PhotoKaz.com Best of 2013 - Posts & Photos

The Best of 2013: Posts & Photos

Now that the holiday season is upon us, it's time for another best of post.  2013 was a huge year for me, the biggest year of my life.  I started a new job working for a copper mining company with headquarters in my homeland: Poland.  I never thought that my native language would help me land a job in Canada, but here I am.  That pales in comparison to the biggest change in my life, I became a dad to twins!  Marek and June were born in the summer and are now approaching six months of age.   Things have not been the same since.  I obviously have less time to take photos and post on the blog, but I fill my time with the laughs from two awesome kids :)  There are many photos that I haven't even processed and posted yet, and they will have to wait until I have some free time (never?).

Like the Best Of 2012, the three most popular posts of 2013 are all gear related.

  1. Nikon D800 and D800E Setup and Configuration - Recommended settings for the four menu banks on a Nikon D800/D800E.  The post shows how I set up my camera and allows you to download the config file to use in your own camera.
  2. Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D - This is not a 2013 post but it was the #2 most visited post on my site in 2013 so I decided to include it.  It was also #2 back in 2012 and it's here again because these two entry level full frame cameras are very popular with enthusiast photographers.
  3. Nikon D800 Autofocus Repair Testing - The Sequel - Another round of testing my D800 autofocus system, this time after Nikon tried to repair it for the second time.  Sadly, the left side focus sensors are still not working well so I'll have to send the camera in once again.  I love the D800 but the focus problems make it a single AF sensor camera (for me).

The three most popular photo related posts of 2013 were:

  1. A Frosty Morning - Nikon D800 Macro with Focus Stack - Some photos in my garden after a frost.  Granted, this was posted on January 2nd so it had the benefit of a full year of collecting hits versus posts added in December.  I just use the Google Analytics stats and don't play favourites.
  2. Hiking Stawamus Chief South Peak - A great hike in Squamish, BC.  The Lions hike made the 2012 list.
  3. First Visit to the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research - self explanatory.

It is also interesting to note that the most common search term that lead people to my site was "pitbull".  I have many pitbull photos on my site but this one was by far the most popular.

American Pitbull Terrier - High Resolution Photo

Some of my favourite photos from 2013.

Nikon D800 Macro - Frosty Morning - Donkey Tail

Seattle 2013-01-05 : Dale Chihuly Garden and Glass - B&W chandelier

Shelter Dogs Vancouver: 2013-02-22 : Young Pit Bull Running

 

Crab Fountain, Vancouver Space Museum, 2013-02-23

 

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Interior

 

Saint Patrick's Day : BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, BC : 2013-03-17

 

2013-02-20 : Vancouver Aquarium : Frogs On Duty

 

Vancouver Gastown Photo Walk 2013-04-30 : Harbour (Western Voyager)

 

Vancouver Gastown Photo Walk 2013-04-30 : BOSS 302 Mustang

 

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids Posing

 

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Old man and the wagon

 

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Well dressed tour guide

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival aftermath 2

 

2013-02-23 Vanier Park Freezing Water Sculpture

 

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Komatsu Haul Truck Black & White : Copper Mine, Calama, Chile

 

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Antofagasta Buzzard

 

 

 


Komatsu Haul Truck Black & White : Copper Mine, Calama, Chile

A Trip to Chile

I visited Chile in May 2013, so this post is LONG overdue.  In my defense though, two cute babies arrived and those little things take up all of my time :)  So after months of inactivity, here are a few photos from the trip.

I landed in Santiago and had a day to explore the city with my colleague Jamie.  We decided to go for a walk without having a destination in mind. and as we left the hotel the sun was reflecting off the large tower.  Sadly, I think the effect is visible due to air pollution.

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We walked along the canal, and came across several interesting sights.

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We saw a large statue at the top of a hill and decided that was a good destination.  It turned out to be the Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepciónand it was a much farther walk than we had expected.

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Half way up the hill, you can see the tower in the distance where we started our walk.x2013-05-25-Chile-May-2013-2777-MKH

Finally at the top, tired and needing a rest.2013-05-25-Chile-May-2013-2798-MKH

Enjoying the view.

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A few more shots from the top of the mountain (click to see bigger).

We found a rail car that could take us back down, which was great as we didn't want to walk all the way back down.  Using Trip Advisor, I found that the cemetery is worth visiting.  Despite being tired, we decided to make our way down there since it wasn't far.  Along the way, we came across some interesting graffiti.

And a dog that didn't like me taking his photo.

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We finally made it to the Cementerio General, and I'm glad we made the effort.  It is an amazing spot, with a lot of old crypts and gravestones.  The sun was starting to set and we just walked around looking at the interesting sights.  This is the entrance gate.

Cementerio General Santiago Chile

Inside one of the buildings, there are many like this. Each plaque a person's final resting place.
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Some are obviously very expensive, with marble and stained glass windows. They are beautiful.

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Cementerio General Santiago Chile

 

Others are older and less well maintained, but equally interesting and with a lot of character.

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A few more shots. This is a spot I will have to come back to, it's a fantastic place to walk around.

That was it for Santiago, not a city you can see in one day but we did our best.  Must have walked 20Km in total.  The next day, we took a tour to the Casablanca Valley, well known for it's white wines.  The tour would visit several wineries, with a sampling at each one of course.  First up was Indomita, with a great view and a beautiful estate.

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A few shots during a tour of the winery.2013-05-26-Chile-May-2013-2901-MKH_HDR-Edit

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The name of the second winery escapes me.  It was smaller and used more traditional techniques.  If you recognize it, leave a comment and I'll update the post.  Thanks!

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Here they are making balsamic vinegar.  As the vinegar ages it reduces in volume so they pour it into ever smaller barrels.2013-05-26-Chile-May-2013-2931-MKH-Edit

The final winery was Casas del Bosqe.  Another beautiful spot where we sampled wines and had an excellent lunch.

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The next day, I caught an early flight to Calama, which is located in the Atacama Desert.  The Atacama is the driest place on earth, receiving almost no rainfall.  Some weather stations have NEVER received rain!  These are a couple of iphone photos from the plane as we were leaving Santiago.  There are still clouds here, in the Atacama there are only clear skies.

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Atacama Desert

 

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Atacama Desert

 

This shot is on the approach to Calama.  A bizarre landscape featuring no plants.  In the bottom of this photos, there is a small river that supports a small group of shrubs.  Beyond that, it's  bleak but strangely beautiful as well.

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Atacama Desert 3

 

I was in the Atacama to visit a copper mine in the region.  This is where the big trucks live.

Komatsu Haul Truck Black & White : Copper Mine, Calama, Chile

Chile: Komatsu Haul Truck 360 Ton - Antofagasta

 

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It's hard to visualize how big these trucks really are.  The tires are 4.3m (14') tall, here is a shot of me standing next to one (I'm 1.8m or 6' tall).

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And a few small trucks too.

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From the mine, I went to Antofagasta which is a port city in the north of Chile.  Despite it's proximity to the coast, it is still extremely dry.  While working in the office, I had a little friend visit me.

Chile iPhone 5 : From Plane : Antofagasta Buzzard

While in Antofagasta, I made a quick stop at the Ruinas de Huanchaca.  These are the ruins of an old silver smelter, now a National Historic Landmark.

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Inside the museum is NASA's moon buggy.  They tested this buggy in the Atacama Desert because of the similarity to the moon and mars. 2013-05-31-Chile-May-2013-3124-MKH_HDR-2

The ruins are opposite the Enjoy casino and hotel, where I stayed for a few nights.

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Towards the end of my visit, a few of us decided to head to the coast to visit Mejillones.  Another port city, and not a bad place for a walk.

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We saw a huge sea lion, and it was keeping a close eye on two kids on the beach.

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On the way to the Antofagasta airport, I did stop at La Portada.  This is a natural arch on the coast, and a very popular spot for photos.  It is one of fifteen natural monuments included among the protected areas of Chile.

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On the way home, I had one more opportunity to visit Santiago, though only for the evening.   I watched a few street performers, had dinner, and called it day.

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Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Old man and the wagon

A Visit to Mumbai, India - Part III

This is the third group of photos (part 1 and part 2).

One day I decided to book a tour with Bravo Bombay (reviews), run by Hemali Talsania.  Hemail is great, and put together a great tour for me and a couple that joined us.  Hemali's knowledge of the city is great, and her English is excellent.  We went to several spots that I wanted to visit, here are a few photos from the day.

First, I was picked up in a van by a driver.  I didn't take the Mumbai Local this time, and after two journeys on the crowded train it was nice to get driven around in an air conditioned van.  The accident with the motorcycle was just part of the adventure.  On our way down the driver asked if I wanted to take the sea link, having read a bit about it I agreed that we should.  The Bandra–Worli Sea Link, or officially the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, is a new bridge and freeway that links western and southern Mumbai.  It's a great route saving a lot of time but it's tolled so it is virtually empty.  In the city (where there is no toll) the traffic is snarled but the freeway is wide open.  Maybe it will get more use over time.  I know, not a great photo but I took it through the window of a speeding van ;)

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Bandra–Worli Sea Link / Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link

One of the first stops was Dhobi Ghat, a huge (world's biggest?) open air laundry.  This facility washes an absolute mountain of laundry every day from all over Mumbai.  A few photos from the laundry.

This is my favourite photo from the set, just a little kid going about his day.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dhobi Ghat Open Air Laundry 5 (Child)

Next on the agenda was Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, or Victoria Terminus.  An amazing building with incredible detail.  Worth a visit if you are into architecture.  Unfortunately, the interior was not nearly as amazing as the exterior.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Train Station

At the university, there is a replica of London't Big Ben.  It's actually a very good replica, though sadly I could not get any closer than this as it's behind locked gates.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Big Ben Clone at the Mumbai University

When you take a close look at the faux Big Ben, you can see the Indian touches compared to the original.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Big Ben Clone at the Mumbai University (detail)

A popular tourist spot, the Gateway Of India.  One of the few places we visited where there were a lot of tourists and people pushing their wares.  I was somewhat of a celebrity being one of the only tall white guys around.  Several people asked to take their photo with me, first time that has happened.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Gate of India

Everyone in the group received a blessing (for a small donation).  It was nice.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Gate of India 2

We visited a Hare Krishna temple, and listened to the chants.  A nice spot and interesting religion.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Hare Krishna Temple

 

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Hare Krishna Temple 2

The Mahatma Gandhi Museum, full of interesting artefacts.  The most powerful and memorable were the letters to Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Ghandi Museum

Outside the museum, I met a charismatic and friendly tour guide who I chatted with while waiting for my group to finish up.  Smartly dressed, he was happy to pose for a photo.  For some reason he reminds me of Eddie Murphy.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Well dressed tour guide

Close to the harbour, we saw a fishing boat coming in.   A little helter skelter but definitely interesting.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Fishing boat coming back into the harbour

The harbour itself.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Harbour

Hemali, our tour guide (far right) and the couple who joined the tour.  Maybe they will see this one day (if so leave a comment ;)

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Tour

After the tour, I did some of my own exploring.  Here a vendor is selling strings of flowers.  These were being used to decorate cars for a festival.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : flower market

A family I ran into, they were great and the boy holding the dog asked me a million questions.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : family

 

 

My favourite photo form the trip.  This old guy was sitting in a flashy metal carriage when I approached him.  He didn't speak English, but nodded and smiled when I asked him if I could take a photo.  His weathered skin and the detail in the carriage make the perfect subject for a  black and white photo.Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Old man and the wagon

In the evening, and very close to my hotel, I ventured down to the beach to view the Vijayadashami Hindu festival.  There were thousands of people on the beach, and every group had a sculpture which they end up throwing into the ocean.  Note the sun in this photo.  Due to the air pollution most sunsets in Mumbai looked like this during my visit.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial

Some well dressed chaps walking their well groomed dogs.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival dogs

A vendor selling grilled corn, smelled great.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial 7

 

As happened several times, kids approached me when they same me taking photos and asked to have their photo taken.  This boy was curious, asked some questions, and posed for a shot.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial Kids

Soon his friends all ran over and started to clown around, it was great fun.

As the sun set, even more people started to show up.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival twilight

Literally by the truck load.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival twilight mob

 

And the festivities continued.Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festial Sunset

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival splash

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival friends

A sacred cow all dressed up for the party.  Though tired after a long day, I'm glad I made it down for the party.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival sacred cow

The next day, I decided to visit Dharavi, a massive slum in the heart of Mumbai.  This slum is well known as it appeared in the popular movie Slumdog Millionaire.   Despite the term "slum", this is a huge industrial center for Mumbai.  Recycling is common, as is creating goods for export.  I was very surprised at how many small factories are in operation in this area.  My guide in the slum Shailesh Jethva who operates Mystical Mumbai, if you are in the city and want to tour Dharavi I highly recommend Shailesh.  He knew almost everyone there and took me to many interesting spots in the area.  Photography is not appropriate in most parts of the slum, so I respected the custom.

This shot is from the bride over the rail tracks as you enter the slum, the district us huge and without a guide you are certain to get lost.  Depending on who you ask, there are about one million people that live in this slum, and the population density is just staggering.  A worthwhile tour if you are not just into the popular tourist destinations.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dharavi

One of the factories we visited with several embroidery machines at work.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dharavi textiles

My guide, Shailesh.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Dharavi tour guide

That is all the photos I'm posting from Dharavi.  If you want to see more you just need to visit for yourself.  On my way back to the hotel, I decided to take a walk on the beach which, just one day earlier, held thousands of people for the Hindu festival.  The beach was littered with remnants from the celebration, including all of the religious idols which now lay discarded.  I understand the need to celebrate but it's tough to see the impact on the environment following such celebration.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Vijayadashami Festival aftermath 4

 

Sunset over Juhu beach.  I'll return to Mumbai soon.

Oct 2012 : Mumbai Visit : Sunset on Juhu beach


2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids Posing

A Visit to Mumbai, India - Part II

I took a lot of photos in Mumbai, this is the second group. You can view part 1 here.

I decided to head to the south part of the city to explore the area.  Leaving the hotel the security guard posed for a photo.  Hotels have strict security since the terrorist attacks of 2008.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Hotel Security

I have heard some crazy stories about the "Mumbai Local" train.   During rush hour, it's one of the most crowded trains in the world, people are hanging off the sides.  The staff at the hotel told me not to ride it, it's not for tourists.  A tour guide I hired said "you are taking the local?  I don't even ride the local".   With those sentiments, I knew I had to ride it :)

I decided to ease my way into it, my first trip was off-peak, and it was quite pleasant.  There are no doors on the train, and it stops for only a very short while at each stop.  For my second trip, I booked the cheap fare during rush hour.  That was definitely entertaining and highly recommended for anyone looking for some adventure.  The mass of humanity that steams off a train at each stop is crazy, and somehow you need to push your way though that to get on board.  Good times.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Mumbai Local Train

My destination for the day was the Chor Bazaar.  "According to popular legend, if you lose anything in Mumbai you can buy it back from the 'Chor Bazaar'."  You can literally get anything here, it is one of largest flea markets in India.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar 2

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Food

This aisle was full of garlic.  It smelled amazing, not overpowering at all.  The guy sitting on the ground was peeling cloves, that is what he does most of the day.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Garlic

At one point, I walked past a school.  The kids were just leaving and a few of them come over to say hello.  They spoke very good English (they all learn it in school) and they started asking me a lot of questions while showing me around.  They wanted to pose for a photo, but at the last second all ran away leaving just one.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Kids Running

 

These guys had a good laugh.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar People

Venturing outside of the market after a few hours of exploring, I decided to just stand on a street corner and look at the interesting people streaming by. [Click any image to view bigger.]

 

There are interesting people everywhere.  I'm not even sure what this gentleman is selling, but he looks sharp.   If you know what this stuff is, please post in the comments.  Update: Thanks to Sandhya for letting me know via the comments that this gentleman is selling Singhara (Water Chesnut/Water Caltrop) seeds.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Chor Bazaar Sales

Another friendly character, spoke no English but was happy to pose for a photo.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Selling Nuts

 

Some of the local animals.  Fresh mutton?  No problem.  Want to buy a rooster, they have that too.

Sidewalks in Mumbai are not quite up to Canadian standards.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Sidewalk

 

A few more interesting sights and people including a fruit and vegetable stand.

On more than one occasion kids ran up to me and wanted to pose for a photo.  Very curious and very cute.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids Posing

 

A shave on the street.2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Street Shave

 

I'm not sure this is up to WCB standards. It was amazing to watch these guys climb bamboo scaffolding with no harness or other safety equipment.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Scaffolding

 

One of the slums on the beach.  Despite the conditions, children will find a way to entertain themselves.  Here they made a kite and they seemed to be having a great time.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Kids & Kite

 

A well dressed gent at a street market.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Well Dressed at the Market

Finally, my dinner.  Curried goat, roti, and a local beer.

2012 Oct : Mumbai India Visit : Curry Goat


Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : shelter

A Visit to Mumbai, India - Part I

My trip to Mumbai, India was an eye opening experience.  In a way it was what I expected but at the same time I wasn't always prepared for what I saw.  India is clearly a developing nation but in many ways behind other third world countries I have visited.  I know that India is becoming a technology center for many global companies, it has a quickly developing economy and is on the verge of rapid industrialization.  However, when you walk the streets and talk to the people you don't see much evidence of that.  There are obviously many wealthy people in India, but there are far too many that live on the street below the poverty line.

While it's true that many people are poor and live on the street, all of the people I met were warm and accepting of my presence.  Some were guarded at first but if I asked for directions, to take a photo, or just how their day is going they would all flash a big smile and do their best to help me out.  Those that spoke English were eager and willing ask where I'm from and how I like the country.  Some engaged in conversation and other just said hello and posed for a photo.   I'm wouldn't get the same reception if I walked the streets of Vancouver (my home town).  People in Vancouver are often self-centered, indifferent, or paranoid you are running some scam and do not engage strangers to the same level.

The people in India are also very spiritual and tolerant.  They are a blend of many religions (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and others) often obvious by their clothing though there is no visible tension between them.  They celebrate festivals and openly practice their faith.  Many also believe in the concept of Karma which is present in all of the religions.  Because of this, there seems to be an environment of safety and I did not ever feel threatened during my visit.  I walked in many different areas of the city, alone, as an obvious outsider and didn't feel unsafe at any time.  It may have been luck but I can't say that I would do the same in other large cities around the world.

My experience of India is limited to one city, Mumbai (Bombay).  Other cities may be drastically different, I really don't know.  I hope to visit other parts of India some day to see for myself.

Exploring On Day 1

My first day in Mumbai was just spent exploring the area I was staying in, Juhu.  Juhu is an affluent suburb of Mumbai where many Bollywood stars live however if you plucked me from Vancouver and dropped me in Juhu I would think it far from affluent.  There are obviously many poor people living on the street and there is garbage littered everywhere.  The waterways I saw were extremely polluted, looked almost like blank ink and filled with trash.  Juhu Beach unfortunately isn't much better being covered in garbage, and both animal and human waste. For a country so blessed with natural beauty and resources it's a real shame to see it treated so poorly.

Part of the problem is the population explosion in Mumbai.  I have heard estimates that put the population between 20 and 24 million people and all those people need to live somewhere.  Combined with the fact that Mumbai is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, you essentially force people to live on the street or in slums.  These places often have no sanitation, garbage collection, or even running water.  The garbage and waste is simply dumped into the environment and it is clear that nature has paid a heavy price.

Juhu Beach, not every area is this littered though there is no area that is clean. One thing to note is the smog in the background, air quality is not very good either. At the end of the day, my eyes started to hurt and I attribute this to the air pollution.

Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Juhu trash

 

People getting a ride across the water, if you saw the water you wouldn't want to get wet either.

Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : raft

 

One of the ways the people who live on the beach support themselves is by growing methi (fenugreek) crops. These are grown on the sand of the beach, watered with salt water collected from a nearby pool, and harvested as sprouts for sale in the local markets.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : methi crop

 

The pool where water is gathered, dug below the ocean water level so always full.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Water hole

 

The water is carried in large plastic jugs, sometimes a long way.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Carrying Water

 

One of the locals harvests his crop. He saw me walking around the area and taking photos, he waved me over and asked me to take his photo so he could see it. He also told me how he grows the crop and about his life. His English was basic but we managed a short conversation. He has spent most of his life on this beach.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Methi (Fenugreek) Harvest

 

Behind him, an extremely polluted body of water. I'm assuming it is a river, but it barely has any flow. I saw people defecate into this water, and in another area people were using it to wash off. It's no wonder that tropical disease thrives here. When you combine the poor sanitation, very high population density, heat and insects you have the perfect recipe.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Boat

 

I saw a lot of dogs, cats, and other animals roaming around as well. They get by on what scraps they can find, most do not appear to be in good condition.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Dog

 

The various beach shelters are rudimentary at best.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Shelter

 

Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : Shelter

 

When you see how little some people have, it makes you rethink your needs and wants.  This image in particular has stuck with me, it seems even a slight breeze would be capable of wiping out what little this person has.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : shelter

 

Behind the beach, you can see how bad the water is. While I sat in this spot, I saw people throwing garbage into the water and it was a soup of debris.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : slum water

 

Despite the pollution, life still does exist in and around the water. I saw birds walking around in the water trying to catch whatever may be present. Also, crabs live in the mud and carry on as usual. Nature is certainly resilient.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : crab

 

The people carry on as well, despite the trash a game of cricket is being played (I saw cricket being played everywhere, and by everyone. It is another religion in India).
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : juhu cricket

 

If you are not playing cricket, you are probably playing football (soccer).
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : football on the beach

 

On more than one occasion, young couples courted each other on the beach apparently oblivious to their surroundings. After a while, I think the trash just blends into the background, it becomes the norm.
Mumbai : Juhu Beach : October 2012 : lovers

 

Part II of the trip available here.


Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : RAW conversion with Silver Efex Pro 2.0, Photoshop, and Lightroom

Sony RX100 Black & White : Camera vs Silver Efex Pro 2

I love this new Sony RX100, it's a fantastic little camera.  I'm impressed with the quality and that is saying a lot since my other camera is a Nikon D800.  The D800 does spoil you with pixels and huge dynamic range, and you really notice the advantage when you start processing raw files from another camera.  However, the RX100 takes infinitely better images when I leave the big camera at home because it doesn't fit in my pocket.

This post is just showing three images from the RX100,  I was shooting in RAW+JPG in black and white mode.  The first image is straight from the camera.  I used default settings, but you can change contrast and exposure settings in the camera before taking a shot.

Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : Camera JPG

 

The image below is the same shot (camera JPG) but with minor processing done in Adobe Lightroom 5.  I think it looks a bit better, there some contrast adjustments, sharpening, vignette, and other minor changes.

Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : Lightroom Edit

The last image is processed from raw (ARW) using Lightroom 5, Photoshop CS5, and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.0.  I think it turned out the best but I also spent more time processing it than the image above.

Sony RX100 Black and White : Jammie Beach : RAW conversion with Silver Efex Pro 2.0, Photoshop, and Lightroom

 


May Flowers : Vancouver : 2013-05-20

Vancouver May Flowers

Apparently the May long weekend is a busy time for gardening in Vancouver.  Our tulips have already come and gone, but there is always something in bloom.  I took a few shots while my wife was busy in the garden.  Nikon D800 with a 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens.


Vancouver Gastown Photo Walk 2013-04-30 : BOSS 302 Mustang

Gastown Photo Walk

I took a short walk around Vancouver's Gastown with friends recently.   Here are some photos from my walk which started at the Irish Heather and ended at the Pourhouse.


2013-02-20 : Vancouver Aquarium : Frogs On Duty

Vancouver Aquarium : February 20

The first photo is not from my trip to the Vancouver Aquarium, but it was taken during the same weekend when my brother was in town.  We decided to visit the lookout at Cypress Mountain at sunset, and lucky for us it was a fairly clear evening.  This photo is taken looking south east, the sun is setting to the right of the frame and Vancouver is in the foreground.  Mount Baker (which is in the USA), is visible in the background.  The use of a zoom lens (@ 155mm) provides the compression in the scene.  I have used zoom lenses for a few landscape shots in the past (Mountains at 400mm) and they can certainly provide an interesting perspective.

2013-02-19 : Cypress Mountain Lookout at Sunset : Resized

 

I also created a panorama from the same location starting just to the right of the image above.  I'm not that happy with the processing but I'm posting the image anyway.  If you want to see this image much bigger, you can do so here.

Vancouver Skyline At Sunset : February 19, 2013 : Taken from lookout on way to Cypress Mountain

Now the photos from the trip to the Vancouver Aquarium.  Photos from previous visits are also online.  I have a new favorite tank, the cuttlefish!  Those guys are fascinating to watch.

2013-02-20 : Vancouver Aquarium : Cuttlefish

 

Also got a great shot in the frog display area, these little guys were lined up like they were on duty.

2013-02-20 : Vancouver Aquarium : Frogs On Duty

 

A few other shots from the day.

 


2012-12-05 : Belize-Dock - WP Retina 2x Plugin Test

Testing WP Retina 2x Plugin

This post is to test the WP Retina 2x plugin for Wordpress. The image was uploaded at 2880x1500 (603kb).  I'm also using CloudFlare and CloudFront with w3 Total Cache so I want to test it out to see if this configuration will actually work.  The photo is from my trip to Belize.

 

2012-12-05 : Belize-Dock - WP Retina 2x Plugin Test


Nikon D800 Autofocus Test Setup

Nikon D800 Autofocus Repair Testing - The Sequel

This is the third time I'm posting about the testing of my D800 autofocus system.  The first time was not long after I purchased it, just to see if it had the problem.  I found that it did have the problem, and I sent it to Nikon for repair.  When the camera came back, I tested it again.  Initially I thought it may have been fixed, but further testing showed there was still a problem.

During this time, I also purchased LensAlign and FocusTune to help me more accurately fine tune my lenses and camera, but also to help me quantify the results.  When I tested my lenses, I noticed that the recommended fine tune values for three of my five lenses was +20 (the highest possible).  This suggested to me that the actual sharpest fine tune value may be even higher than than, but the scale does not allow further adjustment.  Said another way, if the fine tune is at the maximum value, the calibration is not within spec for the camera/lens combination.  I decided to give my D800 and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D, and Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 to Nikon along with my results to see if they can fix the left autofocus problem plus calibrate the camera for the three lenses.

I finally received my camera back, and had a chance to test it with two lenses.  I tested with the 24-70 and the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR (this lens didn't go to Nikon).  I did not fine tune the camera and lenses before testing, this is how Nikon sent it to me.  I used the same test procedures I outlined previously, with a small twist because I now have FocusTune to help me out.  The results here are all RAW conversions (the only adjustment I made in Lightroom was to convert to grayscale).  I shot in RAW+JPG (L/Fine), I shot a manual focus control shot for each of the five focus test points tested (center, top, bottom, left right - all at the farthest AF points).  Between each autofocus test shot, I defocused away from infinity and took five shots for each focus point.  I then loaded all of the JPG files into FocusTune and for each focus point I found the SHARPEST result from the five samples, so the results here are the best shots from the group.

One thing to note, last time I sent the D800 to Nikon the work order showed "ADJ FOCUS SYSTEM" and "ADJ AUTO FOCUS OPERATION". This time, the work order had:

[box]

B2

Service Repair Rank B2

Repair

RPL O-RING

CLN CCD

FIRMWARE UPGRADE

GENERAL CHECK & CLEAN

RPR ELECTRICAL CIRCUIT

[/box]

It is worthwhile to note that I was not having any problems with my D800 outside of the autofocus system, I'm not sure why they replaced the o-ring and worked on the electrical system. I see no mention of them even looking at the autofocus system.

 

Lenses Tested

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

 

Test Results

The grouped results for the 105mm lens, 100% crop under the autofocus sensor tested.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 105mmf/2.8 Micro VR: 105mm Results

Apologies that some of these are dark, I didn't want to make any adjustments so they are presented straight from the camera with no editing.  I don't see any major issues here, the focus system seems to be fairly consistent between all of the points.  Here is a closer look at the 105mm left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR : 105mm L5 Detail

 

I would say this is fine, doesn't quite match the manual focus using live view and 100% zoom but I don't think phase detect AF is ever going to be as good.

The grouped results for the 24-70mm lens at 24mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 : 24mm Results

Here, the left side AF sensor is clearly softer than the others in the group.  Here is a bigger version of just the left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 : 24mm L5 Detail

 

The grouped results for the 24-70mm lens at 70mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm Results

Once again, some softness on the left side.  Bigger version of 70mm left side results.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm L5 Detail

 

I would say it's not as bad as the 24mm left side test, however I would not say this is acceptable performance.  The lens works fine at the other focus points, here are details of the performance at the center focus point at 24mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8mm : 24mm C Detail

 

The 24-70mm center focus point at 70mm.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8 : 70mm C Detail

 

Both of these are completely acceptable and would not give me any reason for concern.  However, the left side AF sensors continue to give me grief.  I'm not sure if it's the lens or the body though, because the 105mm seems to focus fine at the left side.  I'll try to test with my 50mm f/1.8G to see how it performs, and I'll post the results here when I'm finished.

 Update, April 2, 2013

The grouped results for the 14-24mm lens at 24mm, center and lower AF points are good, others soft.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 : 24mm Results

 

The 14-24 @ 24mm L5 sensor detail.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 : 24mm L5 Detail

 

 

The grouped results for the 50mm, again center and lower AF points are good, others soft.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 : 50mm Results

 

50mm L5 detail, not terrible but could be better.

Nikon D800 Autofocus Test : Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 : 50mm L5 Detail

 

In general, the whole AF system seems to be a little off.  Fine tune won't fix this as the various AF points don't correlate to each other in how far out of focus they are.  If they were all equally off, fine tune could fix that.  Some, such as the center and lower (C, D2) AF point are excellent, others (such as L5) are consistently off.  If I fine tune, I'll be throwing off the good ones.

 

 

 


Saint Patrick's Day : BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, BC : 2013-03-17

Saint Patrick's Day in Vancouver

I was coming back from taking some sunset photos in Lions Bay.  On my way home, I saw that BC Place Stadium was lit up green for Saint Patrick's Day.  It was a clear night, so I had to stop to get a few extra shots.

Saint Patrick's Day : BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, BC : 2013-03-17


2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Quarter

New Wheels : 2013 Acura MDX

I picked up a new set of wheels yesterday, a 2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition.  My first vehicle purchase in 9 years, and it's a nice upgrade.  The car is Dark Cherry Pearl, which looks good on this car.  A quick shot I took at the dealership, which is just meh.

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Dealer

 

Since it was a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver, I decided to go for a short drive on the Sea To Sky Highway to Brighton Beach.  I found a nice place to pull off and get a few shots.

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Front

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Interior

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Quarter2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Gravel Pit

2013 Acura MDX Tech Edition - Dark Cherry Pearl - Sea To Sky Highway Front Close


Shelter Dogs Vancouver: 2013-02-22 : Puppy 2

Shelter Dogs Feb 22 2013

Another batch of puppies and dogs available for adoption from Vancouver Animal Control. You can see the animals they have available at PetFinder.com (not just dogs but rabbits, lizards, and at times even more strange things).  You can also see previous shelter dogs I photographed here.  Don't buy a pet through Craigslist or other online sources, adopt a pet from your local animal shelter.

 


Nikon D800 Angle 2

Nikon D800 and D800E Setup and Configuration

D800 Big Lens

I now have a page with the setup and configuration for the Nikon D810.

A while back, Out There Images posted a list of recommended settings for the Nikon D800. I used that as a starting point to create four custom menu banks for my most common shooting situations.  The menu banks are not great because they don't save all of the settings you need to change, but they are better than nothing.  The U1/U2 settings of the D7000 and D600 are superior to the menu banks both in terms of features and ease of use.  I have no idea why Nikon has decided to leave out such a fantastic function on their high-end cameras.  Neither the D800 nor the D4 have the U1/U2 settings.  Nice work Nikon.

Here are the four menu banks I created:

  • HDR - sets up the camera for high dynamic range shooting.  I usually use a tripod, have time for manual focus, etc.  If the shutter speed is fairly slow, I also turn on "Exposure delay mode" (custom setting d4).
  • Action - I often use this when photographing dogs at the local animal shelter.
  • Portrait - useful not just for portraits but for any stationary or slow moving target.
  • Point & Shoot - Since I use the "AF-ON" focusing technique (*1), it makes it difficult to hand my camera to a stranger if I want to be in the photo.  Rather than try to explain the technique, I just change the settings and let them shoot.  I also use this mode when I give the camera to my wife, sometimes she just wants to take a few simple shots so this mode shoots in jpeg with things configured to make shooting easier.

The settings for all four modes are outlined below.  Note that the settings just make the starting point for configuration easier.  It doesn't mean these are always the settings I use when shooting.  I may not use ISO100 for all situations nor the same AF settings.  If you want to use them as a starting point for your own custom settings it is easiest to just download my config file here: Nikon D800 custom settings file. You should also grab the custom picture control explained in footnote 3. To use the custom settings file, copy it to your media card, insert the media card into your camera and navigate to SETUP MENU -> Save/load settings -> Load settings. This will copy the settings over to your camera.  You may want to save your own settings before you copy mine to your camera in case you need to revert back.

Note the [change this] in the settings below, these are things you will want to change in your own camera before you start shooting.  At the bottom, you can also see what I put in "MY MENU" to access some controls I often change on the fly.

To switch between the various menu banks, you have several options:

  • The slow way.  Go to menu -> shooting menu -> shooting menu bank -> select your bank.  Then go to custom setting menu -> custom settings bank -> select your bank.
  • I have 'shooting menu bank' and 'custom settings bank' as the top two items of 'my menu'.  This allows me to change the settings relatively quickly but also provides a visual reminder of what banks I'm using when I go into this menu.
  • The fastest way is to simply press the "info" button twice, that should select your shooting bank.  Press the center button in the multi-selector, pick your setting.  Do the same for custom settings bank.

If you have questions, or a suggestion feel free to leave them in the comments at the bottom of the page.  If you want more detail on the settings below download Nikon's D800/D800E manual (free), for something even better I recommend Thom Hogan's Complete Guide to the D800/D800E ($30).  Thom not only covers the options but gives you a recommendation on what to use for each setting.

HDRActionPortraitPoint & Shoot
EXTERNAL CONTROLS
Exposure ModeA (Aperture Priority)A (Aperture Priority)A (Aperture Priority)P (Program)
Metering Mode3D Matrix Metering3D Matrix Metering3D Matrix Metering3D Matrix Metering
Bracketing5F, +/-1 EV (use 7 or 9F if needed)OffOffOff
Shooting ModeTimerCH (continuous high)CH (continuous high)CH (continuous high)
WBAutoAutoAutoAuto
ISO100Auto100Auto
QUALRAWRAWRAWJPEG FINE
Autofocus Mode *1Manual or AF-C, single pointAF-C, 3DAF-C, single pointAF-S, Auto
SETUP MENU
Format memory cardAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Monitor brightnessManual (0)Manual (0)Manual (0)Manual (0)
Clean image sensorClean at shutdownClean at shutdownClean at shutdownClean at shutdown
Lock mirror up cleaningAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
Image Dust Off ref photoAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
HDMIDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
Flicker reductionAutoAutoAutoAuto
Time zone and dateSet to local timeSet to local timeSet to local timeSet to local time
LanguageEnglishEnglishEnglishEnglish
Auto image rotationOnOnOnOn
Battery infoN/AN/AN/AN/A
Wireless TransmitterN/AN/AN/AN/A
Image comment *2NoneNoneNoneNone
Copyright InformationOn [change this]On [change this]On [change this]On [change this]
Save/load settingsAs neededAs neededAs neededAs needed
GPSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Virtual horizonN/AN/AN/AN/A
Non-CPU lens dataN/AN/AN/AN/A
AF fine tuneSet for your lenses if neededSet for your lenses if neededSet for your lenses if neededSet for your lenses if needed
Firmware versionN/AN/AN/AN/A
SHOOTING MENU
Shooting menu bankABCD
Extended menu banksONONONON
Storage folderDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
File NamingMKH [change this]MKH [change this]MKH [change this]MKH [change this]
Primary slot selectionCF card slotCF card slotCF card slotCF card slot
Secondary slot functionBackupBackupBackupBackup
Image qualityRAWRAWRAWJPEG FINE
Image SizeN/AN/AN/ALarge
Image area
- Auto DX cropOnOnOnOn
- Choose Image areaFXFXFXFX
JPEG CompressionOpitmal QualityOpitmal QualityOpitmal QualityOpitmal Quality
NEF (RAW) recording
- TypeLossless compressedLossless compressedLossless compressedLossless compressed
- NEF bit depth14-bit14-bit14-bit14-bit
White BalanceAuto1Auto1Auto1Auto1
Set Picture Control *3Custom (Live View Max Sharp)SD (Standard)PT (Portrait)VI (Vivid)
Manage Picture ControlDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
Color SpaceAdobeRGBAdobeRGBAdobeRGBsRGB
Active D-LightingOffOffOffOff
HDR (high dyn. range)N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW)N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW)N/A (disalbed when shooting RAW)Off
Vignette controlNormalNormalNormalHigh
Auto distortion controlOnOnOnOn
Long Exp. NROffOffOffOff
High ISO NRLowLowLowNormal
ISO Sensitivity Settings
ISO sensitivity100100100100
Auto ISO sensitivity controlOffOn (Max ISO: 6400, Min shutter: auto,faster)OffOn (Max ISO: 6400, Min
shutter: auto,faster)
Multiple exposureOffOffOffOff
Interval timer shootingOffOffOffOff
Time-lapse photographyOffOffOffOff
Movie settings
Frame size/rate1920x1080; 30fps1920x1080; 30fps1920x1080; 30fps1920x1080; 30fps
Movie qualityHighHighHighHigh
MicrophoneAuto sensitivityAuto sensitivityAuto sensitivityAuto sensitivity
DestinationSDSDSDSD
CUSTOM SETTING MENU
Sustom settings bankABCD
a1 AF-C priority selectReleaseReleaseReleaseRelease
a2 AF-S priority selectFocusFocusFocusFocus
a3 Focus track lock-onOffLongShortNormal
a4 AF ActivationOff (AF-ON focus technique)Off (AF-ON focus technique)Off (AF-ON focus technique)On
a5 AF point illuminationOnOnOnOn
a6 Focus point wrapOffOffOffOff
a7 Number of focus points51515151
a8 Built-in AF assist illumOffOffOffOff
b1 ISO sensitivity step val.1/31/31/31/3
b2 EV steps for exposure1/31/31/31/3
b3 Exp./flash comp step1/31/31/31/3
b4 Easy exposure comp.OffOffOffOff
b5 Center-weighted area12mm12mm12mm12mm
b6 Fine tune optimal exp.0 (for all)0 (for all)0 (for all)0 (for all)
c1 Shutter-release AE-LOffOffOffOff
c2 Auto meter-off delay10s10s10s10s
c3 Self-timer
- Self-timer delay2s10s10s10s
- Number of shots5 (should match # bracket exposures)111
- Interval between shots0.5s0.5s0.5s0.5s
c4 Monitor off delay
- Playback10s10s10s10s
- Menus1m1m1m1m
- Information display10s10s10s10s
- Image review10s10s10s10s
- Live view10m10m10m10m
d1 BeepOffOffOffOff
d2 CL mode shoot speed2fps2fps2fps2fps
d3 Max continuous release100100100100
d4 Exposure delay modeOff (on if exposures slow)Off (on if exposures slow)Off (on if exposures slow)Off (on if exposures slow)
d5 File number sequenceOnOnOnOn
d6 Viewfinder grid displayOnOnOnOn
d7 ISO display adjustmentOffOffOffOff
d8 Screen tipsOnOnOnOn
d9 Information displayAutoAutoAutoAuto
d10 LCD illuminationOnOnOnOn
d11 MB-D12 battery typeLR6LR6LR6LR6
d12 Battery orderMB-D12MB-D12MB-D12MB-D12
e1 Flash Sync Speed1/2501/2501/2501/250
e2 Flash shutter speed1/601/601/601/60
e3 Flash cntrl built-inTTLTTLTTLTTL
e4 Modeling flashOnOnOnOn
e5 Auto bracketing setAEAEAEAE
e6 Auto bracket (Mode M)Flash/speedFlash/speedFlash/speedFlash/speed
e7 Bracketing orderUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > overUnder > MTR > over
f1 switchLCD Backlight and info displayLCD Backlight and info displayLCD Backlight and info displayLCD Backlight and info display
f2 Multiselect center button
- Shooting modeResetResetResetReset
- Playback modeZoom, medium magnificationZoom, medium magnificationZoom, medium magnificationZoom, medium magnification
- Live viewZoom, medium magnificationZoom, medium magnificationZoom, medium magnificationZoom, medium magnification
f3 Multi selectorOffOffOffOff
f4 Assign Fn button
- Fn button pressViewfinder virtual horizonViewfinder virtual horizonViewfinder virtual horizonViewfinder virtual horizon
- Fn button + command dialsOffOffOffOff
f5 Assign preview button
- Preview button pressPreviewPreviewPreviewPreview
- Preview button + command dialsOffOffOffOff
f6 Assign AE-L/AF-L button
- AE-L/AF-L button pressAE/AF lockAE/AF lockAE/AF lockAE/AF lock
- AE-L/AF-L + command dialsOffOffOffOff
f7 Shutter spd & ap lockN/AN/AN/AN/A
f8 Assign BKT ButtonBKTBKTBKTBKT
f9 Cust. command dialsDefault (Off, on, off)Default (Off, on, off)Default (Off, on, off)Default (Off, on, off)
f10 Release button to use  dialOffOffOffOff
f11 Slot emply release lockLockLockLockLock
f12 Reverse indicators- 0 +- 0 +- 0 +- 0 +
f13 Assign MB-D12 AF-ONAF-ONAF-ONAF-ONAF-ON
g1 Assign Fn buttonPower aperture (open)Power aperture (open)Power aperture (open)Power aperture (open)
g2 Assign preview buttonPower aperture (close)Power aperture (close)Power aperture (close)Power aperture (close)
g3 Assign AE-L/AF-LAE LockAE LockAE LockAE Lock
g4 Assign shutter buttonTake photosTake photosTake photosTake photos
PLAYBACK MENU
DeleteSelectedSelectedSelectedSelected
Playback folderND800 (default)ND800 (default)ND800 (default)ND800 (default)
Hide imageDefaultDefaultDefaultDefault
Playback display optionsHighlights, RGB histogram, OverviewHighlights, RGB histogram, OverviewHighlights, RGB histogram, OverviewHighlights, RGB histogram, Overview
Copy image(s)N/AN/AN/AN/A
Image reviewOffOffOffOff
After deleteShow nextShow nextShow nextShow next
Rotate tallOffOffOffOff
Slide showN/AN/AN/AN/A
DPOF print orderN/AN/AN/AN/A
MY MENU
Shooting menu Bank
Custom settings bank
c3 Self-timer
d4 Exposure delay mode
ISO sensitivity settings
Long exposure NR
Active D-Lighting

Footnotes

*1 - Autofocus : I have started using the "AF-ON" technique (for lack of a better term) to focus my camera. You can read more about the technique here. You will see that in my settings, I primarily use AF-C as the default focus mode when I use the camera. With the AF-ON technique, you decouple the focusing of the camera from the shutter press. The nice thing is that you can have both continuous and static autofocus at the same time. Focus and recompose is also easier as you don't have to keep the shutter half-pressed, just release the AF-ON button and the camera stops focusing. It works very well, but takes a bit of getting used to. This technique works on both Nikon and Canon cameras (likely other brands as well but I haven't checked into it).

*2 - Image comment : There are two spots to put your personal info into the file EXIF data: "Image comment" and "Copyright information". Some people use both, but there isn't really a reason to do so. I have found one reason not to use the 'image comment' field, and that is because the comment shows up in the description field when you post images online (facebook for example). At times, I post images to facebook and I don't want the description for each one to say "copyright 2013...", blah, blah, blah. My friends want to see something about the image, not a copyright notice. For me, it just makes the upload process more time consuming and it doesn't add any value. You may like it, so feel free to use the field if that fits into your workflow.

*3 - Set Picture Control : The live view of the Nikon D800 isn't great, but I still use it at times to get sharp focus. I zoom in the live view display and manually focus the lens to the best setting. If you change the picture control to the highest sharpening level you actually get a better display. Since I almost always shoot in raw, this has no effect on the final image. You can edit your existing picture control but it's best to create a new, custom, one. To make this easier, you can download a custom picture control I created called Live View Max Sharp. Unzip the file, you should see a "Nikon" folder, copy that to the top level (root) of your flash card and put the card into your camera. In the menu, go to SHOOTING MENU (camera icon)-> Manage picture control -> Load/save -> Copy to camera => Live View Max Sharp, click "OK". Select one of the custom picture control spaces to use (C1..C9) and you are done. Now you still have all of your default picture controls plus the new one to pick from.