Saturday, June 23, 2018

Never Say Never



When digital cameras were first introduced, I said I would NEVER go down that road. I was a film purist and liked it that way! But a few years later I got a digital camera “just for fun” and was immediately hooked.

Then when the mirrorless revolution began, I said the same thing. (I guess I never learn!) I had concerns about such small sensors, and the early entries in the mirrorless market had their share of technical and image quality issues.  But now that mirrorless cameras have been around for awhile, and many of the bugs and shortcomings have been resolved, I was invited to try it.

Thanks to Panasonic for loaning me a G9 body and several Leica lenses to test while I am in Alaska. And thanks to Gary at Hunts Photo and Video for introducing me to Panasonic and helping to make this happen.

Before continuing, you should know that I NEVER recommend equipment or software that I have not used myself AND that I like. And I do not receive any sort of compensation for making recommendations. I always try to give honest, unbiased information that you can then use to make the decisions that are best for you.

So with that said, here are my early impressions. So far I have done only one quick test, but frankly I was blown away. In all honesty, I was not expecting such great quality, ease of use, and such a quick learning curve. I will be doing much more testing once I get to Alaska next week, but if early results are any indication, the Panasonic G9 far exceeds my expectations.

The image above was shot with the Leica 100-400mm lens, set at 400mm (equivalent to 200-800mm on a full frame body). It is razor sharp, AND this image is significantly cropped. Here is the uncropped, unoptimized version.
RAW uncropped and unoptimized image
So at essentially 800mm and cropped significantly, the final image above is still sharp with very little noise.

The camera feels much like a normal  DSLR in your hands, but is somewhat smaller and much lighter. It is not a tiny mirrorless body like some others out there, but I like that because the controls on the top and the back are not so jammed together that you accidentally hit a button and change something unintentionally.

The menu is one of the easiest to navigate, and is much more intuitive than others I have seen. Adjustments are easy to make.

So far I have not found any shortcomings with the G9. I still need to test it on birds in flight, wildlife, and scenics, plus I want to give the 45mm Leica macro lens a spin around the block. So stay tuned for more info over the next few weeks.

If you have read other reviews online (and I have yet to find a bad review of the G9), and are ready to get one, Hunt’s Photo and Video is offering a special price to my clients. Click on this link (which shows the list price)  
https://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?productid=DCG9KBODY&mfg=Panasonic&show=yes     Then email Gary at Hunt’s to find out what their special price is. Gary’s email is   digitalguygary@wbhunt.com
Be sure to mention you are a client of mine and he will provide you with the special price.    

FYI, there are many photo retailers to choose from, and I have tried many of them. They all sell pretty much the same things at similar prices. What sets Hunt’s apart is that they take a personal interest in their clients. They are small enough to provide individual attention, yet big enough to have access to nearly everything you might want.  Their prices are competitive, they offer free shipping, and they usually have most things in stock.

TECH SPECS
1/2500 sec at f/6.3, ISO 400. Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f/4-6.3 set at 400mm on Panasonic G9 body. Handheld.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “Never say never. Never is a long, undependable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it.”  --Gloria Swanson

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Line, Color, Texture, and Light


This simple image has appeal, but why? Because it has several elements that speak loudly in spite of  the simplicity  -  the lines of the cactus plant, the monochromatic greens, the texture of the edges, and the light that shows roundness and almost glows.

Often images that have only one or two colors have powerful appeal. There are fewer elements to deal with, and overall there can be a calming effect. And because there are very few elements, it is important that the quality of the light be a beneficial supporting player.

So try this. Set an assignment for yourself. Go in search of subjects that have only one or two colors. Walk around the subject if possible. Look for the best light direction and the best quality of light. I recommend shooting on overcast days since the light will be softer, exposure will be easier, and there will not be hard shadows or bright highlights to become a distraction.

If you get some images you like, email them to me at awakethelight@charter.net
I always enjoy seeing what can be created!

TECH SPECS
1/640 sec. at f/3.2, ISO 400. Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."  --Albert Einstein

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Alaska Grizzly Bears July 2019


I'm excited that in a few short weeks I'll be back in Alaska, running the grizzly bear photo tour at the most incredible bear location anywhere. I've already reserved the lodge for next year, and the trip will be July 15 -21, 2019. This is the best place to photography grizzlies in the wild. The bears are everywhere, but calm, photogenic, playful, and easy to photograph.

We see mom's and cubs, teenagers mock fighting, and males calmly striding through their domain. We see them in the water, clamming, nursing, fishing, and frolicking in the fields. The variety of behaviors we observe keeps us clicking all day long. And all this with two incredible backdrops - the mountains of Lake Clark National Park on one side, and the rich waters of the Cook Inlet on the other.

About a one-hour flight out of Anchorage, we stay in a lovely pure Alaska lodge that is reserved for just our group. That means that everything moves at our schedule. We have our own guide and ATV vehicle to take us and all our gear each day to where the bear action is best. The lodge has its own superb chef who prepares all our meals. So we are in the wild with bears, yet are able to enjoy the luxury of a comfortable and beautiful lodge, great food, and our own transportation. It doesn't get any better than that!

Plus there is an added bonus! One day we'll take a short boat ride to a nearby puffin breeding island. We'll spend part of a day photographing these beautiful and entertaining birds. It is an experience not to be missed!

Detailed information is on the website here   

http://awakethelight.com/brown-bears/

 

Email or call for more information, or to register. 

For your security, we accept all registrations

and payments by phone at 757-773-0194.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

JUST ANNOUNCED - Alaska Photo Trips 2019


The 2019 photo tours and workshops calendar is being rolled out. 

The first ones to be announced are two Alaska trips for next summer:


Glacier Bay National Park,  June 25 - 30, 2019

 

Brown Bears Bonanza,  July 15 - 21, 2019


Details are in our June newsletter at this link       

https://conta.cc/2JE0Yh6

Each trip is a photographer's dream with great wildlife 

and breathtaking scenery. 

 

For more details, questions, or to register, 

email awakethelight@charter.net 

or call 757-773-0194 


Friday, June 8, 2018

Drama Queen


Black & White conversions can result in very dramatic images. Once the color is stripped away, we can see the form, shapes, and tones much more clearly.

This image was taken in the Grand Canyon between snow storms. The dark cloudy sky looks much more ominous in black and white than it did in color. I find the best ways to convert images to black and white is to use either Silver Efex Pro or Lightroom.

For dramatic scenes, don't hesitate to go a little over the top to deepen the blacks. But be careful to not block them up totally; you want to maintain a bit of detail in most of the darkest tones.

TECH SPECS
1/400 sec at f/8, ISO 200. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Drama is very important in life. Everything can have drama if it's done right. Even a pancake."  --Julia Child

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Welcome The Wind


Sometimes the wind is a benefit when photographing flowers. Normally we want sharp images with no sign of motion, but when the wind is blowing it can be a benefit. Use it to your best advantage.

On this very windy day at a botanical gardens I gave up trying to get sharp images. The wind was just too strong. So I took another direction, and made images USING the wind rather than fighting it.

In addition to using a slow shutter speed of 1/3rd of a second, I also moved the camera diagonally during exposure from upper left to lower right.

So when the wind is strong, go with a slow shutter speed and see what you can get!

TECH SPECS
1/3rd sec. at f/32, ISO 100. Canon 100mm macro f/2.8 lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts his sails."  --William Arthur Ward

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Eagle Eye


Eagles are amazing fliers and fishermen. They swoop down quickly and decisively to nab their dinner. Even though we are very lucky that eagles have made a comeback and are now found in nearly every state nationwide, the largest and most impressive ones are in Alaska.

I am excited that in a month I will be back in Alaska photographing eagles, bears, seals, glaciers, and so much more. It is one of my favorite destinations.

When photographing birds in flight, a fast shutter speed is imperative. It helps freeze the wing motion. And since I generally handhold the camera rather than using a tripod, a fast shutter speed also prevents the appearance of camera shake.

TECH SPECS
1/4000 at f/7.1, ISO 1600.  Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 280mm on Canon 7D Mark II body.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Eagles come in all shapes and sizes, but you will recognize them chiefly by their attitudes."  -- E.F. Schumacher

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day


On this Memorial Day, we honor those who have served to protect our freedoms and our democracy. We mourn those who did not return, or returned troubled and broken.

I hope that reason and compromise will soon replace the emotionally charged rhetoric and divisiveness that has become a daily burden we all shoulder.  A divided nation is not what our veterans fought and died for.

This flower represents compromise, give and take, and the solidity of the whole. Each petal curves in and around the others, giving room for all to grow, to be independent, and yet to be part of a cohesive whole.

Mother Nature teaches us many life lessons. May we stop, think, listen, and then respect and support each other.

TECH SPECS
1/500 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 200. Canon 7D Mark II body with Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS lens. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I hate the fact that people think 'compromise' is a dirty word."  --Barbara Bush 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Shape and Color


While our brains know that these are birds, snow geese to be exact, this image is all about shape and color. Because it is a silhouette, there is no detail in the birds. Their shape tells us what they are. And the strong sunset color is the only color in the image.

With birds and wildlife, timing is important. This image caught one goose just lifting off, with water drops coming off its feet. The bird behind it is just getting ready to lift off as well. So the action is a nice counterpoint to the other three geese who are happy just chilling where they are.

Finding the right exposure for silhouettes is fairly easy when there is strong light on everything except the subject. I took a meter reading off the water, which was brilliantly lit by the setting sun. Because the water was so much brighter than the geese, they automatically were rendered as black with no detail.

This image was taken at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. I am honored to be one of their featured speakers at this year's Festival of the Cranes coming up November 14 - 17. As more details become available, I'll keep you posted.

TECH SPECS
1/500 sec. at f/10, ISO 800.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 200mm. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "People talk about perfect timing, but I think everything is perfect in its moment; you just want to capture that."  --Eddie Huang