I RESIDE IN a remote, rural area of West Bengal, India, but I read your magazine regularly online. This photo was inspired by some stunning ones you’ve published—and my own vision. It was monsoon. That day I thought I might get a wonderful sky, so I left work at 5:30 and asked an officemate for a ride to this place.
We’ve been waiting for this one: A camera that not only takes pictures, but shares them using a built-in VGA-resolution projector. Plus, it has lots of what you already want in a compact (12.2MP, ISO 6400). HOT: Frees your friends from crowding around your LCD by projecting photos and videos at sizes of up to 40 inches diagonally.
HIT THE TRAILS WITH RUGGED BACKPACKS, FROM BIG TO SMALL
4 THINK TANK
R-104 Digital Rucksack
Pro Trekker 300 AW
Shootout Small Backpack
This enormous bag is all you need for a serious trek. It fits a pro DSLR with 300mm lens, extra body, four or five other lenses, 17-inch laptop, and tripod—with lots of room to spare. It also protects your gear with water-and dustproof zippers, removeable double-sided cover, and Kata’s impact-absorbing ribbed armor on the front.
AN ADVERTISER’S vision doesn’t always match up with nature’s reality. Norway-born, San Francisco-based Erik Almas (www.erikalmas.com) created the composite shown here for Genentech, a biotech company that wanted to promote its dedication to discovery.
Part-time hair stylist Cheryl Molennor, 47, dreams of going on a photo safari in Africa. But she didn’t have to travel for this great egret—she saw it during mating season at a pond behind a strip mall in her hometown of New Port Richey, FL. See more of her work at www.passionartphoto.com.
WHETHER YOU’RE going out to shoot in a local park or taking a trip far from home, planning is the key to great autumn photography. First, the basics: Don’t head out blind—check the internet for peak color in the area you’ll be photographing (www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors is a good resource), and check the weather forecast.
MOST NATURE photographers capture wildlife under natural light. Don’t tell that to Aaron Ansarov. This commercial photographer brings local wildlife into his South Florida home. He is so enamored by the consistency, flexibility, and control of studio strobes that he lights critters with the same light he uses for people: an Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS battery pack with S head.
EVER SHOOT A fabulous landscape, only to notice that backlit branches, trees, or mountains have a purple edge where they meet the sky? Or that one side of a backlit object is cyan and the other is red? The purple stuff is called fringing, and the two-color ugliness, chromatic aberration.
With film, you defined your color palette by what you loaded into your camera, and optical filters were your best bet for modifying it. Now, because most digital cameras default to that saturated, high-contrast look we know so well, transforming color and contrast is a must if you want your pictures to stand out.
The problem: You can tell that Becky Hermanson of Baldwin, ND loves horses by looking at her equine portfolio at www.wildhorsedesigns.com. We were impressed by this peaceful photo, except for the background. It’s so crisply sharp that it distracts from the horse— our eyes kept being pulled back there.
CLARK LITTLE WAS just going out to take a nice picture for his living room wall. Working in a botanical garden and enjoying photography as a hobby alongside his passion for surfing, he didn’t suspect that a career change was in the offing when his wife asked him to help spruce up their interior decor.
THE SIMPLEST IMAGES are often the hardest to get. Take this self-effacing self-portrait by 20-year-old Giulia Torra, a photo student in Milan, Italy. Whimsical, romantic, and deceptively simple, it was actually quite tricky to pull off.
MACRO PHOTOS OF spiders and bugs... scenes of grassy fields... tree frogs in forest greenery... trophy shots of mighty caribou. If by now you’re saying “Nooooooo!” we understand. So many nature shots can turn into clichés, it’s enough to make you hang up your extension tubes.
NATURE PHOTOGRAPHERS don’t often get to create a work of art from scratch— you’re usually at the mercy of the scene before you. But nighttime offers a chance to make unique images. During twilight, long exposures allow you to make elements in motion, such as clouds or waves, look like brush strokes across your picture’s canvas.
Trekking in the Badlands of South Dakota or the wilderness of Yosemite can yield hundreds of great photos. But first you have to pack. Start with:  A compass to keep your bearings Scoutstyle.  GPS dongle to geotag your shots.  Energy bars to keep you going.  Gaffer tape, which can hold an entire shoot together.  A hot-shoe flash for fill or for a main light for insects and flowers.  A bubble level to keep horizons in line.  An LCD loupe to nail focus.  An ultrawideangle lens to get the full landscape.  A collapsible reflector/diffuser to tame direct sun.  A supertele lens with  teleconverter to bring you eyeball-to-eyeball with faraway fauna.
Pack Right, Pack Light
Make Room for More
PAGES 58-59 (MOST PRICES STREET)
WHAT ACCESSORIES—and other stuff—should you bring for a successful excursion into the wild? We asked more than a dozen of our favorite pro nature photographers to tell us what they just can’t do without, and we were surprised by their creativity.
THINK BIG; BUILD small. That’s the premise of the Micro Four Thirds system—big imaging performance from small cameras that have interchangeable lenses. And the first model from Olympus, the E-P1, delivers. In our tests, this $800 camera (street, with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens; $750, body only) produced color-accurate images, low noise through ISO 800, and solid 720p HD video.
FACING TOUGH competition from 12to 15-megapixel DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, Sony’s new 14.2MP Alpha 380 ($850, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM lens) comes up somewhat short. It has a couple of big strengths. Live-view shooting is the best we’ve used on any DSLR to date.
Though it only has one more megapixel, in our lab tests this Canon showed significantly more resolving power than the Alpha 380. It also focused faster in dim and very low light, and produced slightly more accurate colors. Then there’s noise: The Rebel T1i earned a Low or better rating all the way up to ISO 3200, and its Moderate rating at ISO 6400 matched the A380’s result at ISO 3200.
SONY SHOOTERS committed to the APS-C-sized sensor have a new fast 50 to consider. Launched alongside Sony’s latest entry-level DSLRs (including the Alpha 380, page 70), it gives everyday shooters the benefits of limited depth of field without breaking the bank.
THE WORLD’S fastest 1:1 digital macro lens ($570, street), this is also the fastest Tamron, and its first to allow manual focus while in autofocus mode. It has a very tight close-focusing distance, and it belongs to Tamron’s top-tier SP family of Super Performing lenses.
COUNTLESS SOFTWARE tools have been designed to increase the apparent sharpness in a photo, but very few of them work as well as the Clarity adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw and in Lightroom 2.0’s Develop module. Clarity increases the contrast—the “pop”—in the midtones of an image.
THE COVER: This photo of model Lynn Brooks was taken by Ian Miles for a Royal Silk catalog. He used a Nikon F2 SLR and a 105mm f/2.5 lens with a warming filter on Kodachrome 25 film. Lighting came from diffused Dynalite electronic flash units placed on either side of the model and bounced back onto her from white boards.
1 What you see may not be what you get. If you shoot RAW, the LCD actually shows you the JPEG preview. So don’t panic if the color, contrast, and exposure aren’t exactly what you were looking for—your file will contain more data and be more flexible.
IT’S SURPRISING how easy it is to photograph lightning—it’s mostly a matter of setting up your tripod and waiting. When a storm hits, watch for a few minutes to better anticipate the lightning, and keep your distance to avoid being struck or soaked.
It’s not hard to take a properly exposed, well-composed wildlife photo. To make yours stand out, try some of these alternate techniques. Rather than freezing the motion of an animal on the run, pop a neutral-density filter on your lens. Since this lets you set a slower shutter speed, you can capture some sweet motion blur.
Q I WANT TO get the smooth look of flowing water in photos of waterfalls or fountains on bright days. Many times, however, after setting the lowest ISO and stopping down to the smallest aperture, there’s still too much light for a shutter speed that will record the flowing effect I want.
“The art lies in the man, not in the medium, and the photographer who loves the poetical, dreamy, sometimes melancholy ... moods of nature, will show these qualities in his work." RUDOLF EICKEMEYER, JR. “The sun reveals untold beauties.... Words cannot express or describe it.
“THERE WAS A diamond stampede in Namibia in 1907, when it was a German colony, and they built these little houses for the owners of the mines. After they mined most of the diamonds, most people moved on to South Africa, so the houses have been abandoned since the late ’30s, early ’40s.