Salisbury Depot on a Friday Night

by Kelly Landrum

salisbury depot on a friday night seeking critique kelly landrum

Gallery: Photos

Tags: seeking critique

Category: Abstract

Exif Information:
Model : NIKON D90
Date Time Original : 2010-10-09 00:27:22
Focal Length : 85/1
Exposure Time : 3/1
F Number : 9.9
Iso Speed Ratings : 200
Metering Mode : 5
Focal Length In35mm Film : 127
Orientation : 1
X Resolution : 300.000000
Y Resolution : 300.000000
Software : Ver.1.00

Published: Monday 11th of October 2010 03:59:44 PM


Landrum Kelly

Thanks, Antonio.  Yes, there are some bright spots, and the focus was spoiled.  It was a 3 sec exposure at high f-stop to get a very long DOF, but the problem is that I moved the camera when I pressed the shutter button.  It would have appeared blurrier but the long exposure evened it out to some extent.

This was the first day that I had actually used this camera and I could not find the timer on the shutter release nor did I have a remote control shutter release with me.

The D90 with a kit lens is a light combo that I will likely be using a lot before shoulder surgery--then nothing for a while until the shoulder heals.  I rather like the camera myself.  At f/16 even the kit lens did pretty well.


Landrum Kelly

unless you really need the depth of field, which you didn't here.


I thought that I did--and thus f/16.


Thanks for the comment and the invitation.



Jamie Kraft
unhappy childhood?

f/16 is too small!!  Particularly with the small, DX sensor.  (The pixels are tiny!)  At f/16, you will be getting significant diffraction blur.  Try mounting the camera on a tripod and taking the same exposure at the same iso but different f-stops and shutter speeds.  The image will be a bit soft wide open, but beyond about f/8, the image will lose sharpness due to diffraction blur.  A good rule of thumb would be to never go beyond f/8 with that sensor unless you really need the depth of field, which you didn't here.


I sent you a presentation invitation.  It'll be on your portfolio page.  It would be great to get some keen feedback on it if you have a few moments.  best, j

Antonio Bassi

A nice shot, almost an abstract, evocative and well composed. I would lower exposure on the platform a bit. Looks like you hand held the camera as the image is slightly blurred but it doesn't bother me at all and actually it softens the lights wonderfully

Landrum Kelly

Thanks, Jamie.  Using a remote shutter release, maybe I can try this again at /8, f/11, and f/16.  I deliberately avoided f/22 because of likely diffraction effects.

I don't doubt that diffraction effects are beginning to play a role at f/16, but, although I used a tripod, I suspect that I also bumped the camera when trying to start what turned out to be a three-second exposure.  This was most obvious on the bright spots, such as the very bright white lights at the right.  The dimmer parts are not as obvious, but with better technique I might be able to find the optimal f-stop to use in situations like this with this camera--a light camera which I am using because of an injured shoulder. I typically shoot full-frame when I can, but I was reluctant to haul the big Canon out in the dark in this neighborhood.  It is also harder to manage with my shoulder being injured.  I don't mind using it when I have the time to use only my left hand, and when I don't face the prospects of possibly having to run away really fast with camera in one hand and tripod in the other--always a possibility when one is shooting urban streets at night.

Remind me to tell you sometime what happened to me not too long after this shot was made--and not at the hands of some drug addict or homeless person, but at the hands of a businessman nearby who did not like his building being photographed without his permission.

I did want this pic made with a very long DOF--but, again, I can better evaluate that preference if I can get the shot(s) with different f-numbers and then evaluate the results.  Yes, I know where the DOF preview button is on Nikons, but I did not try it because of the dark.  The scene did not appear anywhere near this bright through the viewfinder.

Thanks again, Jamie.


JeffS L

Beyond whatever technical difficulties might exist (and I'm not trained enough to offer an opinion anyway), I like the experience of traveling up the track to see where the light goes.

Landrum Kelly

One last problem that I failed to mention, Jamie, is that the quick release plate was not nesting well in its slot on the inexpensive Manfrotto pod and its "joystick" mount.  (The camera was barely staying on the pod.)  Gosh, I really need to take my Gitzo with a A-S ball down there--but my injured shoulder rules out that option at this point.

I really ought to take the 5D II down there with a good pod and mount, but the neighborhood is just too hazardous for that--even with an assistant (which I would not have the money to pay for, in any case--I don't do this for money). 

Another option is a film shot.  I still have some old film cameras of different models and formats.  Film might reduce the liabilities of using a high f-stop number as well, if I wanted to try a range of apertures.

The real failure of the posted shot was technique, in any case, not the dilemma of "film v. digital."  Since the rotator cuff tear, however, I am loathe to go into that neighborhood again anytime soon--the right arm could not even fend off blows, much less allow me to grab the camera with the right hand (tripod in left) and run away as fast as I could.  Maybe after surgery and rehabilitation--but that means months from now on the best scenario, and I have had to set the surgery date back to December so that I can finish out the fall semester where I teach.

Right now I am working almost one-armed.  It can be done, but I am not practiced at it.  As it was, I had a very unpleasant incident right after this shot was made (with a local proprietor who appeared to be drunk and who did not like my shooting his building without permission, even though I was not on his property--a partial reinjury of the rotator cuff ensued when he charged me and drove the camera into my face and jolted my right arm, which was at that point rigidly holding the tripod). 

All this and there I was worried about the drug addicts or the petty criminals!  I guess that, on balance, I feel pretty good to have come back with something, anything, however flawed.  It had been a great day shooting (very late afternoon) with both the D90 and the 5D II around town and out in the country.  The last downtown shots in the dark were to have been icing on the cake.

The 5D II stayed in the trunk of the car while this shot was made, but I had gotten a few good shots with it--working very slowly to protect the arm--out in the country just an hour or two earlier:


Landrum Kelly

Jamie, can diffraction cause that much blurring by itself?  I had no idea that diffraction would be such a great problem, although I am aware that it is certainly more noticeable at small apertures.  (The effects are always there, as we both know.)

As for sharpening, yes, I also hate those little "bubbles" that come with too much sharpening.

Thanks also for calling to my attention to the fact that diffraction effects are going to be more of a problem with a crop sensor camera.  Seems obvious, but I had never thought about it.


Jamie Kraft
Oh, you've got my attention now...

I dug out the article from "Photo Techniques" about diffraction blur ("Diffraction - Resolution taxed to its limits," Photo Techniques, January/February 2009).  I found this article really great, because I most people know little or nothing about diffraction.  

There is a handy table giving the f-stop at which the blur circles due to diffraction become larger than the pixels of the camera.  The Nikon D300, which has the same pixel size as your D90, is included in the table.  According to the table, diffraction blur is too much beyond f/5.6.  The pixels in a Canon 5D M1 are big enough than you can safely go to f/11.  A 5D M2 should be fine at f/8.

"Photo Techniques" is absolutely amazing, by the way.  It's small, but very intelligent.

Your story sounds very interesting!

Landrum Kelly

Jamie, the longer I look at this picture, the diffraction effects seem more like image degradation than simply being out of focus.  It just doesn't look right somehow when one looks at the rails, for example.  There is some serious image decay in there, I'm afraid.

Thanks for the info, although I am sure that, for one reason or another, I will continue to shoot higher f-numbers than those recommended from time to time.  My problems are typically most noticeable when I shoot wide open with a fast lens--but that is a different kind of image problem.  I really do not often shoot with high f-numbers to get very long DOFs.   I typically like a rather shallow DOF--that is why I have problems figuring out what is likely to happen when I do stop way down.


Jamie Kraft
Stars in your eyes

the prominence of the diffraction stars argues for a lot of diffraction, but i hear what your saying.  i really think that diffraction has to be there.  motion blur is the possibility, apart from the initial 1/10 of a second or so.

Jamie Kraft
It's bloomy

but that's not necessarily bad.  

you probably know my other cause celebre is excessive sharpening.  there is no solid engineering rational for sharpening, in my opinion, and i know something about sampling and digital math.  i think that when sharpening gets applied to images that are blurry in a different way than the sharpening algorithm is built for, weird things happen.  that may be what your're noticing.

Landrum Kelly

Not in this case, Jamie. I am not sure that I applied any sharpening at all here, neither unsharp mask nor any other kind.

The shot calls out for a retake.  Then I can more carefully figure out what is working, and what is not.

Here is a 100 PERCENT CROP FROM NEAR THE MIDDLE, with no processing.  As you can see, there is blur from my not using a remote or timer--or MLU, for that matter.  Whether or not diffraction effects are factorable or not is problematic for me.  In any case, the "image deterioration" I speculated about is not there in this crop--but very obvious blurring is.

My guess is that the tripod was still vibrating during the three-second exposure--especially at the outset.

This is a shot that I almost did not take because of the hazardous neighborhood--combined with my unfamiliarity with the new camera.  I am glad that I took it, although at this point only as an indicator of the possibilities that inhere in this subject.  The shot does not hold up well at all under close scrutiny.


Jamie Kraft
I can see why you thought you needed that much dof

but I don't think you did.  Your camera probably has a dof preview - I know it's new and you probably haven't found it yet.  Sorry for going over the top.  Diffraction blur is a cause celebre of mine.

Landrum Kelly

"the prominence of the diffraction stars argues for a lot of diffraction"

Jamie, I wondered why the stars were so prominent.  So that comes with high f-stops and diffraction!  I thought that it had something to do with the cheap kit lens.

Well, we keep learning, don't we?

Thanks again, Jamie.


Jamie Kraft
I missed that one

you were writing it while i was writing the one that appears below it.  very sorry about that experience.  that guy is a beast.  glad you got those great pictures, though.  good luck with your shoulder.

Tom Wiggins

Lannie:  I like the photo!  So what's with the injured shoulder?  Tom

Landrum Kelly

I have a 100% tear in my right rotator cuff, Tom.  I think I did it by leaning way over to get a battery out of the back of the engine compartment.  I talked to the guys at UPS later, and they said it is a common injury there.  They showed me what not to do in the future.  Some are back at work two months later.  At my age, I anticipate a much longer recovery on the best case scenario.  I have put off surgery till mid-December so that I can get my work done this semester.

Thanks for asking.


Yana Vaslozhila

Lannie, I may show my lack of knowledge by expressing my opinion, but of all the images in your portfolio this is my favorite. To me,  while all the other images are some better some worse photographs, this one is a piece of art.

Landrum Kelly
Salisbury Depot on a Friday Night Not sure which category this goes into. . . . Comments welcome.


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