So I’ve been going through a photography crisis over the last couple of days.  There is this video podcast I watch called “The Grid”, and the show is presented by a couple of guys I really respect.  I’ve been a bit behind with the shows (mainly due to work) and had the chance this weekend to catch up.  Well on a few shows the two presenters (Scott Kelby and Matt Kozlowski) carried out some blind reviews, where people send in their images and basically Scott and Matt tell them what they really think.

Unfortunately sometimes what they think isn’t nice to hear.  That said if an image sucked (and a lot of them did) they give the message in a respectful way, clearly stating what’s wrong and what you need to do.  Well as I’ve been watching the shows I’ve been going through my own pictures and have seen a lot of the “mistakes” they raised on the show.  One of the things they said on The Grid was that people tend to tell you nice things on Facebook and Flickr, friends don’t say things like “I don’t like that image”, they just don’t “like” it.

As a result looking through my “images to post” directory I found I didn’t like any of the shots anymore as I keep seeing errors and mistakes.

Tonight’s image is another shot from Carillon Point, this time from right down on the waterfront just by the harbor.  Just in front of the boats is this small separated area for small row boats and kayaks.  The water is covered in water lillies and lit from small lights that edge the water.

When I took the shot I loved the lillies and the reflections on the water.  Looking at the image at home I noted that the water in the bottom left corner was a bit “scummy” – and that’s being nice.  This was an attention to detail issue that was raised on the podcast.  So I spent an hour cleaning the water in Photoshop.  (Now I’ve said that you will all be looking in the corner at the water).

The end result is a better picture, but after this weekend I still feel I have a lot to learn.

Tonight the Halo dudes decided to cut up some fresh berries.  Fortunately they didn’t make too much mess.

Tonight I’m posting another image from last nights visit to Seattle.  Shortly after I got there I caught a ferry coming in as another was going out.  The sun was really over the Olympics mountain range but the sky was a great orange, red color.

It was getting dark at this time so I had to shoot either with a long exposure or with high ISO. As the ferry was moving, long exposures were out, it would just look like a blur going across the water, so I had to ramp the ISO up on the D4.

Now with my older camera, if I went above 800 ISO the picture had a load of “noise”, this looked like heavy grain in the image, almost like a really old picture from the early 1900s.  Sometimes this looks cool, but only sometimes, so high ISO was kind of useless on my old camera.  But this D4 is amazing.  I pumped up the ISO on this image to around 6400 and managed to get a stationary ferry with a nice exposure with very little noise.

I love the orange sky in this shot and the black clouds, catching both ferries cross paths also get some strong foreground interest.

Carter found a bracelet that he liked and started wearing it around the house.  Not to be outdone, Master Chief did the same.

After 6 months of waiting I finally have my new camera and would you believe that since it arrived, it’s not stopped raining.  I wanted to go out today to get some shots (as yesterday was totally written off) so I jumped into the car after breakfast and drove over to Issaquah.

I thought I’d go to the Lake Sammamish Park and see if I could shoot something on the water.  It was dry when I left home and spotting as I entered the park, but I figured I had enough time to get some pictures.  How wrong can you be.  As I parked up, the sky’s opened and it was like a bucket of water was pored over my car, I couldn’t believe how heavy it started to come down.

So, feeling dejected I headed home convinced that this would be another day with no new pictures.  When I got home Lisa was going to Bell Square Mall so I thought I’d go with her, we were dropping Abi off at a party and thought we’d hang in the Mall for a couple of hours.  While there I popped into the Talls Camera store and saw they had a D4 for sale.  I asked the guy working there when he got it in and he told me he gets them in every week – has for ages – and has sold loads!  I couldn’t believe it – I could have had my camera months ago!  So it was clearly turning into a really crappy day.

After we picked up Abi we headed home and the skies cleared and the sun came out – typical. Lisa, Abi and I went out for dinner (James wasn’t interested) and got home at 8:30 at night.  On the way home the sky looked great and the sun was going down.  So I decided to go out again with the camera and look for a nice sunset shot.

So I grabbed the gear and drove to Seattle, I had around 40 minutes to get to the city, find a parking place and get a shot.  Fortunately the roads were pretty empty and I made great time, I was parked up on the water front in 35 minutes.  I ran to a pier and looked for a subject to shoot.

I haven’t been to Seattle for a while and apparently Seattle had decided to put up a large ferris wheel, similar to the London Eye in England.  It isn’t open to the public yet, Lisa told me it wont be until later in the summer, but I thought it might make a good subject.  The sun was going down just behind the wheel and the pier was lit up with red and orange lights.  So I set up the tripod and started shooting.

I’m pretty pleased with the image I got and just relieved that I finally captured a nice image with the camera (and it stopped raining). Hopefully I’ll get some more shots tomorrow.

Carter and Master Chief decided to make a model of the Space Needle today.  Here you can see Master Chief adding the finishing touches.

The whole arrival of the new camera made me completely forget I still have some Northwest Trek pictures to post.  Add to that the fact that it’s been raining all day and I didn’t want to get wet!  So tonight’s image is a baby bison.

While on the tram tour we passed a herd of bison.  We actually went past them twice, the first time they were all lying down in the long grass and all my pictures brilliant depicted long stalks of grass with little black ears sticking out of the top!  Fortunately the second time we went past the bison they were up and about, in fact they were up and about in the middle of the road and the tram had to wait for them to get bored and walk off before we could go past.

The herd was pretty big, it must have had around 30 bison, and there where half a dozen babies.  While we were waiting for the bison to move off the road, one of the babies was drinking milk from it’s mother, it would have made a great shot but I would have had to shoot through the trams windscreen.  As the bison walked into the grass we slowly drove past.  I got the chance to grab this shot of a baby standing by a tree stump.  It’s mum was just in front and out of shot.

I was clearly over excited when I took the shot as I didn’t get the feet in frame.  But other bison kept walking between me and the baby so I guess I should be pleased I got this.  Actually forget other bison getting in the way, it was a bit of a fight to get a good shot in the tram as there were 14 other photographers trying to do the same thing.

The other reason I posted this tonight was that Abi said this was a really cute shot and she knows cute!

Carter discovered the joys of frozen cocktails – apparently they are really nice and today he stocked up.

At the beginning of the year I said I wanted to try lots of different types of photography.  One form I haven’t tried yet is product shots.  As my new Nikon D4 arrived today, I thought I’d do a nice shot of my new camera, using my old camera – for the last time.

This shot took 20 minutes to set up, with some black paper behind the camera creating a seamless backdrop, the camera sitting on an upturned cooking bowl with one of James’ black t-shirts on it, and three speed lights pointing at the camera from different angles.  Amazingly it was pretty easy to set up and I got good images almost immediately.

So here is the D4 in all it’s glory.  I haven’t really taken that many pictures with it yet, but the few I have taken have left me already very impressed.  This thing can shoot images in nearly complete darkness by supporting incredibly high ISO settings.  The focusing speed is amazing and I got some fantastic shots of Roxie on the deck and Abi on the trampoline, everything was in focus, and I took 11 images a second!  Think about that, that’s almost unbelievable.

Abi did a somersault and I got her perfectly as she spun in the air.  When I go to Abi’s gymnastic meets later in the year I should be able to capture some amazing images.

Getting this camera has been a bit of a nightmare.  I decided early last year I wanted what’s called a “full frame” camera, that’s a camera with a sensor that’s the same size as 35mm film.  However the Nikon models at the time were coming to the end of their lives and the new “D4” was supposed to be coming out in March 2011.

However Japan had a really bad year last year.  There was of course the terrible tsunami and later in the year a lot of very bad flooding.  Both times the Nikon factories were hit.  All through this I decided not to by the older D3S.  Rumors kept coming out that the D4 was around the corner, and summer went to fall, and fall to winter every month the release date moved out.

January came around and on the 6th, Nikon announced the new D4.  Early in the morning camera stores around the US started to accept advanced orders (there were none around but we were promised a February delivery).  So I went to one of the largest suppliers in the US, Adorama.  I’ve purchased a lot of gear from Adorama over the years and been very happy with them, their prices are good and they ship for free.  So Adorama it was.  I would bet I placed my order within 10 minutes of them letting you in.

Anyway, February came and went, as did March and April, each month Adorama promised a delivery in two weeks.  I have to say I was getting really frustrated but I guess it really wasn’t their fault, Nikon just weren’t shipping cameras.

By the time it got to June I was really worried I wouldn’t get the camera for my July vacation.  So I signed up to an online service that promised to text me when a major supplier got some in stock.  Last week at 7:30am I got a text message saying Best Buy had some D4s.  I placed my order with them in 3 minutes and got one. 15 minutes later they were sold out.  When I got to work I called Adorama and cancelled my order with them and today Best Buy delivered my camera (exactly when they said they would).

Lisa keeps asking me if I’m excited but in truth it’s all a major anti-climax.  I’ve waited well over a year for this camera, I’ve had lenses on a shelf that only work with the full frame sensor that I couldn’t use for ages waiting for the D4 to arrive.  So yes I’m really pleased but I’ve never had to wait so long for an item I have the money for!  Very, very frustrating.

Anyway, I’m off work tomorrow and going out to test the camera out.  Expect more posts on the D4 and LOTS and LOTS of images.  Thank you Best Buy, you made my summer.

As the D4 arrived today, the Halo guys insisted on getting an unboxing shot.  I particularly like Carter’s pose.