Brian A Keen Fine Art

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News Archive - 2007

Sep 2007

Photography News
New Lenses

I bought another couple of lenses: a new Nikon 24mm AIS MF lens (80% off in a Jessops closing down sale) and a second-hand Nikon 12-24mm DX zoom to extend the wide-angle coverage on the D200.

London Mayor's Thames Festival (Sun 16th Sep)

I visited London for the 2007 event.

Most images of the event itself are in a new 'Colour Thames Festival' gallery.

I began with some abstract shots of the architecture and scenes around London Bridge including the spiral stairs inside City Hall.

Reflections Abstract Building Umbrellas Graffiti Spiral Stairs Spiral Stairs

I then photographed some of the daytime events followed by the night time carnival procession.

The carnival was the first time I had used the Nikon SB-28 flashgun with the D200. The SB-28 does not allow TTL metering with the D200, so had to be used in 'auto' mode. In this mode it uses the sensor in the flashgun itself to control the light output.

Despite the flashgun batteries failing part way through, I managed to capture some reasonable images.

Thames Festival Thames Festival Thames Festival Thames Festival Thames Festival Thames Festival

The day finished with a fireworks display on the Thames. Shooting from Waterloo Bridge provides a view of St. Pauls in the background.

Thames Festival Thames Festival Thames Festival
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Colour London' gallery
  • 'Colour Thames Festival' gallery

Jul 2007

Photography News
Nikon D200 and 18-200mm VR Lens

Initial trials of the D200 look promising.
Film grain, dust and scratches are no longer a problem.
My first attempts (using 'raw' mode) produced images with burnt out highlights.
I discovered that this was down to the photoshop plugin that came with the Nikon software.
When I replaced it with Adobe's more versatile 'Camera Raw' plugin, the problem disappeared.

The Nikon 18-200mm lens was disappointing. Despite the good reviews, I have now returned the lens for a refund.
It wasn't good enough for my requirements.
The single, all-purpose, wide range zoom was just too good to be true.
It is a pity since the zoom range and vibration reduction made it look quite attractive.

I returned the lens for two reasons:-
First it has an annoying zoom creep problem:-
The lens extends under it's own weight when pointed down.
This is worse when it has the extra weight of a filter attached.
Apparently this is a known issue with this lens - although it wasn't mentioned in the reviews I initially read.
I think I could have lived with the zoom creep problem given the versatility of the lens.
I read that an elastic band around the zoom ring can be used to overcome the problem.
However, I also found that the 18-200 VR lens was not at all sharp compared to my other Nikon lenses.
I confirmed this after carrying out some lens tests by photographing the standard USAF 1951 resolution test chart.
At a mid-range setting of 80mm f8, the resolution proved much worse than my 80-200 AF ED zoom.
In my view, there is no point in buying a 10Mpix SLR if the resolution of the lens does not match.
I have now ordered the more expensive 17-55 DX lens instead.
This a heavier, f2.8 'pro' lens made with an alloy body instead of plastic.
Hopefully it will be sharper too.

DX Wideangle Lens

I expect that at some point in the future I will need to buy the Nikon 12-24 DX zoom since 17mm may not be wide enough for landscape work.
I have read mixed reviews for this lens. It is fairly expensive and only has a maximum aperture of f4. I suspect the build quality and sharpness may not be that good. Unfortunately there is not much choice in this focal length range. The cheaper Tokina 12-24mm zoom may be even less sharp.

Lens Tests

I have added the results of my lens tests to the photography information page. This includes the returned 18-200 VR zoom and the new 17-55 DX that has now replaced it. The results show that the 17-55 DX is considerably sharper - although still not as good as my prime lenses.

Bradwell Abbey and Windmill Infrared

After all the recent rain and dull, overcast skies, we have had a few good weather days at long last.
I took some shots of Bradwell Abbey and the nearby Windmill using Kodak High Speed Infrared film.
It took four visits before I managed to find the right sky and weather conditions.
I'm quite pleased with the results - it's almost impossible to get the same effect using digital.
One good reason to keep my old film cameras.

Bradwell Abbey Bradwell Abbey Bradwell Abbey Bradwell Abbey Bradwell Mill
St. Albans Larch Trees Infrared

This month I visited St. Albans to photograph some Larch trees near the Cathedral in infrared.
This time it took three visits before I had the right conditions.
The first attempt was late afternoon after work. This was the wrong time of day completely - it would have meant shooting into the sun. The next day I got up early and got there around 6:45am. This time conditions were about right.


I also took a couple of shots of St. Michael's Church as it was right next to the car park. As the clouds looked quite good later on, I also made a return visit at lunchtime. It turned out that the early morning results were best as the background clouds were less distracting.

St Michaels Church
Stowe Landscape Gardens

I visited Stowe Landscape gardens near Buckingham. Although I have been there two or three times in the past, I have never tried using infrared. I thought the Gothic Temple should make a good infrared subject, so concentrated my efforts on that. I got there very early - before the gardens were officially open and had the place to myself for a couple of hours. Despite a car being parked at the rear of the Temple, I managed to get some reasonable images. The Bourbon Tower and Palladian bridge also gave some interesting results. Later in the morning, hoards of visitors arrived and it became frustrating waiting for both the light and for people to get out of the way.

Stowe Stowe Stowe Stowe Stowe Stowe Stowe
John Ormond House

I used my new 17-55 DX lens with the D200 to photograph the green glass 'John Ormond House' building in Central Milton Keynes near Campbell Park.

John Ormond House
Photography Gallery Updates.
  • 'Infrared' gallery
  • 'Colour, Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery

May 2007

Photography News
Digital SLR.

After my recent digital SLR / film comparison tests showed up just how bad 35mm film grain can look, I decided it was time I invested in a digital SLR.
As Ken Rockwell's web site suggests, 35mm film cameras effectively became obsolete around 1999.
It now costs about £5 just to develop a single 36 exposure roll of 35mm colour film.
Considering I usually only end up with around 3-6 'decent' images per roll, this works out quite expensive.

As I already own a number of Nikon lenses, choosing which digital SLR to buy was a bit of a 'no-brainer'.
The 12Mpx D2x would have been nice, but it was ruled out by the hefty £1500 price tag (body only) and the size.
The 10.2Mpx D200 was the only real choice at about half the price (Available at just under £805 from Jessops on the internet) .
The cheaper 10Mpx Nikon digital SLRs such as the D80 and D40X have bodies made from polycarbonate.
The D200 body, like my F100, is made from metal alloy.
The D80 is not compatible with my old Nikon lenses (not sure about the D40x).
The D200 also allows me to use TTL metering with my old manual focus lenses.

I was hoping that Nikon would develop a higher resolution (>12Mpx) successor to the D200 before I made the jump from film.
If it wasn't for my existing investment in Nikon lenses, I may have chosen the higher resolution 12Mpx Canon EOS5D.

Nikon 18-200mm VR zoom lens.

I decided to buy a new DX lens to go with the D200 - a Nikon 18-200mm VR zoom.
This lens gets good reviews from Ken Rockwell.
It means I can travel lighter and will no longer always need to carry a bag-full of lenses.
The VR functionality means I may be able to dispense with a tripod in many situations.

Photography Gallery Updates
  • 'Colour Beds, Bucks & Herts' gallery
  • 'Colour Macro' gallery
Painting News
Winter Landscape in Oils.

I need to add a number of finishing touches - including adding the snow on the tops of the tree branches.

Yellow Rose Oil Portrait.

This is based on a portrait by the American painter Daniel F Gerhartz - regarded by many as one of the 'modern masters'. I can understand why. Although it looked fairly straightforward, it has been a tricky and complex painting. It has already taken many hours of work and is still some way from completion.

Jan 2007

Website News
Google Search.

The website now appears in the Google Search Engine. A search for locates the site URL. However, searching for a string containing my name doesn't find a match.

Photography News
Bronica 50mm Lens.

I recently bought a 50mm PE Lens secondhand. This should help reduce the converging verticals problem when photographing buildings.

Painting News

I made some minor improvements to the appearance of the foam on the beach and the distant cliffs. The photo in the Oil Paintings gallery has been updated.

Jenny Agutter Oil Portrait.

The portrait is now complete apart from varnishing. I photographed the painting over the Christmas holiday. The photo has been added to the Oil Paintings gallery.

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