Issues when shooting in the tropics: Hawaii

Discussion in 'Travel' started by studio460, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. As I mentioned in another thread, here's what I plan to take on our next trip to Kauai, essentially, a three-lens, FX kit:
    Nikon D800E
    Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM (general-use, daylight exteriors; my new 99% lens)
    Sigma 35mm f/1.4 (dusk, night interiors, available-light)
    AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR (compression shots)
    x2 ThinkTank lens pouches
    Compact carbon-fiber travel tripod
    Rosco lens tissue/lens fluid

    Here's a list of Items I neglected to take last time, but will be bringing along this time:
    Hoodman 3x loupe (to check exposure/focus on the rear LCD)
    Nikon SB-600 Speedlight (to light foreground flora)
    10' remote TTL cable
    PortaBrace 5" x 7" white balance card (to use as a handheld lens shade)
    microfiber lens cloths
    Upon our last trip the Kauai, I encountered a number of issues. I'll try to document the most notable ones in this thread in subsequent posts. Hopefully, I'll also be able to include a few solutions to some of the most common problems I encountered.
     
  2. Issue No. 1: The Waterfall Shot
    After a very long hike, we reached this waterfall near the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai. Aside from being a bit fatigued while attempting to capture these images, a number of additional issues compromised this shot:
    [​IMG]
    Nikon D800E + AF Nikkor 14mmm f/2.8D
    1. Shutter speed too slow (1/80th).
    2. Incorrect hyperfocal setting.
    3. Bad time of day (sun at 2 o'clock).
    4. Overcast sky resulted in a dull, low-contrast scene.
    5. Contrast and sharpness lowered due to constant "misting" on lens from falling water droplets--needed some microcloths.
    6. Lens should've been shaded (flagged) to prevent purple lens flare in lower left, and to improve overall contrast.
    Note that the tripod was precariously perched upon a slippery rock, just above the water-line, so virtually 100% of my attention was committed to trying to avoid dumping my $3,300 camera into the water. Fatigued, dehydrated, and distracted, I made several mistakes.
     
  3. Issue No. 2: Flash needs to be off-camera + warmed with CTO
    Due to the tropics' clearer atmosphere, as the sun sets on the horizon, the light becomes warmer in color temperature--more so than in more hazy climates like Los Angeles, where I live. I needed to warm up my on-camera flash to match the setting sun's warmer light. Better yet, I should've brought a full-sized flash, plus a remote TTL cable.
    I should've brought an SB-600 with several grades of CTO (Lee, "color-temperature orange," a tungsten correction gel). Likely a half-CTO, with an off-camera (handheld) SB-600, on a long TTL cable would've done the trick for more convincingly filled foliage seen in the immediate foreground:
    [​IMG]
    Nikon D800E + AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G; ISO: 100; f/5.6 @ 1/320th; on-camera flash fired.
    1. Bring full-size Speedlight.
    2. Bring long remote TTL cable.
    3. Bring 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 CTO gel swatches for flash head.
     
  4. Issue No. 3: Using fill-flash at dusk
    A full-CTO gelled, off-camera flash would've also helped this dusk shot by both spreading the light more naturally, and by preventing a lens shadow:
    [​IMG]
    Warming the flash would've also allowed me to balance to a cooler color temperature, exaggerating the orange hues in the sunset as seen in this un-flashed shot:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Issue No. 4: Dust or oil on the sensor
    A dirty sensor from multiple lens changes in the field revealed dozens of dust spots in this high f-stop sunburst shot:
    [​IMG]
    Corrective actions:
    1. Have your sensor cleaned just prior to your trip.
    2. Either avoid changing lenses in the field, or reduce the day's lens inventory to a single lens.
     
  6. Issue No. 5: Environmental self-portraits
    [​IMG]
    1. Bring a carbon-fiber tripod to shoot well-framed snapshots of yourself.
    2. Bring a wireless shutter release--this took forever to shoot without one.
     
  7. "being a bit fatigued"

    Issue No. 6: Mimic other photographers obtaining great images while shlepping less gear.
     
  8. Reminder No. 1: Don't forget to shoot "normal" stuff.
    Not really an "issue," but I realized that "normal," more documentary images were as rewarding to remember the trip as the scenics:
    [​IMG]
    Lihue Airport, just after we landed.
    [​IMG]
    Our hotel room nightstand on the first night.
     
  9. John said:
    Issue No. 6: Mimic other photographers obtaining great images while shlepping less gear.​
    This is my day-pack for the next trip:

    Nikon D800E + Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM.
    Wireless shutter-release.
    Carbon-fiber tripod slung on my back like a rifle.
    Hoodman 3x loupe around my neck.
    Rosco lens tissue/lens fluid/microfiber lens cloths.
    Disposable shower caps (cheap rain/sand covers).

    So, basically one body and a single lens. The 35mm f/1.4 will stay in the room most of the time, and will be used almost exclusively at the hotel or at dinner (although I may stash an AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0D in GF's backpack). The 80-400mm I may ditch completely, but it's so compact for such a long lens, I may take it and leave it in the hotel room just in case. The flash gear will stay in the car.
     
  10. Miscellaneous issues:
    1. Our first trip to Kauai was to enjoy our vacation--photography was secondary. All photo gear was left at the hotel on the days we went to the beach or went snorkeling.
    2. A number of overcast days rendered flat, low-contrast scenes--obviously, I have no control over this.
    3. Time-of-day for shooting was entirely dependent on our non-photographic activities. As a result, many scenics were shot mid-day, in the worst possible light.
    4. Since now I have the benefit of essentially a "location scout" from our previous visit, we can now better plan on skewing more of our days' schedule toward arriving at certain vistas closer to golden hour.
     
  11. Issue No. 7: Hydration
    I almost died of exhaustion and dehydration (not literally, I just felt like I was dying--more like just really hot, tired, and thirsty) on the hike back from the Na Pali coast trail. GF bought me a CamelBak hydration pack for Xmas last year. Don't underestimate your water requirements for long hikes in hot weather. I don't remember exactly how much was recommended, but it was a lot more than we took (check with park ranger, hotel, tour book, etc. before leaving). River water isn't good for drinking, even in Hawaii. There are bacteria and viruses living in it which will make you sick.
     
  12. Issue No. 8: "Waterproof" cameras
    Digital "waterproof" point-and-shoots, sometimes, aren't. The Nikon waterproof point-and-shoot I bought wasn't even "water-resistant." It leaked-in water everywhere (lens, battery compartment, etc.), immediately after immersion in just a few inches of water after only a few seconds. Underwater housings, are (Gates, Ikelite, etc.).
     
  13. I think the Nikon in particular was problematic (was it the AW100?). I remember reading reports from others who had similar experiences. So far **knock on wood** my Olympus Tough-series camera has done really well in water, sand, mud, and snow.
     
  14. Aren't you shooting in Raw and converting to JPEG in some program like Lightroom or DxO? If so, why are you worrying so much about color balance when you can adjust it in Raw conversion. Yes, you want to arrive at the best times of day for the light, but you can adjust color balance, apply an S-curve, straighten a horizon, add contrast, all in Raw conversion and seem to have failed to do that.
    Those first two images, in particular, would have benefited quite a bit with some judicious adjustments to bring up shadows, adjust colors and add contrast, even with the other flaws.
     
  15. "A number of overcast days rendered flat, low-contrast scenes--obviously, I have no control over this."​

    Isn't that good sometimes? Avoiding nasty contrast for lush scenes of vegetation, people pictures with interesting backgrounds and so on? You seem pretty talented, I'm not sure why this one is an issue if it isn't overcast too much of the time.
     
  16. Rob said:
    I think the Nikon in particular was problematic (was it the AW100?).​
    Yup! I believe that's the one! Bought the night before the trip at Target for $99. After I came back, I read some reviews of other waterproof point-and-shoots, and some users complained of similar failings of other brands as well. STAY AWAY FROM THE NIKON AW100!
     
  17. David said:
    Aren't you shooting in Raw and converting to JPEG in some program like Lightroom or DxO?​
    Yes, images were shot RAW, and processed in DxO Optics Pro Elite for OS X. The resulting .JPGs were posted here. The images looked far worse before processing.
    If so, why are you worrying so much about color balance when you can adjust it in Raw conversion.​
    Even if shooting RAW, light sources of differing color temperatures still need to be corrected at the time of acquisition to match the ambient light (e.g., a Speedlight at 5,600K vs. say, a 3,000K setting sun). If your strobe is uncorrected at the time of acquisition, in post, you would only be able to correct for one or the other.
     
  18. Josh said:
    Isn't that good sometimes? Avoiding nasty contrast for lush scenes of vegetation, people pictures with interesting backgrounds and so on?​
    Sure! Softer lighting is commonly considered more flattering for shooting people. But, when shooting scenics, lighting that's too flat tends to lack contrast which can attenuate apparent sharpness and lower overall acutance. Of course, ideally, you want "just the right amount" of flat (base light), and direct sunlight, so that the entire scene's brightness range fits perfectly within your camera's dynamic range (yet, still has enough direct rays to create some contrast and contouring).
    You seem pretty talented, I'm not sure why this one is an issue if it isn't overcast too much of the time.​
    Gosh, thanks! But this isn't my best work--these are essentially the "fails." That's the reason for the thread--to show where I messed up, and to analyze my mistakes, and develop solutions for our next trip.

    What I'm looking for in scenics are those contrasty, raking streams of sunlight to better reveal the relief of the landscape. Of course this light only occurs when the sun is very low in the sky. One of the problems is that at these times, there was often too much cloud cover on the island, and my late-afternoon shots often appeared to be shot just in open-shade, rendering very low-contrast scenes, without any "snap."
     
  19. I said:
    STAY AWAY FROM THE NIKON AW100!​
    Correction: I did NOT buy the AW100. It was a much cheaper Nikon waterproof model.
     
  20. Vacation equipment list v2.0:
    Paring down the package even further, I'm going to ditch the somewhat bulky Sigma 35mm f/1.4, mainly because I just remembered that it doesn't auto-focus correctly with my D800E! (It works fine with my D3s bodies, but apparently needs a firmware update for the D800E). If I take my old AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0D instead, I'll be giving up one full-stop of light-gathering ability, but in exchange, I'll have a very compact package.

    I'm still on the fence about taking the 80-400mm. I did shoot with it some last time, but not very much. Also, I was hoping to reduce lens changes in the field to "none," since I think the tropical humidity just tends to trap more dust on the sensor when changing lenses outdoors.

    Body and lenses:
    Nikon D800E
    Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM + Sigma lens cap + Sensei cap-keeper.
    AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0D

    Accessories:
    x2 camera batteries + charger.
    x2 64GB CF cards.
    Nikon SB-600 + CTO swatches + roll of Scotch tape.
    x12 'AA' batteries.
    Nikon SC-29 remote TTL cable and/or PocketWizard TT1/TT5.
    Hoodman 3x loupe
    Full-sized, carbon-fiber tripod with a new compact ball-head.
    Wireless shutter-release.
    White-balance card (to be used as a lens shade).
    Rosco lens tissue/lens fluid/microfiber lens cloths.
    Disposable shower caps.
    CamelBak hydration pack.
    I decided to take a full-sized, carbon-fiber tripod, since most of the time I'm shooting self-portraits with it, and am usually extending the legs to their maximum height. I do want to buy a lighter ball-head, however. I also saw a really compact travel tripod that seemed extremely sturdy at Samy's booth at a recent photo show. I may consider that one instead. Anyone have a favorite travel tripod? I'm looking for ultra-stable, over "lightest possible," or "smallest possible" (i.e., a happy medium), with a maximum of three leg extensions.

    Shopping list:
    Additional 64GB CF card.
    Sensei lens cap-keeper (for special, non-captive Sigma 12-24mm lens cap).
    Compact ball-head, or new compact tripod.
    Pack of microfiber lens cleaning cloths.
    Sheet of 1/2 CTO.
    One roll, Scotch tape.
    24-pack of 'AA' batteries.
    Photovision 6" mini one-shot digital target or 3.5" x 6" WhiBal card (to use as lens shades).
    About the cap-keeper: I don't usually use lens caps at all (I just clean my glass frequently), but the Sigma ultra-wide's front element bulges out precariously, and is easily susceptible to damage (especially while hiking over rough terrain without a camera bag or case). The Sigma cap works great, but is only held on by slight friction. The cap-keeper is a key accessory I don't want to forget to order.
     
  21. it

    it

    good shoes
    1 x body
    2 or 3 lenses
    small tripod
    map
    phrase book
     
  22. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

  23. Ian, what sort of "phrase book" do you have mind? More importantly, why would there be a need of one?

    .
    time
    .
    passes
    .

    Did you mean a Pidgin-English phrase book? If so, please ignore my previous query.
     
  24. Issue No. 9: Canyons
    I think shooting canyons present special challenges: A.) You need something in the foreground to communicate scale; B.) You may have a significant amount of atmospheric haze to shoot through, which will reduce your scene contrast. The out-of-camera .JPG of this image (this image has been processed in DxO) is very flat and dull-looking due to the atmospheric haze visible from such a vantage point, where you have an unobstructed view for many miles.
    [​IMG]
    Waimea Canyon, Kauai, HI
    Nikon D800e + AF Nikkor 14mm; ISO: 250; f/9 @ 1/320th
    I'm not claiming to be an expert landscape photographer--I'm not--these are just the observations I made through my own (limited) experience:
    1. Include something of a known size (e.g., people) in the foreground for scale.
    2. Canyons are often windy--use a sturdy tripod and weight its center-column (e.g., use your camera bag). You can also "flag" your camera from the wind with your body.
    3. Wait for a windy day for the clearest atmosphere to improve contrast.
    4. Partially cloudy skies are your friend--the "slices" of sunlight rendered will help lend shape, contrast, and interest to the scene.
    5. Use your camera's built-in level, if so equipped (or use a cheap hot-shoe level, or the level in your tripod head).
    6. Composition: be aware of which "half" is more interesting--sky or surface, and favor your horizon-line to emphasize that two-thirds of the frame (or, four-fifths, or whatever floats your boat).
    7. Even though you're shooting a long, wide thing, sometimes the vertical shot is better (especially if you have a cloud-filled sky--shoot both just in case).
    My biggest mistake? I thought this was a "throw-away" frame because those "darned people" were in the shot. As it turns out, the only shots which worked are the ones with random tourists in the frame (see tip no. 1). In retrospect, I should've directed GF or others to stand in a particular spot to improve their placement in my composition. I mean, duh . . . I read this "tip" in an old Time-Life photography book like 3,000 years ago, yet, on the day, I totally forgot about it.
    Also, the bottom part of the frame is more interesting than the sparsely clouded sky--I should've moved my horizon line to the upper-third, instead of the not-quite-at-lower-third position I chose. I'm not happy with where I placed the horizon in this shot--again, I thought this was a "throw-away." I just wish there were more clouds on that day.
    Darkening the sky would improve the shot, but I don't own those software tools at the moment. Why didn't I use an ND grad you ask? Well, I was using the Nikkor 14mm with its bulging front element (no front filter threads), so I would need one of those fancy rigs to hold a 4" x 5" ND grad (although, I suppose I could just tape one on, or handhold it for the shot). Aha! I think I just added another item to my shopping list--a 4" x 5" ND grad and some gaffer's tape!
     
  25. Don't think I'd split the frame in two. However, you could have used 80-400 w/pola...flipped into vert. position and create a pano (not necessarily extensive). You could still show some clouds (15-20% @top of the frame)...and start the sequence to the right of the people in the frame.....and go to the left as far as you wished. You could trim (in edit) the frames that would make the people off balance and too much to the center. Anyway, you could decide which mm's work best and how tight the whole thing would look. The 14mm, by default, makes everything look far away....so it's difficult to grab the 3D textures and tonalities of the canyon. Most likely a 90 or 105 prime would be better for this, but with diligence it's possible to pull this off. In this type of situation the manual settings rule.
    Also, it helps to have decent edit tools, since it allows you to pull shadows to your desire, tweak contrast, etc. and LR would do this fairly easy. I mean, I'm quite sure my antiquated CNX 2 can pull off similar trix.
    No need for ND or grad ND's.
    Les
     
  26. Leszek said:
    The 14mm, by default, makes everything look far away . . .​
    True. It's sometimes difficult to avoid the knee-jerk approach to shooting landscapes--to reach for the widest lens in the bag. Maybe I'll throw a 50mm f/1.4 or my old 85mm f/1.8 in my GF's bag!
    Also, it helps to have decent edit tools, since it allows you to pull shadows to your desire, tweak contrast, etc. and LR would do this fairly easy. I mean, I'm quite sure my antiquated CNX 2 can pull off similar trix.​
    At the moment, I only own current licenses to Photo Mechanic, Aperture, and DxO Optics Pro Elite, all of which lack those particular tools (as far as I know). I believe both Capture NX2 and Viveza have the "U-point" tool, making this adjustment a breeze. Of course, Photoshop is also capable of excellent hue-selection/replacement.
    No need for ND or grad ND's​
    Still, I would prefer an ND grad to knock down the luma in the clouds, rather than do it digitally, since an optical ND filter will enable your camera to make the most of its sensor's dynamic range (with the added benefit of minimizing any noise from appearing when "pulling-up" any shadows later in post.

    Thanks for your comments!
     
  27. I said:
    I think I just added another item to my shopping list--a 4" x 5" ND grad and some gaffer's tape!​
    Note that the old cine-standard, "Panavision" matte-box filter size is 4" x 5.65". But filters in both 4" x 5" and 4" x 6" are now also commonly available. Thank god, since glass 4" x 5.65" filters are insanely expensive (since they're principally designed for cine applications where everything costs a fortune).
    I just discovered this Singh-Ray "reverse" ND grad. I didn't even know they made these! Good for sunsets!

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/615228-REG/Singh_Ray_R_63_Daryl_Benson_4x6_Reverse.html
     
  28. Using filters with ultra-wide angle lenses without front-filter threads:
    Now, the "fancy" filter adapter: The product I was thinking of earlier is the Lee SW-150, which sells for a pricey $400, and includes a 0.6 ND grad (should've been a 0.9). It's only made to fit the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 zoom (I don't know if it fits the AF Nikkor 14mmm f/2.8 prime as well). Now, the question is--can this be made to fit the Sigma 12-24mm I now own? Since it seems to use a simple screw-tightened collar, I just need to find out the circumference of a Nikkor 14-24mm zoom, and see how close it is to the Sigma's.
    Lee SW-150 filter holder:
    http://www.leefilters.com/index.php/camera-directory/camera-dir-list/category/sw-150-starter-kit
    Nope! A web search turned up this 2011 post from a Lee Filters rep from Canada:
    "The SW150 will not fit the Sigma [12-24mm] lens . . . the 'petals' of the shade do not enable it to work. At this time there is no solution for that lens . . . sorry."
    By the way, while researching this, I found this photographer's site which has a gorgeous ND grad landscape shot on it, plus some detailed product discussion of Lee vs. Cokin filter systems:

    http://darwinwiggett.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/lee-holder-vs-cokin-z-pro-holder/
     
  29. How to attach a Lee or Cokin filter holder to the Sigma 12-24mm lens:
    http://gear.benjacobsenphoto.com/2010/gear/filters-for-lenses-that-cant-take-filters/
    The video makes it a lot clearer than the write-up. For the original version of the Sigma 12-24mm, all you need is a spare "cowl" (the "barrel" part of the special Sigma lens cap for the 12-24mm), either a Lee or Cokin 95mm adapter ring, a "Live Strong" rubber bracelet, and voila! However, I do not know if this works for the current version (v2) of the Sigma 12-24mm (the version I own).
     
  30. Issue No. 10: camera strap
    I normally carry my bodies using the factory Nikon strap (which I like), with both ends attached with a split-ring to a single lug on the left side of the camera. I then sling it over one shoulder, kinda "Black Rapid" style. But hiking the Na Pali trail is sometimes a challenge, requiring some mild rock climbing where a sling-worn body is susceptible to damage.
    Then, I just now remembered what I used to use when carrying a camera while skiing! A binocular strap! I have both Cabela's and Nikon binocular straps somewhere--now I just have to find them! If you're not familiar with binocular straps, they're great for carrying cameras tight to your chest, but still ready to shoot at any time.
    I think the Cabela's strap was stronger--here's a link:
    http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabelas-Pro-Binocular-Harness/748422.uts?Ntk=Product_liberal&searchPath=%2Fcatalog%2Fsearch%2F%3FN%3D%26Ns%3DMIN_SALE_PRICE%26Ntk%3DProduct_liberal%26Ntt%3Dbinocular%2Bstrap%26Ntx%3Dmode%252Bmatchallpartial%26WTz_l%3DHeader%253BSearch-All%2BProducts%26WTz_stype%3DSN%26form_state%3DsearchForm%26isLiberal%3DY%26search%3Dbinocular%2Bstrap%26searchTypeByFilter%3DAllProducts%26x%3D-1209%26y%3D-51&Ntt=binocular+strap&WTz_l=Header%3BSearch-All+Products
     
  31. I said:
    "I believe both Capture NX2 and Viveza have the "U-point" tool, making this adjustment a breeze. Of course, Photoshop is also capable of excellent hue-selection/replacement."​
    Well, I've always wanted to own a copy of Viveza, and now is the time to buy it! Viveza's selection tools, and "U Point" user interface should make darkening skies an easy task. Since Google bought Nik Software, the entire six-application Nik software suite now sells for only $149!
     
  32. Ian said:
    good shoes
    1 x body
    2 or 3 lenses
    small tripod
    map
    phrase book​
    I bought these Nike Free 4.0 v2 running shoes http://www.amazon.com/Nike-Free-4-0-Running-Shoes/dp/B008KCJW7W/ref=sr_1_12?s=shoes&ie=UTF8&qid=1374810353&sr=1-12&keywords=nike+free at Sports Chalet for our trip to Kauai last year, and they were great. Unlike conventional running shoes, the soles are extremely thin, flexible, and very lightweight--they feel like you're walking barefoot. They were perfect for the Na Pali coast hike.

    What I was really looking for this time was some sort of ventilated synthetic running shoe that wouldn't retain water, but so far, the Nike Free shoes still seem the best option. There's a lot of water features on this hike, so they do get wet. Unfortunately, there's still enough mesh material in the Nike shoe's upper so that they don't dry as quickly as I'd like.

    I also considered some kind of Croc shoe or sandal, but they just look stupid, and I don't think they'd be very good (or, even safe) for hiking on uneven terrain bordered by many steep drop-offs.

    Day-pack apparel:
    Nike Free 4.0 v2 running shoes.
    Use swimming trunks as shorts so we can swim at the "secret" beach.
    Two pairs, spare socks.
    Hmmm . . . but if we do decide to swim, I'd need to lug around my stupid Ewa-Marine housing so I can take my camera with me in the water, since there won't be anyone to guard it on shore. Although that's one more stupid piece of gear to lug around, water-level shots really are the nicest, and is what I wished I had for the waterfall shot in the first post. Yup! I think I'll bring it.

    I did decide on a single body and just one lens for the hike (two lenses, total for the trip). Still need to go tripod shopping, but I may take my full-sized, carbon-fibre tripod for convenience (quick to get to required lens-height). I usually get by with just the rental car map, although my Pidgin is a bit rusty.
     
  33. I said:
    I've always wanted to own a copy of Viveza, and now is the time to buy . . . the entire six-application Nik software suite now sells for only $149!
    Nik Collection now 15% off:
    Interested in Viveza, SilverEfx, or any other Nik app? Search for a coupon code using the terms, "Nik software coupon," and you'll find a valid code for 15% off the purchase of the entire suite. After applying the coupon code, the entire six-application Nik software suite cost me only $126.65.
     
  34. I said:
    Issue No. 9: Canyons
    I think shooting canyons present special challenges . . . [this image] is very flat and dull-looking due to the atmospheric haze visible from such a vantage point, where you have an unobstructed view for many miles.​
    Viveza 2: the "fixer."
    The product is touted as a "precise selective photo editing [plug-in] . . . without complicated masks or selections," but they should've also added, " . . . but instead, offers a ridiculously easy-to-use tool called, U Point, which works like a super 'magic wand' tool." The U Points are astoundingly easy and fun to use. For whatever reason, I didn't "get it" when I first demo'd Capture NX2 a year or so ago--but now that I own Viveza, it's crystal clear. I doctored up this canyon photo in about 45 seconds using five or six different control points. Easy as pie.
    Before Viveza:
    [​IMG]
    After Viveza:
    [​IMG]
     
  35. I think what you really need to bring is a Sherpa that has never been to Hawaii might I offer my services?;^>
     
  36. I said:
    Issue No. 1: The Waterfall Shot
    After a very long hike, we reached this waterfall near the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai . . . a number of additional issues compromised this shot:​
    Here's what I think what may improve this shot, if choosing again to shoot with an ultra-wide:
    1. Use an underwater housing to get the lens at water-level.
    2. Given the same angle-of-view, the image would be improved if textured terrain were included in the very near-foreground.
    3. And/or, a subject or point-of-interest placed very close in the foreground (a glistening rock, girl in bikini, etc.).
    4. Or, alternatively, shoot under the falls, and use the falling water as the necessary "foreground element."
    5. Shade the lens (e.g., Photovision 6" mini one-shot digital target) to prevent lens flare, and improve contrast.
    6. Alternatively, include the sun in the frame to exaggerate lens flare (i.e., feature it, rather than subdue it).
    7. Wipe the mist off of the lens more frequently with a microfiber lens cloth (lens tissue gets too wet).
     
  37. Issue No. 11: Underwater Housings
    Shooting landscapes which include bodies of water often look better when shooting at or near water-level. Trying to prevent my unprotected D800E from dumping into the water for the waterfall shot shown in the first post became one of my primary challenges. For low-cost housings, Ewa-Marine has long specialized in "plastic-bag" type UW housings. Affordable and fairly durable, they're a decent substitute for much pricier fare from Ikelite ($1,599), and Aqualite ($1,895).
    1. Ewa-Marine U-B100; includes 77mm port-adapter ($359)
    2. Ewa-Marine C-A82 82mm adapter ring set ($62.95)
    Since the AF-Nikkor 14mm, 14-24mm, and Sigma 12-24mm ultra-wides lack front-filter threads (the older Sigma 12-24mm would allow a screw-in filter into its 82mm "lens cap" cowl), if choosing an Ewa-Marine housing, you'll have to consider a different ultra-wide lens for wet-environment shots.
    Ultra-wide lenses with front-filter threads of 77mm - 82mm:
    A.) AF Nikkor 16-35mm f/4.0G VR; max. angle-of-view [FX] = 107°; min. focus = 11"; filter thread = 77mm.
    B.) AF Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 VR; max. angle-of-view [FX] = 104°; min. focus = 11"; filter thread = 77mm.
    C.) Tokina 17-35mm f/4.0; max. angle-of-view [FX] = 104°; min. focus = 11"; filter thread = 82mm.
    D.) AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D; max. angle-of-view [FX] = 100°; min. focus = 10"; filter thread = 77mm.

    Although I don't own the Nikkor 16-35mm (which I think would be ideal), I do own an AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D. Also, at only $599, the Tokina short-zoom is the bargain of the pack, but would require the Ewa-Marine C-A82 82mm port-adapter.
     
  38. Vacation equipment list v2.1--90's retro re-mix:
    1. Nikon D800E
    2. AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D
    3. AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0D
    4. Ewa-Marine U-B100 underwater housing
    Pros:
    A.) Lighter, smaller lenses.
    B.) Nikkor 18mm will directly fit into the Ewa-Marine housing using the stock 77mm portal.
    C.) I can use screw-in filters.
    D.) I no longer have to leave my camera at the hotel on days we want to go swimming and snorkeling.
    E.) Able to shoot safely in any wet environment.
    Cons:
    A.) The Nikkor 18mm doesn't have a stellar reputation for sharpness--have yet to test my copy more critically.
    B.) There is no DxO profile for the AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8.
    C.) Extra gear to carry (the UW housing).
    Seems like a pretty slick, compact little package, doesn't it? Recall, I'll only be taking out just one lens at a time--the 18mm for daylight exteriors; the 35mm for night interiors. However, "con" item 'B' could be a deal-breaker. The difference between profiled, and un-profiled processed images in DxO (my RAW developer of choice) is significant. Ever since DxO released their profile for the AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D just a few months ago, I no longer feel like selling it. DxO's lens-specific "lens softness" algorithms are that good.
     
  39. I said:
    Here's what I think what may improve [the waterfall shot], if choosing again to shoot with an ultra-wide . . . [one option is to] include the sun in the frame to exaggerate lens flare (i.e., feature it, rather than try to subdue it).​
    [​IMG]
    Didn't even remember I had shot this frame. It's better, but I still would like to lower my lens height to water-level, and include more foreground detail, or a foreground point-of-interest (e.g., delete swimming bald guy--replace with bikini girl further to the right).
     
  40. Issue 12: Always shoot a vertical just in case it's better.
    The image below could have been shot as an alternative, or cropped from a wider frame; however, the previous image (grass + sky) was both intended and shot as a vertical.

    [​IMG]
     
  41. Dennis said:
    I think what you really need to bring is a Sherpa that has never been to Hawaii might I offer my services?​
    Sure! My GF says she quit! Now I can bring more lenses, and some sandbags to hold the tripod steady!
     
  42. Issue No. 13: Too much gear!
    Last time, I took too much gear (and, not enough water!) on the Na Pali coast hike--x1 Nikon D800E, x3 lenses, a Domke bag, a 3.6 lb. carbon-fiber tripod with a 1.7 lb. pistol-grip head (5.3 lbs. total). Now I'm down to a single lens, a new 2.5 lb. carbon-fiber tripod, and a new 1.1 lb. compact ball-head (3.6 lbs. total). Plus, this time--no camera bag!
    Equipment list (revised, again) v3.0:
    Daylight exteriors:
    Nikon D800E + DK-19 + Hoodman eyecup.
    Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM II + Sensei cap keeper.
    Cabela's binocular strap (used as a camera strap).
    Ewa-Marine U-B100 underwater housing with 95mm port.
    Oben BA-2 single-lever ball-head; 1.1 lbs.
    Oben CC-2300 three-section, flip-lock, carbon-fiber tripod; 2.5 lbs. + Op-Tech strap.
    WhiBal 2" x 3.5" graycard with retractable clip (clipped to strap lug).
    Hoodman 3x loupe.
    CamelBak hydration pak.
    Leki walking stick.
    Nike Free running shoes.
    Dusk, available-light, hotel interiors:
    AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G
    Nikon SB-600 + SC-29 TTL cable and/or SU-800.
    PortaBrace 5" x 7' white balance card (handheld bounce surface).
     
  43. I said:
    Oben CC-2300 three-section, flip-lock, carbon-fiber tripod; 2.5 lbs.​
    Note: the Oben CT-2300 weighs only 2.0 lbs., but uses twist-lock legs instead of flip-lock legs (I prefer flip-locks--they're faster).
     
  44. Issue No. 14: "Sandbag" for tripod center-column.
    Thankfully, my new Oben carbon-fiber tripod has a ballast hook on the bottom of its center-column (my Manfrotto doesn't). Last time, I used my camera bag as ballast, but this time, I'm not taking a camera bag with multiple lenses stuffed in it. Since I'll be near water at many of the sites I'll be doing tripod-ed shots, I specifically wanted a water-fillable "sandbag," so I won't have sand all over my hands when trying to shoot. Apparently, Lowel no longer makes theirs, so I bought this instead:
    http://relianceproducts.com/products/hydration/80.html
     
  45. Ralph, as informative as your posts are, they do appear to be a little one sided, in fact you seemed to have (quite impressively) turned this thread into your own personal blog. Have you ever thought maybe of starting an actual blog instead? Maybe that's the way to go.
     
  46. Issue No. 15: Carrying the tripod.
    On our last trip, I slung my heavy carbon-fiber Manfrotto tripod over GF's shoulder using an Op-Tech strap--not optimal on a hike over uneven terrain. As I said, she quit as my sherpa, so now I have to carry it. Thankfully, my new carbon-fiber tripod/head only weighs 3.6 lbs., total.
    I won't be wearing a photo backpack, just a CamelBak hydration pack which only has some small zipper pockets. So, unless ThinkTank or someone already makes this, I was thinking to sew two Velcro straps to the back of a Nylon pistol belt, so that the tripod will stow horizontally in the small of my back (that'll be a 22.2" tripod with a 3.9" ball-head attached).
     
  47. Andrew said:
    Ralph, as informative as your posts are, they do appear to be a little one sided, in fact you seemed to have (quite impressively) turned this thread into your own personal blog . . .​
    Yes, I quite agree, and appreciate your comments. I was wholly expecting more comments from other members, and would certainly welcome more participation. Also, further discussion with others also helps to vet any of my own approaches. Hopefully, some may still find the rather monologue-ish content here useful.
     
  48. Andrew said:
    Have you ever thought maybe of starting an actual blog instead? Maybe that's the way to go.​
    Yes, hopefully, someday!
     
  49. I said:
    Issue No. 10: camera strap
    . . . I just now remembered what I used to use when carrying a camera while skiing! A binocular strap!
    (link)
    Better than the Cabela's harness, I found these two as well:
    http://www.binoculars.com/binocular...-harnesses/bushnelldeluxebinocularharness.cfm
    http://www.s4gear.com/pages/products/lockdownx.php
    I'll probably order the Bushnell strap and give that a shot, since it's only $20. Note that when I used the Cabela's strap in the past, I was only carrying a Nikon D70 and a kit lens. The S4 harness looks interesting, but I'm not sure how well a Nikon D800E + Sigma 12-24mm will sit under the harness' smallish tie-down flap (which, of course, is only meant to hold binoculars).
    Designed specifically for carrying large DSLRs, the Cotton Carrier is another option. Seemingly well-designed, but a little cumbersome looking. But, quite possibly the cream of the crop (and, priced accordingly at $149). Note that unless you have an Arca receiver, you'll also need the $39 universal bracket to fit a tripod quick-release plate onto the product.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ier_635_RTL_S_Cotton_Carrier_Camera_Vest.html
     
  50. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I was wholly expecting more comments from other members, and would certainly welcome more participation.​

    Participation typically comes from questions, not long blog-like rambles.
     
  51. [Note: If using anything heavier than a Nikon D3100 and a small kit lens, I wouldn't recommend the Cabela's or Bushnell straps--the camera will hang too low--the straps aren't strong enough for anything heavier than . . . (small) binoculars.]
     
  52. Jeff said:
    Participation typically comes from questions, not long blog-like rambles.​
    Yes, I'm sure this thread has pretty much run its course--I just wanted to clarify my recommendations on the binocular straps, and also mention my water-bag "sandbag" find last night.
     
  53. Issue No. 16: Footwear for hiking rough terrain in wet environments.
    I said:
    What I was really looking for this time was some sort of ventilated synthetic running shoe that wouldn't retain water, but so far, the Nike Free shoes still seem the best option. There's a lot of water features on this hike, so they do get wet. Unfortunately, there's still enough mesh material in the Nike shoe's upper so that they don't dry as quickly as I'd like.

    I also considered some kind of Croc shoe or sandal, but they just look stupid, and I don't think they'd be very good (or, even safe) for hiking on uneven terrain bordered by many steep drop-offs.​
    I've found them: They're called Tiva water shoes--they're specifically designed to drain water quickly with many perforations throughout the upper, like a sieve. According to some reviewers, they tend to run a half-, to a full-size smaller than other brands of running shoes (e.g., Nike). I wear an 11 in Nike, so I ordered a size 12 in Tiva. I'll see if that fits in a few days.

    http://www.sierratradingpost.com/teva-gnarkosi-water-shoes-for-men~p~4202w/
     
  54. I said:
    According to some reviewers, they tend to run a half-, to a full-size smaller than other brands of running shoes (e.g., Nike). I wear an 11 in Nike, so I ordered a size 12 in Tiva. I'll see if that fits in a few days.​
    I received my Tivas today--too big! Those (erroneous) reviews are either out-dated, or intended for another Tiva shoe. I'm exchanging them for my normal, "Nike size," size 11, thanks to Amazon's easy (and, free!) return policy for shoes. Cool design, though--lots of holes for the water to run out. Not as pliable or lightweight as my Nike Free shoes, but still very nice for their intended purpose. They also look pretty cool!
     
  55. I said:
    [Note: If using anything heavier than a Nikon D3100 and a small kit lens, I wouldn't recommend the Cabela's or Bushnell straps--the camera will hang too low--the straps aren't strong enough for anything heavier than . . . (small) binoculars.]​
    Addendum:
    I just tried my Cabela's binocular harness with my Nikon D800E, and a heavy lens. Without any tie-down for the lens, the camera/lens combo flops up and down as you walk. After dismissing the pricey Cotton Carrier harness as a viable option (it's bulky, needs a complicated tripod accessory, looks uncomfortable to wear in hot climates, etc.), I tried my Camelbak hydration backpack on for size. Using the lower cross-strap (the kind you'd find on any good backpack), I realized that I could use this strap as a reasonable facsimile of a camera/lens tie-down, when used in conjunction with the Cabela's harness.
    The Cabela's harness/backpack cross-strap arrangement won't keep your full-sized DSLR and lens from flopping around while running, but it certainly seems serviceable enough for hiking. It's a very lightweight solution which isn't bulky, and works with any backpack with a cross-strap. The cross-strap also provides additional support so that a heavy DSLR won't stretch the elastic in the Cabela's straps too much (hence, the previous D3100 caveat). Plus, your camera can be easily pulled from beneath the strap, for instant accessibility. Overall, I think this is an entirely serviceable, uncomplicated and inexpensive solution for hands-free, no-swing, quick-access, DSLR toting.
     
  56. Issue 17: Choosing the "right" lenses.
    Photographic concerns aside, the majority of the photo locations on this trip will be arrived at by foot (hiking for several miles), so weight is becoming a significant consideration. I'm only carrying a small hydration-pack "backpack," with limited stowage space for photo equipment. Plus, GF refuses to carry any gear this time (she humped my old 5.5 lb. carbon-fiber tripod the whole way last time). So, bulk, compact form-factor, and weight are becoming chief factors in lens choice.
    Lenses v4.0 ("final"):
    1. AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4.0G ED VR [1 lb. 8 oz.]
    2. AF-S 50mm f/1.4G [9.9 oz.]
    3. AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D ED [1 lb. 2 oz.]
    Total lens' weight: 3.25 lbs.
    A. I finally decided on getting the AF-S 16-35mm f/4.0G VR, even though I just bought the Sigma 12-24mm, specifically for this trip. Why the change? Mainly because the 16-35mm will correctly fit into the Ewa-Marine U-B100 underwater housing's adapter ring, and won't suffer the severe vignetting the 12-24mm exhibits. Plus, the fact that it will accept 77mm screw-in ND filters for some long-exposure, daylight photography. Not exactly light at 1 lb. 8 oz., but not super-heavy either.
    B. The 50mm f/1.4 is fast, and more importantly, it's light.
    C. I was debating whether to lug my AF Nikkor 80-400 f/4.5-5.6D VR around the island for some tight compression shots, but that sucker alone weighs three pounds. So, I decided to dig out my old consumer 70-300mm 'D' lens out of my pile of "why did I ever buy these lenses?" inventory. Bought way back in 2005 for my Nikon D70, it turns out this little gem is actually pretty darned sharp. Again, more importantly, it's light. I'll be using this for more-tightly cropped, tripod-ed landscape shots, likely at a variety of its available focal lengths (since not all landscape photography is shot using ultra-wides!).
     
  57. I said:
    Bought way back in 2005 for my Nikon D70, [the AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D ED] turns out [that] this little gem is actually pretty darned sharp.​
    Nope. I must've been stupid when I wrote that. My 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR is much sharper, more contrasty, and has less CA than my cheap consumer 70-300mm 'ED' zoom. Ideally, the optically improved, VR version of the 70-300mm, or the 70-200mm f/4.0 VR would be optimal candidates for semi-long lens landscape work. Either my 80-400mm or 70-200mm f/2.8 would also be great, but each weighs a ton.
     
  58. Actually, the AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D isn't bad in contrasty side-light with the lens shaded.
    AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D ED + Nikon circular polarizer @ 300mm.
    ISO: 100; f/9 @ 1/20th

    Full-frame:
    [​IMG]

    100% crop:
    [​IMG]
    When I have more time, I'll perform some side-by-side, real-world tests of the AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D ED against my AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR, and AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR I lenses. Hopefully, after reviewing the results of more careful comparisons, I may be able to conclude that my 1.1-lb. consumer 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6D ED lens is "sharp enough" at its optimum apertures to benefit from its weight savings.
     
  59. Well, apparently, B+H just received a pile of refurbished Nikon inventory, and I just couldn't resist. A refurbished AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II now sells for only $349 (a healthy $239 discount off its regular price of $587). It's a bit heavier than its non-VR, ED counterpart, but reportedly sharper and more flare-resistant. An added plus: internal-focusing--the front element/lens shade doesn't rotate while focusing (while both the non-VR, 'G' and 'D' Nikkor 70-300mm models do).
    Lenses v4.1 (really "final"):
    1. AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4.0G ED VR II [1.5 lbs.]
    2. AF-S 50mm f/1.4G [0.61 lbs.]
    3. AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR II [1.64 lbs.]
    Total lens' weight: 3.75 lbs.
     
  60. Correction:
    I've found them: They're called [Teva] water shoes--they're specifically designed to drain water quickly with many perforations throughout the upper, like a sieve. According to some reviewers, they tend to run a half-, to a full-size smaller than other brands of running shoes (e.g., Nike). I wear an 11 in Nike, so I ordered a size 12 in Tiva . . .

    I received my [Tevas] today--too big! Those (erroneous) reviews are either out-dated, or intended for another Teva shoe. I'm exchanging them for my normal, "Nike size," size 11, thanks to Amazon's easy (and, free!) return policy for shoes.​
    The 11 was too small. I finally ended up with a size 11.5 (whereas, I wear only an 11 in Nike). The Teva's toe-box is a bit narrower than a typical Nike running shoe (and, since it's an all-plastic upper, they won't "stretch"). So Tevas do tend to run a bit "small," but only due to their narrower toe-box.
     

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