Archive for September, 2007

Making Photographs vs. Taking Pictures

September 25, 2007

While on a trip to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming last year, I watched a group of photographers “taking pictures” of the Mormon Row Barns on a bright sunny cloudless afternoon. While the weather conditions were just perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities they were lousy for photography.

I thought back to times past when I was a novice photographer. Twenty years ago, I would have been doing the same thing. Over the years, I learned taking a picture is not the same thing as making a photograph. The contrast between the two are as different as night and day.

As I ate my lunch and watched the other photographers at work, I planned my strategy for the next day. It was obvious to me the best photo of the barn would be at first light since they are an East facing subject. I decided to stay in Jackson Hole for the evening and return the first thing in the morning. For the rest of that afternoon, I continued to do some scouting until early evening when the light would be ideal for photography.

Returning the next day in the dark, I waited for sunrise with my Nikon F4 and 60mm lens locked down on a Gitzo 320 tripod. In this part of the country, the light becomes harsh and bright very quickly. Knowing I didn’t have much time, I started to shoot as soon as the sunlight hit the barn and while there were shadows on the grass in the foreground. The shadows make this photograph work. They provide depth and make this image multi-dimensional. Without the quality of the early morning light and the shadows on the foreground grass and on the barn, this photograph would have been flat, boring and lifeless.

As a result of some thought and planning, I made a successful photograph that goes far beyond the typical vacation snapshot or picture.


LowePro SlingShot 200 Product Review

September 20, 2007

I have always used either a camera backpack or beltpack for my outdoor photography. A camera backpack is great for carrying a lot of heavy equipment. The major drawback to this design is it’s slow to access equipment since you have to remove the bag from your body every time you need something. A belt or fanny pack works out much better when you are carrying less equipment. The beltpack does not have to be removed since it can be slid around to the front to retrieve a camera or lens. The beltpack is comfortable to wear as long as its not loaded too heavy.

The SlingShot 200 is an entirely new design. The bag rides on your upper back supported by a wide padded strap which can be worn over one shoulder or across the chest. The sling system allows quick and easy access to equipment by simply rotating the bag to the front. The top loading main compartment holds your camera and attached lens ready for use in a few seconds.

I decided to purchase the LowePro Slingshot 200 after hearing a lot of positive comments from other photographers. I thought the bag would be ideal for carrying a DSLR and two or three lenses on day hikes and bike rides. In my particular case, I can pack my D70s, 17-55 2.8 and 70-300 VR without any problem. In addition I can fit my 60mm macro when needed. The bag also has enough room to carry some accessory items like filters, a lens hood and snacks.

After many hours of field use, I can offer the following comments and observations: The Slingshot design works as advertised. Access to equipment is easy and fast. The bag is very comfortable to wear for long periods due to its size, shape and ample amounts of padding. In my opinion, this is an ideal camera bag to use when you want to travel light. It is well suited for the following applications: travel, walk-around photography, photojournalism, nature photography, day hiking and bike riding.

If you plan on carrying less or more equipment than I do, LowePro makes the Slingshot 100 and 300 models, which may better suit your needs.