Hidden Wonder

It has been hot now for well over 4 weeks, and by hot I don’t mean typical Scotland hot of 13° and overcast; it has been in the 20’s constantly and to my constant surprise, it’s been the most joyous of times. Sunshine heals the soul. Fact. I always used to shirk away from any sort of sun, because like it or not I burn quicker than touch paper. Or I used to. Getting older has its benefits, it seems, and I’m no longer the incendiary skinned dour Scotsman I once was. No Sir. In fact I actively embrace the pulsing waves of the sunshine; an enjoyment I discovered last year in France, of all places.

I would sit in the sun which at that point the holiday was reaching 30°c and soak it up. For the first time I enjoyed the power of the sun; each wave of intense heat permeating deep into my core and igniting a love for heat that I’d never experienced before. Since then I’ve really enjoyed the sun and as such these 4 weeks have been great. I have the best t-shirt tan I’ve ever seen.

So Thursday welcomed the arrival of the behemoth that is the D800 and what a hunk of metal it is. My plan to calibrate the Sigma for the wee camera and use the D800’s internal focusing adjustment didn’t pay off; it was so far out to compensate focus for the D3400 that the D800 had to be massively back focussed and it was just a bit off…so I instead calibrated the Sigma for the D800 complete, and got to work testing this grail of cameras. TLDR; it’s everything I expected and more.

The first thing that really strikes is the separation the f/1.4 gives with FX cameras. It’s just that level above what a crop can achieve. The other thing is how much wider the 50mm is compared to the 1.5x crop I’m used to. Really I should have expected it and perhaps gone for the 85mm f/1.4 but I guess I’m just too used to the number 50. It is nicer to have a bit more room for wider shots and the only trade off is having to be closer to people if I want a face to fill the frame, but the D800 has so much scope for cropping to suit and not losing any resolution (compared to the D7100) that I can just crop the frame down and still get that incredible FX look.

The other thing that really impresses is the quality. I don’t mean resolution or sharpness; it’s going to be hard to convey but there’s just something about the larger sensor that gives photos a different quality, a tactility perhaps. It obviously helps that the D800 has the larger sensor and many many more pixels to work with, but the same could be said for a lesser MP camera; it has a full frame look to it that is impossible to achieve with anything other than a full frame sensor. Maybe I’m talking bollocks.

It’s not all rainbows and dancing. The Sigma has a tendency to take that split second longer to lock on focus compared to the D7100 and Nikon 50mm D I was used to before; it would snap immediately to whatever I wanted and I could rattle off frame after frame of perfectly in focus shots. With the D800 and Sigma 50mm, it has been a little bit frustrating that I can’t quickly zap focus to a face and shoot; I’ve been mashing that shutter button and nothing has happened or the Sigma has twiddled about for too long and the moment has passed. However there’s a feature I’ve never used before on any of my DSLR cameras and that’s 3D focusing. It’s magical and has resulted in a massive jump in successful shots that are perfectly focused. It’s remarkably easy too; lock focus onto your subject. The camera will then track that specific point in 3D space; front, back, left and right. It’s just down to you then to hit the shutter when you want and it keeps tracking over multiple shots. It’s brilliant.

So I’ve been taking hundreds of photos of the Fam and getting quickly used to the power of the D800, and we took a wee trip to Dunkeld yesterday to have a wander. What a magical place it is. We’ve been before but usually didn’t stray too far from the tiny main street. Wandering down and through a small archway revealed a lovely lush tree covered area; a welcome break from the relentless sunshine beating down on our tired skins. This covered area works its way around the back of the main buildings to reveal the Cathedral, in a state of renovation. What a beautiful sight; almost post-apocalyptic in its reveal as if the Cathedral is hidden amongst the overgrown foliage. The gardens are full of weathered wrangled trees that look distressed; really amazing how they’ve grown into such tangled messes. The entrances had big signs stating clearly “NO DOGS ALLOWED, EXCEPT FOR GUIDE DOGS” but of course that was ignored by one couple with a yappy little dug. Apart from that irk, it was a lovely place just to sit; the nearby River Tay flowing fast, lending a refreshing soundtrack to accompany the crickets and sun rays.

Back out the gate and down the street, we found a tiny wee cafe that looked good, so we headed in and got ourselves some coffees and cakes. Nice but very hot inside that wee room so we made quick work of our eats and drinks before exiting into the mid-day sun once more. A final walk around the shops and a lovely deli, complete with wine tasting zone and ice-cream. We opted just for the ice-cream for Miss, and enjoyed a slow walk back to the car before making tracks for home. We drove back the long way through Murthly and Stanley, through Perth once more. It was so hot we spent the rest of the afternoon indoors, where I promptly fell asleep. Luckily today it’s overcast and drizzly, because I’m heading down to London where it’s been 29° and cloudless. Not looking forward to that at all.