Rainbow Connection

by Eyre Austero 18. October 2010 07:40

This has happened to me a number of times--of seeing beautiful rainbows after the rain. And in most cases,  all I can do is sigh because I didn't have anything with me to capture the moment.

It's a good thing that today, my bag is still in the laundry so I had to temporarily use my camera bag to hold my IDs, ATM/Credit cards, and other stuff. In effect, I also took with me my camera and was lucky to be able to spot this scene with a rainbow (see photos below).

The morale of the story is that, some photographic opportunities come unexpected so it's best to have a camera readily at hand to capture these moments.


Photography | Random Shots

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Nikon D7000 Announced

by Eyre Austero 18. September 2010 18:24

     For the Nikon D5000/D90 users out there who are looking for an upgrade option, good news! The Nikon D7000 is coming to town. This new camera, which Nikon describes as a  "mid-class, high-spec Nikon DX-format camera" was announced last September 15,2010 and is expected to be available by mid-October for around 1,200 USD body only and around 1,500 USD with the 18-105mm kit lens.


Key Features (sources: Nikon, dpreview, imaging resource) :

  •  Newly developed CMOS sensor (16.2 MP)
  • A new image-processing engine (EXPEED 2)
  • ISO 100-6400 (plus H1 and H2 equivalent to ISO 12,800/25,600)
  • Weather sealed, magnesium alloy body
  • A new 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor ( which offers twice the metering pixels as Nikon's previous high-end metering sensor)
  • 39-point autofocus system with nine cross-type points at the center of the frame
  • 1080p HD video recording with mic jack for external microphone
  • Twin SD card slots
  • Scene Recognition System (see 2016 pixel sensor, above) aids metering + focus accuracy
  • 3.0 inch 921k dot LCD screen
  • New Live View/movie shooting switch
  • Full-time AF in Live View/movie modes
  • Up to 6fps continuous shooting
  • Lockable shooting mode dial
  • Built-in intervalometer
  • Electronic virtual horizon
  • Shutter tested to 150K actuations


   Feature-wise, the Nikon D7000 is said to be in-between the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D300S.  As to how it compares to these two models, refer to the table below taken from dpreview.



Photography | Techie Stuff | Gadgets

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Lunar Occultation of Venus

by Eyre Austero 18. May 2010 07:06

     While busy playing Oblivion yesterday, I received a 'text' message from my officemate (Ate Aida) telling me to have a look outside to see how beautiful the moon is.  Good for me that I did. The sight was indeed spectacular! Before my eyes is the crescent moon with a star (or to be accurate, the planet Venus appearing like a star) on top of it. So I hurriedly took my Nikon D5000; mounted it on a tripod; then started shooting using the 18-55mm kit lens. I had some difficulty with AF so I switched to manual focus, making use of the electronic rangefinder to confirm focus.

     Although I can only do so much with my kit lens in this situation, I'm still happy because I was able to document this rare and special astronomical event.

     To those who missed this, here are some of my photos of the May 16, 2010  lunar occultation of Venus.


Photography | Random Shots

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Manual Focus Using Live View

by Eyre Austero 12. April 2010 08:30

     Although the current auto focus systems of DSLRs are fast and accurate, there are still a number of situations where manual focus is better.  For Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School, these include macro work, portraits, shooting through glass or wire fences, action photography, and low light.

     To prepare myself for these situations, I re-read the Nikon D5000 manual  and learned two useful things. One is the use of the electronic rangefinder, while the other one is the use of live view in doing manual focus.  

     While the electronic rangefinder is good,  the viewfinder is however small making it sometimes difficult to confirm focus accuracy.  It's a good thing that the Nikon D5000 has the live view feature.  One would not only get a 2.7" view of the scene, it is also possible to see its zoomed version up to 6.7x.  I used this feature while doing a lens test of the kit lens and  found it to be very useful in fine tuning focus.

      There are however some limitations with regards to the use of live view in doing manual focus.  Quoting from an article of Joshua Lehrer of Steve's Digicam, "I will preface by saying that 99% of the situations in which live view is a valuable asset, the camera should be in a fixed position, such as on a tripod, the ground, table, etc.".  I agree with this and I think the same applies to the use of manual focus in live view. But ,of course, this is just me. Feel free to disagree.

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Photography | Learning Series

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'Abusing' my Kit Lens

by Eyre Austero 2. April 2010 18:13

     One of the problems commonly faced by newbies in photography is what we call the Gear Acquisition Syndrome (a.k.a. GAS)--or is it just me. Barely two and a half months since I purchased my DSLR camera and after  having only taken about a thousand shots with it (mostly fireworks), here I am now itching to buy the next accessories for my camera. Indeed, it looks like I'm now nearly afflicted with GAS.

     Luckily for me, I've managed to hold it at bay. While seeking for answers in photography forums such as DPP, Pipho, DPReview as to what to buy next (prime lens or flash), I came to realize that the answer is not simple and that it is actually only me who can best answer my own question. The general concensus is that, I first have to know the type of photography that I like most doing before I can make informed choices as to what gears to buy next.

    So here I am now; starting to 'abuse' (i.e. maximize) my kit lens; trying to figure out the focal lengths that I use most of the time; the type of photography that I like most doing; learning more about proper exposure, composition, lighting ;and many more.  Who knows, I might after all not be needing more than what the kit lens offer--although I very much doubt this. Hehehe...

    Here are some of my random shots taken using the kit lens. I'll be updating this post whenever I come across something interesting.

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Photography | Random Shots

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Shooting Fireworks at the Pyromusical Competition: Part II

by Eyre Austero 16. March 2010 22:49

     To further hone my skills in fireworks photography, I once more went to the SM Mall of Asia last March 14 to watch the last day of the 1st Philippine International Pyromusical Competition.  Unlike last February 28, my experience that night did not go as smoothly.  For one, the area was so  jam-packed, limiting my movement.  The moon was also nowhere to be found forcing me to look for an alternative method to ensure that my focus is set to infinity. What I did was to focus on some distant bright light sources in the hope that this will do the trick.  As this activity required me to remove the camera from the tripod, this somehow led to the worst thing that happened to me that night (and with me as the main culprit).  Almost half of all my shots were partially tilted (from the horizontal plane) due to my failure to double  check whether my subject is still properly framed or not after returning the camera back.  

     Things might not have turned very well that night but I'm actually glad that it happened.  The valuable lessons that I've learned will surely be of great help for me in averting potential disasters in the future.

     Here are some of my fireworks photos taken that night. To view the camera settings used and my other fireworks photos, please refer to Part I of this post.



Photography | Fireworks

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Shooting Fireworks at the Pyromusical Competition

by Eyre Austero 3. March 2010 20:39

     As a newbie in DSLR photography, improving my photographic eye and skills is my topmost priority. So whenever an opportunity presents itself, my natural instinct is to jump right in to get my hands dirty so as to learn in the process. It is this same instinct which led my feet to the SM Mall of Asia to shoot some fireworks during the February 28, 2010 schedule of the 1st Philippine International Pyromusical Competition. The competing countries (on this date) were France and Japan.

     To get the most out of this event, I did not go to the place empty-handed. Instead, I gave myself more than a week to gather some useful tips and practices on how to best shoot fireworks. As a start, I went to the venue an hour earlier than the scheduled start of the event. This is for me to secure a nice spot for taking photos.  To avoid camera shake, all photos were taken using a remote switch and with the camera mounted on a tripod. The UV filter was also removed to prevent getting ghost images of the fireworks. Camera used was the Nikon D5000. Lens used was the kit lens (18-55mm VR).

     Let me now share with you the camera settings that I used.  Be forewarned 'though that some settings might be camera-specific.

  • Long Exposure Noise Reduction: On
  • Flash: Off
  • Vibration Reduction: Off
  • Active D-Lighting: Off
  • Focus: Infinity (As suggested in some forums, what I did to achieve this is to focus on the moon then to switch to Manual mode afterwards.)
  • Autofocus: Off (Well I did this because it is said that the brightness of the fireworks and the haze of the smoke confuses many auto focus systems.)
  • Mode: Manual
  • Shutter Speed: Bulb (This is to give me better control over exposure time.)
  • Aperture: f/8, f/11 (This is to have greater depth of field.)
  • ISO: 200
  • Image Quality: Fine
  • Metering: Matrix

     And now, let me present to you the result of my first try, ever, at shooting fireworks.  


      For more tips on how to shoot fireworks, please visit this link: http://camerani.com/how-to-photograph-fireworks/


Photography | Fireworks

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Canon EOS 550D Announced

by Eyre Austero 17. February 2010 07:04

     Last February 8, 2010, Canon officially announced its latest addition to its EOS range of DSLRcameras--the Canon EOS 550D. It is expected to be availble on the 24th of February 2010.  Estimated retail price is $799.99 for body-only configuration and $899.99 for the kit version (bundled with Canon's EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens).

      Walkthrough Video



        Headline Features (source: Canon website)
      Note: Italicized items are my personal comments.

  • 18 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 4 processor with ISO 100-6400 (Expansion to 12800)
  • Continuous shooting at 3.7fps 
  • (Non-crippled) Full HD movie recording with manual control and selectable frame rates (30, 25, and 24 fps) 
  • 7.7cm (3.0”) 3:2 Clear View LCD with 1,040k dots
  • iFCL metering System with 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor (this feature is first seen with the pricier Canon EOS 7D)
  • Quick Control screen to change shooting settings
  • Exposure compensation +/-5 stops.
  • Select maximum value for Auto ISO
  • External Microphone socket
  • Movie crop function
  • Eye-Fi connected functions compatibility


     Key Differences Between the 550D and the 500D (source: dponline.com)

  • ISO 6400 no longer in 'expanded' range (12,800 max remains the same)
  • Redesigned buttons and new movie/live view button
  • Customizable auto ISO ranges
  • Improved 63 zone metering (iFCL)
  • 3:2 format screen with more pixels
  • Improved movie functionality
  • Slightly higher burst shooting rate (though buffer holds fewer shots)
  • HDMI control (CEC)
  • SDXC compatible



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My Nikon D5000

by Eyre Austero 8. February 2010 18:11
Nikon D5000

     After more than a month of being through the gruelling task of choosing my first DSLR camera among many choices, I was finally able to come to a decision.  Last January 16, I finally got for myself the Nikon D5000. I bought it from Pixel Pro Megamall and it comes with three freebies: a 4Gb SD card, a camera bag, and a tripod.

     Coming from an advanced point and shoot (Canon PowerShot G9), learning how to use this camera and its features was relatively easier for me since, feature-wise, they share a number of similarities.  The Nikon site also has a good introductory page on its basic operation and features making the learning process even faster.

     I'm giving myself another week or two to fully master this camera so that nothing will get in the way once I start giving it a test drive (ano to car? hehehe).

     For those who are interested with this camera, listed below are some of its pros, cons, and major features.


  • Is said to have exactly the same sensor (12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor)  as the Nikon D90
  • 2.7-inch articulating LCD which might be useful for some shooting types.
  • Built-in intervalometer. (This will allow one to set the D5000 to fire automatically at preset intervals.)
  • 19 auto-exposure scene modes which can be helpful for beginners who do not yet know the ins and outs of digital photography.
  • More Retouch Menu options.
  • Silent Shooting. (Turns off the reminder 'beep' if enabled.)


  • No built-in autofocus motor. (This means that if you want to have AF, you need to buy the more expensive AF-S and AF-I lenses.)
  • No commander mode to activate Nikon's wireless flash. (For the wireless flash, one would need the SB-900/800 or the SU-800 to control other slave flashes.)
  • Fewer direct-access buttons.     

Other Features

  • D-Movie Mode with sound
    Record 720p HD movie clips enhanced by NIKKOR interchangeable lens quality and versatility.
  • One-button Live View
    Easy Live View access offers 4 autofocus modes, including Face-priority AF.
  • Continuous shooting as fast as 4 frames per second
    Combined with fast power-up and split-second shutter response, decisive moments are captured easily without annoying shooting lag.
  • Low noise ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200
    Engineered for exceptional low-light shooting.
  • Built-in image sensor cleaning
    Effective 4-frequency, ultrasonic sensor cleaning keeps images spot free.
  • 11-point Autofocus System with 3D Focus Tracking
    Fast and accurate autofocus delivers razor sharpness.
  • Auto Active D-Lighting
    Restores lost shadow and highlight detail in high contrast exposures—Selectable and Auto modes available.
  • In-camera Retouch image editing
    Creative in-camera image editing, featuring Soft Filter, Straighten, Color Outline Effect, Perspective Control, Red-eye Correction, Image Overlay, Monochrome and more—all without a computer.
  • Picture Control Settings for personal image control
    Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape and 9 customizable settings.   



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Nikon D5000 or Nikon D90?

by Eyre Austero 17. January 2010 19:09

     For those looking for a fair side by side comparison of the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D5000, I found these three useful:


         Side by side, Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D90 from Mike Kobal on Vimeo.

     (2) http://www.dpnotes.com/nikon-d5000-vs-nikon-d90-compared/

     (3) http://www.dpnotes.com/why-i-bought-the-nikon-d5000-and-sold-off-my-nikon-d90/

     These helped me decide whether to grab the D5000 now or to save up a bit more until I can afford the D90.

     As for my case, I ended up getting the D5000 and I'm happy with my decision.  For my budget, current skill level, and needs, it's the perfect fit for me.

     How about you.  Which of the two would you choose (or have chosen) and why?

    P.S.  If you've read my previous post, my initial plan is to get the Canon 500D (instead of the  Nikon D5000) as my first DSLR.  Let's just say that I changed my mind  (but for the right reasons as far as I'm concerned).

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