#18 Graphite – Fun Curve

Bryce Canyon captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

Our cameras come with a number of special or what I think of “Fun” Picture Controls taking our photography in an untypical path. One of these is #17 Charcoal, one I’ve played with a lot and use in very specific times to help tell the visual story. I’m in Bryce shooting and my dear friend said, “I think I’m going to use Graphite.” She has been playing with this Picture Control on some macro shots. The light had gotten hard and the call of the wild pancake was loud, so I decided to switch to #18 Graphite and give it a try.My first shots had direct light on the hoodoos and that simply doesn’t work with Graphite whose tone curve tends to not like highlights. I then turned to areas that had no direct sunlight and shot. Graphite worked some very cool fun on the reds and oranges of Bryce. The photo looks like a combination of B&W and infared and gets this looks with no post processing. What you see here is right out of the camera via NX Studio. When you look at the original view (below), it’s not one you would take in color but with the Graphite, a new tool in my visual storytelling arsenal makes some photos works with the help of a fun curve!

Traveling with The Kit

Think Tank Airport Advantage XT.

“How do you travel with your gear?” With all the online teaching I’ve done of late (7 classes in 10 days), the emails have flown in asking this great question. I do not have just one answer but many, each kinda depending on how I’m traveling, truck or air, and what’s I’m going off to photograph, critters, aviation or landscapes. There is of course some overlap but here’s crux of how I pack my gear.

Above is a great example, this is the Think Tank Airport Advantage XT and how I pack it currently (here’s how I packed the original Airport Advantage). What you see in the main compartment are:

Nikon D6 / 180-400VR
Nikon Z 6II
Nikkor Z70-200f2.8
Nikkor Z24-70f2.8
Nikkor Z14-30
Nikkor Z1.4x
Nikon FTZ
Nikon SB-5000 (under 180-400VR)

This you could say is my basic weekend kit when I head out for aviation and most landscape shoots. The lid will have filters, ProGrade CFExpress cards and WRR10.You’ll probably notice that he D6 is traveling attached to the 180-400VR. You’ve probably heard you should do that. What can I tell you, I’ve been traveling with bodies attached to my big glass is day one and not recommending it to you, just telling how I travel with my kit. It’s just how I roll and have never had a single issue. This case is a dream to travel with and fits in the overhead of any aircraft except the CRJs. This is just one of three bags I transport my gear with on projects.

Think Tank Airport Security v3.0

When I’m taking the vast majority of the gear locker, I reach for the amazing Think Tank Airport Security v3.0. What a case, what a roller, what protection! The first thing you might ask is, “Why isn’t the body attached in this case?” Great question cause at times, depending on what’s going, it is. Think Tank provides one “section” that is a cradle just for that arrangement. In the arrangement you see above, I’m into taking a bunch of gear and this arrangement permits me to carry more than pack it for quick action. What’s in the case is:

Nikon D6
Nikkor 180-400VR
Nikon Z 6II
Nikkor Z70-200f2.8
Nikkor 105f1.4
Nikkor Z24-70f2.8 Nikkor Z14-30
Nikkor Z1.4x
Nikon FTZ
Nikon TC-14eIII
Nikon Z1.4x
Nikon SB-5000

Think Tank / Mindshift MP-1v2

Then there comes carrying the bad boy Nikkor 800f5.6. I designed our MP series photoback just to carry this big piece of glass safely around the globe which it has done without a hitch. Think Tank took the bag to the ultimate with their MP-1v2 which you see above (now sadly discontinued). This bag even with the 800mm inside fits in the overhead of even a CRJ which is why there is not body attached. That extra 1/2 to include the D6 would put it bigger than is allowed for overhead storage. What I have been known to pack in the MP-P1 v2 (my back keeps telling me to take less) is:

Nikon D6
Nikkor 800f5.6 /1.25x
Nikon Z 6II
Nikkor Z70-200f2.8 or 300PF or 500PF
Nikkor Z24-70f2.8
Nikkor Z14-30
Nikkor Z1.4x
Nikon FTZ
Nikon TC-14eIII
Nikon Z1.4x
Nikon SB-5000

That kinda sums up the basics of how I move about the world with my kit that gets carried on to the plane (this gear never gets checked!). I have created a number of “packing” video on my YouTube Channel you might want to watch for more ideas. While they are a little dated, you can get the gist of the logic of my packing. And that’s real simple, ultimate protection of my gear with the quickest accesibility to it when working.

For what it’s worth, all that I mention above is to get the gear on site. Once on site, I get the gear out I need to work and the bag and the rest of the gear is left on site. I don’t have a bag on my back or beside me when I’m shooting.

Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 A2A Rig

Aero C-104 “Bücker” captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 w/Z1.4x

New Year, new shooting opportunities, and more importantly for me, a whole new A2A shooting rig! Up until this A2A, my rig was the D6 / 70-200f4. It brought great AF, buffer, and physical weight to shoot through the open side of an aircraft. I shot this entire A2A with this Aero C-104 “Bücker” this past weekend with the Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 with the Z1.4x and it worked beautifully! It too has the AF, buffer and with this rig, the weight to make it all work. You’ll see below the rig, the camera is in a SmallRig with a KeyMission 170 above the prism (to shoot BTS). The Z 6II did a killer job with the action, able to keep up focus and buffer so I didn’t miss a shot (6227 images in 65 minutes). The Z70-200f2.8 / Z1.4x is such a sharp combo. Better yet, they are so well sealed, I had no dust accumulate on the sensor during the shoot! The best part was I could easily shoot still or video with the Z 6II with a flip of a lever, see it all in the viewfinder and use proper handholding for both. Bottom line for me, I have a whole new A2A rig and I love it!

NX Studio Released

Nikon made a great app combining a couple of their apps to produce NX Studio. It has excellent speed bringing your images into your computer. The previews are exactly as you shot them using all YOUR Picture Control settings and you can modify a ton of settings in your file. The UI is clean and easy to understand and I like that you can go right to Epson Print Layout and print right from NX Studio. I’ve just started to explore this latest and I think the best offering from Nikon for finishing our Raw files. Check it out … it’s FREE!!!

Wildlife Photography on a Whole New Level!

This is simply a one of a kind event designed to elevate your wildlife photography to great realms of pleasure. Join me and a great line up of instructors for the KelbyOne Wildlife Photography Conference 16-17 March, 2021. Just what am I presenting, well thanks for asking, here is is in short form.

WHAT MAKES A GREAT WILDLIFE PHOTO
Wildlife Photography is the greatest celebration of life! When you have that critter in the viewfinder, it’s a very exciting moment. The heart beats faster, the mind turns quicker. Then the panic set in, “what and I doing?” Learning when to push the button is one of the big challenges. What makes a good or great wildlife photo can be a blur. And whether you’re new to it or been at it for years, making a better photograph than before is always the goal. Together we’re going to explore the marvelous world of wildlife photography and answer these and many more questions. Like the biologists have always taught me, a solid foundation always makes for better work. I’m going to give you that foundation!

THE ART AND CRAFT OF PHOTOGRAPHING BIRD
Birds, oh those magnificent creatures able to break the bonds of gravity with such color and elegance. While they are all basically the same, they are all very much unique. How do you get close enough to observe these wonders? How do they get close enough to bring their story back in your photographs? What tools do you need to own and biology learned bringing this all together? Most importantly, how do you bring their unique brilliance to your audience to tell their story? We are going to cover these and so many more points so when you share your bird photographs you tell their story and grab hearts.

TOP TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING MAMMALS
Mammals, they are the challenge for most wildlife photographers. They are often harder to find, going to far-off locations at times to even see them. They are more elusive, shier, and at times, simply not present. Finding mammals to photograph is a challenge. The photographic tools to use are not as clear-cut. And their biology is mysterious at times preventing us from getting the image we want. How do you put mammals in your viewfinder in the best light? How do you tell their story and grab hearts? These are just some of the areas of mammal photography we’ll discuss. By the end of this class, you’ll have the knowledge you need and be dying to get out the door to put it all in action!

TURN YOUR BACKYARD INTO A BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO
You’re new to wildlife photography. You work a 9-5 job and have a very busy life. You have limited resources. You don’t know if you even want to be a wildlife photographer. Perhaps you’ve been shooting critters for some time and want to take it to a new level but don’t know where to start. How do you add flash for color and not exposure? You want to test a new piece of gear before you buy but don’t know how or where to do so. All of this and so much more can be solved in your own backyard! If you’ve watched my KelbyOne class on Backyard Birds, you know I’ve had a backyard shooting gallery for decades. All the lessons I’ve learned I’m going to share so you too can do no more than open a window and photograph all the critters you want whenever you can!

After my PreCon, I know you will have great questions and I want to answer them. You can join me at Clubhouse where I will do my best to answer all of them!

Yeah, that’s the short form. What’s the long-form, well join the other instructors and me and find out … it’s going to be … epic!

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