Take me out to the Ballgame

I am a baseball fan. And at risk of alienating many of the readers, I am a Phillies fan.

I have had the chance to tour the Citizens Bank Park twice. During my most recent trip, I brought my D850, about a week after I’d returned from the Faroe Islands (posts on the Faroe Islands trip will come…. at some point).

During this outing, the tour passed a wall in one of the nicer floors of the stadium. This wall is covered in baseballs.

My first attempt at the balls on the wall perspective

While this photo is mostly unedited, it is one of the few in focus to show what I was initially thinking about on this photo. I will admit, I do like this perspective. However, I was not happy with any of these photos. Perhaps I will be able to try again soon. Quite often when working the scene, you’ll find hints of things you like, even if you don’t like the final result.

At some point after this photo, my wonderful, beautiful, and amazing girlfriend who totally didn’t write this line started to take some interesting photos of this wall.

I really like this framing. It makes it look like the wall goes on forever, is clear what the subject is, and the images goes left to right. Left to right is the preferred kind of image in parts of the world where we read left to right.

I know this is basically the same as the last photo, but it is right to left, so it isn’t the same

I didn’t edit the previous photo, but you can see that the framing feels different. Right to left vs left to right is very different, at least in the USA.

If you like this second version better, let me know. Maybe I will revisit it and edit this photo to be a ‘keeper’ version.

Anyways, that’s all for this image. Until next time.

-B

2019, a Review

I always like to put a technical look into the year before and try to summarize it in the first 3 months of the following year.

The Technical Stuff

In 2019, I created 21,940 photos and about 48 videos. This makes 2019 my 2nd most prolific year, behind #1, 2016 (the year where I went skiing for New Years, visited the Big Sur coast in California, spent 5 days rafting down the Grand Canyon, went to the Olympic Peninsula, and spend a month in Australia and New Zealand). 2019 is the first year where my photos used more than 1 TB.

So many photos…

2019 was defined by 3 large photo events. #1, like 2018, was the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC. #2 was a 2-week trip to the Faroe Islands and Norway in August. #3 was a trip over New Years to Banff, AB, Canada. #3 will show up on the 2020 year in review as well.

2019 has some smaller events as well. This included a trip to several historic rail roads in Pennsylvania (Jim Thorpe, Strasburg), several trips to the beach, and a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Lancaster.

Unfortunately, I was unable to visit Longwood Gardens for the Christmas Lights this year. Oh well, maybe in 2020.

Not shown, a GoPro, because LightRoom cannot open the video files

In terms of cameras used per year, this is the first year my D850/D800 won. In 2019, I clearly preferred my newest camera over the D750 for 2016-2018. These results surprised me, because I thought they would be closer together. I think there is a reason for this, which is revealed in the next section. For the first time since 2009, my D300 is not on the list. Guess it might be time to get rid of it.

Lenses per year gives some insight into the camera per year

Wait a minute, my most used lens was a 200-500mm? Where did that even come from?

The 200-500mm lens was a new purchase for 2019. It was primarily purchased for the previously mentioned Faroe Islands trip in order to chase puffins. This is also the reason the D850 had more photos in 2019 – the autofocus on the D850 is just better, and puffins are notoriously obnoxious to try to shoot. The majority of those 6471 images are of puffins. The rest are, mostly, me attempting to shoot images of the moon.

My second most used lens was last year’s most used lens, the 24-120 f/4. What can I say, it is a really good lens for when I want to save some weight. The third most used lens was last year’s number 2, the 24-70 f/2.8. Guess I really like this focal range.

Everything else was about in line with the usage in 2018.

The breakdown of Camera:Lens Combination is:

D850/D800

D750

I don’t usually look at these results before writing this post. This actually surprises me. The really surprising part is how little I used the D750 last year.

The Good Stuff – New Stuff

As previously mentioned, in 2019, I aquired the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens and a GoPro Hero 7. And yeah, I now own a selfie stick too.

The Good Stuff – Travels

I mentioned this above, but, 2019 was a lot of smaller weekend trips, with a really big trip to the Faroe Islands and another one to Banff.

The Bad Stuff – Gear Repairs

For the first time ever, I had a non-warantee repair on a camera lens. My camera bag, unfortunately, fell out of my car. The 14-24 lens was damaged and needed to be serviced at a Nikon repair center. It was quite expensive, but the service center did a really good job and the insides work like it was new.

The Bad Stuff – Missed Goals for 2019

I was not able to meet my goal of learning how to produce videos better nor generating an income from photography. While I realize it is a poor craftsman who blames his tools, one of the reasons I’ve struggled with video is because my laptop, which is a now-3 year old Lenovo, simply struggles too much to make videos consistently.

2020

For 2020, my plans are this:

1 trip currently being planned – Cherry Blossoms in DC in the March-April timeframe.

Goal: Actually start to make some money, whether it is stock photos or something else.

Goal: Update the blog more often. Learn how to use Gutenberg, which has replaced the old WordPress post editing system.

Goal: Work on learning how to make videos, maybe even launching a YouTube channel.

Stretch Goal: Work with a brand to showcase their gear in amazing locations.

To the future-
-Brad

2018, A Review

Better late than never.  A look-back at 2018 and the photos I took during that year, from a technical an analytical perspective.

I originally wrote this in February of this year, but never published it.  I’ve done light editing, but left the rest as it was.

In the second of my look-back posts, I’m going to try to cover the events of my last year in Photography.

The Technical Stuff

In 2018, I created 15,014 photos and 131 videos.  This makes 2018 my 5th most prolific year, behind #4, 2010 (the year I spend 18 days in Hawaii).

ImagesPerYear

Unlike past years, 2018 did not have a single dominant trip.  There were 3 events in 2018, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in April, a week long trip to Utah in July, and the local Pennsylvania Christmas Celebrations at Longwood Gardens and Bethlehem in November/December.

CamerasPerYear2019

For the cameras used per year, I clearly favored my D750 for the 3rd year in a row.  But for the second year in a row, the reason is somewhat clear.  I use the D750 for star trails/low light situations where only the D850 can come close.  Since the D850 is a purchase late in 2018, we’ll have to see what happens in 2019.  I still prefer the D750 for my first time exploring an area due to the weight.  I frequently combine the D750 with the 24-120 f/4.0 due to the high quality and lower weight.

LensesPerYear2018

My lens usage in 2018 wasn’t even close.  The 24-120 f/4.0 lens was by far the favorite, accounting for nearly half of the photos taken last year.  It really is a solid N-Series lens from Nikon, and it has really become a favorite, all-around, no-compromise lens for when I can only carry a single lense.  It is also the cheapest of my N-Series lenses, as it was sold in a kit with my D750.

The other lens I want to call attention to is the 28-105 f/3.5-4.5.  This is my oldest lens that I still use.  It was the one that Ken Rockwell once called the worst lens Nikon has ever made.  I love it.  It is far from perfect, but it has a macro mode that produces some great images.  These are from a D750 and D300 (itself a 10 year old camera) from 2018.

_DSC8696

_DS38883

I have had this lens in constant usage since 2002, when I bought it as a pair to my Nikon N80, a film camera, for my college photography class.

The breakdown of Camera:Lens Combinations is:
D800/D850

Lenses8008502018

D750

Lenses7502018

While my D850 is more or less a replacement for my D800, in November and December, I did find myself using the D850 in the very low light conditions where I would previously have used my D750.  I think the results for 2019 will be interesting.

The Good Stuff – New Stuff

As mentioned above, in 2018, I was finally able to acquire a Nikon D850.  Due to the release of the Z-series, this may be my last Digital SLR, but time will tell.

The Good Stuff – Travels

In 2018, I only had 2 trips.  The first was a long weekend to Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival, something I hope to do in 2019 as well.  The second was a week long trip to Utah for the Milky Way.  This trip was somewhat of a bust, but it did result in one of my favorite trips of 2018 and one where I learned a lot about lightning photography.  I plan on going back to Utah in 2020 to try again.  My trip was with Enlighten Photography ( https://www.zion-photography.com/ ) out of Zion National Park, a company I highly recommend, and a company I will be using in the future.

The Bad Stuff

Knock on wood, there was nothing I would consider the ‘bad stuff’ in 2018.  I did get somewhat unlucky in Utah – in that I did not get my target images – but I still got some phenomenal images and the trip was worth doing.

I did not, however, accomplish my 2018 goal of getting great video produced.  I also was unable to make progress in making photography a side job.

2019

As of now, my plans for 2019 are this:

2 Trips – Cherry Blossoms in DC in March-April timeframe.  Faroe Islands in September timeframe.

My 2019 goals are: Generate income from photography that pays for the trips, and learn how to better produce video because video seems to be important.

My 2019 stretch goals are: Work with a corporate sponsor to showcase their gear at an amazing place.  I managed this image, but Eddie Bauer (maker of my jacket, I love this jacket) did not reply – https://www.instagram.com/p/BlZhrP5h3oA/ .

To the future-
-Brad

An Upcoming Topic

I’m currently working on finishing up something that was requested of me a few years ago.

I’m working on what looks to be a 2-3 part post on traveling super light on a photo trip, based on my rafting trip down the Grand Canyon about 2 years ago. On this trip, I was limited to 30 lbs of ‘stuff’. This stuff included all of my photo gear, cloths, and consumables for 6 days. I hope it comes off as a very enjoyable and helpful read.

2017, A Review

In what I hope to make an annual thing, I’d like to use this post to look back over 2017.  The travels, what cameras/lenses I favored, and what my favorite images of the year are.  Here we go, starting with the most straight forward items.

The Technical Stuff

In 2017, I created 21,446 photos and 268 videos.  This makes 2017 my second most prolific year of photography, after only 2016.  It was only slightly above 2011, which is now in 3rd place.

Images Per Year

2017, like 2016, was dominated by a single trip – in this case, my trip to Greenland.  This trip was responsible for 13,298 of the photos and videos.  2017 was otherwise a very low-photo year.  My lowest since 2012, when I last moved across the country.

For cameras per year, it is clear, I favored the D750 over the D800, which is the second year in a row.

It really wasn’t even close.  I think the weight of the camera, combined with the high burst rate really led me to favor this camera.  I also like to use this camera for night time time-lapse/star trails, which artificially inflates the camera usage – 1000 photos taken may only result in 1 final image.

The Leica is the only camera on the list that I do not own.  I had the chance to use it for an afternoon, which was a ton of fun.

My favorite lens for 2017 was the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, followed closely by the Nikon 24-120 f/4.  It actually surprises me that the 70-200 is so high up on this list.  This is due to my Greenland trip where I heavily favored this lens.  The Greenland trip was responsible for 5481 of the 6984 photos taken with this lens in 2017.

I know that simply a large number of images doesn’t equate to a large number of images you like.  A large number of images only means you consume a lot of space on external disk drives, which 2017 certainly did.  2017 consumed 814 GiB, which is certainly a record for me.

The breakdown of Camera:Lens combinations is:
D800
D750

 

Originally I was going to put my favorite images of 2017 in this space, but I’ve decided to hold that for a new post in the next week or so.  Knowing me, it will take longer, but we shall see.

The Good Stuff – New Stuff

2017 was a small year for purchases.  I purchased a new camera bag for international travel and a new travel laptop.

The Good Stuff – Travels

My trip to Greenland was by far the largest excursion of 2017.  Other than this trip, I had a weekend in Utah; some day trips in and around Seattle; and some visits to family that allowed me to take some photos.

The Bad Stuff – Repairs and Damage

I hope this section doesn’t have large entries every year.  But this year has a frustrating entry.

This year, my D750 was subject to a recall on the shutter.  When I received the camera back after the first repair, there were issues with the reassembly of the camera.  It had to go back in to be reassembled properly.  I was lucky, as the camera nearly didn’t make it back to me for my Greenland trip.  But, I am also thankful to Nikon who went out of their way to ensure that happened.  I am also quite thankful that my D750 has a brand new shutter.  While my D750 has taken nearly 30,000 photos, the shutter only has around 6900.  The D750 will likely continue to be in use for 3-6 more years.

Outside of this, my gear experienced nothing more than normal wear and tear.

2018

Let’s now look at my plans for this current year.

Due to job-related reasons, I’ve relocated from the PNW to Pennsylvania.  But I’ve found a nice place near my new job and not too far from the outdoors.  So I’ll be photographing a new area of the country with new parks and things to explore.  I’ll also be visiting the Atlantic Ocean, which is fun.

In 2018 I hope to have a few more business-oriented aspects to my photography.  Until now, it has been mostly for fun.  In this new year, I hope to pursue tasks which offset the cost of my camera gear and travels.  More details as they become available and I can actually make them happen.

I’m also testing the water with video and learning the basics of producing a video.  I have an idea that I hope to launch in 2018.

Until the next post

-Brad

The Math of the F/Stop Progression

As a quick post, I’m going to mention something that everyone seems to have difficulty with.  This is a little math-heavy and I’ll try to simplify it.

F/stop progressions.  Why do I have to double my shutter speed when going from F/2.0 to F/2.8?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to double my shutter speed when I go from F/2.0 to F/4.0?

The F/stop is related to the diameter of the aperture of the lens, or the width of the circle of light that shines on the sensor or film.  The key word here is ‘circle’.

Everyone remembers that the area of a circle is area = pi * r^2.  The number in the F/stop is related to the Diameter, which is 2 * radius.  If you want to cut the area of the circle in half, you need to divide the diameter (and thus the radius) by the squareroot of 2.  The squareroot of 2 is 1.4142136 … but for our purposes, 1.4 is good enough.

This is why the F/stop progression is 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, etc.  Each of these numbers are about 1.4 apart (2 * 1.4 = 2.8, 2.8 * 1.4 = 2 * (1.4 * 1.4) = 2 * 2 = 4).  Each stop is the same as increasing the diameter/radius by 1.4, and doubling the size of the opening.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “self, this makes it look like the numbers are in reverse order”.  The piece to understanding the order is in how the F/stop is normally stylized, F/2.8, F/4.0, etc.  The / in math means divided by.  It means the aperture is set to the focal length divided by the number represented in the F/stop.  For example, on a 120mm lens, at F/4.0, the aperture is 120mm/4.0 or 30mm.  If we stop down to F/8.0, the aperture is 15mm.  A circle with a 30mm diameter has an area 4 times the size of a circle with a 15mm diameter, thus, F/8.0 lets through one quarter the light of F/4.0, and is a change of ‘2 stops’.

I hope this helps understand everyone understand one of the less obvious parts of photography.

-Brad

Useful Tips : Photographing Fireworks and Getting a Result

Happy New Year everyone! This is going to be a quick post about photographing fireworks, and making the best of what you get. It also includes some tips for people who just want to go to bed early.

Tip #1 – Arrive early. In most places, there will be a lot of competition for places to view and photograph the fireworks. If the fireworks are starting “when it gets dark enough”, like the 4th of July in the USA, you want to arrive about 2-3 hours before dark and set up. If it is at midnight, like New Years Eve, you want to be in place at least 3 hours ahead of time, depending on how popular the spot is.

However, if you are photographing from a place you own or rent, you are fine. I like to use my apartment window because #1 – I can set up during the daylight, and #2 – January is cold, and I want to sip my champagne in peace.

Tip #2 – Fireworks are a big light source. This light will bounce around and can create reflections or illuminate things you don’t want seen. If you are shooting through a window, the fireworks can light up your room and cause reflections in the glass. Use a black cloth to eliminate this reflection as much as possible. I like to tape the cloth around the lens and to the glass, if possible. If you don’t have something that is black, use the darkest color available.

Tip #3 – Find your settings early. My go-to is iso200, F/8, 3 seconds. I like 3 second exposures.

Tip #4 – If you can leave your camera, use a self timer. I prefer to use the internal timer when possible (my D800 and D750 both have internal self timers). My older cameras do not. So I set the camera to iso200, F/8, 3 seconds, and set the self timer to start a 35 minute exposure starting at about 11:55 and ending around 12:30. The camera thinks the shutter is being held down and takes back-to-back 3 second exposures, and I get to enjoy the fireworks or sleep. In general, I like my self timers for purposes like this (they also work great with sunsets when you want to photograph them and watch them – this lets you enjoy the event with your significant other). Self timers are also great when you can set things up early, then enjoy some adult beverages which may otherwise prevent you from taking the images.

Tip #5 – If you are trying to take the lazy aproach, be prepared to work with what you get.

Expanding on Tip #5, 2 years ago I set everything up on a self timer, taped a dark cloth to the window, and went to bed. When I woke up, I had about 300 photos, only 100 of which had fireworks. But, the tape I was using didn’t hold, so the 100 fireworks images all looked like this.

Crap.

While it was disappointing, the right half of the image turned out, so there was hope. Since I knew that the D800 has a crazy high resolution, and I can make big prints from even a vertical crop of a horizontal image, I did just that.

This cropping was able to save my image

I like the results. Especially considering the non-ideal situation that caused these to be my only options. I am setting up one of my cameras for the fireworks this year to try to get something similar.

As I write this, there is about 9 hours remaining in the year. I’m going to spend the next few hours getting 3-4 cameras set up and ready, then probably sit down for a relaxing day. Once the cameras are set up, I’ll make a post on Instagram with what the setup looks like.

Happy New Year! And best of luck in 2017.

-Brad

Photographing the Grand Canyon – Matkatamiba Canyon

I was recently fortunate enough to be able to travel down the Colorado river and photograph the Grand Canyon.

One of the lunch stops on this trip was at Matkatamiba Canyon, which is at mile 148, just before the Matkatamiba Rapids. Our goal was to make it up to one of the waterfalls in the slot canyon and photograph it. Due to how this canyon winds around, it can support a lot of photographers at once at most locations.

Upon arrival, we found the entranceway had deeper water than there was in previous years.

This was not off to a good start. We had to cross a neck deep path with camera gear. While I may have been able to make it, some of the shorter members of the group would not, or at least their camera gear would not.

The solution was to use some of the folding tables as a bridge.

Some of the other people in the group decided to climb the rocks and make it over. Being taller, I took the option of holding my camera gear over my head and wading through the creek.

After passing through this creek, there were two waterfalls to climb. While this first one doesn’t look like much, the right side was extremely slippery, and, at least two people fell. One person managed to have their camera call into the water, but, it was an older Canon 1D series, so it was fine after it dried out a bit.

After this waterfall, there was a chest deep section, followed by a waist deep section, followed by another waterfall to climb. I do not have any pictures of this last waterfall, because there were a bunch of people trying to photograph it, and I wanted to get out of their frames as fast as possible.

At this last waterfall, the slot canyon narrows greatly. I was able to take a quick stop about 1/3rd of the way up to take this photo. There was a small pool here where I could take a small break from the climb.

I was now at a point where only a handful of people would try to venture. Once I got to the top of the stream, I took a look around the corner.

This looked quite nice, and very well could have been my shot. I decided to set up and take a few shots while deciding how much further I wanted to go.

As I was debating whether to continue up or turn back, some other members of my group showed up. One of them climbed up and let us know we were about as far as you could go. I decided if I was almost there, I might as well go to the top. So I did.

About the time I got to the top, a few people were ready to leave. The guides then showed up, having taken a goat trail to get there. They helped a few members of my group get out and head up the trail. A few members of my group decided to start to venture back down the creek. I then had it all to myself.

Since I had all of my camera gear, and a great little spot all to myself, I decided not to waste it, and, carefully set up my camera. At the bottom of the area, there is place to put bags down and keep them mostly dry. Here, there was no such spot.

The pink duct tape on the camera serves a few purposes. #1 – Identification – by the first day, everyone knew that Pink Duct Tape was mine. #2 – Dust Protection – the Grand Canyon has very fine dust that gets everywhere. The duct tape helped keep this dust out of the sensitive parts of the camera. #3 – Pink = Professional. My other camera was marked with Star Wars Duct Tape, so I could tell them apart at a distance.

And here, after all of that story, is the final image. It only took about an hour in Photoshop to get to this point.

Matkatamiba Top

The top of Matkatamiba

Until next time
-Brad

Using GPX Data in LightRoom

Background

  • This will allow you to add a Latitude/Longitude (aka GPS Coordinates) to your photos after the fact, and without needing to use a GPS receiver on your camera.
  • This allows for a trip where only 1 person carries the GPS recorder, but everyone can benefit.
  • These features have been available since Lightroom 4.
  • The screenshots below are from Lightroom CC 2015, on Mac OS X.

Lightroom Instructions

Terry from Adobe talks about Geotagging – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-9kSbLk26M

Important things to know: The Timezone offset means the difference in the camera’s clock vs your computer’s clock. If your camera’s clock is set to PDT (Pacific Daylight Savings) and your computer is set to EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings), you want to use -3 as your timezone offset. The computer needs to know the difference between your computer and your camera’s clock.

An easy alternative to this is to reset your computer’s clock to the timezone your camera’s clock was set to before using the Geotagging data.

Before We Begin-

Things to Know – Lightroom remembers the location of the .gpx file. It is recommended that you create a folder inside of your [My] Documents folder for GPX logs.

Without full information, Lightroom will guess. If there is a jump in the data, it will pick one side or the other and not try to calculate where you may have been on a straight line. Knowing this behavior, when capturing the GPS logs, I recommend turning off your GPS when you will be stationary for an extended period of time, and turning it back on when you move.

The GPS log will not be 100% accurate, but it will generally be close enough. In many situations, the GPS receiver can have trouble locking on to the location. For the most part, accuracy is within 30m/100ft. In the difficult areas, accuracy is within about 0.1 miles. There are some places, it does look like this-

If you see something like this, it is just due to the age of the GPS chips and the limited accuracy of that location. If you use a piece of software to edit the GPX file, you can just delete this section.

It is also HIGHLY recommended that you perform this on ~5 test files that you have not yet worked on. See “Removing Geolocation Data” below. If you had a device that was geotagging, it is HIGHLY recommended that you do not try to tag a tagged photo.

Let’s Begin
Step 1 – Open the Map Module of Lightroom
Step 2 – Click on the box at the bottom that looks like a line graph (to the right of the Padlock Icon). We will call this the ‘Tracklog Icon’

Step 3 – Choose “Load Tracklog”

Step 4 – Navigate to where the log was stored, press ‘Choose’

This should now load the entire track

Step 5 – Click on the Tracklog Icon, select “Set Time Zone Offset”

Step 6
See “Things to Know” at the start of this section. You will be presented with a dialog box asking you for the timezone offset. This is the difference between your computer’s timezone and your camera’s timezone. If they are both set to the same, choose 0.0.

Note: This assumes that your camera’s clock had at the minutes set correctly. If your camera’s clock was set completely wrong, you can adjust the offset by .1 hours (6 minutes). Good luck! And set your clock right next time.

After setting the offset, press OK.
Step 7 – Using the filmstrip area, choose the photos you wish to tag.

Step 8 – Hit the Tracklog Icon Again, choose “Auto Tag X Photos”

The first time you do this, you may see a pop up about doing reverse location info. This sends the GPS coordinates to Google to fill in the city/state/country/region information for where you were. Turn this on if you’d like. I leave it turned off.

Step 9 – Assuming your test went smoothly; perform the same task on the rest of your files.

Step 10 – Enjoy your map

If you click on one of the numbers, then switch back to your Library View, those photos that were in that area will be selected.

To find files that do or do not have location info, you can go into your Library and do a ‘Metadata Search’.

You can add a new column for ‘GPS Data’, which will let you search for files that do or do not have GPS Data.

I have been geotagging since 2010. If you continue to geotag over time, your map could eventually look like this:


Removing Geolocation Data-

Under the Photo Menu, choose “Delete GPS Coordinates”

GPS data is stored in the .xmp of a photo and in your .lrcat file itself.

If you overwrote a location from a photo that was already tagged (for examply, 1 camera has GPS tagging built in), the only way I know to get the location back is to remove the file from your catalogue, delete the .xmp file (if there is one), then import the file again. Sorry.

If you wish to hide the location data during export, check the “Remove Location Info” box.


Alternative method – Jeffrey’s GeoTagging Plugin

A more feature-full GeoTagging Option is the one from Jeffrey Friedl of regex.info (http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/gps. This plugin has a lot of options and can guess where you were a lot better than Lightroom’s out of the box functionality. If you want to go down this route, the author’s web page has a fantastic step-by-step guide.

Resources
Terry from Adobe Talks about Geotagging – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-9kSbLk26M
Jeffrey’s GeoTagging Plugin – http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/gps

-Brad