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.