Da Grip

I’m left-eyed.


North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Cosina-Voigtländer NOKTON 35mm F1.2 Aspherical
1/500sec, iso 320, 35mm (47mm)

No that’s not a Sharingan, just creative editing.

It’s not completely rare to see some left-eyed photographers, but that’s mostly because creative types tend to be left-handed.

I’m right-handed, but left-eyed.

This is the reason that I couldn’t get out of my athletic requirement by taking up riflery. I had to pull the trigger with my non-dominant hand which is a big disadvantage. And no, an eyepatch won’t correct this since I’m three diopters worse in the right eye. It flunks so badly that I barely pass a depth perception test even when corrected. I simply never look out of it.

All this is is a really indirect way of talking about some free schwag that Kara dropped off…

Thanks, Peachpit!

Thanks, Peachpit
South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G
1/60 sec @ f/2.8 iso2000, 20mm

About the schwag

Kara works for Peachpit Press as their Digital Product Marketing Manager, and when she stopped by she dropped off some interesting books that they are promoting and has her whole office getting back into photography.

If I were to review these books I should disclose that I got them for free using my s00per 3leet contacts at Peachpit. Or did I? Earlier that day, I received an order from Amazon:

Doubled Down

Doubled Down
South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G
1/60sec @ f/2.8 iso2200, 16mm

Yes, I had ordered the same books on my own! As most of you know, I’ve been a big fan of Joe McNally for years now, not just because he shoots Nikon, but because his photos and the extremes he goes to get them show off a truly amazing talent and dedication to his craft.

A quick review

I really recommend these books: The Moment It Clicks and The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally. The first book consists of page after page of a photograph, a piece of advice, and how that shot reflects the application of that piece of advice. The second book mostly focuses on flash photography like his DVD series for Nikon School as well as the excellent Strobist blog In fact without Strobist, I don’t think a book like this would have been possible.

In any case they’re definitely worth the $56 I almost paid for them. 😀

Many of you of you will find the approach of Joe McNally as requiring too much equipment. If that is the case, then David DuChemin’s Within the Frame is for you and any aspiring travel photographer. We’ll forgive David for shooting Canon since his photos are full of teh awesome. 😉

As for The Visual Quickstart Guide for Photoshop CS4 Vol. 2, well PeachPit (and other Pearson brands) publishes nearly every good book on learning Photoshop out there. Volume 1 covers the basics of using it, but if you already know Photoshop, Vol 2 has enough bootstrap points that you can skip Vol 1. It’s more a book for learning in an academic environment, but it isn’t a classroom book like the “Classroom in a Book” series. As a photographer I much prefer the style pioneered by The Adobe Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers, but since I have an earlier edition of the book, I took a pass. Those are excellent in every regard except for the fact that the photos are either terrible or stock images instead of being photos to inspire. For real world images and retouching, nothing tops Kevin Ames’s book, alas, not updated for CS4.

Which leads to a joke Andre mentioned: They should stop publishing new editions of Photoshop books and just start publishing diff files. It’s gotten to the point that I forgot and don’t care what is in the new version of Photoshop anymore.

Da Grip

Kara noticed another similarity between me and him. We’re both left-eye dominant, right-handers.

In his second book, Joe McNally points out a camera gripping style that takes advantage of this weakness. What is a crippling disability in riflery turns out to be an obscure advantage in photography. By using your left shoulder, you can stabilize your lens to unheard of levels. I’ve always naturally used my left arm on my chest as stabilization before, but the addition of the shoulder was a variation I missed and something that becomes possible when you carry a huge body like the Nikon D3 I shoot.

For those of you too poor or too cheap to buy the book, here is a video on it:

Of course, I had to experiment with this for myself, and even added my own variation which I tested was slightly more stable for me (probably because of my slight build).

Da Grip

Da Grip
South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D
1/13 sec @ f/1.4 iso 200, 85mm

“Shake limit” is is defined as 1/the (35mm) focal length in seconds and is considered the slowest shutter speed you can shoot safely without image stabilization. So the shake limit for this shot is 1/85 sec. This was shot 1/13 sec, or 6x slower than the shake limit.

If you do the math, you can see that this is 2.5 stops past the “shake limit” for handheld photography, and when viewed at 100% you can see the lettering on the lens barrel is tack sharp—depth of field is only 5 cm so not much else is in focus..

Now if only I can learn to hold my camera level. 🙂

Da Nose

I thought I’d add a little bit of camera knowledge common to all Nikon cameras. On the back of the camera you’ll see a little switch with an “L” next to it. Here it is in it’s off position on a Nikon D3:


South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D200, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D, Kenko Extension Tubes
1sec @ f/5.6 iso200, 85mm (127mm)

What that does is “Lock” the focusing point. What is it’s purpose? Ostensibly that is so that you don’t accidentally move the point when you’re carrying the camera around, but I never found that to happen. What I think it’s really there for is because of us left-eye dominant shooters whose nose is constantly shifting the focusing point when we put the camera up against our faces!

Now with the larger screen and bigger bodies of the D3, my nose has shifted to the gap between the screen and the focus point selector. Look at the photo above and you can see my noseprint. 🙂

I get a big nasty cheekprint nowadays on my cameras. This is somewhat mitigated by the Hoodman HoodEYE, but what they really should be doing is adding an olephobic coating like the new iPhone has.

If they don’t, I’m going to put the “wipe rear LCD down with shirt” technique into my book on photography if I ever get famous. 😀

5 thoughts on “Da Grip

  1. I tried out DaGrip over the weekend as a right-eye dominant. Turns out if you have a big enough torso (me), it works there too. 🙂

    I shot two rolls of film off my FM2 this weekend. First time in years. I’m excited.

  2. @George Yeah, that makes sense. Andrei tried it out also (right eyed) and you still have to use your left shoulder, but it works for him.

  3. Heh! That reminds me of Ryan Brenizer’s grip method; of course, now I can’t find a picture of it. Basically, you put your left hand on your right shoulder and rest right hand and the camera/ lens on your left arm. Sadly, I keep forgetting about it and wind up with old habits.

  4. @Andre It’s the one where Ryan is talking about handheld shots in portrait mode. Most people hold the shutter on top, but if you want to stabilize, you should tuck the arms underneath. I don’t know where the article is, but it was before Ryan and I now started to shoot D3’s which have handgrips.

    Here’s one of his photos of me
    Handheld, of course. 😉

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