Dec 4, 2011

Keeping it Simple!

I'm writing this from the sunny and warm south.  I'm just south of Sarasota in the state of Florida enjoying a little down time with my family.  Between family and some amazing wildlife and landscape photo oportunities i usually bring a large assortment of gear to get the images i want.

The last time i visited Florida i had a backpack filled with 42 pounds of metal and glass.  No, that is not a typo and and no, that did not include the weight of my aging laptop.  A super telephoto, a couple f2.8 zooms, multiple camera bodies (crop and full frame), fast prime or two, tripod and head(s), a flash and all the necessary accessories add up quick!  The hard part is standing straight and tall through security and not looking like i'm carrying more than 4 large sacks of potatoes on my back!

This trip has been different as i decided a few days before leaving that i would have to do without a large percentage of what i travelled with in the past.  Between the risk of theft and the heft I decided to prioritize what i thought i really would need to make good photos.

Here is what made the short list:

Nikkor 500mm f4 VR Telephoto and Nikkor 1.4X and 1.7X Teleconverters - Ain't travelling to Florida without them.  Simple.

Gitzo Tripod and Wimberly II Gimbel Head - Pretty well a necessity for the big gun.

Nikon D300 and D700 camera bodies - Crop and full frame bodies add versitility and affords me a backup body in case of malfunction as both are high mileage cameras with over 100,000 clicks each.

Nikkor 18-200 VRmm super zoom - Great travel lens.

Nikkor 50mm f1.4D prime - Fast, small and good normal focal length.

Accessories - Cards, card readers, chargers, batteries, etc.

I've been successful in cutting about 10-15 lbs from my gear bag and my back is loving the decision!

On December 3rd we visited Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota which we visit every time we come here.  There is something magical about the place no matter the time of the year.  I've blogged about Selby in the past which you can check out here  I've used just about everything in my arsenal to photograph at Selby.

This time i really kept it simple.  I took my D700 and the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 D lens.  My camera was set to auto-ISO with the slowest shutter speed alowable in camera to be 1/125th.  No flash was used and i didn't bother to check how high the camera was setting the ISO as i honestly didn't care as the D700's image quality is exceptional at high ISO.

When not in use the camera and lens hung comfortably at my side via a Black Rapid camera strap.  It was really nice not to have to carry any sort of bag for a change.

Here is a selection of images from the day's outing.  All images were shot in RAW, imported and processed very minimally using Lightroom 3.

After the images i've offered some of my thoughts of the Nikkor 50mm f1.4D.

ps...Yes, the fish in the second image is sucking on my finger!

For the record the lens is on borrow from a friend of mine who has my Nikkor 85mm f1.8D as we were contemplating a trade of sorts.  I like this focal lenght on full frame but not nearly so on a crop sensor body such as the D300.  It gets reasonably sharp at f2, a full stop down from 1.4 where it is quite soft.  This is very unlike the 35mm f1.4G and 85mm f1.4G primes i use which are quite sharp wide open.  The bokeh is also quite nervous compared to these other primes but considering the 50mm is super small, weighs next to nothing, and is very reasonably priced, it really can't be knocked. 

One item i would have taken if i had my time back would have been a 12mm extension tube for closer focusing of the orchids as minimal focusing distance isn't all that impressive with this 50mm.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this!

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, print service, photographic and post processing instruction for both group and private individuals.  Photography services include weddings, engagement sessions, people and pet photos, corporate events and so on.

If you or someone you know are looking for a wedding photographer for 2012 time is running short!  I'm getting heavily booked so please call or email to reserve your wedding day!  I'm also taking bookings for 2013 and beyond.

If you would like to contact me please do so at or call at (709) 634-3693 or (709) 639-5335 on my cell.  I'm located in Steady Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland, in Canada.

Visit me on facebook at RONiN photography.

I also have a ton of images of all kinds on Flickr.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit

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