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Be A Wildlife Biographer
My discovery of wildlife photography felt like a fulfillment of that lifelong affinity and fascination for animals.
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In Focus: August 2011
The 50mm lens is a must-have for all photographers, and Nikon has updated its model. The AF-S Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.8G is a fast, compact prime offering tack-sharp image quality, solid low-light performance and shallow depth of field. The lens focuses as close as 1.48 feet, uses Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor for fast, quiet autofocus operation and is optimized for FX-format (full-frame) cameras, but also works well with DX-format (APS-C) cameras. Lens construction consists of seven elements in six groups, with one aspherical lens element to reduce instances of coma and aberration, even when shooting wide open. It’s ideal for travel, landscape, portraiture and low-light shooting. Estimated Street Price: $219. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
With next-generation pigment printing technology and a wide variety of media output and wireless connectivity options, the 13-inch Epson Stylus Photo R2000 is an ideal printing solution. The eight-color pigment ink set has a gloss optimizer, includes bold red and orange inks, and auto-selects between Photo and Matte Black inks. The printer’s media-handling capabilities allow for printing on heavy stationery stock and metallic, as well as photographic and fine-art papers. The eight-channel, high-precision print head produces a maximum resolution of 5670×1440 optimized dpi and variable-sized droplets as small as 1.5 picoliters. The R2000 offers Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi and USB 2.0 connectivity. Estimated Street Price: $499. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.
Transmitting 25% more light through the polarizing film, the Kenko Zeta EX circular polarizer delivers about a half-stop more light than standard circular polarizers. The filter is designed to keep weight to a minimum—just 0.3 ounces—thanks to a thin frame and a four-layer glass element that’s just 0.8mm thick. With ZR (Zero Reflection) Super Multi Coating, there’s no interference with any color or light transmission. Light can enter the filter from any angle, eliminating reflections. Nano Glass Technology delivers stain- and scratch-resistance. The filter is compatible with wide-angle lenses and has a front screw-on function for attaching a lens cap. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Kenko (THK Photo), (800) 421-1141, www.thkphoto.
Mobility and organization combine in the Tamrac Zuma series. The lineup includes three models, with each bag holding an iPad or 10-inch-screen netbook, the Tamrac ZipShot Mini Tripod and other accessories. The Zuma 2 holds a compact digital camera, and the Zuma 4 and Zuma 7 hold a DSLR and extra lenses. All have plenty of pockets for organizing gadgets such as a wireless keyboard, smartphone, chargers, memory cards, batteries and more. The series is comprised of a slim day bag, a compact shoulder bag and a fast-access backpack, each providing an efficient way of carrying your gear. List Price: $59 (Zuma 2); $124 (Zuma 4); $159 (Zuma 7). Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
Lensbaby has beefed up its popular Composer special-effects lens with an all-metal construction and an upgraded swivel ball-and-focus mechanism for delivering smoother focus and tilt control. A fluid and dampened focus ring helps achieve greater control. The Composer Pro ships with either the Double Glass Optic or Sweet 35 Optic installed. Each optic produces a “sweet spot” of sharp focus that you can move around the image by tilting the Composer’s swiveling lens body. The unit is compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap System. Estimated Street Price: $300 (with Double Glass); $400 (with Sweet 35). Contact: Lensbaby, (877) 536-7222, www.lensbaby.com.
Take a closer look at far-off wildlife using the MINOX BD 7×28 IF pocket binoculars. With a stylish open-bridge design, the unit is easy to carry and use. Features include fully coated lenses for delivering high-contrast, pin-sharp definition from edge to edge, individual eyepiece adjustment and a 14.0 twilight factor that produces detail even in dim light. With 7x magnification, the focus range goes from 22 yards to infinity. The field of view is 380 feet at 1,000 yards. The binoculars weigh just 12 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $349. Contact: MINOX, (866) 469-3080, www.minox.com/usa.
Hike all day in the comfortable Columbia Gorge Mid Omni-Tech hiking boots. With Omni-Tech waterproof-breathable technology, mud, snow and water are blocked from entering the shoes, but sweat from your feet can still escape. Built to withstand harsh terrain and heavy loads, Contour Comfort 3D footbeds pad your feet from protruding rocks, while PU midsoles and metal shanks add stability. The all-terrain Vibram trek outsoles can grip snow, ice and mud. Estimated Street Price: $130. Contact: Columbia, (800) 622-6953, www.columbia.com.
Designed for spending long summer days in the backcountry, the Mountain Hardwear Fluid 26 offers plenty of volume and has an On-The-Fly Compression system for adjusting your load while wearing the pack. A breathable spacer mesh back panel with air channels for cooling ventilation, soft-edge shoulder straps with ventilated foam and a front panel organizer pocket with an internal zip pocket round out the top features. Zippered mesh pockets on padded, ventilated hip wings keep other essentials handy. Estimated Street Price: $100. Contact: Mountain Hardwear, (877) 927-5649, www.mountainhardwear.com.
On cool, windy nights, zip up the warm Post Canyon Soft Shell jacket from GoLite. Crafted from a blend of recycled polyester and spandex, the thick fabric protects you from wind and sheds light moisture with a durable water-repellant finish. Other features include secure hand and internal pockets, elastic cuffs and reflective logos that make you more visible when it gets dark. Estimated Street Price: $100. Contact: GoLite, (888) 546-5483, www.golite.com.
If you’re an Alpha DSLR shooter, boost your light output with the Sony HVL-F43AM. The compact external flash unit features Quick Shift Bounce adjustment and wireless ratio control, and is resistant to dust and moisture. The Quick Shift system allows for instant flash head positioning when you switch between horizontal and vertical compositions. Other new Alpha accessories include the VCT-55LH bracket for mounting a microphone or additional cold-shoe accessories while the camera’s main shoe is occupied, the ALC-SH111 lens hood for the 35mm and 85mm SAM lenses, and the LCS-AMB soft carrying case that holds most Sony DSLRs with an attached standard zoom. Estimated Street Price: $350 (flash); $50 (bracket); $50 (case); $20 (hood). Contact: Sony, (877) 865-7669, www.sonystyle.com.
Manage your growing image library with Phase One Media Pro. Browsing, searching or selecting images is quick, as the program’s organizational structure is built around a visual cataloging system. So no matter where content is stored—shared folders, DVDs, hard drives—you can easily find the file you want, drag and drop it into the app, and start working on it with Capture One or another image-editing program. The catalogs can be archived, backed up, published via slideshows and web galleries, and distributed through email, contact sheets, prints and other options. RAW files from more than 100 new cameras are supported, including Canon, Nikon and other popular models. Estimated Street Price: $199. Contact: Phase One, (631) 547-8900, www.phaseone.com.
Designed as a quick and easy guide for taking better landscape photos, Rob Sheppard’s Digital Landscape: The Magic of Landscape Photography app offers practical advice based on his 30-plus years as a photographer and his time as OP editor. The app is a supplement of sorts to his book, The Magic of Digital Landscape Photography, released in 2010. The app includes how-to ideas, from using clouds in a composition to detailed information about specific landscapes, such as mountains. Concepts are illustrated with photographic examples. It’s available for the iPad. Estimated Street Price: $3. Contact: Apple, itunes.apple.com.
On your next journey, take the Petrol Bags DigiSuite DSLR Camera Case for storing your photo equipment. The semihard, suitcase-style carrier’s front lid unzips to reveal a central compartment designed to fit up to two DSLRs with lenses attached. Detachable internal dividers secure your gear and create pockets for storing items such as a matte box, camera plate, viewfinder, cables and more. You can remove the dividers to turn it into a regular suitcase. A padded pouch on the lid’s interior holds a laptop with up to a 17-inch screen. Other extras include zippered storage pouches for personal items, an exterior front pocket, and top and side carrying handles. Estimated Street Price: $335 (PD610); $75 (PA1001 trolley). Contact: Petrol Bags, (845) 268-0100, www.petrolbags..com.
To better control the light emanating from the pop-up flash on a Micro Four Thirds camera, Gary Fong has developed the Micro Four Thirds Puffer Pop-Up Flash Diffuser. The unit attaches to the camera hot-shoe and hangs in front of the flash. It’s designed to mitigate harsh, directional lighting that can mess up an image. The Puffer’s compact size makes it an ideal solution for travel, and it’s versatile enough for use when photographing landscapes, group shots or any scene that requires fill-flash. It doesn’t interfere with in-camera systems, ensuring that your camera’s full capabilities are preserved. Estimated Street Price: $21. Contact: Gary Fong, (800) 906-6447, www.garyfonginc.com.
Designed for the most active shooters, the Lowepro Photo Sport AW Series is very capable of handling gear for those who are often on the move. The Photo Sport 200 AW backpack and Photo Sport Sling 100 AW are dual-compartment packs that can handle a modest camera system. The main compartment holds a DSLR with an attached lens and a flash unit. For fast access, the lower compartment features Lowepro’s Ultra-Cinch Camera Chamber, which holds gear tightly in place while you’re hiking or skiing. A side pocket allows you to grab the camera quickly by simply rotating the pack to your front, unzipping the pocket and opening the camera compartment. Estimated Street Price: $199 (200 AW); $129 (100 AW). Contact: Lowepro, (800) 800-LOWE, www.lowepro.com.
Tiffen and Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut have teamed up to produce a line of filters designed specifically for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and other HD-capable DSLRs. The Tiffen HV Filter Kits are available in four different configurations and include a variety of neutral-density filters of varying strengths, a WW Ultra Circular Polarizer (depending on the kit) and a belt-loop-style pouch for keeping them all organized and accessible. The kits come in two sizes: 77mm and 4×5.65. They’re engineered to provide up to 7 stops in order to shoot the 5D Mark II and other HD DSLRs wide open under bright sun at ƒ/2. Estimated Street Price: $969 (Pro Plus 4×5.65); $329 (Indie HV Kit 77mm). Contact: Tiffen, (631) 273-2500, www.tiffen.com.
The Cinevate Atlas FLT is a lightweight camera slider for HD video DSLRs that helps you create horizontal, vertical and even-angled camera movements when capturing video. Measuring just 26 inches long and weighing less than 10 pounds, the camera slider features a nonreflective, black satin anodized finish, full CNC aluminum and steel construction, and stainless-steel fasteners. The Cinevate Atlas FLT is equipped with a 3/8″ screw, making it compatible with any standard 3/8″ threaded ballhead. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $579. Contact: Cinevate, (807) 344-7153, www.cinevate.com.
Whether you shoot with a DSLR, Micro Four Thirds or rangefinder camera, the Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 can handle your gear. The shoulder bag holds a standard-sized DSLR with one to three lenses or a complete Micro Four Thirds or rangefinder camera system. Simple, yet functional, the bag features removable dividers for creating a customized layout, Sound Silencers for eliminating noise that could scare off wildlife when opening the bag, and plenty of zippered pockets for accessories. An expandable front pocket fits a pro-sized DSLR body or accessories. It’s available in two colors, black and pinestone. Estimated Street Price: $129. Contact: Think Tank Photo, (866) 558-4465, www.thinktankphoto.com.
Updating its flash card reader to support faster cards and the higher-speed USB 3.0 interface, Lexar has designed the Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader to help make your digital workflow more efficient. Like its predecessor, the new model handles CompactFlash and Secure Digital memory cards. What’s new is that it’s compatible with SDXC, which provides for larger capacities and the higher-speed interface of SD UHS-I. If your computer supports USB 3.0, transfer times are noticeably faster. The reader can transfer images from SD and CF cards simultaneously, and it allows for easy file transfer from one card to another. It has the same pop-up design as its predecessor, letting you close it when not in use. Estimated Street Price: $49. Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.
Display your nature and travel photography in a book that’s worthy of your bookshelf or someone else’s using Blurb‘s ProLine. Among the offerings are two heavy, professional-grade papers from art media manufacturer Mohawk Fine Papers, linen hardcovers in Oatmeal and Charcoal, plus a choice of five heavyweight end sheets in charcoal gray, dove gray, warm gray, black and white. Each of the options is offered à la carte to give you plenty of combinations from which to choose. The papers consist of two finishes: Pearl Photo and Uncoated. Pearl Photo has a luster semigloss surface that emulates real photographic papers. Uncoated is Mohawk’s Superfine Ultra white with an Eggshell finish. Estimated Street Price: $63 (hardcover, dust jacket, with ProLine Linen and 81-120 pages). Contact: Blurb, www.blurb.com/proline.
If you like to go big when making prints of your nature and landscape stills, Canon has a pair of new high-performance papers designed for use with its imagePROGRAF large-format printers. Canon Premium Glossy Paper 2 and Premium Semi-Glossy Paper 2 deliver enhanced color range and high durability. The heavyweight Glossy paper has a high whiteness factor because of ultrawhite pulp that makes the media less susceptible to light illuminant changes. The slightly textured Semi-Glossy paper also has a heavy weight with similar whiteness, but a softer finish and less reflection. Both are 280gm. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
The Flashpoint 500 LED (FPVL500) is a dimmable light panel with barndoors. Suitable for video and still shooting, the light includes a removable yoke and an AC power cord that measures about 13 inches in length. The 5mm round soft-light LEDs can be dimmed from 100% to 0 in either full strength, at 500 LEDs, or half strength, at 250 LEDs. Color temperature measures at 5300-5900K with a 60º beam angle. The panel features black anodized aluminum construction and four barndoors. Estimated Street Price: $219. Contact: Adorama, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
Sanctuary by Dave Welling (www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2018300). This large-format coffee-table book is a pictorial history showing some of the 75,000 wild animals that have found safe haven at the Wildlife Waystation, a charitable organization dedicated to the rescue, care and rehabilitation of all wildlife species. All net proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Wildlife Waystation.
Focus on Composing Photos by Peter Enseberger (Focal Press, 2011; ISBN: 9780240815053). The award-winning Arizona photojournalist and freelance photographer breaks down concepts such as the rule of thirds and demonstrates how to capture highlights and shadows using full-color images. Tip boxes throughout the book highlight essential information, and each chapter contains an easy-to-follow assignment.
Nature Photography Photo Workshop by Nat Coalson (Wiley, 2011; ISBN: 978-0-470-53491-5). This how-to guide covers composition, exposure, fill-flash, special creative techniques and more. Plus, assignments at the end of each chapter sharpen your skills for taking unique, artistic nature photographs. You’ll also learn how to work with nature by taking advantage of light, weather and other variables.
Science For The Curious Photographer by Charles S. Johnson, Jr. (A K Peters Ltd., 2010; ISBN: 978-1-56881-581-7). Weaving together the many facets of photography, Johnson makes the science on which photography is based easy to understand with a variety of examples and images. Topics such as what limits resolution, noise in images and the level of detail that can be appreciated by an observer are all explored.
Waterfalls of Ontario by George Fisher and Mark Harris (Firefly Books, 2011; ISBN:
978-1-55407-791-5). Each waterfall is featured on a two-page spread with a concise description and details of historical interest. Also included are GPS coordinates in addition to driving directions. Other practical information includes geological features and updated regional maps.