A camera is like a musical instrument…

Nikon released a camera in February that might be the best 35mm digital slr for landscape photography, ever. Because of flooding that destroyed their manufacturing facilities in Asia, the D800 and D800E has been slow to production. It’s taken Nikon some time to ramp up production. Many photographers who ordered the camera the day it was announced back in February have yet to see their cameras.

I’ve been curious to see real world results. At 36 megapixels and having a greater dynamic range than the sensor technology that Canon is using, I was contemplating switching systems if the results warranted it. So, where to see the photos taken with this new, latest in sensor technology camera?

The website dpreview.com has a large following and it seems that plenty of members there have been anxiously awaiting and receiving their new D800’s and D800E’s and they’ve been posting photos with their new cameras. To say the least it’s been disappointing to see these images. Technically most of them are fine. They’re sharp, properly exposed and processed. They’re also the worst photos that I’ve seen in ages. A three thousand dollar, state of the art camera being used to take what are basically snapshots. A classic case of the hobbyist with too much money. The camera collector and not the photographer. These guys can recite technical data to argue why one brand is better than the other but when the rubber hits the road, these folks aren’t really photographers, at least not in the sense that I would consider photographers.

Anyone who has taken music lessons can go into a store and play a thirty five thousand dollar grand piano but not everyone can play it to it’s potential. That grand piano is overkill for most of us and so is that new Nikon so I’m still looking for examples from those new Nikons from someone who actually knows what they’re doing. Sigh…

One of my daughter’s and I went for a short or it was supposed to be a short drive on the outskirts of town on Friday evening. I wanted to see a particular place I had photographed last year near a construction site. It didn’t look promising so that ended up being a wash. It was so nice that my daughter, her dog and I went for a quick jaunt to another place where I had photographed some unique wildflowers a couple of years ago. They were beautiful! Last year they didn’t blossom at all and I was curious to see if they were still there this year. We drove for about twenty-five minutes from town to see them. They were growing but a few weeks away from blossoming. The sun was still up in the sky, it was around 9:00 p.m and this far north the sun was to set at 10:05 p.m. We had an hour of daylight and I wasn’t seriously thinking of shooting anything but I did have the camera with me just in case.

Half an hour later we ended up at this old prairie cemetery that I have photographed over the years. The first year I was there the wooden cross you see in the foreground of the accompanying photo was in one piece. It had rotted and fallen apart. Rather than discarding it, the keepers of the grounds placed it at the head of the grave. It’s still a cross but not like it used to be. Many old buildings that I have photographed over the years are now gone or are piles of wood on the corner of a field. It’s history that’s disappearing. It’s kind of sad but nothing lasts forever. The world is constantly changing and us along with it.

We’re kind of like that wooden cross on the prairie.

Happy shooting,


ps. Some technical stuff for those that are interested. This is an HDR. I always bracket my exposures. Sometimes I use them all, other times not. Photomatix was used to tonemap the image. A well done HDR should not look HDRish if that makes sense to you. It’s just another tool in my box to get the look that I want.

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~ by Dan Jurak on June 15, 2012.

5 Responses to “A camera is like a musical instrument…”

  1. Thank you for an HDR that doesn’t look like it came from outer space. Nice job.

  2. Don’t get me started on forums! The small, specialised ones seem to foster a sense of community, but I’ve seen experienced and creative photographers ridiculed on dpreview because they like to use x equipment rather than y. Meanwhile, they produce work their critics can only aspire to.

  3. @ Bruce, I think that you see many more pictures that are HDRs and nobody would guess that were the case. We only notice the really poorly done ones.

  4. @ Mike, I’ve given up on any kind of photo forums. Even the “better” ones are populated by people that are too glad to have you to conform to their idea of what a good photo is. When you’ve reached a certain level of competency shouldn’t you be striking out on your own instead of asking for critiques and criticisms? Over time, all the photographers tend to look the same on the forums and I’m not making that up.

  5. I think you do a good job with your HDR images. They appeal to me.

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