A few months ago my daughter’s class took a field trip to a local state park called Penrose Point State Park. The trip was scheduled to coincide with low tide so the kids could explore the tide pools and sea life surrounding the area. One of the neatest aspects to the park is the long sand spit that extends out from shore that is exposed during the lowest tides of the year. As soon as we jumped out of the school buses, all the kids ran out to the spit to walk out to the end. I saw a great photo opportunity and framed up a panorama that would make the kids look almost like they were walking on water.
My camera gear was a Nikon D300s with the tiny 18-105mm kit lens. I shot a total of eight images that I later stitched together as a panorama in Photoshop’s Photomerge utility. After creating the panorama, I used Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 to pull out some detail in the clouds and also add the image border.
Of course, taking photos of the rest of the day was just as much fun. I just had to keep shooting pics as the kids picked up crabs and poked at star fish and oogled at an octopus. It was a wonderful trip made even that much more fun by having my camera with me. Here are some more pics of our Penrose Point Beach Adventure.
It is amazing to me that the cutest, most adorable baby animals on earth come from some of the toughest looking parents. For example, take a look at this lion pride and their current dominant male father. The lion cubs are absolutely adorable. The father? Well, let’s just say his better days are behind him. This guy has a broken tooth and a droopy lower gum line that looks like it was torn in a recent fight.
We photographed this pride of lion in the central Serengeti just after they had killed a wildebeest. All the lions were resting lazily in the deep grass, so capturing clear shots of the group was difficult, even with our long lenses.
Last night my family and I were enjoying dinner on the back patio when my son exclaimed “woodpecker!” I’ve seen a group of three woodpeckers hanging out on my land for the last few weeks and have wanted to get a decent photo of them.
I grabbed my Nikon D300s, 200-400mm f4 and 1.4x TC and snapped 30 or so photos before this beautiful bird flew away into the woods. Out of the 30 shots, this was the only one sharp enough to work with. All the others had significant motion blur from the fast movements of the bird.
Since I’ve been preparing for a shot of the woodpeckers, I’ve left my camera and lens set up on my tripod. As Ansel Adams said, luck befalls the prepared photographer!
Here’s the scenario: You are headed out on a hot air balloon flight with 150 other balloons and want to capture the scene with great photos. Your pilot tells you that you can’t bring a bunch of camera gear because of tight space. What do you do?
That’s precisely the question Jerry sent to me yesterday. Here’s his email with my response below.
Next Saturday at 6:30 a.m., I think I am taking a ride in a hot air balloon that is taking off at the same time as 150 other balloons. I dream about great images, but this time I want to do more than dream. Because there are four people in each basket, I can only bring my camera (D300S) with whatever lense I choose. I can’t bring my bag full of lenses. My choices are Tokina 11-16 2.8, Nikon 18-70 3.5-4.5, Tamron 18-200, or Nikon 50mm 1.8. I’ve also been thinking about picking up the Nikon 18-200, but not sure. What is your advice for the lense I should bring? Common sense tells me to use the 18-70, but I think the 11-16 might be fun and interesting.
Thanks for your advice. I would also appreciate tips on camera settings.
Yes, tight quarters means that you won’t be able to bring much gear along. However, you can pack a still pack a few things even if you don’t bring a camera bag.
My recommendation is to wear a vest or jacket so you can take along the 11-16 and the 18-200. Or, bring some cargo pants/shorts so you can hold one of the lenses in a big pocket. I do this all the time when I’m not able to bring along a bag.
You’ll come across a variety of shooting angles during this shoot. When you are taking off, all the balloons will be close together and you’ll want the big wide angle shots for drama. Then, as you are flying, you’ll want the longer telephoto so you can pick off far away balloons and details. If you can truly only take one lens, then bring the 18-200. That will give you the most flexibility.
Camera settings … I’d shoot aperture priority and vary between f5.6 to f11 for most of my shots. In the morning or pre-dawn, I’d be shooting at ISO 800/1600. When the sun comes out, shoot ISO 200.
Hope this helps!
I love the sky in Tanzania. The daily afternoon thunderstorms almost alway guarantee some type of dynamic light that begs to be captured by your camera. It is easy to point your camera towards the heavens, but the challenge is to find a way to juxtapose wildlife or an austere landscape underneath those dramatic skies. This combination of amazing sky and wildlife/landscape is one of my reoccurring photo goals each time I travel to Tanzania.
Here are some attempts from our last photo safari with the Nikonians Academy.
You can sign up here for these events:
Master Nikon D300/D300s In Depth 4/14/2011
Master Nikon D300/D300s Advanced 4/15/2011
Master Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash, CLS 4/16/2011
Master Nikon D700/D3/D3s/D3x In Depth 4/17/2011
At the northern end of the Serengeti in Tanzania lies the Mara River. The annual wildebeest migration crosses over the Mara river as it heads to the Southern grasslands in Tanzania. The Mara River is an intriguing place because over 1 million animals have to cross the river, and there is a huge predator population lying in wait for tmeals. In November 2010, there was drought in the Southern Serengeti, so many of the wildebeest and zebra were still north near the Mara river. In fact, there were large herds of wildebeest that still hadn’t crossed the river.
It is incredibly fascinating to watch a herd of wildebeest survey the crossing and decide whether or not it should cross. We watched a large herd for quite a few hours and finally gave up since it never decided to cross. They were looking for crocodiles!
When the urge to cross becomes too great, one wildebeest will jump and then the rest of the herd will come surging through. Most make it, but a few unlucky animals don’t.
Below are a number of other photographs from the Mara River. The captions tell the rest of the story.
Over the last month, I’ve been having all kinds of problems with corrupted photographs. I first noticed it after I returned from a big workshop I ran in September, 2011 in the Olympic NP, WA. I found that a few NEF pictures had a vertical line through them and that half of the image had shifted “up” by a few pixels. At first, I assumed the problem was with the CF card I was using, so I took that card out of my photo bag just in case it was bad.
A few weeks later, I found the problem again. However, this time it was on a JPG. Then, the problem started to get much worse. I found that approximately 5% of my photos appeared corrupted no matter what camera body or memory card combination I used.
So, I started testing to see if I could figure out where the problem originated. First check was my cameras. I never saw any corrupted files on the LCD panel of my Nikon Cameras, so felt that these weren’t issue.
Next was to see if it was a specific CF card. I had corrupted files from all of my CF cards, so it wasn’t a single card problem.
Next was to determine if it was a software issue. My workflow is to ingest my files through Photo Mechanic where I then add copyright and keyword metadata. I ran a test where I brought the photos into my external disk drive through Photo Mechanic and then a separate test where I moved them manually through drag and drop. In both cases, I had corrupted files. Hmm.
Next was to determine if the problem was with my card reader. I use a Lexar Pro CF/SD UDMA card reader and I had heard that there are some incompatibilities between certain card readers and Mac computers. So, to eliminate this as a cause, I moved files to my external drive with the card reader and then again with a direct USB connection to my Nikon D700. In both cases, I had corrupted files.
Ok, at this point, it was clear that the problem wasn’t:
– Card reader
I began to suspect that the problem might be my external disk drive. I’m currently downloading images directly to an OWC 2TB Mercury Elite Pro Quad interface external disk drive. This drive allows me to connect it to the computer via one of four methods: USB, Firewire 400, Firewire 800 or eSATA. My standard protocol is to keep it connected to my MacBook Pro via eSATA. I use an eSATA Express 34mm adapter that plugs into my Mac.
The next series of tests was to download files to my computer’s desktop and then do another download to my external hard drive. The files downloaded to my computer desktop via USB card reader had zero corrupted files. The same files downloaded to the external drive via eSATA connection had two corrupted images. Aha! It was looking like it might be my external hard drive.
It took one more test to get to the bottom of the problem. I connected the same hard drive to my computer via USB (rather than eSATA) and did the download test one more time. This time, I had zero corrupted files.
I called OWC (Other World Computing http://www.macsales.com) and told them my predicament. They immediately said that there was a specific incompatibility with my Express 34mm eSATA adapter and the model of MacBook Pro that I use. For some reason, the chipset for MacBook Pro 5, 1 (five comma one) has problems with some models of Express 34 eSATA cards. OWC said that they would replace my eSATA card with a new one and I’d be up and running within a week.
What a relief. It is really hard to be a professional photographer when you can’t trust your tools. Knowing that I might or might not get corrupted files from any of my cameras at any time, really put the damper on my photography. The kind people at OWC were wonderful to work with. I also talked a bit with Photo Mechanic (http://www.camerabits.com) and they were extremely helpful in helping to troubleshoot the problem.
Now, I’m still using the external hard drive, but I have it connected via USB or Firewire. Once the new eSATA adapter arrives, I’ll go back to high-speed data transfer.
As photographers, we should be keeping our heads on a swivel. We should be looking in all directions for photo ideas, and this means looking up! Here are a few shots I’ve found by looking up towards the ceiling.
Spent the morning taking some amazing photographs at our Day on the Ranch photography workshop. We are south of Mariposa, CA and the weather couldn’t be nicer. We have a bunch of ranch hands running horses and cattle while we photograph them on their turf. It is a lot of fun. Later, we’ll have a big BBQ around a fire pit. I’m headed home stuffed like a pig.