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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nikon Acquisition Syndrome

I have GAS. I know that it sounds rather crude to make that proclamation...but admittedly it's not a case of flatulence. It is a rather severe condition called "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" and a rather specific form of GAS which ends up being referred to as NAS (Nikon Acquisition Syndrome). This rather insidious disease; is incurable except by death or by going broke (either one of the two will suffice).

An example of my Nikon Acquisition Syndrome symptoms:

My Facebook Nikon Acquisition Syndrome album

This case of NAS is caused by getting bitten by the photography bug which carries this virus which lies dormant until you make your first camera purchase. Then what happens is that the virus multiplies within your body causing symptoms such as lens envy (seeing green when you see another photographer with the object of your desires (I turn green when I see a photographer with a 600mm f/4)), obssessive compulsiveness when it comes to camera and lens purchases (you must have the best) and irritability which manifests when you just manage to buy the latest gear and Nikon comes out with the next model (*cough* D400 (est. release date is 2011 (first quarter))) not two months after you've made your purchase or when personal finances dictate whether you can get the holy grail of photography lenses (namely my desire to get the 600mm f/4 and the appropriate lens supports, being tripods, and gimbal heads) and thorough justification of the reasons why you should get the equipment. Other symptoms include hanging out at the camera store, drooling over their camera display, wasting the time of the camera sales reps and increasing displays of aggressiveness towards Canon-users (You'll pry my Nikon out of my cold, DEAD hands!)

As far as I can see there is no hope of treatment available unless you go to an obsessive compulsiveness treatment program and even there you'll be laughed at by the people who have the severe form of obsessive compulsive disorder. So I have decided to succumb to this disorder and oblige my inner desires; revel in it to say the least - If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. It may mean a complete and utter rehashing of our finances so that we can afford the lenses and other gear. But it's better than looking at and salivating great puddles of drool over the Nikon lens catalog. I justify the acquisitions with the fact that my kids have more toys than they could ever play with in their entire lives (with the exception of my daughter - who will get her own set of toys) and that books (with the exception of photography related literature) are not of any interest to me any more. I don't buy CDs. I don't buy model kits anymore (though it was a hobby at one time). Everything is focused into photography: career, acquisitions, inner focus and the desire to make this into a profitable (though I may be deluding myself) goal to work for myself.

If covetousness is one of the 7 Deadly Sins, well, pray for me, my church-going friends, because I surely am DOOMED. But I sure as hell am going to have a great time before then!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Fill The Frame"; What Do You Do If You Need Range?

For many years now, I've been struggling with the realization that I just don't have enough "range (reach)" with my lenses that I have. I currently, for wildlife photography, have the Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G which tends to chromatic aberrate out the wazoo (and in my opinion is a piece of S***) and my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII which is one of the finest lenses that Nikon has ever built in my humble opinion.

The problem comes when I do my favorite type of photography which is wildlife. I can't seem to "fill the frame". When you don't fill the frame, you lose megapixels of resolution in your image because you're forced to crop extraneous background details away from your subject. For example, here is the eagle shot that I took on my birthday.


Now, this is the original photo for comparison purposes.


Note how much image I had to crop out in order to achieve the shot with just the eagle. Not only did I lose resolution, the image became unuseably blurry. Certainly to the untrained eye, it looks just fine; but to me, it's just horrendous.

Now my only solution is to "fill the frame". Now how do you do that other than to buy long expensive telephoto prime lenses. temporary solution while I'm saving up for the hugely expensive telephoto prime lenses is this: to use a teleconverter.

The one I'm looking at is the Nikon TC-20EIII which should effectively double my focal length, if I was using it on a full-frame FX body like the Nikon D700, while losing two stops dropping the f/2.8 to a f/5.6 and effectively making my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII into a 140-400mm f/5.6

On my D300s, it ends up becoming a 210-600mm f/5.6 counting the 1.5X conversion factor. Until such time as I am able to obtain the 600mm f/4 and the 400mm f/2.8, this stop-gap measure will have to suffice.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Enjoyment of Flying Things: Photographing Aircraft

Sometimes I enjoy nothing more than to go out somewhere and photograph aircraft. During the time that I was at Coal Harbour on July 30th, I had the opportunity to photograph several Otters and a Twin Otter.


A Westcoast Air DeHavilland Twin Otter coming in for a landing.


A Harbour Air DeHavilland Otter (single engine) taxiing out to takeoff.


Another Harbour Air Otter winding up for it's takeoff run.


A beautifully patriotic Otter in Canadian colors. Notice the Canadian flag paintjob.


A WestCoast Air DeHavilland Twin Otter taxiing for takeoff.

One of the other things that I enjoy doing around this time is going to the Abbotsford International Airshow. However in the last little while I haven't had the oppportunity to as my kids probably are not of the age where they would enjoy listening to loud engines. So here's some photography from Abbotsford Airshow past. This was done with a 35mm SLR (A Mamiya Sekor TL500 that my late father bought me back when I was 14. These shots were taken when I was around 19). I'll post up others when I do get a chance to go again. Probably I'll get to go around the time that the Abbotsford Airshow turns 50 (in two years)

Rockwell B-1B in European Green

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

One of the 9 aircraft formation has broken off leaving an 8 aircraft formation

Two Montana National Guard F-16s.

A VF-31 Tomcatters F-14D Tomcat, now retired and gone from service. They've all been scrapped due to Defence Department directive. So the bittersweetness is that I'll never be able to take pictures of F-14 Tomcats least not flying ones.

A side-view shot of the same F-14D Tomcat.

The 2012 Abbotsford International Airshow should be great. But it will be a bittersweet occasion as my Dad used to take me to the Abbotsford Airshow and I'll be thinking about him too as I'm walking the tarmac around the static display.