• Abandoned
    An abandoned British research station on Stonington Island in Antarctica
  • Harbour Dusk
    The daily buzz on Sydney Harbour is always a joy to experience.
  • Mona Vale
    View from the headland to Mona Vale Pool.
  • Antarctic Night
    Midnight in Antarctica and mirror-like reflections.
  • Neko Harbour
    Sunrise over Neko Harbour in Antarctica.

Archive for May, 2009

Nikon D300 or D700 – what do I use?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The latest two Nikon prosumer cameras: The older D300 and the newer D700 are some of Nikon’s finest and most affordable cameras, with the D700 offering 95% of the features of the D3.
As many readers know, I have been to Antarctica at the beginning of this year. In my luggage was a D300, a D700 and even the good ol’ D2h.
Spending a few days in Buenos Aires before and after the trip, I did not want to risk flashing around my two high end cameras and surprisingly the D2h resulted in wonderful images from this place (although I would not dare to shoot above ISO200).

But I digress… I was thinking about upgrading my D300 to the D700 and the trip to Antarctica was supposed to solve my question: Is it worth the extra money to buy the D700?

In my opinion a clear no! Don’t get me wrong – the D700 is an outstanding camera and in many aspects slightly superior to the D300.
An objective answer is: It depends. My shooting style is low light landscapes. I rarely shoot above ISO200. Most of my shots are at least 1-2 seconds of exposure time and can go up to several minutes (10 minutes was my longest exposure so far).

I always shoot with Nikon’s 14 bit option, on the D300 this results in slower frame rates. For many this is a real downer. Not for me – I do not need to rip shots as a landscape photographer. Different story for wildlife – the more frames you can rip, the better.

A landscape photographer composes the shot. The decision what goes in the frame is most important. Which brings us to the next point why I prefer the D300 over the D700: It has a 100% viewfinder. This is underestimated by many, but is very important when it comes to composition. What you see in your viewfinder is what you get on your monitor back home. No adding, no subtracting and – if you are careful and really know what you want to include in the frame – no cropping in post.

Lastly I have to say I love the Nikon 14-24mm and shot with it in Antarctica. However I have an equivalent lens on my DX sensor: The Sigma 10-20mm. Almost as wide as the 14-24 and it accepts filters which is very important for my type of shooting style. Not to mention that the Sigma is about 5 times cheaper and I can not really see sharpness differences around the sweet spot (f/8-f11) either.
If you know how to handle the Sigma, I doubt you will see any differences between the two lenses.

So in summary, the reasons why I decided to sell my D700 and keep my D300 are the following:

  • D700 offers about 1 more usable stop in ISO performance which does not matter to my shooting style
  • D300 offers a 100% viewfinder unlike the D700 (only a 95%vf)
  • I do not mind the frame rate restriction on the D300 when shooting in 14 bit mode
  • Last but not least the price difference between the two cameras

I hope my approach may help you in deciding which camera to get.

Should you upgrade from a D200 and you don’t mind a 95% viewfinder, I would definitely pick the D700.

Upgrading from a D300 to a D700 is trickier. For me as a landscape shooter it was an easy pick – the D300. For a wildlife shooter, the D700 has a clear advantage.

Canyon X – wow what a find!

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Together with Brent and Gavin, I had an exciting Monday morning at a place Brent named Canyon X.

It is virtually impossible to find and even harder to get to, so the three of us had the honor to shoot this place most likely for the very first time ever.

It really is a thrill to get down there, a steep almost vertical cliff and the roaring ocean 60 ft below; only accessible via a few ropes that some bold fishermen put up there. Those ropes had certainly seen better days, but of course that could not stop three uber-eager photographers

Seeing that place in the dark for the first time, I initially thought Brent was kidding us when he took us to the edge of the cliff where the rope started.

It seemed to go right down into blackness – this is truly exciting stuff. You can read more about it on Brent’s blog – after all, he found this magnificent spot.

I am sorry to be so vague about the location, but the three of us agreed to keep it a secret until we are tired of shooting it and then reveal it’s location to anyone who is daredevil enough to let their camera hang over a 60ft drop while struggling to hang on to a rope 🙂

The video is a must watch though – feel free to guess the location.

Images to follow soon.

Sony World Photography Awards

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

One of the biggest awards and highest achievements for any photographer is to be part of the annual exhibition of the World Photography Awards. I can consider myself lucky enough to have made it into the final selection.
I received a highly commended and my shot has been exhibited in their gallery in Cannes for the annual festival of photography.
The book with all winning shots can be ordered on worldphotographyawards.org.
It is very inspirational to browse it and makes for the perfect coffee table book 🙂

Here is the shot I entered:

It was taken on Maui/Hawaii.
I used a 3 stop grad ND to darken the rainy clouds, camera on tripod, remote release and exposure time of about 2 seonds at f/16.
I usually shoot below f/16 to achieve sharper images, however I needed the extra stop down to create a longer exposure for the water.

Forresters – one of my fav’s

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Us seascape photogrpahers are always scouting for a new location. Going up to the Central Coast a few weeks ago, I was finally introduced to beautiful Forresters Beach by my friend Brent.

He has done a whole study of Forresters Beach and thus was the perfect guide for me.

This shot was taken with my beloved Nikon D300 and a Sigma 10-20mm.
I wanted to achieve the effect of blurring the rushing water and freezing the wave smashing against the rock at the same time. I used a technique called shutter blending: Two separate photos on separate layers merged in photoshop via layer blending. Processing was done in Capture NX2 – my favorite raw processor.

– 2 exposures, one for the f/g one for the rock in the background (light painted with my head torch
– You can clearly see that my surefire torch was not really the right tool for the job. the middle-ground is not really covered by it. Something more powerful (like Brent’s torch) would have been perfect.

– This is a 2 shot vertorama.
– The bottom panel consists of 3 separate shots that have been layerblended together.
– The top panel is a single shot to capture the rapid cloud movement (4 min exposure).

If you want to know how I did this shot. It is easy: Just buy this book about Light Painting and you will boost your light painting skills to a whole new level. It is worth every cent especially if you want to find out, how to build the perfect torch for light painting!

We had a spectacular evening and went over to Terrigal afterwards for some specatacular light painting.

Here is a fun video to watch if you would like to learn more about the location (and see me wading through knee-deep water – waiting for something to happen ;))

Patience is a virtue – particularly for any landscape photographer. You can never have enough of it.

Antarctica – what a trip!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Probably the ultimate photographic destination. I could consider myself lucky enough to have had the opportunity to go there!

I am very excited to announce that my ebook about Antarctica is almost finished and is going to be for sale on this website.

I hope it will encourage you to take the trip yourself one day – it is nothing short of spectacular.

Here is a shot of the front page of my book.

Antarctica Cover

You will also be able to order it as a real book for your coffee table – a guaranteed distraction for those rainy Sunday afternoons with strawberry tarts and a good cap. 🙂