Subscribe with Bloglines Greg's Photo Diary - the 365 project: 2009

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Shooting Fireworks

Being Guy Fawkes weekend, I had the opportunity to go out and try some firework photography. I read a tut on Digital Photography school, pack my bag and went off to Victoria Park, hackney, to give it a go. I am not too happy with the results, but they are not too bad for a first attempt.

I did make the mistake of arriving late, so did not find a good view point and did not have the tripod set up for the start of the show. Not a good start. I think if I had been a bit better prepared, I would have at least been able to frame the shots better.

So a couple of things you need to do when photographing fireworks:

1. Use a tripod and frame your shot.
2. Keep the camera in manual. This will mean the camera takes the shot as soon as you release the shutter.
3. Use a remote shutter release.
4. Keep the iso low - 100 or 200
5. Probably the most important thing is to work out the right shutter speed. I don't think I got it quite right. I took most of my shots on 4 seconds, but even went as short as 1 1/2 secs.

Getting the exposure right is tricky, so more practice is going to be needed. I also need to work out the ideal white balance.

Next weekend is the Lord Mayor's show, so more fireworks on the Southbank. Will give it a go then.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Macro - Extension tubes and screw-on lenses

I have dabbled in macro photography a little in the past, but without a dedicated macro lens, I have had to make use of my screw on lenses. I purchased some extension tubes on Amazon quite a while ago, but could not work out how to get them to work. This weekend with a bit of trail an error, I managed to get a few half decent shots.

So to show the difference these toys make, I have uploaded a few shots using nothing, the screw on and the extension tubes.

The first two are taken with the 18-105mmvr nikon lens. The second shot just being a crop of another shot.

The second two were taken with the same lens and the screw on attachments.

The last two with the extension tubes. With the extension tubes, you have to have the camera fully in Manual mode as the camera can meter on anything.

None of these are particularly wonderful, so I don't think I will even add any to flickr, but just wanted to show you how I am getting on.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

London Zoo - a good place for some bird photography!

One of my favorites from my last visit.

Lilac Breasted Roller

Strikingly similar to one I took last year!

Lilac Breated Roller

Baby big Cats

Two shots taken on the morning of my wedding. One can't complain!!!

Baby Cheetah on Tree

Lion Cub

Handheld and just a bit slow!

Got to like the Sigma 120-400os

Moon and plane

Pano's on CS4

Well, it has been a long time, but that does not mean I can't stick a shot or two up here. Work and getting married and some family illness has taken up all my time for the last 4 months, but now have quite a few shots to stick up.

I upgraded to CS4 from CS3. I have not noticed too much of a difference but then I am not an expert. I actually use CS4 very little. I must say the auto merge option is excellent on CS4. No need to set up the tripod to make sure that the shots line up exactly so you can stitch them together. Just shoot and make sure that there is some kind of over lap and hey presto, you get the results below.

I am currently experimenting with HDR and I will post one soon. Also made my first attempted at editing with the clone tool. I am going to remove the antennae from the bottom shot. I will let you see when I have done it.


Just checked the post and the shots are not coming through in pano format, so click on the pics to see the full shot on flickr.

Cape Town from the Top of Table Mountain
London Sunset

Monday, 1 June 2009

THe 2x sigma apo converter can give good results

A long time since my last post, but again life takes over from my hobby. Not even posting on Flikr at the minute.

Anyway, a half moon made me pull the camera out and take a few shots.

This one was taken straight on my 120-400mm sigma:

Moon June 1st 2009

Managed to get quite a few with the converter, but my macbook seems to be playing up a bit and iphoto has corrupted a load of my shots, of course just the ones taken with the converter. Serves me right for erasing before I have backed up the shots.

Always remember to make sure that you have two copies of the shot in separate locations before you delete the originals.

Anyway, here is the photo that survived - not the best one I took I must say...;-(

Moon 1st June 2009 Click on the picture to view the whole shot on flickr



Sunday, 5 April 2009

A few from trip to South Africa

Had to make an unscheduled trip to South Africa. It was a bit hectic, but managed to take a few shots.

The first two you will find on my flickr stream. Check me out the. My username is gregcsmith. Or just click on the picture and it will take you to my page.

The last picture was taken at the 20/20 cricket match between South Africa and Australia. Now the sigma was not designed for light conditions like this, but it did not do such a bad job between 120 and 250mm. Any further and it did not managed to hold focus on the subject. I managed to get focus on the crowd quite a bit. Managed a few decent shots. All in all not unhappy, just know the limits of the glass. Maybe I need to save up for the sigma 120-300 f2.8. It only costs £2000...:-)


Knysna Lourie

Sunday, 15 March 2009

A Stroll Around Shoreditch

Just some shots from a walk around Shoreditch. It is weather like today that makes living in London sooo much better.

Anyway, enjoy these pics, all take with the 50mm 1.8 nikon. Lovely lens!

Four of the pics are a mural on the wall advertising a new Kia Car!

Friday, 13 March 2009

2, 4 and 6 days later. A review of the Sigma APO 2x converter

Ok, ok, you must be sick of seeing my moon photography by now. I have been a bit busy at work and not really had a chance to pull the camera out that much, other than when I get home at night and that does not leave much option, other than setting up the "home studio", which just has not been an option.

I also thought the weather was going to get rubbish, but the moon managed to pop out quite a few times so it would have been a waste not to soot it. Also, the postie managed to deliver my Sigma APO 2X converter. So here are my thoughts on my limited use and only on shooting the moon.

On the way home from work last friday, the day the converter arrived, I had it on my camera with the Sigma 120-400mm os. Blue skies and sunshine and a 3/4 moon and thought, why not. Obviously, I was walking down the road and did not have my tripod, so thought I would give it a whirl handheld. The OS did a fantastic job and I am quite happy with the result. What do you think?

2 days later the moon was out again, this time a bit bigger and this time I was a bit later, so the sky was darker. I managed to get a bit more detail on this shot and again am quite happy. I say quite, as I did not take the the convert off to compare with the lens straight. Obviously, i was shooting completely manual and messed with the settings and this was the best result. Thoughts?

Another 2 days later the moon was out again, this time full. Now before you get to the shots, there was a very thin layer of clouds this night. Whilst shooting and looking at the lcd screen on the D90, I just was not happy with the detail. Now in the past I have not had the greatest results with a full moon, even with the 120-400 straight on. This may be because I have not got the camera settings spot on and that the light pollution in London with a full moon just is not ideal. So I thought I would take off the converter and and shoot a few shots. Guess what, you can barely tell the difference. Have a look and see. I would love an unbiased opinion on this. Let me know.
With Converter:


All in all I am not really in a position to give it a definite thumbs up or down. Time will tell, as long as I try it out on some other subjects. At this point though, some results are positive. We will see.

Comments welcome!!


Monday, 2 March 2009

What a difference 3 days make!

Not too much to say. Hope you like these two shots.

First shot taken on the night of the 27th of February 09. Second one taken tonight, the 2nd of March 09. Unfortunately, the weather is turning, so I doubt I will see the moon for a while now. I can only keep my fingers crossed that I do.

Until next time....

Friday, 27 February 2009

Is the Sigma 120-400 os any good?

I would have to say yes. The more I use this lens the more I like it!

Now there are pros and cons to this lens.

It is big and quite heavy. Lugging this bad boy around all day puts some stress on the neck. I am definitely going to invest in a better strap than the free nikon one that came with the camera - any suggestions welcomed.

It is not a super fast lens and in low light but still preforms pretty well. I have read reviews where people say it tracks badly, but I haven't noticed it. I guess it would not work well for indoor or night time sporting events under poor light. However, In full sunlight it is pretty good. Saying that, this lion was taken in poor light and the lens did behave quite well.

I took the following picture of a dragon fly in full sunlight. Now getting a shot of a dragon fly is never easy at the best of times. It took ages to get this shot, but not bad at 400mm.

It preforms well as a telephoto as the following moon shot and Lilac Breasted Roller show. The OS system, although quite noisy and sometimes a bit rough works very well.

Not great for macro or close ups, but not terrible.

Check these out!

Anyway, I hope this helps you if you are making a decision to buy this great lens.


Can using a screw on lens be "that easy"?


I guess if you are going for the pro level clarity and colour then a screw on is not going to cut it, but if you have a limited budget then £24 for some screw on's is the way forward.

All the recent macro shots I have posted here and on flickr have been with the normal gear, using a tripod and remote and the d90. I think this set up works pretty well, but also worked on my d70 and handheld.

All the following shots are handheld and some - the black and white flower and the yellow flower with the bug (not the moth) are from my old d70.

So I think you can get a decent macro shot using them and you can't go wrong with the price.