Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 G

One ping only!

It’s always cool coming across old military equipment while out on an Urban Explore, like the odd gas mask, military insignia, and old Soviet electronics.  We found these in a location that probably does not see too many visitors, as it is a bit off the beaten path.  When we spotted these, I was immediately reminded of the classic line in the ‘Hunt for Red October’, thus the name of today’s post.  By the way, you can see my URBEX buddy Luis’ shot of these over on his website.  He has some great photography on his site, so do check out his other work as well.

21 Guns

I don’t know about you, but I get excited when I find old armories while exploring abandoned military bases.  This particular armory, at Soviet Base “V”,  had weapon racks on both sides of the room (the side I’ve captured here, as well as the wall behind me), and this was only one of the armories we discovered on this base.  Suffice to say that they had a whole lot more than 21 guns in this room, but you’re stuck with that name for today’s post ’cause I was listening to Green Day’s 21 Guns while post-processing and writing this blog entry.


As a bonus, to give you a little bit of the feel of what it was like to get up close and personal to these racks, I’ve included a second shot where you can clearly read the serial numbers of some of the weapons, as well as the names and ranks of the soldiers. By the way, the Russian rank Ефрейтор (Efreitor, from the German word Gefreiter) is higher than the rank of Private, but just below the Russian rank of Junior Sergeant.

Remains of the Day

I had actually intended to post another image today, but chose to post-process and upload this one instead, following a great question I received on Twitter today.  The, in short:  When shooting HDR brackets in low light environments, would I rather open the aperture more, or would I rather increase the ISO, if trying to maintain reasonable shutter speeds (read: 30 seconds or faster)? Answer: I’d be far more inclined to open that aperture more. Take today’s photo for example; by the time I shot this, the sun was already down.  So I turned to my trusty Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, dropped my ISO to L1.0 (Nikon speak for ISO 100), set my aperture to f/2.0 (only because I wanted just a wee bit more depth of field than the wide-open setting of f/1.4 would give me, and bracketed away.  I ended up with the fastest exposure being 1/125 sec and the slowest 1/30 sec.  Not bad, and I was off to shoot my next set elsewhere without having to wait several minutes for the bracketing to completer, had I dialed in f/11 or f/16.  The above said, everything also depends on the importance of what you’ve got goin’ on in the background.  In this photograph, the background was not as important as the subject, and I lost nothing by letting it blur out with the larger aperture.  Had I been shooting a scene where I also wanted the background objects to be crisp and clear, I would have closed her down to f/5.6 or f/8 (and raised the ISO to 200) and fired away, and still been done with the brackets in a reasonable time.  Bottom line, for me at least, is I’d rather open the aperture up more, and lose depth of field, than increase the ISO, because I prefer really clean (relatively noise free) RAW brackets to work with when shooting HDR.  Your results may vary! (NOTE: Yes I do shoot the Nikon D700, and yes it handles noise really, really well, but I still choose to shoot my HDR brackets at ISOs no higher than 200 because I don’t like how Photomatix increases noise significantly when working with brackets with high ISOs)..


Does this dress make me look fat?

I’m one of those dudes who has GOT to TAKE a picture every day, or I get antsy.  Heck, I don’t even care if I ever process it!  It’s the sheer joy of looking at (or creating) a scene to shoot, assessing the light, framing the shot, and pressing the shutter.  Oh, that sweet sound of the click of the shutter.  So sublime.   I’ve captured a subject — a look, a gesture, a glance, a beam of light, a shadow — that has never existed precisely  the same way before and will never exist the same way ever again.  Mere seconds later, the sun dipped further, the shadows shifted, the temperature cooled, and the moment was gone…. forever.  But I will always have it in my little black box of a camera, and now that I’ve processed it, you can share that very moment with me as well.  It’s almost like being there!

Beautiful Noise

Warning!  Warning! Warning!  I love all kinds of music, from ABBA to ZZ Top and almost everything in between.  Ok, you’ve been warned, so let’s move on!  Today’s shot comes courtesy of… wait for it…  Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise!  I warned you!  Anyway, I love that song, and admit it, you do too.  And, it it fits nicely with what I want to tell ya’ll today.  NOISE (whether in some new music you may never have heard, or thought you’d care to hear, or in a digital photograph) can actually be good. I should note that I am basing this on my own observations when shooting with my Nikon D700, which renders, to my eyes at least, a wonderful, almost organic noise in high ISO images.  Take today’s image as an example (only ISO 1100, by the way).  I almost feel like I shot this with film, natural, tactile, textured, organic grain!  I love it!  To help you better see the quality of the noise the D700 produces, I’ve included some tight crops of the photograph below the main picture (don’t ask me if they are 100 % crops, ’cause I still don’t know what that means, though I suppose I should figure that out if I’m post crops on the ‘net.  I just cropped it in tight enough to show you the noise.  By the way, I shot this on my cluttered study desk, in very low light, using the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.  Love that lens!

Nikon D700 with Nikkor 50mm f 1.4G, shot at f/1.4, ISO 1100, 1/60 sec.

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