The newest issue of the Nikonian eZine just published one of my articles on photography in the Galapagos. Clink this link to download eZine issue 58.
The article covers:
- Photo experience
- Daily schedule
- Camera settings
Also, follow this link to the eZine archive to download free issues from previous editions of the Nikonian eZines. http://ezine.nikonians.org/archive.html
The baobab tree is an amazing sight to behold. In Tanzania, these massive trees grow primarily in Tarangire National Park and are known for their funny upside-down shape. According to the legend of Bushmen, the baobab tree offended God, so he plucked it out of the ground and planted it back upside down, leaving the roots exposed to the sky.
Baobabs are succulents and store massive amounts of water in the trunk (sometimes up to 26,000 US gallons) in order to endure harsh drought conditions. Their massive swollen trunks consist of soft spongy wood, saturated with water. They hold so much water in fact, that they’ve been known to survive for ten years with no rain. Interestingly, the diameter of their trunks changes throughout the year in relation to how much rain falls or how long the dry season lasts.
Elephants love the bark of the trees and you’ll often see them tearing off long strips of bark to chew on. This behavior is especially evident during the dry season as elephants work to obtain moisture from the trunk’s water reserves. Most baobab trees in Tarangire National Park bear deep gouge marks and even giant holes through the trunk from the abuse they take from elephants.
One thing you can’t miss is how large these trees are. The photograph here shows a young elephant using its tusks to tear away some bark. This elephant is probably seven or eight feet high, so you can see that the tree trunk is close to 30 feet in diameter.
Baobabs take hundreds of years to reach their large dimensions and some are known to be many thousands of years old. In fact, one of the largest baobabs in Africa has been dated to be more than 6,000 years old. Most baobabs don’t look fully “baobab-ish” until they are at least 600 years old. When they become a thousand years old, many trees begin to hollow inside, providing refuge for animals and people as they travel the African wilds.
Tarangire National Park hosts one of the world’s greatest populations of African elephants, with more than 5,000 roaming the park. It is said to have more elephants per square mile than anywhere else in the world. This park is the perfect place to photograph the world’s largest land animal next to one of the largest tree species on earth.
For this image, I used the Nikon D800 coupled with the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4. For support, I rested the camera on a Gura Gear Anansi bean bag. As always, I used the Peak Design leash system to keep from dropping the rig from the Landcruiser.
Last week I ran a photography trip through Northern Arizona for the Nikonians Academy called ANPAT 13. The ANPAT is the Annual Nikonians Photographic Adventure Trip and is designed to be a fun gathering of Nikon shooters sharing in the joy of photography. This year, we had a total of 25 people come in from all around the world including Europe, Canada, Mexico and the USA.
The photography plan I initially put together was to spend a few days shooting in the Sedona, Arizona region, then the remainder of the trip in the Grand Canyon, Arizona region. Throughout the week-long photo tour I had also scheduled us to photograph numerous regional National Parks, National Monuments and Forest Service areas. About a week before our departure, it looked like the USA federal government was going to shut down, so I began scrambling to find other locations to photograph outside of government parks. This proved to be a ton of work and I was getting nervous because I had 25 photographers who were counting on me for a great photo tour. All of my hard work in setting up permits for the National Parks was soon going to go to waste.
After pulling out most of my hair and turning my remaining hair gray, I was able to put together a new itinerary that included private lands, indian lands and a healthy dose of Route 66. We traveled to many places I otherwise would have never considered such as Seligman, Oatman, Chloride, Page, Winslow, Prescott, and Flagstaff.
The good news is that nature and travel photographers are a resilient bunch and everyone was willing to go with the flow. Although we traveled to different areas than we expected, we still created wonderful images. I’m proud of our group for continuously striving to create great photographs, even in the face of a government shutdown.
Here are a bunch of images from last week’s ANPAT 13 to Northern Arizona. All were taken with a Nikon D800 and lenses varying from the 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm.
Profoto asked us to test out their new Studio Kit, so I put it through its paces to see how it works in the real world. Read the whole article at the Nikonians.org website here:
Profoto D1 Air Studio Kit Review.
Also, be sure to check out the video on page 2 showing how the kit works.
I’m in the middle of running an adventure photo trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks for the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org). Had about an hour tonight to process a few images and post them here.
… from a Texas workshop participant – Carl Licari.
Just finished up writing a new article on photo safaris for the Nikonians eZine. Check it out!
I received a great email question yesterday from a newsletter reader, Jack. He says, “Mike, in my landscape shots, sometimes one side of the sky is darker than the other side. This can happen whether I’m using a polarizer or not. Do you know what causes that?”
Here’s my answer:
This is a common issue with wide angle lenses when you are photographing blue skies. These lenses take in so much of the sky, that one side is bright and the other is dark based on that areas’s proximity to the sun. You’ll notice that the area next to the sun is brighter while the area of sky opposite the sun is much darker. This is a natural atmospheric phenomenon and is more pronounced at sunrise/sunset than during mid-day. If you use a polarizer, the effect can be much more pronounced.
I see this effect all the time in my photography. For example, look at this photograph above, taken just outside of Anchorage Alaska. Our Nikonians photo group was riding the Alaska Railroad on our way to Denali National Park a few weeks ago when we saw this beautiful lake with mountains behind it. I wanted to capture the expansiveness, so I used my 12-24mm and composed photograph so that I could include the foreground, lake, mountains, blue sky and white puffy clouds. The variation in sky brightness from the left to the right is definitely visible. The sun was rising on the right, so that side of the sky is brighter.
The next time you are taking photographs outside on a sunny day, do this test:
1. Set your camera for spot meter
2. Point it at the sky in the right side of the frame and note the exposure value.
3. Then, point the spot meter at the sky in the left side of the frame and note the exposure value.
You’ll generally see a one, two or three stop difference depending on time of day.
One more thought on this. You’ll also see this brightness shift vertically, from the horizon to the azimuth. In fact, Singh-Ray has made a filter to combat this vertical brightness difference called a reverse neutral density filter. http://www.singh-ray.com/reversegrads.html
The mountain wasn’t out today and was obscured by clouds. So, what do you do when the mountain isn’t out? Take pictures of “non mountains”. Today we were blessed with bighorn sheep, caribou, and stunning river valleys.
Denali is truly a national treasure and everyone should make a point to make the trek at least once in their life.
Had a fun day yesterday in Denali NP. We were able to photograph the mountain and see how massive it is. The weather up here has been amazing and our group was walking around in t-shirts all day long.
We are headed back into the park today for more fall color, wildlife and nature photography.