Monthly Archives: August 2013

Leafcutter Ant

Leafcutter AntAugust 21, 2013

Leafcutter ants are amazing creatures that are found in Costa Rica and other parts of Central America. They harvest leaves from various trees and return the leaves to their mound to process and subsequently serve as food for the community. When you find one, you find many, typically in a row carrying their leaves home.

In the picture above, a leafcutter ant returns home with his harvest. This picture was taken in the Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. The photo was hand held with the amazing Olympus 60mm macro lens. I’d love to return to Costa Rica to capture more images of these ants.

Equipment Used

Olympus OM-D EM-5

Olympus 60mm Macro Lens

Review – Lee Seven5 Filter System (including Big Stopper)

August 16, 2013

Although I like HDR as much as the next guy, I still use graduated neutral density (Grad ND) filters often. In the right situations, Grad ND filters give a more natural look and require less software processing once the file is downloaded. I also use straight ND filters to adjust shutter speed when necessary (smooth water, etc.).

For many years, I have been using the Singh-Ray ND filters in the Cokin P format (84mm x 120mm). I’ve got the Galen Rowell ND Grad filters in 2 and 3 stop versions with both hard and soft grad. They work well with my Nikon D200 as well as my Olympus OM-D. I also have the 4-stop ND filter. Admittedly, they are a bit large for the micro four-thirds format, but they do work. Although they are sold as neutral density filters, I find that the Singh-Ray filters give a slightly warm cast to the image. Since I use these filters mostly for landscape photos, this is not much of an issue. The warm cast is slight and generally pleasant for these applications.

Although I have a four-stop ND Singh-Ray filter, I have wanted a 10-stop filter for some time. The Lee Big Stopper was the only game in town for quite a while in modular format, but now Singh-Ray also offers a 10-stop filter (more on that later). Unfortunately Lee does not offer the Big Stopper in the Cokin P format. Until recently, the offerings meant I would either need to convert to a larger system (100mm wide) or carry two systems (Cokin P and 100mm) with their attendant adapters, holders, etc. Enter the Lee Seven5 system…   Continue reading

Mirrorless Sales Decline: What Does It Mean?

August 12, 2013

Olympus and Nikon announced sales results last week that indicated mirrorless sales were falling short of expectations.  The New York TImes reported that Nikon reduced its sales projections going forward. Digital Photography Review also reported that sales of PEN cameras by Olympus were disappointing. These results led to a flurry of web commentary that indicated the end is nigh for the mirrorless revolution.

The mirrorless doomsayers are making a fundamental error; they are confusing the state of the industry with the state of the technology. Make no mistake; mirrorless will be the dominant style of camera in the moderate term. Mechanical mirrors have certain advantages currently, but those advantages will be eroded as mirrorless technology improves. Eventually the improved technology and lower cost will make the SLR design obsolete.   Continue reading

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano, Costa RicaAugust 9, 2013

I just returned from 8 days in Costa Rica. It was my first trip to this Central American country. The area is beautiful, with a wide variety of flora and fauna. The country also has almost everything you could want in landscape variety, mountains, beach, and everything in between. Although this was primarily a family vacation, I always have my camera with me.

The Arenal Volcano was one of the highlights of the trip. The volcano was dormant for hundreds of years when it erupted unexpectedly in 1968. Apparently, few people realized it was a volcano until then, despite its classical conical shape. The volcano has remained active since 1968, although the activity has decreased since 2010.

This volcano is frequently shrouded in clouds, so I felt lucky to get this shot between rain storms.

Equipment Used

Olympus OM-D EM-5

Olympus 40-150 f/4-5.6

Gitzo 0540

Really Right Stuff BH-30