Testing the new Nikon D6 during Dinner Time

Thanks to Bedford Camera and Nikon Professional Services, the new Nikon D6 arrived on my doorstep in the past week. To date, I have been pleased with the results I am getting during my testing. The greater selection of Auto-Focus options has been particularly interesting. Despite a steady downpour of rain, a Black-Crowned Night Heron suddenly appeared out back on the edge of the pond. Shooting with the Nikon D6 and AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, I followed him as he went about getting dinner….

Shooting in the face of COVID-19: “Distracted”

The June edition of KHL’s American Cranes and Transport (ACT”) just hit the stands. I was excited to see that an article I finished up in late April was selected for the issue. “Distracted” includes 20 of my images from ConExpo 2020 selected by the editors at ACT, as well as my take on the show and shooting with the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding before our eyes in Las Vegas. While all this took place in the first week of March, it seems such a long time ago at this point in time. Besides COVID-19, the biggest challenge was really bad weather for largely an outdoor trade show.

I have to say that my new Nikon Z6 consistently performed alongside what would be my last serious shooting with the Nikon D5 before moving to the new Nikon D6. When you have small windows of time to capture images, you can’t be worrying about your equipment. Nikon camera bodies and lenses came through again.

Sharing a passion…

A shout out to the New Possibilities Youth Program of Edmundite Missions, Selma Alabama. New Possibilities seeks to expose young people to new experiences that would not typically part of the usual academic program. This summer’s experiences will include lacrosse, ballet, photography and cooking to name a few. I was asked to speak about my passion for photography and ways to improve your images as a kick-off to the Program’s photography section. We used Zoom and simulcast to classes in Selma, Mosses and Vredenburgh Alabama. With the help of a small exhibit of my work on-site and a couple of slideshows and powerpoint, we looked at a lot of images and talked about taking control as a photographer and not simply clicking when everyone else does; understanding what your subject is and looking for ways to enhance it through looking at light, background, color and more, as well as ways to avoid distracting the viewer as you frame your image. And as we learned, a lot of this comes down to simply moving your feet to get to the best position for your image. They’re off to shoot for the rest of the week and will be submitting their best images next week for review. Thanks again for the opportunity to speak!

New Possibilities youth Program, Edmundite Missions, Selma, AL

Why I keyword

In October, I received an e-mail from an editor looking for an image of a crane operator to support a story they were doing on operator training. Usually, in the assignments I have shot, the crane is the subject and due to the size of the crane the operator is a very tiny part of the image…if he/she can be seen at all. I had till the next morning to get back to the editor so that evening I filtered my images and from 10,000 plus finished images of cranes I had two featuring crane operators where I had releases. I found them in about 5 minutes and had them off to the editor that night. Four weeks later, the image was published. I never would have found those two images from 10,000 plus shot over the past decade had it not been that I had attached some basic keywords to those images. If you keyword when you input your images from your cards, it soon becomes a habit. A habit that just got reenforced by this experience.

Sometimes its not what you think…

In shooting the cover for the August issue of American Crane and Transport, I had what I thought was a slam dunk idea for a cover. Literally outside my 16th floor office was a 51 story building going up. I started shooting the building from the time the tower crane was assembled. What a unique shot I thought. Straight down on a Tower Crane, a perspective most people don’t see or get to shoot. Up 2,3,8,12 stories and I shot all the way, along with the conventional from the ground up shot. When it came time to submit, in went the “unique perspective shots” along with the traditional. Then the call came from the editor. “We are really struggling to select one from several we like, would you like to be the tie-breaker?” So I selected my favorites and had a couple of hours to get back to them. In the end, I picked the traditional shot. Why not the “unique perspective”. The image was to highlight the magazine’s lead story, key word “story”. The more I looked at the tower crane below me in the “unique perspective” shots, the more I realized that they just didn’t have the impact of standing under a 12 story tower crane in operation – that’s what your mind expects to see and if it doesn’t see that it doesn’t scream Tower Crane. So in supporting the magazine’s lead story, we needed to make the reader’s mind identify quickly that this was the tower crane issue, not struggle to figure out why we were looking down on the crane. It was an important lesson for me and a reminder that its about telling the story, not just about capturing what was a unique perspective. In the end the story won out, as it should have.

American Cranes and Transport

The June issue of American Cranes and Transport is out.

June is their Annual ACT 100 issue and I was excited to have had the image I posted a while back, the “ass-shot” of the Terex AC-250, selected for the cover.

It’s also the culmination of quite a bit of work that I completed for them relating to Bauma, the largest construction equipment tradeshow in the world, held every three years in Munich. Even with all-access photo credentials, it was a challenge to shoot Bauma for a number of reasons. The weather certainly did not cooperate all the time, although the changing weather patterns created great clouds. Further, the show is BIG. The location of tradeshow booths can take up to a half hour to walk from one to another given the size of the show. And like any tradeshow, the amount of equipment packed into the show presents constant challenges in isolating specific manufacturers or products. And of course, with cranes being outside, time of day to take advantage of available light (when there was available light) created a shooting schedule in the morning and afternoon and, of course, the booths were never near each other. I set my personal best on my Fitbit the first day and then blew threw that on Day Three. Balancing between other commitments at the show and shooting added to the fun as well as the need to have all images processed within three days of the show ending – thank you Photo Mechanic and Adobe.

In addition to images that were selected for articles related to Bauma that appear in the June issue, “Dimmitt’s Bauma” is a 4-page selection of images from my submissions that were selected by the editor of American Crane and Transport to tell the story of Bauma from a photographer’s point of view. The article also includes a short article that I was asked to write as to how I approach a show of that size as a photographer. While I was aware that an article was in the works, the proofs arrived on my birthday and it was a great present to view what had been selected and how the article was laid out.

ACT June 16.pdfACT June 16.pdf

Tripod Feet – Claw Feet for Sand and Snow by 3 Legged Thing

I love my Gitzo tripod. A tripod that well made is worth the price. I must say I also love anything made by Really Right Stuff, just a great company with great products. They are my first stop for anything head or tripod related

In getting organized to photograph wildlife in Yellowstone in a week or two with Moose and the gang, I ordered the Really Right Stuff (RRS) Pod Foot Rock Claw tripod Feet to better deal with the anticipated snow/ice. They would replace the normal Gitzo feet during the trip. To my surprise they did not fit the Gitzo leg. The screws were too short. The great technical support staff at RRS quickly got back to me and told me that they have recently shortened the screw on the feet and they are now not long enough to engage into some Gitzo tripods.

Going onto the B&H website, however, I found another set of “B&H Website: Claws Sand/Snow Shoes” feet made by 3 Legged Thing out of London, which are designed for their line of tripods. Went down to B&H and with the help of their great staff, we tested them on the Gitzo model I use. We found that the thread on Sand/Snow Shows is 3/8″ and is long enough to fit into the Gitzo. Seem to be very well made and almost exactly like the RRS product. Problem solved. Onto Yellowstone!

Try to make the common, uncommon

It’s a phrase that seems to always be going through my head when I’m shooting.  Put there several years ago, and frequently reenforced since then by someone that has greatly influenced my journey with photography, Moose Peterson.  Anyone with a passion for photography should know Moose.  His images inspire, his depth of knowledge about his craft constantly leaves me in awe, and the information that he shares at www.moosepeterson.com will make you a better photographer – all 3,500 + pages of it.  And learning doesn’t stop there when you factor in what he shares in his books (24 at last count, I think),  videos at Kelby Training, workshops, and personal appearances throughout the US.  A Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, nationally acclaimed wildlife and aviation photographer, published in over 140 magazines, Moose is the real deal.

So, walking around the Lincoln Memorial last year, I was struck by all the people literally jockeying for position to photograph the statue of Lincoln front-on for the iconic image, just inside the entrance to the Memorial. Literally waiting in line to get “the” shot.  I tried to challenge myself and come up with something that was different, but still conveyed the feeling you get when you walk into the Memorial.  I tried a lot of different things that afternoon.  Some worked, some didn’t.  That’s ok, as I have found just the experience of trying to make the common, uncommon beneficial in the long run to shaping my photography.  This is the one I liked the best from that exercise.

Happy Lincoln’s Birthday….