Sunday, October 31, 2010

Photo of the Day! Banff Panorama

Banff National Park - Vermilion Lakes 
5 Shot Pano, Nikon D90, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 @ 11mm ISO 800 f/13 0.6 sec

This is maybe my favorite photograph. It also happens to be my first panoramic photograph. This was taken in Banff National Park in the Vermilion Lakes Area.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo of the Day! Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck
Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, ISO 640 f/8 1/1000

Near the top of my list of best looking ducks is the Ring-necked Duck. I've wanted a photo of one of these for a while. There are many of these that move through my area in Minnesota, but they are very skittish and have proven hard to photograph. I got my big chance on a trip to Florida earlier this year when I got a tip of a good spot to photograph my previously problematic bird. This image is the culmination of my effort!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Years of Development

Grey Wolf
Nikon D50, Nikkor 70-300VR @ 300mm ISO 400, f/5.6 1/60

I started serious photography in 2007. Since then I have upgraded my camera, lenses, computer, software and developed my skill set. I was recently going through my Lightroom catalog looking at older photos I liked. I thought about how my taste and skill in post processing had changed over the years. That led to thinking about how I would redo them.

This is the benefit of non destructive image processing such as Lightroom or Aperture. At any point I can revert the photograph back to its original state and start over. In my case, I used Lightroom 3. I started by making a virtual copy so I could compare the two side by side. Then I reset one of the photos back to its original state.

The first thing that struck me was how the original was shot. It was under exposed and the white balance was very blue. I quickly adjusted the values to my current taste and compared them. I immediately liked the new photograph, even to the point where I considered putting in my portfolio of my more refined work. I also used Photoshop CS5 to clone out some distractions. Check out the Original, Early and Current versions...




I went through a few other photos and post processed them again and compared. This experience shows the benefits of shooting in RAW and using a non destructive image processing program. The RAW format ensures that as software development continues the older photos can be reprocessed and improved upon.

So take a little stroll down memory lane and look through some of your earlier work. See if there are some photos that could use a little updated attention, it's amazing what you'll find!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Photo of the Day: Back Yard Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14

 This is your everyday Black-capped Chickadee. If you see these little guys keep your eye out for other species!

Click on the image to view it larger in our gallery!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Image Doctors: Interview with Rick Walker

 We wanted to share one of our favorite podcasts and places for photographic inspiration, "The Image Doctors."  Rick Walker and Jason Odell host the bi-weekly podcast which has been running since 2005. The podcast is hosted by

Get the podcast on iTunes or visit them online at:
Follow The Image Doctor's blog at:

Check out the interview we did with one of the co-hosts, Rick Walker!

Tell a little about yourself. How you got started?

I've been actively engaged in photography, both as an amateur and professionally, since I was eight years old. I started off with a Kodak Instamatic 44 and had fun taking photos with it around the world. I got a bit impatient with it's capabilities (it was bad for available light photography), so I upgraded to an SLR when I was ten. I got my first Nikon, a Nikkormat FT2, for Christmas when I was fourteen and have been into photography in a big way since then. My first serious photography was in the photojournalism and event photography realm, but I've always had a love of nature and travel. I've been teaching photography since I was in college, and that's something I thoroughly enjoy doing, whether in a class or as part of an outdoor workshop.

How did you get affiliated with Nikonians?

I first found them via a web search, and then got actively involved, including running a workshop and helping as a volunteer on several fronts.

What subjects do you most enjoy shooting?
Almost anything to be honest, but my personal favorites are landscape, travel and wildlife.

What camera lens combo do you most enjoy using to shoot that subject?
Whatever I have at hand. Seriously. :) It could be a D3x or a point and shoot, digital or film. It really doesn't matter a whole lot. What I'm using forces me to shift my photographic gears, think differently (and potentially more creatively), and that makes for a great photographic experience. The equipment I use the most includes Nikon FX bodies, the 16-35mm 4.0, 24-70mm 2.8, and the 70-200mm 2.8 VRII. Sometimes I'll add specialty lenses like a 24mm PC-E, 200mm macro or a longer telephoto such as a 200-400mm or 600mm. I also enjoy using primes for certain types of shooting and am having a lot of fun with the 24mm 1.4 G and 85mm 1.4 G lately.

Why Nikon over some of the other competitors?

I liked the Nikkormat FT2 a bit better than the Canon FTbn back in 1976. :) I really haven't had a need or desire to change since then, but I do use Canon equipment on occasion. It's Nikon's equal from a quality standpoint, just slightly different. Those differences are more minor than they used to be.

What does Nikon do well over the other companies?
It varies over time, but Nikon has historically had great ergonomics (at least for me), robust flash capabilities, and a wide variety of accessories that enable you to handle most any situation. Those are all positive things.

What is your favorite location to shoot?
The place I haven't photographed before. My next big shoot is in India, and I can't wait to get there. Favorite areas on an on-going basis include the southwestern US, the Australian outback and the northwestern coastal areas of the US. I have a lot of fun photographing European cities as well. The more I think about it, the more I think my first answer was correct.

How do you find your subjects, wildlife or landscape?
Some of it is research done through books, but the majority is done via internet, as well as personal knowledge. Often the most important thing is understanding what the light will be like (direction, quality, weather effects, etc.), and animal behavior is also key.

Do you have any up coming plans or projects?
Shoots in Big Sur in early December this year, along with India and Turkey early in 2011. Jason and I will have several Image Doctors 2011 workshops that we'll announce within the next month, and those will also include some great locations.

The Image Doctor podcast has been going strong since 2005, what are the future plans for the image doctor podcast? Can we expect to continue seeing podcasts for the foreseeable future?
Until we get tired of it. We're not there yet. :) We'll likely broaden the types of content we provide.

What do you get most from the podcast?
We've met a lot of great people and the interaction we've had with them has been super. It's also enabled us to expand our teaching horizons beyond what we could have done locally.

We recently did a blog post about the D7000. What do you think about the D7000 as a wildlife camera for stills and video?

I haven't used one, but it looks like a great upgrade to the D90 class of cameras.

What do you think we can expect from Nikon over the next year or so?
More lenses, more cameras and more accessories. :)

We follow many photographers and their blog/websites. Are there photographers that you follow that our audience should be aware of?

I tend to be more book-oriented than blog-oriented, although I do try to keep up with Bob Krist, Joe McNally and Moose Peterson. Favorite photographers if you add books include the late Galen Rowell, William Neill, Art Wolfe, Eliot Porter, Nevada Wier, and John Shaw.

Any additional thoughts or comments?

Thanks for inviting me to join your blog!

Photographs provided by Rick Walker

The Photographer's Guide to Capture NX2 (eBook for NX 2) by Jason Odell

Monday, October 25, 2010

Photo of the Day: Loon Behavior

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f/4 + TC-17E II @500mm ISO 1000 f/7.1 1/1000

This is a Common Loon from a local lake here in Minnesota. This Loon was friendly and allowed us to approach from a boat. This is an interesting behavior of the Loon stretching after a nap.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photo of the Day: Flyin' in Pairs

Today's photo of the day was taken last winter in Monticello, MN on a sub zero morning.

Trumpeter Swans

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photo of the Day: Nez Perce Creek

One early morning in Yellowstone National Park Chad and I came across this Beautiful scene along the Nez Perce Creek.

Nez Perce River

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo of the Day: Bald Eagle Barely Misses Fish!

Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f/4, @ ISO 500 f/5.6 1/2000

Today's photo of the day is in the spirit of building excitement! This image was taken last winter locally here in Minnesota. With the cool air starting to come I know it will be eagle season again and I can't wait! Stay tuned this winter for some eagle action!

Nature:American Eagle

Nature:American Eagle

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Site Info Update! Relaunch!

Launching... or Relaunching!

In an effort to move this website forward Derek and I have recommitted ourselves to the maintenance and development of this website. We will be posting regularly on Tuesday's, Thursday's and Sunday's. We may do smaller posts on off days as well.

The process of moving forward has caused a slight shift in content as well. In previous months this blog was dedicated to keep our readers up to date with new photos, videos and adventures from Derek and I. While we will continue to do this we are also going to be discussing many other outdoor photography related topics. It is our goal to appeal to wildlife and nature photography enthusiasts and wildlife, nature and outdoor enthusiasts.

Lastly, we are now offering our photographs for sale in the image gallery. Support Natural Vision Photography by purchasing in the image gallery.

Thanks for reading the blog and looking through the image galleries. Please comment on the posts and send us emails with other questions and comments. We hope to build and contribute to this wonderful community!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photo of the Day!

This is the first installment of Natural Vision Photography's image of the day.

Today's photo of the day is from our shoot at Memorial Park in Shakopee. This mallard flew perfectly at me with gorgeous display of fall colors in the background.

Nikon D90, 300mm f2.8 AFS II w/TC-14E II, ISO 400, shot @f5

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why I'll be buying a Nikon D7000

In previous posts I've talked about why I've been happy with the Nikon D90 and how you can be effective even with a cell phone camera. All of that said, if there is a new tool that improves a problem or improves a feature you use often, then go for it!

In this case I'm talking about the Nikon D7000 DSLR. The D7000 is out now and includes a brand new 16.2 megapixel sensor, 1080p video, 6fps shooting, ISO range from 100-6400 and a new 39 point autofocus system. The D7000 is looking to shape up to be a nice improvement over the D90. It seems that the D7000 will fit in just slightly higher end than the D90 but lower than the D300S. See Nikon's website for complete specs.

The main points that make me interested in this camera are first, the increased ISO range. Nikon has a good reputation of good ISO performance in the natural range of the camera. In this case 100-6400. Sample tests show a nice improvement over D90/D300/D300S.

The second is the new autofocus system. I have not read many reports on how the actual performance is yet, although I will report back as soon as I have the camera. My hope is that it will be more comparable to 51 point system found in D3S/700/D300S rather than the sometimes slow 11 point system in the D90.

The single thing that kept me waiting after the release of the D300S is 1080p video. This looks to be the best video that has come from Nikon. The D7000 also has an external mic jack. This means high quality audio already attached to the video. With my new interest in shooting video along with stills, this will be a monster improvement.

Other improvements that have my attention are the duel SD card slots, 100% viewfinder coverage, and weather sealed body.

The one thing that I wish this camera had is faster frames per second. Nikon has the D7000 listed a 6 frames per second. This speed is not improved when a battery grip is added. I could wait for the D400, but when a camera with so many improvements is out now, why wait? I'd rather be out shooting and experiences 1080p video now, rather than let it pass by.

Of course I don't know how it actually performs since I haven't shot with it yet. But Nikon has been good to me in the past, so I will hope for the best. I will post my actual experience once I have it in my hands.

In the mean time check out Chase Jarvis' Blog where he put together a great video and capture some amazing images with the D7000. Chase Jarvis Blog

Nikon D7000 16.2MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 3.0 Inch LCD (Body Only)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grand Tetons National Park: Reflection

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Iconic Oxbow Bend. 7 shot HDR panoramic. Nikon D90, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 @ 70mm ISO 200 f/18

Now that the trip is over, all I can do is reflect on the experience. I had a great time but there are some things that I would do differently.

We only spent two nights in GTNP and split the trip between GTNP and Yellowstone. Next trip will be either a GTNP trip or a Yellowstone trip. GTNP is much smaller and can be seen in a shorter amount of time. BUT, from a photographers perspective, you need more time. The first problem is that many of the famous scenic areas are morning shoots. Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher's Landing, Snake River and Mormon Barns to name a few.

I also found out that there is a lifetime of photographic opportunities at Jenny Lake. Unfortunately we didn't dedicate any time to photography.

So in short, here is a list of advice...

1.) Most of the iconic scenic shots are morning shoots.
2.) Moose are best seen in GTNP but elk, bison, wolves and coyote are all easier seen in YNP.
3.) When driving at night, SLOW DOWN. This is a story for another day, but trust the, "Wildlife on Roads" signs.
4.) Photograph Jenny Lake area.
5.) Separate the trips, one for Grand Tetons and one for Yellowstone.

I hope this helps anyone who might be planing a trip to GTNP. Remember to enjoy it! It's one of the most beautiful places you'll ever go! Let me know your experiences via email or comments!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Camera Gear: New or Used?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Any photography enthusiast knows that camera gear can be extremely expensive. The good thing for us is there are lots of options out there to buy used equipment. Ask the question, can the previous model do the job for me? In many cases, yes it can.

For example, I recently purchased a Nikkor 300mm f2.8 AFS II which was manufactured between 2001 and 2004. Since then Nikon has come out with a 300mm f2.8 AFS VR and VRII versions. Back to the question, can older equipment do the job for me? Chad and I believe that older equipment can in fact do the job and remain a viable option for many photographers. Remember one thing about lenses, they last! Despite the advances in lens technology, they hold their value because even older "pro" lenses perform great on these new cameras.

In the example of the Nikkor 300mm f2.8 lens, there are many viable generations of the lens. For me, it was important to get fast and accurate autofocus with the TC-14, the TC-17 and the third generation TC-20 teleconverters. These will give me a focal length of 420mm , 500mm and 600mm respectivly.

A Nikkor 300mm f/4 will work well with the TC-14, but the autofocus suffers drastically with the TC-17. This need for autofocus limited my search to 300mm f/2.8 models with the AF-S motor. Also, I found the image quality of all the AFS version to be excellent.

The first version of the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 AFS is very similar to the version II. The biggest difference I found was the weight. Version I weighs 6.8 lbs and the version II weighs 5.6 lbs. To me this was worth the price difference.

So if your in the market for a pro grade lens and the price of new is more than you can bare. Take a look at the used market. Do your research and find out if an older generation model will work for you. That way you might be able to save some money for that new camera your lusting after!

History of the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8

Used Camera gear:
Fred Miranda Buy & Sell
BH Photo Used Equipment
KEH Used Photogaphy Equipment
Adorama Used Equipment

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nikon D90, Two Years Later

I've been using my Nikon D90 for a little more than two years now. So how has it been? Was it a good purchase? How does it stack up today after the release of the D3100 and the announcement of the D7000. The D300S was also released since I bought my D90.

The fact that I actually owned and used a single camera for more than two years speaks volumes. I have owned a D50, D40x and a D70. The upgrade to the D90 was substantial. The single most impressive improvement was the high ISO ability. Where ISO 1600 on the D40x was borderline unusable, I found the D90 at ISO 1600 to be very usable. The increased speed of frames per second and autofocus systems were also big pluses.

Yellowstone Coyote Howling

This Photograph was recently taken in Yellowstone with the Nikon D90 and Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS + Nikon 1.4x teleconverter. ISO 1250 @ 700mm f/5.6 1/800 sec

The above photograph required some noise reduction and sharpening in Lightroom 3, but shows that images with 1000+ ISO can still have excellent quality.

The fact of the matter is that the Nikon D90 is still an excellent camera, even two years later. The 12.3 megapixel sensor is essentially the same sensor that originated from the D300. This means that the image quality is roughly the same. The sensor is now shared between the D300, D300S, D90 and D5000.

Bald Eagle in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley

Bald Eagle in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley, September 2010 ISO 800 @ 500mm f/5.6 1/80. The eagle was very still on the tree and the camera was locked down on a tripod. That's how the shutter speed was able to be so low.

The previous generations of cameras are able to produce excellent images. Think of all of the professional images that have been taken over the last several years with these cameras. Now with the next generation of cameras looming and some already coming out (D3100 and the D7000) you can be sure they have improved imaging systems. But unless you need a feature that one of the new cameras provides, remember that the previous generation of cameras are still excellent.

Stay tuned for initial thoughts about the forthcoming Nikon D7000

Friday, October 8, 2010

Road Trip to our National Parks VIDEO

Alright, it took me a few days to get everything figured out, but here we are. This is a short video I put together with short clips that I took during the trip. I realize the production value isn't the best but I'm just starting to get my feet wet with video. Most of the clips were just shot with a little Flip Ultra HD camcorder. The better quality wildlife shots were shot with my D90 and my Nikon 500mm f/4 or Sigma 24-79 f/2.8.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back Yard Birds

There are birds everywhere! You just have to take the time to look around for the little guys. One of my favorite types of photography is shooting back yard birds. These are typical birds you might see out your window or on your way to work.

Why do I enjoy photographing something that is so common? The answer is a fairly simple one. Generally, you don't get so close to small quick birds to notice all the intricate feathers and colors. An added bonus is that you soon realize how many different species and sub species there are around your neighborhood.

For Example, we all probably have seen or heard a Black-capped Chickadee. But if you look closely at the feather details in the photo below. You can begin to see the different shades of white, gray, black and brown.

Black-capped Chickadee

If you look at the photo below of a Boreal Chickadee That Chad took. The Black-capped Chickadee and Boreal Chickadee are very similar.

chickadee (4 of 5)

To help keep track of the birds in your back yard with or without a camera is to download a free birding checklist. There are several websites to help you keep track and help identify the birds. One to try is

Click each image to view it larger!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

HTC EVO 4G as a Camera

Photographers at Oxbow Bend, Grand Tetons National Park

The image above was taken at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park with the HTC EVO 4G.

I mentioned in our previous post, "Yellowstone Gear" that I would be bringing my HTC EVO 4G. I said, "Yes phones count these days!" The reason they count these days is because I believe some phones have a legitimate camera built in.

In my opinion, the EVO's 8 megapixel camera has good enough image quality that I no longer have use for a small point and shoot camera. It has effectively replaced my CoolPix. 8 megapixels is more than enough for the type of work that I requre out of it. There tends to be a fair amount of noise, but can quickly cleaned up in Lightroom 3.

With any camera or piece of gear, it is important to work within the abilities of the gear and work to strengths of it. The obvious strength of having a phone with a quality camera is you always have it with you. This seems obvious, but it really applies to how I got this shot.

My DSLR camera was set up on a tripod at Oxbow Bend. While we waited for the sun to come up we were joined by several other photographers. I walked around to look for other angles and opportunities. As I did, I noticed a beautiful silhouette scene in the opposite direction.

Since my camera was on the tripod pointed at the snake river, I used my EVO to take the photograph. I ran the image through Lightroom 3 for noise reduction and sharpening.

One reason this photograph is able to work with the EVO is because it's a silhouette. Since it's a silhouette I was really able to crank up the noise reduction without worrying about loss of detail. I sharpened the edges and the result is excellent image quality.

Whatever piece of photographic equipment you own, it has it's strengths. If you work to the strength of that gear you can make some great images too. It also keeps you shooting despite the gear you wish you had. Trust me, you can make some beautiful images with the gear you already own.