11.25.2011

Balance and perspective.

I've been writing a lot lately about the new Nikon V1 camera and it's three popular lenses.  And, of course some will think that this requires me to pledge lifelong loyalty to this system and this brand.  So I thought I'd step back and shoot with a totally different camera today.  I chose the  Canon 1DS mk2 and the manual focus, 35mm Zeiss f2 ZE lens from the Canon drawer.  I got a late start out of the house today because Belinda and I were making some last minute proofing corrections to the LED book which is about to go to the printer. (Yah!!!).  It was 4:30 or so when I left the FedEx office.

I'm such a creature of habit.  I walked the same route I do most weekends.  I like it because this part of town is in constant flux.  The mid point of my out and back route is Medici Cafe which, incidentally, has the best coffee in town.  The beginning and ending point is the Whole Foods headquarters store.  And today I was on a mission to buy a bottle of our favorite Sherry on the way home.

When I shoot with the Nikon V1 I tend to let the camera do a lot of the work.  It's like a squirrel on amphetamines.  Fast to focus.  Fast to review. Fast to go again.  The Canon is different.  I shoot nearly wide open with the 35mm and I try hard to get the focus right.  I also depend more on manual metering with the spot meter.  I think a bit about exposure compensation and I shoot for tonality and range.  Not pop and sharp.


The late November light was beautiful from 4:30 till about 5:30 this afternoon.  Not too contrasty but not flat.  The clouds seemed more resolved and inherently dramatic than usual.  I'd gotten a brief tutorial on B&W in the RAW converter in Lightroom, from Will so I made a few conversions of the files I'd shot just to see what it was all about.  Kudos to Will.  I like the black and white function there.

After weeks of using the Nikon V1 as my primary street shooting camera it felt strange to haul around a camera that weighs five times as much with a lens that weighs at least ten times as much as it's smaller counterpart.  And it took a while to reconfigure my mind to the single focal length lens in an angle of view that seems wide to me.  But after a while I found my cadence and started to enjoy either getting closer or including more.

It's obviously getting darker earlier and the light is so different from the harsh, Summer light.  I was delighted to be outside just when the ambient light started to match interior lighting and I kept walking and looking for interesting stuff to wrap the light around.

After the balance changes and the city lights beat the sky light it's time to head back home.  After a stop for the best cappuccino in Austin.  The secret, I think, is not to fear whole milk.  It adds the perfect taste and consistency to the mix.  If you are going to have a cappuccino made with skim milk you might as well save your money and just drink your coffee black......

This is my favorite image from today's walk because of the sky.  The sun's been down for about 30 minutes here but there's this delicious afterglow that makes it all work for me.  

I'd come to believe that the fabulous VR of the V1 system was the vital component in me getting good, sharp shots from that camera but I found that I'm okay at hand holding some stuff right on down to 1/15th with the big Canon.  And even though it is hardly state of the art at higher ISO's I think it still does a great job right up to ISO 1600.  While preserving good color saturation.

At the end of my walk I ran into a fellow photographer friend, named, Todd.  He's a good photographer and a great teacher.  He was sitting with a friend and during the course of our quick, catch up conversation mentioned my penchant for changing camera systems more often than some people change their underwear (unfair!!!).  I rebutted as follows:  If you had an decent food budget would you eat the same meal at the same restaurant, night after night?  I know I wouldn't.  I'd get tired of even the finest ribeye eventually and want some Chinese food or some pizza.  Hell, maybe even a hamburger....

Same thing with cameras.  Some days I want something light and refreshing.  Other days I want something filling and substantial.  I shot with the V1 yesterday and the 1Ds 2 today.  Yin and Yang.  Foil versus sabre.

The important thing was to get out and taste the light.  Breathe the air.  Move through time and space.  And feel the flow of late afternoon.  The camera was just a motivator.  

16 comments:

ezpoppy said...

Each format/camera/lens has its strengths and areas of weakness. You are indeed lucky to have access to a wide variety of hardware and intelligent to take advantage of it all. Why not? In the end, it is the person behind the camera making the decisions about what, where, when, how and so much more. The camera, used intelligently, functions as the tool to incorporate all those choices.

Bill Beebe said...

Great work as usual. I'm happy to see you took my twitter advice about which camera to take :)

wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

Yup. All cameras are compromises. And for me, they're also both a motivator and an excuse to get out and shoot.

That's All said...

I get on this real minimalist kick some times, I love the fidelity of the D700 but the E Pl-2 is just so, convenient . Then on an even more basic need, out comes (and goes) the S95.
It's like steak or Cheetos.

DrMickey said...

Kirk,
I love your walks with a camera, and this time #5 is my fave...the black and white image of the tower rising into a somewhat ominous sky.
Seriously, I love your walks with a camera. It really doesn't matter which camera you use at any given time (though I do enjoy your camera du jour reviews) because I come to VSL to see your vision, not your technical prowess or the latest Next Big Thing.
Having said that, don't stop commenting on the latest Next Big Thing, 'cause I'm a sucker for that sort of stuff...

thequietphotographer said...

Great sky in your photos. Just walking with a camera and looking around can be very relaxing.
robert

Richard said...

"The important thing was to get out and taste the light. Breathe the air. Move through time and space. And feel the flow of late afternoon. The camera was just a motivator."

Amen...
I can't tell if it is camera reviews or prose I like better. I will probably never own a V1, but I have certainly enjoyed reading about it. Thanks.

skiphunt said...

Hey Kirk,

You're a damn good photographer, but I really enjoy your writing. Maybe it's because your writing voice is simular to my own internal voice. I've mentioned it before but wanted to mention it again.

Have you written any fiction? Or strictly photography books?

Also, I walk this beat sometimes too. When you do, which coffee shop is your fav?

atmtx said...

Wonderful images. I like the evening shots during blue hour. There is some nice glow there. Your black and white conversion is fantastic.

kirk tuck said...

Thanks atmtx, I learned a lot in a recent "workshop" with a friend...

kirk tuck said...

Skip, I wrote a novel back in 2002 which I'm still "fine tuning" and I love to write fiction. Thanks for the compliment.

As to the route, it's my favorite walking meditation. And the best coffee shop (for me) is Medici Cafe on Congress Ave. at Second St.

skiphunt said...

Thanks! Didn't know there was a Medici on Congress. I used to go to the West Lynn location but since I don't live in that area, didn't like getting trapped there by traffic. Will check out Congress.

Just read your post about your LED book. Oh man, I am SOOOO freakin' out of the loop. I've gravitated so much to basic point and shoots that I haven't even paid any attention to what's going on. A friend I was visiting in NYC was buying a ring light that didn't look like anything substantial... but I bet it was LED. I just didn't bring it up because I mostly loathe gear conversations if they go on beyond a couple minutes. ;)

kirk tuck said...

LED's love compact cameras. Really.

skiphunt said...

Kirk, just did some searching on LEDs. Wow! Can't believe all the options. Now, I'm pretty sure my friend was buying LED fixtures. He seemed ashamed of it and made excuses about how he didn't want to take the time to figure out how to use strobes, etc.

If your book is just about ready for the press, why not release it now as an ebook? You can drop some code on your site and sell it yourself now.

I'm using this code/service which is free for basic usage. It works great and it's fairly easy to set up: http://www.ecwid.com/

kirk tuck said...

Skip, I'm pretty sure my publisher would consider that to be a breach of contract. And there are much better at marketing and distribution than I.
Afterall, they've helped me sell many,many thousands of books already......

The digital video book I'm working con will be an e-book.

skiphunt said...

Oh.. Ok. Just a suggestion. Best of luck with it.