13 January 2013

Timelapse Video Now Online

Namibian Nights, our timelapse video that won First Prize in the Travel Photographer Of The Year Awards, is now online!

11 January 2013

The Nikon Emergency Room Again

I've never had any serious problems with my Nikon gear, but after the expensive repair on my 24-70, I had some other issues.

First, the sun shade of the 24-70. When I put the lens in my camera bag, no matter whether it's on the body or not, I put the sun shade on the lens in reverse. Which is actually the position that most people have their sun shade in when they're shooting, but that's a whole different matter. The thing is that in the reverse position it didn't lock any more. I'd still hear the click when I put it on, but it didn't actually lock and as a result it fell off constantly when I took it out of the bag or whenever I walked around with it with the sun shade in the reverse position. Nikon Service Center said they couldn't fix it. It was normal wear of the sun shade. I ended up buying a new one that locks a lot better, but still not as good as my other lenses.

The non-stick sun shade

Then the D800. Great camera, love it. Super sharp, giant files, awesome quality. If it works. A couple of times the D800 just froze. The green light on the back of the camera would go on and not go off anymore. Whenever that happened, none of the controls worked. At first I thought I just needed to wait for the gigantic files to be written to the card, but that wasn't it. For a while I thought it was the cold, but then again it wasn't really that cold - the coldest it got was maybe -10C. They don't know what it is, and they are keeping the camera to run some tests.

The little joystick that broke off

One of the first things I bought for the D800 is the MB-D12 battery grip. I don't like the small size of the D800 and I prefer all my bodies to feel more or less the same. And I like to use the vertical release button and the extra battery is nice as well. But pretty soon on our Antarctica trip I lost the little joystick on the MB-D12. Don't know what happened - whether it just fell off or got stuck behind a piece of my clothing or broke off in my camera bag. I never found the little joystick again. Problem was that there was now an opening in the grip that showed electronics. When you're on a trip that includes plenty of sea spray and snow, that's not what you want. I ended up using some Duct tape to close the opening. The missing part has been ordered.

The zoom lens that didn't want to zoom

And then there's the 70-200. Remember the zoom ring that got stuck on my 24-70? Same thing happened with my 70-200. Well, not exactly the same because it didn't get stuck at 50mm, that would be really strange, but it just got harder and harder to twist it. In cold weather it was the worst, and I even messed up the rubber ring that goes around it trying to zoom in or out. Needless to say that's another item I left at the emergency room.

That's it? No, if only. I had three bodies that I used extensively for over a month, and I wanted the sensors to be cleaned. I'm an NPS member, so they do it for free, and Dutch people like free things. They told me I could wait for the sensor cleaning so that I could take at least some gear back home. After about 15 minutes one of the surgeons came out to tell me that something had happened. Something bad. When cleaning the sensor of the D3s, they scratched the sensor. They had to order a new sensor...

Let's hope I've had my share of gear problems by now and that 2013 will be smooth and without repairs.

06 January 2013

Ice Capades is Photo of the Month

Marsel's Iceland picture 'Ice Capades' is Image of the Month on Naturescapes.

Here's the background info that accompanies the shot:

'Early this year I was travelling in Iceland, scouting for locations for a new tour. I was prepared to see a lot of spectacular landscapes, people had even warned me that I would get hooked, but it still greatly exceeded my expectations. As a result I didn't cover a lot of distance each day - too much to see and photograph! And as a result of that, I stayed much longer than anticipated - which was not too bad by the way.

This was taken at sunrise. I had set my alarm clock very early to check out the weather, and it didn't look very promising - completely overcast. The weather in Iceland changes quickly though, so I decided to give it a try anyway. When I arrived at the beach the clouds already started to move away and the sky opened up a little. Enough for some light and color to come through. Moments like this can disappear quickly, so I had to move fast. I shot three exposures to capture all the brightness levels and later merged them in PS.'

From our new Iceland Winter Wilderness Tour

If you would like to join us on this year's Iceland Winter Wilderness tour, please check out our website for more information, images, a tour impression video clip and a detailed PDF. One of the tours is already sold out, but we have a few openings for the other one. If you're interested - don't wait too long!

05 January 2013

First Prize in NPN Awards

Just when we thought that 2012 has been such a successful year in terms of awards and recognition, the new year already starts with yet another award. :-) Marsel's photograph At The Gates has won First Prize in the Nature Photographers Network Awards. NPN is the internet's top-ranked nature photography site where nature photographers from around the world share their images. It's a real honour to have been chosen as a category winner amidst so many excellent photographers.

Double Arch, double exposure. Daniella did the posing and the light painting.

Here's the story that accompanied the shot when I first put it online:

'Of all the National Parks that I have ever visited in the US, Arches NP is without a doubt the most iconic one. Millions of photographs have been shot here, and to come up with something different is not easy. That does not mean one shouldn't try though, and I personally greatly enjoy thinking of new possibilities to photograph iconic subjects.

Double Arch is one of them. When you're standing below this imposing marvel of nature, it's hard to not be impressed by the size and the beauty of this amazing structure. From my research for my visit to Arches, I learned that 99.9% of all the images of this arch are more or less taken from the same viewpoint. I'm sure one of the reasons for this is that you need some distance to get the whole thing to fit inside your frame - standing inside the arch is not going to work. Unless of course you have a 14mm on a full frame camera. But even then it was tough to find a position where I could get all the openings and the lines at the right places - it only worked with a vertical composition. I was fine with that, because the vast majority of images taken of this arch are all horizontals.

I also decided to photograph the arch at night and to bring out the details and colors by using a flashlight. The advantage of doing this also meant that there would be stars, and stars are nice. I wanted to include part of the Milky Way, which meant that I had only a very short window of time to take the shot. These decisions were all very important in order to create something original, but the most important one for me was to include a human figure. It brings the shot to life and it acts as a vital scale element. The fact that most landscape photographers don't like humans in their pictures is always a nice bonus when you're trying to create something original.

This was shot three years ago as a double exposure - one for the sky with my lovely assistant, one for the light painting. We tried to shoot it again with our group on this year's Arches Under The Stars workshop, but the weather gods did not want to cooperate. They gave use snow the next day though, so that made up for that.'