Friday, January 27, 2012

Moeraki Boulders

A monochrome picture of the boulders at Moeraki.
Nikon D80, 8mm fisheye, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f11.
A full-sized version of this picture is also available for sale as a print or greeting card at:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Boulders and Penguins

Fresh back from the North Otago coast, as promissed we have boulders and penguins. The boulders are the "Moeraki Boulders" - see the Wikepedia article at Unfortunately, we had cloudy dawns while we were there so never got the best light to photograph them.

The penguins were the "Yellow-eyed penguins" ( Usually a timid bird, this adult and juvenile seemed quite content to watch me photograph them over several minutes. The nest was on the top of a high cliff with a very nasty climb down to the beach below - I am not sure how flightless birds manage that!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tug Luttelton

Last one from the Lyttelton set. This one is available from Redbubble as a greeting card or as a larger print. Go to
Nikon D80, 8mm fisheye, f11 2 1/125 sec (3 brackets) ISO 200.
Next it's boulders and penguins. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tugboat Lyttelton

Two more pictures from yesterday's "Lyttelton" set. Both of the Tugboat Lyttelton, both using an 8mm fisheye lens. Both of these pictures have had some of the fisheye distortion (vertical lines) corrected with the programme 'Fisheye Hemi'. This is a very useful tool to have if you still wan't to have a wide field of view but with slightly less of the fisheye effect.

Nikon D80, 8mm fisheye, f11 @ 1/125 sec (3 exposures blended), ISO 200.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fish out of water

It's so hard to resist the 'fish' puns but I will try to cut back. Anyway, first real outing with the fisheye today, in one of my favourite haunts - the Port of Lyttelton. I am liking the way that one can create these lovely curved 'leading lines' with the fisheye. In this shot the camera was pointing downward leading to a significantly bowed horizon line. A similar shot from the same place but with the camera leveled seemed to loose much of the dynamism created by the curved lines.
Nikon D80, 8mm fisheye, f11, 1/125, three exposures, tinted black and white.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fish on the book

I figure that I'll keep the fisheye on the camera for a while yet. Normally I would use a 50mm prime at about f2 for a shot like this (indoor, available light, portrait) keeping the fisheye on the camera is forcing me to see things fresh. In this shot, I like the way that the fisheye has made the book completely fill the foreground and provide some interesting 'leading lines' to the main subject. Can't do that with a 50mm.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fish on the floor!

Getting the fish down on the floor just got a lot easier thanks to a right-angled viewfinder attachment - an excellent aid for older bones! I like the way the fisheye enables you to get right close into the action and the distortion is a great compliment to highlighting the 'fun' aspect of grandchildren:
Nikon D80, 8mm fisheye, f5.6 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 200.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Observations on the fish

If I thought that using a fisheye lens was simply a case of, “it’s just another lens,” then I was mistaken. There are, it seems, new compositional factors to discover and learn and there are technical challenges to address. The compositional aspects I am still working through, but one technical aspect is that, in an outdoor environment, almost every shot will have a high dynamic range and will need to be treated with whatever technique you use for HDR.
The reason for the high dynamic range is the field of view; it is so large that the chances of including both very bright and very dark parts in the subject are greatly increased – even compared to something like a 10mm rectilinear lens. To combat this, I have found that +2/-2 bracketed shooting is the new ‘normal’ for the fisheye and that in some cases I need to bracket out to +4/-4 or further, to cover the range.
The following shot of our school observatory was taken on a cloudy/bright day, facing away from the sun and required a +2/-2 treatment. With other shots taken towards the cloud covered sun, +2/-2 was not enough and the sky was badly burnt out.

Nikon D80, with Samyang 8mm fisheye, f11 (3 exposures).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gone fishin'

Yesterday, my long awaited fisheye lens arrived so I strapped it on and went out to the yard. The family car proved that not all subjects are well suited to a fisheye – unless amusement is your aim!

But the front wheel of the kick-bike showed that some subjects can be kept in shape while the rest of the world is bending crazily.
A walk down the road to the cricket oval quickly demonstrated the wonderful new perspective that a fisheye can bring to a landscape. It also demonstrated how the sun can quickly lead to burnt out highlights – this shot would have benefited from a wider, bracketed, exposure.

OK, there’s nothing ‘artsy’ here yet, just some demo shots to show what the lens can do - the lens in question being the Korean Samyang 8mm fisheye. It’s rebadged by a number of companies and mine came dressed in “Bower” clothing, though I believe it’s often seen as a “Rokinon” or a “Vivitar” and probably a few other names as well.  In the USA these sell for well under $300 dollars so, even after importation costs, it is still a third of the cost of a ‘name’ brand fisheye lens.

Part of the low cost is the fact that it is a manual focus and f stop lens – no autofocus and no auto exposure. But with a fisheye these are less of an issue than you might think. Stopped down to f8 the depth of field is so impressive that I just set it to 3m and left it there. And exposure calculations took me back to the days before I even owned a light meter – just look at the sky and guess that today is (for example) an f11 at 1/125 sec day. Even from my first outing I had less exposure errors with this lens than I usually get with the TTL metering – all due to the huge field of view where its averages, not spot metering that count.

But is it sharp? Yes, it’s sharp even at the edges from about f5.6 onwards. At f3.5 there is some softness at the periphery, but no more than I have seen with some zoom lenses. For a fisheye the sharpness is very impressive. If you are looking at a fisheye lens then I can highly recommend this one available at:  or at: