Summer has truly been whizzing by this year, and it’s difficult to believe this is my first blog post for the month of July. Apologies. There have been many wonderful things happening here at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, California, from new resident artists joining our family, to the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts, the Local Color Exhibition, the Phantom Project Art Show, tour groups from Germany and Australia, and much more. I am thrilled to announce that after many months (and years) of waiting, my new 36MP Nikon D800 digital SLR camera has finally arrived! As most of my friends know, I have put off upgrading to a DSLR with a full-frame sensor for many years, hoping Nikon would finally up the ante in terms of megapixels.
One of my photographic passions is night photography; however, using a camera with a smaller cropped sensor tends to introduce a lot of noise with longer exposures, and makes photographing star trails difficult. I have been a Nikon shooter all my life and own much great glass (lenses) from my legacy analog (film) days. But, of course, with a cropped sensor, the focal length of a lens becomes multiplied by a factor of 1.5x normal. Thus my prime wide-angle 20mm lens ends up with a 30mm field of view, a 50mm lens becomes a 75mm, and so on. Therefore, my love of wide-angle shots has been severely impacted. It’s still hard to believe that Nikon was charging $3-5K (yes, folks, that’s thousands of dollars) for a digital SLR with ‘only’ 12 MP, but that was the reality. Of course there are other factors to consider such as pixel size and noise, but I do make a lot of prints. So pixel counts and resolution matter to me. Thus my unanticipated lengthy wait for a camera that would allow me to make large prints and still use my legacy glass to shoot landscapes and architecture.
Now that this baby is finally in my hands, there is much to learn in terms of new features and camera operations. And, of course, I needed to ‘accessorize’ like all photographers must with new professional cameras. Very fast, high-capacity memory cards, a new cable release and intervalometer, an upgrade to Adobe Lightroom 4 to read my Camera RAW files, and much more has been necessary. Well, at least waiting enables you to save money. I will be taking a road trip soon to test out the Nikon D800 in all its 36MP glory, and look forward to posting on my website more often. I have always been the proverbial night owl type of person, and love the stillness and beauty of the darkness. Wrapped in the shroud of the night puts me into a meditative trance, almost like being rocked to sleep. Except I am awake and enjoying the special gifts of the darkest hours, from gorgeous stars and full moons, to abandoned structures and architecture under various sources of light. Everything looks different at night and very atmospheric.
Meanwhile, I wanted to post a couple of images taken at night here in San Luis Obispo County. The top image was taken in Morro Bay in front of an abandoned art deco building. For whatever reason, the lights inside the glass blocks still light up at night, leaving you with an eerie feeling of being watched. For those of you who are true pixel peepers, please know that the column of glass block does indeed lean slightly to the left. It’s not that I neglected to straighten the lines in Photoshop. This classic building is near the intersection of Highways 1 and 41, and makes for great photographic fodder. I processed this image to give it the look and feel of an old Holga camera. The second image was taken in San Miguel at the historic Elkhorn Bar, and at a deliberately crooked angle to make it appear that the photographer was a bit tipsy. That is why I named it “Someone Call a Cab.” If you are ever passing through San Miguel, perhaps to visit the very historic Mission San Miguel, I highly recommend stopping by the old Elkhorn for a drink. Both images are comprised of HDR bracketed shots processed in Photomatix, Lightroom, Photoshop, and with Nik and onOne Software plug-ins. Not too shabby for an older Nikon DSLR with a cropped sensor. But not enough for a very large metal print. So welcome to my new Nikon D800.