Off-Topic - advice, experiences and examples, for images that will be processed in PhotoLab

At the top of my viewfinder is the area to suggest under, correct, or over exposure. I’ve gotten into the habit of calling them “exposure bars”. If you have a more appropriate name for them, I’ll use that from now on. If there are five or six of these bars on the right or left, I almost always feel I need to correct the exposure. Ideally, there would be none of those “bars” on either side, just a single “bar” under the zero.

I’m always aware of them, and if a lot of them show up on the right or left, I might have an exposure problem. For me, it’s a “check” if my exposure is likely correct.

Stupid mistake on my part - I remember I turned it off, and I assumed it was “off” on all my cameras. It was supposed to be “off”, along with all the other trick stuff from Nikon. Idiot mistake. The D780 has two “U” modes, “U1” and “U2”. I need to go through all those settings (I wish I could print the whole list) so I can check it every so often. Anyway, to answer you, because I was careless is the best I can say. It certainly was not on purpose.

Something else I don’t understand. Why shouldn’t I leave it at zero (off)?

Ken explained one way to make use of U1 and U2. Anyone here have a suggestion?

What is it, what does it do, and why should I use it?

More help needed:

Regarding the above, @Joanna told me to turn off Active D-Lighting off, on my D750. When I got the D780, I guess I forgot to turn this off. It’s off now!!!

As to the VR setting on my lenses - I’ve always been leaving this on. Why is this a bad idea?

About the mis-focused “first” photo… I’ll need to check this out, but I think I know why. I went through all my photos from the fishing village, using PhotoLab. The best 10 images I used the ratings scale, setting those to “5”. Then, one by one, I deleted the 5-star rating, until I was down to only two images. I think I know why, but let me go back and check…

My camera ws set to focus on a single point in the middle of the image. I failed to keep the boat centered, meaning the focus was on the water behind the boat.

This was my second favorite image, but the other one, despite the focus issue, seemed to be a better photograph to me. This image, by comparison, is boring.

You should be able to zoom in on this image - it’s in focus, but I gave up on editing it, because I didn’t like it. :frowning:

Something else I just learned - I need to use one of the other focusing modes, not a single point, for photos like this. Oops…

I need to make a check list of all these things, so I do better next time.

I will be going back there again, in July.

Maybe someone here can help.

What is the best way to record all my settings on one of my Nikon cameras, so I know for sure how it is configured, and can recall the settings in the future if I ever need to.

Nikon offers a way to back up my settings, but I would like something I can actually see.

The best thing I can think of is to set up two cameras, with my other camera aimed at the display screen on my D780, and scroll through every settings screen, taking a photo of each one. That, and a photo of the top of the camera, and maybe the back, should get me what I’m after.

Maybe there’s a better way to do this?

I hate to leave all this up to my memory… for each of my cameras.

Well, what exactly were you expecting?

You mean for the sake of 3oz you actually took the Df all that way and ended up with an inferior shooting experience and inferior images? Wow!

At the top? Are you sure? Here is the user manual image for the Nikon Df viewfinder…

The exposure meter is on the bottom, as with all Nikon viewfinders that I know of. Here it is marked 29. If you are working with manual exposure, this is indeed where you see by how much the image will be over or under-exposed.

No, it is not a “check”, it is the camera’s exposure meter.

Each large tick represents 1 stop and each small tick represents ⅓ stop. So you can very precisely set the exposure to exactly what you want. If you are spot metering on the brightest part of the image, then this should be pointing at anything up to 2-3 stops (EV) over-exposed, depending on how “white” you want that part of the image to appear.

If you set it to the zero mark, anything white that you are metering will appear 18% grey.

This first shot was spot metered off the rear door of the white van at 0EV (centre tick)…

But what I wanted was the van to appear as white as it did in the bright sunlight, without blowing the highlights. So I metered it at +2EV (two large ticks to the right)…

What you set the softness correction to is entirely up to you and how soft (or sharp) you want the image to appear. @Wlodek mentions that he softens the image for portrait work - it helps hide the wrinkles in skin.

More correctly called “highlight weighted”, this is very useful when you are shooting something with coloured spotlights, like a concert. It simply under-exposes slightly to help with avoiding blowing those lights.

You can but some folks turn it off unless absolutely necessary.

As you get older, it can become more necessary. The “rule” for whether to use a tripod or not is usually when the reciprocal of the shutter speed is less than the focal length so, in theory, for your 135mm focal length, you should only need it if your shutter speed is slower than 1/135 sec.

But there is the additional guidance that, if the subject is moving, double that speed and, if both you and the subject are moving, triple that speed.

Personally, at our age, I would use VR most of the time except when using a tripod, when it should be firmly disabled.

But the Nikon mechanism doesn’t guarantee to save all settings so, maybe a better idea is to only note which settings you actually changed and then go through the menu from the default reset after camera servicing or the like.

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a general note

VR – Nikon’s optical stabilizer built into the lens – is particularly useful when shooting images handheld with a telephoto lens. It “calms” the image in the viewfinder, which would otherwise just jump around. Of course, VR should be turned off when the camera is on a (stable) tripod.

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That’s exactly what I meant, sorry for confusing the name. The example given in the following link matches the situations I use it for (spot-metering may not be applicable). If you have a single strong light source in the frame, better don’t use it, but there are exceptions, as usual.
Using the Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode | Nikon (

Even if you set Lens Softness correction → Global at its minimum (-3.0), it does some sharpening, seen e.g. for small text. This value range may be confusing. IMHO, the default maybe good only for some types of landscapes, but maybe it was meant for marketing or US market :wink: . For standard photos, I use Global=0.0 setting. With people, typically I use negative values, -1.0 on average, but that depends on the subjects and frame area they occupy – it may be anything from -3 to 0, or OFF. This setting plays together with micro/fine-contrast for overall sharpness perception.

Lens vibration reduction (VR) works differently on different lenses. You have to wait for a fraction of a second before it “locks”, otherwise it may still wobble and you’ll get a blurred image. You have to be more patient, before doing the final push. Some practice is absolutely required. In case of the first photo, you could have used VR=OFF, ISO=800 (instead of 200) and 1/2000s (instead of 1/500s). With D780, this particular image DR is quite “safe” for ISO 800, but you’ll get droplets more frozen, which you may like or dislike (might be distractive).
For moving subjects, consider AF-C and perhaps using AF-ON button.

BTW, never use a camera/lens near such hazy and salty sea, unless it’s properly sealed. Low-end cameras can get their electronic circuits corroded, short-circuits may appear, but some “better” cameras may get affected too. My wife got hit by this problem with D90.

Not at all. I deliberately took the Df to see what that camera was like, and for me, I had a great time this visit, and actually did get the Df to do just about everything I wanted. In no way was it an inferior shooting experience for me, but this is the last time I’ll take the Df instead of my better camera. I prefer the D750/D780, and possibly would prefer a D850. Too much confusion - I expect to stick with my D780. Maybe I’ll sell the Df. It’s worth more as a collectable than it is as a camera.

@Joanna, I remember what you wrote, and illustrated long ago, about metering. For me, I usually leave the metering set to “center weighted” (not spot), and I usually try to keep the exposure meter setting close to centered. If it’s way off, I’ve got to stop and figure things out. I’m pretty sure that spot metering is better for me for a “static” image, not one where nothing is moving around. If I set up the camera on a tripod, and want the best possible exposure, I would be better off doing things your way, but for photos of the boats returning with their catch, I need something I can do more quickly.

With my 300mm lens, I’m at a safe enough distance from any salt spray, and when I get home, I’ve never found any “residue” on my camera. Also for dirty, dusty, windy conditions. I guess a camera made for underwater photography would be good? Good thoughts, but what about the war photographers in the past who dealt with water, mud, rain, whatever. What kind of camera do we use for that? The photos I remember were shot with Leica rangefinder cameras, and old Nikon SLR’s.

@Wolfgang - oops, now that you’ve written this, I will try to remember for any time my camera is on a tripod. I used to know that, a lifetime ago, but the last time I put my camera on a tripod, I never gave this a thought.

Too much going on - too many settings on my new cameras. Too much for me to remember. By now, I’m sure I’ve forgotten what most of those trick settings are for, and why.

Since nobody here has come up with an answer, I will set up my D780 with my Df aimed at the review screen, and go through all the settings, taking a photo of each screenful.

After that, I’ll go through them, one at a time, and find out about any settings I don’t understand. I think I will se the BH Photo Live Chat - I suspect the people at Nikon will not be much help. This will be a good project for tomorrow.

…curious - do any or all of you know what ALL the settings are, and what they do, for every setting in your camera’s menu system?

Since I am processing my images only in PhotoLab, should these settings be turned OFF in the Photo Shooting Menu in my D780?

White Balance - AUTO2 - I selected this, as the most appropriate choice for me

Set Picture Control. SD (Standard)

Active D-Lighting (OFF ?) - I already know this should be OFF

Long exposure NR (OFF ?)

High ISO NR (High, Normal, Low, or Off)

Vignette control (High, Normal, Low, or Off?)

Diffraction compensation (On, or Off)

Auto distortion control (On, or OFF)

I suspect PhotoLab will deal with these better than asking the camera do do so. This probably applies to anyone using a late model Nikon camera. The highlighted settings are what my camera is currently set to. This discussion has me wondering if the camera and PhotoLab are both doing the same thing? …does this even matter?

White Balance - 5600ºK

Set Picture Control -Custom setting with everything set to 0

Active D-Lighting - OFF

Long exposure NR - OFF

High ISO NR - Off

Vignette control - Off

Diffraction compensation - could be useful, try it.

Auto distortion control - OFF

This makes perfect sense to me - I have been, and will continue to leave VR “on”, turning it “off” when using a tripod. I suppose when I rest my camera on a wall or something, I should also turn off VR. Very logical, even to. me.

The D780 doesn’t have a “Custom” selection, so I set it to “Standard”, and within that selection, I set everything to zero. Not sure what “Auto” might or might not do, but with “Standard” the camera shouldn’t do anything to change the image.

Oh, and all settings saved as of today:

Maybe it’s time to. create a new “Off-Topic” thread, as this one is up to over 3,000 responses?


Did you read what I wrote in post 2963 about timing Mike.

Look at the crying little Kuchi nomad girl there. It is my fault she is crying. I was far to slow to nail it and she finally got hysterically afraid and started to cry which made her up to that moment very nice mother to ask med leave.

Of that and many other experiences of the same sort I have never liked to take pictures of children and that is why I hardly have any even of my grandchildren

You wrote:

1 - If someone is content with allowing the camera to take control, and create acceptable photos, the photographer will never learn, let alone, understand, what is going on. If it’s a decent camera, the photographer will never understand to really learn all this exposure stuff. He, or she, will have no need to do so, as they will already be capturing good images most of the time.

For many this isn´t at all about learning how to use a camera. We have past that a long time ago. Instead it is all about “timing”. A timing you are risking to totally ignore when the moment is there. In situations like that you don´t have the luxury of limitless time. It is all about getting that image or not. If your priority is to follow some mindset you try to live up to you will probably miss quite a few pictures you would have liked to have. I think it is better to be very pragmatic here and adjust my methods so they fit the demands of the moments.

2 - If someone sets their camera to (M)anual, they will be forced to learn about shutter speed and aperture and ISO, and why and when to manipulate them for the best possible photograph.

What a slow photographer like myself have struggled with for more than 50 years is to improve my timing (I started 1963 when I was 13). I can tell you I have never been fast enough before Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed and Rael Time Tracking in my A7 IV but now I am and rarely miss any moments I don´t want to miss today. The only things I care about today is timing and composition and mostly I have that time because of the smart automatics of my latest camera.

Mostly I know what I want when taking pictures and the only thing that I really care about is to harvest the image RAW-data I need to make it possible to create what I want to achieve in the postprocessing.

Look at how the bird photographers uses their cameras tools today. It is from a couple of bird photographer I know that I first got the idea to use Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed intensively. The bird photographers I know uses all the tools they can to nail their motifs and catch the moments, they don´t seem to care at all of how. They do what they need to do to get their picture data and the rest is advanced portprocessing.

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Yes, I remember, but this post is now so long it was difficult to find it, another reason why I want to re-start the thread.

To answer you, for me, my “job” in situations like that is to record what was naturally going on, without in any way becoming a part of what was going on. If the little girl was reacting to you, probably best to delete the photograph, and move away. If you spent an hour or two there, becoming part of their group, only then might you have been able to capture what I would call “real” photos.

I don’t know how to respond to that, other than to have set the camera to some reasonable settings, and try to predict when something great might happen. All those automatic settings are just a distraction for me. Pretend you are using a 1960’s Leica, with no automatic settings. I don’t use auto-focus, or auto-anything usually. Maybe I’ll select auto-ISO so I don’t need to think about it. I think 100% of our concentration (as photographers) has to be on what we’re photographing, NOT our camera or settings.

For me, I couldn’t care less about that. The things on my mind are composition, focus, and “timing”. For scenes like yours, or my boats, that’s all there is. Of course, for a photo I may take a very long time to set up, I want to consider anything and everything - make certain my composition is pleasing to me, that the exposure is satisfactory, that the focus is right, that the camera can’t move - as if I was setting up an old fashioned view camera, and I had only one or two shots to capture a perfect image.

Hmm, my preference is “get it right in the camera”.
Everything but focus is pre-set, and then I take multiple photographs hoping for a “perfect moment”. I’m in no-way a “bird photographer”, so I just improvised. As for “advanced post processing”, I just use the tools I’ve already tried to learn, regardless of what the photos are of.

Tomorrow I will start a continuation of this thread - over 3,000 posts here is a bit much. It makes it difficult for me to find things that were posted here, that I probably should have printed at the time, and saved for future use.

If what I wrote is very different from the way you do things, don’t worry about it. We can only post about the way we do things ourselves. You would likely be just as uncomfortable doing things my way, as I would be doing things your way.

…and I would very much like to know enough, and understand, to do things @Joanna’s way - as for the technical details. I don’t “see” or “think” the way she does, but when it comes to most things, in my mind, she is durn near perfect. And when I screw up, as I often do, she’s right on the spot to tell me what I did wrong. Only on very rare occasions do I prefer my way, once I understand what she is telling me.

Original image:
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When I re-edit this image, I know of several things I want to do differently.
In the meantime, have fun with it! :slight_smile:

Yes, but if it was me, and I made someone cry, by my presence, I would have put down my camera and left.

I want to record what is happening.
I don’t want to record something that I caused.
I don’t know what to say here.

Yes, timing is critical in getting the best photos, I agree, but as a photographer, I just want to “record”, not to instigate.

Nope, you should put your camera down and try to comfort /apologise.
Just walk away is rude.
Often it is nothing to do with the person but more the situation.
Beside this i am mostly try to avoid strange people in my framing of a composition if possible. Because of privacy rules .(i wouldend like it either if someone aimed and took a picture of me on purpose without asking.(if it’s me who is the subject not wile i am just a small part of the frame.)

I know a guy who likes to sneaky , as in mediumlength zoomlens, photograph people who cudle with each other, or just are interresting in pose or composition without there knowledge because as he said “if i ask they change there attitude and that ruin the shot” and afterwards asking is stupid because then you can be forced to delete a great shot."

Nowaday’s people take out there mobilephone and start filming if there is an accident in stead of helping. Just yesterday small kid, 10 12? On a “Fatbike” mobilephone in his hand looking at the screen wile riding to a bikecrossing of a roundabout, just causuly looking aside to see if i am seeing him and stop. It’s forbidden by law but it seems to be completely normal to ask others to pay atention on traffic because well bikers are extra protected by law.
I gues knowone told him it still hurts alot when you crash in to a car or vice versa. Or in a aula of a school 90% of the kids, jung adults is eating wile looking on there phone wile they are sitting in a group…:roll_eyes:
I gues they talk to eachother by Watchapp and instagram…:grin:

Yep generationgap.
Anyway a camera plus lenses to swap pure for taking images, photo’s? It’s a dying type of gear.

Even in netflix they use a iphone for surveillance in the dark…
We know a simple telelens on a aps-c couldn’t take such shot’s that sharp but apperantly a iphone can.

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I agree with you. For me, in India, there is the language barrier, and I try to act like a fly on the wall. Because of all my photojournalism background, I try to blend in, and not look like some funny foreign person intruding on the locals - unless it’s a really public place with a gazillion people around, like the photo I posted of the two ladies selling fish at the fish market. If possible, I try to ask first, but in India that is usually useless - but when I do, again, most of the time, the people say yes, and give me a huge smile that ruins my photo.

Growing up, 1970’s or so, I loved taking candid photos, but did so in a way that nobody noticed my doing it - like on the New York City subway cars, shooting out the windows, capturing a reflection in the window. I did that a lot. Nobody ever caught on. Maybe I’ll post one of those photos later, but I think I’ve already done so in the previous thread.

Something to add - on my D780, I can “muffle” the shutter sound. My old D2 and D3 cameras, by comparison, sounded like a machine gun!!

My preference is also to get it as right as possible in the camera Mike because even if we have a lot of wonderful tools today in our converters image quality gets severely affected if we don´t.

I think most older photographers are really aware of this since many years. Especially with positive film for slides with very low sensitivity like the ones I used to use (Agfa CT 18 and 21 with ASA/ISO 50 and 100 and the Kodak-film many used that had 64). At these film ISO-levels were ALWAYS a problem so we would really have benefited those days from image stabilisation and something like Auto ISO Min Shutter Speed to control our shutter speed to help us having that in synk too.

… and the exposure. If you overexposed the lightest the colors blow away. DR was really bad to on top of that. So, the demands then were very much higher then than today. Today the cameras are so so much better and the sensors of today so much more forgiving and on top of that we can almost always save even pretty bad mistakes in postprocessing.

Nice soft bokeh in that bird picture of yours :slight_smile:

@mikemyers and @OXiDant
I didn´t even have a zoom. I had a Pentax ME with a 40mm/2,8 and a 100mm/2,8. So compared to photographers today we had to go very very close. That sometimes was a pain but mosly it gave us far better pictures than most people can take today. So, what I´m trying to say is that we didn´t have the options we have today when taking pictures of people.

That is also a reason to why I really use all the tools I have in order to take my pictures fast and with as little impact on the scene as possible. I would have loved to have the gear I have today even in the seventies. Not to mention the huge cost the film was for me compared to what I spent on transports and guest houses etc.

We also had the advantage these 46 years ago gave us. Not very many travelling the east in those days even had my simple gear at that time and they hadn´t got tired of todays crowds. Take a look att the image link below:

In that then little village of Kirtipur outside Katmandu in 1976, that is a World Heritage today, I was the only one that day documenting what was going on there.

Sten-Åke Sändh - Portfolio (

When I was at Petra in Jordan 1973 I was almost alone there down in Wadi Musa. The year before the Covid Pandemy they had over one miljon vistors. How many other people can you count on my images.

Petra - Den glömda staden - Fotosidan

The right answer might be five humans and a donkey and that is despite I were there in the summer were a lot of tourists go there now.

Sorry for the young people today but these conditions will not come back again for a long time.


What wonderful photos!!!

Beautiful - from another world.

I made two visits to Nepal - stayed mostly in Kathmandu, but made one three day trip to a remote village. Kathmandu - way, way too crowded. Some of my photos can be found here:

I took so many photos on our bus trip, and I never got around to posting them. Need to do so.

Away from Kathmandu, things were simple, and beautiful. I loved the photography, and hated the food -Dalbat - for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Your photos are fascinating - they belong in a museum. VERY well done!!!

I’m trying to think back to what camera I used on that trip - likely my Nikon D70.
Long, long ago, I used my Nikon F4, and before that, my Leica M3.