Allen's Blog

Posts tagged ‘Nikon D300’:

President Obama Returns to Martha’s Vineyard, and I Check My ‘Priorities’

Two days ago, the President returned to a Martha’s Vineyard golf course very near our home, so I had the chance (away from the rest of the press) to make a new image of Mr. Obama at play. After the expected full inspection by the Secret Service ahead of the President’s arrival, there was  a wait of about 15 minutes while he played the previous hole.

There are things you can control, and particularly with the President of the U.S., even more things you can’t. Instead of playing to the 8th green where I was, the President and his foursome skipped the hole and went straight to the adjacent 9th tee, after driving his cart over to say hello. He was friendly enough in his greeting,  but said he was running late (if you’re the President, I guess you can play the just holes you want).

President Obama driving a golf cart

I had already mounted the latest version of Nikon’s tack-sharp and very fine 70-200mm f/2.8ED on my D300, figuring that would cover his short game and putting. And here comes today’s photo lesson —

What shooting mode to use? First of all, there was plenty of light, even though the subject matter was largely back-lit. I wanted a bit of depth-of-field, but since the picture was all about Mr. Obama, what’s far more important was a fast shutter speed. That dictated going to Aperture-Priority set at f/4. With the VR turned on, I ended up with a shutter speed of 1/640, which guaranteed  a sharp image.

Martha's Vineyard Gazette front page Obama in golf cart

It always makes me crazy that there are so many people who buy a fine camera and great optics, whether an SLR or a point-and-shoot, and then just leave it in AUTO mode. And yet, it’s what I see all the time, even with friends and family — they eagerly seek my advice on what to buy, and then leave in AUTO until they’re ready to buy a new camera. Here’s my point: you definitely will never learn all the options and gimmicks your new camera offers, but please, at least learn how, when, and why to use the various shooting modes.

It was all over in just a few seconds and eight frames (I’m not a fan of high-speed motor drive shooting.) Then, on the 9th tee, he was a good bit farther away, but I took a couple of more shots and caught the President in the midst of the classic Obama fist-bump with one of  his partners. That picture, appearing inside the paper and cropped a bit, was just a bit of pure lucky timing.

Obama fist bumping one of his golf partners

The President leaves the Island this evening, a day early. Now I and the rest of the Gazette staff are turning our full attention to something just as unpredictable as covering Mr. Obama: tracking Hurricane Irene.

Wildlife Photography on the Gulf Coast

The Steadybag Junior supporting a 300mm lens

A couple of weeks ago, I took a phone call from Charles Stutts in Louisiana, a shooter who does a lot of long-lens bird and wildlife photography. Even when you’re using a heavy-duty tripod, once focal lengths get beyond 300mm, it’s good to have some additional lens support, and Charles had decided to order some of our Steadybags.

It was a quiet time of the day here, and we got into a long conversation about his work. Charles frequently uses Nikon’s very fine 200-400mm f/4 zoom, frequently with a Nikon extender. So shooting on a D300, what he ends up with can be more like an 800mm. I was interested in seeing his images, so he pointed me to a YouTube video he posted in 2008. It’s a lovely slide show of the wildlife from Lake Peigneur in Louisiana, titled ‘Jefferson Lakes and Rip Van Winkle Gardens’:

While we talked, I pulled up his video and saw that Charles, while not a professional photographer in the sense of earning his living by taking pictures, knows very well how to make great images. The irony in all this is that just a few days later, recent events in the Gulf of Mexico had put the birds–as well as all wildlife and vegetation along the Gulf Coast–in great peril (to say nothing of the economic harm to many thousands of workers and their families.) Coincidentally, Lake Peigneur itself was the victim of an oil rig disaster some 30 years ago.

So in light of what’s happening right now in Louisiana, you might well enjoy taking a few minutes to appreciate at his fine images of some newly-endangered species.