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“The night before I left Las Vegas I walked out in the desert to look at the moon.  There was a jeweled city on the horizon, spires rising in the night, but the jewels were diadems of electric and the spires were the neon of signs ten stories high.”  ~Norman Mailer

We drove back to the Valley of Fire this afternoon to catch the sunset.  We then drove back through the northern edge of Lake Mead and found this amazing spot where the lights from Vegas were just stunning.  We set up the tripod and I attempted to do star trails, but didn’t really succeed.  Not dark enough.  However, I did capture the stars, the moon, and light trails from all the airplanes in the sky over the city.  We were here for over an hour and a half . . . mesmerized.  Only a few cars passed by on the road while we were there.  This shot is my attempt at doing sync flash – something MTM taught us when we shot on the Strip a few nights ago.  Not sure I was 100% successful as it seems the background is out of focus.  The first shot is the original with just a bit of LR4 editing.  

D800e, 70-200mm VRII lens @ 70mm, 2 sec @ f6.3, 800ISO, and SB800 flash mounted on camera set at zero.  

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I ended up not really liking that the background was out of focus, so took it in to LR4 and reworked it . . . adding in the starry moonlit sky from another photo I took just a bit earlier in the evening.  I think I like the reworked version best.

This is my edited/reworked version.

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“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery.  There is always more mystery.”  Anais Nin

I’m falling a bit behind in my 365 . . . so am playing catchup.  I am playing around with focusing on my D800 and the 105mm lens.  It’s not as easy as it might seem!  I managed to get the leaf on the plant in great focus . . . so decided that I’d add a bit of texture (Kim Klassen “tapededge.jpg) to create a bit of mystery . . .   

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“You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.”  William Albert Allard

Well . . . today I got out and started shooting with my new Nikon D800!  Hubby and I went to a local park just around dinner time, that we haven’t been to in years.  It was fun to try out the new lenses on both the D800E and the D7000.  The D7000 is a great camera and will continue to be my go-to for portraits and kid shots.  The files are more manageable considering I take so many pictures of the little ones.  The D800E will be my workhorse for Stock and Fine Art Photography.  I’m so excited after seeing the results from the shoot today . . . some really awesome nature shots that will soon be up on my Smug Mug site.    

This was taken with the D800E, and the 70-200mm 2.8 VRII.

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“If I am through learning, I am through.”  John Wooden

I’ve downloaded this amazing e-book by Thom Hogan.  I browsed the manual that came with my new camera . . . but my goodness – the information presented in the e-book is so thorough, so complete, so overwhelming at times with the technical data he presents . . . but I’m learning so much!  It’s actually quite exciting . . . and I can’t get enough of it!  I still have not really shot anything with the D800E because I want to make sure the settings in-camera are optimal.  But it may take me awhile to absorb all 850 pages of this book!  Somehow I’m sure I’ll find a happy balance . . . 

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“The camera is much more than a recording apparatus. It is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.”  Orson Welles

I truly believe that it isn’t the equipment that makes the artist.  A good photographer will create amazing photos no matter what camera is used.  However . . . I can’t argue the point that the equipment sure makes a difference in the QUALITY of your photograph.  I have been trying to break in to the Stock Photography business for over a year now and have discovered how difficult it is to get a photograph accepted if it is not absolutely tack sharp and clean with no fuzziness at all.  I have lenses that we bought with our old FX (film) cameras.  At the time we switched to digital, we were so excited that we could use our film lenses on our D100 body.  When I got my D7000 in May 2010, I quickly discovered that the old lenses just didn’t quite do the job on this newer technology.  We bought a 50mm 1.8 and a 35mm 1.8.  The 35mm quickly became my go-to lens for just about everything.  Since I was really only doing close up work . . . it was a perfect fit.  Still though, I had issues with lack of clarity, tack sharpness and over all quality when it came to Stock.  An upgrade was the answer.  So . . . we’ve saved our pennies and finally made our purchase today!  Yay!  I now have a new Nikon D800E, 70-200mm 2.8 VRII, 105mm Macro 2.8 VRII, and a 16-35mm 1:4 VR.  For the D7000 we picked up an 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 VR.  We also picked up an ND8 filter.  I am now loaded for bear!!!  

This shot was taken with the D7000, as I hadn’t even taken the D800E out of the box yet . . . and the look on my face??  Holy #$^%!  What do I do now???  Another learning curve . . . 

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