The Power of the Internet

It is easy to forget how different life is with the internet at our fingertips. I was out with my camera today and while I was sitting with it on my lap one of my kids jumped on me and knocked it on to the (concrete) ground. It only fell about 6 inches, but when I picked it up I could not get it to auto focus. I tried everything I could think of, I changed the lenses, took out the battery, looked through the menus, etc. Nothing worked.

10 years ago I would have had to take it into a dealer, or send it in for service. Today, I did one search on Google "Nikon d300 won't autofocus". The first link I selected was a post that suggested that I put the camera in Live View (LV) mode, and then switch back to normal. I did that (and took a few shots in LV mode), and switched back. Autofocus is back to working perfectly. It took 30 seconds to fix.

It is an odd solution, and one I would have never figured out on my own, but it worked great. I would have never found this in the age before the internet. This is basic stuff, but it is easy to take it for granted.

BlackRapid Strap

I've been using the BlackRapid RS-1 camera strap for about a month. The idea is a camera strap allows you to carry the camera at your side at waist level. It runs up and down the strap so you can quickly grab it and use it. There is a video on the site that shows it off much better than I can describe it.

I'm a fan, but Scott Bourne from TWIP disagrees. He's had some bad experiences with it but I've never had any of these issues. Your mileage may vary.

Pictures at Sunset

While most of my photography these days consists of chasing my kids around, I do occasionally get an opportunity to play around. Tonight, after reading more Strobist (Strobe/Ambient Balance) I decided to take some pictures at sunset, using a flash to light the foreground.

I started with a test picture in Aperture priority mode (my default mode) to determine the correct exposure for the sky.

In this case, it was about 1/40 at f/2.8 (ISO 200). From there I moved to manual mode and locked in the settings. I then turned on my flash (SB-800) and set it to remote mode. I set my on-camera flash to Commander mode. I used TTL mode for the remote flash, with the on camera flash simply triggering the SB-800. Using the same exposure settings, I fired a test shot.

The sky retains the same color and light level, but the tree in the foreground is now lit as well. I thought it was a bit too much, so I set the TTL level for the remote flash to -1 in the camera's menu. All the other settings remained the same.

I like this shot a little better because it provides more contrast in the foreground tree.

This is a very easy setup to pull off. Simply set your exposure for the background, setup your flash for the foreground, and control the relative exposure of each using the Aperture/Shutter for background and TTL Over/Under exposure for the foreground.

I used a Nikon D300 and SB-800 here. The D300 functions in Remote Commander mode for the flash with TTL, so it is very easy. You can achieve the same effect with slightly more effort with a D40 or other cameras that don't have Remote Commander mode.

Using the D40, I set the on camera flash to manual mode at 1/128 power (or whatever the lowest is). You can then set the SB-800 to Remote using SU-4 mode. You have to control the flash exposure manually on the flash, but with a little trial and error you can pull it off.