Macros with a Nikon D40 kit

These last couple of rainy days got me thinking about the summer (jeah, it didn't take long to miss it:) ).

Digging through vacation photos found these macros I took with my dads Nikon D40. It had the kit lens, the 18-55 one, and some no-brand macro filters attached to it.

Really liked this small camera. It has almost no weight (I guess I am doing unfair comparison to my stuffed backpack), so having it with me all the time did not require any effort at all. Now I feel like going Ken Rockwell on you... :)

More bugs and butterflies inside the post!

Jep, if you're on a budget, a couple of macro filters will give you a lot! And I would never call their quality bad...

Still, the summer was nice and warm :)

New member of the crew - Nikon 70-300/4,5-5,6G AF-S ED VR

Yes! Finally - diving into the world of long lenses, shallow DOF and getting close to things I could not reach before!

Sample images from this lens (shot with my good old Nikon D70s) and some more thoughts inside the post.

Lets start with the sample pictures of autumn colors/critters:

Sharpness - check.

Nice colors - check.

And the DOF is as shallow as it should be, fixing the background for you. Though I've learned that you need to be really careful with it, especially if you have such long-nosed subjects as below... I managed to focus on her nose most of the time, leaving the eyes not sharp enough.

Just love it how long lenses separate subject from the background!

This picture of Terra, my dog, is completely uncropped. I have not done any vignette removal on it in post processing; it was shot wide open at f5.6/300mm. Now you tell me if the measurebators whining about 70-300 vignette are worth listening to... Sure, if you take a picture of someone with blue sky in the background, you might see vignetting... But usually you will also be able to stop down to f8 to remove it ;)

As for reaching far away objects - the millimeters speak for themselves. Below two pictures of a bird at 70 and 300mm, 70 being as far as I could go before getting the new lens (yes, 70mm is the small one in the corner... sheesh... :) ).

BTW, this bird was really funny, pretending to fly or blow-drying himself for quite a while there :)


Is a really neat feature! 70-300 is first ever lens I have used with VR in it. It is really cool and does it's job like it should (according to it's name :)). Below picture of weird colored mushroom was taken in dark woods with shutter speed of 1/20 at 220mm zoom. Jeah, I need to practice holding this long beast, but without VR there would be no mushroom today...


This is probably going to be an issue. My tripods ball head (Manfrotto 486RC2) does not seem to be able to cope with the weight :( After composing, fastening the lock and letting go of the camera, it slides down a few millimeters, making quite a big difference in the viewfinder, especially on 300mm zoom. Be prepared for new investment here :)


If you have not yet came to the conclusion- I love the lens. Jep, probably if I'd tried the big bro 70-200 f2.8 I would love that one more, but for the fraction of the cost, my newest toy does miracles!

I'll update this post with more new pictures as they come.


Down below will be links to new posts where you can find pictures made with this lens

Nature in winter

Snowy stone in Säveåns nature reserve.

The Ballad Of The Broken Birdie Records

Leidi misterie made a cover of The Ballad Of The Broken Birdie Records by Múm and I got the great privilege to make a picture for the song.

As there was no chance at all to find a crying jackdaw (or any other black bird to that matter), it was clear from the start that this is going to take a lot more post processing than usual.

Jump inside to read how I hunted down the bird and how the image came together.

First off I needed to get a picture of the bird. And just my luck, the day I set myself out hunting was the day all of the birds in Gothenburg were on vacation... For two hours I could not even see a single crow or jackdaw or anything similar. Not until it came to me, that I need to go to the dirtiest place in town- the central station :) So, the birds were there, but I could never reach them with my kit 18-70 Nikkor lens. At that time new train rolled to the station... The front was all covered in mosquitoes and the bird fiesta started. They were pecking that train without bothering that there was some guy with a camera just one meter away...

Here is the picture I picked out of about 30 shots:

Now all that was missing was a nice background. It took me two weeks of waiting until I saw the perfect sky for this shot. It was almost dark then and the clouds looked just perfect.

All was here. Time to glue things together. Cutting out the bird is easy, all you need is patience. Selected it with as much detail as I could manage, copied it into the cloud picture, put it on the fence. Now making the bird cry was something I've never done before. Internet saved me once again- found a great tutorial on drawing tears by Globator.

Afterwards the whole image looked just a bit fuzzy, so I over-sharpened (using unsharp mask) the birds body only, making the eye, tear and feathers be more contrasty and standing out of the image.

And we're done. I finally heavily post processed an image :) It was used as background for the song on youtube.

Carrying your gear

If you are looking for something to carry around your DSLR (tripod and laptop?!) every day- a backpack is all you should think of (according to me :) ).

After some searching couple of years back I picked a LowePro Vertex 200 AW. A tank in other words. Here it is with my Manfrotto tripod attached to it.

Put short- I had it with me almost every day ever since I bought it. That means a lot already, but if you're still curious, jump in to the full post to see more details on the backpack.

Like I said before- it's like a tank- big, spacious and sturdy. I don't have too much equipment, so everything fits in perfectly well and there still is room for a lunchbox and a Nikkor 70-200 (some time in far future maybe?! :) ). Anyhow, today it fits all of my filters, DIY grid spots, batteries, chargers, flash and the good old D70s kit.

It has gazilions of small pockets to hold the small stuff like memory cards, remote etc.

And with the help of removable tripod holder I can carry around my tripod on it too (like in first picture). It is also possible to attach the tripod to any of the sides of the backpack, though in that case it feels out of balance. One minus is that you need to always unhook the tripod to get inside... Well, win some, loose some... I carry the tripod in hand after initial unpack anyway.

Best feature of all- this baby is weather (water) proof! I was out in pouring rain for 2 hours and it did not manage to soke through! The zippers are covered with latex and all of the material is holiding back the water quite well. In case the rain gets out of hand and you are nuts enough not to go home yet, there is a rain cover hidden on the bottom.

If there is still strength left in those shoulders you can even squeeze a big laptop into the backpack. Then the whole package is about 10Kg, but still it is quite comfy after you get all the straps adjusted according to yourself.

The major cons of Vertex 200 are similar as pros- it's size and weight. It is hard to take it with you while flying in smaller planes, also it is a bit heavy in its own weight.

Never the less, I still have it with me almost every day, walking like a turtle, carrying my whole life with me :)

McNallys new book is almost here!

Joy to the world! Sitting here and waiting for a new notification mail from the on-line bookstore.

The new book by Joe McNally - The Hot Shoe Diaries - is already listed and going to be sold for about 250 SEK here in Sweden. Shame there is no waiting list, but there is notification possibility. Waiting... Waiting...

Having in mind that his previous book - The Moment It Clicks - has set really high standards for this type of stuff, I really do have high hopes for the new book.

Update on 29th of march. Still no book! It was on sale, got order confirmation and then cancelation! Gah... :( Same happened with another bookstore! Arming myself with patience and continuing to wait... wait...

Calendar spring...

...does not mean anything to nature here in Sweden... Snowing again today. Still better than last year though! In the photo below- 17th of March 2008...


Any weather is good weather; any light is good light, apparently. Today the sky was all muddy and overcast, creating perfect light to look for details.

A couple of shots from an open air museum (Forngården) in Trollhättan, exploring old wood and brick textures.

I hear clever people say "Go out and take lots of pictures"...

Crashing Icicles

Upcoming spring is a good time for icicles to grow. And take pictures of them.

This one is shot with the SB-800 + Full CTO gell fired directly into the ice from above.

Also learned a valuable lesson today- never put stuff in you pockets! Before prepparing the next shot I've put my flash together with the remote trigger into my lower pocket. Then kneeled down to the cammera and heard something sliding down the icy slope... Jep- my SB-800 was on it's way to a 3 meter cliff, pulling EL-Skyport receiver with it... I was so afraid to go and fetch it after the crash, that just tried firing the flash with the test button from the transmitter. And it worked! Beleive it or not- it still works! Hail Nikons hardcore build quality! ;)

Made in...

Good long vacation back home- doing nothing more but the good stuff: eat, sleep, take pictures. And enjoy the best peace and quiet nature can offer!

More wilderness pictures and technical details on the above image after the jump!

The first attempt I had at this shot was in complete darkness, so I tried using a flash light to light-paint the house making it at least a bit visible. Made probably dozen of those pictures never liked one of them... So just left the idea until this beautiful moonlit night came. -20C outside with moonlight really does have it's own charm! And I did not need any more fill light- I had a perfectly good moon hanging exactly where I wanted it. Remembered what Joe McNally said in his book about the dark windows, but could not turn the lights on as long exposure time would have burned the windows, so I used natural candles. Works really well. 30 second exposure added the fairytale look to the image. It is a perfect place to grow up I tell you!

My Nikon seems to take the cold quite fine. I have two batteries for these extreme cold days. One is always in the pocket close to the skin. The first one freezes in 20-30 minutes. I guess it takes longer first time as the camera is still warm too. Afterwards I have to switch batteries every 10-15 minutes... Well, depends on how cold it is.

Enough babbling, forest is pretty back home:

All good things are over some time. Vacation too. Going back West! Harbour in Riga was different this time- all frozen as the rest of Baltic countries. Still looking good though!

Welcome back to life in 2009! ;)