Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't buy more camera gear--buy a ticket instead

For this perspective of the roads around Lake Lanier in Georgia you need a something bigger than a crane. (Nikon D3s 28-300mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/30)
The costs of a new high quality lens is usally anywhere from $500 to $15,000.  Many of the long telephoto lenses you see many sports photographers use on sidelines and nature photographers using at 300mm f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8 or longer.  For many folks they would be better served to do a trip to Africa or Asia with their present gear than to buy another lens.

For about $300 two people can take a balloon ride or airplane ride.  For about $400 to $600 you can take a helicopter ride.  For about $3000 to $5,000 you can travel overseas to exotic places and see something totally different. The different perspective is what some folks need to improve their photos.

You have seen earlier posts talking about getting a worm's eye view and the bird's eye view. For all these photos I found you had to fly like a bird to get these bird's eye images.

One of the things my wife had on her bucket list was a hot air balloon ride. I think we may have to do this one again. We both had a lot of fun, even tho we got up before the crack of dawn to drive to a parking lot near Lake Lanier, Georgia to get on board a balloon designed for up to eight people, plus the pilot.

By getting up above the lake for sunrise I was able to capture a unique perspective of Lake Lanier. (Nikon D3s, 28-300mm, ISO 500, f/4.8, 1/1000)
Two things made this a great way to make photographs that you would want to frame and put on the wall. 1) a different perspective than you normally get walking around with a camera. 2) Early morning light looks fantastic.

One thing you can do right away is just get up before the crack of dawn and having previously scouted a good location wait for the sun to rise.  You will be surprised as to how different the location looks as compared to mid day.
My wife's bucket list included a hot air balloon ride, which we did last fall. (Nikon D3s, 14-24mm, ISO 6400, f/2.8, 1/320)
My friend Bill Fortney, published two books photographing America from 500 Feet (Book 1 and Book 2), likes to joke about if you are having focusing issues you have more problems than photography at the moment.  Most lenses everything is in focus at 153 feet or greater, so if you have the lens focused on infinity and it isn't sharp you are too close to the ground.
This is looking straight down into Lake Lanier from the Hot Air Balloon where you can see our reflection. (Nikon D3, 28-300mm, ISO 6400, f/3.5, 1/800)
Another interesting phenomenon is that the angle of the light source hitting a subject relative to the camera position can affect the exposure.  In essence you are getting some of the light bouncing and creating flair making the photo over exposed.  You could make it a little darker by underexposing or you could use a Polarizing filter to help cut down on the glare.

You don't need a caption to explain how much fun the ride was for my wife. (Nikon D3s, 16mm f/2.8, ISO 360, f/8, 1/30)
While in the basket under the balloon I had three lenses I used: 1) 28-300mm Nikon, 2) 14-24mm Nikon and 3) 16mm full frame fish eye Nikon lens. For 90% of the photos from the balloon to show the landscape I used the 28-300 mm.  For the photos of us in the balloon I used primarily the 16mm fish eye. 

The pilot enjoying early morning coffee at about 500 feet. (Nikon D3, 16mm, ISO 2000, f/2.8, 1/2000)

One of my favorite photos from the day--capturing my wife having the time of her life. (Nikon D3, 16mm. ISO 2800, f/2.8, 1/2000)
Can you think of something you can do to get a bird's eye view? We were not satisfied with just a balllon ride.  We later took a bi-plane ride.

One of the best things you could be planning to improve your photography is to plan a trip and do something fun to photograph. Too many photographers spend more money on lenses when spending money on a fun location will give you better portfolio results than a new lens.

Dorie and I before we take off for a open cockpit bi-plane ride over downtown Atlanta.
This was even tighter quarters than the balloon ride.  This is a Nikon D3s with 16mm.
Come and join me on my workshops here is a link to them

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