Get a flash and get if off the camera!

Nikon SB-28

It may be a surprise to some but 99.9% of all the film that I shoot is done so without a flash. In fact, currently all of the images in the gallery are flash free. I’m a natural light person as my work would indicate. However, this may all be about to change. Inspired by the work of Joe McNally and the possibilities of balanced fill flash, I grabbed a Nikon SB-28 cheap as well as a gold bounce diffuser and an off camera TTL cord. I’m no expert on this stuff especially as it is impossible to get instant feedback from film so I relied heavily on the brains of my F4. The result was very pleasing as I have never before warmed to the often harsh light of flash photography. From memory the shot above was taken with a 50mm f1.4 AI-S and -0.7 dialed into the SB-28. Keeping in mind this was taken in the warm light of sunset the effect from the gold diffuser is exactly what I look for in lighting subjects. I dare say this combination may be used much more by me in the future.

National Geographic Photo Contest 2012



The National Geographic photo contest for 2012 is now open here! It’s $15 USD per entry and this year I have entered with this shot of sunrise down at the Newcastle Baths titled Morning Fire. If you have face book by all means like it and spread the word. Additionally the 2012 International Loupe Awards are also open to entry.

First thoughts on the Nikon F4

With one roll quickly fired through its shutters, my initial assumptions on this workhorse were somewhat off. I had first looked at it as an older F5 as it has all the features of modern auto focus SLR’s (arguably the first to do so). However, the F4 is actually more similar to the older F3, with the addition of some lights and motors. It’s hard to describe exactly why this is so you’ll have to try first hand (my F4 only set me back $280!). These ramblings aside, it’s a fantastic camera with a meter that is hard to fool. It also knows exactly what to do with matrix metered fill flash and is compatible with every single Nikkor lens made. Its next assignment will be the high altitudes of the Himalaya.

Fact of the Day

In 1993 National Geographic photographers shot 46,769 rolls of film which equates to roughly 1,683,600 images! However, only 1,408 made it past the editing room floor. Now that is allot of film by anyone’s standards. I consider myself lucky if I shoot more than a roll a month! *Figures taken from the August 1995 NG magazine.

AA Batteries

If it were not for the modern rechargeable lithium ion batteries in today’s digital cameras I can imagine a world powered by AA’s (not a good idea!). As most of my gear is pre 2000, AA batteries were the only mainstream option. To give you an idea, My F5 takes 8, my F4 has 4, my P645NII uses 6, my SB-28 will take 4 and ask for another set soon after, and the MD-4 motor drive for the F3 will also consume 8! I’ve given rechargeable options a fair go over the years but they always seem to pack in just when you need them. Two small button cells used to be all that any camera needed…

Nikon F4

My new camera has arrived! The Nikon F4, a very special single digit Nikon that sits neatly beside my F3 and F5. So why another and why the F4? Well, I needed a film camera to travel to Nepal with as I have decided to shoot exclusively on film. Having ruled out medium format this time round (the Pentax really does weigh allot!) I needed something reliable, rugged and good with manual and auto focus lenses. I also didn’t want to risk my inherited F3 and favoured F5. Hence the F4 stood out with its ability to give matrix metering with the older AI/AI-S lenses and came at a good price. Traveling light is also a must and I highly recommend the smaller MB-20 grip to any potential F4 users for this reason. I will be throwing a few rolls of film at this workhorse in the next couple of weeks to quickly learn its way of thinking and unique intricacies. Stay tuned…

Picture of the Week

Shot with a Nikon F5 and 28mm f2.8 AI-S on Velvia 50.

Picture of the Week

Captured with the Pentax 645NII and 80-160mm on Velvia 50.


New film images added to the gallery!

Filter Sizes – Are they really that important?

Yes. There’s a good reason why Nikon kept the majority of their lenses at 52mm. It meant you only needed one set of filters. You could go from the 20mm f/3.5 right through to the 200mm f/4 (some of the super telephotos had 52mm drop-ins) without changing size. Even the 50mm f/1.2 managed to keep the 52mm diameter! Whilst this may not seem as pertinent in the digital age or fixed by the use of step-up rings, I disagree. Good filters are just as important today. With in-camera effects and post processing replacing many of them, there’s still no substitute for the likes of a warming polarizer, an 81A, an ND8, a graduated ND (at least 0.6) and of course a clear UV for protection. In fact I’d never travel without my grad ND and have recently found myself looking at lenses based purely on whether or not their filter size is 52 or 77mm (the professional size). I recently passed up the new Nikon 50mm 1.4G for the older D type because Nikon decided on a non-standard 58mm ring.

More on Graduated ND Filters.