One of the GREATEST joys photography has brought comes from the family affair. Many know about our son Jake and all the great stuff he’s doing in the industry like the articles in Dispatch and Plane & Pilot just this month. And I personally enjoy his product reviews like today’s, he does a great job covering all the angles. But I get a kick out of how he has mom with “her” Nikon V2 (don’t even try to get that away from her) shooting the “action” shots (she and that camera do a great job!). It truly is one of the hidden blessings of photography since all four of us (plus one very significant other, Katt) come together to tell the story through photography. Give it a try, get your kids involved, you will find that not only does your photography improve, so does your life!
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By our best accounting, this will be my 100th trip to photograph Yosemite Valley. I’ve been there more times than that, I’m speaking of just going to make images. You can look at the first photos of Yosemite from the 1800s and than ours and Half Dome looks like the same rock. El Cap is still the biggest big ass piece of granite. So if you’re heading to a locale to the 100th time or just the second time, how do you keep your images fresh? Even more important, how do you grow your photography and come back with better images?
There are times when, you don’t even have to think about this question. All it takes is a blessings from the photo God and you have the amazing weather, the amazing light and you’re in the right place at the right time. With no other effort or mental strain, you’ve got the shot. And of course, we plan our trips, at least I do, putting the odds in our favor for this to occur. But as we all know, no matter how well we plan, there are times when you end up with bald skies and naked trees, no water and too many public. That’s when we dig down to stay fresh.
Your first option, chase the light. Often this means leaving the obvious in search of the unobvious. I head for the shadows, at Yosemite in the fall / winter, that means going to the south side of the valley or in the forests. Why? Here, stray beams of light or light bounced off those massive granite cliffs on the other side bring to life a photo otherwise not doable. Ya, you miss the grand sweep photos that scream Yosemite like this shot of El Cap as a storm breaks above, but at least you are still making great images.
At the same time, I switch up lenses. If your’e shooting wide, go long. If shooting long, go normal, force the view in the viewfinder to change to change your view. This tends to bring on more experimentation which leads to failure and failure, leads to success. For example, the clouds are thin and scattered, rather unattractive but are screaming by. Perhaps put on that Big Stopper and point the lens up to blur the clouds going by the granite walls.
This next week, we’ll be shooting in Yosemite for what we think is my 100th time in The Valley and I can’t wait! And that is probably the best answer to keeping it fresh. Having a passion for photography, for the location, knowing that it only takes that one click you can share that says you LOVE where you were and what you did is all it takes. Never settle, always push and give yourself a break with the knowledge that some times the bear gets you and some times you get the bear is what photography is all about. See with your heart, tell your story with your photograph and it will always be fresh!
The new 58f1.4 AFS hit the desk yesterday and to say it’s impressive from the get go is an understatement! It’s a big sucker, feels great in the hands and looks sexy as hell on a body. It has a 72mm filter size with the whole lens being that diameter. It comes with a deep, scalloped shade just making the 58mm looks sexier. But what’s important is the image quality. I bounced around the house looking for subjects and I naturally turned the lens on my gorgeous wife, but she said she was having a bad hair day. So I can’t post those (I run into that a lot with my family). So then I turned the lens to the flowers, focusing on the
pistol stamen (I don’t do flowers) to show just how shallow the DoF is and the lens, sharp. Oh ya, it’s sharp! I’ve had the 50f1.4 AFS since it was introduced, use it a lot. It’s also a very sharp lens but is physically smaller (and costs less) than the 58mm. The knock I’ve had about the 50mm though is its focusing speed. The 58mm is a tad faster than the 50mm, but focusing speed is still not lightning fast. I have a lot of shooting to do this weekend which I’m lookin forward to. This is a schweeeeet lens!
The D610 is just a fun camera to use! And while fun is an important reason why we own our gear, there has to be that technical reason as well. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan on the D600 and the D610 is supposed to be the D600 with its issues resolved. Well, I’m of the opinion it’s a bit more than that. I have no insider info, just my experience shooting with the D610 this past week compared to my shooting with the D600 prior. It’s just a better experience with files just a tad sweeter. No, don’t have resolution charts or side by side comparisons, just the experience of looking at images giving me the belief the D610 does a tad better job of taking and producing images. Here’s a couple of examples that have me thinking this. This first one as it appears, is a sunset shot looking to the west with the sun below the horizon and the lights on in the hangar. I’m shooting with the 50f1.4AFS (being repl as of today with the 58f1.4AFS) and not having a tripod and being tired, raised the ISO to 800 and went click. Simple, clean results, just a tad nicer than the D600 (field smoke always makes for great colors!).
Went to the Houston Space Center and dragged the D610 around though I was shooting with the Coolpix A most of the time. Finally, at the end of the tour I pulled the D610 out and shot with it. I was looking for just a detail shot to zoom on in post to see what the D610 would deliver. Again, I was shooting at ISO 800 with the 18-35AFS handheld. You can see for yourself the 200% crop and what the D610 delivers. That’s simply a clean file with lots of detail.
I need the D610 for those times when I need to blend. The D4 is just not a “blend in” body but the D610 sure is! I have so much faith in it, I instantly put it to work on a project. At the end of the evening of the 40′s hangar party, after I’d taken the portraits, I was still looking for a way to get higher to shoot down on the festivities. That’s when I thought of “Betty’s Dream.” A couple of seconds later we were inside and through the hatch shooting. I took up the D610 / 18-35AFS and made the clicks real fast (I love the slightly faster FPS of the D610). I realize many would love to see the side by sides, charts and the rest but that’s just now how I go through a piece of gear. I take it in the field and use it where it will either fail or pass and in my book, the D610 more than passes. It delivers what I need to deliver to my clients and I feel it does it better than the D600.
And in case you can’t picture popping through the hatch of a B-25, here’s Jake going up for the shot after I got down. The trick is, DON’T pull on anything red inside the cockpit!
Sharon & I are taking a small group of photographers to Monument Valley 10-14 March, 2014 to photographically explore a magical world. You will arrive in Flagstaff, AZ which is the airport we will be picking folks up from and taking them back to. Transportation to & from the airport as well as for the week is provided. We are staying at The View and have the best rooms reserved giving those who want to, the opportunity to do time lapse / stars trails (and we’re there to teach you how) as well as sunrises and sunsets. We have no set agenda, that’s one of the trademarks of our workshops, we chase the light but that will over the course of the workshop take us to Monument Valley at the very least. If you’ve seen any of my Kelby Training videos, Romancing the Landscape, then you know that I not only have an intimate knowledge of Monument Valley, but many who call it home are dear friends. That get’s us some amazing photo opps.
The price for instruction & transportation (once in Flagstaff) is $2095. Half is due on registration and the other half is due 30 days out. Information for reserving your room will be provided once you reserve your spot in the workshop. Lodging & food not include in the price.
What do you need for the workshop? Utmost is an adventurous spirit! We’ll be up early and out late shooting and in between, we’ll be learning, laughing and working on images. This will be the most laid back, jammed packed workshop you’ve ever been on! Computers & camera gear are highly recommended and a packet will be sent to you with specific information some time prior to the adventure. Limited to 6, now full, call 760.924.8632 / 661.204.1506 if you’re up for the adventure in the land of the setting sun!
It had been a GREAT day! By 8:30 we’d already put in seventeen hours and thousands of clicks, but that was the point of volunteering. There was a huge 40′s party in the Texas Flying Legends Museum hangar for the WWII vets and their family including a great 40′s band, dancers, Patton look alike, surrounded by the P-51D “Cripes A Mighty” and B-25 “Betty’s Dream.”. “Betty’s Dream” was partially pulled into the hangar and even a gorgeous LaSalle drove up delivering some of the reinactors who were guests, parking under its wing. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and than started to work all the activities. It was a target rich photographic opportunity. But being a control freak, I wanted more than just the grab shot under hangar lighting. Then it dawned on me … the Rapid Boxes!
The folks (all friends) were great and open to anything. So I asked the couple in the top image (who came in the LaSalle), Miles & Kim if they’d be up for their portraits being made with the car. I described to them briefly what I wanted to do and when they saw me point out of the hangar into the darkness, I got the strangest look. I just said, “trust me.” Jake ran to the truck, got the Rapid Box lighting kit duffle I had with us and we set up the lights. In literally just minutes, we had the Westcott Rapid Box Octa/ SB-910 / PocketWizard FlexTT5 and Westcott Strip Box / SB-910 / PocketWizard FlexTT5 on Manfrotto 5001B Nano Stands set up (both flashes connected to SD-9s all powered with Eneloop AA batteries). The speed in which we had it all set up even impressed the guests. It sure impressed me!
With the D610 / 18-35AFS in hand (I really like the D610!), I got Jake to stand in for the models, hit the test button on the PocketWizard, took my first shot, looked at the LCD and went to work. I was at f/8, 1/25, underexposing ambient light making the flashes, set at zero (using cs e4 makes this part easy), the main light. The Octa was the main light on the folks and pointed up a tad to slightly light the underneath of the wing of “Betty’s Dream.” The strip light as you can see was to the side and feathered to do a little fill on the folks and than light up the side of the LaSalle (reflections of the lights on the car were minimized by flash placement). No, this wasn’t enough light to really do “Hollywood” lighting, but that’s wasn’t the goal.
The “folks” are all dear friends, president and pilots of the Texas Flying Legends Museum. One is a seating congressman even. The very quick and impromptu “portrait studio” (which was up, used and down in less than ten minutes) was merely an extension of the night’s fun. Like I said, we’d all had already put in a full day. I had minutes with each couple before they went back to the guests. It’s a simple, clean shot capturing the memories of the evening. And if I didn’t have the Rapid Boxes with me, I would have never thought of or attempted such a shoot. A single off camera flash would have looked like crap. The Rapid Boxes produced gorgeous light very quickly making me a hero. Can’t ask more from your gear!
When it comes to working with the folks, this is how I did it. First, my beautiful bride would go get the couple so they were already happy by the time I got them. I told them I wanted them to pose for the period which meant body language you see with the gentleman holding the ladies elbow. I would take one click and than show them the LCD because there were standing in total darkness. I assumed the were wondering just what the heck the photo would look like. Once they saw the LCD, it was all a piece of cake. Ten minutes after we started set up, we were torn down and back at the party with the others. Personally, this kind of flash photography I can get into. It was quick, easy and great light. I simply can’t say enough about the Rapid Boxes. They earned their name and keep this evening!
Oh, and this last portrait, this is very special to us. We had the great fortune to spend three days with three Tuskegee Airman, and one in particular really took a shine to my wife. Alexander Jefferson pictured here was simply a hoot to get to know. I’d already spent the day with him, talking up a storm and telling me a ton of stories. When he got in front of my camera he said, “Moose, get my good side!” And when I asked the trio to squeeze in tighter, Alexander said, “sounds good to me!” He was great and it was an honor to get to know all three and able to call them friends. Amazing what photography has brought to our lives!
To me, the Df is one sexy body! And as someone who has a Nikon collection starting with the rangefinder, I love the whole concept of the camera. With that being said, I can understand many’s questions filling up my email box, Df – why?
I have to admit, I like the whole concept about having a “retro” looking and “modern” functioning DSLR. There is most definitely a romance to it that hooked me instantly. Knowing it has the same guts as my beloved D4 doesn’t hurt one bit either. But answering the question “why” when it comes to the business side of photography, or the practical side of problem solving, I don’t have an answer for folks. I’m already receiving a ton of email asking for comparisons between the Df, D4, D610 and I have none (and this blog post is why you’re not getting an email response). The tag line in the Df marketing though I think does answer in large part the “why” question for me personally. Putting the passion back into your photography. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that’s something I talk about, a lot. And for that reason, it makes 100% sense to me. Being a romantic, having a piece of gear in hand that puts you in “the” mood can only help your photography!
K&M Adventures is taking on the the elements with a winter Oregon Coast Adv, 19-23 March, 2014! This magnificent region is one Kevin & I have journeyed to and photographed many, many times. The coast in the winter is a spectacular photographic playground as Mother Nature chisels away at the rock! As you might notice, I think it’s a great place for B&W and is the same region featured in my Kelby Training Black and White Landscape Class. You’ll wanna fly into Portland on the afternoon of the 19th (by noon) and fly out on the 24th (after 2pm). We’ll pick you up from the airport and escort your around until we take you back to the airport. That, along with instruction are all included for the price of $2195 (limited to 7). We spend from breakfast until last up together shooting, eating, shooting, digital darkroom, laughing and other things you just can’t imagine! Which means you might find yourself in front of a subject you never imagined. (Unlike our other Adventures, there will be a lodging change half way through the trip. Lodging not included in the price). And after those long days, you want to kick your shoes off and relax. Give the office a call 760.924.8632 and we’ll get you all signed up!
We’ve had a number of calls asking about our K&M Adventures for 2014. Well, we’ve had a bunch of past participants that had so much fun together (and you know who your are buds!) that they had K&M create custom Adventures just for them. With only so many days available in a year to offer them, that’s why you don’t see the many listed. So, here’s your opportunity to join us.
I’m the kind of portrait photographer who has to see the portrait unfold. Since day one working with biologists, I shot journalistic style, taking the portrait as the project unfolded. Setting up the portrait is just not my strong suit and knowing that, I’m working on uping my game. As I work with all these hereos, WWII vets, I feel the pressure to tell their story in their portrait. This means pushing myself and it’s hard. Where my bud McNally can meet a stranger on the street and five minutes later have them posing naked, it takes me a hour just to screw up the courage to say hi. So I start by learning a little bit about the vets prior to saying hi. In Houston, I had the added stress of knowing I’d be having a conversation with these vets on camera for our documentary. Can you say … panic!
I started where I knew I was safe, behind the camera. A few of the vets took the stage to tell the four hundred folks gathered in the Texas Fling Legends Museum (host for the reunions) hangar a little of their story. There is a giant American flag on the back wall and to incorporate it in the portraits, I had to stand way off to the side. From that angle, I had all sorts of “stuff” in the frame that made a clean shot a challenge. The top two images, I went vertical because of the “stuff” (mostly folks with pocket cameras) but I didn’t like the results. When I put the pressure on myself to do better, I push myself because of the importance to telling that visual story. I had to do better!
When Jim took the mic, I knew I had to make the shot. I kept inching myself up towards the stage. I didn’t want to get in the way of those there to listen, it was a reunion and the room was filled with family of these vets. It was their day, not mine. Shooting with the D4 / 80-400VR3, I was slowly able to move forward ten feet and that was all I needed to make the horizontal shot I wanted. In my own mind, after listening to some of their story (they have so much to share with us!) and watching them through my lens, I started to feel more comfortable with them. With that, I was able to approach them and start a dialog which led to the portraits. I already knew Joe, but the other gentleman I had not made their acquaintance yet. By the end of the weekend though, we’d all become fast friends and had a great time with them on camera for our documentary. And yes, I made more portraits of them as you’ll see. The moral of all of this, you simply gotta push yourself beyond your comfort range if you want to up your photography. Success comes from failure to some degree. Just don’t settle!
We’d been on for 6 days, up at 0430 and not hitting the sheets until 0000 so we took a morning off. We decided to see some of our history, play tourist and tour the Houston Control Center. Having grown up in the era of moon walks, having an uncle very much part of the program, it was a must see. And it didn’t disappoint! I wanted to take photos but I wasn’t wanting to carry the D4 / 18-35AFS un the Vulture strap, I wanted to play tourist but wanted Raw files knowing the tour would be quick, lighting varied. I had the perfect answer with me, the Coolpix A.
The Coolpix A simply slipped into my back so carrying it worked great. It has a fixed, 28f2.8, amazingly sharp lens which worked perfect for the tour. Now you might be asking what one does when 28mm is too narrow. It’s a old photography technique, physically move closer. The framing than was done by simply moving closer or further away from the subject. The first two images were actually taken through the plexi separating folks from the rooms. Even with that, I was amazed by the results. One cool thing on a side note that most think about but I didn’t until I was shooting. There is not noise, you don’t hear the shutter! Keep in mind I’m the guy who likes to rip the shutter of the D4 because I like the sound. But in this environment where folks are listening to the guide, that shooting style just isn’t appropriate. The Coolpix A just rocked!
Now I got the Coolpix A to be the Moose Cam. It had plenty of action in those regards the prior week. I’ve not even edited all the video it shot but I learned one thing I want to pass along. It had a great Auto ISO mode which works great shooting stills or video. But if you want to control the Shutter Speed when shooting video, you need to go to Manual Mode where you can manually set the ISO. Videoing aircraft, I want the prop to blur so you want a shutter speed of 1/60 or less. Otherwise, you’ll see that “prop slap” as I call it. I’ve had A LOT of Coolpix cameras in over the years and I can honestly say that the Coolpix A is the finest one I’ve ever shot with!
Had a few inquiry what’s up with the blogs the past week. We were in Houston in part to participate in the Wings Over Houston and in part, shoot the Kelby Training documentary on air to air photography. That’s hardly describes all we did but during all of that, I ended up filing just shy of 18k images. I barely had time at night to upload and backup, never got to edit or file. It was crazy good but something had to give and the blog was it. This photo is from one of the many air to air missions I did during the week. There is a lot more to come next week but for now, gotta get back to processing.
Flypast magazine has brought out a special US edition and I’m quite honored to have the cover article. Here’s what the editor Nigel has to say …
“The 124-page November issue of FlyPast – one of the World’s best selling historic aviation magazines – features a superb Moose Peterson B-17 Flying Fortress photo on the front cover! Moose’s brilliantly illustrated feature on the CAF’s AZ Airbase B-17 “Sentimental Journey” also runs to five pages within the magazine. Packed with warbird news and features, this special issue also looks in depth at the North American P-51 Mustang – 24 pages of it!”
The November issue is in Barnes & Noble stores – and other major book stores – across the US now, price at $9.99.
“Show up and you’ll fly.” This basics of aviation photography came true again for me this last week. At the Texas Flying Legends Museum working on the documentary when my good friend Rosie came up and asked, “available to fly?” The answer was obvious, “heck ya!” The photo mission though was to be one of the most unique ones I’ve had. My subject was “Dusty” from the Disney animation Planes. Our family are HUGE Planes fans so this was simply the coolest thing to do! “Dusty’s” pilot is Rusty (not makin that up) and is a really great guy. So Rusty, Dusty, Bernie (Cherokee / photo platform pilot) and I briefed the brief sunset flight and took off. It was such a hoot to watch ALL the kids go crazy when “Dusty’s” prop turns and then takes to the skies. So many smiles and waves.
The was literally the first (and might be only) time “Dusty” has flown with “Skipper” (the TFLM FG-1D Corsair in this case) in real life. We weren’t doing anything other than “purty” pictures for Disney for the sheer fun of being able to fly and make some cool images. Shooting with two D4s (one from Borrowlenses.com, thx guys) and 80-400VR3 and 24-70AFS, we took to the air about thirty minutes prior to sunset. To be totally honest, when the Ag Tractor (Dusty) and Corsair first appeared in my viewfinder, I had to wipe my eyes as we all laughed at the combo. Seeing an Ag Tractor in sexy light HIGH over water just seemed so out of place. But we had a great shoot with “Dusty” putting on a great show for the camera. It was one of those experience I soon won’t forget, I flew with “Dusty” and “Skipper” and have the photos to prove it.
Churchill birds, one of the most amazing places on the planet for bird photography. That’s what this issue is all about. The next issue is out and it’s a beaut! Brent did an amazing job bringing all the content alive in stills, video, live captions and more! It’s packed with all sorts of information from bird photography to travel, techniques to solutions. The pg28 videos has a special edition, Sharpening for Content, a vital technique for printing.