The Nikon D600, Shooting BTS all weekend

I've just realized that even though I have shot a few thousand frames with both my Nikon D600 and my Fuji X100S in the month of February I have not made a single frame of anything I would consider my own work. Nothing to illustrate any of my in-progress eBooks, nothing for any of my personal projects, none of my family. Every single frame was in the mission to build up a source of cannon fodder for promotional materials, blog posts, background conceptual shots, etc, etc for the Atomic Canary endeavor. Specifically the Baltimore space.

Most of what I photographed could be considered behind the scenes of models getting ready for a session, workshops presented by others, photographers shooting, etc, etc. Oh, I also made a few frames here and there that were partially "my own" during impromptu one on one coaching sessions with a few photographers using the facilities. Partially meaning I couldn't work the scene, I didn't come up with the concept, the wardrobe, etc. Heck even if I did come up with the concept I would have done it differently in some fairly major ways whether it be wardrobe, setting, lighting setup, whatever.

I shot a heck of a lot of this BTS stuff and coaching stuff this past weekend. While doing that and also while looking at some images uploaded to my tiny, underpowered 11" MacBook Air there were dozens of things that occurred to me technically, conceptually, and philosophically I thought might be of interest to a few of you. I cannot possibly stick them into one blog post so this is a place holder reminding me to cover them all. Well, at least most of them at some point. First some D600 techno-crap that might interest you, if not skip to the bottom for something very short that might be of more interest.

Some first time for me notes. All related to using the D600 in a fly-on-the-wall BTS context vs my usual X100S in the same situation. I actually learned a couple of things both technically and philosophically by making the D600 choice vs the X100S choice in the same shooting context. Today the technical thing. My choice of the D600 was solely based on practical considerations pertaining to the first event on Friday night. It was a video workshop. There was absolutely no way I would be comfortable using a 35mm field of view to do that. My feeling was a 50mm FOV was more appropriate. I cannot get in people's way while shooting video and if I am behind them the scene would be pushed too far into the background to be relevant as a compositional element. I also knew from the agenda that it was mostly a short tele affair – even the wider shots. Everything added up to the 50mm or possibly even a hair longer. Turns out 50mm worked fine.

I was a tad concerned that the D600 would be too loud and distracting. Not because of audio recording or anything like that. The workshop was a basics workshop and had no dialog in the script. Ambient sound recording was never part of the deal. I was far more concerned with our model being distracted as she is so used to stills that the shutter sound would throw her off her game even subconsciously. Possibly even disturb the presenter or the participants. To counter that I actually used the "Q" mode on my D600 for the very first time.

I don't remember if it was the D7000's quiet mode or the D600's or both that were widely criticized as being completely useless. I do know at least the D7000's was. From my point of view the "Q" mode on the D600 is more than just a bit useful. Without some lab study I have no idea if the actual DB level is a whole lot lower – probably not. It certainly doesn't sound completely silent and nowhere near as quiet as the X100S. You may even think it's the same, just different. No matter what the case is with the actual sound level the sound is far and away less harsh. This makes a big difference in how distracting it is to subjects you are close to.

How do I know? We'll… since I was shooting BTS kind of stuff all weekend I just left it on quiet mode the entire time. Even when I was doing a few random shots during one on one coaching where I was actually directing the subject. Trust me, I know the models/subjects in front of the cameras this weekend. I know exactly how they react to more than one camera pointed at them clacking away. Not a hair of that.

If you haven't experimented with the D600 "Q" mode in a real live situation definitely do so rather than just arm-chair quarterbacking what you may think it might or might not do sitting at your desk. Here's the downside – I think – with no measurements or expectations or any sort of study, "Q" mode seems to wear the battery out faster. It felt like I ran out of juice faster than I should have. In fact power-fail actually stopped me dead in my tracks in the middle of a coaching session. Too bad because those BTS and on the fly shots I directed were actually starting to work really really well. The shots I made immediately before the camera went belly-up were my favorites from the weekend. I wasn't about to go run up three flights of stairs for a new battery at that point. The session was wrapping up and it wasn't my dime.

Yea, I know, not very scientific but this has never ever never happened where I run dry on my D600 with the amount of shooting I did this weekend. Typically I don't even look at my battery indicator with the pittance I shot and when I do I'm usually surprised at how little the D600 consumed. I switch out batteries and go fresh long before I ever lock-up. Given I have at least 20K exposures on the D600 I would say my little guess-o-meter is correct to some degree.

One last thing on a more philosophical note. Probably more important than the techno-junk above. I noticed last weekend when doing BTS stuff that far more than a hint of surrealism crept in. You might have noticed with some of the StupidCrap™ I posted on twitter over the last week. I initially thought it was because I was getting bored on a few occasions doing docco work for hours on end. I tend to make trouble when I get bored. A casual look at what I shot this weekend as well as having that notion stew for a bit caused me to realize it was definitely not boredom that caused this. A lot of things that have been on my mind with personal projects, an upcoming workshop I will be hosting (that is both challenging and exciting to me), some things I have been experimenting with here and there for my own enjoyment just crept in. Here's another shot to ponder.

That creeping in of various things when you are not on a job, maybe even when you are, convinces me that your mood, where your head's at, what you want to be making, personal projects interesting you, all of it absolutely positively influences images you are making to some degree. In my case when left to my own devices with no "spec" those things influence how I shoot without even a conscious thought to an extreme degree.

More on that topic and related things shortly. Too long a post already.


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