A beautiful scene along the South Trail of Cape Lookout near Tillamook, OR
The majesty of the forest has always had a special place in my heart. I feel a kinship with the plants and trees which are so vital to our ecosystem and therefore our lives. The picture above was taken during our hike along the South Trail of Cape Lookout which is part of Cape Lookout State Park near Tillamook, OR.
As you can tell, the mist was clearing, but still hanging in the air. This tree had an intricate web of roots which enhanced its character even if it made footing a bit tricky. I was taken in by the wonderful colors of brown and greens. This was an enchanted setting.
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Full Disclosure: I am not a professional photographer. I like photography and it is a hobby. I am not an expert in either photography or post processing. Putting that aside, I do enjoy trying to capture the best photographs I can and to make them look as nice as possible using Adobe’s Lightroom and Google’s Nik Collection.
I didn’t have anything approaching a “real” DSLR until last year when I purchased a Nikon D3300. I was going to rent some Fuji gear, but it was less expensive at that time to make an outright purchase of the D3300. We were planning our trip to Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. I wasn’t ready to spend a couple of thousand dollars on camera equipment; at least not yet.
I currently own three cameras:
Canon PowerShot AS590 IS – This Camera is many years old, but keeps on ticking. It has been my companion whenever I go on a photographic expedition. It has an 8.0 megapixel CCD with 4x optical image-stabilized zoom.
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS – I purchased this camera for two reasons: 1) I wanted to see if I would enjoy shooting in the RAW format and doing post processing and 2) I wanted a camera with a lot of reach. This has a 50x optical zoom lens which, as Canon claims, goes from 24mm to 1200mm (35 mm equivalent). This is a step up from the AS590 above with 12.1 megapixels and it has helped with my bird identification hobby.
Nikon D3300 – This is my newest camera and comes closer to the full DSLR experience. I do enjoy this camera and I am still learning how to harness the full potential. It has a 24.2 Megapixel DX-format sensor and it came with the 18-55mm kit lens. It did as well as I expected during our trip to Bishop, CA and Yosemite National Park.
With the above out of the way, let me just say that I have a lot of fun turning images from “drab to fab” using Lightroom with Googles’s Nik Collection and doing some intermediate post processing. Let’s just look at one example from my least advanced camera, the Canon AS590.
We were hiking in Utah and on the way home, we stopped at the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. It was a very gray day with rain threatening. The only camera I owned was my little Canon that was three years old at the time.
Assessing the weather we were having, we knew we had little time to explore so we parked the car on the side of one of the named trails, the Toadstool Trail, and began to walk toward several beautiful rock formations.
The toadstools are rock pillars with larger flatish rocks on top of them. Thus they look like (abstractly) toadstools. Below is one of the photographs that I took that day.
Understand that this is a JPG only image. It is straight out of camera (SOOC). If you read many of the punditori, they will tell you that there is not much that can be done with post processing and a JPG image and that may be true, but “not much” doesn’t mean that nothing can be done.
I upload all my images to Lightroom (LR) because it is a good cataloguing tool. When done correctly, it is easy to organize and then find any given photograph you have taken. I follow blogs of photographers who have hundreds of thousands of images indexed in LR. I have less than 10,000 photos in my LR catalog, but I am working on it.
When I took the photo above, the rocks appeared to have more red tones in them and there was much more contrast in the clouds. Unfortunately, my camera could not render all the nuances my eye was seeing. Although this is a JPEG image, I decided to process it as I would my RAW images.
This is the final image after doing some work in LR. This is closer to what I remember seeing. I have enhanced the colors and contrast, but that’s what I want…a more beautiful photograph.
It is hard to compare the two photographs above when they are separated by the narrative. Although this will not provide much detail, the set of smaller images below should impart the basic idea.
This is a side-by-side comparison of the two images above
So…what do you think? Don’t you feel the photograph on the right is a more beautiful landscape than the shot on the left? Leave a comment or ask a question in the comment section.
JBRish.com originally published this post
All photographs are Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved
As I stated or implied in my YOY (Year Of Yosemite) post Introduction, we had a grand time exploring the trails and mountains of this historic national park. When it comes to photography, I am really a fairly average amateur, but I am getting better. On this particular trip, I had three cameras with me:
My steadfast Canon PowerShot A590 IS which has been to so many places over so much time and still continues to provide faithful captures.
A PowerShot SX50HS which I use for birds, wildlife and anything that needs reach or isolation. I can easily open the aperture and isolate a subject. It has its drawbacks, but it fits into my particular work flow. I usually shoot in RAW format.
When I am out and about exploring (which includes hiking and photography), I carry the photography essentials:
A Giotto Rocket Blaster to keep the lenses dust free
A lens cleaning cloth in the vent my lenses get wet or need cleaning that Giotto cannot provide
Extra memory cards (2 with me and more packed away)
Extra batteries for each camera
A whistle in case I encounter trouble and need to get attention
All of the above is contained in a belly pack and I keep my Canon PS A590 holsetered in one of the side pockets of that belly pack.
My other cameras go around my neck and I tether them to my back pack using carabiners so they don’t go bouncing all over as I climb and boulder scramble.
I don’t keep my cameras in a backpack in the event I need them in a hurry.
So… How does this all fit together?
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS that I use when I need reach, i.e. distance/wildlife
New Nikon D3300 – Better quality, limited zoom
Side pocket of my belly pack where I usually keep my PowerShot A590 for story telling photos
Tether tied to the A590 so it doesn’t hit the ground if it falls
Belly pack with numerous pockets for memory cards, Giotto Blaster, cleaning cloths, etc.
Carabiner to keep cameras from jostling too much as I hike, bend, etc.
I do wear a hat when I hike, but I removed it for the photo!
Telling the Story
I take some photographs just to convey the story of where I have been and to indicate the overall “look-and-feel” of the hike. For this, I often use the jpeg only PS A590. These are not meant to be artistic photographs or pictures that are particularly significant although every once in a while I am surprised by the job this legacy camera does.
For most scenery I use the Nikon D3300 which has a nice kit lens that is fairly sharp and provides enough framing options to deliver the compositions I usually want.
The PowerShot SX50HS has some issues such as chromatic aberration and poor redndering at high ISO so I use it for wildlife and bird photography or any other picture for which I need the long reach. I sometimes use it as a substitute for binoculars if I want to see if anyone is clinging to the side of El Capitan, for example. I know I can generally deal with some of the camera’s “problems” in Lightroom and it also delivers some very good photos at ISO 200 or lower; 400 if I want to stretch it a bit.
The visit to Yosemite was a bucket list item for me so I tried something for the first time…
I brought a computer and external hard drive with me so I could back up my photographs on a daily basis. Each evening, I took time to create three folders on the external hard drive with the date, short name to indicate what we did that day and an abbreviation for the camera used. I did this so when I imported the pictures in to my photography software (Lightroom), I could apply presets for that individual camera. That is why I keep the pictures separated by date and by which camera was used.
NOTE – It is helpful to synchronize time and date on all cameras being used so pictures can be sorted according to capture time. Truth be told, I don’t always get this done and it isn’t a monumental problem although having the ability to sort by time/date is very useful.
I then systematically remove each memory card, place it into the computers hard drive and COPY the files into the specific folder (on the external hard drive) for that camera on that day. This is done for all three cameras. I am cautious so I double check how many pictures are in the new folder and how many are on the memory card for that day. When I am satisfied that I have transferred all photographs, I move on to the next memory card.
If there is a change in venue that I think I will have trouble remembering, I find a file (picture) that was taken in the place and time when the situation changed and I rename it leaving all native metadata in place. This helps me organize my photos later when I see a long name rather than just a capture number.
Now I have copied all three memory cards to the appropriate folder on the external hard drive. Before ejecting the external drive, I then copy the three new, daily folders into a parent folder on the computer itself.
This protocol gives me three copies of each file. I do not ever erase a memory card until I have copied all files to my desktop and have backed it up on at least one other device, perhaps two.
I don’t review my pictures on a daily basis except to look at a few from each camera to make sure that the camera is working properly. Is there a spot on the lens? Is there a series of pictures out of focus; why? If the cameras are working appropriately, I wait until I get home to review my images. I very seldom delete a picture during the backup process described above. Many a mediocre photo can be rescued in Lightroom or Photoshop.
I hope you have found my hiking/exploring regimen helpful and perhaps you have garnered a worthy idea or two. If you have questions, let me know in the comment section!
Having made the decision to purchase the Nikon D3300 instead of trying to rent a version of the Fuji X-T1., I made the leap and ordered the gear from one of the large, professional retailers in NYC. I have used them before and I have been satisfied with their customer support, pricing and shipping.
This is the package that arrived inside a well-packed cardboard outer box.
The first thing that pops out of the package is the warranty card.
Bubble wrap encased the camera body and lens.
A closer look
Of course there are the extra “essentials” such as battery charger, manual on CD, cords, neck strap, etc.
The very next thing I ordered was an extra Nikon battery. No third party batteries for this camera as I have heard horror stories and I did not want to become an example. Full disclosure – I have used Watson batteries in the past and they have performed as well as, if not better than, the name brand batteries that came with other gear such as my Canon SXHS50. I just don’t want to press my luck!
Finally…the camera and lens!
The retailer was offering some additional “extras” to sweeten the pot as this camera is coming to the end of its marketing cycle although it does remain rather popular for people like me and those who want to make their first foray into the DSLR world without shelling out a bundle of cash for decent gear.
Above is a:
Wireless mobile adapter – not yet used
What is referred to as a bayonet Lens Hood (appears to be similar to one of those tulip-type lens hoods seen routinely)
Remote Controller – not yet used
Toshiba 16GB SDHC (rather slow) Memory Card – planned to be used with one of my other cameras.
BTW – The entire package came in at less than $500 which was close to the cost of renting the gear I originally wanted for my trip
The second thing I ordered, along with the additional Nikon battery were two 32GB, Sandisk Extreme SDHC , 90 MB/s, Class 10 Memory Cards which were selling on Amazon for $17+/-
As eager as I was to load the battery into the camera and go outside to take my first shots, I knew better than that and I exercised some patience and charged the battery.
While the battery was being charged, I put on the neck strap, mounted the lens and put on the lens hood and waited.
Once the battery was charged, I made arrangements to do a photo walk at nearby area in Cave Creek, AZ to take some pictures. Below is a sampling of those first photographs. Keep in mind that these are not meant to be “artistic” pictures. I am not an expert post-processor or photographer. The pictures were shot in RAW format and I lightly edited them in Lightroom as I usually would. After all, I wanted to see if the camera would suit my style and work flow. Naturally, the resolution has been reduced to the standard Internet protocol format of 72 pixels per inch.
With the above in mind, here are the photos:
“A Datura Flower, native desert plant”
“Colorful abstract painting on a stucco wall”
“Sand sculpture of owl and owlets”
“A Gila Monster children’s slide at the Sundial playground”
“Corn cob bird feeder outside one of the shops”
“A decorative wall relief at one of the restaurants”
“There was a car show this day!”
Overall, I am generally satisfied with the camera and the the kit lens that was used. I took it with me to Yosemite National Park and Bishop, CA for nearly two weeks of hiking, exploring and of course, photographing.
I believe, considering my situation, i.e. the conundrum, this was a good move for me. Needless to say, “your mileage might vary.”
At this point my plans seemed to be stymied. I didn’t want to make a significant investment in new gear because I am waiting for the Fuji. I thought long and hard about this and then I had a bit of a brain storm. OK, perhaps just a drizzle.
I know that some older cameras are heavily discounted even if they were rated as “good to very good” when they were introduced. I wondered if I could score one of those for a price near the range I would have paid to rent the gear.
I began my search. I didn’t want a point-and-shoot since I already have one of those. I wanted something approaching a DSLR. I would consider almost any format, APSC, Mirrorless, etc. if I could be assured the Image Quality (IQ) was good!
I began reading reviews for cameras under five hundred dollars and there were many dead ends, BUT one camera began to appear over and over again as a “best buy” for the money. It was the Nikon D3300. It was rated, according to DP Review, higher than any of the cameras I currently own and it had some significant advantages.
Now remember, I am just using this to “hold me over” until I can buy the camera I am waiting for. If it wasn’t for my planned trip of a lifetime to Yosemite, I wouldn’t even be taking this route. Click the following link for the summary page for the Nikon D3300 from DP Review. Also see the chart below:
“Graphic Depicting Strong/Weak Points of the Nikon D3300
From DP Review’s Website”
For the price (Currently around $400 +/-) I am impressed with these specs. I shoot in RAW mode and as you can see (red oval) it does quite well. Even the jpegs are respectable. Understand, of course, I am not a professional. I am an enthusiastic hobbyist and I want consistently reliable, good quality photographs. I am not interested in many of the advanced features in the most current cameras. I want an easy way to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO and this camera has it all.
Imaging Resource also had similar things to say about the camera. This is a quote from the review.
“All in all, though, the image quality achievable out of this “entry-level” camera is top-notch for this class of camera. Image sharpness and detail resolution are both very good, as is high ISO performance and dynamic range, which matches our experience with Nikon’s other recent 24MP APS-C cameras as well. Not only do digital images look excellent, but print quality is also impressive with large prints sizes at a wide range of ISOs.”
Next I took a tour of the shopping sites to see what owners of this camera had to say and they were generally very positive about their purchase. I checked the following sites as I am writing this and this is what I discovered.
[ Note: Links may stop working when this camera is no longer available ]
Adorama (A resource for professional photographers, large mail order company) – Nearly all the reviews are 4-5 stars
B & H Photo (A resource for professional photographers, large mail order company) – Nearly all the reviews are 4-5 stars
Lastly, but far from least was Ken Rockwell’s review for the Nikon D3300. If you don’t know Ken and you are interested in photography and you might be thinking about purchasing some gear, I strongly suggest you visit his site. He has very comprehensive reviews and he is very knowledgeable.
In addition to writing a review, Ken Rockwell includes a series of resources which, in many respects, are better than the manual:
If you want to buy any photography gear, I suggest you use Ken’s links as this helps support his wonderful research that he puts out there for all of us at no charge ! Look for the purchasing links on his web pages!
If you want to learn even more, he includes sections abot… KNOBS, BUTTONS and CONTROLS and the various MENUS
For a video tour of the Nikon D3300 to see how it operates and functions, you can watch this YouTube video which gives a hands-on, front row seat view of the D3300
Nikon D3300 Users Guide
After reading the above and doing due diligence, I ordered the Nikon D3300. The next part of the series will show the unboxing, some sample photos and some follow up comments. If there is anything else you would like to know, ask questions via the comment section below!
Read the fourth and final post in My Photography Conundrum series: