Alaska 2007 advice

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by Paintguru, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. Paintguru

    Paintguru

    336
    Dec 28, 2006
    Detroit, MI
    Hey all,

    So I'm heading up on an Alaskan cruise here in about 2 months or so, and I need to do some planning. Right now I have a D70s w/ 18-70mm lens. I would like to pick up a second lens for the trip, and up to this point, I have thought to get the 70-300VR. Any reason this wouldn't be a good choice to catch any wildlife shots? I assume the 18mm is wide enough to capture most of the landscape shots. I'm trying to pick the lens that would be used the most for this and in the future, so if people have strong opinions one way or another, shout them out. Budget for the lens is ~$500.

    Other then that, I had planned to leave any sort of tripod at home, as I really don't want to lug it around. This is a honeymoon trip, and not JUST for photo taking, so I want to be mobile and somewhat light. Just ordered the Lowepro Mini Trekker AW, so that should store most of my stuff easily. I plan to get some more CF cards, and maybe bring a laptop along. Any other thoughts for a cruising trip up to Alaska? I looked through most of the older threads, but any new advice would e appreciated as well.
     
  2. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Hi Chris -

    I pulled the same "this isn't a photo trip" on my honeymoon and got into trouble a couple of times for shooting too much. :frown: On the bright side though, my wife and I are coming up on our 30th anniversary. :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin: Enjoy your 30th too!

    I don't know either of your lenses, but you do have a very good range from moderately wide scenics to wildlife. You may see wildlife that 300mm can't reach, so if your camera and lens combo will focus fast enough with a TC-14 I would get one. Try the focusing speed in a store before buying a TC though. And for sure leave the tripod at home. With VR on your long zoom you won't need one.

    I don't know how many opportunities you will have to shoot lots of shots, but make sure you have plenty of CFs. And you must take your laptop to off load your images to. Plus it will give you a chance to look at them each day, which is kind of fun. Don't forget you need a card adapter to hook up to your laptop. If you laptop has an "old-fashioned" PC Card slot, your best bet by far is to get an adapter that fits in that slot, and then your CF cards fit right in the adapter. Lots of the newer laptops have some new standard slot that doesn't fit either the adapter or your CF cards; if that is the case you need an adapter that plugs into a USB port.

    You won't even come close to these totals, but I went on a pure photo trip to shoot grizzly bears last summer. I went out each day with 16GB of CF cards every day, and I came close to running out some days. But I was shooting like a machine gun from early morning into the late Alaskan evenings. I shot 4700 images in 5 days! I had a laptop and an external hard drive, and I needed them. You don't need that nearly that much CF capacity and certainly not an external drive, but you will need your laptop.

    I urge you to shoot in RAW and get a copy of Capture NX to process your images when you return home. Alaska is really a land of highly contrasting light and exposing properly in JPEG is often very difficult. RAW gives you far more latitude - not only in exposure, but also white balance, color saturation, etc. Check your manual for the size of a RAW file and factor that in to you CF Card calculation.

    Buy some extra batteries for your camera and don't forget your charger. Ditto for flash if you plan to take one for indoor shots or outdoor fill flash. You could get fancy with a circular polarizer and graduated filter, but they are "nice to have" but not really necessary items.

    Now, the most important advice. Don't spend too much time shooting, and make sure you take lots of pix of your new bride! Have a super honeymoon!

    Gordon
     
  3. Paintguru

    Paintguru

    336
    Dec 28, 2006
    Detroit, MI
    Gordon,

    Thanks for the advice, this is just what I was looking for. Since I am somewhat a newbie with this stuff, especially RAW, I will look into shooting in that mode for the trip. Is Capture NX better then Photoshop Elements? Again, have used neither of these programs, but if they will help me with the pictures in the end, I would be willing to pick up one of them. Batteries are covered, I do need more CF, and I will look at the TF. Thanks again...it's hard to plan when you don't know much about the craft yet :).
     
  4. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Chris -

    To be honest, I don't know the full range of capabilities of Capture NX yet. I've been using the old version of Capture, and then Photoshop as needed. I have NX but haven't started to learn or use it. I'll give you some impressions of NX, even though I haven't

    Capture and NX, and Photoshop Elements, perform different functions and come at the processing of imaging from different directions but increasingly overlap.

    Capture and NX's primary function is conversion of RAW images into JPEGs for printing or posting on a web site, or into TIFFs for further work in an editing program like Photoshop Elements or Photoshop. Photoshop Elements (PE so I don't have to type the whole name) can convert RAW files (as new cameras are introduced, they add them to PE, but you have to check for your model). Actually a lot of image editors from Photoshop to the low cost editors can convert RAW files. Many Photoshop users use Photoshop's convertor and are very satisfied with its quality (and the convenient and fast workflow from using one program for all post-processing).

    I've tried Photoshop's RAW converter (I think it's call ACR) and I did not like the quality relative to Capture. I don't know whether PE uses ACR or different software, but it certainly won't be better than ACR. I think that Capture (and NX) produce converted images that are much truer to the subject's real colors and much more vibrant and lifelike. In addition, Capture and NX give the user a great deal more control over the conversion process. As they say (and I say to any Photoshop users reading this), YMMV.

    To me Capture and NX's superior results seem inevitable. Their coding is proprietaty to Nikon. While I think that Nikon makes a developer's tool kit to Adobe and others, Nikon can take advantage of every feature built into their software, giving them the ability to do more better.

    Capture gave great control over exposure, color balance, etc., but really didn't have any true image editing capabilities. Nevertheless I was often able to go straight from Capture to the web or printer and get excellent results. The only time I used Photoshop was to correct flaws in one part of the image. Like getting rid of a twig I didn't like. Or tweaking the color in one part of the image. I'm not sure what NX has added, but I know that it has far more true editting tools, although certainly not the range in Photoshop or probably even PE. So if you start with NX, you get off to a wonderful start but may have to use a true image editor like PE as well. But for lots of images you may not need an editor.

    If you use PE (or even Photoshop) by itself, IMO you start editting after the RAW conversion with a slightly (or with some images a very) inferior image. But then you have far great editting capabiliy than Capture, and you only have to use one program. With NX, you may have to go to an editor far less often.

    I plan to use NX and Photoshop as needed. In fact I use even more programs (which I find doesn't slow workflow much if at all). I "ingest" images from CF card to camers with Downloader Pro, scan and select with Photo Mechanic, convert with Capture (and now NX), occasionally go to Photoshop, and print with Qimage. This approach uses (IMO) the best specialized software for each step of post-processing. The other way to go is get everything from Adobe or one of the other companies out there.

    PE always takes the top spot in the magazine and web reviews I've read, but I've also read some serious gripes from users. I really can't help sort that out for you. The main problem with NX is that it is slow on an underpowered computer. I use it on a laptop with no problems, but my laptop is loaded with for speed. PE costs about $90 and NX about $130.

    Please get back to me with any questions you have, and I hope that anyone else who reads this will jump in and add their 2 cents whether they agree or disagree with what I've told you. I do suggest that you post in both the Technical Discussion (which covers RAW processors) and the Retouching etc. forums, say that you are going to go to Alaska and intend to shoot RAW (specify your camera so they now it's Nikon RAW (call NEF by Nikon), and ask for suggestions about the best way to approach post-processing. Specifically mention that you are considering whether to use NX for initial RAW conversion and editing and a low price editor as necessary, or to use one program for both. Ask which is the best editing program in both cases, and tell them that you don't want to spend the big $$$ for Photoshop.

    Hope this helps.

    Gordon
     
  5. Chris,

    All I can say .... honeymoon or not .... this may be your only chance at seeing or capturing something wonderful you wished you had not missed. It, (this trip) is still part of you and your new wife's new life? Is "photography" not you? She would want to see this passion that you possess as well ...

    I live in Alaska, and you never know when the "shot" will happen or be there, or just have the most perfect light, or composition, etc. You just always have to be ready!!!!!

    Take it all, you need a tripod! And a long lens would be great. I only have a 70-200mm, and it is just not long enough, or wide enough. Great lens for many things however.

    Not a lot of help I know, just had to say somthing.

    Jen
     
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