Back in the old days, prior to the blog, we had Moose News, an email blast we’d send out with Moose news. Once the blog went live, Moose News went away. Recently, a bunch of folks have called the office asking how folks are able to sign up for our workshops before they are announced on the blog. It’s because folks who have already attended our workshop be emailed when we have new offerings. With so many receiving their emails on their smart device, many of asked why not bring back Moose News. Well, we came up with a simple email list using MailChimp. So, fill out the form below and when we have something like a new workshop (have two news ones coming in 2014) you’ll receive an email and be the first to know. No, you won’t receive a ton of emails from us so you will have to watch for those that come. We’re keeping it simple, hope to stay in touch with a whole bunch more of you in the future.
This information will be shared with no one!
We have a couple of openings in some of our 2014 workshops.
Feb 19-23 Arches Nat’l Park
March 19-23 Oregon Coast
August 8-13 Grizzly Bears
Oct 1-5 Grand Canyon
If you have questions or want to register, give Sharon a call 760.924.8632 / 661.204.1506 (9-5PST M-F). We have two spots in all by Arches, only 1 spot left for it.
And if you get a workshop as a gift (that is, if for someone else ), we’ll send you a personally printed Moose Notecard, autographed that you can present to announce the gift.
Yeah … this might be short notice for under the tree this year, but I’m sure you’ve got a birthday coming in 2014 or, planning for next Christmas
I get it, I really do! Like many, when the Df was first announced, even though I’m an old fart, I didn’t see why I’d want a retro digital body. When the Df reached my desk, from the moment I opened the box, I started to get it. Yes, it is a digital camera, yes it have many basic design features that take you back as far as the F2, but’s it’s more than that. I mean, if I told you the Df has the O/C Key, that would mean nothing to you unless you owned a F2 and attached a motordrive. It requires the AR-3 cable release, there is no ten pin socket. I still have my AR-3 cable releases, most will scramble to see what that is. Yeah, it has dials for ISO and Exp Compensation, a dial for Shutter Speeds if in Manual, but the whole package is a great camera designed to make the photographic experience more than just … click. The Df brings to photography something I talk about … romance (it does NOT do video!)! I can honestly say that I can’t just let it sit, I want to have it in my hands and shoot.
OK, so what about quality? If you’re spending good money on a camera body, you need more than just a romantic experience. The Df delivers! It has the same sensor as the D4, an image quality that has made me a lot of money. But as we all know, the sensor depends on the software to deliver to us that quality. Well, I’ve only had the Df a couple of days, but like I said, I can’t put it down. During a break in the snow Saturday, Sharon was looking out the window at our winter wonderland. The light was gorgeous so I picked up the Df which has the 50f1.4AFS attached and made a few clicks. I focused on the closet eye and shot with a narrow DoF. You can see the over all photo above and then below, you can see a severe crop of just the eye. That quality would make any client of mine very happy, so it more than works for me! Both of these photos are right out of the camera because at this time, you can’t process them in ACR.
So what’s new an cool? The one thing I played with over the weekend is using the WU-1A Wireless which as you can see, plugs right into the side of the Df.Along with Nikon’s iPhone app, you can fire the Df remotely, the whole time seeing on your iPhone right through the lens. This is technology that only costs $54, that is simply mind boggling to me who once paid thousands to do the same thing. So this going retro might seem like pie in the sky stuff from the beginning but there is actually more to it than just looks. The camera feels great in your hand, its controls are simple and straight forward. The LCD on the top of the camera is useless but with a push of a button the LCD lights up with all the info you need. It takes a small battery, I loaded mine with a Lexar 128GB SDXC 600x and without even cracking the IB, been shooting up a storm. I feel it’s more than worth the price because a tool calling you to go shooting is a good thing. mtc
Nikon Df Website
Df Instruction Book
Sharon has totally flipped over her Nikon 1 V2 and is selling her prior system. Basically new, barely used for sale are:
Nikon 70-300AFS VR $400
If interested, give Sharon a call at 760.924.8632 / 661 204.1506 (9-5PST M-F)
We’d been planning it for months, paperwork filed with official channels asking for permission, route and mission decided on, all was good to go! The time had come to put the flight in the air. It was a beautiful clear morning 15 March as we meet the team at the gate of the airport. The day before we’d all meet in Rob’s hangar and went over the flight we’d been planning for months. The maps were pulled out and spread on the table, historic photographs of the day laid about, the route was selected and timed with my shot list making sure we can accomplish all that we had planned. Our flight path wasn’t one we came up with but one that followed the morning of December 7th, 1941.
The sun hadn’t graced the skies yet but there was a glow over Diamond Head outlining its very distinctive shape on the horizon. Air to air photography takes longer to get in motion then wildlife or landscape since you just can’t just jump into an aircraft and go. The first thing we had to do was get the screw out of the window I was going to shoot out of. The Cessna 172 is a very common photo platform for air to air work (though not my favorite). The windows though normally only open a short ways, too small an aperture to get the lens out to shoot. Because of the air speed you fly, you can safely and easily with the screw removed, let the window open fully (the airflow actually holds the window up for you) making shooting possible.
After that, there was the preflighting of the 172. I’m always comforted when I see the pilot have the POH in hand and running down the list as we get ready to go. Stab the wing tanks, plug in headsets, seat belts fastened and with a yell out the window ,“Clear!,” the prop turns and the engine kicks over. Then there is the warm up and initial systems check. Then there is talking to the tower so you can taxi. Then there is taxing over to the run up area and doing the last engine run up for oil pressure. An hour has past before at 07:15 its wheels up and in the air heading for our rendezvous.
Our subject plane, a gorgeous SNJ in the paint scheme for the USS Saratoga, is hangared at historic Barbers Point. As part of our briefing the day before we had arranged where we would meet once in the air. While you can plan everything well in advance and go through the preflight with flying colors there seems to be one thing that tends to come up way too often for me. And that’s radio problems most often from loose or dirty connections. And as you might guess, while working perfectly the day before, the first depress of the button and scratchy, static voice rang through the headset. We flew north towards our hook up point southeast of Wheeler Field. It was an amazing feeling flying the path of that historic morning!
Right on que, we find Bruce and his SNJ visually but radio communications are anything but clear. As long as we fly the brief, there should be no problems. We are a little early for our scheduled time over Wheeler Field. Wheeler Field is still active so clearance was obtained to do a couple of fly overs to photograph the SNJ with the Field in the background. We flew a little north and came down the shoot the same as the Japanese did that morning in 1941. In the background were the same rice fields and agriculture that was present on that day.
The radio came to life, a flight of Black Hawks were on their way into Wheeler. They were calling the tower. We heard no response and then the radio cracked to life clearing them. Rob waited a second and called the tower. The sweetest came across the radio answering back. “Ah good, I know her,” Rob said to us and he answered back. The two of them talked pleasantries and then got down to clearing our filed flight plan. With everything cleared, we had the next ten minutes to buzz the field and get the shots. That’s when the challenge begun.
Radio communications with the SNJ were challenging, the connection was sketchy at best. While we flew the brief, being able to talk on the radio to fine tune the photograph is essential. We flew the strafing runs the Japanese flew that fateful morning down Wheeler Field. Bruce is a Pearl Harbor historian and had told us much of the facts leading up to that morning. The P-40s had been lined up in a perfect row to prevent saboteurs from attacking the aircraft (an attack by sea wasn’t believed possible by some of the brass). Needless to say this made it real easy for the Japanese to cause a great amount of destruction with little effort.
One thing that is very hard to do in a briefing is explain angles. The angle of the photographer, the subject and the background so they all line up in the viewfinder is hard to prevision. That’s why the radio was so important. Despite the brief, getting the SNJ in the perfect position just wasn’t happening. After a couple of passes the radio crackled, “Photo flight, air space is now closed. Thanks from coming!” And with that, we headed south.
Bruce took us south on the same path the Japanese took to Pearl. The landscape below us now is nothing like what it was on that day. Oahu urban sprawl has grown up to Wheeler Field. We fly south checking the time. Bruce had managed to get flight clearance over Ford Island and the Pearl Harbor Memorial. A photo mission over these historic areas hadn’t been granted for quite some time because of some military installations in the area that the military didn’t want photographed. At the appointed time, Bruce starts calling the tower to get our clearance to start our run. “Sorry, we don’t have that paperwork, clearance denied.” The PAO hadn’t got the paperwork to the tower! Unlike Wheeler Field, we couldn’t just circle while we tried to clear up the problem. So off we went.
For the next ten to fifteen minutes Bruce tried to run down the PAO. Finally the PAO made the call to the tower and we were cleared for just two passes. That’s not what was originally arranged but the clock had been eaten up trying to reach the PAO. With months in the planning, it all came down to these two passes. The radio issues hadn’t cleared up and the same problems we had at Wheeler Field rose again. The goal was to get photos of the Memorial, Ford Island and other historic locations in the background of the SNJ. Lining up those items with just two passes and poor radio communications just wasn’t happening. After two passes without a word from the tower, we flew out of that pattern.
After leaving Ford Island, the flight split with us heading back to Honolulu and the SNJ back to Barbers Point. After landing and buttoning up the 172, we hoped into the van and drove over to Barbers Point where Bruce was waiting for us. We spent the rest of the day with Bruce having the most amazing, historic ground tour of December 7, 1941. With Bruce’s military clearance, we were able to tour Wheeler Field and see the OC where the card game was going during the attack in which Taylor & Welch left, got into their P-40s (parked at remote strip) and got in the air to bring down some attackers. We saw the secret, underground plane assembly plant and runway. It’s a tour that if you’re into history is absolutely amazing!
We even went back to Pearl, visiting both sides of the channel. Late in the afternoon found us at the hangars on Ford Island. There and at the sea plane port just down the ramp, we could see the remnants of the bombs and bullets of that morning. We were at that infamous place where all the B&W photos of the PBYs and Ducks burning was taken, the pot marks still in the cement. We then went up to where the Arizona and other battleships were moored, next to the officers’ quarters and got out and stood where the explosion did so much destruction. Very powerful!
At the end of the day, we ended up back at Barbers Point. Barbers Point construction was well underway on Dec 7th but not active. While a bomb did fall nearby, many think it was not intentional. In the last waning light of the day, we wheeled out the SNJ on the deactivated base for our last couple of portraits for the day. Our flight occurred from 07:15-08:11, not too much different than that morning. Despite not going 100% as planned, it was an incredible flight and amazing day. It helped to fill in lots of questions about that day, how it came to be and our response. And while the photographs are not as I envisioned, they will always be very special since the military since closed the circuit we flew to photo missions. Experiencing our aviation history from the air, it is an experience that leaves an lifelong mark!
The Nikon 1 AW1 is just really cool! Being a former owner of Nikonos, it’s great to see an instruction book again that states, “Don’t change lenses underwater!” Duh! The Nikon 1 AW1 is the world’s first waterproof interchangeable lens digital camera. The AW-1 (not just a waterproof J2 on the inside) is a wonderful camera. Two brand new water/shock/freeze proof lenses have been introduced with the Nikon 1 AW1, the 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens and 10mm f/2.8. It features built in Wi-Fi and GPS (not functional underwater). The AW1 is fully compatible with existing Nikon 1 system optics, although these are not waterproof and shockproof (it can be dropped from 6′). It can go down to 49′ and is rated to work down to 14degrees (though it was -10 when I shot with it yesterday morning no problem). After taking the product shot you see above, I shot with the camera. The snow that stuck to the body melted and than froze onto the body and it just kept on clicking. The lens has this great metal gnarled surface that sticks to any surface no matter how wet it might be. Amazing!
The AW-1 though offers some new handling that I think is really cool. Nikon describes it like this: Shooting in less than ideal environments requires usability that extends to every facet of camera operation. Nikon 1 AW1 delivers on all fronts with new Action control — a revolutionary new interface that makes adjusting as easy as tilting the camera. Even when wearing gloves or otherwise bundled up against the elements, you can quickly change shooting modes and play back settings. You’ll also appreciate the wealth of sensing functions, including depth, GPS/GLONASS, altitude and more.
With the love affair we have with Sharon’s V2, we don’t hesitate working with Nikon mirrorless. The AW-1 is really sweet! All metal construction, small, light, waterproof and pretty amazing image quality. This can easily be the outdoor photographers best friend!
A really good question that comes in a lot, especially this time of year is “What gloves do you use? Back in the day, I would haunt every outdoor store I ventured by and gleaned the glove display trying to find the glove that kept my hands warm and permited me to shoot. Then our sons got into xcross skiing and I found the Swix gloves and fell in love. From past experience, I bought 3 pairs which until this last fall lasted me for 9yrs. Went to try and find them and found they were discontinued. The closet thing I found was B, Swix Cross Gloves. This was after I found the A, Pearl Izumi Elite Gel Bike Gloves. Now I like these gloves but in the beginning, they were stiff as a board. They have a special material on the top to cut the wind and that works but after four months of shooting, they are just starting to break in. These are the gloves I always have in my jacket and take care of the majority of my shooting. When going to extremes like when the air temp hovers around zero of lower, I turn to ice climber gloves. These seem to change every other day, they are updated and outdated almost monthly. The pair I got last year are now gone, the closest are the C, Sierra Designs Enforcer Gloves. They do look bulky but I found them to work really well. They keep the digits warm, permit basic operation and ability to push some buttons. You can push all the buttons on the D3 for example except the button inside the Selector. You cannot run a video camera with them. If you click on all the links, you’ll see they take you to REI. I have found them to have a great selection that varies a little from town to town. These are what I’ve found work for me, perhaps one will be right for you.
My favorite though are ones my family gave me years ago for ultimate in cold weather protection. These gloves mittens I love to shoot with! Actually, they are custom made trapper mittens that are strictly for cold weather use.
How cold? Well, at 12degrees my hands were almost uncomfortably warm, not perspiring but almost too much warmth. Working in places like Yellowstone or the Arctic in the winter, these mittens are so perfect. Yeah, I can squeeze off the shutter, no, can’t work any other feature on the body. No, can’t buy these at REI. They are a two layer mitten, a heavy wool removable liner and outer Beaver fur. I just can’t wait to get out in the cold and put them to use! Thanks family!
And here’s how it was done …. thanks Mark!
Yeap, that’s the outside temp right this moment at the office and I love it. And you guessed it, I’ve been tossing out the window boiling cups of water. Love that sound! But back to photography. This is a great time to be working with critters, especially big game and birds at a bird bath. Steam is a great source for interesting photographs. Steam can come from breath, hot springs or simply from a heated bird bath. You can photograph the breath like you see from the moose, or the collection of the steam on the critter like the Bison. When you see that breath or you see those frozen crystals on the fur, the viewer of the photo though in the warmth of their home, know it’s cold out and that’s the goal. But here’s the trick to this whole thing.
Steam, be it a vapor or frozen (when than it’s ice), the only way you can see it is when it’s against something dark. And that’s the trick to some, basic staple to me. Backgrounds! Backgrounds are everything but even more so in this situation. For example, there are no photos from my bird baths here to illustrate my points. That’s because not until this summer, could the backgrounds around my bird bath be manipulated to be dark. They’ve always been white snow so I’m racing to get this posted and back behind the camera to see if my plans work. But you can look at the left side of the Bison photo to see what I’m talking about. The frozen hot spring steam almost disappears with the white snow background.
Some are thinking, “That’s too cold for me!” Here’s the trick for that. First, shoot from the inside of your home. Next, shoot from the inside of your vehicle (what I did with the Bison). Lastly, limit your time outside (what I did with the Moose). Figure out what you need for DoF, Exposure and everything else and set that in the warmth of the home / vehicle and then when you head outside, you can wear thick gloves so all you need to do is be able to depress the shutter. Keep in mind that you’re not going camping in the -10 (but that is fun too), you do have that warm interior to get back to so make the shot while you can. Well, gotta get back to my bird baths. Stay warm out there!
Oh yeah … remember that breath you’re trying to capture and how it turns to ice at these temps? DON’T breath on your camera’s eyepiece, you’ll have the same problem to the point you can’t see. I use the Nikon DK-17A Anti-Fog Eyepiece to help with this problem.
We woke up to a dusting of snow which by sunset, turned into about five inches. It’s now ten degrees and tonight it’s supposed to get down to -4, so things are looking good. And by the afternoon, the birds started to show back up in the feeders and bird baths. So we’re making progress. With all the big winds, the feeder protected from the wind was the most popular and sad to say, not even photographable. On the bright side, with all the activity at that feeder, our neighborly Red-shafted Flicker which normally feeds there decided to go to the other side to feed. Lucky for me!
I had the gallery all set up to go, D4, 800f5.6, SB-910 powered by SD-9 shooting through the Wescott Rapid Box Octa triggered by Pocket Wizard but there was this one little shaft of light, this one little glint in the eye that, well, I didn’t want to ruin with flash. I have the Function Button on the D4 programed to disengage the flash for just such occasions. And just when I got the lens trained on the Flicker, a Sharpie flew through the property which made the Flicker freeze (didn’t want to become a meal itself). This was important because even though the snow was bouncing what light that was available, my shutter speed was still only 1/6, f/5.6. I took some shots and then wondered if I could go tight on just the eye. I attached the TC.25e giving me 1000f/7.1 (1/5sec) and got one click off when the Sharpie left the yard. Seconds later the Flicker went back to feeding before I could move closer physically for the shot. So while I didn’t get “the” shot, at least we made progress in the right direction. Sharon’s grateful for the snow too, maybe now I’ll stop bouncing off the walls to shoot.
This is simply an interesting tool I thought I should make you aware of. Camera Shake technology is moving right along and Piccure is a pluggin that might just help an image that is not tack sharp. Nothing can replace taking an image sharp right from the get go, nor does Piccure fix every image, but it does work with some. They are in fact pretty up front about what it does and doesn’t work on and that impressed me. I ran it on a couple of images, one you see right here. In this example, it worked pretty well. You can see how the nose of the Shrike, my lovely bride and good friend Casey are definitely sharpened. Below you can see the results and when you look at the magnification, it’s impressive.
Now like I said, it doesn’t work on everything and I had such a result. I contacted the folks at Piccure and they returned my email with answers ASAP and were very up front and helpful. Hat’s off to them for that. One issue with the technology, which I have no doubt will solve itself in time which is why I’m telling you about this, is it works best with the sRGB color space. My issue was the complexity of the ProPhoto RGB image I was trying it on. You can DOWNLOAD is for a full, FREE 14day trial for Photoshop and/or Lightroom. You got an image that is soft that really means a lot to you that you want sharp? You might just give this a try.
The entire gang from our Yosemite Adventure wanted the shot of the tree over the rock. I said Olmstead Point was the place to go. Once there, they said, “Where’s the tree?” so i turned and pointed up, up the mountain. And before you could say Half Dome (which we shot at sunrise), up the hill we went. Two folks unknown to me until we got down, had sever fear of heights. But when it comes to getting the photo, even that didn’t stop them from climbing to the top as well. I went up with minimal gear, D4, 18-35AFS & 16Fish knowing two things, I wanted the big vista and was shooting B&W (also, I was going up so less was more!). In the background is Clouds Rest & Half Dome, so this is the lang of big vistas and B&W! The dome behind Olmstead Point itself is a picture rich area so we shot all the way up and all the way down. With the sun just coming over the horizon, it offered us many great opportunities, this is just one of them.
This dome is polished smooth from the same glacier creating Yosemite Valley. The pines that find a crack to germinate and grow all have great character. This is one of the larger ones so the combination of it and granite, well make for a photo. So with the 18-35AFS attached shooting at 18mm, I bent down and took the shot. It’s truly one of those, “I was here shots” at best. Boring! I knew that there was a photo here, had to get it out. What was it lacking? First was the sun, it wasn’t helping. Close the lens down to f/22 and then move so it was just peaking through the tree, we’d get the starburst. OK, with that I can change position and use the shadow as a line for the eye to move through the frame. To do that, I need to go wider so the 16Fish replaced the 18-35. OK, making some improvement but we can do better. OK, gotta nice boulder, small but it works. Lay on the granite face, get close to the boulder in the left corner (knowing I was going to light it in post) and move so the sun was peaking through the tree and wham, a photo was born. There are those times when you know there is a photo but the first click just doesn’t work. Those are the times when you gotta dig down and ask yourself what’s not working and do the dance. Because your heart knows a photo exists, you’re in there somewhere.
Like my good friend likes to say when we’re out shooting but there is nothing to shoot, “We’re sucking dirty pond water!” And that’s how it is right this moment at the office with NO snow! I have the new shooting gallery all set up and ready to go, D4, 800f5.6, SB-910 powered by SD-9 shooting through the Wescott Rapid Box Octa triggered by Pocket Wizard but not ONE bird to point it all at!
With no snow, there is plenty of free water, the main attraction for birds in the winter (free water is water that is not frozen). At the same time with no snow cover on the ground, there is plenty of food that’s easy picking. Lastly, the weather hasn’t brought the birds down in big numbers so the bottom line for Moose’s photographing birds from his desk is, sucking dirty pond water.
You might be wondering why there’s flash in this formula. One of my favorite shots is of this dirt common Cassin’s Finch (making the uncommon out of the common). This male’s red cape comes to life in this bluish light of snow by the kiss of flash. The Octa is to make the light source much bigger than the subject so YOU don’t see the light. It’s big and soft which matches the falling snow. Oh snow, please, snow!