Welcome to this edition of Workshop at the Ranch (WATR.) As is the tradition for WATR the December edition brings the year to a close and a recap in images and commentary of what was, what is, and what is to come. Thus, I give you The Year in Review for 2014.
Okay, it’s December and BLACK FRIDAY has come and gone, but before we dive into the Year in Review, let me address well over 100 email Questions I received during the Thanksgiving Holiday…”Dave…what do you think of the NEW Nikon D750?”
The NEW Nikon D750 is amazing and has been given the honor of “Camera of the Year” by Popular Photo: http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2014/11/camera-year-nikon-d750
I tried to hold off until Christmas, but in a moment of weakness (and I was a very good boy all year) I ripped into this present early so I could post an image for WATR. Let’s check it out the NEW Nikon D750…
The NEW D750 is Full Frame and offers 24.3mp for outstanding high resolution. It also has a 1.2x crop and 1.5x crop modes. Extremely Clean High ISO with regards to superior noise control. It has the same 3D AF Tracking and Group Area AF system as the Nikon D4s and D810 making it the fastest AF system on the planet.
Its 6.5 fps will do nicely for sports action and wild life photographers, and it has Built-In WIFI image transfer to your mobile device, smart phone and tablet. It is smaller and lighter than the D4s and the Tilt Out LCD screen is fantastic!
So, what do I think of the NEW Nikon D750? …Absolutely AWESOME! I will be putting the D750 through its passes with sports action, Lightpainting and more throughout December. I will devote much of January’s Workshop at the Ranch to images and more detailed findings regarding the D750.
Image #1 Race Face … Nikon D4s, ISO160, 1/250 at f11, Nikon 24-70mm lens, WB 6250K, Nikon SB-910 Speedlights SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
January 2014: The year began with one of the BIGGEST and most amazing jobs I’ve undertaken. Three photographers, Robert Beck, George Karbus, and I were asked by Nikon Tokyo to do the commercial shoot with the NEW Nikon D4s camera. Each of us had our own assignment of which my part in the project alone required a month to plan out logistics, assemble champion athletes, choose locations and venues, and then finally execute the image making.
For these multiple shoots not only would I be responsible for making fast action sports images with Nikon’s new flagship camera, but the entire project would be filmed by famed videographer Corey Rich. Four sports, four venues, 15 championship caliber athletes, housing, catering, gear transportation, etc., etc….and make sure all corporate personnel from both Nikon Tokyo and Nikon USA were, …well,…happy ☺
DEDICATED …Enter the Minds of the Dedicated is a film about photographers and their passion for photography. It not a hard sales pitch for the Nikon D4s, and that surprised me.
For those unfamiliar with the DEDICATED films by: Cory Rich here are links:
DEDICATED…Enter the Minds of the Dedicated:
Dave Black Superbikes and Motocross Group Area AF:
The Making of DEDICATED … Behind the Scenes:
Image #2 Julio Aguilar, Most Valuable Player … Nikon D4s, ISO200, 1/250 at f6.3, Nikon 24-70mm lens, WB 6250K, Nikon SB-910 Speedlights mounted in the FourSquare Soft Box, Nikon SU-800 Commander, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
Tampa, Florida nearly became a branch office to me in 2014. I had an increasing number of jobs and projects that required outdoor warm weather during the cold Colorado winter months, and after working with Scott Kelby and the team at KelbyOne for 4 years I have found Tampa to be a perfect winter shooting location.
But rather than talk about the sports, or locations, or even the jobs, I’d rather talk about a new friend and colleague. Julio Aguilar was hired by KelbyOne to be my assistant during a filming of one of my video classes late in 2013. I was so impressed by his professionalism, resourcefulness, knowledge of gear and lighting, good humor, and always positive attitude that he became my #1 assistant and the Most Valuable Player in 2014.
Thanks Julio for all you hard work and friendship…looking forward to 2015 dude.
|Image #3 Sundown Tufas … Nikon D4s, ISO250, 30 seconds at f22, Nikon 24-70mm lens, WB 7140K, FORMATT #9(3x) GNDF, Manfrotto Tripod with 410 Geared Head, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
This was my 11th year teaching workshops in the US and Internationally for American PHOTO magazine’s Mentor Series. I always look forward to these workshops, partially because we go to great places and also for the comradery with the photographers whom we teach.
I did three “TREKS” in 2014 and would say that Bodie Ghost Town and Mono Lake California was my favorite. This TREK involved a combination of Landscape and Lightpainting of which this sundown at Mono Lake was awesome.
Image #4 V8 Light … Nikon D800, ISO50(low-1.0), 2 seconds at f32, Nikon 28-300mm lens, WB 4000K, Manfrotto Tripod with 410 Geared Head, Brinkmann MAX Million III spot light, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
Photoshop World in April brought me to Atlanta.. My pre-conference workshop teaching Lightpainting has really caught on as the class of 40 photographers was sold in less than one day.
Severe thunderstorms didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of my class at Old Car City, which is home to more than 40 acres of vintage wrecks. For this Lightpainting example the sun actually broke through the clouds just before I began my demonstration to the class.
With my exposure time changing from the thick cloud cover 20 seconds to a 2 seconds exposure due to the abundance of ambient light caused by the appearing sun a student said “You’re screwed now.”
I never accept defeat and replied, “Watch this.” I pressed the shutter button and applied a few shafts of light from my Brinkmann MAX Million III (3 million candle power spot light) and presto, 2 seconds later I had my Lightpainting.
When the image came up on the cameras LCD entire class cheered. The rain storm was over and the sun disappeared below the horizon, and 40 photographers gladly scurried into the wooded vehicle graveyard to make their own Lightpaintings.
Image #5 Basket of Boy: Malachi is Born … Nikon D4s, ISO 50(low -1.0), 20 seconds at f7.1, converted to B&W in Photoshop, Stylus LED penlight by Streamlight, Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod with Manfrotto 410 Geared Head, San Disk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
The month of May brought the greatest joy to my wife and I…we became Grand Parents. Our daughter, Haley, and her husband Andrew had their first baby…Malachi.
Haley is a photographer that incorporates Lightpainting into some of her New Born photography photo sessions and so when Malachi turned 10 days old Haley asked if I would make a Lightpainting of him.
So we turned up the heat in the nursery, turned on the “Sleep Sheep” and 3 diapers and 2 baskets later I finished a Lightpainting of my new grandson.
Image #6 Dream Leaper … Nikon D4s, ISO3200, 1/3200 at f8, Nikon 24-70mm lens, Nikon SB-910 Speedlights mounted in the FourSquare Soft Box, Manfrotto Tripod used as a lightstand, RadioPopper PX system, Nikon SU-800 Commander, Fog Machine and generator, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
I have mentioned my annual trips to International Gymnastics Camp (IGC) in past WATR articles. The year 2014 was no exception and my visit to the Pocono Mountains region of PA produced some of my favorite gymnastics images of all time.
Photographing Olympic and World champions is always a thrill for me, especially in the sport that I grew up in, Gymnastics. And working for longtime friend Brent Klaus, the owner of IGC, has been an awesome experience for nearly 12 years.
Each summer Brent and I brainstorm a theme for all the camp advertising, each individual athlete’s promotion, and the Professional Competition Tour for the next season.
Hollie Vise is one of my favorite athletes to work with. She is a 2 time World Champion who never fails to make a great picture. With natural sunshine illuminating her back and ponytailed hair, and my FourSquare with 4 Nikon SB-910 Speedlights placed off camera in front of her, all that was needed was some fog to give a dream like feel to this most lovely leaper.
Image #7 Summit Sports … Nikon D810, ISO1000, 1/1600 at f8, Nikon 14-24mm lens, WB 3030K, Nikon SB-910 Speedlights with Warming Gels mounted in the FourSquare Soft Box, Painters Pole used as a lightstand, RadioPopper system, Nikon SU-800 Commander, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
July found me at the Summit Sports Workshop. I taught at all three of Rich Clackson’s Summit series of workshops in 2014: Sports, Wildlife & Landscape, and the NEW Lighting workshops. This image taken during my High Speed Sync Sports Action Lighting class at the Summit Sports Workshop illustrates my triangle configuration of Camera, Subject, and Off Camera Speedlights.
I wasted no time in getting my students involved in making their own images using Speedlights with High Speed Sync and the FourSquare. This image was made at 2:00pm, but it looks like twilight thanks to underexposing the scene by -2.3 stops and illuminating our athlete with 4 Speedlights and warming gels.
Image #8 Grand Theft Baseball … Nikon D4s (as a REMOTE camera), ISO400, 1/2500 at f6.3, Nikon 200-400mm G VR II zoom lens, WB 6250K, Pocket Wizard Multi MAX Transceiver system to trigger the REMOTE D4s camera, Pocket Wizard Pre-Release N90 M3-P cable, Manfrotto Tripod with SLIK Super Ball Head, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
Working with Scott Kelby and the video team at KelbyOne in 2014 was a great pleasure as always. Each time I travel to the KelbyOne studios in Tampa I realize just how much these people love to teach photographers via online video classes.
This image gives you a preview of my upcoming video class on KelbyOne. This will be a 2 sport class on Baseball and Volleyball. Scheduled for release in the Spring of 2015 it will be very relevant to photographers who cover sports in general, and especially to those who want to learn how to use a REMOTE camera.
In this video I cover a wide variety of techniques I use for shooting these two sports. This image is shot directly through the chain link fence using a Nikon 200-400mm G VR II zoom lens. How is this possible…come watch the video in Spring 2015. (I’ll make an announcement here on WATR when it’s released.)
Image #9 Moonlight Barn … Nikon D4s, ISO5000, 20 seconds at f8, Nikon 24-70mm lens, WB 3030K, Brinkmann MAX Million III spot light, Manfrotto Tripod with 410 Geared Head, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
I love Lightpainting…it is my PASSION. This image was made during the Summit Wildlife and Landscape Workshop in Jackson Hole, WY. While the first 2 days of the workshop were overcast when the skies began to clear it revealed a beautiful covering of snow across the Tetons.
The quarter moon at midnight added just enough ambient light to illuminate the fast moving storm clouds yet still give the image a nice star field. Applying Lightpainting with the Brinkmann MAX Million III offers a bit of sunrise feel to the scene and completes the unique image.
Image #10 Idaho Antelope … Nikon D4s, ISO2000, 1/1600 at f6.3, Nikon 80-400mm G VR II zoom lens, WB 7140K, Moose Peterson Polarizer Filter, SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
I covered a lot of miles this year and some of them were made with my wife Susan at the wheel of our Chevy Silverado truck during mid-October. This image goes into my “Transit Mix” archive which contains images I have shot from moving transportation like cars, trucks, trains, planes, boats, rickshaw, etc.
After leaving the Summit Wildlife & Landscape Workshop in Jackson Hole, WY. We packed the truck and headed to Idaho and then onto Montana for more Lightpainting projects. As is our custom, Susan drives while I take pictures while cruising along at 75 mph…a “Drive by Shooting” so to speak.
Oh sure, we could stop, and occasionally we do, but Susan likes to get up and go, and thus it was when she said she wanted a picture of some Antelope I was more than happy to try my best…even at 75mph.
Image #11 Kite Boarding with Billy Parker … Nikon D810, ISO1000, 1/1600 at f9, Nikon 16-35mm lens, WB 6670K, Moose Peterson Polarizer Filter, 5 Nikon SB-910 Speedlights mounted to the FourSquare, RadioPopper system, Ziploc bag (large grocery store product), SanDisk 32G Extreme Pro Flash Card.
November found me chest deep in the Gulf of Mexico along with my #1 assistant Julio working the Speedlights as I photographed Kite Boarding aerial ace Billy Parker. Billy was working his way to a championship run at the Red Bull King of the Air Championships to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
This was a brand new sport for me to photograph and I was in awe at the speed, precision, and explosive height that Billy could achieve. I’d looked at over 400 images of Kite Boarding online to help me form an idea of what I was getting into. Only a few images that I saw were lit and those were on-camera flash with the subject leisurely gliding through the water.
I had a very different vision of what Kite Boarding could look like photographically. So, as is my custom, my Nikon Speedlights set to High Speed Sync mode were located with Julio 20 feet or more off camera to my left. I used my Nikon D810 with my 16-35mm lens at 16mm with a Polarizer Filter to capture images of Billy flying by. I will do a complete article featuring several images of Billy and Kite Boarding and Wake Boarding in WATR early in 2015.
Image #12 My Instagram … Come Follow Me @daveblackphoto
Late in 2014 I joined the throngs of photographers and debuted my portfolios on Instagram. I have enjoyed picking out the images and writing the captions, some of which offer photo tips and details of how the image was made.
I’m excited that in only 6 weeks I have some Followers and a fair amount of comments from enthusiastic viewers. And I’m also finding many photographers on Instagram that I enjoy seeing what they are shooting.
I wouldn’t say I’m a “Social Butterfly” but seeing images and captions that are posted each day by many of my colleagues, and also several photographers whose work I’ve admired for quite some time is purposeful, motivating, and just plain fun.
So, come “Follow” me on Instagram @daveblackphoto I’m posting a new picture each weekday. You might find them fun to look at, and you may also pick up a photo tip that you find helpful to your own photography.
Well, the year 2014 is winding down and all my travels have ended…for now. A BIG THANKS goes out to all of you have faithfully come to visit and learn about photography from my articles and images here on Workshop at the Ranch. And a very Merry Christmas to all of you and I look forward to answering more of your questions in the NEW YEAR. Also NEW in 2015 will be a newly redesigned website with bigger images and more image additions to my Portfolios.
God Bless each of you in the New Year. Dave