843 – Bright Lights Big City

Juha Haataja has recently complained about lack of inspiration due to this dull, gray winter light. I can feel with him, we had no sun for more than two weeks now, and up in Finland the days are even shorter.

In a comment on his blog I had said that “when I have the problem, I normally search for colors in shop windows, street lights, advertising and so on, and I use that, frequently with very shallow depth of field, often only as a background. In many cases I go macro (but on the street) or use a longer lens.” Well, here we are 🙂

It’s not that I don’t like the Sigma 20/1.8 any more, but sometimes change is a nice thing, and so I changed to one of my less favored lenses, the Nikon 85/1.8.

Let’s be honest, this lens is a pig, regardless of its generally good reviews. Wide open it is extremely soft (it’s no focus problem, it’s only softness), shows excessive purple fringing (not CA, that would easily be fixable in software), and its minimum focus distance of about 85 cm makes it unusable for any macro work.

Still, at times it is quite funny to use, and it made a nice contrast to the Sigma 20/1.8. I’m only sure that it won’t live on my camera for much longer. Its restrictions and flaws make it a tough choice as a walk-around lens. In fact, I’m a day late, these are Monday images, I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon, have used it today as well, and I definitely know that I won’t shoot with it tomorrow.

My style of seeing with this lens is very similar to that with the Sigma 70/2.8, but then again it is not. They have almost equal focal lengths, the Nikon is longer and opens up to f1.8, but the Sigma is a macro and that makes all the difference. See my images from about a year ago, when the Sigma was my favorite lens and I used it more or less exclusively. It is so much more versatile, and although it is slower, it is completely usable from wide open, which the Nikon is only under very controlled conditions.

Anyway, we’ll come back to the Nikon 85/1.8 in the next post, and after that it will go back into the bag for good, to be resurrected for the odd portrait session or maybe on another one of these weird days when I need something different 🙂

The Song of the Day, “Bright Lights Big City“, is one more time from the 2008 album “Two Men With The Blues” by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. YouTube has a promo video that’s actually worth seeing, and this song begins at around 3:10. Enjoy!

7 thoughts on “843 – Bright Lights Big City”

  1. You definitely demonstrated the art of coping with non-inspiring light. Excellent images, abstract and real at the same time.

  2. To be honest, much of it is Photoshop as well, and DxO also contributes its share. No way you could capture those color circles in a normal JPEG, at least not without letting everything else go black. DxO is quite good in rescuing highlights that would otherwise burn out. And then of course this lens is unstabilized, I need 1/100s to get decently sharp results, and that often means highest ISO in current light. Another area where DxO excels.

  3. I really like the abstract nature of this image, and the colours. Great tune as well. Got me listening to Peter Green again, specifically, Jumping At Shadows, my favourite album of his.

  4. Okay… you guys are whining about drab, contrast-less, dullness of light. Well we’ve got it worse. Most of our storms (and there haven’t been many this winter) have come at night. The following days have been largely cloudless meaning that I have extreme sunlight or dark shadow reflecting off of ice encrusted snow. BOOOOOORING!

    Gosh what I’d give for some gray days and low constrasts that would easily fit inside of my Canon 40D’s dynamic range (wide as it is). Whine…… 🙂

  5. About whining… From September to half-way January I complained that there was no snow here in Finland – and now that we have it, I’m getting bored. Never satisfied, so it seems.

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