Note: this will be boring for them who ain’t passionate about their photography (and maybe even for them).
I opened the blinds, and looked out at a frosty landscape . . . I grab my camera, check the settings, open the sliding door, and snap a picture of one of the backyard maples (about 65 feet away).
Beautiful! . . . wait, let me look at it at full resolution . . .
That’s with my best lens, the VR on, at a shutter speed over twice the effective zoom of the lens (1/640s), set at constant focus, and with no wind to speak of.
I check the other photo I snapped . . .
OK, not too bad . . . let me look at full resolution . . .
OK . . . I’m perplexed . . . the lighting is good, the camera is capable, the lens is great . . . I must suck as a photographer.
Let me try my 400mm lens, really get close to the subject so I can make sure it’s in focus.
Hmmm . . . that does not look any better . . .
Closer, but no sharper . . . let me try a few more:
. . . !? . . .
A little better, but not what I am looking for. What the heck is going on?
OK, this last one could pass for a decent photo, but it’s still not as sharp as I would like. I move to the front yard, still with the 400mm loaded up; going to try some pseudo-macros using the long zoom.
OK, that looks decent, but . . . let me look at it at full resolution.
OK, I’m slightly more pleased, but this still looks rather soft. I try a few more (shown full frame first, and then cropped to 100%) . . .
They are OK, but lack “punch”, and I can’t sharpen them enough to make up for the softness.
How about a tuft of grass?
Not happy, not happy at all . . .
I return to the backyard, determined to get a decent maple tree shot.
OK, that’s with me holding the camera firmly, controlling my breathing, sque-e-e-ezing the shutter, and making sure not to jerk. Better than before, but let me see the 100% crop.
One more, only I switch back to the 200mm f/2.8 (my go-to lens).
Looks better, but that could also be because it’s a smaller zoom, and it’s not really what I would call “tack-sharp”. Still, a huge improvement from the first photograph, all by just being mindful of what I am doing.
Let me try it on a closer subject . . .
*sigh* . . . nothing left to do; breakfast will have to wait. I bring out the tripod.
I begin with the 400mm lens, remembering to switch off the Vibration Reduction since it’s on a tripod.
COME ON! It’s on a tripod, for FSM sake!
I decide to photograph Bald Mountain (about a half a mile away).
Hmmm . . . I noticed something . . . I’m shooting with the timer, so that I eliminate my input possibly introducing any shake. But, the 400mm has a notoriously crappy mount. I noticed a slight shake when the mirror flips up . . . this next shot is the enlargement to the above shot.
OK. I switch the camera to remote mode, with the mirror-up option. That means when I press the remote, the mirror flips up without taking the photo. I then press the button again to capture the photograph. This way, there is no shake from the mirror when I release the shutter.
Here’s the crop with the mirror up . . .
For this lens, at maximum zoom, this is not bad (compare to the one before it).
Let me try it back on the tree:
OK, no weird artifacts, double edges, motion blur . . . this is probably as good as this lens can do at full zoom (it’s better at lower zooms).
Let me see what the 200mm can do on the tripod, VR off, remote shooting with mirror up option.
MUCH better than the first few shots! Now, this is not really apple and oranges; the 200 mm will look sharper just because it’s less magnification, but I don’t mind the above. Here are a few more from the 200mm (full shots, each followed by 100% crops).
By now there is a slight breeze, so this is not bad at all.
OK . . . those are workable . . . . but, remember the pseudo-macros I shot with the 400mm zoom lens?
Let me show you why you want to use a macro lens for macros photography. These next shots are all with the 105mm macro, tripod mounted, VR off, and mirror-up remote shooting.
That’s sharp, but I it gets better.
I thought about doing a SmugMug Gallery, of these shots, but why? Hardly anyone goes there, and it’s just extra work.
Did I mention I like this lens?
These are cropped at 100%, but are still shrunk below their full resolution when inserted here. I tell you what . . . go HERE to see the full resolution shots.
And there you have it . . . if you want sharp photos, take your time, control the camera, and if possible, use a tripod with a remote, and if your camera has the option, raise the mirror before releasing the shutter.
Even hand-held, there is a big difference between “snapping a picture” . . .
. . . and taking a photograph:
Hope you enjoyed this boring foray into photography. By the way, by the time I got “serious” about taking a photograph, the snow had melted from the tree, and that opportunity was gone.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.