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My Photography: Best of 2011

Most photos shot using:
Nikon D300s DSLR
Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 Lens

Aphex Twin - Xtal
Jan Jelinek - Them, Their


Photographic Special Effects with Christmas Lights

This video shows you how to take psychedelic abstract long exposure photographs of Christmas lights. You'll want to set your camera's shutter speed to to BULB mode and use your camera's pop-up flash (or external flash), then spin yourself around in front of your Christmas tree. It helps if all the lights are turned off in the room except for the Christmas tree lights.

Here are the six different tricks. There will be an image on top, and an description underneath each image.

long exposure spinning in a chair next to christmas tree lights

Spin either in a chair or while standing up. Try not to move your arm, hand, or head while doing this, because it will cause unwanted camera-shake. You can experiment moving your arm up and down or something if you want to, it just will give you a different effect.

psychedelic alien long exposure slow flash sync

Hold your camera by the lens out in front of your with your right hand, twist just like you did in the first trick, only this time take your left hand and move your camera so it zooms in and rotates at the same time. If you do this several times, you should eventually get a result where the lines will twirl around you, like you are in some type of TRON video game or something. And hey, Photoshopping your face using the Liquify tool to make you look like an alien never hurts.

Christmas Tree Lights with 6X Cross Filter

Use a star filter screwed on the front of your camera lens. This will slice and the light into thin lines. This looks cool when you twirl the filter around your lens as well because the stars will appear to be "twinkling".

Abstract Golden Long Exposure of Christmas Lights

Use manual focus, still in bulb mode, and simply move your camera around your Christmas tree while the exposure is taking place. You will end up with really techy-yet-beautiful abstract photographs that you can use in backgrounds for Photoshop projects or the like.

Zoom long exposure abstract
Put your camera on a tripod and zoom in while the exposure is taking place.
Multiple Exposure of Abstract Christmas Tree Lights long exposure

If you have a higher end DSLR (I'm using a Nikon D300s) there may be a Multiple Exposure function somewhere in the camera's menu. I like to set it to ten and then take several exposures, each shot at a different focal length.


Nikon Announces New Open Source Camera

After being truly frustrated with the D300s and writing my list of 42 Reasons Why Nikon Sucks, I am now very well pleased and very satisfied with the new D300o. While still inheriting standard features from the D300s, the D300o now brings a whole new revolutionary dimension to photographers of all kinds. The D300o is essentially an open source modification of the original D300s, with some additional compliments to the physical body itself. It is designed to give photographers the ability to do anything the camera is capable of. And yes, the firmware can be completely modified! But first, lets look at the actual body itself.

New Nikon D300o Stereo Microphone

(0) To start things off, the camera's low quality monorail microphone has now been replaced with a new High Fidelity Stereo microphone.

Nikon microphone A/V input output

Looking at the side of the body reveals several additional ports, including:

Microphone Input

Headphone Output

A/V Input

A/V Output

Open source DSLR back

(1) There is now a visible peak-meter in live-view mode that measures the dB of the microphone input in order to prevent clipping.

(2) Shutter speed, Aperture, and ISO are now fully adjustable in movie mode. Each adjustment now effects footage accordingly.

(3) There is now a Live Histogram in live-view mode.

(4) In addition to the new live-view features, there is now an option that allows the AF-Assist lamp to always be on. This is useful when working in dark situations.

Aperture adjustment valueA new advanced option allows all values in the Nikon D300o (Shutter speed, ISO, Aperture, frames per second, self-timer, image size etc.) can be adjusted as user-defined values. The image on the left demonstrates the user setting the Aperture to 2.076. Of course, adjusting the f-stop is dependent on what lens you are using.

Meter over 30 seconds long exposureThe camera's metering system is now enabled to take photographs beyond 30 seconds! It's a value that can be adjusted inside the "Exposure Limit" feature in the menu. For all you long exposure fans, this is a must have! In this example, I've set the shutter speed to 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

Nikon Open Source CameraAnd last but not least: OPEN SOURCE MODE. This lets the user switch from the predefined factory settings to the fully customizable firmware. If errors occur in the open source mode, the mode can be easily reset, modified, or simply switched off. The camera ships with the open source mode off by default.

Now that open source is finally here, new programs and features can be created! There are new applications being developed every week. Users can download the applications for free or purchase them from the new Nikon App Store.

Some of applications I've been enjoying are the following:

HDRaw: This is an application that records 12-bit video of a single exposure being processed in real time. Instead of bracketing images one at a time, HDRaw simply takes one long exposure and compiles the frames together in a high definition video file. The file can then be tone-mapped and saved as a .NEF or .JPG later on the computer.

3-D-SLR: This program enables the user to hook up two Digital SLRs together via the Mini-USB port  which is located on the side of the body. When the shutter button is pressed, both cameras take a photograph simultaneously. The images can then be stored separately or combined in camera to create a 3D Stereoscopic image. This doesn't work with videos yet, but it's coming.

DetectCam1.1: This is a simple program that enables you to use motion detection shutter triggering and sound detection shutter triggering. The sensitivity level can be adjusted and it has various different options. This app is really useful to be used as a high-speed photography trigger. You can also hide your camera somewhere, set the sensitivity level to High, and have the camera record silent video when it detects a noise or light-level change.

DSoundRecorder: This program allows you to record high quality audio files using the built in microphone, the on-camera microphone, or both. Levels and be adjusted. So far the only recordable file type is .WAV. It is very good with battery life, I've recorded an audio file for 9+ hours straight.

Qkustdom: This program is insane. It basically modifies/enhances the camera's menu and adds TONS of tweaks. Some of them are useful but others have limited application. Some things that are added to the SLR are the following:

  • View non-Nikon content (JPG, RAW, MP3, MOV and AVI files).
  • Loopable fps patterns (for example a looped [2 fps, 3 fps] pattern).
  • All bracketing options in the camera can now be set to user defined integers.
  • Enables Auto-Focus Bracketing.
  • The flash can be set to this crazy cycle mode where it will flash repeatedly, and each individual flash can be assigned different velocities.
  • It gives detailed stats on each file. (File size etc)
  • etc. etc. etc.

And my Favorite App is NikonMario! You use the thumb pad on the right to move mario, and you can use any of the buttons on the left for A and B controls. I've also heard that there is a full NES emulator being developed that can run all the NES ROMs.

Video game DSLR Camera

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