No Grip and a Fifty

By elvishefer / March, 16, 2012 / 0

Today I decided to try something a little different for me; I took the (rather massive) 24-70mm off my camera, and replaced it with my much smaller and lighter 50mm f/1.4. Then I removed the grip from the body, reducing my rather imposing looking camera to something a little more tame.

The reason? On the way home from my last photo walk I took five or so street photos with my phone. These were of people, and I took them without them realizing it – true street photography. It was definitely voyeuristic, and it really brought home to me what the subtleties of a small camera can do for capturing ‘the moment’. None of the photos I took would win awards, but one image especially had me lamenting the poor quality of my phone’s camera vs. the potentially perfect control and high quality of my DSLR. Today was an attempt to get back that feeling of anonymity and freedom of carrying a small camera.

Unfortunately, a D700 is a large body no matter how you strip it down, so it wasn’t at all the same as using a phone. But it did make me feel a bit lighter, and as always, shooting a prime had me moving around a lot more to frame images the way I wanted them. I missed the grip terribly whenever I shot verticals, and I shot a lot of them.

This photo was all about triangles. This time my walk started with the idea of shapes and color, and wound up firmly rooted in technique. You’ll see what I mean.

Like this one. Not a great photo by any means. But I had a goal that took shape when I shot the image, and ended in post production. I wanted to create the feel of looking through an old telescope at an old ship in a rising storm. I went out walking expecting Severe Thunder Showers (so said the weather network warning), and didn’t encounter any. So I had to fake it by taking the calm conditions and processing the heck out of them to make them dark and nasty. The blue tint, a split toning technique I’ve recently started messing with, makes the image feel cold.

This stack of what looked like pallets but probably aren’t, was destined for practicing a high-contrast Photoshop technique I recently learned about. This is the best I could do in Lightroom 4. Not really an exciting photo, but all the lines make it seem like it’s more than it is.

More split toning on some dead grass, with some work to bring out the clouds. The advantage of split toning, a technique used in everything from landscapes to fashion photography, is that you can add a color that denotes or evokes a mood. These grass seem lonely and cold. And very dead.

Same technique applied to different grass. Again, to me the grass seems more dead than the original image. I think I missed the point of the shot, however, as the composition doesn’t really show off the geometric symmetry I saw when taking the photo. I’m sure there will be a next time.

This image and the next three are further attempts to make the CN Tower look different than the (likely thousands) of photos taken of it every day. The technique used here was a long exposure with deliberate left to right, right to left camera rotation. Just a bit of movement to make the ordinary seem otherwise. Yes, this happens to hundreds of tourists accidentally every day.

There are some lights hanging from a bridge to form the lines of a sail on a metal-framed art piece. I used them to create bokeh spheres to frame the tower with a bit of glamor. I couldn’t decide which I liked better, so I included all three effects.


There were two color of bulbs, so I shot both. The shapes of the bokeh are determined, in this case, by a) the number of blades in the len’s diaphragm, b) the distance from the camera to the bulbs and c) the relative focal point.

Finally, another long exposure technique, and an obliging street car for color. If trying this at home, I would suggest using a tripod so the background stays sharp. Although, I’m kind of liking the overall effect of the camera’s motion blur in this one. Sky and street make a nice frame, and the building aligns with the left side thirds line. Saturated a bit to keep the colors popping!

That’s it for this walk; it’s easy to get used to good weather. I hope to be back out tomorrow, and here’s hoping for a good sunset!



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