Entries Tagged as 'D7100'

Behind the Exif: Armageddon inbound

Inbound Storms

The trick to any good weather photo… is wait for it… good weather.  And as far as weather photos go, the stormier the weather is, the better the photo will be.

Finally after 3 days of build up of hot and humid weather, Melbourne finally got a decent storm front with the cold change coming in at Monday lunch time.

So here is how I created my Armageddon inbound photo.

radarPoint 1: Know the weather.  This is the radar trace as the storm lines moved towards the CBD, which is about when I knew to head to the photo location.  You don’t want to get to your location for a storm front to early, there won’t be anything to see, and you don’t want to get there to late, you might just get very very rained on.  And if you are very lucky you will get a nice bit of sun still illuminating your foreground subject matter. 15 to 20 minutes before it is going to rain at your location is a good starting point where the gust front clouds are at their best.

Point 2: To make a good panorama, forget auto-mode on your camera.  Manual mode will be your friend down the track.  All of the shots I used to make the pano were shot with the same settings.  This way it is easier to balance the settings as opposed to having to tweak each photo when shot auto which will have different shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

All these shots were taken with the following settings:

Camera: Nikon D7100
Lens: Sigma 18-35mm
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter Speed: 125 s
Aperture: f/7.1
ISO: 100

Point 3: You can not take to many photos for a panorama.  Lots and lots help, the more overlap between shots the easier it is for software to stitch the images together.  However when shooting a storm, you have to move fast, the clouds move a lot in even one minute, so put the camera in landscape mode for shooting and shoot fast and often.

Point 4: Now comes the fun part… putting it together into a single image.  My choice of software for this was Adobe LightRoom to process the Raw files… ( you do only shoot Raw don’t you… oh please tell me you don’t just shoot JPEG) and the latest version of Microsoft Image Composite Editor (Yes MICE).  I was a huge fan on ICE from version 1, version 2 just recently released is one of the fastest and most flexible panorama software tools out there. So here are the steps.


Step 1:
Import all the RAW files into Lightroom, then select just one of the photos to act as the master file for processing.
Storm Panorama - Stage 1

Step 2:
Lens Correction, this will fix a world of aliments with any image in one quick go.
Storm Panorama - Stage 2

Step 3:
In this case, adjusting the profile to Vivid and a tweak on black, highlights and dropping the exposure from auto-tone, which I feel is always to bright and we are done.
Storm Panorama - Stage 3

Step 4:
Because all the shots were taken with the same manual settings I can just select the rest of the images in my sequence and Sync all the Develop settings.
Storm Panorama - Stage 4

Step 5:
Export out, not just low res versions, but the full 300 DPI versions. Then launch Microsoft ICE and import all the images in one batch.
Storm Panorama - Stage 5

Step 6:
Play with the motion that works best for your panorama, unlike Photoshop, ICE shows you in real-time what your pano will look like, sometimes the default isn’t the effect you want.
Storm Panorama - Stage 6

Step 7:
Tweak the Crop, ICE version 2 now does the Photoshop trick of “Content Aware” fills as well which can help.
Storm Panorama - Stage 7

Step 8:
Export out the biggest version you can. No point stuffing around with little JPEG’s… in this case I was starting with 150mb of RAW files.
Storm Panorama - Stage 8

Step 9:
Hello LightRoom again. Save the image from ICE back into the folder you imported the images into LightRoom. Once done, open LightRoom, right click on that folder and choose “Synchronise Folder” and hey presto there is your image. Now tweak away. In this case you can see I played with cropping, angle, lens correction and distortion.
Storm Panorama - Stage 9

Step 10:
Sit back and marvel at your creation.
Storm Panorama - Stage 10

Step 11:
Buy this image because it would look great on your wall and I need to buy more camera gear.

Or a coffee mug, pillow, or laptop or phone case 🙂

And if you want to see what the storm looked like rolling in…


Did you check point 11…. just asking, as I really do want more camera gear.


Behind the Exif: From meh to wow thanks to Lightroom.

I’ve made no secret of my love of shooting with my Nikon, my love of my Tokina 11-16mm, nor my love of Lightroom. So we can move past that mutual appreciation society and cut to the chase.

Running short of time, between moving from work to meet Mrs Wolfcat and the Cubs, I spotted a pretty sunset.  Of course, like any good photographer I had my camera and not just my phone on me, so I fired off a couple of shots.  In Auto-mode the camera just didn’t balance how I wanted, the sky just blew out the shot.  So quick flick to manual mode and start shooting.

The first shots got the sky closer to what I wanted, and the foreground element, but not the middle ground subject matter.  Never mind I said to myself.  Lightroom will be my friend when I get home.

So here is the process…
Stage 1 – Import – This is the Raw shot.
Stage 1

Stage 2 – Auto Tone ( to see what it does, never a final, always a starting point )
Stage 2

Stage 3/4 – Lens Correction and Camera Profile ( in this case Vivid )
Stage 4

Stage 5 – Saturation and Vibrance ( I want the colours to sing )
Stage 5

Stage 6 – Bottom Graduated Filter ( to bring up the shadows in the bottom and foreground elements )
Stage 6

Stage 7/8 – Top Graduated Filter ( Drop back the sky and introduce some shadows and contrast )
Stage 8

Stage 9 – Spot Removal ( in this case the bird, that wasn’t sharp at the shutter speed )
Stage 9

Stage 10 – Stuff around with Crop Angles… and export.
Stage 10



EXIF Data:

  • NIKON D7100
  • ISO Speed – 320
  • Date and Time (Original) –2014:07:28 17:43:00
  • Exposure Mode – Manual
  • White Balance – Auto
  • Focal Length (35mm format) – 16 mm
  • Scene Capture Type – Standard
  • Gain Control – None
  • Contrast – Normal
  • Saturation – Normal
  • Sharpness – Normal
  • Lens Model – Tokina 11.0-16.0 mm f/F2.8


This image is available to buy at both Redbubble and at 500px ( where it can be licensed as well )


Buy the print on Redbubble.

See the funny thing is, I would like to do more photography, but raising kids and camera gear don’t go hand in hand, so you really do need to buy my prints 🙂

Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 Nikon Mount – My First Review.

My new Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens For Nikon Unboxing 4/4

Now I know the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens For Nikon is currently as rare as unicorns at a KKK march, but now I finally have one, and wow.  Imagine the shock of seeing that analogy, and you start to get a feel for this lens.

I have over the years played with a wide variety of lenses and camera bodies, but what Sigma have produced with this lens is nothing short of Jesus walking on water, whilst singing Karaoke to the Pet Shop Boys “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” because with this lens, that is what they are about to do. This despite the lens having an RPP of $799 which is remarkably cheap for what it is. ( When announced rumours placed it at over $1200)

Of course, there is one major issue, firstly to make lots of money they are going to have to ship this lens.  I waited six months for it, and my supplier only got 4 on the day I got mine.  I thought it was an Australian only problem, with us often being last in the pecking order.  However I noticed that there are a lot of other countries complaining about the late delivery of the Nikon mount as well.

This does mean either Sigma had a great prototype that they couldn’t mass manufacture, or they simply didn’t make enough.  Only time will tell which is the answer to this question.

But on to the lens… wow, it is heavy.

Little fingers need little chocolateHeavy and long, to the point that you will end up holding the lens a lot more than you thought you would.  I find my hands supporting the lens, not my D7100 body.  Lucky the ergonomics of the lens are such that this is very comfortable. When you think that a Nikon D7100 is 765g inc battery and the Sigma 18-35mm lens is 810g you start to see why. Even my trusty Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 is only 548g.  Still it is a light weight to my Sigma 150-500mm which tops the scales at 1910g.  Sure it is under a kilo, what does that matter?  Trust me you will notice it the first time you sling your camera over your shoulder.  Drop it in your camera bag for a few days it will become more than a noticeable edition.

Yet this weight has to be balanced against what the lens does.  I must admit, I am having sad tinges that my Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 is leaving my camera bag as a day to day lens. On a DX body, sure the “75mm” lens is nice, but why do I need it when I have my wide to portrait lens already.

As for shooting with it.  I’ll take my “wow, it is heavy line” and shorten it to “wow”.  It is so sharp, so fast and so suited to the DX format it is a must buy lens for any DX shooter.  With a focal length just shy of 2cm from the end of the lens you can get so close to a subject and yet so wide it is astounding.

Fried TofuThis lens is perfect for shooting my children and I can see it will be a great favourite with the “food bloggers” as well. Yes it is that versatile.  Add to that the constant F/1.8 and you have a low light master as well.

Given I have left this lens on my camera for a week now, I am sure that my camera body and new lens have run off and got married in a secret ceremony that I was unaware was legal in my home state until now.

It is not without its faults.  Leaving aside the shipping/manufacturing issues, there a things to take into account.  Firstly, I just feel the lens hood doesn’t mount as clean as it should.  I find myself taking the petal hood off just fine, but mounting it, seems to take 2 times to get it seated properly.

Another issue is if you don’t have an external flash, you will need to fork out for one.  This lens is so long it will leave a shadow in every shot, even without the lens hood on if you use the pop up flash. ( Not a problem for me, I have the SB700 already 🙂 )

The other issue is that it is so fast, you have to compensate for it.  I have a lot of shots of fast moving objects where the lens and camera go, oh you want us to focus on that, na, we wont.  A bit of that is user error and a lot of that is getting used to it as well.

Of course if Sigma had made an 11-500mm F/1.8 lens I would buy it, but given it would weigh more than my car, I see there maybe a few issues here.  I still have my Tokina for Ultra wide shots, but this lens is already my go to lens for a wide variety of photos.

Nikkor, Sigma has thrown down a gauntlet, told you “you have been served’, and “ow that burns” as a comment.  I love your cameras, but Nikon, sorry, this is how you make and sell a great lens.

My recommendation is if you are a DX shooter, buy this lens, just don’t expect it in a hurry.

Now to get my hands on some of the other Sigma Art Series Lenses, if they are as good as this, they will be fantastic.


And here is my Flickr Set for the Sigma 18-35mm Lens.

Technical Specs: ( Via sigma.com )

Lens Construction 17 Elements in 12 Groups
Angle of View (SD1) 76.5º-44.2º
Number of Diaphragm Blades 9
Mininum Aperture f16
Minimum Focusing Distance 28 cm
Filter Size (mm) 72mm
Maximum Magnifications 1:4.3
(Diameter x Length)
78mm x 121.0mm
Weight 810grams


Missing from the EXIF: Docklands Fireworks

Docklands Fireworks 1/4It has been a while since I did one of these posts, actually it has been a while since I did any camera related posts to be honest, but twins do that to you.  Since the last post, there has been one small change, I can haz new camera.  Why yes, I have a new D7100, and wow am I loving it.  ( but that is another post )

First real get out and shoot something opportunity came a week and a day after I purchased the D7100, the Docklands Winter Fireworks.  I was going for the day after I purchased the camera, but #manflu got in the way.  Which is not a bad thing on reflection, as I had another week to play and get used to the camera.

This was my first set of long exposures taken with the D7100, and my trusty Tokina 11-16mm lens.

The biggest advantage of the Docklands fireworks is that you get more than one opportunity.  Last year they were only on in July, this year, they are on in July and August so I have a few more chances to get the shot right.  Although after this shot, I may just stay home on the next few Friday nights.

Of course I got there nice and early, got my gear set up and fired off a few test shots.  Then as is often the case, the environment changed.  Someone decided to put some extra lights on the wharf.  These lights ended up as massive lens flares in every test shot.  So I had 10 minutes to move to a new location before the show began.

Being a fan of the interval timer mode, I had test shots to check for lighting and referencing last years shots I knew the basic F stop and Exposure settings I was after anyway.  So click click click goes the camera.  Just near the end of the show I think, wow check out the reflection and quickly rotate the D7100 into portrait mode.  And bang there is the shot.

Someone on Twitter asked me what settings I had used, well here they all are, and all the tweaks I did in Lightroom.  Tweaks that took me less than two min. As I say got to love shooting RAW ( and oh yeah 6000×4000 300dpi from the D7100 does give me some wiggle room for crops )

Stage 1 – Import the RAW – The Image as is off the camera
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 1

Stage 2
fix the angles and lens correction, then auto tone
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 2

Stage 3

Tweak the White Balance to get the colours correct
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 3

Stage 4

Final tweet to Vibrance and Clarity and then hit export… time in lightroom, less than 2 min.
Docklands Fireworks - Lightroom - Stage 4



The EXIF Info:

Camera Nikon D7100
Exposure 5 Seconds
Aperture f/9.0
Focal Length 11 mm
ISO Speed 250
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash Off, Did not fire
Software Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4 (Windows)
Exposure Program Manual
Date and Time (Original) 2013:07:12 19:15:34
Exposure Mode Manual
White Balance Auto
Lens Info 11-16mm f/2.8
Date Created 2013:07:12
Time Created 19:15:34
Creator Tool Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4 (Windows)
Image Number 830


and of course you can purchase this print:

From Redbubble as a print, postcard, framed or poster

and also from 500PX as a canvas print, or you can vote for it.