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Digital Photography with 1960's Tech.


Chris Nevard

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nevard_110206_catcott_DSC_1338_web.jpg

Click on the photo above for a 1024 sized version.

This snap shows a typical Highbridge Branch train as seen in the last 2 years of the line's existence; a single Hawksworth Brake Compo and a ex-Southern Railway bogie-van for perishables (fun things like cider and cheese). You can see some rather nice prototype photos of such trains here. Note the narrow gauge trucks in the background used for transporting peat from the nearby moor. I hope to get that aspect operational before the next show.

 

Of more interest to photographers, might be that this photo was taken using a Nikon Nikkor 35mm focal length prime lens dating from the mid-1960's. We tend to think of digital photography as throwaway, but this need not be the case, many makes of digital SLR allow the use of wonderful older lenses - and 'vintage' is so cool! So, if you have a limited budget, the smart money will always go on a good lens, the chances are that you or your kids might still be using it 45 years later like here - whereas that expensive camera body will be down the car boot sale with all the knocked off tat in just 5. And the real bonus is that 'camera make' prime lenses are frequently optically far better than mid-priced zooms and go for pennies on Ebay! Of course that smarmy salesman called Wayne in the out-of-town megastore will not tell you any of the above for obvious reasons.

 

So, here we have a portrayal of the end of steam scenario, taken on a lens that was around when steam ruled supreme, well just!

 

Below, hopefully some of the answers to the blizzard of questions that will no doubt follow......

 

  • Loco: Bachmann Ivatt Class 2MT 2-6-2 renumbered, detailed and weathered.
  • Coach: Hornby Hawksworth Brake Compo after a bit of fettling
  • Van: Ratio (Kit) SR bogie van.
  • Layout: Catcott Burtle.
  • Toys: Nikon D200, Nikkor S 35mm f2.8 shooting RAW with the camera tripod mounted.
  • Exp: 3 sec at f16, using 6 exposures combined in Helicon Focus to extend the depth of field.
  • Lighting: The layout's own fluorescent lighting.
  • Cheating: The only computer addition is the loco-clag using 'Clouds' in Photoshop.
  • Not-cheating: The sky is physically there, actually part of the layout and was produced photographically - proof here for those that think everything is make-believe: http://www.nevardmed.../p57399245.html . I'm mid-way through writing an article for the popular press on doing such.

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Wonderful! I've spent plenty of time looking at photos of those trains in the last couple of weeks, so it's great to see one in colour :D

 

Nick

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Just stunning, as ever, Chris. I don't think I'll ever get bored of seeing photos of Catcott Burtle, so please don't stop taking them!

 

Mike

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Chris -

 

Re the technical bits - from your entry it appears that Nikon have not changed their bayonet fitting then? Not that it matters overmuch, but I take it that 'autofocus' doesn't work with the older lenses?

 

Regs

 

Ian (I only ask 'cos I us a D40dx!

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Lovely picture, as ever. I love the deep shadows in the shed, and the contrast generally.

 

It's interesting - while I think this is up there in the "most successful backscenes ever" accolades, the perspective compression of the middle clouds does give the game away, particularly since the telegraph wires give a clear reference for the perspective.. The higher clouds are less of a problem since they're more diffuse, and even more impressively, I think the hills read perfectly at this angle as a proper "straight" horizon. I wonder if stretching the lower clouds slightly would be a good way to compensate for this, or whether that'd just spoil the head-on shots?

 

 

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Nowt wrong with auld lenses Chris... B)

Having a stash of auld Nikon primes to go with the auld FM has turned out to be a very handy "accident..."

Now all I need is to replace an ever more cranky D70 :lol:

The sky backscene is very tasty and one looks forward to the article.

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I could start messing about with the backscene, but then I'm doing computer graphics rather than photography and model making and I'm keen to keep away from that unless I'm shooting a layout without a backscene when I have no choice. Otherwise I might as well turn the camera off, sell the layouts and and buy MS Trainsim or whatever that's called. I think sometimes we have to accept limitations or merging 3d with 2d?

 

A non-AF lens cannot become an AF lens. AF is no good for this kind of photography anyway, so even if you do have AF you'll be turning it off. You'll be able to use old Nikkors (they'll need to be Ai converted - lots on Google about such - the mount goes back to 1959!) on the D70 and D40, the only other thing you won't have is metering, so just pop the camera in manual and take some test exposures using a small aperture with the camera well supported at the lowest ISO. Do not underetimate the D70, good technique and good glass is still the most important thing, though the chap in Dixons well not agree with me of course.

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Perhaps I didn't explain it very well - I was wondering whether it was possible to design a physical backscene which reads better from the kinds of angles which get used for model photography without compromising the square-on aspect too much. Most (all?) physical backscenes have square-on perspective, but since we make a lot of long thin layouts and like to have photo's like yours above, the backscenes can at times be the *only* element which sells the picture as a model.

 

 

No computer graphics required :)

 

 

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Just a pale blue one would work well with no clouds I guess - though it would need to darken to the top. But with Catcott it was important for me to get get that big summer sky effect so typical of the area with cumulus clouds. Something to think about with other projects maybe.:wubclear:

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I could start messing about with the backscene, but then I'm doing computer graphics rather than photography and model making and I'm keen to keep away from that unless I'm shooting a layout without a backscene when I have no choice. Otherwise I might as well turn the camera off, sell the layouts and and buy MS Trainsim or whatever that's called. I think sometimes we have to accept limitations or merging 3d with 2d?

 

A non-AF lens cannot become an AF lens. AF is no good for this kind of photography anyway, so even if you do have AF you'll be turning it off. You'll be able to use old Nikkors (they'll need to be Ai converted - lots on Google about such - the mount goes back to 1959!) on the D70 and D40, the only other thing you won't have is metering, so just pop the camera in manual and take some test exposures using a small aperture with the camera well supported at the lowest ISO. Do not underetimate the D70, good technique and good glass is still the most important thing, though the chap in Dixons well not agree with me of course.

 

My D70 is a noble warrior Chris and it has never let me down - yet :lol:

Its just getting very auld and objects to the cold, rather like its owner.

I'll probably keep it as a spare mind.

All my Nikon len's are Ai's so that's nae an issue either.

I'd just love the loot to get hold of a more modern Nikon really.

Ooppps here comes the missus...................................................... :secret_mini:

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I'm intrigued by this helicon focus business - must get around to giving a go. I agree wholedheartedly, some of the old glass was fantastic - a shame really that work went over to canon and i lost access to my old nikon stuff, you're dead right the 35 and 85 primes were awesome. Couldn't agree more - there are no longtermers in digi, cameras die and go and are not remembered with any great fondness whereas i miss my fm2 and RB, and even on masochistic days a 5x4 sinar. Hohumm progress eh?

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