EasyCover–The Otterbox for your Nikon D750

My EasyCover for my Nikon D750 came in yesterday. I wrote about buying these earlier for the Nikon D4 camera. [Read More] Most of the pros I know would wish they would make a model that covers the camera name and model.

While many amateurs may want to show off their gear, most pros are trying to do just the opposite.

 

The basic reason I recommend this to you is the same reason I would recommend you have a Otterbox for your cell phone. The Otterbox promotes itself as surrounding your phone with a cushion of air and inspired by the crumple zone of a car, this case can take a hit and keep your precious phone as good as the day you got it.

The EasyCover comes with 2 x Screen Protectors. I didn’t put these on right away and most likely will.

As you can see from the photos you still have access to everything including the ability to move the screen. The Custom-Fit Silicone Material provides a great cushion from minor bumps.

You can still get to the memory cards.

You can also use your microphone, headphone, HDMI and USB access.

You can still get to the battery very easily.

The main difference between this and say an Otterbox is they cannot completely cover the camera due to so many access points. So, some of these are still exposed to dings.

You still have access to your flash as well.

It comes in either Black, Yellow or Camouflage.

Covering meeting with the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S plus 2X converter

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100 

This morning I was covering the FCA Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Breakfast at the Marriott Marquis where both the TCU and Ole Miss football teams were hosted by the master of ceremonies Ernest Johnson, Jr. who is a sportscaster for Turner Sports.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM w/ Sigma 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Aeneas Demetrius Williams is a former American football cornerback and free safety, who played with the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He was the featured speaker today at the FCA Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Breakfast — at Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

Couple of things that I was trying to be sure I captured was the number of folks at the event, the new logo for the Bowl this year and couple moments here and there.

Here is a small sample of some of the coverage.

http://www.StanleyLearyStoryteller.com/FCA-Breakfast-2014/index.html
When covering an event like this, you really need some long glass or you will be needing to be between the audience and the speakers.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/4.5, 1/60

This wide shot is shot from the same place I shot the two top photos. The difference is 14mm lens vs. a 600mm lens.

When you are in a banquet facility where the size of the room is a football field you need to bring the same glass you would to cover a football game. The reason you need the long glass is you just cannot get the subject to fill the frame enough from some of the places you need to shoot from due to logistics.

Seeing 20/20 with your Camera Lenses

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/2000

As we get older we need to go to the eye doctor. People ages 20 to 30 should have an eye exam every two years, unless visual changes, pain, flashes of light, new floaters, injury, or tearing occurs. Then, immediate care is necessary.

Yearly exams become important in the late thirties when changes in vision and focus along with eye diseases are more likely to develop.

Now your camera lenses are probably less likely to change in focus just from aging alone, but heavy use will affect the lenses.

[cropped version of the above photo] Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/2000

After getting my new Nikon D750 I went ahead and calibrated the lenses I own to the camera. I also decided to check one lens before the big Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl game on New Year’s Eve.

Just to remind you when you focus on an object like this book, anything in from or behind the book should be slightly out of focus. However, if the points in front or slightly behind are sharper than the book cover this is when you need to make adjustments either to the lens or the camera fine tune focus adjustments.

The Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S can be fine tuned calibrated for 16 different focus points using the USB dock and software that you put on your computer.

This USB dock also lets you update the firmware on the lens.

So I took a couple hours to shoot make adjustments and then reshoot targets to get the lens in focus.

I then check all the cameras again with the camera.

Just like you need to see an eye doctor to adjust your prescription take the time and check out your camera and fine tune focus the lenses as well. You will be surprised as to how sharp your lenses really can be.

Nikon NPS 2015 Calendar came in and time to reflect once again

This afternoon my Nikon NPS pocket calendar arrived. I was able to put the 2014 calendar in my collection since 1983.

I enjoy looking back and seeing what I did in the past and also to count my blessings. This is the time for reflection at the end of the year.

Back in the spring of 1984 after I was offered my first job at The Hickory Daily Record I had to get some new camera gear. Here are the two pages I used to do research on all the prices at the time.

My parents got me my first gear as my graduation present from East Carolina University. What a blessing it was to have my parents help me with college and my gear. I went to my first job debt free–no college loans, car loans or credit card debt from having to buy gear.

Here is my first week of work hours at The Hickory Daily Record with my first day being May 21, 1984.

September 3, 1985 Don Rutledge called me about a job in Richmond, VA. I would drive up that Sunday, September 8th and interview the following day with Warren Johnson. They offered me the job on September 13th.

Little did I know how huge of an impact The Hickory Daily Record and then working on The Commission Magazine would be in my life. What a blessing it was for me.

May 7, 1993 I was offered the job to work at Georgia Tech in the communications office.

As you can see after turning the pages I would graduate the following week with my M.A. in communications from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I would pack the next day and start my drive to Atlanta, where I have lived ever since.

Sometimes you just have to look back and celebrate the milestones and remind yourself of all you have gone through. For me this reminds me of how God has provided opportunities for my family through the years.

I leave you with this scripture verse:

Matthew 6:25-34 

[ Do Not Worry ] “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …

Education and Journalism have a lot in common

There are a lot of similarities between education and journalism. Just take the storyline and the learning curve for example. Above is the storyline and below the typical learning curve.

 I believe the connection between the two is people find themselves in crisis and looking for solutions. Education and a good story both have crisis and solutions given. How the main character responds in a story can be either a comedy or tragedy.

Storyteller & Educator

Both the storyteller and teacher must master their content before they can create content for their audiences.

I have always liked this illustration for helping me to grasp how learning takes place. I was taught these stages while working on my masters in the education department.

I learned that when you teach if you don’t really know what level your students are and what level you are teaching you will create a problem for the learning environment.

The storyteller and teacher must master the subject. They must be able to go to the highest level of learning which is synthesis or the ability to create something new.

The storyteller and the teacher must be able to look at their audience and know how to lead them through the crisis to eventually understanding.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 7200, ƒ/6.3, 1/250

Great teachers and storytellers have three things in common:

  1. Know their subject as an expert
  2. Know their audience 
  3. Know their craft to connect the audience with the subject 
If you are a teacher or storyteller and you find yourself struggling it is with one of these three things most every time. 
When I was in the education classes I noticed we spent a lot of time learning about our audience. We learned educational psychology which helped me learn how we learn and what we can learn depending on the age of the audience. 
In my communication classes we really worked on the craft of telling the story. Either we were learning how to write, use visuals or design to help get across the message of the subject.
Both in education and communications they both equally emphasized our need to know the subject well, but both education and the communications classes were weak on one of the other two areas.
Recommendations
Teachers and storytellers you both need to dedicate your life to learning more about all three of these areas. You subject will evolve as well as the audience. 
There are endless ways to engage your audience. You need to mix things up or your style can actually get in the way of learning or storytelling. You become predictable and boring.
Most of all keep the passion and curiosity vibrant.

Photographing the Ramblin’ Wreck

Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/1250

Through the years I have photographed the Ramblin’ Wreck coming onto the football field before home games at Georgia Tech.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm, ISO 800, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

The cheerleaders all jump onto the Ramblin’ Wreck and then it tears through the banner made for the game onto the field.

I would try different angles every once in a while as able. Many times I had to shoot something on the field at the same time so I could rarely change my angle.

Nikon D100, 70-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/1000

One thing I learned was shooting on the ground level I often had a very cluttered background and if I shot at a higher depth-of-field the background competed too much with the foreground.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3200

By getting up higher I was able to eliminate the stands which helped to clean up the background.

Nikon D2X, Sigma 120-300mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/3200

I could capture the Georgia Tech football team running onto the field behind the Ramblin’ Wreck. This was one of my favorite angles to work for many years if I could get into the stands rather than being on the field.

My suggestion is to look for new angles and know what you are trying to highlight in your photograph.

Review of Fuji X-E2 Camera Body Update Ver 3.00 and Camera Remote APP

Two changes happened today for my Fuji X-E2. New firmware update and the second is a new app that lets you remotely control the camera. The photo above show the APP on my Motorola Turbo Android phone and the Fuji X-E2 next to it on tripod with the 18-55mm lens.

This is a great update that all Fujifilm X camera owners will love.

X-E2 Camera Body Firmware Update Ver.3.00

Details of the update:

1. AF+MF–function enables seamless manual focusing. After half pressing the shutter to autofocus on the subject, fine adjustment can then be made using the manual focus ring. After playing with this I did find this to be a really valuable upgrade. It works great. You must be in Single and not Continuous Focus Mode.

2. Enhanced wireless function for shooting from your smartphone or tablet devices*

By downloading the free FUJIFILM Camera Remote** app to your smartphone or tablet devices, users can use the Remote Control function, which allows a wealth of control, even from a distance. This functionality is great for a wide variety of shots, including group photos, self-portraits and animals in their natural habitat.

* Android™, smartphone and table devices, iPhone / iPad.

** After updating the Firmware Version 3.00, FUJIFILM Camera Application app cannot be used.

Requires installation of FUJIFILM Camera Remote app to your smartphone or tablet devices

FUJIFILM Camera Remote

3. New Classic Chrome Film Simulation DID NOT TEST [Since I shoot RAW and post process I am more pleased with this than the out of the camera JPEGs]

The X Series’ Film Simulation modes represent Fujifilm’s wealth of experience in color reproduction technology. “Classic Chrome”, which delivers subtle colors and beautifully muted tones reminiscent of vintage reversal film, has been newly added to the existing selection.

4. Interval timer shooting DID NOT TEST [Maybe one day, but just haven’t done much time lapse]

The new Interval timer shooting function allows X-E2 users to capture time lapse photography. Set the starting time, the shooting interval (1 sec. to 24 hr.) and finally the number of frames (1 – 999), and the camera does the rest.

Here the screen grabs from the app:

REVIEW OF APP
The APP connects with the camera much faster and reliably than the previous APP. The APP will disconnect you from your present Wi-Fi connection and look for the Fuji X-E2, which this was a real problem with earlier APP.
Overall if this were the only improvement this would be great. 
Once connected you can touch the screen for where you want the camera to focus as long as you are in AF mode.  You can control all the functions of the camera that I could test.
There is not a real time action as I had hoped. There seems to be a little delay. This is not due to Wi-Fi and the reason I know is that the Nikon D750 which I am comparing does a far superior job connecting and controlling of the camera.
I commend Fuji on upgrading my Fuji X-E2, however I wasn’t ecstatic about the performance given what I am able to do with my Nikon D750.
While I am very thankful for the Fuji Firmware upgrade that Nikon seldom does on their cameras–I am not impressed with the performance as compared to their competition like the Nikon D750 W-Fi camera.

Review of Battery Grip Holder Pack For Nikon D750

I decided to save some money when buying a battery grip for the Nikon D750 and bought an off-brand.

On Ebay I found High Quality Multi Power Battery Grip Holder Pack For Nikon D750 Vertical Camera for $78 and $10 for shipping from overseas. Here is the LINK

It comes with two types of battery holders. It works with six AA batteries or or EN-EL15.

The grip fit just fine onto the Nikon D750 and everything works just great.

Most of the dials are duplicated onto the back.

The Sub-Menu dial is on front just like the camera and shutter release as well. Lightweight and I like because I prefer the vertical grip when shooting verticals and adding a little more balance to me for the lenses.

Everything works just great and that is all the pros I can think of right now.

Cons–Even after turning off the camera and the grip the battery will drain just sitting around in the grip.

The Nikon MB-16 is still available for pre-order. Here is that LINK. Price is $369. If you will be bothered by the battery draining then save your money and buy the Nikon MB-16.

Photographers may need a class in IMPROV

Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640 

All these photos were taken at Roswell High School’s Improv Troupe “What’s the Buzz?” performance on December 5, 2014. That’s my daughter in the blue shirt on the left above. I guess you can tell I am proud of her.

In business today it pays more than ever to be able to think on your feet. What better way to train yourself than to learn how to do IMPROV.

Tina Fey is a famous alumnus of The Second City. The Second City is an improvisational comedy enterprise, best known as the first ever on-going improvisational theater troupe in the United States (Chicago) and Canada (Toronto).

Tina Fey boils down the rules here in her book Bossypants.

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created.  

Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.

Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640 

Robert Kulhan is an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and said to CNN, “Improvisation isn’t about comedy, it’s about reacting — being focused and present in the moment at a very high level.” The first rule of improv is a Worldview perspective that lets you join the client where they are at the moment.

In business you really don’t have control of what happens. IMPROV teaches you how to work as a team and learn to go with the flow.

Tina Fey says the second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND.

The YES, AND principle in performance improvisation it means listening to what someone else says, accepting what they say, and then building on that. In business terms it means accepting any idea that’s brought to the table and then taking that idea further.

Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, Sigma 2X, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

Critical Thinking

The problem with many people in business is they put Critical Thinking often in front of brainstorming and creative thinking. You need to first have an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance for new ideas to come forward. The analysis paralysis takes place if you jump too quickly to the critical thinking.

Tina Fey says, “Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion.”

The third rule Fey talks about is one that I really get tripped up on in business situations.

Third Rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. 

In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. 

Try and be the fly on the wall in your own business situations. Listen to yourself and self audit your comments and body language.

Rule four–THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. 

Nikon D750, Sigma VR Zoom 120-300mm  ƒ/2.8 IF-ED, Sigma 2X, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/640

Better Listener

You will not know how to respond to others when they finish if you have not really listened to them. How often do you talk to someone that is just waiting for you to finish talking so they can say what they already are planning on saying? Improv teaches to listen attentively… not just for words but for emotion, intention, point of view and so much more.

Saying yes to things that you would normally sabotage, will help you believe in yourself and you own ability.

IMPROV also teaches you to embrace your emotions. These emotions in business help to to connect with others.

“Some people misunderstand improv….It seems that improv is all about being funny. But it is not. Improv is about being spontaneous. It is about being imaginative. It is about taking the unexpected and then doing something unexpected with it….The key is to be open to crazy ideas and building on them. And funnily enough, this is exactly what is needed if we are going to make our enterprises more creative and agile.”

– Paul Sloane

The Leaders Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills

Rules of Improv

1. Always Agree and Say Yes–You are required to react to whatever your partner has created. In real life you will not agree to everything, but this helps remind us to respect whatever your partner has created. At least start from an open-minded place. Start with a yes and see where that takes you.
2. Yes AND–Add something of your own. Don’t be afraid to contribute. Always make sure you are adding something to the discussion.
3. Make Statements–Asking questions all the time makes your partner have to come up with all the answers. Statements are your way of being part of the solutions. Don’t stand around pointing your finger at obstacles. Make statements with your ACTIONS and your VOICE.
4. There are no MISTAKES just OPPORTUNITIES–In improve there are no mistakes only beautiful happy accidents.

Nikon D750–Wreaths Across America

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 125, ƒ/8, 1/125

Today is National Wreaths Across America Day. This organization was formed in 1992 to:

REMEMBER the fallen
HONOR those that serve and their families and,
TEACH our children the value of freedom.
– See more at: http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org 

Nikon D750, 14-24mm, ISO 320, ƒ/9, 1/30

These are the ceremonial wreaths. The ceremonial wreaths represent each branch of the military service including the POW/MIA and Merchant Marines. The one closest to the camera is the MIA, which I had the honor of presenting.

The letter sent to my grandparents stated that the U S Marine Corps “regretted to inform that 2nd Lt. James Stanley Leary, Jr., 2-G-23 Fourth Marine Division..had been declared Missing in Action while engaged against the enemy on the Island of Saipan, Marianas, in the Pacific.”

[To get this photo I was able to use the tilting Vari-angle LCD to put the camera way low and look through the LCD to compose on the back of the camera. Love this feature and used it again on the photo below.]

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125

To capture this wide of a dynamic range I shot the photo in RAW and then when in Lightroom slid the slider on the highlights to -98 and the shadows to +76. Here is what it looked like before I adjusted the photo:

While Nikon has many settings that will get you some pretty incredible JPEGs out of the camera, they still do not compare to shooting RAW and then working on the image to tweak and fine tune your image.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 360, ƒ/8, 1/500

In this photo I didn’t use a flash because I was too far away. This is 250mm full-framed, but put me a good 20 or more feet away. However the dynamic range that was caught I was able to again open up the shadows and tone the highlights for an acceptable photo.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 140, ƒ/8, 1/250

I did increase the saturation using Adobe Lightroom’s vibrance and set all the photos to +27.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125

One more thing which I actually do first after ingesting the photos into Adobe Lightroom is to enable profile corrections.

Lens Corrections is a tool within Lightroom’s Develop Module that allows fixing such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and perspective correction “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. Keep in mind that lens correction is not a simple fix that applies to any lens – corrections are lens-specific. Since each lens model is designed with a unique optical formula, lens corrections must also be uniquely customized for each model.

Nikon D750, 28-300mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200–Popup flash used 0 EV

One family asked for a photo and when I saw the man’s hat I took the lens shade off the 28-300mm and then popped the flash up on the Nikon D750 and filled in the shadows. While I could have done an OK job using Adobe Lightroom to open up the shadows the flash added a catch light in their eyes.