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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.