Friday, December 5, 2008

New Mexico VIII: Photographic Equipment and Post Processing Work Flow

Grace took her new Nikon D90 and the 18-200 VR lens.  Mine was much heavier set up.  I had the Nikon D300 with vertical grip and the 12-24, 16-85 VR and 70-300 VR lenses.  I also had the Nikon 50/1.4, and 105 VR micro lenses with me.  

Contrary to conventional wisdom, we often used the wide angle lens for closer scene.  For the wide open space, actually we used more often the long telephoto lens.  I did not have a chance to really use the micro lens capability in the New Mexico trip.  However, I used the 105 VR micro lens, just for fun, for all the shots at LaDoux street after the morning snow.  The lens was amazing when used to photograph buildings, every line was straight, perfect vertical or horizontal, almost no prospective distortion.

Each one of us had two batteries.  I kept one in the camera and one in the vertical grip.  We brought with us also two 8 GB memory cards each.  Each one of us took over 400 pictures per day.  We rarely used out one fully charged battery each day.  We took all the pictures in RAW.  8 GB memory card can store over 500 loss-less compressed NEF RAW file.  Thus in reality the extra battery and memory card were just for emergency.  

I had a 160 GB storage device that we transfered all the pictures of that day to it every night.  Grace had her portable computer with her and we transfered another backup copy to her computer.  We then erased all the pictures from the memory card and ready for next day.

Shooting NEF and using Capture NX2 allowed us to mend many mistakes that happened during our photographic process, especially for Picture Control.  Photoshop's ARC (Adobe RAW Conversion) does not always convert the in-camera Picture Control reliably.  It takes quite an exercise in Photoshop to reproduce the Picture Control effects.  Thus my work flow is to review the pictures in Nikon ViewNX, open the selected photos in Capture NX2, adjust exposure, picture control etc., save as JPEG then do further adjustment in Photoshop. For people portraits shot in "neutral" of Picture Control, I will then open directly in Photoshop ARC, which gives me better control on skin tone.  Photoshop ARC will not read any adjustment done by Capture NX to the RAW file.

The unselected RAW pictures eventually get deleted.  I keep both adjusted JPEG and its RAW.  Unless the JPEG compression artifact is obvious, I do not save pictures in TIF.  I also do not save Capture NX2 adjustment in RAW file unless necessary, it increases 50% of the file size to 15 MB each.  This way, I keep a middle ground between keeping the pictures either all in RAW or all in JPEG.

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