Blog – Natural Exposures, Inc. http://naturalexposures.com Welcome to our world of wildlife Sun, 21 May 2017 17:59:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 90305722 Predictive AF Comparison Tests Lumix GH5, G85, Oly EM-1 Mark ll, and Nikon D500 http://naturalexposures.com/predictive-af-comparison-tests-lumix-gh5-g85-oly-em-1-markll-nikon-d500/ http://naturalexposures.com/predictive-af-comparison-tests-lumix-gh5-g85-oly-em-1-markll-nikon-d500/#comments Sun, 14 May 2017 09:20:11 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=22143 Read More »

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Let’s get right to the point. This post is a Predictive AF comparison test between the Lumix GH5, G85, Olympus EM-1 Mark ll, and the Nikon D500. I’ve been shooting the new Lumix GH5 for almost two months, and Panasonic’s DFD autofocus is now producing equal to or better results than any camera I’ve shot to date. 

Predictive AF Comparison

This post is not an overall review of the GH5. I’m guessing I’ll do that after several more months of using the new camera. For now, this is all about Predictive AF. For those not familiar with the differences between Predictive AF and Single AF, Predictive AF is action—fast moving action—and the ability of a camera to capture those “glory pictures” we all desperately want in our portfolio. Up until now, the Micro Four Thirds world hasn’t had a camera that could perform on a truly professional level when it comes to Predictive AF. Hold on before you start screaming about the new Olympus EM-1 Mark ll having these abilities until you see the results below. With the GH5, we finally have truly professional, predictive AF proficiency. 

So that’s the intro. Now let me give you the details of what I’ve been up to that’s convinced me we’re now in a different world for Micro Four Thirds shooters.

A screenshot that shows how it looks in Mylio with star ratings. Note all the 3 stars that show perfect, razor sharp focus.

If you read this blog, you may have read other posts showcasing my “Speeding Pooch Test.”  A speeding pooch, preferably a lab or golden retriever, coming straight at the camera charging after a thrown ball, is one of the best ways to test the Predictive AF capabilities of any camera. The downside to this test is the difficulty of finding enough fast dogs to get lots and lots of opportunities to produce the tests. To solve this problem I decided to go after something there are plenty of, speeding cars.

Single point AF pointed at the middle part of the grill of each car. This is a screenshot of the image at 100% with no sharpening added.

For the test results I’m about to share, I placed myself beside a roadside where the speed limit is 75mph/120kmh. I shot just short of 10,000 frames between four different cameras: Lumix GH5, Lumix G85, Olympus Om-D EM-1 Mark ll, and the Nikon D500. On the two Lumix bodies, I used the Leica 100-400mm set at 300mm (600mm equivalent) as well as the NEW 100-300mm lens also set to 300mm. On the Olympus, I used the Olympus 300mm F/4, and on the Nikon I used the 80-400mm set to 400mm (600mm equivalent). All lenses were set to their respective focal lengths to be as close to identical as possible.

6K Photo Mode Video Capture Sample

Here’s a video I shot in 6K Photo Mode. This gives you an idea of fast these cars are coming at the camera. That in itself is interesting, but just to whet your appetite, for a future post about 6K Photo Mode, watch this video for focus accuracy. Keep in mind this is video shot at 30FPS at a very high shutter speed. Once you hit the play button, click the same button to stop the video at any particular spot and take a look a the focus of the GMC label on the grille. Unfortunately, there is no way to extract these files once you take them from the camera, so you have select the individual stills while the 6K Photo Mode file is still in the camera. Not a perfect solution but one we can live with until software catches up with this amazing camera technology. That is going to be unbelievable.

Star Rating System

I chose to use the following star rating system for AF quality:

3 Stars = Perfect focus, razor sharp

2 Stars = Acceptably sharp, most people viewing the image at 100% would think it’s useable

1 Star = Completely out of focus and un-useable

Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet with the number of images and percentages. Test 2 was just the GH5 and EM-1 to confirm what I had seen in the first test.

AF Menu Options

All cameras were set to AF-C and each was slightly customized via the AF settings in the menu. When I say “slightly customized” I mean slightly customized. This is very important since, in my opinion, AF settings should be simple and straightforward. Each camera’s AF setting was slightly changed to adjust the AF responsiveness. All were set to be most responsive since a car heading down the roadside is not going to have any subjects moving in front of it that might affect the AF misinterpreting the actual subject

Each camera has the ability to customize AF capabilities via the menu. In theory, this could be a good thing, but in practice, I feel there are too many options on all the cameras except the G85 and the Nikon D500. It’s my opinion AF should just work without any—or at least very little—customization. Canon started the idea of ultimate customization and the others have followed. When you point the AF sensor at the subject it should just follow it. Ideally, there should be no need for selecting erratic, constant, fast, short, etc. The GH5 has a pretty complicated customization process, but I chose to ignore most of it, opting for changing only the AF Custom Settgins> AF Sensitivity to +2. Below are details of similar changes to the other cameras.

  • Lumix GH5: Burst Rate = High, AF Custom Settings> AF Sensitivity +2, AF-C Focus/Release Priority set to Balance
  • Lumix G85:  Burst Rate = High,  Custom Settings>AF Sensitivity +2, AF-C Focus/Release Priority set to Focus
  • Olympus OM-D EM-1 Markll: Burst Rate = Low, C-AF  set to Loose +2
  • Nikon D500, Burst Rate = High, AF-C Priority Selection= Focus+Release

OK, so those were my settings and it’s here that I predict I’ll take the most heat. Why? Because there are other menu options and there will be those who will shout I didn’t do enough to explore them all. To that I say, be my guest and do it yourself. My options are a great place to start and were selected to put all cameras on as similar settings as possible so we could have an even playing field. Additionally, the settings I chose are simple and straightforward, which is how all AF systems should work. In other words, just give me great AF and I’ll be happy. Fine tuning each camera’s AF could make a difference, but the GH5’s keeper rate was so high, I’m thrilled with the results I’m getting with the basic settings. If you decide to choose one of the other cameras that didn’t do as well, you may want to do your own tests to see if digging through all the menu options can make your camera of choice more accurate than the GH5.

Download Image Samples

For those wanting to see the images for themselves and evaluate them for AF accuracy, I’ve uploaded several hundred samples from each camera to my Photo Shelter site. The links to those collections are below and you’re free to download any or all photos as long as they are kept on your own personal computer for your own personal use. Do not post these anywhere else without my written persimmon and keep in mind I retain all copyrights to the pictures I’m sharing. These galleries do not include the entire shoot from each camera. I may add more at a later day when I get somewhere with more bandwidth. I’m currently writing this from Croatia and I simply can’t get as many as 1000-1500 jpegs per camera up to my Photo Shelter account in a timely manner.

Download Lumix GH5 with 100-400mm lens samples
Password: gh5-100-400
1778 images

Download Lumix GH5 with 100-300mm lens samples
Password: gh5-100-300
455 images

Download Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll with 300mm lens samples
Password: olyem-1markll300mm
1412 images

Download Nikon D500 with 80-400mm lens samples
Password: d500-80-400
416 images

Please Note: Unfortunately, PhotoShelter limits the number of photos you can download per zipped folder, so for the two galleries with 500+ images (GH5 with 100-400mm and Oly with 300mm), there are multiple zipped folders to download all of the images. Once in the gallery, click ‘Download’ in the upper right corner. Enter the password, and you will be taken to a screen that looks like this:

Select the size you want to download in the dropdown box, and then click ‘Continue.’ You will then be taken to a screen containing several links that looks like the screenshot below. Click on each link to download the corresponding zipped folder of images.

Panasonic Lumix Depth From Defocus Technology

So let’s end this conversation with a little discussion about Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology. Based on these tests, Panasonic is close to my prediction of perfecting their revolutionary DFD AF system, something that virtually every magazine, website, forum, and the like have said cannot be done. Everybody, except me, has blogged, vlogged, chatted, and screamed, DFD, a Contrast Detection-based AF system will never equal the Phase Detection AF virtually every other serious camera manufacturer is using. I’ve said it time and time again, these naysayers sound just like the folks who were convinced digital would never replace film. Having the camera analyze autofocus based on the sensor itself, as DFD does, makes all the sense in the world. Phase Detection AF judges focus based on a separate AF sensor that is different from the image sensor thus making inaccuracies very possible.

It’s the Phase Detection system that Olympus, Nikon, and Canon use that requires they all have the ability for Micro Lens Adjustments. Micro Lens Adjustment, in the menu of the cameras I mentioned, allows the photographer to change the calibration of lens and camera that is either back or front focusing, a common problem with Phase Detection systems. The GH5 doesn’t have a Micro Lens Adjustment option since it’s never needed.  I experienced back focus issues for many years when I was shooting Nikon bodies. The issue raised its ugly head again this past February while shooting the new Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark ll with the amazing Olympus 300m F/4. I knew the Olympus 300mm was much sharper than the images I was getting. I finally did a proper test and found the lens and camera were back focusing. A tweak of the Micro Lens Adjustment on the camera took care of the problem, but I’m happier the GH5 doesn’t need this option.

Conclusion

For those who want to see ALL the images for themselves, you can download the entire collection from my PhotoShelter account. I’ve broken them up into each camera’s own folder. These are for your own personal use and I retain all copyright to these images. Do not post them anywhere without my written permission. Go ahead and knock yourself out trying to second guess me. I think you’ll see for yourself this camera is the real deal, and to all those naysayers who are convinced Depth From Defocus is second rate technology to Phase Detection AF, this camera proves them wrong.

Speical thank you to Natural Exposures Explorer Fred Kurtz, a numbers man, who helped me get the numbers properly set up in Apple’s spreadsheet program.

Also, want to thank Marshall Lewis of Bozeman Camera for loaning me the Nikon D500 to test. If you want great service and reasonable prices give Marsha a call at +1 (406) 586-8300 or email: bozemancamera@gmail.com

Editorial Note:

Please note that I work with Panasonic as a Lumix Luminary. Some may think this will affect my integrity regarding these kinds of reviews. Nothing could be further from the truth. I worked with Nikon, unofficially, for nearly 35 years and I never received a dime. But I did so because I believed in their products. I now feel the same about Panasonic Lumix. Panasonic approached me to become a Luminary almost ten years after first purchasing one of their cameras, the Lumix GF1. Though Panasonic pays me a small stipend annually, no amount of money is worth the trust I’ve established with my readers and people who know me. I feel it’s important for my readers to know my connection to Panasonic so you can decide for yourself. 

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Christine Crosby in NANPA’s Expressions http://naturalexposures.com/christine-crosby-nanpas-expressions/ http://naturalexposures.com/christine-crosby-nanpas-expressions/#comments Fri, 12 May 2017 17:22:13 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=22137 Read More »

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An Introduction to NE Explorer Christine Crosby

Christine Crosby is all smiles as she searches for jaguars, Pantanal, Brazil

If you’ve ever been on an NE adventure, chances are you’ve probably met Explorer Christine Crosby. And if you haven’t, you should! Aside from being an accomplished photographer who loves travel, photography, and animals, Christine is easygoing, always has a smile on her face, and provides tons of inspiration to those around her.

She has a special place in her heart for dogs and is the proud owner of seven labs—one of who just had an adorable litter of puppies—and a rescue mixed breed she adopted during a recent trip to Costa Rica! Christine has a zest for life and knows how to have fun, which you can probably guess by the streak of purple that now flows through her hair 🙂 She’s traveled with Dan and Tanya to multiple destinations, photographing in Costa Rica, Patagonia, Kenya, Alaska, the Pantanal, and Svalbard, just to name a few.

Today we’ll go behind the scenes with Christine and learn more about one of her passions in life, one which many of you reading this blog likely share with her—photography.

But first and foremost, an elephantine 🙂 congratulations from the NE family to you, Christine, for your two images being selected for publication in NANPA’s Expressions 2017, an annual journal showcasing the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s yearly Showcase competition.

NANPA’s Showcase winners are handpicked from thousands of submissions by highly regarded industry professionals, which this year included George Lepp, Marc Muench, and Alison Jones. Type ‘Crosby’ in the keywords box on NANPA Showcase 2017 to view Christine’s photos appearing in this year’s issue. If you’re a NANPA member, you can view the digital version of Expressions when you sign in and click ‘Expressions Magazine’ in the member menu area. And be sure to check out Expressions 2016, because you will find more of Christine’s photos in that edition too!

Christine’s mother leopard with cub in South Africa image is in the Top 100 in 2017 NANPA’s Expressions.

Behind the Scenes with Christine Crosby

What sparked your interest in photography? How long have you been taking pictures?

As a kid my dad had his own darkroom in our house and was into macro photography of flowers. I got to help in the darkroom to develop his film/negatives, and the magic of watching the images appear onto paper in the trays of developer was mesmerizing. For an elementary school science fair project, he helped me make a pinhole camera, and I was then hooked on creating my own images.

In high school and undergrad college my late stepdad, who was an esteemed marine biologist and conservationist, took me on many of his marine mammal censuses/projects around the world, and my fascination with documenting wildlife in their natural habitats was deepened. However, during my B.A. in fine arts and subsequent M.A. in Art Therapy, I wanted to do something different from any of my parents, so I primarily used photography as a jumping off point for my pastels and paintings, mixed media collage and printmaking.

In 2011, I met Dan and Tanya and traveled with them to the rainforests of Costa Rica. It was here that my passion for photography as a form in its own right was rekindled … especially doing macro night photography capturing red-eyed tree frogs, giant spiders and other such small subjects by light of our headlamps and flashes with Dan. Prior to that trip, I’d never had an interest in birds before, but the colors and the excitement of trying to capture gorgeous scarlet macaws, and especially tiny hummingbirds in flight, was exhilarating (if not a little frustrating) and I craved more!

Not long after, I was involved in a serious car accident in which I sustained a Traumatic Head Injury. At the time, I was already signed up to go to Kenya with Dan and Tanya a few months later. With a TON of help, from D & T and my dear friend Jeanne and all the amazing guides, along with the blessing of my neurologist, a neck and back brace and a ton of pain meds, I headed off with camera in tow for my favorite place on the planet (Kenya) to capture some images. I had no idea then that my world was about to be transformed in ways I couldn’t yet fathom through the power of photography. That trip and those images began a process of healing, of making images that helped create a bridge for me in ways I’m still trying to articulate. Through the camera lens my world opened back up and my life took a path I hadn’t quite expected, but for which I’m forever and deeply grateful! The abilities and person that I was before the accident that were “lost” because of it, have been transformed into a vocation and creative outlet, a tool for communicating and sharing with the world that I now whole-heartedly and passionately embrace.

Through “rediscovering” photography, I have found my true and authentic voice. The opportunity to travel and share my images is such an incredible gift, and it has become a way to continue to honor my late stepdad’s life’s work in conservation in my own way as well. I’m forever grateful to Dan for helping to give me the foundation and tools for manifesting my creative vision through my photographic images these past 8 years (and to Tanya for continuing to create amazing photographic opportunities to be inspired around the world!).

What type of camera do you shoot with?

I shoot with both Nikon and Panasonic micro 4/3.

What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?

I really love ALL animals, especially baby mammals!!! I’m especially enamored with big cats and African wildlife, bears, and dogs (domestic and wild).

I’ve loved animals my entire life and dogs have always been a part of it so that’s a natural subject for me. I’m a professional pet photographer now, as well.

The labs: Pearlie, Ursa, Etta, Tali, Flint, Tootie, and Totem. Is anyone else wondering how she got all of them to look at the camera at the same time?!?

In second grade I did a book report on Jane Goodall and she immediately became my absolute hero!!! From then on I had dreams of and a passion for ALL things Africa!

As for bears, there’s just a deep sense of spiritual connection there that’s hard to put into words. To be in such close proximity to these magnificent and powerful beings is truly humbling and to have the opportunity to capture intimate glimpses and detailed portraits of them is something that I can’t imagine ever being anything but exciting for me! Capturing birds in flight is also a favorite subject!!

Where is your favorite location for photography?

Africa for sure, and most especially Kenya! In the US, it would have to be Alaska.

Christine Crosby brown bear image

Alaskan brown bear by Christine Crosby

Who are some of your favorite photographers/influencers, past or present?

Having a mom who was a fine artist and a dad and stepdad interested in photography, I was exposed to a wide range of influences throughout my growing up. When I was younger, I was really into the black and white images of Ansel Adams, Dorthea Lange, Eisenstaedt, Maplethorpe . . . I loved their command of light, though I probably couldn’t articulate that specifically at the time. I was just really drawn to their images.

Contemporary photographers that I admire are obviously Daniel J. Cox, as well as Kaylee Greer, Charlotte Reeves, Elena Shumilova, Mike Putnam, Aaron Baggenstos, Sam Haddix, David Yarrow, Seth Casteel, Scott Robert Lim, among others.

What makes a photograph interesting to you?

Use of light, negative space, richness of texture and patterns, vibrancy of colors, telling a story, strong composition, most importantly for me … evoking emotion.

What is the most challenging aspect of taking a good photograph?

Putting all the technical, compositional and emotive elements together thoughtfully and skillfully in that one fleeting moment in time

Aside from your recent publication in NANPA’s 2017 Expressions magazine, what other publications/recognition have you received for your photographs?

NANPA 2016 Expressions magazine, Nature’s Best/Yellowstone Forever Top 100, various Awards of Merit and Top Ten recognitions in juried photography contests.

Christine Crosby Mara Image

Christine’s image taken in the Mara is in the Top 250 in 2017 NANPA’s Expressions.

Any subject/place you would like to photograph that you have not had a chance to yet?

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda, orangutans in Borneo, wolves, snowy owls, lemurs in Madagascar, wild chimpanzees, pumas in Patagonia, tigers, African wild dogs (I’ve seen a few but would LOVE to spend more time with them!)

A special thanks to Christine for taking part in this blog interview. It’s always fun to learn more about and hear the successes of a fellow Explorer 🙂 For more on photography, art, dogs, and jewelry, visit Christine’s profile on the NE Explorer page and her personal website, Sunlight Inspirations.

Jeanne, Tanya, Christine, Lynn, and Dorothy arrive at the brown bear lodge.Guide Oliver holds Christine's silver salmon catch. AlaskaChristine, Dan, and NE guests photographing on 2013 Patagonia NE photo tour.Paul and Christine dining in Patagonia.Paul and Christine photographing in Patagonia.Christine in Patagonia.Christine sports a penguin hat in Patagonia.Christine and Paul in Patagonia.Christine meets a llama outside of Cusco, Peru.Jeanne, Christine, and Tanya at Machu Picchu.Jeanne and Christine enjoy a ramen lunch in Japan.Freddy, Tanya, Lisa, Ann, and Christine get set for the boat ride to the flotel. Pantanal. BrazilCathy, Jane, Christine, and Rob having dinner on the flotel. Pantanal, BrazilChristine in shooting position. Pantanal, BrazilThe zipline adventure crew in Costa Rica.Christine and JoAnne in Svalbard, Norway.Jim, Bonnie, Lynne, and Christine on the ship deck. Svalbard, NorwayChristine, Joel, Carol, Joe, and Brian on a forest hike in Alaska.Christine displays her prize from the Alaska hat party.Paul, Christine, and JoAnne enjoy breakfast in Nairobi.Christine and Paul at a roadside waterfall. Isle of Mann, ScotlandJoAnne, Christine, Lisa, and Lynn in Katmai National Park, Alaska.Christine with her mom Marjorie in Kenya.Christine and Henry. Kenya
Christine's puppy

Couldn’t resist adding this little cutie—who doesn’t love puppies?

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Be Careful Lumix Lens Firmware Updates On Olympus Bodies http://naturalexposures.com/careful-lumix-lens-firmware-updates-olympus-bodies/ http://naturalexposures.com/careful-lumix-lens-firmware-updates-olympus-bodies/#comments Wed, 10 May 2017 14:00:46 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=22127 Read More »

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One of the many benefits we have shooting the Micro Four Thirds system is the ability to mix and match our lenses with either Lumix or Olympus camera bodies. That can be a convenient option but unfortunately it has a downside.

Both Olympus and Panasonic have been very active at keeping their respective camera and lenses updated with improved software and firmware. That’s a huge plus since we all get new features that at one time would have required the user to buy an entirely new camera. But the danger of getting those firmware updates installed, when it’s an Olympus body to Lumix lens, is what this post is all about.

Here I’m using the Lumix GH4 with the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens, a Panasonic Lumix body with an Olympus lens. At one time, before Lumix had long, professional telephotos and zooms, I used the 40-150mm a great deal. Today, due to the Leica 100-400mm, I’ve not used Olympus lens much.

Panasonic’s firmware update process allows us to download the newest firmware updates directly to our computers. Once we download the file, we can then place that file on the SD card which we then insert into the camera and install with the menu update process. Doing it this way allows the file to be downloaded in full before we install it into our cameras or lenses. The video below was shot using the Lumix GH4 with the Olympus 40-150mm zoom.

Olympus has a different process which requires your camera be connected to your computer via a USB cable. The file is then downloaded from the Internet and imported directly into the camera, as it’s being downloaded from the Internet. Unfortunately, this can be very dangerous, since, if the Internet connection stops, for even a split second, which we’ve all experienced, the downloaded file can become corrupt or create corruption.

There are numerous posts across the web of photographers having their connection die while downloading a firmware update for Olympus. Several photographers that experienced this issue find that often their camera or lenses are damaged to the point of needing repair. The reason for this post was an email I recently received from an Olympus user that experienced firsthand this frustrating issue. I’ve copied his email below:

Hello Daniel, I found your email in the Blog regarding Panasonic lens firmware. I need some help. I own OM1 Mark II with Panasonic lens 12-35. I upgraded the firmware on the Oly with the lens. At the end, the camera is working fine, however, the lens doesn’t work. I tried it on different camera but the lens doesn’t work. Black display black viewfinderAny suggestion?

Sincerely
Alik Kornecki/Canada 

I emailed one of my contacts at Panasonic, the US Lumix head engineer, to see if there was anything we could offer. Unfortunately,  the response was basically the lens will need to be repaired. Here is the exact quote, “Oly updates firmware via an Internet connection. During that process, if the Internet connection is lost or interrupted, the update will not be installed correctly. It “bricks” the lens – the memory board in the lens usually needs to be replaced.”

So the moral of this story is be very careful when updating a Lumix lens via the Olympus camera body updater process. There are many great reasons to shoot all or mostly all Panasonic lenses and bodies. The difference in how each camera company issues their firmware updates might just be enough to make you choose one brand over the other. Obviously, you would have to decide how important this difference is. I love the fact we can mix and match cameras and lenses but nothing is ever perfect. Just an FYI.

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Panasonic Lumix – Why I Love This Company http://naturalexposures.com/panasonic-lumix-read-love-company/ http://naturalexposures.com/panasonic-lumix-read-love-company/#comments Tue, 09 May 2017 13:41:32 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=22068 Read More »

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Panasonic is one hell of a company that deserves our support. Ever since trying their first Micro Four Thirds camera back in 2008 I’ve been impressed by the technology they produce and offer at such incredibly affordable prices. It’s never easy to displace or take market share from companies that have been in the game for half a century or more. That’s why I talk loud and often about people and companies I truly believe in. Examples of that include Drobo, Mylio, Seagate and most importantly Panasonic’s Lumix brand.

A meeting at my office in Bozeman with the executives from Panasonic where they first showed me the new 100-400mm zoom.

For tremendous insight into where Panasonic is headed and how they plan to get there, you should read the current article on DPReview where they interviewed Director of Panasonic’s imaging business, Yosuke Yamane. Make sure you read all the way through to the end where this humble executive gives credit to his team and the folks who love his products. His unassuming attitude is very much what I’ve experienced working with this great company. Attitude is everything and a huge part of why I joined their team. Admittedly, Lumix is not yet a household name, but I’m convinced that day is fast approaching.

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Apple’s iWork Software Now FREE http://naturalexposures.com/apples-iwork-software-now-free/ http://naturalexposures.com/apples-iwork-software-now-free/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:00:41 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21849 Read More »

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Apple announced today that it’s now offering its iWork productivity software to all Mac users for Free. Prior to the blanket free program, some Mac users were required to pay a nominal fee, but now all Mac users have access to my favorite programs at no cost.

Apple executive Phil Shiller talks about iWorks.

I switched over to Apple back in 2003-2004, and like most computer users I too used MS-Office. When I went to Mac I also bought the MS-Office suite for Mac. Over time I began experimenting with Apple’s Pages, and it wasn’t long before I thought, “What in the heck am I paying MS for Office/Word when Pages is so good?” Within six months of switching to Mac I had made the move completely over to all iWork software that includes Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (presentations) and I’ve never looked back. Yes, there are times some people I work with need an MS-Word document and when they do I simply Export my Pages doc in Word format. The window for doing so looks like the screenshot below after clicking on File>Export to>Word.

As you can see above, there are numerous options, Word being one of them. I’ve never had anyone not be able to open the exact document in their Word software and see just what I had written. Once in a great while there might be a font that doesn’t translate over, but it’s never a big deal.

Two other pieces of software that have also gone to free are Garage Band and iMovie. All amazing programs and now completely free to all Mac users. Nice job Apple.

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Lumix Releases the New Leica 8-18mm Super Wide Zoom http://naturalexposures.com/lumix-releases-new-leica-8-18mm-super-wide-zoom/ http://naturalexposures.com/lumix-releases-new-leica-8-18mm-super-wide-zoom/#comments Wed, 19 Apr 2017 04:36:36 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21846 Read More »

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A few months back Panasonic announced the intention of bringing us three new lenses, the 12-60mm Leica, the 8-18mm Leica, and the 50-200mm Leica. The 12-60mm was released with the new GH5, and today Panasonic announced the ability to preorder the 8-18mm.

Photo courtesy of ePhotozine. Thank you for being at the show. Click on the image to be take to the ePhotozine site for more Lumix info.

It doesn’t have Optical Image Stabilization, but I don’t see that as a problem with the superb in-camera IS we now have in the G85 and GH5 bodies. Its front element is 67mm and has threads for screw-in filters which will be a huge bonus for landscape folks. The size and weight are going to be another major benefit, especially compared to what I used to shoot, the Nikkor 14-24mm F/2.8, that I loved, but almost never carried due to its size and weight. Below are additional details on specs.

The new Leica 8-18mm F/2.8-4 zoom lens. Can’t wait to get one.

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

Micro Four Thirds System
16-36mm (35mm Equivalent)
Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
One Aspherical ED and One UHR Element
Three Aspherical and Two ED Elements
Nano Surface Coating
Splash, Dust, and Freezeproof Design
Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

I had a chance to briefly hold and feel this lens this past February at our annual Lumix meeting. It has the fit and finishes all Leica/Lumix lenses are now known for.  Lumix is really hitting their stride in producing stunning optics, and I predict this one will be no different. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one and will report back after having the chance to shoot it.

The next one on the list that I’m really excited to see is the coming 50-200mm F/2.8-4. This will give us a traditional 100-400mm equivalent reach with an F/stop of F2.8 for goodness sake. If they can give us the optical quality of my past Nikkor with this new lens I will be off the chart with enthusiasm for this lens. Can’t wait to see it.

If you want one yourself you may want to give your business to one of my favorite camera shops, Bozeman Camera in my hometown. You can call either Marshal or Tanner at (406) 586-8300 or email them at bozemancamera@gmail.com.

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Imaging Resource Confirms Lumix G85 Huge Bang for the Buck http://naturalexposures.com/imaging-resource-confirms-lumix-g85-huge-bang-buck/ http://naturalexposures.com/imaging-resource-confirms-lumix-g85-huge-bang-buck/#comments Fri, 14 Apr 2017 17:35:17 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21818 Read More »

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Imaging Resource Confirms Lumix G85 Huge Bang for the Buck

I wrote a post a few weeks back about how impressed I was with the Lumix G85. You can read it here at Panasonic LUMIX G85 Shooting Experience Huge Bang For The Buck. There were a fair number of naysayers, which were part of five pages of responses, over on the DPReview MFT forum which is unfortunately typical. But Imaging Resource just posted their review of the G85, and they seem to agree with my thoughts about this camera giving you a lot of value and technology for the money.

The Lumix G85 with 12mm-60mm kit lens has been under the radar since its release. That’s starting to change.

For those looking for a great camera in an affordable, lightweight, weather-sealed, and easy to use package, this may be the camera for you. I know I love the two I have.

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Apple Recommits To High-end Pro Users http://naturalexposures.com/apple-recommits-to-high-end-pro-users/ http://naturalexposures.com/apple-recommits-to-high-end-pro-users/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 22:26:13 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21804 Read More »

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Apple Recommits To High-End Pro Users

It’s no secret to the high-end graphics, video, and still photography users of Apple products, that Apple has been seriously letting us down the past 3-5 years. It was only yesterday that Apple finally opened their corporate heart and made an important announcement: they’re in the process of RECOMMITTING to the professional, hardcore Mac user.

Working on my original MacBook Pro, the 17-inch version, from my tent in Botswana. It’s been all Apple since 2004.

Gloriosky! Steve Jobs sends a bolt from the blue and convinces the current Apple execs that the power user is a big part of why Apple is where they are today. Sure, virtually everyone knows that Apple makes most of its money on the iPhone and iPad, but there would be neither without the support and fanaticism of the power user.

apple watch, USB-C USB connector, Apple,

Tanya records my Apple stash. One Apple watch and two USB-C to USB connectors.

I purchased the newly designed Mac Pro, also known as the “Trash Can,” almost three years ago, shortly after it was announced. It’s worked well for me. It’s small and compact with lots of Thunderbolt and USB ports. But it’s been over three years and there have been virtually no improvements to the Mac Pro line since the day I bought mine. The pro community who have depended on large, fast, and powerful desktops have been screaming about the lack of updates and the inability to upgrade their Mac Pros. The message has finally hit home with Apple, and yesterday there were dozens of Blog posts heralding “Apple’s Mac Pro Mea Culpa.

Apple’s Mac Pro Mea Culpa

For Apple to come out and admit they screwed up and more importantly, being in the process of fixing the problems they created, is a HUGE and important change of policy. Having the guts to do this is influential on its own but is also a powerful way to gain customer loyalty and support. For almost all of Apple’s existence, they’ve been ultra secretive about future plans. That’s great for keeping the competition guessing but terrible for customers, especially those who depend on the power of Apple desktops. Interesting factoid: Apple’s Mac Pro represents a “single-digit percent” which was announced in an interview with Daring Fireball that included Apple execs Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi. Most authorities on Apple figure that “single-digit percent” is at the lower end and probably no more than 1% of Apple’s sales.

When I read about the changes underway for a new Mac Pro, new iMac Pro, and updated external monitors, I was elated. And that elation turned into sales for Apple. It’s that connection that’s the main reason for writing this post. I want it on record, for all Apple execs to see, their decision to recommit to the power user made me go out and buy Apple products.

Apple Watch Impulse Purchase

I’m writing this from a friend’s house in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a town big enough to have an Apple store. Since buying the new MacBook Pro with all USB-C ports, I ‘ve needed a couple of the USB-C to USB connectors for some of my older external hard drives. I’ve also been thinking about an Apple Watch, exclusively for its health benefits. I’ve had two Fitbits that have been less than useless. When I walked into the Apple store today, I was so pumped to be in the Apple environment, thinking about the recent Apple Mac announcements and able to buy exactly what I needed right off the shelf, that I purchased the connectors AND the Apple Watch. I had no intentions of buying the watch. But I couldn’t help myself. I was so excited about Apple again.

And that’s how inspirational sales work. Apple, announcing these new plans to a person who was unsure of their commitment to the future, influenced purchases I had no intention of making. Add to that, heralding my enthusiasm to others who may also be equally inspired.

Yesterday’s announcement and recommitment to the power user is a massive step forward for Apple and I’m extremely grateful. Thank you, Apple, for your recommitment to Pro users and your change of heart in honest and truthful transparency. I once again have immense confidence in the future of your company.

Blog posts discussing the enthusiasm for Apple’s newfound openness and interest in pro users.

Daring Fireball-The Mac Pro Lives

Mashable-The Mac Pro is getting a major do-over

Final Cut Pro Radio Episode 37-Apple Preannounces new Mac Pro

Tech Crunch-Apple Pushes Reset Button on Mac Pro

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Finally Still Photographers Sharing GH5 Photos http://naturalexposures.com/still-photographers-sharing-lumix-gh5-photos/ http://naturalexposures.com/still-photographers-sharing-lumix-gh5-photos/#comments Sun, 02 Apr 2017 12:00:00 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21797 Read More »

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Still Photographers Are Sharing Lumix GH5 Photos

Finally, still photographers are sharing LUMIX GH5 photos. We’re finally seeing this camera is much more than just a video machine. One of the misnomers about Panasonic cameras is they’re mostly video production tools. As far as I’m concerned, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m excited that still photographs, from the Lumix GH5, are starting to appear. People can finally see the incredibly professional results this camera is capable of, FOR STILL PHOTOGRAPHERS!

Lumix GH5 High ISO, 1250 ISO, Finally Still Photographers Are Sharing GH5 Photos

Lumix colleague and professional still photographer Mark Toal shot this image with the GH5 at 1250 ISO. You cane see more of Mark’s great work on his blog at mirrorlessphototips.com

Make sure you visit mirrorlessphototips.com to see lots of great tips. Don’t miss Mark’s video showing you how to build a very inexpensive and super tasty “pancake lens”. 😝 Think yummy and quite creative. Thanks for this great post on shooting the GH5 at the higher ISO’s Mark.

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The Lumix Diaries: Macro Made Easy http://naturalexposures.com/lumix-diaries-macro-made-easy/ http://naturalexposures.com/lumix-diaries-macro-made-easy/#comments Fri, 31 Mar 2017 22:18:44 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21789 Read More »

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There’s been a great deal of interest lately in a macro image I posted to Facebook. The picture was a close up of a beautiful orchid showing its soft pastel colors and elegant form. The technique is quite simple and easy to replicate with minimal equipment. The key to doing this right is the proper gear and positioning flash.

The soft pastel colors of an orchid shot with Lumix G85, 45mm Leica macro, and off-camera FL360 flash.

The main gear you will need is:

  • Camera body ( I used the Lumix G85)
  • Macro lens ( I used the 45mm Leica/Lumix)
  • Off-camera wireless flash (I used the Lumix FL360)
  • Flash diffuser (I used the Lumiquest pocket bouncer)

Let’s talk about setting up the camera. Many of you who travel with me know I’m a huge fan of the P Mode. P for professional I like to say. Kind of a joke but kind of not if you read more about why I’ve used Program since Nikon invented Flexible Program back in the mid 90’s. But to macro work, I switch the camera to Manual which allows me to choose a specific shutter speed and aperture, independent of each other. The flash stays in TTL which adjusts the light output for either a smaller or larger aperture on the lens, depending on how much depth of field I want.

A close up of the inside of an orchid flower. Costa Rica

Generally, I start out with about 125th of a second shutter speed and about F/8 on the Leica 45mm F/2.8 lens. You can go for even better depth of field by shooting at F/16 or F/22, but you will start to notice some minor sharpness issues do to lens diffraction. I will also often start with about 400 ISO and may go as high as 640 to 1000 depending on if I want to shoot at the smaller apertures.

Dan with Lumix macro setup. Costa Rica

Next most important item of gear is the wireless flash. You can use a flash that has a cord on it, but it’s so much less convenient and easy to work with. However, the technique I will explain for the wireless flash would work just fine with a flash attached by a cord. It’s just more difficult to move around with and also creates one more thing to snag or catch a beautiful orchid and break it from its stem. When working around animals and some plants I always feel less gear is better. Just one more reason why I love this setup that I’m using for macro photos.

Please forgive my poor drawing abilities but this little diagram is the best way to show how I setup the wireless flash for the photos in this Blog. My favorite way to light an orchid is from directly behind the flower.

Next item on the list is getting your wireless or corded flash set up for soft light. I do that by attaching either a Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer or the Rogue Large Diffusion Panel. Both items need a velcro strap that goes around the flash head that the panel or the bouncer will attach to. The Pocket Bouncer link above is to a kit that includes both the bouncer and the velcro strap. You can buy the strap separately, which is called the Lumiquest Ultra Strap, if you want this strap to use with the Rogue Diffusion Panel. The goal is to get something on the flash the soft light devices can hook onto.

Two of our Natural Exposures Explorers working in a greenhouse filled with flowers in Costa Rica.

Finally, we have to talk about the on-camera flash, which is what is used to fire the wireless Lumix FL360 flash when it’s being used off camera. Having a camera with a flash built in is a great benefit for this macro photography setup. The benefit of a built-in flash is why even when I was shooting the Nikon system I would always shoot Macro with a second tier, a so-called non-professional Nikon body, something like a D300 or D7000. Nikon always liked to tell those of us who wanted an on-camera flash on the pro bodies, “You don’t need one. Pros don’t want flashes built into the cameras.” I couldn’t disagree more. Lack of a built-in flash was part of the reason I only ever had one of the Nikon “pro bodies” while I had several of the second tier bodies. Thankfully, most of the Lumix cameras have a built-in flash, with the glaring exception of the new Lumix GH5 which does not have a built-in flash. Because of that the Lumix G85 will be my new go-to camera for macro photography.

OK so now that you understand why we want off-camera flash let’s talk about how to set up the Lumix wireless system. I created a short video to explain it in more detail.

So that’s about it. Macro photography is a lot of fun and not nearly has difficult as some people think. Wireless or even wired off-camera flash can make all the difference in getting quality images.

 

 

 

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Lumix GH5 Discussion From The Folks at B&H Photo http://naturalexposures.com/lumix-gh5-discussion-folks-bh-photo/ http://naturalexposures.com/lumix-gh5-discussion-folks-bh-photo/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 20:44:28 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21783 Read More »

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For those who missed the Lumix GH5 discussion at B&H Photo and video I thought you might like to see it for yourself here. So I’ve added it to the Blog.

There are some great new insights but I have to say I was disappointed the talk was mainly from the view of video professionals. That said, it’s still worth a watch. And by the way, I just recieved my GH5 and will be starting to put it through some tests.

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Fake News Hits Panasonic’s Lumix Brand http://naturalexposures.com/fake-news-hits-panasonics-lumix-brand/ http://naturalexposures.com/fake-news-hits-panasonics-lumix-brand/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 02:33:47 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21770 Read More »

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Good grief. Fake News helped elect Donald Trump and now it’s announcing the death of my favorite camera company. A recent story by the Japanese news Nikkei Asian News suggested Panasonic was restructuring and getting out of the camera business. The President of Panasonic suggested they need new profit drivers if Panasonic hopes to double operating profit within two years. Much of the interview was obviously taken out of context, which I was suspicious of from the start since I was told, just last month at a Lumix sales meeting, that Lumix was up by 20% in sales last year. Seems 20% should qualify as a new “profit driver.”

Anyway, Pansonic’s PR department got moving and shared the following “Official Response” below:

“We are clearly dedicated to the imaging business and that will not change.  In fact, the camera and video businesses are strong and we continue to invest and the recent success of the Lumix GH5, further supports our organization’s continued focus on developing innovative imaging technology.”

There’s a great take on this story from the folks at EOSHD at Panasonic: We will accelerate the LUMIX project under new structure.

OK, so that should put an end to this Fake News story and we can move ahead with delivery of GH5’s to US dealers this week. I’m going to have mine in my hands tomorrow if all goes well with UPS. Stay tuned.

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Firmware Updates for 100-400mm http://naturalexposures.com/firmware-updates-100-400mm/ http://naturalexposures.com/firmware-updates-100-400mm/#comments Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:09:41 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21757 Read More »

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In today’s world of fast moving technology, Panasonic is making sure our gear keeps pace. To that end, I have a new firmware update to announce for the Leica 100-400mm zoom.

Lumix Leica 100-400mm Firmware Update Instructions

Panasonic recently released a new firmware update for the Leica 100-400mm zoom. The main upgrade is additional Dual IS capabilities. I’m being told it gives another one full stop of stabilization when using the G85 and the soon to be released GH5. Absolutely amazing in my opinion.

My Panasonic colleague and engineer Robert Kozlarek helped me with the information below on a streamlined firmware update process. Here is the current information.

Updating the Leica 100-400mm firmware

1. Go to www.panasonic.com. Click on the Search window in the top right corner of the page that says “Enter Model, category or keyword.”
2. Enter 100-400mm which will show a photo of the lens. Select this option by clicking on the text below the image which will then connect you to the product page.
3. On the 100-400mm product page, scroll down until you see “Firmware and Drivers” on the left side of the page.  It looks like the image below.

If you want to go directly to the 100-400mm download page you can click this link.

4. You will be taken to the latest version which also provides a link to a page with “Download and Install” instructions. Make sure you check the box “Agree to Terms.”

The download will start and it is put in whatever folder you have chosen on the PC. On the Mac, it automatically goes in the Download folder unless you’ve changed the default location.

1) Preparation before attempting the update

A. Make sure the camera’s battery is completely charged. If the battery is not completely charged
the firmware update will not begin. Format the SD memory card in the camera, and then take a
couple of pictures.
B. Turn off the camera.

2) Copying the firmware to your memory card

A. Download the latest firmware update for your model by clicking on the “Download Ver. X.X ” link to a location on your computer (we recommend the desktop).
B. If your computer has a media reader, insert your formatted SD Card from your camera.
C. For PC users, locate your SD Card by clicking on, or opening the “My Computer” or
“Computer” on your desktop or your Start menu. For Mac users, you can use “Finder” if the card does not mount to your desktop.
D. Open the zipped firmware file that you downloaded to the desktop.
E. Drag to copy and paste the .bin file from the opened firmware folder to the SD Card showing in the “My Computer” window for PC users and “Finder” or “Drive” for Mac users. This will copy the file to the card.
F. If you chose to leave the SD Card in your camera rather than inserting it into the computer (step B), connect the camera to the PC with the USB cable. Turn the camera on and set it to “Playback” mode. Then select “PC” on the LCD screen. Drag the .bin file from the opened firmware folder to the device that either says Panasonic or mass storage to complete the transfer.
G. SDXC cards 32GB or larger require special card readers. Depending on your PC and the age of its operating system, you may not be able to directly write to such large cards. If your PC asks
you to format the card, DO NOT—this is one indication that your system is not compatible with
the newer, larger memory cards. In this case, a 16GB or smaller card should be used.

3) Updating the camera’s firmware

A. Turn the camera off, insert the SD Card if you copied the firmware to the card while inserted into the computer.
B. Turn the camera power on and press the “Playback” button. The Camera’s LCD screen should
now be showing a screen asking if you desire to update the firmware. Highlight “Yes” and
press the “Menu/Set” button.
C. When the camera has completed the firmware update it will turn itself off and then back on.
D. This completes the update process.

4) Confirming the update

A. Turn the camera power back on.
B. Set to “Playback” mode.
C. Choose the “Setup” menu.
D. Select Version Disp.

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Wild Planet Photo Magazine Features Dave and Shiela Glatz http://naturalexposures.com/wild-planet-photo-magazine-features-dave-and-shiela/ http://naturalexposures.com/wild-planet-photo-magazine-features-dave-and-shiela/#comments Thu, 09 Mar 2017 22:13:03 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21644 Read More »

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Thousands upon thousands (and possibly even millions!) of images have been taken throughout the years by Explorers who travel on our Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours, and we’re always interested in ways Explorers are using these images.

Do you share your precious photographs with friends and family? Or maybe just keep them on hand to rekindle good memories and the unforgettable adventures you’ve had? Have you made prints to display as artwork on the walls of your home? We’re sure most can answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, and these are all wonderful, legitimate uses for your photographs.

But then there are a few who take it to the next level—eager to share their work with a larger audience—leaping into the world of serious publication. This is no easy task, especially nowadays with everyone and their dog snapping photos in an instant from their smart phone; there is a lot more competition out there. Thankfully most serious publications strive for quality versus quantity in the hopes of telling their story and evoking emotion from the viewer.

Well, it just so happens that two of our very own longtime, favorite Explorers recently experienced a great accomplishment in the realm of serious publication. Many of you know/have had the pleasure of traveling with Dave and Shiela Glatz, a fun couple hailing from Chicago.

Dave and Shiela are all smiles on the 2013 Kenya Photography Tour.

We received an email from Dave and Shiela a few weeks ago with an announcement that they were being published in the February 2017 issue of Wild Planet Photo MagazineWild Planet Photo Magazine is a monthly online publication with over 256,000 visitors in more than 190 countries, making them a true international wildlife photography magazine in the digital era. And this magazine contains excellent wildlife photography—they’re not taking work from any “Joe Schmoe.”

Dave and Shiela were selected for “Presenting…,” a unique column highlighting the outstanding work of wildlife photographers from around the world. We’re extremely proud of Dave and Shiela for this impressive achievement and excited they continue to take their photography to new levels. We’re very happy to be able to share their success story with you here on the Blog, so without further ado, here is the February Wild Planet Photo Magazine’s “Presenting…” article featuring their beautiful photographs and insightful interview. Be sure to read about their favorite photography locations, inspirations, advice, and camera gear.

The first page of “Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Great gray owl in flight.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Portrait of a male lion.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Cheetah pair.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Bison in Yellowstone.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz photo featured in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Polar bear.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Black bear cub climbing tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Alaskan brown bear.

“Presenting…” David and Shiela Glatz in Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Alaskan brown bears.

Download the full “Presenting…” article by visiting Wild Planet Photo Magazine online. It is free for members, or you can purchase the full issue or download a free partial edition of the issue. We also encourage you to view more of Dave and Shiela’s work on their Natural Exposures Explorer profile.

Surely we can all agree that if you’re traveling the globe to capture that special moment, you probably have a strong passion for photography and understand the impact it has in our world, regardless of the final output of your images. But it’s always nice to hear when our Explorers have gone the extra mile! Keep up the fabulous work Dave and Shiela! And thank you for being a part of the NE family and an inspiration to us all 🙂

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Sorry for Delay on Questions for Dan http://naturalexposures.com/sorry-delay-questions-dan/ http://naturalexposures.com/sorry-delay-questions-dan/#comments Sat, 04 Mar 2017 11:09:48 +0000 http://naturalexposures.com/?p=21637 Read More »

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I just want to let all you folks who have been gracious enough to send in Questions for Dan to know that I’ve not forgotten you. My issue is lack of time. I’m currently in Svalbard, Norway for the Arctic Documentary Project and just haven’t had the time to get to all your questions. I promise you, I will get them answered but it may be 2-3 more weeks. Thanks for your patience and interest in our Blog. Below is a daily video snippet from my work on the Arctic Documentary Project for Polar Bears International.

 

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