How my gear made a difference
Here’s a pretty standard shot of a Western Gull, which I captured a few weeks ago while leading my San Diego Birding photo safari. Gulls are relatively easy targets for practicing your bird shots, and while this shot isn’t remarkable by any means, my choice of gear still made a difference.
First, I was using the Nikon D850 DSLR. The outstanding dynamic range of this camera allowed me to capture the entire gamut of shadows and highlight details in a single exposure. Should I decide to print this image, I could go as large as 24×34 without any resampling.
Second, I used the versatile Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR zoom lens. For a “consumer” lens, it’s really hard to beat. But why this lens was perfect for this shot was because it was not only light enough to hand-hold, but also that it’s minimum focus distance of 7.2′ (2.19m) allowed me to get really close to my subject and create a really smooth out of focus background.
For my last two birding safaris, I’ve eschewed my heavy tripods for the flexibility of a monopod with tilt-head and shoulder-stock. The monopod is lightweight and mobile, but when combined with my Arca-Swiss shoulder stock, I get a very stable configuration in the field, with my legs replacing a tripod. This isn’t easy to do with a monopod alone; the shoulder-stock creates a solid contact point between my camera and my body.
Finally, because processing the final image is just as important to me as the capture itself, I used Adobe Lightroom Classic CC to fine-tune the exposure, tone, and detail in the RAW image. I leveraged Adobe’s Nikon Camera Neutral profile to open the shadows and protect highlights while giving me maximum control over global and local tone and color.
- Nikon D850 with Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR zoom Nikkor lens
- 1/500s, f/7.1, ISO 72
- Monopod and (BIF)BullsEye™ Arca-Swiss shouder stock
Today we honor the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fuel oil still slowly leaks from the sunken hulk of the USS Arizona (BB-39), destroyed on that date. I captured this image while on a vacation in 2006 with a Nikon Coolpix. I added some Flypaper Textures to add a more painterly look.
I captured this image a few weeks ago on a visit to Ireland. Because I brought a small tripod (in this case, a Gitzo 1-series), I was able to set up for long exposure shots at twilight. The so-called “blue hour” lasts only a few minutes and peaks about 20-30 minutes after sunset.
Discover the art of the long exposure with my illustrated tutorial, Stretching Time.
The Giant’s Causeway is a unique coastal formation of basalt columns that jut out into the ocean on Ireland’s northern coast. I made sure to visit there at sunset, and I was rewarded with some really nice clouds. I used HDR from two exposures (Lightroom HDR tutorial) to capture the full range of tones in the scene.
Nikon D750 with 16-35mm f/4 AFS G VR Nikkor lens
f/13, ISO 100 (2-exposures).