Ronno Tramper Photography

29 may 2009, Sahara, Morocco

No, I haven't been there lately. I have been scanning some of my slides this afternoon. This one was made in 1995 in Morroco. I used Fuji Velvia. 15 Years ago the "popping" colors of Fuji Velvia were revolutionary. "Too much" according to many. Today just about every Nikon DSLR at its "normal" setting produces jpegs like this.

Camels, Erg Chebbi, Sahara, Morocco
Nikon F3, Tokina 20-35mm, Fuji Velvia

27 may 2009, What did digital photography bring us?

I have written down some thoughts about my switch to digital photograpy back in 2003. The article also contains the (very unscientific!) comparison I promised you a while ago between slide images from the Nikon F100, the D100 and the D300. Please concentrate on the point I am trying to make, not on the images and their resolution. Photography is not all about resolution and megapixels.

26 may 2009, April 2009 entries archived

I have just archived the april entries. You can find a link at the left.

26 may 2009, Barnacle Geese

Barnacle Geese
Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 4-5.6/80-400 VR at 310mm, f8, 1/100 sec. ISO 400

I made the image of the young geese leaving the nest while their parents are guarding them yesterday morning. I went there hoping to find dew covered dragonflies. Things often do not work out as planned for an outdoor photographer. There were some clouds and a slight breeze, which meant no dew and no dragonflies in sight. I decided to spend two hours observing and photographing the geese instead. Although it is said that you should switch off the Vibration Reduction if you use this lens with a tripod, I did use VR. With shutterspeeds between 1/60 and 1/100, a tripod that is not on firm ground and a ballhead that is not tightened, not using VR leads to unsharp images in my experience. Any softness in the image is the result of subject movement. Look at the running chick lagging behind in the second picture.

Barnacle Geese and chicks
Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 4-5.6/80-400 VR at 200mm, f8, 1/60 sec. ISO 400

23 may 2009, Cotton Grass again

Cotton Grass
Nikon D300, Tokina 12-24 at 15mm and f11, Polarizer

Exactly a week ago I made a mental note to go back to Olterterp with my D300. Last week I only had my Canon G9 compact, which means no dramatic wide angle perspective. Something that works very well with scenes like this one. This morning the weather was perfect for it: blue sky and a few small white clouds. I used my 12-24 wide angle zoom almost at its widest setting. I slightly reduced the height of the image, from 4300 pixels to 4000.

The Olterterp woodlands are speckled with ponds. On my way back home I decided to have a look at one of them. I had seen some Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) a few weeks ago. This species normally only spends the winter in my country. Large flocks of thousands of birds eat the grass from the farmers meadows. They are supposed to breed high in the arctic on Islands in the North Atlantic. But a couple of pairs of them are breeding on a small island in a pond here. This is a high contrast backlit scene, so the highlights in the background are burned.

Barnacle Geese, (Branta leucopsis)
Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 4-5.6/80-400 VR at 320mm, f10, 1/160 sec.

19 may 2009, Raw converters

I have converted an image I published here a few days ago with another raw converter. I used UFRAW instead of Bibble Pro. UFRAW uses the open source DCRAW-engine. Notice the difference in colors. I like this one much better, don't you? If you move your mouse pointer over the image you will see the Bibble Pro version. The image has been slightly cropped (from 4300 pixels to 4000). That's why it moves a little when you hover your mouse over it. You may think that it's just a matter of tweaking the settings of Bibble Pro to get the same result, but it is not that easy! Sure, you can make the grass look greener and less "yellowish" pretty easily, but that doesn't improve the colors of the dragon fly. The problem is that it is not always UFRAW that generates the best result. It depends on the type of camera and on the colors present in the particular image which raw conversion program gives you the best results. This is one of the reasons I almost always shoot raw, even with my Canon G9 compact. One of the main reasons to buy that particular compact camera was that it had raw-capablity. With raw you keep more options open (but it also means more time spent behind the computer). The chip in your camera ("digic" for Canon, "Expeed" for recent Nikons) that converts the data coming from the sensor into a jpeg-image does the same as the raw conversion software on your computer. The only difference being that if you decide to shoot jpeg's the camera throws away your original data. If you don't like the result of the "in camera raw conversion" there's no second chance. If you want jpeg's out of the camera, I would shoot RAW + jpeg. Memory is not an issue anymore. An 8gb card will hold something like 400 RAW images + jpeg's on the D300.

Four Spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata
Nikon D300, Sigma AF 3.5/180mm Apo Macro at f5.6, tripod
raw conversion with UFRaw (and Bibble Pro on mouse hover)

16 may 2009, Farne Islands

I have somewhat revised the text of my Farne Islands article. But, more importantly, I have added many new and larger images for you to watch. In the past 15 years or so I have been back there several times. The first time I went there was somewhere early in the nineties. Nobody had ever heard about digital SLRs then. The photo below was made late in the 1990's.

Nikon F100, lens was probably my Tokina ATX AF 2.8/300mm

16 may 2009, Cotton Grass, Eriophorum spp.

This morning in Olterterp, Friesland. I was carrying my Canon G9 and made a few shots using a polarizer. This type of sky and light is just ideal for a polarizer. I made a mental note to come back with my D300 and wideangle zoom. The Canon G9 may be a 12 megapixel camera but the images are not as detailed as those of the D300. Mostly it's the quality of the detail that just feels different when you look at it at 100% (noise, the way the individual grass stems seem to stand out). You can interpolate the D300 images to a 150% and the image still looks very clean. Do the same with the Canon G9 images and you end up with something that looks much worse. You cannot just cram 12 megapixels on a 5x7mm sensor and then expect it to deliver the same image quality as a DX (16x24mm) or FX (24x36mm) sensor. But still, it is entirely possible to make very good 12 x 18 inch prints from a G9 image. Oh, and I almost always crop my G9 images to the 2/3 format I am used to. The images that I form in my mind when I watch a scene somehow hardly ever fit in the 3/4 format. Can't get used to it.

Cotton Grass Eriophorum spp.
Canon G9, widest setting (7mm), polarizer

14 may 2009, Four Spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata

Last night and the night before I went to the "Deelen", a nearby marsh area, to see if I could photograph some dragonflies. The four spotted chasers have all just emerged and the place is swarming with them (and with musquitos feasting on my blood). In the last hour or so before sunset they gather in sunlit bushes and trees to catch the last weak sunrays of the day. They will fly away in swarms when you approach but usually come back after a while. Quite a few of them will become less wary when you allow them some time to get used to your presence. The second image is just to give you an idea of how many there were of them.

Some six or seven years ago I wrote an article with a few tips on photographing dragonflies for my old website. I dusted it of for you and updated it a little (most of us are not using film anymore).

Four Spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata
Nikon D300, Sigma AF 3.5/180mm Apo Macro at f5.6, tripod
raw conversion with Bibble Pro

Four Spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata
Nikon D300, Sigma AF 3.5/180mm Apo Macro at f9, tripod

12 may 2009, Thrift (Armeria maritima)

In the past weekend I went back to Schiermonnikoog Island. Large parts of the eastern half of the island have turned into a sea of pink flowers: Thrift, also known as Sea Pink. I used the DR-4 angle finder for this shot from ground level and a polarizer of course (you can tell that from the colours yourself). You can read about the angle finder on my equipment page.

Thrift (Armeria maritima)
Nikon D300, Tokina 12-24 and DR-4 angle finder, polarizer

11 may 2009, What's in the bag?

When it comes to equipment, I believe that less is more. Until 2003 I carried three camera bodies loaded with different types of film, a 2.8/300mm (which alone weighed in at two and a half kilos) and a ton of other fixed focal lenses. Not anymore! I've had some fun shooting my Nikon equipment with the Canon G9 compact. I can only hope Canon won't mind! Find out what's in my bag and why it's earned its place there.

Nikon D300 DSLR-body, AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm

7 may 2009, Ramsons (Allium ursinum)

Ramsons, also known as wild garlic and under a host of other names (depending on where you live) grows in woodlands, usually towards the end of april and the beginning of may. I used a 12-24 zoom at its widest setting. I know it perhaps looks a bit "greenish", but that is the kind of light that you get in a forest with the sunlight filtering through the green leaves. I fail to see a good reason to correct such a colorcast. Actually, I don't even think it's a colorcast.

Ramsons (Allium ursinum)
Amelisweerd, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Nikon D300, Tokina AF 12-24 at 12mm, f11 and 1/2 sec. (tripod, cable release, mirror up)

4 may 2009

I have updated the covershot to May.

4 may 2009, Schiermonnikoog

I have spent the past eight days on the island of Schiermonnikoog, just north of here about 3 miles off the coast of Friesland. Back in 1989 the entire island became the Netherlands' first national park. It has just about everything: beaches, sand dunes up to fifteen meters high, forests, marsh areas and many, many birds. In a weeks time I have made over 800 images. In the next few days I will show you some of my favorites. Below are the first three of them. The lighthouse is on a fifteen meter high row of sand dunes in the north.

The Lighthouse, Schiermonnikoog Island, The Netherlands
Nikon D300, AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm.

How-to: The image of the lighthouse consists of two differently exposed layers that were combined later using a layer mask and a gradual transition from black to white in order to achieve the effect of a gradual neutral density filter. For the "starburst" effect you have to time the intervals between the light and dark periods as the tube around the lamp rotates and covers and uncovers it. Then you should choose a combination of aperture and shutterspeed that is long enough to cover the entire "light period" so that the lamp rotates all the way from right to left in the period in which your shutter is open. I know, it's rather complicated. So just experiment with it!

The birch forests on the island were just getting their fresh green leaves after the winter period.

Birch forest, Schiermonnikoog Island, The Netherlands
Nikon D300, AF-S Nikkor 3.5-5.6/16-85VR.

How-to: I know this is not new. It has all been done before. You need a shutterspeed of 1/6th of a second or slower (but not too slow). Use an aperture of f16 or f22 (and if necessary a neutral density filter; or your polarizer if you don't have anything else). Just point your camera up to the highest point you want to include in the shot and start moving the camera down in a straight, even manner and then release the shutter. Don't do it the other way around, because you won't be able to react fast enough. First move, then release!

Trees exposed to the winds, Schiermonnikoog Island, The Netherlands
Nikon D300, Tokina 12-24mm at 14 mm, polarizer, angle finder.

I know I am not supposed to use a polarizer with a 14 mm wide angle. But I kind of like the result! I used a Nikon DR-4 angle finder for this shot taken from ground level.