Long Lens, Low Light

Like everybody else, I’m in love with the golden light just at/after sunset.  I had a 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Nikon lens mounted almost all the time in Australia, because I was just enchanted with the birds (almost always far-ish away) and the architectural details of the buildings in Melbourne.  But even with VR, shooting handheld at dusk is pretty problematic — and dusk is when the kangaroos are on the move.  This is me rushing outside with a camera and trying to catch the ‘roos, shooting at the 200mm end, with the kangaroos heading toward the setting sun:

Kangaroos at Twilight

(as I ran toward them, they quite sensibly bounced away). So, exciting, but not a huge success photographically. I needed the length of the zoom, but all that glass sucked up most of what light there was.

Sometimes the loss of light to the lens actually helped, though. The gum I shot from a moving car at twilight gets a lot of its drama from the motion blur at the edges & the moodiness of the sky:

Gum tree shot from a moving car

Gum tree shot from a moving car

As I remember it, we were clipping along at a great rate, hoping to make it home before the kangaroos got on the move (and the road) at sunset …

But what really surprised me was how well the lens behaved AFTER sunset. The two night shots in Melbourne were both taken down at the 55mm end, hand-held but braced against a pole, wide open & at ridiculous shutter speeds — a fifth of a second, and a sixth of a second.

F4 0.167 sec ISO 1600

OK, 1600 ISO & you can’t examine them too closely, but I was really happy with how acceptable the focus is, and how black the blacks.

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