This was one of the longest, coldest winters that I can remember, and the leaves that have finally appeared, bringing color to the long-monochromatic landscape, have been calling me. While I have not avoided the typical spring landscape shots, I have been looking for creative ways to incorporate the beautiful light green color of the new leaf growth into my images. And then this guy showed up.
This is a big black bear. One way to tell that a bear is big is by the size of its ears (small) relative to the size of its head (large). It is also is one of the nicest-looking black bears I have seen, lacking scars and other deformities that these animals so commonly have (bears often do not play well with others). It is in especially good physical condition for recently coming out of hibernation. (Yes, the bear is indeed bad - it has been causing damage to multiple neighbors' properties, primarily targeting bird feeders.)
Photographing black bears is usually very challenging. Finding these animals in light bright enough for photography is frequently the biggest challenge. Photography is about capturing light and black, especially in the form of fur, is the absence of light. So, once you find a black bear, properly exposing their light-absorbing black coat is the next challenge. If using an auto-exposure mode, the camera will need to be instructed to under-expose the image by a significant amount. That amount varies depending on the percentage of the frame the bear is consuming and the percentage of the frame you are using for auto-exposure.
If the lighting is consistent (or not changing fast), a manual exposure setting is best. Either way, it is hard to completely avoid blocked shadows (pure black with no detail) – especially on the shadowed areas of the bear and especially if there are bright subjects in the frame (because they will become pure white). With a manual exposure locked in (the log is just under blown brightness before I reduce the final exposure of this image), I was free to concentrate on focus and framing.
Composition and focusing are two additional bear photography challenges. These animals do not stay still for very long – unless they are staring at what they think is a danger (or perhaps is food) to them (me in this case). The closer the selected focus point is to the bear's eye in the desired framing, the less time you will spend adjusting the framing after establishing focus. This means that the bear is less likely to move before the shot is captured and more images can be captured in the potentially short period of time that the bear is posing. A turn of the head means a new focus distance is needed and then I usually want a different subject framing (to keep the animal looking into the frame) and this usually means a different AF point becomes ideal. Sometimes I use only the center AF point and sometimes I use a more-ideally-located AF point.
While I would like to say that I had established this bear's patterns and was waiting for him for long periods of time, this encounter was more divinely-timed with me being able to very quickly capitalize on it. The 200-400 L performed incredibly well as always and the bear did also. The bear's position in the clearing with direct evening sunlight along with brightly-lit green spring leaves in the distant background could not have been better planned. This shot has become one of my favorite black bear pictures and I'm guessing that I will not find a better way to incorporate the spring leaves into a photo this season.
Note: 6ave has mistakingly listed "VR" in the auction's title even though this lens does not feature Vibration Reduction. Also, this is likely a grey market item and as such would not qualify for a Nikon USA warranty.
RØDE has today announced a fully updated version of its award-winning Blimp system. The new model is now twenty-five percent lighter, with Rycote Lyre suspension and premium Mogami cabling.
The original RØDE Blimp as launched in 2008, and quickly became the best-selling system of its kind. Upon release it was awarded both the European Red Dot and Australian International Design Award – two of the world’s most respected product design awards – recognising the Blimp as a product of sophisticated design, solving a number of challenges faced by location sound recordists.
This new version of the Blimp sees a range of functional improvements that make it unquestionably the best windshield and shock mounting accessory available.
Building on the system’s existing high level of performance, the Blimp’s shock mounting is now performed by the robust and user-friendly Lyre system, licensed from Rycote. Constructed from a single piece of hard-wearing thermoplastic, the Lyre provides superior acoustic suspension to traditional elastic solutions, and will never wear out, sag or snap. Whereas the previous Blimp required users to reconfigure the elastic suspension for heavier microphones, the Lyre is able to accommodate a range of microphones without any modification, making adjustments in the field even easier.
The Blimp’s handle has also been completely redesigned, reducing the product weight significantly, while increasing the ergonomics for handheld use. Housed inside the grip is a heavy-duty Mogami cable which splits via a junction box to a highly-flexible thin cable inside the Blimp, to minimise the transference of vibration to the microphone.
In addition to RØDE’s range of shotgun microphones – the NTG1, NTG2 and NTG3, the Blimp also accommodates most shotgun microphones up to 325mm (12 ¾”) in length. It attaches to any standard boompole via 3/8" thread attachment at the base. RØDE also offers the Universal Blimp Mount as an option to remove the handle when the Blimp is being used primarily on a boompole to reduce weight.
An artificial fur windshield (affectionately known as a Dead Wombat) is included for outdoor use to minimise wind noise. Additionally a compact folding brush is supplied to maintain the Dead Wombat’s artificial fur.
The ability to select between concise and detailed navigation menus is now available. The concise menu is what was previously on the site and remains the default for current and new site visitors. The detailed menu, as shown in the image above, offers direct links to the individual camera and lens review pages. The advantage of the detailed navigation is quick access to these review pages, while the disadvantage is about 70k of additional bandwidth needed to download each page. The detailed navigation may not work well on some devices, especially those with small displays.
To select the menu type not currently in use, click on the bottom link in the Review menu drop-down (circled in red in the image above). Alternatively, you can use the "Configure Your Experience" section (also new) on the Help page to do the same.
Also new is that the menu bar will now remain at the top of the page as you scroll down. This enables fast access to any section of the site including the detailed reviews menu. Since the top menu bar is always visible, the bottom menu bar became redundant. It has been removed to improve page load speed.
These updates were quite intrusive from a coding perspective. Please report any issues you encounter.
This site is for you, so please let us know if you have feedback/suggestions. These are always welcome!
According to PopPhoto, Adobe demonstrated a touch-enabled version of Photoshop CC at a recent Microsoft Surface press event. According to sources, the user interface buttons and tools have been doubled in size to accomodate touch functionality.
Note: Don't miss Adobe's Photoshop Photography Program deal expiring soon. That's Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 for only $9.99 per month with no previous ownership requirements (offer valid through May 31).