Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Kuwait Scientific Center

Primal Fear
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
The Kuwait Scientific Center (KSR) is a great place to observe a world that most of us will not get to see otherwise. It has one of the largest aquarium tanks in the middle east, plus various other smaller tanks that host a variety of sea life.
KSR is located on the Gulf Road, just after the Sultan Center, Salmiya.
For a photographer (with the right equipment), it presents a great opportunity to take pictures of an underwater world. Flash is pretty useless here (and is actually prohibited as it disturbs the fish), but that does not stop all the excited visitors from happily clicking away with their point & shoot cameras, and then wondering why their photos are not coming properly. Of course, a flash will reflect off the glass resulting in over-exposed pictures, and the picture will have a big blob of light in the middle, where the fish is supposed to be.

What you really need is a camera that can operate at high ISO, and a fast lens. When I say fast lens, I mean "really really fast"!. For this picture, I used the 50mm F1.8 prime lens, with the ISO bumped upto 1000, and the lens opened wide to its maximum aperture of 1.8.
The Nikon D70 is not a stellar performer in handling noise once the ISO goes beyond 800. I had to use Neat Image Pro to reduce to noise and apply some post-processing in Photo shop to bring out the details in this picture.

My ideal combination for shooting here would be...
A Nikon D200 with a 85mm 1.4 lens. Alas, I can afford neither at this present moment.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Portrait Photography

Last week, my wife wanted to renew her passport so she went to the nearby studio to take some passport-sized photos. The results came out quite unflattering. Over-exposed face, distorted perspective, wrong pose etc. etc. I would have posted the sample photo taken by the studio but I fear for my life :)
Anyway, I suggested that I take the studio shot as I have the basic equipment required to take portrait photos, plus a photo printer to do the printing and a photo cutter to make it look like a professional job.
This is the first time I have attempted an actual portrait photo so I wanted to make a good job of it. I setup my blue backdrop and arranged the 2 wireless flash units on each side pointing upwards so that they will bounce off the white ceiling giving an even distribution of light. The Nikon D70 was setup with it's master flash covered with a flash diffuser pointing straight at the subject (that's my wife), but with the power reduced to eliminate over-exposure.
I fitted the camera with the superb 50mm 1.8 lens opened to it's optimum optical performance of F8. The shutter speed was manually set to 125th of a second, and the 3 flashes took care of providing the sufficient light to make this work.
The resulting photo was slightly photoshopped with some healing brush and some minor adjustments. I think I will stick to home-made portraits for the family in future.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Brazilians In Kuwait

Brazilians In Kuwait
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
I have not had many opportunities to use my Nikon 80-200 F2.8 lens. The football match between Kuwait & Brazil was a good chance for me to try out it's low-light capabilities.
I had previously tried photographing night-time football matches with the cheaper 70-300 lens, and had never found any photos acceptable. The lens was so slow (F5.6 at the tele end), that it made focusing virtually impossible, and the resulting images were soft and blurry.
The new lens is a stellar performer. Even without AF-S, the focusing is very fast. I mounted it on a monopod and set the ISO to 1000. The images (though a bit noisy) are tack sharp and very usable.
This lens (for approx $800) is currently the best value for money from Nikon (apart from the 50mm F1.8 - which, at $90, is the deal of the century).