I’ve finally found a jungle I like!
Had to brag on this one a little bit.
I’ve had an open back-order with Adorama and BHPhotoVideo for over a year for the Nikon 18-200 f3.5 VR lens.
Last night, as I’m bopping through Best Buy looking for other stuff, I made a swing by the premium camera equipment case. And there it was.
I double checked to be sure that this wasn’t some Tamron knockoff, but sure enough, genuine Nikkor.
I talked to the guy at BB about getting it, and mentioned how ultra-rare that these are to find today. He told me that the one that their display item had been on order since last year, but apparently he wasn’t aware of the shortage going to the consumer end of the equation. (Canon shooter. Ah, it all makes sense now.)
Anyway. Pictures soon.
I’m excited. If the reviews are accurate, this may be the great all-purpose walk-around lens I’ve been waiting for…
Have you ever listened to something about one hundred times before something just grabs you? I mean, just out and commands your attention.
I was driving along this evening, thinking about the artistic process. (I will firmly attempt not to be overly precious about this.) I was having a conversation last weekend with a buddy of mine, Matt Sigmon, and with a local photographer, Stacey Irvin, about some coaching I had gotten from Vincent Versace during a workshop.
I was talking to Vincent about “becoming” a photographer. He said, “Well, you already are a photographer, are you not?” I was in this workshop, and I had a camera, and I was editing the pictures, so technically — yeah. I had to concede that I was.
He said, “Everything that I do in here, and everything that you do in here is in service of your voice.” This was pretty much the first time I had heard things put this way.
We wound up talking about a frame of mind, more than a frame of film, or an exposure on CCD.
Which brings me back to Matt.
The song was blasting on the CD player as I was replaying my sessions with Vincent.
You get beyond the door
That you couldn’t get past before
You know a brand new day
Just might be
There is no door.
I about drove off the road.
Matt’s album is called One Opens Up. It’s an autobiographical travelogue of self-development and self-discovery, which is seldom heavy, and often funny, and filled with some razor-sharp insight.* Ordering information is here.
* and here it only took me about 100 listens to hear that. Enlightenment is a bitch.
I’ve mostly focused on posting at the Photoblog lately.
(First time visitors, take note… that’s where most of the focus shall continue. A site about photography ain’t right without photos. If you want keen insights into the whys and wherefores of photographic gadgetry, Ken Rockwell, Rob Galbraith or Moose Peterson are better bets than li’l ole me. If you’ve found me, then you can surely find them.)
I feel remiss, however, in not catching up a couple of things.
1) Sorry about the lack of Fuji F10 pictures here. There are a couple at the Photoblog. It’s a fine enough camera for casuals, but not enough to displace even the venerable D2H. A couple of notes:
2) Alaska is a photographer’s paradise.
3) Dammit, I need to shoot more. My wife really doesn’t have the quantity versus quality problem that I have. She’ll try anything to see if it will work, and I’m still too far restrained in what I think will and won’t work. “Education” can really hold you back sometimes. I focus far too much on “the perfect subject” in “the perfect light.”
Just arrived today: A Fuji FinePix F10 6.3MP p/s camera.
Will post photos when the weather ain’t so crappy.
I shot with a Lensbaby 2.0 for the most part. I got a couple gigabytes worth of images during the gig.
Well, this isn’t happy news.
My DAM software for the last couple of years has been iView Media Pro. I bought it because it was born on the Macintosh platform, and because it was, honestly, the best software I’d given a trial.
I’ve never known a software product to actually improve under Microsoft’s, erm, “supervision.” In fact, raising the profile of the product only makes it more likely that hackers will reverse engineer the software looking for easy exploit paths.
Look for iView to become the next vector for destroying every bit of digital media you archive on your machine.
So, that said — I’m in the market for a sturdy, robust platform made for the Mac which integrates easily into digital workflow, supports Nikon RAW, and won’t be acquired by Microsoft.
Perhaps Adobe Lightroom will be the ticket once it’s out of beta.
Once the flowers get to blooming, it’s time to get out in the yard with the macro rig.
I have a few things which I think are essential for good close-up pictures of flowers.
1) A sturdy ballhead and camera mounting plate. I have tried a couple of combinations here. I started with a Manfrotto 488RC0, but found that the camera would easily slip around on the quick release plate, especially when using the camera vertically. Then I switched to a Markins M20 QBall, which had a much more solid Arca-Swiss dovetail type quick release system, but over time, I found that the panning knob wouldn’t completely tighten, and that the ball wouldn’t completely lock down. So when I was trying to shoot multiple exposures of the same subject matter to create high dynamic range shots, the images would not overlay like they should if you’re shooting properly. So, finally, I’m using a Really Right Stuff BH-55, and I sprung for the RRS BD2-L bracket.
A couple of advantages to this setup. One, it doesn’t creep. The ball action locks tight and the panning knob does as well. Plus, it accepts the same Arca-type dovetails as the Markins. Two, the platform is closer to the ball. This lowers the center of gravity and makes the camera less susceptible to vibration. Three, the RRS has a really cool feature — the B2Pro clamp has a spirit level built right into the platform. It’s super easy to level out the camera. Plus it makes it much easier to get the tripod legs and the head in parallel planes; this is a must for panoramas. (Note also — I have a remote shutter release plugged into the body. Helps a lot with vibration & such.)
2) A sturdy set of tripod legs. I’ve had really good luck here — I chose the Gitzo 1348 carbon fiber legs early on. These are reasonably lightweight, they collapse to a workable height (they fit easily in a garment-type suitcase for transportation on flights), and they’re impervious to rust and corrosion. I put a set of leg wraps on this rig, and I can just tighten everything up and throw it all over my shoulder without worrying about anything falling loose on me.
3) Now, here it comes down to a matter of preference. You can use a decent prime lens with a minimal working distance, you can use a specialized macro lens, you can use extension tubes to shorten up the minimum focusing distance, or you can put a close-up filter on the end of your lens. Lately, I’ve opted for the latter solution. I bought a 77mm Canon 500D close-up filter (yes, it even works on a Nikkor lens), and I use it on my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR lens. So now I have a 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR macro to use. It’s a little on the heavy/bulky side for a screw-on filter, but it’s lighter and takes less space than a dedicated 200mm macro lens. Plus, you can use it on a mid-range zoom with a 77mm filter size, and it works just as well. It changes the minimum focus distance from feet to inches, and it allows for some spectacular close-ups.
Here’s a few samples from the backyard this evening:
Using a narrow aperture to widen the plane of focus, you can capture a whole lot of detail and get really close at the same time. The focus isn’t quite what I’d thought it might be, but if you’ve ever used the 70-200mm, you know what a performer it is. Up close, though, isn’t possible without the 500D.
Plus, one thing I like about this combination is that it lets you get really close up, capture scads of detail, and change zoom levels really fast.
That’s it for now. Hope some of this information is helpful.
(Oh, perhaps you’re wondering how I took pictures of my camera rigging. I’ll save that for another post when I’ll yammer on about Lensbabies 2.0 selective focus lens.)
Robert Frost once said that, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
I know for a fact he did not have a privet hedge.
I’m about to re-christen my venerable hedge trimmer as “Sisyphus.”
For no mortal can complete the task of trimming my hedges, ere the hedge regrows.
Well, after having registered this domain late last year in order to provide some sort of homepage where I could talk photography, I’ve finally gotten around to it. You’re looking at the text end here. This may stay, and it may not.
If you want to have a look at the beta for my photography stuff, I’ve launched a Pixelpost based photoblog on this domain.
Here’s the link: http://www.ekolphoto.com/ekolblog.
Happy hunting! Please leave comments!