Rwanda and Mountain Gorillas – Here We Come

After a very long night fighting a hard drive failure on my main computer, I’m off to Rwanda with a quick stop in Dubai.  As far as the computer is concerned, I am very thankful that I was able to do a full system resort from my most recent backup.  After all of the traumatic  starts and stops, I finally diagnosed the problem as a hard drive starting to fail.  I had SMART monitoring enabled but it did not catch the start of the failure. Backups saved me this time.

For this trip to photograph the Gorillas, I will be going very light with only two camera and two lenses.  Do to the low light conditions I will be working in, I selected my Nikon D4 and my D3s as the bodies.  For the glass, the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 and the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 will round out the kit.  I will be using a double camera strap by Black Rapid.  Having shot the Gorillas before, I will be making use of the auto-ISO feature on the bodies to keep my shutter speed high enough to avoid camera shake.

I’ll be blogging live from Rwanda thanks to the wonderful folks at XComGlobal.  XComGlobal offers WiFi internet access in more than 175 countieis worldwide.

Cheers and happy photo’ing.

From 10,058 meters aloft, Turkish Airlines TK10

Sorry, but I just had to do this. I’ve never been able to generate a blog posting while in flight.  Currently, flying an ‘over the pole’ route, just passing over Butte Montana, with an altitude of  1o,o58 meters  , and 1,022 km/h for airspeed (ground speed indicated), time to Istanbul will be 10.24 hours (remaining).   Total distance, this leg, is 11,045 km.  Once I land in Istanbul, another 6 hour leg will place me in Tanzania.

As luck would have it, I was upgraded to Comfort Class on Turkish Airlines TK10, LAX to Istanbul. This class is a wonderful mix of super economy plus (United), and normal business class. The seats are normal US business class seats except with lots of wonderful pluses. These include 120 volts, two USB charging ports, 12 volt ports, and FREE wi-fi. This blows the United business seats totally away.

I just completed field processing of this image below only seconds before they turned on some kind of soothing red-amber-ish lighting, so there goes my color management. Oh by the way, the chiefs were at the aircraft entrance greeting the passengers while the stewards were off doing their steward stuff. Yes, there are two chiefs dedicated to business class (first class in the normal US) and two dedicated to the Comfort Class. You gotta love it.

Another Golden Monkey shot from Rwanda posted from aboard Turkish Airlines TK10, just because I can. These monkeys were really difficult to photograph. Fast moving, on the ground and flying thru the air, coupled with this bamboo and heavy overcast skies, my camera of choice was the Nikon D4. With it’s high speed capture rate and virtually noise free imagery, it was just what the situation called for.

 Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm,  ISO 12,800, 1/125 sec at f/5.6.

Cheers and happy photo’ing

Me and the D800

Well folks, the long awaited and source of many rumors, the D800 is finally out.  Available with and without the anti-aliasing filter; consumers should start to see these cameras late March or April, depending upon who you are listening to.  No doubt in my mind that this camera, along with the D4 will be a game changer for Nikon, it is not for me.  While the 36 mega-pixel is of some interest to me, let me summarize what is going through my mind in regards to this camera and why I am not going to jump on the bandwagon – at least for a while.

  • I already own a D3x, and at 24.5 mega pixels (mp), and jumping to 36mp is not that much more of a jump when everything is considered.
  • From everything I have read and the photos that I have looked at, it appears to me that the low ISO is no better than the D700 (already own one of those) or the D3.
  • With my current Nikon kit being made up of D3x, D3s, D700, D300, I have been able to standardize on cards, batteries and chargers.  When comparing the D3x and D3s, the menus and controls are nearly identical, thus less mental hoops for my old brain when shooting in the heat of the action.  Furthermore, when on safari, standardization means less equipment to bring (weight can be a challenge), and less equipment involved in creating redundant systems.

For those wanting to grab one, Nikon Rumors reports that production is in full swing.  Referencing a new release from the Malaysia International News Agency,, production from the Sendai facility is set to produce 30,000 D800 and 5,000 D4 bodies per month.  This is great news for everyone that has been waiting in the wings for several years for the next generation Nikon.

One question that lingers in my mind:  Will the increase in mega pixels drive the medium format (Hasselblad and Phase One) prices down a bit?

Just my thoughts on the matter…….

Cheers and happy photoing.