Saturday, June 9, 2012

Home from New Mexico

I got back two weeks ago tomorrow, and am still going through my photos.

First, I have to say that the Nikon D800 is an amazing piece of tech, and I've decided that I need to save up to get one. I was actually debating on the D800e, until I got to look at the files when I got home... even just looking at the RAW files in Lightroom, it almost looks like I've over sharpened them; the resolution is that good. I'm almost thinking that the lack of the anti-aliasing filter would possibly be too much.

I do LOVE the built-in three axis level, which can be programmed to turn on with one of the two programmable soft buttons on the front of the body right near the lens mount that are reachable with your right hand. Also, the M-UP (formerly tripod mode) availability on the mode dial is incredibly useful. No more rooting through menus. The low light response is incredible, as is the tonal response through the entire range of the sensor. I read somewhere that it's pushing 14 EV (nearing that of slide film), and I tend to believe it...

Slot Canyon at Kasha-Katuwe as shot

Just as an experiment (for both the camera and Lightroom 4), I shot this on one of my hikes with the meter set for full matrix metering, trying to get the shadows and highlights to just about start clipping out because the scene was so extreme. I wanted to see if anything would be salvageable at the high and low ends of the exposure without having to resort to HDR. After some minor tweaking with some of the new controls in Lightroom's Develop Module, I got this:

Same frame after some minor adjustments.
I then started thinking about 13 years ago when I got my first digital camera, a Nikon E950, this kind of image recovery would have been nearly impossible; but then again, this camera has nearly 20 times the resolution of the E950.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned that I was debating which camera body/lens combination I wanted to use for the eclipse- either my D300 with my 300mm lens, or the rented D800 with my 80-200. I decided on the latter for a couple reasons. First, the lens is much higher quality. The second was that while the native crop factor of the D300 makes the lens effectively 1.5 times longer, with the D800 I could crop 50% of the frame away, and still have more data in the file.

2012 Annular Eclipse
The eclipse was definitely something to see, and I'm absolutely thrilled I decided to go. The Bugger is that I filled an 8GB memory card with just this at varying stages.

Horizon at full annularity.
The part that I found amazing about the eclipse was how much light was still available. The above two photos were taken within a minute of each other.

Due to where I was, the moon's shadow was still present on the sun at sunset.

The line across the bottom of the sun is the horizon, and you can just about make out the corner of one of the volcanoes in Petroglyph (the high points in the horizon shot above).

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