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Review: Night soccer with the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR II

There are a few events every year which I'm privileged to be asked to photograph, and one of them is the annual Souls and Goals soccer cup, a soccer match between priests and seminarians in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

This soccer match is held on a (usually very cold) night in November, at a stadium with less-than-stellar lighting. For last year's game, I rented a Nikon D500 (D500 review here, and used it with my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens (roughly 300mm equivalent on the D500 body). It was very nice, and the focus system on the D500 (borrowed from the penultimate sports DSLR, the D5) is second-to-none.

But I wasn't thrilled with the low-light performance on the D500. And I wanted to try something new this year. So I rented monster lens—the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR II:

How to focus stack a set of images in Photoshop

I recently rented a Nikon 105mm VR Macro lens for a weekend, and wanted to experiment with different types of macro photography.

One of the things I was most interested in was focus stacking. See, there's a problem with macro photography in that you're dealing with a depth of field measured in millimeters when reproducing images at a 1:1 ratio, even stopped down to f/8 or f/11. And, wanting to avoid diffraction at higher apertures, there's no way to take a straight-out-of-camera picture of a 3D object that's sharp from front to back.

One frequent subject of my close-up photography is the Raspberry Pi single board computer. You can see the problem when taking just one photo:

Photographing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Last year, when I first learned that my house was in the path of totality for this year's eclipse, I immediately logged into BorrowLenses and rented a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR lens (for photography—it's now on my wishlist) and then purchased a set of eclipse glasses for my family, and materials to build a solar filter for the lens.

I've learned from Reddit's DIY community that people like the end result first... then an explanation, so:

2017 Total Solar Eclipse composite by Jeff Geerling
See the full-size image of the Eclipse composite on Flickr.

Photography Weekend Part 1 - Packing My Gear

This weekend I'm heading to Steubenville St. Louis to photograph the weekend's events. There will be a wide variety of photo opportunities, from band shots/stage lighting, to outdoor portraits, to group shots and environmental shots. Thus, I will be needing almost all my gear to make sure I can have the versatility I need to get the pictures people want to see.

I'm going to try to document the whole process—packing up/readying my gear (in this post), getting outfitted with the equipment I need (once on location), processing photos, and then cleaning things up.

Nikon Roadtrip Gear
(Click on the photo to view a TON more detail about all the gear)

As you can see from the picture above, I pack relatively heavy. At least, for a solo photographer who doesn't do much commercial work :)

Camera and Lens Rentals in St. Louis, MO

For the past few years, when shooting large events in indoor spaces (such as the 2010 Priesthood Ordination Mass), I've rented camera bodies and lenses from BorrowLenses.com, a great online rental store, with pretty much any lens or camera body you'd ever want to use (especially if you're like me and could never justify the cost of purchase!). I highly recommend BorrowLenses (though I have also used and liked LensRentals.com and RentGlass.com).

This year, however, I decided to look into whether it might be more advantageous to use a local camera shop. I found that both Schiller's and Creve Coeur Camera offer camera and lens rentals, but both have more limited selections. However, the lens and camera body I need are usually available at Schiller's, I don't have to pay shipping (pick-up only, but the store is nearby), and I can pay a one-day rental rate for a weekend (most of the events I use the cameras for are on Saturdays).

Winter Ice and Snow Storm Hits St. Louis Hard

The video below simply shows some clips I shot in front of my condo during this year's major snow and ice storm that's hitting St. Louis as of the posting of this blog entry. The video was shot handheld, and you can hear the loud and constant patter of the sleet hitting the ground.

So far we have half an inch of sleet, but the sleet should be changing to snow soon. Some areas of Metro St. Louis should have over a foot (approaching two feet!) of snow.

Review of Nikon D7000 - Almost Complete

Nikon D7000 - FrontSince about a week after it's introduction, I've been shooting with the D90 as my primary camera, and it's been a great run. The D90 is almost the perfect photo-making machine for me. I was thinking of either upgrading to a D300s, or possibly a D700 (all my lenses would work with either FX or DX), but then came the D7000.

I was instantly thrilled with the specs, especially since the D7000 body is almost exactly the same dimensions as the D90 (meaning I wouldn't need to get used to a bunch of new button placements). So, after a little consultation with my bride, I bought the D7000 (it was in stock, momentarily, from Amazon.com).

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