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Trip from hell but ends well.....


PCNW
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This really isn’t much of a trip report but I did travel to another location for wildlife photography of sorts so I’m sharing this for those that can’t sleep or have nothing better to do.

 

I recently noticed the “What camera gear have you bought lately” thread and it reminded me of my latest purchase….the Nikon twin flash head and Kenko extension tubes for a macro photography workshop that I was going to in St. Louis, MO.

 

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The main idea for this trip was to get my husband used to the idea me traveling alone to various events/places that he wouldn’t be interested in. And to prove to myself I’m quite capable of traveling alone. I had thought this would be an easy trip since the workshop was in the hotel and I wouldn’t have to rent a car and find my way around.

 

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I had very carefully packed my camera bag early in the week taking both bodies, several lenses including my 105 Nikon macro and a boat load of other stuff. But because I wanted to practice I kept taking the flash and lens out of my bag.

 

I had my granddaughter the night before and between getting her to school and me to the airport I was in a tizzy. First there was a long delay at the airport and the airport bar was out of Pinot Grigio, another long delay in Atlanta and no seating available in the Delta lounge and then I had another a long wait for the hotel shuttle in St. Louis, having to stand on the street corner looking lost. It seemed it was the trip from hell and then got worse.

 

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I got up the next morning all excited, unzipped my camera bag to find I had forgotten my macro lens.....and the adaptor ring I needed for my new flash system was still on my lens which was at home.....on my desk....

 

Amazingly of the seven people in the workshop four were using Nikon and some had extra macro lenses. Plus one woman had just bought the same Nikon flash and at the last minute she packed all of her adaptor rings for the various sizes of lenses that I was borrowing. A huge stroke of luck.

 

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All was well in the end but had there been 4 Canon and only two Nikon shooters as would normally be the ratio and if the lady hadn't brought her extra adaptor rings I would have been in a pickle.

 

The person I'm most thankful to is Peter Connan. Had he not suggested the twin head I wouldn't have rethought my previous ring light purchase. Even before he mentioned it I kept looking at the instructors student macro gallery images and there was something that I wasn't impressed with and I decided it was the lighting. I’m really, really glad I went with his thought because I had a great time playing around with the lights, they easily popped on and off for side or back lighting effects and intentional shadows. I never used the extension tubes that had been recommended.

 

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Moral of this story is that now I don’t need to go to Costa Rica, which is a good thing since obviously I’m not ready to travel alone.

 

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@@PCNW great photos and great story. You were definitely lucky! But I think you should still go to Costa Rica - lots of mammals too!

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@@PCNW

 

Thanks for sharing these captivating images. Was your workshop with Jim Zuckerman?

 

I'm also a Nikon shooter, and we are off to Costa Rica next January. Can you give more detailed information about the new flash system you were using? I've got an SB-910 Speedlight and a Wimberley flash bracket (which I've had very little practice with so far), but from what I can intuit, you've got something else going on entirely.

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Patsy,

Just fabulous macro photography. You are one of my favorite photographers on this board, a very high standard given the abundance of photographic talent here. The workshop was obviously worth it despite the logistical problems. Thanks for sharing your work.

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nice work.

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@@PCNW

Very impressive pictures - your new lighting set up obviously is a great success!

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You do so need to go to Costa Rica. Great results.

 

Endless overlapping lists, things tied to each other, bags packed a week in advance and not touched after except to add forgotten items, and dump the grandchildren at least three days before departure works for my Mum (not that you are quite at her age yet, but she is a real hard case at the forgetting stuff - unless it is for the grandchildren of course).

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super images @@PCNW I assume all those wee creatures were in some form of captivity specially for your workshop.

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Great images, but you are wrong, you really, really do need to visit Costa Rica (where my avatar photo was taken).

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@@Whyone? @@pault @@TonyQ @@Caracal geoff @@Safaridude @@SafariChick Wow, thank all of you for these very kind words.

 

@@Alexander33 It was Jim's class. And while I'm no expert I think your set up will probably be better suited in Costa Rica. To do anything creative with the twin head it meant taking the lights off the ring and even though there was a table top I frequently needed someone to hold a light for me. In the jungle would be even more difficult. Another thing is that these lights aren't very bright. I needed to lift the exposure in post on many images even though we were in a well lit room. I would think you will need more power. These twin heads are probably better suited for smaller subjects where you're right on top of the critter.

 

@@AKR1 I always appreciate your positive, thoughtful comments. Thank you.

 

@@Soukous Yes they were captive animals but while being photographed they were roaming free on the table tops which were set up like little stages. They needed constant corralling to get back into place, jumping on people and cameras and occasionally lost. Some were more obedient than others. Everyone went back into their tupperware during our lunch break except that big green frog that's facing straight into the camera above.....he never moved.

 

Even though we were photographing poisonous dart frogs they're only poisonous when fed a particular diet.

 

There were two different men that brought subjects and one had gotten into fire breathing and gave us a special show one night.

 

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I can this this hobby going very wrong.....putting an accelerant in your mouth and a flame near your face....yikes.

 

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@@PCNW

incredible photographs

the fire breathing ones are truly great

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Peter Connan

@@PCNW, wow! Every one a cracker!

 

Thanks for the TR.

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@@PCNW

Fantastic macro shots. Not going to Costa Rica is a huge mistake, specially if into macro photography. Taking red eye tree frog on the table top in a hotel or while in the humid of the rain forest in La Selva ... just incomparable experinces.

And there is no need to travel on your own, even if your husband is not willing to accompany you. There are some great guides in Costa Rica. My self I need a good excuse also, to return for the fourth time :-)) !

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@@PCNW

 

Incredible photos!

Thank you for sharing them. Sorry to hear your trip didn't get off to a good start but if I see the results it was a great trip in the end.

I will add my voice to those who are saying you should go to Costa Rica. As @@xelas has already said I am pretty sure you cam find someone to travel with you if you don't feel you can go by yourself. Start a topic on here...I am sure there will be people interested, then hire a guide and voila you are there! Ok it may not be quite as simple as that but I would hate one bad experience to put you off travelling to places your husband may not want to visit. Especially with your photography skills.....they have to be put to good use!

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KaingU Lodge

@PCNWThose are amazing. If you can do that in a hotel then you really have to go to Costa Rica!

 

That 1st fire photo is great. Can you share how you captured it so well?

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@@PCNW

Would you be so kind and post a photo of your camera with the macro flash ring attached? Zvezda is showing her interest, she has a macro lens from the old film days, macro fascinates her but without proper lightning gear ... I will ask @@Peter Connan also. Thanks, and have a lot of fun with your hobby!

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Peter Connan

@@xelas, it is this setup:

 

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Products/Product/Flashes/R1-Wireless-Close-Up-Speedlight-System.html

 

Or possibly the R1C1 (with hot-shoe controller for cameras without built-in flash).

 

I have been told it is the best macro lighting setup, and know of some macro photographers who have switched to Nikon just for this.

 

I recommended this because of my own bad experiences with ring-flashes.

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As STalkers will tell you my photographic skills are nil but I can tell an amazing photo when I see it and all of yours are absolutely first class. You must go to Costa Rica they are waiting for you!

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@@PCNW sensational photos and I think that you are eminently suited, and ready to travel alone. Just look at how you retrieved the situation. Very impressed. And yes, you must go to Costa Rica.

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Thank you @samfurumags @peterconnan @bushdog @@CaroleE @@Earthian

 

@kainglodge for the flame image I used my D4 and 16-35 wide angle with a wide aperture and a high iso. I used continuos focusing using the back button method and a fast frame rate in manual mode and just got lucky. I'm sorry but I've lost my exact settings because it seems I've somehow deleted the original. This was an iPad edit I found using the best bang for the buck photo editing app called Snapseed...free for iPad and iPhone. That was the app I used to edit an elephant for Peter Connan that someone PM'd me about recently.

 

@@xelas Peter offered a good image. My gear is mostly packed for a trip to WY. If your camera has a built in flash then this system can be used with out purchasing the commander. It was fairly simple to program in your menu. But if your camera doesn't have a built in flash you need to get the commander too and it fits on top of your camera where a speed light normal goes.

 

You pop up your built in flash and there is a little attachment that slides into the hotshot mount. This flips up and down depending on whether you want the additional light from your camera body. But if you're like me after lunch you'll forget to pop your flash head back up and think that your twin heads are broken....then go around the room asking everyone what the heck is going on here!!.....the built in flash needs to be raised for the built in commander to work.

 

Here is the link for the system with the commander for camera bodies w/o a builtin flash: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/410481-USA/Nikon_4803_R1C1_Wireless_Close_Up_Commander.html

 

This is one more photo of a green frog that we took by putting him on a sheet of glass then lighting him from below. The purple was added in Lightroom, nothing too special but what I'm showing is a little trick using LR and the auto mask. You can brush around the frog using the auto mask feature or simply enlarge your brush so it covers the area that you want to edit, ck Auto mask and ck Show Selected Mask Overlay, hold the option key (on a Mac) while clicking on the area to be edited. This will mask anything that isn't in the same color range and all with just one click. I was fascinated by this trick when I read about it and use it frequently.

 

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All for now, toodles.

 

 

 

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Cool-looking frog shot @@PCNW!

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  • 2 weeks later...

@@PCNW. Wow! Any stress caused by the problems must be a distant memory with these shots in your portfolio.

 

Alan

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