photography

Using a Nikon D750 as a webcam or for live streaming

You can use a Nikon D750 as a webcam or for live streaming, assuming you have a mini HDMI to HDMI cable and an HDMI interface for your computer.

While it's forte is stills photography, the D750 isn't bad at video; it can output up to 1080p at 60 frames per second, and has full-time autofocus, but the live view autofocus isn't that great, so I recommend manual focus if you don't have to move around much.

Why would you use a D750? Well, for the same reason you'd use most any other DSLR or mirrorless camera for video instead of a cheaper webcam or built-in camera on your laptop: the video quality is amazing!

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera - YouTube Video Series

Today I posted the first episode of a new series on the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.

Raspberry Pi HQ Camera with Tamron 8mm C-mount lens

I plan on releasing a number of videos in the series covering how to use the HQ camera in various settings, like for astrophotography, nature photography and video, as a webcam or for streaming, for time-lapse photography, and for general photography.

I'll be updating this post with all the videos as I publish them:

I replaced my office lights to get better video

Note: This blog post has an accompanying video: I replaced my office lights for better video quality.

Jeff holding overhead light in office

Earlier this year, I started recording more videos and doing live streams in my office. Originally I just used a webcam, a Logitech C920.

Jeff - Webcam C920 Before

This is a frame of video from that webcam. It's adequate, but not too flattering, and you can see there's a lot of contrast where one side of my face is bright and blown out, and the other side is 'muddy' or 'flat'.

Review: Nikon Z50

I've been shooting Nikon DSLRs since the D40 came out, and currently shoot with D700 and D750 FX bodies which have served me well for years.

In the past, I've rented a Z6—Nikon's first foray into pro-level mirrorless cameras—for a couple events, and I also own a Sony a6000 and have rented a Sony A7iii for a couple events. I have been very interested in the relentless march of technology in photography. From a couple old nice film bodies I started with, to the earliest digital cameras which had terrible IQ but the ability to instantly review and share photos, to DSLRs which quickly surpassed the quality of 35mm film photography, it has been an eventful 25 years.

Rescue photos and other files from an SD or microSD card with PhotoRec

As a photographer who's taken and processed at least 200,000 photos in the past couple decades, you'd think I have a solid workflow that results in zero lost files... but you'd be wrong. 99% of the time, I follow the workflow:

  1. Import photos from memory card.
  2. Make sure backup of imported photos completes (so I have two local copies—I also have one copy back up to a cloud storage provider, so two local and one cloud backup).
  3. Format the memory card.

A lot of photographers shoot with two memory cards, and have photos written to both—that way the 2nd card would be a double-failsafe. But for most jobs, I don't do that. And one of my digital cameras doesn't even have two memory card slots, so this isn't an option!

Anyways, more often than I'd like to admit, I do something dumb, like:

Re-gripping a Nikon D700 DSLR

The Nikon D700 holds a special place in my heart. I started getting serious about photography right around the time digital SLR cameras (DSLRs) were overtaking film cameras in terms of quality and sales quantity. My first non-snapshot camera was a manual-focus Minolta X-700, and I'm sad I sold it years ago. The D700 was the first 'semi-pro' level DSLR I used; though I never owned one until recently.

Nikon D700 60mm 2.8 Macro lens Hero image

I rented and borrowed the Nikon D3, D3s, and D700 a number of times when they were the state of the art, and I still love the way the D700 renders images. The fact that it shoots at 12 megapixels means it's more forgiving with handheld photography at slower shutter speeds (since motion blur gets much worse as resolution increases). It doesn't do video at all... but as a photographer's camera, besides maybe the Nikon Df, there isn't a DSLR that I've enjoyed using as much for as long.

Photos from 2019 Priesthood Ordination Mass for the Archdiocese of St. Louis

Earlier today, I was honored to be able to join in the celebration of the ordination of seven new priests for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I was asked by the class to photograph their special event, and as I have done for many years, I gladly accepted and used the occasion to rent some new photography gear—this year I supplemented my Nikon D750 and F-mount lenses with a:

  • Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S lens (Z-mount)
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens (F-mount)

This was also the first year I kept my two workhorse zoom lenses (24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8) in the bag, and shot exclusively with prime lenses. I've often considered doing this, but only recently realized there was a good prime between 105mm and 200mm that I could rely on for the shots where the Archbishop interacts with the ordinands, for example, the Laying on of Hands:

Laying on of Hands - Archbishop Carlson

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:

Review: Wosports Trail Camera for Hunting and Wildlife

For the past few years, I've been tweaking a few different camera rigs for wildlife and outdoor photography. I have set up a few different time-lapse rigs using my Raspberry Pis with Pi Cameras, and I've set up my Nikon D750 in a few different ways with its built-in intervalometer, or with a wireless remote.

This is great, but I've always wanted to set up the Pi with an infrared Pi Camera, as well as a motion sensor, so I could capture wildlife at night. I know there are some animals that peruse the seeds in our yard around the bird feeders, but it's well nigh impossible to capture them with my other non-infrared cameras... and they tend to come out when I'm asleep.

Wosports contacted me and asked if I'd like a discount on their 'Trail Camera' to give it a test, and I thought it was a great opportunity to check out the basic/low-end of trail cameras, so I took them up on the offer.

Wosports Trail Camera

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: