Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Game On! Six Squared

I'm not really that into my gear like I used to be. To me it's about a beautiful image. When I was first starting out in photography, I could tell you the specs of every Pentax camera made. Then, as the years passed and I moved to Nikon, it was either a F2 or F3. Then I got a F4s and that was about the time I started thinking more about images than camera specs. My transition into digital was much the same as in the Pentax days because I was pushed into digital so early on. Working with a Leaf DCB or LightPhase Phase One back or Carnival system I was introduced to Medium and Large Format Digital very early on. Next came the start of the DSLR days. I remember renting a Nikon D1 or a Fuji S1. By this time, it was still just a camera and my thoughts leaned to the image rather than mega pixels and camera features. I just wanted to now I could produce a great image. Well, last week my Nikon D800 arrived and I must say I am exciting about camera specs again! I went from six mega pixels (AKA twelve Fuji mega pixels) to thirty six mega pixels. And exponential leap in resolution.
D800 - Images by Don Couch - Here are a few images I made over my first weekend with the camera. They are all hand held. The image of the sock monkey is at 1/20th of a second at 200mm with VR turned on. 1/20th of a second hand held at 200mm. I cannot believe how sharp that is! For those who do not know, the rule says I should not be able to hand hold a 200mm lens at a shutter speed less than 1/250th of a second. I'm beginning to think the VR didn't work right with my Fuji S5. The Auto-Focus in 3D mode is sick! It locks on and tracks the subject around the frame. This thing does HD video in 1080p with stereo sounds. It's got live view with the push of a button, not buried two or three menus deep. I love that my 14mm is now a 14mm and not a 21mm thanks to the FX format. I love that all my lenses are now Macro lenses with all that resolution. OK OK not really but it is nice to be able to crop in and still be at a higher resolution than I started out with on my Fuji S5. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE(D) my Fuji cameras. All of them but this D800 really is a game changer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Time... I never have enough of that. That and air are the two things I need the most when I'm photographing underwater caves. Wits, that another thing I need, so three things I never seem to have all three at the same time in a cave. That's not entirely true, I have been calm and collected but I think I load myself up so much with "new" that I can't get it all together. I don't have that relaxed feeling underwater just yet. Maybe I never will. My instructor told me she was concerned my dive buddy maybe wasn't aware he SHOULD be a little nervous cave diving. That gave me a great comfort that she felt it was OK to be nervous, if not a requirement. I always said to the guys in Mexico, "I'm not worried, I'm concerned". I think that's more what she means.
As I write this, it's been almost two months since my last cave dives. I still think about how rattled I got, finding my self upside down on the ceiling of that cave. In fact, I think about it all the time time. To this day, I'm not even sure why it rattled my so hard. Hell, I had plenty of gas, I'd been in this cave before, had one of the best cave instructors in the world watching me flounder on the ceiling. So why so worried? I think it was the 'NEW".
Looking back, it is a comfort to see the professionalism in which she got me out of there. Golden Rule of diving, "ANY diver can call ANY dive at ANY time for ANY reason". I called the dive and she was like, "OK... Let's go!" She got my ass off the wall and calmed back down and brought me to my senses. Looking back, I was panicked. I broke MY golden rule which is "Stay calm and breathe... in that order". I did manage to keep breathing WHICH should have been a clue to me that all was well and so I only broke half of my golden rule.
What happened to put me ass-over-tea kettle, was I was diving a drysuit for the first time in my life, a "NEW". As well as diving side-mount, meaning my tanks are to my side and not on my back, again, another "NEW". I was slightly task loaded having to manage the gas in my drysuit as well as my BCD to maintain buoyancy while monitoring the gas I was breathing. Swapping regulators as needed to keep both tanks somewhat equal in the amount of gas they had. And as my instructor told me later, there is a reason there is a class in this. It ain't easy. So, all this plus I want to drag a camera and five strobes underwater deep into a black hole and make magic!