Remember to test your equipment first

Time for the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown in the city. Brought my usual parade kit, D3 + SB-800 + 70-200VR. Got to the event, started firing off some shots. Blinking highlights. Odd, but I ignored them and continued to shoot. Even more blinking highlights.

Decreased the aperture, and whoa, major overexposure. Stopped the aperture down (whoops, flash is strobing in modelling mode) and looked down the lens barrel: aperture is wide open. Removed the lens, and the aperture lever is stuck. It was easy to move it back to the fully closed position, and I moved it around just to make sure it was ok. No more blinking highlights after that fix.

Capture NX to the rescue. Of course it can't give me back the missing DOF, and some shots are just too overexposed to be of any use.

Lesson learned: always test your equipment before shooting, and don't ignore the blinking highlights.

On a side note, the Olympus E-P1 and 14-42mm lens are arriving tomorrow. New toy!

Struggling with night time parades

I've never understood why the Chinese New Year parade starts at dusk. Most of the participants don't come equipped with lights, and the fireworks really aren't big enough to warrant darkness. But it is what it is, and every year I struggle to get good shots of the parade.

This year I decided to skip using a flash, and went with the D3 and 35mm f/2. I set auto ISO to a limit of 3200, and got decent enough shots. The mix of sodium lamps, incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, neon tubes and flash makes white balance tricky, but I'm happy with this year's images, more so than with other years.