It has been a while since I published my first article on what to photograph in Jordan and part 2 has been unfortunately sitting in its “draft” state ever since. Now that I have a little bit more free time on my hands, I decided to go back and finally finish it up. I apologize for the delay and hope you enjoy pictures from this truly magnificent country! I will first tour you in the famous Ajlun Castle, then take you to the world-famous Petra, then finish it up with the exquisite Wadi Rum – a true photographer’s dream!
This weekend, a very exciting display opened at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. – the twentieth anniversary of the Nature’s Best Photography exhibition. Every autumn for the past twenty years, the Windland Smith Rice Nature’s Best Photography International Competition has collected its winning images for a year-long display in the museum; the 2015 exhibit is a “Best of the Best” retrospective of the work from previous years. It features all the past Grand Prize and Youth winners, alongside the photos awarded in this competition 2015. In total, the exhibit features 113 massive prints, selected from nearly 500,000 submissions over the past two decades. I am very happy to announce that Spencer Cox won in this year’s Youth Category, and his “Brown Anole” image will be included in the 2015 retrospective exhibition! Congratulations to Spencer for winning this very prestigious award!
With the Photo Plus show, a lot of manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma have announced great promotions in the form of instant savings ranging from $50 all the way to thousands of dollars. Canon is basically discounting every DSLR, including the new Canon 5DS R (which is currently $300 off), and if you go for some specific kits like the Canon 7D with 28-135mm lens, you can save up to $750. The new Canon 7D II has been discounted heavily too. You can purchase it with the Pixma Pro-100 printer for $1,249 after a $350 mail-in rebate, which is a pretty sweet deal. If you shoot Nikon, the “Buy Together and Save” program is still actively going, with savings up to $1,100 when you get the D810 with the 24-120mm lens. And speaking of the D810, the camera itself has been heavily discounted by a whopping $500, so if you don’t need to buy a lens, you can grab the D810 body only for $2,800. B&H will sweeten the deal even more by giving you a 2% reward card and a few accessories worth another $100.
With our first PL team retreat and two back-to-back workshops, this fall has been a pretty busy time of the year for me personally. But I cannot complain, as the experience has been extremely rewarding – I met some of the most wonderful people (most of whom turned out to be our long-time readers), and it was a great chance to get our PL team together to meet face to face, photograph, have fun and get to know each other while enjoying hot dogs near a warm campfire! Our team decided it was a good idea to write a bit about their experience and share some photos with our readers, so below you will find their individual contributions.
I have been trying to clean up my shelf space for a while now, getting rid of things that I no longer need or use. I recently moved and realized that I have way too much stuff, so I decided to put it up for sale. Some things I have not touched in a while, others I have practically never used – don’t ask me why I got those in the first place! Although the bulk of what is listed below is Nikon gear, it is by no means an indication that I am switching or anything like that. I shoot with a lot of different gear nowadays (mostly for review purposes), but I still shoot Nikon as my primary system for commercial and personal work. Below is what I am planning to get rid of, so if you have any interest, please post a comment below or contact me through this form and let me know what you want. Will ship internationally, as long as the carrier is either UPS or FedEx, fully insured.
UPDATE: Forgot that Nikon does not keep as much value anymore, so everything is reduced by quite a bit!
Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Rick Keller, who is joining our team of talented writers. If you have not yet seen Rick’s work, I highly recommend that you check out his phenomenal articles on Visualization and Film photography. So far he has published three parts to the series, but his very first article on the process of visualization, along with the article on hunting for the light will surely leave you inspired! Although I have only ventured into film photography once and have not had much time to dig in further, reading Rick’s articles makes me want to buy a medium format film camera and experiment with it, as I have so much to learn from him. Rick, along with our respected contributor Vaibhav Tripathi and our team members John Bosley and Laura Murray are my other inspirations for getting into film photography.
Without a doubt, the Fuji X-T1 has been a huge success for Fujifilm, being one of the most rugged, versatile and very capable interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras on the market. It did not take long for me to fall in love with it – after writing my in-depth review of the Fuji X-T1, I ended up buying one for myself. The X-T1 took the market by storm and many photographers ended up buying that camera either as a primary tool, or as a secondary camera to a full-frame DSLR. Despite the many offerings from Fuji, including the X-A2, X-E2, X-M1 and the X-Pro1, the X-T1 is the camera that made the most impact overall. The success of the X-T1 was the reason why Fuji decided to create a stripped down version of the same camera at a lower price point and that’s how the Fuji X-T10 was born.
Just a quick report for those who are wondering about the Sony A7R II file sizes and storage options after upgrading to firmware 2.00 and enabling uncompressed RAW. First of all, file sizes in fact do look much bigger in comparison! Here is a short summary of Lossy / Compressed RAW vs Uncompressed: 43 MB vs 86 MB – the file size basically doubles! Ouch, that means not only slower write times to your memory card, but also twice less images to save on them too. And if you keep the original RAW file, it will also double your storage and backup requirements. If you do not like this, there is one workaround – to use Adobe’s DNG converter. If you import your images into Lightroom, you can convert uncompressed RAW files to DNG upon import, or you can use the free Adobe DNG converter software before you start the import. The good news is, this process will create a lossless compressed DNG file, which means that you will end up with a much smaller file. How much smaller? Take a look at this small table:
Today is a good day in the Sony world, because the firmware 2.00 containing 14-bit Uncompressed RAW is available for download for the Sony A7R II! Finally, Sony added this option to the camera, which means you can now take a full advantage of the 42 MP Sony sensor in the A7R II, without damaging image quality. While the uncompressed RAW images will be much larger in size (roughly 2x the size), it is definitely worth using this option for critical shooting, particularly when shooting night scenes where sky posterization issues and artifacts around subjects are most pronounced. With the uncompressed option, you can enjoy seeing images that look like the ones from the Nikon D810 below:
The second “How was this picture taken?” series article turned out to be a bit controversial, because some people either did not like the photo, or did not like some things about it. Some complained about the moon appearing unrealistic, with its darker side being darker than the sky (and they were right, as pointed out below), others did not like how the moon arced in the way I made it appear in the image. One of the readers even said “this shot is to astrophotography what a stuffed owl on a branch would be to wildlife photography”. I totally understand and sympathize with such views, because we want to see a realistic world in images. However, when it comes to moon photography, things can get quite difficult when trying to be realistic. First of all, unless you photograph just the moon by itself without any foreground elements, it is quite difficult to yield a good-looking and realistic image. The moon by itself is a small object when viewed from our planet, which means that if one wants to photograph the moon up close and include foreground elements so that they both appear realistic in terms of sizes and proportions, the only option is to use a telephoto lens above 200mm. And in such cases, one would have to time the shot and take pictures at moonrise, while the moon is still very close to the horizon.