Testing Landscapes with the Nikon Coolpix P900

I’ve been testing the capabilities of the Nikon Coolpix P900. So far the pictures are not looking too bad. I’ve had to send the one back that I had to see if I can find a factory brand-new copy. Anyways, it’s an impressive little camera with a mini-16 megapixel sensor. Having the world record long reach that it possesses at 2,000mm, there is nothing else to compete with it on the market. I highly recommend it as a superzoom. Heres a couple more test shots:

two of three of these images were shot on the long end at 357mm (2,000mm 35mm-film equivalent) to show that it is plenty sharp long end. The camera only produces jpegs with no raw capability and with rumors successor to this camera that can zoom to 3,000mm – I’m kind of disappointed they haven’t come out with it yet, because I would probably spring for it instead. I think I’ll be sticking with the P900 just for the reach alone for a few years.

Rural Decay Along Route 66

The shot below is of a hotel in #Holbrook, Arizona, where rooms are caricatured teepees that  guests spend the night. This is an old hotel, run-down, and along old Route 66 in #Arizonaland.

I’ve often been asked; where is the best place to find Rural Decay in the American Southwest? My answer would most certainly be to go visit New Mexico.  I dub the state, The Rural Decay Capital of the Southwest. Of course, my all-time favorite places to photograph with historical charm is along any stretch of #Route66. Most of the highway is gone now and wherever you can find a patch of it anywhere along the historical route you will certainly find old abandoned buildings, homes, gas stations, restaurants, automotive repair shops, etc. Whenever you can find any remaining stretches of the highway that are still in-tact, this is where you will locate hidden treasures along the roadside!

Route-66 was known as the Mother of All Highways, and the trail that inspired John Steinbeck’s masterpiece; the #GrapesofWrath. After all these years I have spent photographing it, there is strong spiritual and emotional attachment that I have developed to this beautiful highway. Many a time, I have stepped into the past and remembered these simpler times in American History and the charm of the 1950s.

The photograph above is of Route 66 as it snakes through the frying pan of the blistering #MojaveDesert just shy south of the tourist trap of #Oatman, #Arizona (where donkeys still roam the streets) which seems to have a long-held tradition of inviting tourists feed oats to the donkeys.  It’s on the way to Lake Havasu! If you have never been, I highly recommend paying Oatman a visit! My grandparents once witnessed the unique views, the beautiful vistas, and these bygone little towns. It’s a beautiful experience, walking in their shoes, or should we say driving down their old road?

Photoblogs.org Is Returning! – Help Us Build It!

Photoblogs.org is Returning

For veteran photographers like me, Talking Tree, we started out posting photographs through a photoblog between the years of 2004-2010 and then came Instagram. Since corporations have started clamping down on organic social reach – people like myself are returning back to our roots and this comes as GREAT NEWS!!!

Some of you caught hints of this already! – This is Brandon Stone’s official announcement:

He’s bringing back Photoblogs.org! Brandon had this to say:

I need your help. This is a big deal for me. It affects my livelihood and the decisions I’ll be making for my future. I rarely ask anyone for anything, but I am right now. If you have ever wanted to see photoblogs succeed, now is the time to help. I’m ready to build something cool and I’m looking for your support. I can’t do this without you.

We had such an amazing community of photobloggers back in the day and I would like to see if we can make something new that can at least capture some of what once was.

I have a lot of ideas for how to make independent photoblogging as easy and simple as Instagram and this is just the first step toward that greater goal.

Thanks to all of you for being my friends over the years. You are all such a great group of people. Here’s the fund drive link again. Any amount will help and if you could spread the word, that would definitely be appreciated. Thanks again!

Here’s the link to the fund drive page: photoblogs.org/fund-drive

Also, if any of you are on Twitter, it would be really helpful if you could RT this: twitter.com/LBStone/status/789136814955257856

The Latest-Greatest Cameras Will Not Make You a Better Photographer

I love hearing about photo junkies spending thousands of dollars on the greatest and latest cameras knowing for a fact that having the latest-greatest fancy-pants camera will STILL NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER. Remember this and save thousands of dollars! That being said, if you are going to invest thousands of dollars spend it on glass (camera lenses) because good glass is still key to higher quality, and not necessarily the newest cameras along with their marketing hype. Cameras depreciate faster than lenses and the latter hold their value longer. I’ve been with Micro Four Thirds for 8 years now. That’s a pretty good track record. Why do I recommend this format? Because it’s dirt cheap, affordable, excellent image quality, and the fact that it works well, being mirror-less technology. In the end, It’s going to be the practice and passion that you put into composing images that will help you grow to become a better photographer. Remember that and avoid the marketing hype. I purchase old discontinued camera bodies at steeply discounted rates and invest the money in glass instead. It’s been a while since I’ve purchased gear and I’m happy with my choices. Practice makes better photos!

Painting Camera Lenses with Rubberized Truck-bed Undercoating

One thing not a lot of people know about me as a photographer is the fact that I paint my camera gear on occasion. It’s mostly cheap lens hoods but also occasionally camera lenses and I do so to make them more tough and durable. Pictured above is the Panasonic Lumix 100-300 and the Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm Nocticron!

I wouldn’t advise this if you are planning on re-selling your gear. However, I’m pretty invested into the Micro Four Thirds format since I sold most my Nikon DSLR gear in 2008 to make this major switch to M/43 and since then, I have never looked back.

The only reservation I had about my mirrorless gear is the fact that some of my lenses felt pretty plasticky including the cheap lens hoods that came with some primes.  After thinking long and hard about it, I felt like things should have some extra protection implemented. So I took the liberty of painting my lenses in rubberized undercoating to toughen them up a bit and it really works like a charm! These two lenses aren’t the first to get this sort of treatment.

One of my favorite lenses to be released by Panasonic was the 42.5mm Nocticron which is built solidlyand I used it on a 14,500 mile photography journey around the Desert Southwest last April and May. What I didn’t like about the Nocticron though was the oversized metal lens hood which seemed to scuff up the outer edge of the Nocticron barrel. I ended up retiring this hood and buying a generic 67mm lenshood that I could screw onto the UV filter up front making it look much more stealthy. I then painted the lens including the outer barrel as you can see above.

Not all paint coatings and rubberized undercoatings are created equal. Some rubberized undercoatings are downright CRAP and you should avoid the cheap brands at the local Autozone or else you run the risk of destroying your lens. I’ve had quite a few years of trying this and experimenting and the best recommendation that I can give is to use Evercoat Automotive Premium Rubberized Undercoating for a real heavy duty job. This is by far the toughest paint for protecting expensive lenses if you want to go down this route and give it a try. This may sound utterly insane, but if I owned the Leica Noctilux, I might be tempted to try this method on one of those!

The end result is this; It will also make cheaper plastic lenses feel much more durable and weather resistant. It seems to help my equipment hold up much better under heavier usage and stay new longer.

All I used was electrical black tape to cover up areas that I didn’t want exposed to rubberized undercoating and it takes about an hour to dry and 24 hours to completely set before the smell starts to fade after the paint job is completed. Sometime I put a second coat on to be extra safe but be careful not to over-do it! I’ve had this undercoating on some of my equipment going on 5 years now and it’s still looking new. I just like it because it makes me feel like I have something nobody else has ever really tried and I thought maybe this would be of interest to you. I’ve had people asking me to post something about this, so here you go.

Emerging from the Sipapu – A Few Thoughts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Solitude is how I dream BIG especially with nobody around; just me in the corners of God’s imagination. This is how I’ve been able to stay strong my whole life was to allow the natural world to heal me and teach me to be self-sufficient in my own happiness. The grandest of mysteries chose me to be a photographer; if only it meant for me to see something more meaningful on deeper levels such as these.

et_highway_nevada