Archive for September, 2008

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ANPW Day 3

September 30, 2008

This morning we met at 5:30. To start, the entire group went to shoot the sunrise over the valley.  I hopped in Scott Stulberg’s Jeep along with Richard, another ANPW winner.  When we reached the shooting location the whole group set up and waited for sunrise.  Now, sunrise isn’t a “flip-the-switch” type of activity.  You see this coming.  Common sense would have kept me in a warm car until the light of day was coming over the eastern hills.  But, no…  We all stood out in the 20-something degree weather, in the dark and waited.  And waited. 🙂  No complaints, but I certainly learned something.  It’s better to be warm and on time than early and cold!  I attempted my first HDR panoramic.  It still needs some clean up, but here are the results:

Panoramic of the Tetons Range

Panoramic of the Tetons Range

Next, the group headed towards Mormon Row.  This was one of my favorite places in the Tetons and the location of two of my favorite images from last year – Moulton Barn and Moulton House).  As is typical of this location in the morning, it was packed full of photographers.  I shot this HDR of a small barn:

This was a good time to chat with the others and we soon were in a small lighting technique lesson by Scott Stulberg.  He showed us how to properly use reflectors and natural light to light the side of a model – in this case Lisa Bettany.  I wish I had pictures, but I was the guy holding the reflector.  I’m hoping Lisa or someone else posts the images.  It was interesting.  After a failed attempt to find some animals to photograph, it was off to lunch and our last day in the classroom.

In class we learned additional ways to create in Aperture and looked at some of the new plug-in technology.  Martin reviewed books, cards, slide shows and more.  I’m even more impressed and excited by the things I’ll be able to do with Aperture.  I’ve wanted to find a way to show pictures to family and friends without sitting around a laptop or viewing a typical photo album.  I love the book feature and the amount of options you  have with them.  This is something I’ll definitely look in to for sharing my pictures going forward.

Lastly, we were given a taste of some of Steve Simon’s photography in the form of Aperture presentations.  Set to music, we sat in awe as we viewed the solemn aftermath of 9/11 to the funny, but thought-provoking Big Cow to the captivating images from the Republican and Democratic conventions.  Steve is one of the best photojournalists around.  Visit Steve’s site to get a sampling of his talent.

As Scott Bourne brought in more “gifts” for us to see (one year subscriptions to training site Lynda.com and a certificate for Lensbaby equipment) we learned that the evening shoot was wildlife.  I have to say, when Scott gets prizes, he doesn’t mess around.  Everything was the top-of-the-line including the Drobo (Firewire, not the USB model), subscription to Lynda.com (premium all-access for one year), the certificate to Lensbaby (so we could get the latest Lensbaby creation), the ThinkTank 360 Backpack (their latest creation) and the PeachPress books (all photography related books).  Plus a copy of Aperture and a lifetime subscription to Photrade.com.  It’s amazing that he put this all together and I’m extremely grateful.

Teaming up again with Martin, with Brian in the car, we took off for the place we found elk the day before.  Unknown to us, it was also private property.  While we did manage to see another herd of elk, property management also found us and escorted us off the property.  Hey, sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness then permission! 🙂  Caravan in tow, Martin took off looking for more wildlife.

We drove for a while heading towards the place were we had seen the bison the evening before.  As we did, light was fading fast.  We noticed that Scott Stulberg had dropped from the caravan.  Still we searched for wildlife.  Scott Bourne dropped off as well.  It was just Martin’s car with Martin, Brian and I inside.  Around the next courner and BINGO!  A large heard of bison.  Fantastic.

This again proves that you have to keep going to find what you’re looking for and to MAKE YOUR SHOTS.  Also, shooting in dim light isn’t a bad option.  Sometimes you need to get the shots the clients looking for and you can’t wait for perfect light or anything else.  Make your shots.  Sometimes they don’t always come during the “golden hours”.

Heading back towards the hotel, we were in contact with Scott Stulberg’s car.  They had pulled on to Mormon Row and were looking to make some astro shots.  We joined them and I captured one of my favorite pictures from the trip – Big Dipper over Grand Teton

This one also:

You can see a very thin line towards the bottom of the picture.  This isn’t a plane or shooting star – it’s a satellite.  Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, but you can see satellites with your naked eye provided there isn’t any light pollution.  It was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen.

As we were getting ready to leave another group approached.  It was David Black a legend in the Nikon world.  He was shooting with a National Geographic team in the surrounding mountains.

One last picture before I turn in.  This one is Jupiter (the large point of light), the Milky Way and the light from Jackson Hole.  Oh… and a stop sign!  Enjoy!

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ANPW Day 2 – PM

September 27, 2008

I have to admit, after getting up early, shooting like a fiend and having a large, late breakfast, I thought my attention span in Martin’s first Aperture class was in jeopardy.  I was tired!  But my tired feeling quickly took the backseat to Martin’s fantastic hands-on demonstration of Aperture.  Simply put, Martin’s reputation as the premier Aperture instructor is firmly in place!  As for Aperture, this application is fantastic and a huge step up from my current work flow.  While I really like Nikon’s Capture NX software, the elegance and depth of Aperture will greatly improve my time to edit images.  I’m a believer and moving to Aperture as soon as I get home.  Check it out at apple.com/aperture.

I teamed up with Martin again for the afternoon/sunset shoot.  On the way out the light was really flat and dark clouds adorned the sky.  It didn’t look like a night to be out shooting pictures.  Ha!  One lesson I’ve learned is that regardless of the situation you’re put in, there are times when you need to make pictures.  Your clients aren’t going to listen to, “there wasn’t good light”, “I didn’t find anything to shoot”.  You must make the shots and “Never give up, never surrender!”.

Following this motto, we continued into the park when the sun broke through the clouds and bathed the valley in a glowing light:

The clouds behind the Grand Tetons opens and the sun shines down on the valley

The clouds behind the Grand Tetons opens and the sun shines down on the valley

Continuing on we drove north through the park looking for animals.  We were able to shoot a number of horses, some distant antelope and a lone bison.  I’m processing images, but it’s taking quite some time and there isn’t a lot of it on the trip.  It’s shoot, learn, shoot, shoot, sleep!  It doesn’t make it easy to post.

On the way back it was getting dark and the clouds were preventing us staying out for astro photography.  We did stop to shoot a well lit statue on the way into Jackson:

Statue on the way into Jackson, WY

Statue on the way into Jackson, WY

In the evening, Martin and I decided to take a walk around town.  Honestly, I wasn’t feeling well, but didn’t want to give up on shooting for the day.  Remember the motto – “Never give up, never surrender!”  the town of Jackson is very beautiful and shooting at night was interesting.  Again, not a lot processed, but I thought this was interesting:

Of the way back to the hotel, we noticed the sky had cleared.  Against my body’s wishes, we loaded up the car and took off for the park.  Our goal – to get far enough out of town to escape the light pollution so we could shoot astro photography.  I’d never shot astro and was very interested in learning the technique.

When we finally pulled over and hopped out, there were more stars in the sky then I had ever seen.

The haze in the sky is actually the bands of our Milky Way galaxy.

The haze in the sky is actually the bands of our Milky Way galaxy.

The haze in the sky isn’t from clouds, it’s the bands of the Milky Way.  It was awesome.

Enough for now.  I need some sleep.

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ANPW Day 2 – AM…

September 25, 2008

Wow.  It’s been a busy day!  This morning, Martin Gisborne and I headed out to shoot Schwabacher Landing at sunrise.  Martin is one of two Product Managers for Aperture and an accomplished photographer.  His style, get in, get the shot and get out to MAKE more pictures.  As I believed, the best part of the trip is understanding the way a true photo pro thinks about the assignment.  It really separates the professional from the amateur.  Alas, I’m in the latter group, but learning

After Schwabacher Landing, we decided to blow-off Moulton Row (too many people already there) and hunt for photos.  We scouted a place for this evening’s astral photos before driving after a couple hot air balloons.  We never did catch them, but ended up finding a bunch of Elk.  Hand-holding a 300mm f2.8 with a 1.7 tele isn’t the easiest thing, but I did manage to capture this image:

Off to grab a bite to eat before heading out for more wildlife, sunset and astral shots.  We’ll see!

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ANPW Day 1…

September 24, 2008

What a day.  After traveling from Philadelphia to Denver to Jackson Hole, WY for 8 hours, meeting the crew and getting to see a fantastic presentation of some of the pros’ photos, I’m back in the room and ready to sleep for a week.

But before I do, I wanted to share a picture of my little LowePro MiniTrekker completely filled with lenses.  I’ve labeled each lens:

My little LowePro MiniTrekker

My little LowePro MiniTrekker

My D300 and D200 were in my laptop case with the two SB-800s I brought and a 50mm f1.8.

Tonight, I’m keeping the post short (as most will be on this trip).  I’m up at 4:45 to head out with Martin Gisborne to shoot Schwabacher Landing and Molton Row.  I’ll post some images as soon as I’m able.

Stay up to date with this blog and over at f64.com where Lisa Bettany of MostlyLisa.com is blogging as well.  Now, I’m off to bed!  4:45 comes fast!

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A photographic theme…

September 20, 2008

Hmmm.  I’ve got a few days before the big trip and I’ve yet to pick a theme.  What is a theme, you say?  Isn’t the Grand Teton National Park a theme?  Well, yes, technically, but I’ve heard over and over again that it needs to be more specific.  Let’s back up a bit.

Whenever you go out to shoot, you should pick a theme.  Picking a theme helps focus your eye and your mind on, well, the theme!  This causes you to see things differently and with more detail since you’re looking for aspects of the theme in everything around you.  It’s not to say, “I’m not going to photograph the grizzly charging the elk for dinner because my theme is water’s effect on the landscape”.  Heck, shoot anything you’d like, BUT keep your theme in mind.  Look for the theme in everything you see and photograph.  It’ll get you more involved with the environment and, ultimately, improve your eye and your photography.

So, what’s my theme?  Truth be told, I’ve never chosen a theme before!  Hey, I’m learning too!  This is mostly a learning experience while doing landscape photography.  Should I focus on that?  It’s autumn in the Tetons.  Hmmm, I like autumn.  Autumn in the Tetons?  My photos should reflect the color and beauty of the autumn season in the Grand Teton National Park.  I can shoot wildlife, but each photo should show that it’s autumn.  I’m going to think on this a while.  I’m not sure if it’s specific enough.  Thoughts?  Use the comment box below!

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Mac OS X and VMWare Fusion V2.0…

September 18, 2008

While I want to dedicate this blog to photography and building a photography business, I am a technologist at heart and believe this is applies to the photography crowd.

A couple months ago I decided to buy my first Mac since the late 80s.  Having recently purchased an iPhone 3G, I was interested in writing iPhone applications.  Off to the Apple Store and local retailers I went looking for the cheapest way to re-enter the Mac world. Instead of boring you on the details, I found a demo 20″ iMac at a local store with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo and 250 GB hard disk for $749!  An extra $100 got me to 4 GB of RAM.  I Was a happy camper!

I have to tell you, I really like Microsoft Mojave… I mean, Vista.  It works much better than ANY Windows OS I’ve used. Your mileage may vary, but even the initial versions worked well for me.  I figured, I’d continue to use my Vista laptop as my primary machine, while using the Mac for iPhone development.  Hmmmm… not so much.

The iMac and Mac OS X have converted me back to a “Mac-head” (or whatever Mac folks are called these days.  While I still use my Vista machine on the go (tucking the iMac under my arm didn’t work out) or log in through Remote Desktop to use Internet Explorer on some sites, most everything else is done on the iMac.  It simply works better.

I know, as an engineer “simply works better” is a terrible argument.  Where’s the proof?  Well, the iMac is rebooted only a couple time in the last couple months mainly for OS upgrades.  The Vista machine… lots more.  Plus, I just like looking at the OS X.  I have an external 20″ monitor I share with the iMac and laptop and looking at OS X is really nice.  I know… nothing concrete.  Just look at them.

I’m not advocating you dropping Windows and running for OS X (a brisk walk will do!).  In fact, I’m still doing my photo editing over on Vista, mostly for the portability of the machine.  I’m sure I’ll catch a lot of flack on the ANPW, especially during the Aperture training.  In fact Aperture will most likely be the reason I move photo editing and cataloging to the Mac.

For the odd application that hasn’t been developed for OS X I use VMWare Fusion.  This application allows you to build a virtual environment for other operating systems from Windows to Linux right on your Mac.  Basically, you’re running another machine INSIDE your Mac!  I’m no stranger to virtual machines, but Fusion is really nice.  The Unity mode of Fusion makes it look like the Windows application is running on the Mac.  It’s very impressive.

The inital point of this post was to let everyone know that VMWare has just released version 2.0 of Fusion.  Best of all, it’s a free upgrade to all Fusion 1.x users.  Nice.  I’m about to install, but wanted to give you the heads up.

I’ll continue to use my Vista machine for classic development (I’ve yet to find anything as good as Microsoft’s development tools), but will eventually move all other tasks to OS X.  To my IT and development friends, I’m still drinking the KoolAide.  It’s just a different flavor!

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The Aperture Nature Photography Workshops (ANPW)…

September 16, 2008

If you haven’t listened to the podcast or read the blog This Week in Photography you’re missing out on great photography information.  Scott Bourne, Alex Lindsay, Steve Simon, Ron Brinkmann, Fred Johnson, et al produce this fantastic photography podcast each week.  In between podcasts, there are articles, contests and polls galore to keep you coming back to the site day after day.

It was during one episode of TWIP that I first heard of the Aperture Nature Photography Workshops (ANPW for short) contests.  Simply, four pros would team up with four amateur contest winners to shoot in one of four national parks.  The first contest was for a trip to Grand Tetons National Park.  The next three are Yosemite, Yellowstone and Olympic.  To enter you post a picture showing nature in all her glory – landscapes, wildlife, macro, anything that represented nature.  Judges would pick the top four pictures and, if selected, the photogs were off to the Tetons!  Oh, yeah, there are a lot of great prizes too!

Seeing that I’d been in the Tetons the year before I selected the only photo that is selling on my iStockPhoto page:

Reflection of Mt. Moran in the Snake River at Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons National Park

Reflection of Mt. Moran in the Snake River at Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons National Park

Whether talent or luck (I’m betting luck!) my photo was selected as one of the four winners.  Needless to say, I’m honored to have been picked out of so many fantastic entries.  Seriously, go look through some of these shots.  They’re fantastic.

So, I’m getting ready to head to Jackson Hole, WY on the 24th.  Words can’t describe how much I’m looking forward to this trip and meeting some of the people I read about or listen to each week.  I have the pleasure of meeting Scott Bourne, Martin Gisborne, Steve Simon and Scott Stulberg.  If you don’t know the names, look at their work (sorry, Martin!  I’m looking for a link!).  It’s truly inspirational photography.  Also, Lisa Bettany a stunningly beautiful blogger, photographer, writer, actress and model will be documenting the trip.  I am truly excited about this upcoming adventure.  Stay tuned… there’s more of this to come!