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Understanding light to improve your photography.
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Columbia River Gorge Photo Locations
Waterfalls, wildflowers and stunning mountain backdrops await in the Pacific Northwest.
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In Focus: May 2011
Canon has redesigned a couple of its most popular supertelephoto lenses to be much lighter than their predecessors. Magnesium and titanium construction helps reduce the weight of the EF 500mm ƒ/4L IS II USM and EF 600mm ƒ/4L IS II USM lenses, yet they perform better because of a new configuration that includes two fluorite elements that deliver sharper image quality and less chromatic aberration. Image-stabilization technology includes a third mode that activates IS only when the shutter button is fully pressed, allowing you to pan fast-moving subjects and trigger at the precise moment when stabilization is needed. A Power Focus mode delivers smooth focus change when shooting video. Estimated Street Price: $9,499 (500mm); $11,999 (600mm). Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
Some of the features found in the 13-inch Epson Stylus Photo R3000 are familiar, such as the UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta ink system that’s used in the R2880 and R3880. What’s new is a media feeder that lets you print on fine-art papers up to 1.3mm thick, an eight-channel MicroPiezo AMC Print Head that produces smaller ink-droplet sizes for more precision and accuracy, and wireless connectivity. The R3000 automatically switches between Photo and Matte black inks to produce deep blacks and rich color on glossy, matte or fine-art media. An advanced Black-and-White Photo Mode creates neutral or toned black-and-white prints from color or monochrome images. Estimated Street Price: $849. Contact: Epson, (800) GO-EPSON, www.epson.com.
If you’re shooting more video these days because you have an HD-video DSLR, you’ve noticed that an LCD screen doesn’t always cut it when trying to compose shots. The V-LCD70XP-HDMIPT monitor from Marshall Electronics is compact enough to sit on a DSLR, yet it has a seven-inch screen with 800×480 resolution. Features include integrated HDMI loop-through, which allows you to connect to another monitor using the HDMI video input, and DSLR Ratio Adjustment for scaling video output that doesn’t fill the monitor’s screen. The monitor is LED-backlit for bright viewing in the field with wide 140º angles. Estimated Street Price: $1,199 (with small battery adapter); $1,299 (V-mount and Anton/Bauer battery adapter). Contact: Marshall Electronics, (310) 333-0606, www.lcdracks.com.
Sigma has redesigned a few of its lenses to include optical stabilization systems and a splash-proof design that protects them from water and dust. The Sigma APO 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM and APO MACRO 150mm ƒ/2.8 EX DG OS HSM have OS technology now, allowing you to use shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would be possible otherwise. The 12-24mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM doesn’t have OS technology, but it’s built to withstand the elements. It also includes new glass elements to compensate for color aberration and deliver high image quality. Estimated Street Price: $3,199 (120-300mm); $1,099 (150mm); $949 (12-24mm). Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
Really Right Stuff and Redrock Micro are working to bridge the equipment gap between still and video shooting. The microRRS clamp adapts Really Right Stuff quick-release clamps and plates for use with Redrock Micro support rigs and accessories. The microRRS adapts the Really Right Stuff clamp for camera or lens mounting, and puts your HD DSLR at the correct height for use with other rail-mounted accessories, including matte box, follow focus and more. This system also enables the use of the “L” bracket camera plates for vertical shooting. Estimated Street Price: $229. Contact: Redrock Micro, (888) 214-3903, www.redrockmicro.com.
Built with an innovative and lightweight design, the Wolverine Compass hiking boots keep your feet warm, snug and dry. The boots feature waterproof nubuck leather and a mesh upper with a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex® membrane that provides protection from the elements, letting moisture out but not in. The shoes incorporate Wolverine’s new Individual Comfort System (ICS), which allows you to personalize your own comfort by adjusting the gel disc in the boot’s heel. Estimated Street Price: $155. Contact: Wolverine, (866) 699-7369, www.wolverine.com.
The Buck Knives PakLite Field Master kit consists of three knives, but weighs more like one. A 3½-inch skinning blade, 2½-inch modified caping blade and 4-inch independent guthook make up the kit, which weighs in at just 12 ounces. All of the knives are made of 420HC stainless steel and fit in a heavy-duty nylon sheath with a retention strap holding them in place. There’s an adjustable belt strap on the back and two handy zippered storage pockets. The sheath is kept firmly locked with a quick-release buckle. Estimated Street Price: $85. Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825, www.buckknives.com.
Make sure you have enough light when you’re out hiking by using the Fenix HL20 mini-headlamp. With three levels of brightness and one flashing mode, you can customize how much light is needed. Maximum output is 105 lumens for 1.8 hours and maximum beam length is about 230 feet. The light has a life span of 50,000 hours and weighs just 1.7 ounces, and the head is made of aircraft-grade aluminum. An included diffuser lens softens the light for short distances. Estimated Street Price: $40. Contact: Fenix, www.fenixlight.com.
The High Peak Alpinismo backpacks are built around a unique EZ Hook adjustable harness system that allows you to customize the fit. Simply disconnect the hook and release the harness adjustment panel, then slide the panel to the right position for your torso height. The contoured design of the harness system also hugs and conforms to your body for balanced load-carrying and comfort on or off the trail. Three sizes are available and all weigh less than four pounds. Estimated Street Price: $120 to $140. Contact: High Peak, (425) 251-5106, www.highpeakusa.com.
For some photographers, the flexibility of cloud-based storage is somewhat diminished by having to store files on an outside host. The CloudStor from Buffalo Technology provides a smart solution. The slim, network-attached storage device uses Pogoplug software for securely sharing files over the web to any of your media devices. Files are always stored locally on CloudStor, and the online service is used only to connect you and those who you decide to share with to specified files on the drive. When you want to share with family or friends, simply e-mail them a link. When you go on a trip with your laptop, the drive remains accessible as long as you have an Internet connection. Estimated Street Price: $169 (1 TB); $269 (2 TB). Contact: Buffalo Technology, (800) 456-9799, www.buffalotech.com.
Trek up and down the mountain with the tough 14-megapixel Pentax Optio WG-1 (GPS) in tow. The camera is waterproof down to 33 feet, can survive drops from up to five feet and can withstand being crushed by a weight of up to 220 pounds. The design also offers protection in dry, dusty environments and in temperatures as cold as 14º F. The WG-1 has a 2.7-inch LCD with antireflective coating and a wide-angle 16:9 aspect ratio. The 5x optical zoom lens is the equivalent of 28-140mm in 35mm format. The camera captures 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, and has GPS functionality for recording positional data while taking pictures. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-1 reaches image-transfer speeds of up to 45 MB/s. It meets the new Ultra High Speed Class 1 video requirement, delivering 10 MB/s minimum sustained speeds to easily capture full 1080p HD video and 3D video. The card is compatible with UHS-enabled cameras, such as the Nikon D7000, for high performance and efficient power consumption. It’s built to withstand water, shock, X-ray and extreme temperatures. Capacities range from 8 GB to 32 GB. Estimated Street Price: $109 to $349. Contact: SanDisk, (866) SANDISK, www.sandisk.com.
Make sharp, vivid prints of your nature photography using Lasal Exhibition Luster 300 from Moab. The 300gsm exhibition paper is heavy and has top-notch archival properties. Fourth-generation coating technology allows for a high D-Max, which produces a broad tonal range with deep, rich blacks and bright whites. The new coating also improves scratch resistance, enhances stiffness, reduces curl and increases opacity to prevent light from spilling through the paper. The paper is compatible with all archival pigmented and dye-based inks. It’s available in a variety of the most popular sheet and roll sizes. Estimated Street Price: $40 (50 sheets of 8 ½x11). Contact: Moab By Legion, (800) 727-3716, www.moabpaper.com.
Taking the 12.1-megapixel Nikon Coolpix P500 on your next wildlife adventure gives you a lens that can capture the 35mm equivalent of a 22.5mm wide-angle to an 810mm supertelephoto. A highly sensitive, back-illuminated CMOS sensor and EXPEED C2 dual image processors allow for high-speed continuous shooting and top-notch image quality in low light or extremely bright conditions. To reduce image blur, the camera uses both image-sensor shift and electronic vibration reduction. To further combat the effects of camera shake, an additional zoom control on the side of the lens barrel increases stability when shooting handheld photos and video. Estimated Street Price: $399. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
The Qflash TRIO Basic is a more affordable version of Quantum’s Qflash TRIO shoe-mount flash. The TRIO Basic incorporates all of the features of the more advanced version minus the built-in FreeXwire TTL radio. The unit delivers full TTL dedication for Canon and Nikon DSLRs with high-speed sync, manual, auto, auto-fill and program (pre-sets) functions, which are all found in the Qflash TRIO. Other features include unlimited rapid fires of full power flashes, a removable reflector, and long and short power cords. The TRIO Basic is powered by Quantum Turbo battery packs. Estimated Street Price: $701. Contact: Quantum Instruments, (631) 656-7400, www.qtm.com.
The lightweight Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit is a USB solar-charging system that powers up cell phones, GPS units and rechargeable batteries just about anywhere there’s sunlight. The portable Nomad 7M solar panel fits easily into a backpack for on-the-go charging. You can use the pack to power a device or as a power source for recharging AA or AAA batteries. The kit comes with a Guide 10 battery pack, Nomad 7M solar panel, AAA battery insert, ultra-charge solar cord and 12V cigarette adapter. Estimated Street Price: $139. Contact: Goal Zero, (888) 794-6250, www.goalzero.com.
Create more room for storage by attaching the FotoSharp Camera Caddy to your tripod. This handy, tripod-mounted accessory bag gives you an additional place to store lenses, filters, flash units and other extras. Filling the bag with rocks, sand bags or extra gear allows it also to serve as a stabilizer when you’re using a smaller travel tripod. The Camera Caddy can hold more than 30 pounds, has a durable build with one-inch webbing fasteners and stays on your tripod when you collapse the legs for transport or storage. Estimated Street Price: $29. Contact: FotoSharp, (800) 361-8341, www.fotosharp.com.
Position your DSLR precisely the way you want with the smooth, fluid-like movement of the Induro PHT-Series 3-Way Panheads, which allow for front and side tilt and horizontal panning movements. Each head uses a secure, dual quick-release locking system that includes a snap-in-style quick-release plate. Three fully graduated scales allow you to see and set the position of tilts and pans, and a built-in bubble level provides fast, accurate alignment for panning and stitching. The panheads also have folding control handles, making packing and transport easy. Three sizes are available. Estimated Street Price: $77 to $114. Contact: Induro, (914) 347-3300, www.indurogear.com.
Carrying a camera around your neck can cause some aches and pains after awhile. This is where the Black Widow Camera Holster from Spider Holster comes in. A smaller, lighter version of the original SpiderPro Holster, the Black Widow allows you to carry more compact DSLRs and mirrorless cameras on your hip. There are two parts: the clip or “holster” that threads onto almost any belt (or you can get one from Spider) and a pin that screws to the bottom of the camera. The camera slides into the holster and makes a locking sound so that you know it’s secure. Along with the belt, a variety of accessories are available, such as the Black Widow Plate and Pad. Estimated Street Price: $49. Contact: Spider Holster, www.spiderholster.com.
Take tack-sharp photos with help from the Voyager TG tripod from Vista by Davis and Sanford. It’s a full-sized tripod that weighs just 3.8 pounds and supports up to 7 pounds. The legs are constructed of durable, lightweight aluminum. An aluminum canopy includes three-position leg-angle adjustments for mid- and low-angle grounder adjustment, a spirit level and center column tensioning adjustment. The ballhead features an ergonomic grip with a trigger for maneuvering and locking the head in any position. The tripod’s maximum height is 62 inches, minimum height is 11 inches and folded height is 21 inches. Estimated Street Price: $99. Contact: Tiffen, (631) 273-2500, www.tiffen.com.
The Flashpoint Stabilizing Video and Camera Bracket (FACSS2) helps you take clear video clips when shooting with an HD DSLR. You can place it on any kind of flat surface, and its curved grip makes low-angle shooting possible, as well as two-handed operation. An included shoe allows you to add video lights, small microphones or a flash. The foam-padded handle is built to relieve stress during lengthier shoots. Estimated Street Price: $29. Contact: Flashpoint, (800) 223-2500, www.adorama.com.
The JayHook allows you to make do with what nature gives you when camera support is needed. The device lets you mount a camera to any tree or post, noninvasively. Simply wrap the heavy-duty nylon strap around the tree, then through the spring clamp, pulling the strap tight. The camera attaches to the CAMB head using a standard 1/4×20-inch thread. Just place the CAMB head onto the JayHook and position the camera for your shot. Each hook holds 35 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $14 (JayHook); $16 (CAMB head). Contact: JayHook, (218) 327-3546, www.jayhookoutdoors.com.
Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer by Moose Peterson (New Riders Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-321-72059-7). Having devoted his career to photographing animals, Moose Peterson transports you into the wild in this book, which chronicles his more than 30 years of work in the field. He tells readers the stories behind the photos and shares his photographic techniques.
The DSLR Field Guide: The Essential Guide to Getting the Most From Your Camera by Michael Freeman (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-81720-0). This compact guide sums up what you need to know about how your DSLR works, from the camera’s basic anatomy to its many settings. Sensor cleaning, color profiles, HDR, white balance, noise and more are covered.
Canyons of Utah by Tom Till (Fable Valley Publishers, Inc., 2010; ISBN: 978-0-9712555-5-5). The photographer presents all of Utah’s national parks, along with its river canyons and secret places that only a few have visited. Using both 4×5 and digital, Till delivers a new perspective on places that have been photographed many times and offers his insights into the state’s deepest backcountry regions.
Photoshop CS5: Essential Skills by Mark Galer and Philip Andrews (Focal Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-240-52214-2). With real-life examples, step-by-step projects and professional advice, this book steers you through how to use CS5, from basic skills to more advanced techniques. Also included is a DVD with more than 12 hours of movie tutorials and supporting files to accompany the projects in the book.
LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros by The Editors of LIFE and Joe McNally (LIFE, 2010; ISBN: 978-1-60320-127-8). Along with giving readers plenty of tips, tricks and how-to advice, McNally shares his captivating imagery while discussing some of the technical aspects behind each of his photos such as lens, focus, color, timing or aperture. The way the book is written makes you feel like you’re attending one of his workshops or seminars.