Smokies Scouting Report Oct 9

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So yesterday (October 9th) I started out my scouting with sunrise at Clingmans Dome parking lot. There was beautiful color in the sky and as I was winding down, I posted an image on FB.. A couple of minutes later I get a text from Paul Hassell that reads “It’s better over here : )” and an image that I can tell is within 100 yards of my position of the sunrise! Then I look around and there he is, about 80 yards further down the parking lot.. We had a good chat and then I headed back down the mountain.

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The color up at Clingmans (other than the sunrise) was very muted and some leaves are already turning brownish. Then as you go further down the mountain, the yellow leaves begin to be more prominent.

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It seemed that at about 4800 feet elevation go down I started to see occasional red maples turning along with some yellow leaves. The color is still very spotty but there is one gorgeous hillside that you can see from the parking areas above Chimney’s Picnic area and seem to be turning sooner. Below Chimney’s Picnic area the color is still predominately green, but dogwoods are turning and some maples are starting to think about turning color. I would say that within 10 days, the area above Chimney’s Picnic area will be in full color..

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Have fun out there!


Ireland by iPhone 2014

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I took my new Panasonic GH4 system to Ireland and loved it. Much lighter to carry everything from 7.5mm Fisheye (all lenses double in length on GH4, so really 15mm) to the 100-300 (think handholdable 200-600)! Batteries lasted much better than I thought and the new SanDisk 32GB Extreme PRO SDHC UHS-II cards are a dream. Not sure if it is camera speed or card speed or both, but writing files is extremely quick, much quicker than the GX7 that Rebecca is now using..

But with all the fun I had with my Pannie system, not be able to do anything with the RAW files yet (with bending over backwards and holding your breath while you converted with Panasonic software to tiffs) is a real bummer.. I’m going to have tons of stuff to process be the end of the summer if Abode doesn’t get on the stick and release the RAW converter for the new Panasonic GH4 RAW file..

So, in order to share places and events, I relied on my trusty backup camera, my iPhone 5. Most people are amazed when I show them images and then tell them they were taken with the iPhone. I use a variety of programs to then process the images ( and sometime capture images, such as the 645 Pro and Pro HDR). I use Snapseed a lot to process images). I push images start from 645 PRO to Facebook and to Twitter and Instagram.. Images aren’t up to the quality of my regular cameras, but considering it is always in my pocket and I can also keep in contact with loved ones and the world from this one, device, the images aren’t bad!

Here are a few from most recent trip to Ireland.. If anyone is interested, I could put together a trip for as few as 4 people to go and shoot in Ireland. Just say the word!

image Full Irish Breakfast

image Medieval grave slab from Clonmacnoise

image Beehive hut on Dingle Peninsula.


New Website and Blog

I have created a new website (with the help of Rose Devlin) that incorporates my images, my workshops and my blog into one space.

Please go to Bill Campbell Photo to check it out and to sign up for blog notifications by scrolling to the bottom and checking the box “Notify me of new posts by email”

Let me know what you think about the new website and check out the new blog post on Shooting Sharp that I just posted


Rebecca’s Reverse Clarity Technique

This is going to be a quick note. I just came back from a trip to Mt LeConte in the Smokies with a friend of mine, Eric Bowles. We had a great trip but it showed me how much out of shape I was. Now to try to correct that over the next 3-4 months with all the travel and photography I have planned..

When I got home after 2 days, my lovely wife showed me her images that she had been processing from our trips starting this spring. She had previously been using a little point and shoot camera and I got her a Sony NEX 5n for her birthday. She has been having lots of fun using it and still learning the intracies of differents modes of shooting and focusing. She also took to processing in Lightroom like Michael Phelps takes to water.

Rebecca showed me some of her images and one really struck me. She showed me how she achieved the look and it was so simple. Instead of increasing Clarity, she moved the slider the opposite way ( negative Clarity) and, boy was the image stunning.

Rob Sheppard and I have always taught others to move sliders all around and see what kind of effect you get. Rebecca took that to heart and came up with a great look.

I decided to try the technique on a shot from Rainbow falls. It’s subtle, but I really like what it does.

Before Reverse Clarity

After Reverse Clarity

So the moral of this story is two fold. One, don’t get out of shape and try to hike 7 miles up the mountain with gear and then 7 miles back down. Two, move your processing sliders all around. You won’t damage anything and you might find a look you really like.


Can you shoot on vacation?

Well, if your wife is a biologist who loves to get her own camera out and walk around in the forest, YES.

My wife used to be my best scout for finding great things to shoot. Now that she has her own good camera (Sony NEX 5N), she shoots what she finds and tells me about it later. Actually, she’s pretty good about telling me about little things she has found (the tree frog in the forest, the banana slug on the trail). I don’t try to abuse the time I have shooting and try to make sure we do other fun things (stop at the museum, go wine tasting, not get up every morning an hour before sunrise) besides the shooting and enjoying nature. But we challenge each other by learning about the eco system we are in, whether it is the geology of the area, new wildflowers, animal facts, that glacial runoff has silt in it and is cold).

Our trips this summer have taught us a lot about new places. We learned that the Mountain Goats in CO are introduced, they think back in the 1920s. Oh, sure, there used to be Mountain Goats there (Mt Evans is where we were) but they moved from the region some 50,000 years ago. Who knew? I always associated mountain goats with the mountains of Colorado, but I was around before 1920. Or 1930. Or 1940. Or 1950. Or 1960. Oh, wait. I was around for the very end of the 1950s, don’t remember much, being less than a year old when the 1960s started.

My point is that, as nature photographers, we can share vacations with our loved ones and not drive them crazy with the desire to get all the great images. And they will hopefully learn to appreciate nature the way you do. I was just lucky to marry someone who loves nature as much as I do and has a background to enjoy the scientific prospects of learning along with the inclination to the creative process of photography.


Quick Tips for Video with dSLR

I will be using the Nikon D4 as an example (the d800 is set up the same way) for shooting video with a dSLR.

  1. Shooting mode– You will want to shoot in M (Manual) Mode. Why? Because if the light varies much, your shutter speed will vary and shutter speed is related to frame rate, so you will want that consistent.
  2. Resolution/Frame size– You will want to use a 1080p resolution whenever possible. A 1080p is the frame size 1920 by 1080 as indicated on the Nikon D4. The other resolution you will see is 1280 x 720. This is called 720p. On the Nikon D4, you choose the resolution and the frame rate at the same time.
  3. Frame Rate- There are various frame rates (Frames per Second or FPS), but the most common that you will use are 24 FPS, 30 FPS and 60 FPS. 24 FPS is a more cinematic frame speed (movies) where 30 FPS is more TV 9 and commercial). 60 FPS is a really low HIGH speed. When you shoot at 60 FPS, then you can slow the play back down to 10-20 FPS and have slow motion footage. In the D4, the Frame Size (Resolution) and Frame Rate are connected. You will see 1080*30 (which is 1920 x 1080 at 30 FPS), 1080*24, 1080*25 (don’t use this as it is not common frame rate here in US), 720*60. When you go to 60 FPS, your Frame Size goes down to  1280 x 720. Can you mix and match Frame Sizes and rates? Yes but it makes editing much harder and the outcome might not be as good.
  4. Shutter Speed – Your shutter speed should be about twice what your frame rate is set for. So a 24 FPS frame rate should have a shutter speed around 48 (50 is the closest we have). At 30 FPS, shoot for a shutter speed around 60. Whatever you do, try to keep your shutter speed below 100 or below. The only caveat to this rule is when shooting for high speed (60 FPS). Then you want a high shutter speed (say 500-1000) so when you slow the playback down, the images are still sharp.
  5. Neutral Density filter – One of the upsides to a dSLR is using glass with fairly wide-open aperatures (f1.4- f2.8) to give you good separation between your subject and the background. But if you have to close your aperture down to f22 to get a shutter speed of 60, that kinda defeats the advantage of shooting with a dSLR. In steps a ND filter to the rescue. A variable density ND filter such as the Singh Ray Vari ND or the Genus Vari ND will best serve you. Just get one to fit your largest lens (say a 77mm) and then use step rings to fit smaller lenses. If you plan to shoot 2 cameras simultaneously (say for an interview) then you will need 2 filters. With the ND filter, you can get a shutter speed of 60 at f2.8 even with bright sun outside.  
  6. Audio– Cameras come with a built in mic, but this is not the best mic to use if you plan on using the recorded sound with the video. Rode makes a great small mic to fit on your hot shoe and plug into the Mic port on your camera. The Rode VideoMic Pro is a good choice. One add on do decrease wind noise is a Dead Cat.  No, don’t go try to find a road kill cat. A DeadCat VMP by Rode is an artificial fur wind muff to help deal with wind noise when shooting outside.  

This should get you started. I will talk about support in a later blog for video..


My Nature Photography Day Shoot

To celebrate Nature Photography Day, I initially was going to Colditz Cove on the Cumberland Plateau. Then I realized that I had plenty of subjects in my own front yard in our wildflower garden. So, about 630am, I proceeded down the steps with a 200 Micro lens, Nikon D4 and my tripod.

At first, I was scouting and taking some rather standard flower shots.

Then I started framing different color flowers in the background for some contrast interest (I also shot some verticals after I shot the horizontals).

   

Then I played with Focus stacking.. I really liked the bud in front of the bloom.

     

After an aborted attempt to get a bumblebee in focus in flight ( I didn’t have my flash with me when he flew by), I was about to call it quits. I wasn’t satisfied with what I had shot so far. Just ho hum. Then I stood there looking at the flowers and wondered about using my multiple exposure techniques.

I decided to using the Multiple Exposure Monet technique because the flowers and the garden seemed to be calling out for that type of expression.

   

I also played with broader strokes of my Monet brush while making the image.

I had a great time and while I was downloading the images from my Nikon D4, I picked up my iPhone and went back out.

First I shot this image.

Then I opened it in ProHDR app on the iPhone and converted it to a sketch>

Then I Imported both to Lightroom and opened them up in Photoshop CS6 as Layers then used a Layer Mask and Opacity to paint in the color of the flower on the sketch. I think it’s cool that you can even see the little ant with the iPhone image.

I hope each one of you enjoyed your shooting during Nature Photography Day. If you haven’t, there is still time. June 15 doesn’t end until midnight!