Ambient Heaven

, None

by · Posted in: website business · musings · photography techniques

I've been away again for several weeks in Wyoming pursuing some personal work which included among other things photographing behind the scenes at the Cody Stampede Rodeo. I'm back home for a while and will be editing photos and making blog postings here with a more respectable regularity, but I wanted to make a quick technical note. Over the last two months I have been shooting almost exclusively with the Nikon D700 (I had a brief fling with a Hasselblad H3D, but that's a story for another day). The high ISO performance of the latest batch of Nikon cameras has been news for a while now, but while shooting evening action in dark conditions I came to realize what a huge game changer this is. To have the ability to capture useable images at ISO 1600 and higher completely transforms the way we can capture a sense of a place. In the past an artificially lit arena like a evening rodeo was a photo disaster waiting to happen. Now it is a blast—the dim ambient light begins to feel like a movie set.

Bronc Riders with D700 ISO 800 ambient light

The above image is shot at ISO 800 using only ambient light. It was shot with the wide end of a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom wide open. It has almost no visible noise at 100% and the raw image required almost no processing. For some applications I would like a little more resolution than the D700 provides, but in terms of color reproduction and ease of use I'm not sure how I could improve this camera.

If you would like to see more photos, I've posted a loose edit to our facebook page. You don't need to have a facebook membership to view the photos, but if you do, consider clicking the 'becoming a fan' link. I edit photos much more loosely there than I do for the portfolios here and you'll be notified when there is new stuff.

While digging though these images I found this shot taken at ISO 3200, which gave a quick enough shutter speed to catch the horse sliding to a stop while the rider jumped off.

D700 at ISO 3200

Here's a 100% crop:

D700 at ISO 3200 100% Crop