I still have Iceland on my mind. Over the past two weeks, I saw the greatest sunset and the strongest winds of my life; I walked through a pathless desert to the edge of a canyon, and I climbed a glacier lit by the midnight sun.
For ages I’ve heeded the warnings from camera manufacturers that inserting non-OEM batteries into my camera could make the camera explode or at the very least give it a nasty case of shingles. But a year ago I purchased a Nikon D4s and wanted a spare EN-EL18 battery. The Nikon battery was 150 bucks – why I could get a fifth of 25-year old Glenfarclas for that much. I saw positive reviews of the Wasabi batteries and decided to try one of those at a third of the price of the OEM battery. It worked just fine so I got more batteries, both the Wasabi and the Watson brands, for my D4s and my D7000 and D810 bodies. I’ve been using the Wasabis for a year and the Watsons for 7 months. For the first few months, they worked so well I never give a second thought as to whether I’d grabbed the Nikon batteries or the third party batteries when I went out on a shoot.
Nikon has just announced two highly anticipated super telephoto lenses for sports and wildlife photography, the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. After Nikon released the 800mm f/5.6E VR and the 400mm f/2.8E VR lenses, it was a matter of time before the 500mm and 600mm lenses got updated with the latest and greatest optical designs and technology. As before, Nikon has completely revamped the optical formula of these new lenses, shredding as much as 20% off the total weight on the 500mm and 25% off the total weight on the 600mm! Now the new 600mm f/4E VR weighs as much as the 400mm f/2.8E VR, which is incredible. Considering how hand-holdable the 400mm f/2.8E VR is, both of these new lenses open up a lot of amazing opportunities to get closer to action.
Many times in my travels I’ve happened upon a beautiful scene spread wide before me with a huge dynamic range that just begged to be photographed. It would require HDR to capture the range but also need to be stitched together as a panorama. I’d set up my tripod, snap the sequences, then get home and say “Verm, it’s time you give HDR another try.” Which would last about two minutes until the first bracketed set of shots made it into Photoshop HDR Pro and gave me a result that looked like someone painted a coat of gray primer over it.
There are probably more entertaining ways to spend a Sunday afternoon but this stunt display in a field in London was reasonably diverting. I had shot stunt shows before using a Nikon DSLR and the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8. But I knew my EM-5 had only contrast detection AF and was not really camera for shooting action. Nevertheless, there was only one way to find out how it would fair and I took it with me, along with the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 and 12-40mm f/2.8.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared the first part of my exploration of the waterfalls of New England here on Photography Life and promised that there will be a part two. This write up fulfills the promise and continues the story further. My focus this time were the forests of Western Massachusetts, especially those around Route 2 West from Boston. This freeway is also known as the Mohawk Scenic Byway and is a very beautiful drive once you get little beyond the Greater Boston area.
As you may already know, we are currently running a Photo Spot Contest (with a grand prize comprised of the new Fuji X-T10 camera) and we are really happy to see some truly amazing submissions from some of our readers. I have been going through all the submissions and approving them one by one and boy, it has been a great experience! It turns out that many of our readers are amazing photographers – some of the submissions are very inspirational to see. So far, we have published a total of 154 submissions and we are looking forward to seeing even more. I have no doubt that this project will be successful, because it offers tremendous help for people who are considering to visit places and not knowing where to go and what to photograph. Although I have not worked out a proper way to index all the submissions and offer an easy way for our readers to browse through the photo spots, it is definitely on my plate and I will be working on those soon.
We had a few people cancel their workshop reservations for this fall’s Colorado Fall Workshops for different reasons, so I wanted to let our readers know that there are now a total of 5 spots available for our upcoming Colorado Fall Workshops at the end of September. With three months left until the workshop, there is still plenty of time to register and get your airfare and stay booked at great rates.
When I first got access to the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC lens (which we recently reviewed), I got curious about other potential lens options already available with the similar focal length range, build and fast aperture of f/2.8. After a quick search through our lens database, I found the Tokina AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro FX. This little gem has been available for a while now and although I have heard a lot of good things about it, I never had a chance to actually try it out. After receiving the lens along with a few other lenses like the Tokina AT-X 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX-II (which I will be also reviewing very soon), I headed off to Death Valley National Park. Although I primarily used the lens with my infrared-converted Nikon D800E, which as I painfully found out later turned out to be a bad choice for IR as explained further down in the review, I was really curious to see how it would do, given its extremely attractive price of $629. At this price, I was expecting the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 to be a poor performer, because the price just did not seem to be right for such a fast zoom lens with a “pro” label on it. After using the lens and testing it out in my lab, I realized that I was wrong – it turned out to be a hidden gem.
Saying “goodbye” to a friend is never an easy thing to do. We have a great team here at Photography Life, made up of some of the most creative, inventive and supportive folks in the photography world. Each of them works incredibly hard to bring our readers some of the best photography articles available anywhere.