A Photographic Adventure

We’re en route to the Big Island in Hawaii. It’s our tenth anniversary trip, truly a remarkable achievement. We made it.

When we were dating, I told Caitlin, “I’ll take you to Hawaii, babe.” Finally, that foolish boy’s promise has become a reality. I’m very excited for her to enjoy Hawaii, a place I have visited twice with great delight. And Soleil is with us, too, as she is only four and too young for a two-week visit with the grandparents.

Like all families we have our own interests. Caitlin wants to snorkel. I want to photograph the volcanoes and the Milky Way from atop Mauna Loa. Soleil wants to go whale watching, which I understand you can do from the beach (we’re not putting her on a boat).

How can I use this trip to create exceptional photos, some of my best yet? Let’s make it a photographic adventure instead of the usual Joe Tourist holiday and Facebook album. So how does one do that?

Gear

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First of all, I don’t own ideal equipment. Some of the lenses and my Nikon Df are very good, but there are some weaknesses. The good news is I have some help. My friend Philip Robertson connected me with the folks at LensRentals, who sported me a rig for the trip (I have not been paid, just given free equipment). Here is what they sent me:

  • Nikon D810
  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 ED
  • Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/1.4
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S
  • Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED

The two telescopic lenses and the Zeiss 50 mm lens are superior to anything I own. They will produce exceptional images (provided I frame them and use the camera correctly). In addition, I needed the telescopic lens for my helicopter excursion over the volcanoes.

The 85 mm lens is more of a test for me. I own the less expensive 1.8f Nikon lens, and have always wanted to see what the difference was. I hope to put this to test in some low light situations, and see how the lens performs.

The D810 camera is a 36 megapixel beast. I have rented its predecessor, the Nikon D800, and opted to buy the Df instead. I liked the sensor a little more on the retro camera.

But as time progressed and my craft evolved, I came to appreciate the need for a faster, more versatile camera. Having a quicker shutter speed, better low light focusing, and sharper images would help in a wide variety of scenarios.

Many pros who shoot with Nikon equipment have told me the D810 is the best bang for the buck. I am considering the D810 as a potential next camera. Now I get to test it in a real scenario. Thank you, LensRentals.com for the opportunity to check all of this fine equipment out.

Commitment to Quality

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The other trick is to commit to quality. It would be really easy to walk around all day and shoot, and load a ton of images to Facebook. I don’t think that’s ideal, for you or for me.

What I’d rather do is post one great photo a day, the best of the best. That means 1) editing one photo a day, which can take 15-45 minutes based on my current workflow. The rest can wait until I get back.

And 2) I’d rather be intentional, setting aside certain times for photography, and spending the rest with my family. I know the gold and blue hours (one hour before and after the sunrise and sunset, respectively) are the best times to shoot. I intend to make the most of them.

Last, or 3) when I do shoot during the day it will likely be with the 50 mm or the 85 mm unless I am in the volcano shooting or whale-watching. I plan on daytripping with a lighter entourage. Then when I take a photo it will be to record a remarkable scene, not just because I happen upon a macadamia farm or there is a turtle on the beach. Unless of course that turtle is remarkable.

Most importantly, while I intend to take great pics, I’m most focused on having fun. After all, it is a vacation, and a special one at that.

You can see the pic a day on the 365FullFrame website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or on Google+. I also intend to start a Pinterest board. If I do happen to post more than one photo a day, it will only be on Flickr.

Let’s see where this goes! Mahalo.

Short Emails

I write short emails. Usually no more than five sentences, often fewer. The sentences tend to be truncated in their own right.

Sometimes people complain to me that I write short emails, and they don’t know what I am thinking. I don’t care, I keep them short.

Why write short emails?

Shakespeare once said, “brevity is the soul of wit.” For me, it’s the essence of sanity.

Conversely, Mark Twain said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” He must have had more time and patience than me.

Here are a few reasons why:

Efficiency

The first and most important reason for short emails is efficiency. The amount of emails I receive are insane (yes, I am not alone). Because I am an inbox zero guy, I do scan every email; however, I do not read them all, nor do I respond to a vast majority.

Responses tend to be short communications that expedite a project, acknowledge someone, or provide an answer. In essence, email is about workflow. I choose not to invest hours every day answering email.

Drama

This might surprise you, but some people read into emails too much. I know, who needs a soap opera? When you have short emails, it’s really hard to press the ignite button.

Make sure to say please and thank you. Most people realize you’re not being short to be a jerk, you just wrote a brief email. And when you have two back and forths, pick up the phone or walk across the hall and talk to each other.

Reputation

Then there is the forwarding factor. Frankly, we all know people forward emails. And we have all received these emails of angst.

Even last year I had a trusted business partner who forwarded my emails to his/her social media friends and staff, complaining about and analyzing the messages. Once I figured out that our correspondence was the source of backstabbing and reputation sabotage, trust dissolved.

I became very brief. With no fuel to add to the fire, a calmer (and much less frequent) correspondence developed. And yes, eventually I did end my business with said person.

I know several executives who request that recipients ask for permission to share email as part of their signature. You can see why. I’d rather be mindful about what I say, and assume that anything and everything might be forwarded.

That being said, sometimes a long email is necessary, and knowing when to do that is important. I don’t over think those emails, but clearly they require more thought than a simple workflow correspondence.

How do you approach email?

Featured image by Pascual Lopez.