;
I would say that 70% of the images are using the 24-70mm lens (at the 24mm end). For the wider shots the 16-35mm Nikkor is awesome. I really struggled with the decision over that and the 14-24mm Nikkor but decided on the 16-35mm as I wanted to use my Lee filters. I am really pleased with my decision on this and have never thought I need the extra 2mm or that any of the images are soft.
Winter Sunrise, Nr Rainow – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 VR. F/9 1/60s ISO 100 (48mm)
Here are some of the stats from the last year.
- 16,000 images taken
- 400 GB of storage required (95% of the images were taken at full res in RAW)
- Average of around 25Mb per image
Storm clouds over hut, Goyt Valley – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR. F/8 1/400s ISO 400 (70mm)
A couple of the tools that I have found really useful with the Nikon D800.
MB-D12 for Nikon D800 – the official Nikon grip and battery holder is really expensive. This replacement is a 1/3 of the price and does exactly the same job.
Lightroom 4.3 – I have moved from Aperture to Lightroom 4.3 and found that I now on rarely use photoshop. 80% of the images that I edited and printed for my up coming exhibition were created in Lightroom. I would encourage anybody to use Lightroom as it is a great way of categorising your photos.
The Cloud or Bosley Cloud is described by Wikipedia as a prominent hill which lies on the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire a couple of miles to the west of the Peak district national park boundary. The hill was shaped in the ice age by the passage of ice.
In the past I have walked up it many times with my kids but never done much photography up there. Getting to the top is really simple though and it can be accessed easily on the North East side from Red lane. The images below are a couple of the shots I have taken over the last few weeks on a number of visits.
Sunrise over ‘The Cloud’ – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F22 1/60s ISO 160 (70mm)
Bosley Cloud itself is difficult to photograph and I have tried lots of different angles but not really found an image that works. The above image was a grab shot taken recently from the A34 on the way to work and shows the geographical contours of The Cloud.
After a couple of visits at both sunrise and sunset I decided that the morning light created the best compositional opportunities.
Golden light, Bosley Cloud – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 F/9 1/60s ISO 100 (48mm)
Morning rays, Bosley Cloud – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR. F/9 1/200s ISO 100 (130mm)
Another amazing morning mist in the peaks. The rays of light were stunning – it was a shame I couldn’t have spent more time up here. Often landscape photographers forget about isolating areas of the image with a long lens. In misty conditions like ‘morning rays’ above this can be really effective. In rays in this photo weren’t as obvious in the wider image and even by the naked eye but are accentuated in the tight crop 130mm focal length gives.
These and many other images of the peak district and surrounding areas can be seen at my exhibition next year at Bollington Arts Centre entitled Peak Discovery.
I have now used my D800 for 2 months. Well actually that isn’t quite correct. I have owned my D800 for 2 months, 1 week of which Nikon had it. It all started after I had shot some portraits of my kids and noticed that when using the edge focus points they weren’t as pin sharp as the central point. I had read about this online and didn’t think my camera had the same problem. After some ad-hoch tests (see below) I emailed Nikon NPS in the UK and they asked me to send it in.
My focus tests were performed on a Sigma F1.4 50mm lens (This exhibited the strongest focus problem)
Left edge – Was around 10cm out
Right edge – Was around 6cm out
Nikon NPS UK were brilliant and 1 week later I got it back and the problem has been improved but not solved but does seem to be exaggerated on the Sigma 50mm F1.4 lens.
I have decided to work around the problem until Nikon has admitted the issue and rolled out a permanent fix. It doesn’t impact on most of my photography and actually can be avoided most of the time. The only instance that I find it problematic is if I am shooting fast moving action that I want to be in the LHS of the frame. I will have to make sure that all my footballers are running from right to left!
The Great Ridge, Mam Tor - Nikon D800 and a Nikon 16-35mm F4 and Lee 0.9ND
This wasn’t the only problem I has with my D800. I had one of the explosive batteries and my camera locks up! That is what happens if you get one of the first D800 cameras I suppose and Nikon have acted extremely well in helping me solve these issues.
On a more positive note I have taken some stunning landscape shots on the D800 over the last month and the results don’t fail to amaze me. For me it is 3 areas of the D800 that really stand out as a landscape photographer
The resolution – The images printed big are simply breathtaking. The resolution also allows you a lot of room for creating images from images.
The dynamic range – Something that isn’t spoken about too much is the dynamic range the D800 has. The level of detail is amazing – especially out of the shadows.
The usability – I am going to write my next blog on 10 things you must do with your D800. The tools that are available are great and the ergonomics of the design really helps access them quickly. The view finder is bright and the live view with horizon is an invaluable tool. It really does all add to an all round package.
Evening light at Mam Tor – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 16-35mm F4 VR. F/16 1/20s ISO 200 16mm
One of the big decisions I had to make was around a ultra-wide angle lens. It came down to 3 choices
Options for a sub 20mm ultra-wide lens for D800 FX format camera
- Tokina 16-28mm F2.8 PRO FX
- Nikon 12-24mm F2.8
- Nikon 16-35mm F4 VR
Obviously the Nikon 12-24 is an amazing class leading lens. But you can’t fit a Lee filter system to it without a seriously expensive add-on from Lee. The Tokina really appealed to me as I loved the 11-16mm DX Tokina I used on my D200. Again though you can’t fit filters on the front. I really don’t understand why these 2 lenses haven’t been designed with this in mind. They will be used by landscape photographers and they always use ND Grads.
So I went for a Nikon 16-35mm Lens and love it. The 2 images above are taken with this lens and the prints of these look stunning. I really can’t see why you need to pay more and go for the Nikon 12-24mm. Obviously you get 4mm more at the wide end which is a lot and if you think you need that then go for it. For me, 16mm is wide enough and any wider would result in difficult to correct distortion.
Rapeseed at Tidnock – Nikon D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8. F/8 1/640s ISO 200 24mm