The Great Journey in Photography

Posts tagged “travel

Seattle Stickies


Seattle Stickies is now available on the iOS app store. They are available as a free download to all iPad and iPhone owners for a limited time.

It is a collection of Messages stickers celebrating the landmarks and culture of Seattle and the Puget Sound. Great for residents and travelers. These stickers are made in the distinctive canvas art style. Help celebrate the art and culture of all Washington by using these free stickers today.




Get a High Resolution Copy of This Image For Free


Version 3.1 of Nature & Wildlife Pictures is now available with many new images and performance improvements. NWP is a free download with most of the 60 downloadable images available at no additional cost including the one at the top of this post. There are also additional images available for sale.

Among the other improvements the app now allows image purchases on both the phone and iPad and the entire process is more robust and informative to the user. Previously purchased images are now shaded in green on both the phone and iPad and allows users to easily restore purchases they have already paid. This version is also translated into Spanish and shows local currency rates for all countries.

Nature & Wildlife Pictures is a free download for all users so if you enjoy the pictures you see on this blog you will love the application.


Mightiest of the Mighty

Bald Eagle Along the Mountains in Alaska

420mm f6.3 400iso 1/1,600sec

Many of you will already know that I used the Nikon D800 camera body extensively a couple of months ago. I think it is a remarkable piece of gear but I also wonder just how good it is for bird photography. As a bit of background, when I first started shooting birds one of my goals was to be the person using medium format cameras with long lenses. Physics and money made that an impossibility until the D800 came along. Needless to say I was one of the anxious ones wanting to see just what the mighty body can do and I would rather be a fanboy of the camera rather than a critic but there are times when the D800 falls short for bird photography. Twice now I have held back from running out and buying one.

Huge file size and good low light sensitivity are the two big draws for the Nikon camera, along with the professional build it is more than enough for almost everyone and probably the very best camera made in the $3,000 price range. Intellectually, it is a sheer pleasure having all those pixels to play with, you can make prints large enough for the Grand Hall or crop for days and still have a usable, publishable image. In real life huge images are a pain in the ass. Everything needs an upgrade across the board, memory, computer ram, data transfer technology, storage, drive read and write, buffer sizes, and software all have to be at cutting edge standards to have an enjoyable workflow when processing these large images. If you want to shoot 36 megapixels you have to be sure that every single supporting technology, everything you use after the shutter button clicks is up to snuff. In many cases that is going to cost more than the camera its self. In the process of upgrading my supporting hardware I lost something that was very near and dear to my heart Nik Color Effects Pro 3 Tonal Contrast. You see I converted over to the Photoshop cc plan and in that version none of the older Nik products can be used. I tried the latest version and it sucks to be blunt and even at the super low price is not worth the money to me. The D800 has great dynamic range, the best I have seen to date and the low light sensitivity is very good but not the best I have seen. One unusual trait I have noticed with the camera is the way the bokeh renders out in certain images. I think it has to do with how the images interact with anti-noise software and anti-aliasing. It is hard to put my finger on it but backgrounds that would render out a nice creamy bokeh are just a little bit different. Plastic like is the best description I can think of.

None of those thing is a good excuse for not using the mighty 800 as far as I am concerned but there is one and that is the painfully slow frame rate speed of 4fps (can be upgraded to 6). It is almost impossible to quantify the damage this does without doing a side by side comparison for thousands of images but I am sure there are a number of missed shots in my work simply because of the amount of time between the frames. One remedy to this problem is to be extremely methodical and selective of the time you attempt a burst of images and that is all a function of knowing the basics. Just like always, you have to know what you want and when you want it, you need to predict behavior and know the direction of light and in general be on top of your game. It is a pro level device.

The Friendly Skies

the friendly skies

28mm f8.0 250iso 1/80sec

I did a fair amount of travel this week and one of the things I am really starting to take note of is how things differ so much between airports and airlines and that things are always changing. First thing I notice,with the increasing fees for checked baggage more people are trying to pack in tons of carry on luggage and a typical flight has a very large number of the carry on bags getting checked into the belly of the plane with the other luggage. Only slightly better than checking the gear in the first place. Seems to me that there is also a lot more security and scrutiny given to checked bags so maybe checking photography gear is not as big of a risk as it one was.

The idea of carry 40lbs of photo gear on your body through security does not have the same appeal as it used to have either. You can plan on removing all that stuff at least once on your journey to the gate. Clever ways of moving photography gear from point A to B are now at a premium and by premium I mean paying extra money to the airlines. I believe every carrier has an upgrade scheme in place that can give the paying traveler an additional level of comfort or convenience. Choose wisely and you can do yourself a huge favor for not a lot of money. Speaking of “not a lot of money”, the last four flights I booked I shopped extensively and the last four flight I booked were through the airline direct. In one case I saved more than $470 (about half price) on the fare over the travel sites. Using the carrier offered mobile applications also makes travel a lot less stressful too. At SFO a couple of days ago we had a last-minute gate change and the airline had a notification out to me at the same time the agents knew of the change.

Just a few thoughts gang, not really on topic but it does have a lot to do with me (and you hopefully) getting out to the places we need to be to get those great shots.

Thanks for stopping by and we will do it all again next week.

Now Go Shoot

Yellow Finch

420mm f13 200iso 1/320sec

Continuing from what I was writing last week, one of the podcasts that I listen to whenever a new episode is released is the Digital Photo Experience with Rick Sammon and Juan Pons. I chose them because I like to listen to the show, it is as simple as that. There is no doubt that many of our choices are personality driven and it helps a lot to enjoy the information you are consuming.

On their last podcast Rick and Juan brought into the conversation a discussion about loosing motivation, how good photographers can get derailed and frankly overwhelmed by the competition and all the niches a modern photographer has to navigate. I thought it was a great conversation bringing up points that many others really don’t say. Anyhow, today I wanted to make just a few comments about maintaining motivation and staying away from the motivation killers.

Introspection is required. you have to do some serious thinking at some point, probably best when you are not in a funk, and id those things that can take the wind out of your sails. It is the little things that tent to trigger the downward spirals, and knowing what they are is the only way to deal with the drive they kill. For me there are a few things that often make me back slide. Probably the biggest culprit that makes me feel puny and insignificant as a photographer is seeing amazing photos from places that I really want to go to but can’t because it is just out of my reach. For example, I get a feed from National geographic that has a photos of the week section. Of course they are amazing images made at amazing places that I would love to visit but probably never will, because I just don’t have the means. After a while that gets depressing, can make one feel a little hopeless and insignificant I suppose.

When gear fouls up I lose time and opportunity to make great images and some times face financial setback. I don’t like that, it puts me in a bad mood and makes it a little less likely that I will get stuff working and get back out shooting as soon as possible.

Then there is a big one-overexpectation. I often set un-realistic goals and when I see that I am nowhere near them it can become discouraging. There is one upside to over expectation though, I am the sort who will never let go. I will keep going back time after time until those expectations become realistic and eventually, reality. It is a long hard bumpy road that always has failure and frustration, if you let it, it will slow you down.

There are ways to stay out of a funk too. Here are three things that work for me.
Take on a project. At any given time I am working on a project. One trick is to create a project that you will start and finish. I like to say it needs to hit MARC. That is, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Controllable. In general you want everything you do to meet MARC and it is essential for these little projects.
Buy some new gear. Probably the best side effect about getting new equipment is that it gets you out shooting. Testing and playing with new “toys” is always an uplifting experience.
Put together a portfolio of no more than 5 or 6 images. I don’t know about others but I now have tens of thousands of bird images and there are several that I consider to be really good quality. Going through the exercise of choosing just 5 of them forces you to review your accomplishments and the places you have been. God willing you will feel a sense of confidence and a lust to do more.

Now Go Shoot!

Thanks so much for reading. You can see more of my work at