New Zeiss Lenses

Today Zeiss announced a new line of lenses for Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras:  The Milvus.

According to Zeiss, the lenses are optimized for high-resolution cameras (like the D810 I suppose) and offer “practically distortion-free” imagining.  I’m not really sure what “practically” means in this context.  The old line of Distagon T* lenses already offer very low distortion imagery…in my opinion, they are already practically distortion-free.

The new mail of Milvus lenses look slick and modern (similar to the new Batis line of mirrorless lenses)…not that the old line of lenses look obsolete by any means…but the new line does look more weather-proofed.  For example, the Milvus line has a rubberized zoom ring with seamless gaps, similar to the Otus lenses.


I’m a bit surprised they “upgraded” the 100mm f/2 macro lens.  The old one has such a phenomenal reputation…why mess with perfection?  If it truly is a better lens than the old 100mm, that’s quite an achievement.

Indoor Panoramas

If you photograph the interior of homes and/or any other architectural structure, eventually (and probably pretty quickly) you will encounter a situation where the shot you want is just too wide for any lens you own.  Even if you own an ultra-wide angle lens like the Nikkor 14-24mm, sometimes the shot is still too wide: either you cannot step back far enough, or the angle is too awkward to adequately capture the scene in a manner that’s acceptable to the viewer.  This applies especially  to ultra-wide angle lenses, which are known for producing unkindly amounts of distortion along the edges of a frame.

In many of these situations, you’re probably better off leaving the ultra-wide in your bag, and taking out a more normal angle lens, like a 25mm or 28mm…or even a 35mm.

Use that 25mm lens, and with a vertical orientation (your camera mounted vertically on the tripod), shoot a panorama across the scene.

Panoramas can be a bit tricky when shooting close subjects, especially indoors where there are lots of objects in the frame (i.e. furniture, wallpaper, tables, etc…), so make sure you get plenty of shots across the scene.  I typically like to cover half the frame with each successive shot.  So, for example, I take the first shot on the left side of the frame, then move the camera to the right about halfway across the last exposure (so the right edge of the last exposure is now in the middle of the next exposure)…and so on until I span all the way across the scene.

Another important characteristic of a panorama is making sure each shot is exposed identically…or as close to identical as possible.  Imagine a pano where you have one shot slightly underexposed, and the frame next to it overexposed…obviously that’s not going to work.  To obtain relatively consistent light for an indoor pano, I use HDR for each individual frame.  So, I take 5 shots for each frame, combine them into an HDR image, and use those HDRs for the final panorama.  In my experience, Lightroom’s HDR program does a good job keeping the exposures acceptably close for the purposes of making panos.

To combine the final pano I use Photoshop, although Lightroom can now handle combining panos.

Below is an example of the individual photos taken of a living room, combined into a single pano:

800 Jessop

800 Jessop-2

800 Jessop-3 800 Jessop-4 800 Jessop-5 800 Jessop-6

Those images are combined in Photoshop to create the panorama of the living room:

Not the greatest photograph…there are several issues I have with the final image here.  But, for a rudimentary indoor pano, it serves its purpose.  And, more importantly, there isn’t a wide angle lens available which can shoot this wide, this close, with no distortion.  It also creates an enormously huge file, power-packed with all the resolution you’d ever need in a photograph.

If you ever find yourself getting serious about shooting panos, there are tripod heads made specifically for this purpose.  These types of tripod heads maximize the ability to level and stabilize the camera and lens, so they pivot evenly across the entire scene on the lens’ nodal point.

This article does a very good job describing, in great detail, how to set your camera up to shoot a high quality panorama: Panorama Factory

Midnight Moonbow

I don’t remember if I’ve posted this shot on the blog before.  It was taken during my first night at Yosemite National Park a couple of years back (April of 2013), around midnight. A crystal clear night…not a cloud in the sky.  The waterfalls (especially the upper falls) were in bloom thanks to the late April snow melt.

A bright full moon created a moonbow from the mist of the upper falls.

Taken with the Nikon D800, and the Nikkor Noct 58mm lens at f/4, ISO 800, 30s.
Upper and Lower Falls

Off to Blackwater Falls

Finally, after waiting over a year to go, I am heading off to Blackwater State Park tonight.  The Park is located right in the middle of EBF, West Virginia…a few miles southwest of the world famous town of Davis.  Google maps is telling me the drive should take about 3.5 hours.

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The main purpose for the trip is to photograph a few of the many waterfalls in the area, specifically Elakala Falls…which from my research seems to be the most photogenic of the falls.

The ideal conditions to shoot a waterfall are just after a rain shower under cloudy skies, when the rocks are still wet and shiny.  Put on a polarizer to minimize the glare, and the deep saturation and texture leap through the lens.  Thunderstorms are in the forecast for the area over the next couple of days…hopefully I’ll get lucky and have a chance to shoot the area just after a nice downpour.

On a completely unrelated note, I am leaning toward sleeping in my car tonight once I get there. is telling me there are hotel rooms available in nearby Canaan Valley, but they seem a bit pricey.  Plus, it’s much easier to wake up and get moving pre-dawn when you’re in a car seat and your lower back is on fire…as opposed to trying to get out of a warm, comfy bed at 4:30am.

Spa Creek Bridge

This is one of the oldest shots I’ve taken with a full frame camera.  It was a passive touristy sort of shot, with just a circular polarizer affixed to the font of the lens and *gasp* no tripod.  No work went into the prep…just saw it and shot.

The Spa Creek Bridge in Annapolis connects State Street and Compromise Street in the downtown harbor.  For my money especially during the golden hours, this is one of the most  beautiful places in Maryland.

I was standing along the top of the bridge when I got this shot, looking west to what I believe is the Charles Carroll House.

Even though it was sunny out, there were patches of thick clouds to help the polarizer diffuse some of the sun.

Nikon D700 with Nikkor 28-300mm lens at 70mm, ISO 100, f.8 at 1/00s.


Downtown as seen from Spa Creek during the middle of the day.

Downtown as seen from Spa Creek during the middle of the day.