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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year - Our Photography Resolutions...

As we count down the days remaining in 2011 and round the corner into the New Year, we see plenty of posts about what New Year's resolutions we have on the plate this coming year. As a photographer, what I think about is what can I do in 2012 that will propel me to the next level. What sort of photography am I producing that will make me stand out from the crowd? What can I do with what I currently have in my camera bag that I can use to create a photograph that will make people sit up and take notice.

As a wildlife photographer, it's not the easiest thing in the world to be limited to a 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII when you are trying to take photographs of wild creatures who aren't too tolerant of the fact that you're trying to get close to them to get the shot. In my perfect world. I'd have the trifecta of wildlife photography lenses (300mm f/2.8 VRII, 600mm f/4 and a 200-400mm f/4) along with all three teleconverters. But that won't happen very quickly, unless I were to be lucky enough to win the Lotto Max. So what can I acquire that is in my range that I will be able to compete with my colleagues in the wildlife photography arena? And most importantly, what will enable me to get out to the hallowed ground of 600mm?

My concentration in wildlife photography is raptors (eagles, hawks, owls and falcons) and waterfowl )(ducks and herons). Those are the subjects that get my blood racing. Also I am interested in North American wild canids and felines such as wolves, coyotes, cougars and bobcats. Secondary on my list are the ursines (bears, both black, brown and grizzly) and the ruminants (elk, deer, moose) as they are awe-inspiring, but not as interesting (to me). As a wildlife photographer, you have to be a jack-of-all trades, meaning you go after every wild animal that you can find on the off-chance that you get a saleable shot. But would I go after a ursine or a ruminant with a 70-200mm f/2.8...not if I don't want to become the grizzly bear's next snack or become a rather grizzly (no pun intended) antler ornament.

What did I accomplish this year? Well...I managed to prove to myself that I could shoot a high-calibre quality of wildlife photographs with the lens that I have now, provided that the subjects were relatively used to human interaction. I did manage to prove that I could get some interesting shots, well composed and well-lighted on a consistent basis. And I did find and manage to narrow down the wildlife lenses that I need to compete with the big names. I also joined the 500px photography site which happens to be one of the best sites out there for people who are serious about their photography. But frankly, I'm still to damned scared to go onto 1px, they seem a bit more elitist...than even those of us on 500px. We 500px'rs take pride in our photography and try to do the best we can at what we do.

Oh, the 600mm f/4 is still on my list, but I plan to get a few lenses that will allow me to compete on a level playing field first, namely the AF-S 300mm f/4. A steady stable support (a tripod (Gitzo SGT 5561GT (systematic tripod))) with a gimbal head (the Jobu BWG-Pro2) help mount the 300mm f/4 for steady shots unless I'm trying to go after birds in flight. I also plan to get a TC-17EII 1.7X teleconverter to allow me to get out to 510mm of focal length. It won't allow me to get too close, but still, it is good enough while I'm saving up for the big 600mm f/4 lens. And it may allow me to get some birds-in-flight shots that I wouldn't be able to otherwise do.

I also plan to get into a sideline of macro photography to supplement my stock photography. Hence the requirement for the acquisition of a 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro lens which I hope to get sometime this 2012. This will allow me to get together a substantial stock of seasonal images that I will be able to put up for sale. I am also going to complete my Lee equipment acquisition with the Lee 1, 2, and 3 stop hard neutral density gradient filters, so that I can attempt to take landscape photos of the areas around where I live, quite possibly getting a few saleable landscape shots.

What do I still need to work on? My raging case of "lens envy". Whenever I see someone with a 300mm f/2.8 400 f/2.8, 200-400mm f/4, 500 f/4 or 600mm f/4...I get this nervous tic in the side of my face...along with a desire to run to the nearest camera store to pick up one of my own, if I could convince a bank to extend me a $15,000 line of credit; my inferiority complex that I can't do equivalent work compared to a pro with the lenses that I have (unless we're talking serious ursine, ruminant, wild canids or wild felines) which I have proved myself wrong repeatedly the latter half of 2011 and the raging desire to run to the nearest camera store...and plead and beg that I'll sell photography equipment for them for free for the rest of my life in exchange for the two lenses of my desires (NO lens is worth short-changing myself in my life-goals).

Overall, the thing I learned the most from 2011, is that if I want something bad enough...the only solution is to go after it, utilizing the skills and equipment that I have. So I look forward to 2012 with renewed hopes and a drive to create ever more high-quality images. So fellow photographers, here's to a 2012 that is filled with incredible opportunities for creating images for each and every single one of us. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Last Photo of the Christmas Tree for 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May The Force Be With You This Holiday Season.

I love Christmas Ornaments. And if anything I love Christmas Ornaments when they transect with my favorite movie saga: Star Wars. Currently, the only two Christmas ornaments that I have that are Star Wars related are the following:

Han Solo


Both of which were given to me a long, long time ago in a holiday season far far away by a fellow J.A.G. fan. I would like to eventually pick up Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Darth Vader. The droids C3PO and R2D2 will be a later acquisition. There are other ornaments as well.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Plan To Visit A Place In My Family's History - Photo Essay plan.

In 1942 my grand-parents, my uncles and my mother were rounded up and sent to live in Slocan. Under Order-in-Council P.C. 1486, my grandparents and family and thousands of other Japanese-Canadian citizens were sent to internment camps outside the 100 mile exclusion zone that surrounded the coastal areas. This was a dark time and during that time, my family's assets were seized, sold at rock-bottom dollar and my family never saw a penny of it.

Many second and third generation internees are now of an age where they are passing from our lives. The fourth and subsequent generations will only know this as a publication in a school history textbook (maybe two or three paragraphs at most).

Many internees are choosing to visit the past, but my mother finds it too painful to show my children (who are half Caucasian and half Japanese) the legacy of "shame and betrayal" that encompassed a good portion of their grandmother's life while growing up. We need to not forget. We need to be able to keep this injustice at the forefront so that we never, ever do this again to any other ethnicity.

I take my inspiration from David Suzuki, Nobby Hayashi and all those who have come forward in an attempt to bring this ignominious period in Canada's history to light. To not just let it sit buried in some textbook somewhere to be glanced over then forgotten. It is my legacy to take my camera to some of Canada's forgotten internment camps to document it for posterity before time and forgetfulness put those historical sites on the chopping block for budget cutbacks.

I am lucky that I, despite my youth, (most 3rd generation children are in their late 50s and 60s some are now in their 70s and experienced the internment first-hand) was affected by this tragedy, my connection was a direct one to that of an internee, yet I am in my 40s and it is our job, the third generation legacy, to remind our children that they need to understand what it was that their previous generations fought for with Redress.

Never forget; always remember...Never, ever let it happen again.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How To Make Santa Tear Out What's Left Of His Hair (...and Beard)

Welcome to the Holiday Season. This is the time of year where people try to buy gifts for the photographers in their lives. Now photography gifts aren't the cheapest things in the world and sometimes it seems like nothing short of a lens will put a smile on your photog's face when he unwraps the present under the tree.

In this post, I'll give you an idea of what my Christmas list to Santa has been for the past few years. Needless to say, he hasn't been too receptive to the idea and frankly, this list freaks out a lot of other photographers as well.

Here's my Christmas Wish List:

  • AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED

  • AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II
  • - Still debating on whether to get the 200-400mm f/4 versus the single length 300mm f/2.8 VRII.

  • AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR

  • AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

  • AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E II

  • AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II

  • AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III

  • Lee 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 Hard-edge Graduated Neutral Density Filters

  • Nikon Capture NX2

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

  • I'll probably edit this list as my list of lenses and other items grows.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Holidays Are Here Again...

    Holidays are a fun time for pulling out the camera and taking pictures of lights. At least I find it fun to photograph the ornaments on the tree due to the lights flooding the background of the photo with color. And especially if you have some crystal ornaments; the reflection off those ornaments make the lights cascade in many different directions.

    Hopefully once I manage to pick up a 105mm VR macro lens, I'll be able to hone in closer to the ornaments I want to display. I'm going to also try to get out and do some shooting of light displays outdoors over the next while. So hopefully I'll get a few more posts up before the end of the holidays.

    Happy holiday shooting, everyone.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Coming Close To Holiday Time

    Holidays are here again. Time for decorations.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    The Myth of the "Equipment Miracle"

    Subtitled: "Hey, I need a new camera so I can take just as good shots as that Pro there..."

    The myth of the "Equipment Miracle" is alive and well. Just recently Nikon put up a post on Facebook indicating that equipment was what made the photograph. That was roundly denounced by many of the photographers who were on Nikon's fanpage. Yet it is an opinion shared by many novice photographers with complaints like. "If I had the equipment that he had...I'd be able to get shots like that..." or "I need a new camera".

    There is no miracle cure for a crummy photograph. You need to learn to use your tools. Just as you would not give a chimp a chisel because more than likely he wouldn't be able to use it properly without instruction and would end up hurting himself, you don't give a novice a camera more than he can handle. Information overload will end up killing his/her interest in the hobby much quicker than if he spent the time learning to use his point and shoot to the best of his ability.

    The "Equipment Miracle" goes hand-in-hand with the "Ego". In that the larger the lens and more complicated looking the camera, the more like a pro-photographer, the amateur looks and consequently, the more he thinks his photos rank up there with the professionals no matter how faded looking they are, no matter how crappy the end-result is...because the only thing that matters is that he has a D3X or Canon 1Ds Mk. IV and the requisite 70-200mm f/2.8s (either VR or IS) and he's loaded for bear.

    For most people, taking a photo means - pointing the camera at the subject, getting them to say "cheese" and taking the shot...not really knowing that if you point the camera into the sunlight you're going to end up with a crappy shot because of the lens flare, making the subjects unrecognizable. Or flashing a photo in the midst of a crowded pub making a really flattering featureless face out of your subjects otherwise known as the "GHOST" where you can really only see two eyes...a mouth and a sheer white torso.

    an example of a "ghost" image

    There's really no excuse for not knowing your settings on your camera whether it is a point and shoot or a DSLR. There are night photo settings on your point and shoot, but the only problem with that is that you need stabilization - in other words...A TRIPOD! But nobody wants to carry that into a pub. Hence...crappy picture. You also need to know that light sources = crappy lighting. There are settings for white balance in your point and shoot? Does anyone even bother to look at those? NO.'s NOT YOUR's you! Take the time and read the manual. RTFM!!! and RTFM some more. That's what it's there for...not to make the box seem more substantial in weight when you buy a camera.

    Then maybe when you're able to photograph great shots (with no lens flare; with regularity - and after realizing that just maybe...just maybe this photography is the basis for a great hobby)...that's when you upgrade to the next camera. It's not so that you can look COOL...holding a D3X when you shoot in AUTO. Trust me...most serious amateur and professional photographers can tell.

    shot with a Nikon E2200 (2.1 MP point & shoot camera).

    Who says you can't get good shots with a point & shoot? Knowledge is Key.

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Nikon Rumors: Nikon files patent for 800mm f/5.6

    Nikon Files Patent for 800mm f/5.6 - Nikon Rumors

    Evidently Nikon is stepping into the super-supertelephoto range in replacing its old 800mm f/5.6 ED-IF with the Nikon AF-S VR 800mm f/5.6. Already in the competition is the much lower-priced Sigma 800mm f/5.6 and the $14,000 Canon 800mm f/5.6 IS L. Not to knock Sigma, but with Canon's L lens and their new Nikon playmate (once Nikon decides to go ahead with production of it, it's going to change the 800mm game table. I'm sure though that the 800mm f/5.6 VR is going to be either price above or similar to the Canon lens, either being around $14,000-16,000. This will be pretty much a strictly newspaper event or professional wildlife lens. At these prices, it's not worth it to re-mortgage the house to buy this or end up having to save for 6 1/2 years to put one in the lens arsenal. It's a nice looking lens, but I'll just as soon go for the $10,000 600mm VR f/4.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs

    What can most people write about a man who changed a generation? All I can say is that Steve Jobs' creations defined my generation and the generation that came after it.

    When I was in elementary school, the original Apple personal computer came out. It was a unique fad, or so we thought. Personal computers were not widely available back then and they cost an arm and a leg. Back then we had punch-cards that you marked off with an HB pencil and they were taken to a mainframe of some sort that figured out your answers and whether you passed the test or not. The personal computer was a pipe-dream...or so we thought. To Steve Jobs, it wasn't. He was a visionary. He pictured a computer in every home, in every school, in all walks of life, even before most people thought it was a logical move. His Apple and Mac computers made this possible.

    The simple fact that I am typing this eulogy on a laptop computer is partly because of Steve Jobs. The ensuing battle between Steve Jobs' Apple Corporation and Microsoft magnate Bill Gates' Personal Computer (PC) caused computer prices to drop to the point where most people could afford one or the other.

    The first industry to profit from this was the personal computer gaming industry. There were a lot of games during the 80s. Some good (like The Legend of Zelda) and some not so good, but we had a variety with the Apple and Apple II computers. The first personal computers by Apple were the realm of the creatives and that's where Apple's niche has been. Microsoft won the business war...and that's where their niche has been.

    When MP3s first came out, Steve Jobs was at the forefront of the technology. He envisioned a device that could be used anywhere and that fit in one's pocket, a small boombox that could be taken anywhere without having to have a whole load of tapes or CDs to be carried around with you. He thus invented a way to digitize music and then the device to play it with, and thus was born the iPod. Now it has gone through several changes. Now it plays different forms of multimedia. For the longest time, I resisted becoming a Pod-person (the derogative nickname for people who seem to be glued to their iPods), but now I have a Nano 8GB powder blue iPod to which I appear to constantly drag around with me. Yes, that was another game-changer.

    Then there was the run to compete with Blackberry and the iPhone came into being. To think that you could create "applications - Apps for short" and use them in the same way that you can run programs on your computer and it all fits in the palm of your hand or in your pocket. Steve Jobs was responsible for putting the term "There's an App for that" in the vernacular. Now Blackberry isn't as popular as it used to be...and everywhere I look (including in my wife's hand) is an iPhone.

    Without Steve Jobs' vision, the digital darkroom would never have had a chance to grow, and we would still be tinkering with noxious chemicals and emulsion fluids in the dark cramped confines of a standard darkroom. But with the advent of the personal computer and the resultant flock of programmers who designed new programs for creative photographers, we now have the equivalent of the darkroom on our desktop without having to deal with smelling foul-smelling chemicals...and giving our doctors (eventually) their sons' and daughters' college educations.

    The visionary that was Steve Jobs had incredible foresight and intuition into what it was that people were looking for in their technology that they use every day. There are very few people in this world who can change the world like he did. Henry Ford was one of those types of visionaries. Thomas Edison was yet another. But to instantaneously bring about a change in the way we do business, in the way we share our information, in the way we entertain ourselves on a worldwide scale and in such a short period of time, that is a visionary of incomparable skill and acumen. And that was the type of visionary that Steve Jobs was. The tech world has lost a great leader and visionary; the likes of which we may never see again in our lifetime.

    Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs. You've earned it.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Google+ and Facebook

    "Hey, wanna friend me on Facebook???"
    "Sorry, dude, my computer shorted out in the lake"

    I've been using Google+ for a while now. It's been interesting. I've kept it strictly for photography circles and to appraise select friends of what I've been doing with my photography, whereas I use Facebook for my social interactions as well as for displaying photography.

    My Google+

    My Facebook

    I don't play games on either one of my social networks. I just cut loose my last game and I'm strictly keeping my Facebook and Google+ for sharing photography. So if you want to friend me on either Facebook and/or Google+, please don't send me game requests. I don't answer those.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    A Morning At Green Timbers.

    Saw what was actually a juvenile pied-billed grebe...wish I had a TC-20EIII. Actually forget I said that. I want the bloody 600mm f/4 and a 1.4X teleconverter!!!

    The posing ducks looked as if it was asking me for guidance on what kind of pose to do for the camera.

    This mallard female was the mate of the other male that was swimming by and looking for approval for the poses that he was providing. Likewise with this female. Evidently she was looking for approval of her swimming poses.

    Saw the Great Blue Heron, but it wanted to play "peek-a-boo" instead of posing for a shot.

    This mallard female got spooked by some schmuck with a dog off-leash who promptly proceeded to come barking and charging the ducks so she reared up in a major threat-display warning all the other ducks to keep clear of the shore. The mutt got the freak out of his life when that big object (me) sitting on the rock got up and stared eye-ball to eye-ball with said stupid mutt.

    Fight! Fight!! These two mallards males got into it pretty good. The dominant mallard really chased the subordinate mallard male around their section of the pond pretty good.

    Is the TC-20EIII Worth It?

    Now...for the past 6 months, I've been vascillating between lenses and teleconverters and I've been wondering if buying a teleconverter for the lens that I currently have (the AF-S VRII 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED) is worth the money expended on it. In determining the value of the TC-20EIII on the lens, I've undertaken the following test on this particular teleconverter to where I would be using the TC-20EIII the most - Green Timbers Urban Forest Park. The TC-20EIII attached to my 70-200mm f/2.8 would get me the equivalent focal length of a 140-400mm f/5.6 as I would lose the equivalent of two stops.

    The Park Test - had to mimic the TC-20EIII on the lens by % increase of 200%

    The Great Blue Heron Subject at 200mm

    The Great Blue Heron Subject at 400mm (equiv w/% tweaking)

    The Store Test - with the actual TC-20EIII attached to the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII.


    @400mm (the subject being the blue line on the door)

    Ultimately there is not much increase in the size of far-away objects with the TC-20EIII and there is a noticeable drop-off in image quality especially when used indoors as in the mall-test. The only other alternative is to get the 300mm f/2.8 VRII but that is quite a number of years away.

    300mm range (shot with my 70-300mm f/4-5.6)

    600mm equivalent range (TC-20EIII on 300mm f/2.8 equivalent (digi-tweaked))

    It's all fine well and good if you're standing in the middle of a field to use your legs and get closer to the wildlife in question, but when you've got a skittish heron or other subject and the barrier in between you and getting closer is a lake...well, kinetic zoom is just out of luck. When you are stuck on the shore of a lake, a longer super-telephoto lens is your best bet for getting distance. However, if you haven't got the $$$ to cough up at least $10,000 for a 400mm, 500mm, or 600mm lens, a teleconverter may be your best friend, then you may end up having to crop to get the image you want.

    For now, I think that the best solution for my distance problem is to get the TC-20EIII and use it in conjunction with trying to get as close as possible to the subject.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Seagulls and Some Color on the Clouds

    Didn't think about pulling out the D300s and 70-200mm VRII, but found that there was some photo-ops when I got out to the Zellers end of Willowbrook. Several seagulls happily posed for me. Evidently upon further investigation, these were juvenile ring-billed gulls.

    Is there food for me here???

    On the way back, we saw some color on the clouds.

    Lens & Shutter - New Store Open in Langley (on September 20, 2011)

    Will put photo up when I visit today.

    Evidently it opened on September 20, 2011 according to this blog Lens & Shutter Blog, he hasn't visited yet, so hopefully, I'll be the first to get the pics up. I don't know if it is a store blog updated by an employee, or whether it's some random guy who is blogging on Lens & Shutter. Anyways. Always good to get a scoop. ~evil grin~

    update: 8:51PM

    I have to say that this store is probably what you would call "considerably smaller" than the Broadway "Lens & Shutter" main store. The selection of lenses on display are smaller, but the people who I talked to at the store were decent on their knowledge base. It's a nice place and they do have a decent selection of gear...their bag selection is decent and half their store is frames. I saw they also have an interesting selection of 35mm film.

    All the Lens & Shutter stores have the ability to special order in the pro gear so it's going to be easier to go to Langley if I do decide to put my 600/4 lens order through Lens & Shutter.

    I plan to go there whenever I go out to Langley and look forward to getting some of my stuff there.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Outdoor Clothing: What to Wear to Survive

    At some point, talk about outdoor photography turns to what clothing and footwear do you need to use in order to stay warm and safe in the outdoors, especially in this climate (Coastal Rain Forest) in British Columbia. I'll touch on this for a little bit.

    First of all you need proper foot gear to go tromping out in the woods. Most outdoors types hate the ankle high hiking boots of yesteryear with the heavy soles. Sure it's great if you're on a construction site and you've got steel-toes, but do you need that for traipsing around the woods? No. The best tool that you have is your eyes and a light set of good trail runners. Make certain of your step and footing before you take the next one. Unless you're climbing on logs, you don't need to worry about your ankles. And if you're wanting to climb on logs and do something stupid; try to stay away from trails and the outdoors. The outdoors can kill you without trying and you don't have to do stupid things and risk your neck to get killed. Just stay out without enough proper warm clothing and hypothermia will get you.

    My Hiking Shoes (trail runners) - Nike Air Alvord 8s: Notice the heel and the good tread - needed for grip...

    There is a saying in the outdoor community: "Killer Cotton". Why? Because cotton, that wonderful natural fabric sucks as outdoor-wear. When cotton gets wet; it stays wet and it doesn't breathe. Water and sweat stays trapped in the fibre and you end up with a sopping rag covering half your body. Cotton has resulted in many deaths of outdoor adventurers.

    What do I wear in place of a cotton t-shirt? I wear "UnderArmour" or like-clothing with moisture-wicking fabric. Sportek creates UnderArmour-similar fabric t-shirts and long-armed undershirts for this purpose for less cost than Underarmour. They also make underwear in the same fabric as well as compression long pants to keep you cool and dry down there as well. Then all you have to do is throw some goretex or other rain resistant material over-clothing on top and you're all set to get out in the wild. Fleece is also a good material (it sucks when it gets wet, but you can use it in colder weather under goretex and over the Underarmour longsleeved breathable fabric to stay warm.

    They say: dress in layers when you go into the outdoors. Sweat and moisture kills. You need to be able to strip off layers in order to allow your body to regulate it's temperature. If you are sweating, it means your body is too warm. That means it's time to shed a layer and throw it in your backpack. Remember the mnemonic: Cool and Dry Stays Alive. Frankly, experienced outdoorsmen don't allow their bodies to sweat because they wear the bare minimum to stay warm and pace themselves in order to not get hot enough to sweat. This also means take lots of water and stay hydrated.

    There are three layers: Your base layer, your middle layer and your outer layer.

    Your base layer is the layer of clothing closest to your bare skin. This means that you should wear something like UnderArmour (long-sleeved shirt or t-shirt depending on whether it's winter or summer), long underwear, and socks (yes, Underarmour makes socks too). This fabric wicks moisture away from your body and allows it to evaporate.

    Your middle layer should be something like fleece, polyester or wool. This is a layer primarily used to stay warm and if you feel the slightest bit warm enough to sweat, you need to take it off. Wool take a long time to dry when wet and should be avoided, but fleece tends to be a better substitute for wool. Avoid down. When it gets wet, it loses all insulating capability and it will not dry unless you throw it into a dryer and you don't have one of those in the wild. The middle layer should also be able to wick moisture from your base layer and out.

    Your outer layer is the shell; which needs to be resistant against incoming moisture from the exterior and be able to evaporate your moisture from inside. This primary shell material should be Gore-tex as it doesn't allow environmental moisture to penetrate yet allows the moisture wicked from the inner materials to evaporate out into the environment. Unless it is raining or snowing, this shell is rarely ever worn.

    So to encapsulate the three layer system of staying alive in the outdoors (in terms of outdoor clothing):

    1. The first layer wicks moisture away from your body.
    2. The second layer traps body heat in order to keep you warm.
    3. The third layer sheds water and snow...and repels wind.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Debating the Big Purchase of a Super Telephoto

    My wife and I have been talking and she's been mentioning that I should be looking into the high-powered lenses. I've come up with 5 options that encompass two lenses.

    Option 1: The Whole Kit and Caboodle.

    LensRetailer Price Price w/tax Per/Month Savings
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4 G IF ED VR The Camera Store 9,646.47 10,847.65
    Nikon AF-S VR 200-400mm F4 G IF-ED Broadway Camera 6,439.99 7,213.00
    Nikon TC-14EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-17EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-20EIII The Camera Store 548.77 614.62
    Gitzo 5561 SGT 6X tripod B&H Photo 1,299.00 1,534.51
    Wimberley WH-200 B&H Photo 594.95 691.06 21,810.62 $ 610.00/mo

    Nikon AF-S VR 200-400mm F4 G IF-ED

    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4 G IF ED VR

    Option 2: Just the Big One and TCs Plus Tripod

    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4 G IF ED VR The Camera Store 9,646.47 10,847.65
    Nikon TC-14EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-17EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-20EIII The Camera Store 548.77 614.62
    Gitzo 5561 SGT 6X tripod B&H Photo 1,299.00 1,534.51
    Wimberley WH-200 B&H Photo 594.95 691.06 14,597.62 $ 408.00/mo

    Option 3: Bare Bones and Use Monopod w/ Gimbal

    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4 G IF ED VR The Camera Store 9,646.47 10,847.65
    Nikon TC-14EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-17EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-20EIII The Camera Store 548.77 614.62
    Wimberley WH-200 B&H Photo 594.95 691.06 13,063.11 $ 390.00/mo (use Wimberley on 680B Monopod - which I already own)

    Option 4: Big Lens + TC

    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4 G IF ED VR The Camera Store 9,646.47 10,847.65
    Nikon TC-14EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-17EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-20EIII The Camera Store 548.77 614.62 12,372.05 $ 345.00/mo. (screw the Manfrotto 680B monopod onto the 600mm foot)

    Option 5: 200-400VRII Option

    Nikon AF-S VR 200-400mm F4 G IF-ED Broadway Camera 6,439.99 7,213.00
    Nikon TC-14EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-17EII The Camera Store 396.15 454.89
    Nikon TC-20EIII The Camera Store 548.77 614.62
    Gitzo 5561 SGT 6X tripod B&H Photo 1,299.00 1,534.51
    Wimberley WH-200B&H Photo 594.95 691.06 10,962.97 $ 299.00/mo.

    All of the "savings per month" is based on a 3 year save-up period. This is no longer a hobby, but a dead serious shot at a career in wildlife photography. I'm fed up with playing it safe and I'm going for it. I'm getting the equipment in 3 years time.

    Questions and Comments To Not Say To A Photographer

    Have you ever come across a photographer while you're traipsing your way (quite possibly walking your dog) around a park. He's got a nice camera (a DSLR from the looks of it); and a rather large lens mounted to the front of the camera? So you think? "Wow, he must know what he's doing. And maybe he might be able to give me some pointers." Y'know what? Chances are, he isn't going to be solicitous if you interrupt him in the midst of his photography.

    When the camera lens is UP...and attached to his face...THAT is NOT the time to bother him with questions. Wait until he gets the shot and brings his camera down.

    And there are several things that you needn't touch upon:

    That's a nice camera (or lens)
    Yes he knows that's a nice camera and/or lens, he bought it as a tool and he uses it to get the photos he creates. When he's not using it, it sits in his camera bag and not in some sort of shrine dedicated to the God of Photography or something. And another variant of this is "Nice photograph, you must have a nice camera..." That to a photographer is like my telling a hunter who has made a great kill and saying "Hey, nice shot, you must have a great rifle." It's not the camera, it's the vision of the photographer.

    Will you shoot my wedding?
    If he's shooting animals with his camera, chances are you've stumbled across a wildlife photographer, especially if he has an extremely long lens. And most wildlife photographers are solitary animals, much like the prey they stalk. The last thing they want to do is hang out in a smoke-filled room filled with boisterous, loud people who use this wedding as a way to socialize. Most Wildlife photographers don't socialize; we're out tracking. And frankly, I'd rather shoot an irritated king brown in the Outback with an 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 than shoot a wedding. NO thanks.

    Oh...I see you've got such and such a brand and model of camera; I've got this brand and's so great; I'm sure it'll get me just as good shots as you create... I've spent 26 years working on my photography skills. And chances are 9 times out of 10 my shots turn out. Again, it's not the brand and model of the camera you choose, it's whether or not you can make use it or not and have results come out of it.'re using a digital? Well, I use a film camera...
    See above. The other corollary to this is "I use film, any person who knows photography knows they really learn when they have to use film. Uh...OK...whatever. It just so happens that visual learners learn the best when they see immediate results, not results 2 weeks down the road (such as were developing times when I was growing up unless you wanted to pay $$$ out your nose for 48 hr turnaround) by which time, you forget every damned setting you used. Hence I learned best on a digital SLR. And like one of my friends, Paul Burwell, said "Digital has far surpassed the quality of film cameras nowadays." You don't need to worry about exposing your film to light when you have to chance film speeds or carry around a black bag with you to swap out your film rolls when you have to make a film speed change. All you have to do is flip a dial and up your ISO. So frankly when I hear a film user complain that you can't learn "true photography" off a digital camera, I say they're sucking sour owl s***.

    What do you think of my photos?
    Look, if I give you an honest critique of your photography, 9 times out of 10 you'll be annoyed unless you're a serious amateur photographer who is looking to advance in your photography. If you're just a person who likes picking up your camera and taking shots once in a while to have're probably just expecting me to blow sunshine up your ass. Unfortunately, I'm a photographer who takes his work very seriously and I don't spend my time blowing adulation in anyone's direction, so frankly, I'm the wrong one to ask. I can usually tell if someone is serious about their photography. They take the time to study online, read up everything that they can possibly get and they'll usually have a photography magazine (subscribed to, of course) in their camera bag that they've got their nose in if and when they don't have their camera attached to their face. Real serious amateurs live and BREATHE photography.

    Did you Photoshop that?
    Yes, all photographs require some post-processing. The most I usually do is amp the colors up some and do some slight sharpening, but other than that, most of my work is pretty much straight out of camera. I will not remove a branch with the clone tool...I will more than likely just reposition and reshoot. Better to get it right in camera and have to do the least amount of post-processing possible.

    I just bought a $1,200 DSLR...why are my pictures blurry?
    Your minimum handheld speed is 1.5X the focal length of your lens. So if you are shooting a 200mm lens. Your minimum shutter speed at ISO 200 would be 1.5x 200mm= 1/350th of a second; and frankly, the higher the better. On a sunny day, I'm shooting somewhere in the neighbourhood handheld at 200mm 1/1000th of a sec. That's more than enough to freeze moving objects.

    Do you do selective coloring on your photography?
    No ma'am...that is strictly in the realm of "faux"tography. I generally call it "bad taste".

    Hey, do you think I can get the same shot with my 12.1 MP P&S?
    You have a 12.1 MP point and shoot, your sensor is half the size of mine. Do you know what light-bleed is? Do you know what happens when you cram 12.16 million pixels into a space 1/2 the size of a postage stamp? You have absolutely no control over your ISO, shutterspeed and aperture. Let me put it in this way: You have a Lilliputian idiot inside your camera selecting your shutterspeed and aperture as well as ISO by putting numbers on a dartboard and throwing darts at it BLINDFOLDED. In other words...NO.

    Yes, this article is incomplete. I don't think I have run across ALL the questions that I have gotten asked yet. I'm sure I will probably think that I will have run across all of them in the course of my photography over the next few years, but then someone will come up with another chart-topper.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    The Red-Tail Hawk...I saw this morning...

    On my way back from Wal-Mart after I picked up a 2L of cola (my go juice), I find a bunch of crows going completely gaga-frickin' nuts. Well...1st rule of thumb, is when you hear crows going nuts, chances are there's a predator around. And then this lady comes along and asks, "Did you see that hawk around?" Well...that pretty much got my head out of my rectal area and made me look around at the trees to see where it was located.

    And I found it.

    The Red-Tailed Hawk staring at me through the branches. Cue Robert DeNiro's voice "Hey, are you lookin' at me???"