I checked in my room in MN and instantly went to window to see the view. Right out my window is this lone tree. Don’t know what it intrigued me but of the next two hours, I kept looking out, shooting it and watching.
We had another very generous benefactor call our office today making available TWO MORE scholarships for our spring workshop. The first scholarships were awarded today so we have a total of 3 remaining for:
Mono Lake – Mammoth Lakes, CA May 17-19
Short Lens Course – Mammoth Lakes, CA 22-23 June
Photo Bi$ – Mammoth Lakes, CA 13-14 July
These scholarships are for folks who want to attend one of these classes but because of life, don’t have the extra cash to pay tuition. If this describes you and you want to be one of the three to receive this scholarship, this is what you’ve gotta do. Send an email to me and in one paragraph or less, say why you should receive the scholarship. Include in the email which class, your paragraph and a phone number we can reach you at. Sharon & I want to publicly thank our new benefactor for making it possible for folks dreams of photography to come true!
B&H got into my hands the new 80-400AFS just prior to my leaving (again) and I’m so glad they did! I was always a fan of the original 80-400, the sharpness, not its focusing speed. The flexibility this lens with its focal length range demanded that I get the new one and test it. So on my drive around MN today, I gave it a quick, initial test drive and first opinion is, damn, schweet!
The lens is not inexpensive but I think you more than get your money’s worth. The one big issue with the original was its focusing speed and that was the first thing I wanted to test drive. In MN, it wasn’t hard to find something moving by really fast. There isn’t an inch of snow here without sled tracks! Well, shooting with the D4, the 80-400 had NO problem locking on, staying locked on and delivering sharp images frame after frame. Now this is not a conclusive test of its focusing speed, but I know that old 80-400 couldn’t even have done this subject. I have more speed tests coming but my results so far encourage me to push the limits further. (both photos taken at 400mm, f5.6)
When it comes to the lens itself, it’s quite the lens, more than I was expecting! Its ALL metal housing while heavy feels great. The best part is when mounted on the D4, the 80-400 is perfectly bounced. I really like that! The tripod collar is a winner and like the original 80-400 or 300f4, you can rotate it 40 degrees and remove it. The shade, well I’m not really thrilled by it but that’s a little nit. The zoom is smooth but I don’t think from first testing, it’s a true zoom. Its minimum focusing distance is good, not great.
The reason though why I acquired the 80-400AFS was for wildlife & aviation photography. Yes, I have the 200-400VR2 and it’s not leaving my bag. But this lens which is 1/3 the price and who knows what fraction the size, it a great option for lots of photographers! You could have this one lens and cover a WHOLE lot of subjects and that’s why I’m shooting it. As more unfolds, I’ll post but I am very impressed by the 80-400 so far!
Blurry water has always done right by me, it’s a challenge that when met produces images that simply make me smile. At the same time to be perfectly crase, they sell like hot cakes. So when the spirit strikes, I’m all over them and spring time is a great time when you have the winter run off. And when I have the opportunity to shoot straight down on water from like a bridge, I’m like a blood hound looking for that great water, like here in Yosemite a couple of weeks ago. Now I have a basica formula for creating those that I like. It’s pretty simple, here’s my formula. One thing I should add to that formula, there has to be at least one sharp element of the photograph. Typically, it’s just a rock. The eye needs that one sharp element to latch onto and make sense of all the out of focus elements in the flowing water. Here’s an example of when I didn’t follow my own advice. There is not ONE sharp element in the photograph and I really like the photo. Now other than this posting, will I put it out in front of folks, that I’m not sure about yet. But for now, I enjoy looking at it so that’s a step forward.
Bermuda is a magic isle where color is celebrated! The homes and buildings are painted the most colorful, pastel, eye popping combos I’ve ever seen. I asked if there was an “official” Bermuda blue since it is a common color from water, buildings to sky (there isn’t one). So when we went to the northern Sea Glass Beach, it was no surprise that the dock was painted, yeap, blue!
When you walk up to the top of the bluff and first look down on the beach, you can’t but help but notice the blue dock. Then as your eye wonders about the beach, it comesback to the dock and you gotta ask, “What am I missing?” With that in mind, we wandered down the stairs to the beach itself. There are two sea glass beaches on Bermuda and this one has literally tons of sea glass. That’s because there is a big sign saying removing glass and you go to jail. There is a ton of other stuff like rusted out engine blocks, axels, pullies and other stuff I assume come from the old military docks just up the coast. Your wanderings inevitably bring your back to, the dock to nowhere. Just what the hell is with this beautiful blue structure?
I have no clue! The dock which as you can see has a sea wall around it, protecting it from the potential storm. But there is a reef all around it so no boat could dock to it. And you might notice, it starts out in the water and ends long before the sea wall. All I can assume is, it’s another piece of “art” that goes along with the other “stuff” on the beach. I can tell you that I couldn’t stop shooting it! We made two visits to this beach, this was our first, brief visit when a gale literally blew us off the beach minutes after we hit the sand. These are simple clicks made with D4 and 18-35AFS with the color courtesy of Bermuda.
I know, some will say that now I’ve gone over the deep end. And perhaps I have but I do shoot a lot and I mean a lot with my iPhone. When I moved up to the iPhone 5, I went looking for a case and it just so happened at the same time, Really Right Stuff came out with their XC-iP5 case. It’s a very simple, very strong (RRS standards here) case that does a great job as a case, but wait, there’s more! Like everything RRS, there is a clamp just for the case so you can attach the iPhone to a tripod, the B2-Xj2. You have to be asking by now, “Why go to all of this for an iPhone?” And that’s a very valid question! Well, I like to share simply clicks taken with the iPhone on social media but I never just make a simple click. I often use TrueHDR for just about every shot, it’s simply a great photo app! It works by tapping on the highlight and going click, tapping on the shadow and going click and then the app combines the two images. The camera has gotta hold still for both images for it all to work. The other app I’m really having fun with is Cycloramic. This little gem permits you to capture a complete 360 but it does it so simply and accurately, even I can do it! And finally, there is SlowShutter, a great app my bud Kevin turned me onto. This app actually takes control of the shutter speed of the iPhone permitting a slower shutter speed for, you guessed it, blurred water (used for the Yosemite Fall photo). What does this all have to do with the RRS iPhone 5 case?
You gotta have it sharp, even coming from the iPhone. Often, it’s an after thought when I shoot with it. I’m already shooting with the D4 and often, I’m wearing gloves. So using the Manfrotto 492LCD Micro Ball Head I can attach the iPhone to the hotshoe of the D4 and go. The bottonline, I wanted a way to take a sharp image with the iPhone that was not only effecient but looks cool. The RRS iPhone 5 case does that and, oh ya…protects the phone too!
Sharon & I are ~really~ looking for to heading to Vancouver for the Canadian Imaging Convention! What will I be sharing? A ton to be honest with you! I’ll be telling stories, sharing images and explaining the tools I’ve used in the last few months shooting current projects. I’ll have a laugh and tip or two to entertain so please, be sure to come by to say hello and enjoy the great line up speaker!
The Nik Collection by Google: photography first, for professionals and more
Here on the Google+ Photos team, we’re busy building tools for all kinds of photographers. Today, and for all the professionals out there, we’re bundling the complete set of Nik plug-ins as the Nik Collection by Google. We’re especially excited about three things:
1) It’s more affordable. The entire set of plug-ins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture only costs $149 (versus the previous $499).
2) It’s really powerful. The Nik Collection by Google gives you tools for everything from noise reduction and HDR imaging to creative effects and image sharpening (and lots more).
3) It’s free to try. You can visit niksoftware.com for a 15-day free trial of the Collection.
If you’ve already purchased one or more Nik plug-ins in the past, then don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In fact: we’re going to upgrade you to the entire Nik Collection by Google for free. Just keep an eye out for emailed instructions in the next few days.
Once you’ve got a Nik Collection shot that you’re excited about, feel free to share it with the Google+ community. Simply tag your public pictures with #nikcollection , and we’ll reshare some favorites from the +Google+ page. We can’t wait to see what you’ll create!
Bet you were thinking bird nest, weren’t ya? When Nest first came out, a number of my friends jumped on their band wagon and installed them. They said they were neat, cool, invited by the guy who invited the iPod but I didn’t hear much else. Well, I finally heard someone say, “It saved us money” so we finally pulled the trigger and bought one. Why did it take so long? $300 for a thermostat, yikes! I ordered one from Amazon (1st gen, didn’t need 2nd gen that does air conditioning) and when it arrived, it took less than 5min to install. It’s just like anything you might get from Apple, simple, straight forward and works. It saw the home network, it saw when I installed the app on the iPhone and it saves us money! The first month, the bill dropped $274 and the second month, another $62 drop. The key is that it “learns” you habits to minimize energy use. It also has a “Away” feature so when you’re not home, the home is not being heated to the same extreme. In this day and age when saving energy (that environment thing) and saving money (saving for 800f5.6 thing) is a good idea. I can honestly say, Nest works!
There are many reasons and uses for B&W photography just as there are for color. In understanding some of these, you can expand your use of this very romantic medium. One that I’ve not talked about (at least I couldn’t find it on the blog) that I use a lot is detailed texture. No, this is not some official photographic term, just the simple term I keep in the back of my mind when it comes to B&W photography. While in Yosemite a week ago, I was fortunate to have a number of opportunities to practice this concept. It starts with “flat light,” light where there is no real shadows. Why is that important? Because you can then use the contrast of B&W to bring out detailed textured rather then fighting shadows. Next, spring hadn’t spring so there were lots of bare trees and bare branches work great for this. After that, just had to let the magic of The Valley in and go click!
What I have here are two different foreground but the same basic everything else, trees. Now the one thing you might think is a requirement in capturing detailed texture is a D800E. Well lots of megapixels aren’t required! This was shot with the D4 with 18-35AFS. What is required is lots of DOF (shot at f/22 / f/29) and since shooting in a forest, a tripod. Then a personal thing, I underexposed a little more than normal so I have tons of highlights to pull out in post. Then it was simple a little ACR processing and then my favorite, onOne perfect 7 B&W shooting the Detail slider up to around 35. The one drawback to B&W detailed texture is that this image size you see here really doesn’t show off the detail. I’ve already made a 24×30 of the top image and at that size, there is oodles of texture and just sucks you in. Just thought I would pass along the thought.
As per my normal MO, I looked at the weather radar and weather forecast before heading out. Now when I saw small craft advisory and Gale Warning, I thought I’d best have my shell handy and white towel from my room along. As we drove the island, we couldn’t help but notice that the calm waters of the day before replaced with white caps. We stopped at The Reef to see the outdoor lounge chairs and tables being blown about the deck and folks scrambling to secure them. When I looked up, I couldn’t believe the speed in which I saw the lower level clouds rip past us! We didn’t stop, we just kept on going. We get to Glass Beach and I looked out to see this wall of black. I said to the gang, “Best get moving, we have minutes!” Two minutes later the rains from the gale combined with its winds hit us and I mean, hit us! Within seconds I was soaked except under my shell where I had tucked the D4 / 18-35AFS when I felt the first drop on my head. I’ve been in a lot of rains in my day, but never one like this with the wind speed rain felt like rocks. And just as fast as it hit, it was gone! In fact, it was gone so fast I found myself wanting it back to experience again. It was cool!
Had the great opportunity today to get out and play “tourist.” We woke to an Bermuda downpour of biblical proportions which, by the time we were finished breakie became a delightful day. Now Bermuda is this small island, 22miles by 1 mile but within that is packed nothing but really cool, gorgeous, quaint and spectacular land! We didn’t know it at the time, but the driver the Rosewood sent to pick us up at the airport would not only become our guide for the day, but now a good friend. Myron is this marvelous historian (and you know how I love history trivia) born and raised on Bermuda. And everyone on the island seems to know him so we are receiving the VIP treatment! Well, we started talking about the Shell Slate roofs that dominate the architecture of Bermuda and Myron wanted me to see the inside of one of the original structures using this material. Well, coming out, the light was great so I had to take his photo. This is a simple click with D4 / 18-35AFS of our new BBB (Best Bermuda Bud).
Our amazing, incredible and very generous WRP Educational benefactor has made it possible for three folks attend one of our spring workshops in the Eastern Sierra. They are:
Mono Lake – Mammoth Lakes, CA May 17-19
Short Lens Course – Mammoth Lakes, CA 22-23 June
Photo Bi$ – Mammoth Lakes, CA 13-14 July
These scholarships are for folks who want to attend one of these classes but because of life, don’t have the extra cash to pay tuition. If this describes you and you want to be one of the three to receive this scholarship, this is what you’ve gotta do. Send an email to me and in one paragraph or less, say why you should receive the scholarship. Include in the email which class, your paragraph and a phone number we can reach you at. Our benefactor while they stay anonymous, Sharon & I want to publicly thank them for once again making it possible for folks dreams of photography to come true!
If you would have told me a short while ago that I would be “working” in Bermuda, I would have said something like my Joe McNally. “No editor is going to send this simple mtn boy to a resort island to shoot!” I get funny looks here when I greet folks with “howdy!” But yet because of that miracle box known as a camera, here Sharon & I are working this week. I’ll be honest, Bermuda wasn’t even on my radar screen and now that I’m here, I have to ask myself why wasn’t and what other incredible locations on this planet aren’t that should be? The island, it’s people, the photography and the food are all marvelous and we’re loving it!
We’re staying at the marvelous Rosewood Tucker’s Point, simple a gorgeous property! In doing some homework, I saw this photo of one of their infinity pools and I simply had to have it for myself. So I went down this morning to check it out. Well, the first thing you’ll notice between the two photos (mine and on their site) is that theirs was shot in the evening, didn’t know that until I checked it out (I got up early for nothing?) Next, the pool, pool house and in general in their photo is perfect, mine, not so much. The area is being “readied” for the “season” which starts in 10 days. The winter storms fill the beach with sand for example so they have to “carve” out the beach with loader each spring. A loader in the photo just, I don’t know, kinda ruins the reflection in the infinity pool. None the less, I got down on the deck with the D4 and 18-35AFS to make some test shots. It has nothing to do with why we’re here but I really love the shot on the site and want it for myself. So, if the photo Gods are with me, I’ll be back down to the beach infinity pool with loaders gone and gorgeous skies in place. And the whole time, I’ll be pinching myself to remind me the perks of the click!
Yeap, we photographed the base of Lower Yosemite Falls in the morning and ate dinner on Bermuda. Now the funny thing (not really but…) we went to Yosemite for a winter workshop during the driest Jan/Feb, ever, on record! And when we got the call to go to Bermuda right afterwards for a project, we thought the warmth would be nice. Dang…where’s my jacket?! It’s not that warm here right now but wow, is it gorgeous! For this simple mountain boy, this is going to be a great week in the sun!
I first visited the base of Lower Yosemite Falls in 1970 and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. I can easily sit there and watch the power and listen to noise all day and never tire of it. Seriously, it just amazes me how the whole thing works! Photographically, watching the light move around the falls fascinates me. In this case, the light is bouncing off a rock face left out of frame and makes the water glow. It also brings life to the face of the cliff. It does this for a short time as the sun plays dodge with rocks, cliffs and trees. Without sitting there and watching, you could easily miss the whole show. That is probably why I just keep going back, it’s never the same twice.