Archives for March 2012

Excellent Photo Adventures…It’s A Beautiful Morning

The first day of Excellent Photo Adventures…Spirit of the American Southwest arrived with a windstorm that blew through Monument Valley obscuring the view and blowing sand every which way.  Our guide, Tom, came by and canceled our shoot and we re-scheduled for the next day.  We made the best of the situation working images and discussing night photography while we prayed to the photo gods for better weather the next day.  Tom arrived at o’dark thirty to pick us up and put us at Totem Pole for first light.  And what a morning it was.  There were some clouds and some residule dust in the air that provided us with a lovely sunrise…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

From the exact same spot we were positioned so that when the first light bathed the Valley, we simply turned to the right for another beautiful view of distant formations, sand dunes and the soft greens of the sage brush…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

With the sun still low in the sky we moved into position to get sidelight on the dunes to capture the great texture in the sand from the previous day’s wind storm.

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

Once again the photo gods smiled upon our shoot providing us with beautiful light and great subjects to point our lenses at.  With nearly two weeks of D4 use under my belt, I am really getting into the groove of the new placement of the buttons and dials, the performance and the quality of the camera.  I am using the camera in real world situations and it is doing a fine job.  I’m looking forward to putting it through it’s paces next month when I visit Florida to photograph birds.  I did purchase the camera for wildlife after all.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…Totem Pole After Dark

With clear skies prevailing and a new moon setting before nightfall it’s a great time to work the night skies in Monument Valley.  We headed out to Totem Pole for a night shoot.  Positioning ourselves towards the north star and then putting it just off center we set up and light painted the first few images then set our interval timers for star trails…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR

 

This was the first night shot I have done with the D4 (I have my D3S on the balcony back at the hotel working 24/7) and it performed beautifully as expected.

Excellent Photo Adventures…Spirit Of The American Southwest…Night Skies

When the sun goes down, the cameras don’t get a rest.  Instead we change gears and work the night skies.  From the Milky Way…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 24mm 1.4

To the night skies over the Mittens and Merrick Butte…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 24mm 1.4

And a 6 hour star trail over Monument Valley…

Nikon D3S, AF-S 24mm 1.4

With only one battery and no AC adapter for my D4, the D3S is getting a night workout.  Tonight while my D3S is working on time lapse of the Milky Way, I’ll have the D4 out working star trails in the back country.  Stay tuned.

Excellent Photo Adventures…Spirit Of The American Southwest…Day 2

The dramatic clouds and weather of yesterday are now just a memory and this morning we awoke to a crystal clear day with not a cloud in the sky.  Not so great for places like Horseshoe Bend but wonderful for the slot canyons so after taking a walk down to Horseshoe Bend to gaze at it’s magnificence, we headed to breakfast to let the sun get higher in the sky…yes, this is one time that “high noon” on a bright sunny day is one of the better times to photograph.  We spent the midday hours in Lower Antelope Canyon and once again I turned to B&W using NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 to emphasize the graphic patterns and the play of shadow and light without being distracted by the surreal colors…

Nikon D4, AF 16mm 2.8 Fisheye

 

We took a midday break and were refreshed and ready to make the rough ride to Alstrom Point overlooking Lake Powell for the afternoon.  Don’t I wish we had the clouds from yesterday for our Lake Powell shoot.  But, we take what the photo gods give us and I waited until the sun had dropped below the horizon and the twilight blues of approaching evening lit the sky to make a three shot panorama…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

 

By the time we made it back to Page, it was dark enough to make some night shots.  Armed with a spotlight we headed to one of the slot canyons with Lionel, our exceptional Navajo guide.  Now I was glad that we had a clear sky to see the night sky.  We stepped inside the slot canyon, set up our tripods and adjusted our settings to manual exposure, manual focus and high ISO to keep the shutter speed fast enough to prevent the stars from streaking and on the count of three clicked our shutters while Lionel turned the spotlight on for a few brief seconds during the exposure.  The result is awesome with the warm glow of the sandstone and the night sky visible through the opening…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

 

We then stepped outside the slot canyon and aimed back in composing the image to show the opening in the lower part of the frame and the night sky above.  Once again we clicked our shutters and with a one second flash of the spotlight captured the canyon lit from within and twinkling stars above…

Nikon D4, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

 

The D4 handled high ISO with ease and using in camera noise reduction gave me very clean files.  So far I am very pleased with the performance of the Nikon D4.  It handles well, produces beautiful files  at both long exposures and at high ISO settings.  I’m still getting used to all the extra buttons and dials and the new locations of familiar controls that my fingers went to naturally.  I’m sure by the end of these two weeks, it will be second nature again.  Stay tuned.