Photography Travel

ANPW in Grand Teton National Park: Day One

Yesterday I arrived in the small Mountain Resort town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I couldn’t help “oohing” and “ahhing” at the spectacular view of the mountains, winding rivers, and the gorgeous colours of the changing leaves as the plane descended over the Grand Tetons.

Scott Bourne was worried that we might miss the the fall colours, but he couldn’t have picked a better week for the Aperture Nature Photography Workshop. The weather is perfect, the colours are spectacular and the wildlife is abundant — in fact just after arriving we saw a huge herd of Bison saunter across the road, munch on some grass, and then cross back over to the same spot they came from. Scott amused us by vocalizing the inner dialogue of a massive, sleepy looking guy. I believe his name was “Wilber”.

Since my arrival,  Scott and I have headed out on a sunset scouting mission at Oxbow Bend and a dawn shoot at Schwabacher landing. I’m not gonna lie. Dawn is freezing and early. Today it was around 25°F (-4°C) and I was way underdressed. Even with three layers I was c-c-c-cold. Scott loaned me a jacket and gave me these little heat packs that I put in my gloves which helped a lot.

After the sun came up, we scouted the Mormon Row barns that are surrounded by tall grass and slender birch trees and framed by the Tetons. Brilliant.

Morman Row Barn black and white

I have to admit, I have never shot any nature this iconic, and it is a bit daunting trying to take a great and unique shot of something that has been photographed a million times. As a beginning nature photographer, my main goal is just to soak up as much knowledge from the pros as possible and try to do these impressive landscapes justice.

Tomorrow the entire group is heading out at dawn to catch the morning bliss. 5:00am start for me :(

*Interesting note: Only one other person, other than myself, who is shooting Canon. Has Canon really dropped the ball? I’m really interested in what you guys are using.

What camera are you shooting with: Nikon or Canon? And why?

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  • Reply
    September 24, 2008 at 11:21 PM

    I shoot Canon; currently the same camera as you. It was a no brainer as I had begun 20 years ago with a Canon EOS 630 and I’m able to continue to use the lens I’ve been using since day 1.

    Which way would I go otherwise? I researched it a bit, and found that the experts say that they are so close that if you have an existing lens then you should do as I did and go with whichever you already have. One thing I noticed in my research, though, was that while at one time Nikkor lens were the pinnacle in glass, it is largely agreed that Nikon’s lens quality has been poor as of late.

  • Reply
    Jauder Ho
    September 25, 2008 at 12:39 AM

    I use a 5D although now the 5D Mark II looks good. Must. Resist. Results are posted on my Flickr page.

    I’ve always been a Canon guy and I think it’s more of just a preference thing rather than sheer technical superiority.

    Gregg, this is not quite true. The Nikon 14-24mm is deadly sharp and Canon does not really have a decent ultra-wide lens that is comparable (see I’m looking forward to trying the Zeiss 21mm when it comes out in EF mount.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 12:50 AM

    I use a Sony alpha 350 with 18-200mm lens and Zeiss FishEye.
    why? cost-performance.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 1:36 AM

    I just bought me a 450D, and already had a powershot 540, I like Canon for it’s great image quality. Not that it’s definitely the way to go since there’s a lot of great camera’s to choose from. I think it’s like Jauder ho says, more of a preference thing. Oh, and that looks like an awesome environment to shoot some great pictures. Or a yeti.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 1:52 AM

    So you don’t want to hear from all the Sony, Panasonic, Olympus or Pentax shooters? :P

    I have a Nikon D300 I bought a few months ago, there was so much time between me deciding which camera I wanted and actaully getting it, I’ve forgotten why I chose it.

    Those are great shots Lisa, looking forward to seeing more.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 1:59 AM

    Canon XT because my girlfriend got it for me. I’d been saying I wanted a Nikon because I had a point and shoot Nikon, but it broke and she didn’t trust Nikon anymore so she got me the Canon. I’m extremely happy with it and glad she got me it.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 2:42 AM

    I’m shooting with an old Olympus C8080 WZ from the end of 2004:
    about the old cam of my:
    It was the so called “bridge” category among the cameras. Now this category is almost gone.

    I’m slowly thinking about to get a new camera, but I don’t want to buzz off. Canon’s image quality is famous because of the CMOS and not CCD technology. But there are other important thin to get in mind (sure the prize too) I think, and this little things coming out just nowadays to the DSLR market. Like:

    – live view (create macros very close to the ground level without it)
    – foldable display (a must in lot of situations – macros, crowded places etc.)
    – size and weight
    – video capturing in good quality (don’t want to get a video camera and a photo camera too)

    just a few things. I’t waiting, the DLR market is now under a big change like:
    video in DSLR
    changable objectives without a mirror:

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 2:44 AM

    None of the above..
    There are other brands as well.. ;)
    I use a Pentax K10D, and I must say I’m very happy with it. I think much of the reason why I chose it, was not to “do as everyone else”. Anyway, Pentax works great for me. And it’s “waterproof” (which means it’s not that big of a deal if it starts to rain while you’re out photographing..) There might not be the same amount of lenses avaliable as for Canon or Nikon, but on the other hand I don’t need all of them.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 4:07 AM

    First, stunning pictures. Next, I shoot with a Canon 40D and I sold my 5D for it. Here’s something to please keep in mind. What the community has not yet digested is that is has very little to do with Megapix’ after, oh, 8 meg or so, unless you are a high fashion, runway, studio photographer, everything and I do mean everything, has to do now with Dynamic Range and the Depth of same. Once photographers understand that you will see a different marketing position from the equipment mfr’s. That being said most cameras today are pretty equal unless you are in need of fps etc., DYNAMIC RANGE. Please keep it in mind. Study the Sensors more then the megapixels.

    Now that barn, get out one night and light paint it. It’s amazing. Also, try to get to a Local Ranch and shoot the cowboys and cowgirls. Try to shoot Main street facing the cowboy bar with a flash BUT on second shutter curtain set when there are cars passing and remember, when on a location like that “Go where others ain’t”
    Be safe and very nice work.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 4:10 AM

    … and what about the Sony Alpha DSLR-s? Anyone got one?

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 5:39 AM

    Canon. My main workhorse is a 5D, and I recently upgraded my backup from a 10D to a 450D (chose that over a 40D to save on size and weight for some of my travels where photography is not the primary goal).

    I chose Canon over Nikon way back in the 90s when film still ruled, and Canon’s USM lenses were way far ahead of Nikon in autofocus speed and accuracy. Back then Nikon’s autofocus still used a mechanical coupling between the body and lens to turn the focus ring. I’ve stuck with Canon since based on the inertia of an existing stockpile of EF glass that I’m not terribly interested in replacing.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Stay warm.

  • Reply
    Scott de Fasselle
    September 25, 2008 at 5:44 AM

    I’m shooting a Nikon D100 and currently drooling over the D90 and D700. I’ve stayed with Nikon because I got started over 10 years ago with a Nikon N90, so I’m able to use all the same lenses.

    The Tetons is one of my favorite parks; I was there a few years ago just as the aspens were yellowing and the moose were starting to rut. Depending on your schedule you should consider heading up to the top of Signal Mountain for sunrise.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 5:57 AM

    I’m shooting with Canon.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 7:47 AM

    I shoot with a canon. And I plan on upgrading to the 5D Mark II. Have you seen Vincent Laforets video that he made with the prototype?

  • Reply
    Aron T
    September 25, 2008 at 7:53 AM

    Nikon: Superior color accuracy, sharpness at lower ISOs, better lenses for the stuff I shoot (ie, not sports).

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 7:59 AM

    I shoot with a Nikon D40. But honestly, it could have easily been a Canon. I just went with the cheapest DSLR I could get and afford; since I’m still learning photography.

    Don’t know what I’m going to get later on, when I’m a bit more advance though. So many great cameras to choose from :)

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 8:36 AM

    I’m shooting Canon – it’s what my friends shot with so I got the Rebel XT… I’m using a 1DMKII right now and LOVE LOVE it (integrated vertical grip-45AF points, great metering.

    I think it could have gone either way for me – but with all the money I have in glass, that’s the advantage I see – I’m fiscally invested in Canon. As tech goes, IF they fall behind, they’ll catch up soon enough – I’m not that impulsive.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 8:45 AM

    Fy first canon was an old film model from 1986 or so. (Canon AE-1 Program) then in High-School/College and photography clubs everbody was using Canon (everything from 1 D Mark II to 350 D), except for some, so I used Pentax and Nikon DSLRs too. I always liked Canon best because you get the best resuts just easier then on the other cameras, and everything just fits. I don’t think they have dropped the ball, that’s just hype. I plan on getting the new 5 D MK II :)

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 9:02 AM

    Aron T: How do Nikons have superior Color accuracy? No way, maybe for colorblind people.

  • Reply
    Fred Hill
    September 25, 2008 at 9:32 AM

    Nikon all the way baby! I have had my body for about 4 years now (old I know). I did just buy a 70-200 f2.8 lens and can’t wait to really put that thing to use this weekend. First fast glass that I have bought. I am on a good glass campaign this year, then next it will be a new camera body!

    Great shots too Lisa! Did you get a Lensbaby while you are there? Try shooting with that. It is crazy fun!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 9:40 AM

    I have used Canon since my Powershot A60. Nikon’s have always been a bit more money and I had a good deal on my EOS 450D. I like my little 450D (though not so little now that i have a battery grip for it).

    Though now I need/want more lenses the kit lens and 75-300mm USM III need more friends! lol

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 9:47 AM

    Minolta Maxxum 5D and I plan to get a Sony A200 or A300 soon. I have access to a selection of Maxxum lenses so I’m sticking with them.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    I shoot Nikon. Currently D300. It could have been Canon just as easily though. I got a good deal on a used D50 a few years ago, and began investing in glass (that at the time dwarfed my little d50) and worked my way up through bodies. I now have a really nice selection of Nikkor glass. I imagine both brands will go neck-and-neck – it’s healthy for the marketplace, so I refuse to argue politics (a week ago we were gloating over the D700, now we’re bowing before the 5DMkII). Besides, I can’t afford to “bourne it” and dump one for another.

    Also, while there are other great brands out there, I don’t think I’d ever switch from Nikon or Canon. My local camera place (Samy’s in Los Angeles) will rent me any lens in either lineup for a very reasonable cost. Next weekend I’ll be shooting the air show at Miramar AFB with a Nikon 400mm f2.8 and a 1.7 TC if I need it. I could never afford to own an $8500 lens, but its great to have it available locally!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM

    I have a Canon XSi and have used Canon since the film days. With the latest Canon releases it seems that Canon marketing is playing the MP game. Canon really should put out more technology innovated products instead of going down the “we’ve got more MP than our competitor path.” And Canon sure can update some of their old lenses.

    Nikon or Canon… I still prefer Canon. :)

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 12:16 PM

    Well Im a Canon man myself. My XT (yes i know the rebel XT is kinda lame, but until i turn 16 and get working papers in november thats all i can afford) performs quite well. As far as i can remember, canon has always been known for the best quality glass, and that USM is snappy and quick. Their glasses have the focal length combos that I prefer too. All the pro photographers I know use Canon too, so if its good enough for them it will suffice for me. Plus I prefer the layout of menus and buttons on the Canon’s. Nikons are great cameras dont get me wrong, but I am sticking with what I prefer.

  • Reply
    James Walker
    September 25, 2008 at 1:40 PM

    I think Nikon and Canon should merge and make Cankon or Nikcan. Save all the problems with which lenses to buy!

    James (another great idea) Walker
    Freiburg, Germany

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 6:27 PM

    Hi, I use a Canon 450D personally but a Nikon D200 at work. Both have reversely different ways in usage ie lens mounting, zooming, focusing are clockwise/counter-clockwise (i keep forgetting, especially when i use them both simultaneously) but both are good in their own ways.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 7:31 PM

    Shooting with a Canon XTi as I found I could get lenses/accessories for it cheaper than I could find Nikon stuff for (the sheer volume of Canon gear available new/used one me over).

    Now… really liking my buddies D200… but… next up for me will be the 50D as I’m not willing to reinvest in all new equipment and switch brands :( Besides… except for the focusing speed and fps… I’m perfectly happy with what I’ve got :)

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 8:38 PM

    I’m shooting with a Pentax K100D Super. I only switched to digital about a year ago after being a die-hard film user. I picked Pentax because I already had a nice collection of really really nice f1.4 and f2.8 lenses. I tried an old digital rebel and I didn’t like the controls, or the kit lens.

    I don’t think Canon has dropped the ball at all, far from it. They’re newer Rebels, and the higher end DSLR models are all really nice. My only reason for not switching is that the Canon equivalent lenses are about 3x the price of my really fast Pentax glass.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 9:34 PM

    Pentax here, from an old T30 film SLR to a *ist-D to a K20D. That said, I think camera choice is irrelevant, you can shoot fantastic shots or crappy shots on a canon, nikon, pentax, sony, whatever…. it’s what’s behind the camera that determines how good the picture is!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2008 at 9:45 PM

    I’m a Canon guy… started with a Film Rebel I used way back in high school yearbook. Then I bought my own. Finally about 5 years ago, I got the first gen Digital Rebel. That’s when my photography really took off (ie. experimenting more without fear of wasting money and having instant feedback about what I just did). I’m now at the point where the technology in my camera is not good enough for the kind of photos I want to be able to shoot.

    I knew a few years ago that I wanted to go full frame, but I couldn’t afford it at the time (the only “affordable” FF was the 5D, and Nikon wasn’t even close to doing FF). Then, Nikon goes and comes out with the D3…uh oh…someone over there woke up and put the machine in gear!

    More recently, Nikon came out with the D700…. this was the first time I even thought of switching. I’ve used my brother’s D70 a few times and it never made me want to switch… yes, it felt more solid than my DigiReb, but the controls were all backwards and too many buttons instead of menus. But, it had me thinking “I don’t have a huge set of glass yet….I could make a switch….and I could probably get over the ‘little things’ evenutlaly”….. However, I decided to give Canon a chance to respond…

    I saw the 50D come out and thought “yeah…..aaaannnnd????”. Then, just a week or so ago, finally, the 5D Mark II. That camera seems to be the *exact* response they needed to make to Nikon. Higher resolution than the D3 and the D700, as good or better high ISO noise, and freakin HD video… that and the fact I just bought my first piece of L glass (and a fast 50)…I thought that’s the way I should go. Then I saw the samples off DPReview… saw the video that Bebb studios made….and of course, saw Vincent Laforet’s mini movie… SOLD! Name is on the wait list . Hope I have it by Christmas. It should be gloooorrrious!

    I really think that the ball is back in Canon’s court. I think seeing all the cameras with the red chevrons at the Olympics really pushed Canon to knock this one out of the park….and I think they have. I can see them revving the Rebel series by summer or so to include better high ISO performance and possibly HD video, but I think they need to get the big pro’s back by doing a 1D Mark IV that resolves the focus issues, has perhaps a little more resolution, does HD video, etc.

  • Reply
    September 26, 2008 at 8:23 AM

    I refuse to accept that Wyoming is any better in any way than Las Vegas.
    Would you rather wake up at some god forsaken time to try and catch some magical shot of some nature, or spend the day with someone awesome who happens to live there, walking around the strip and hanging by the pool with Snaps?

    I know which one I would rather do. But then again, I’m not the photographer type.

    Either way, next time you come to Vegas for some boring old conference we’ll try and make it a bit more interesting, minus the web geeks partying it up.

    Btw, I can’t actually see the pictures here because my school is lame and has blocked flickr… but I’m sure they’re absolutely breathtaking.

    Hope you’re having more fun in Wyoming (blah!) than you did in Vegas!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    I use a Canon 30D with a 24-70 f/2.8L. The perfect setup for most of what I shoot. When I don’t feel like hauling this bigger body, I shoot with a Canon G9. I think it’s the last stop, next best thing, before a DSLR. Go Canon!

  • Reply
    Bernie Hudyma
    September 26, 2008 at 9:20 PM

    Canon all the way!! I shoot with Canon’s flagship the 1Ds mk3 and the 1d mk3 which is my work horse. Being a sports photographer it’s 10 fps is a must. CAN’T wait for the new 5d mk2… it’s high iso will put Canon back on top.

    Cheers, and DON’T others have. sb

  • Reply
    September 27, 2008 at 9:24 AM

    I use a Canon Powershot A95

    Wanted to buy a DSLR this summer but needed
    the money from my vacation job for a new laptop
    so i guess ill have to wait a bit long for a
    decent camera.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2008 at 2:20 PM

    Nikon D80, I started getting in to photography and bought Nikon for 3 reasons.

    1. It just felt better in my hands, the Canon felt smaller and not as solid.
    2. Nikon has 2 command wheels, front and back. The 450D did not.
    3. J.D. Power ratings, Nikon had a higher customer satisfaction rating (Not sure if it still does but it did at the time I purchased)

    I’m very happy with my purchase, but have my eye on a D300 for the improved noise performance at higher ISO.

  • Reply
    September 27, 2008 at 5:25 PM

    I just stumbled upon your blog today, I can tell I will be referring back often!

    I grew up using an old Richo slr. I was a lucky girl and got it for my 12th christmas! We also had a darkroom in our basement! Fast forward many many……. many years and in the hustle of kids and all that goes with them, I traded my slr in for a video camera. A few years ago I was still kicking myself for the stupid trade! I started researching cameras again on a very limited budget. I knew I didnt want or need an entry level but could no where near afford a professional end modle. After many hours and much reading, I finally decided on the Pentax K10. It delivers more bang for my buck in features than anything I could get in the same price p;iont for either canon or nikon and I have aquired some really nice lenses that can rival any c or n out there. Besides, I think you gave the best 2 pieces of advice for any camera out there…. read your manual and NO auto! Using that, any camera out there is going to give great results:) You just have to know how your camera sees and how to ‘talk’ to it:)

    Great blog!

  • Reply
    September 28, 2008 at 6:00 AM

    I shoot with a Canon 1D mark III. My second body is a 10D, which I used for many years. Honestly, I really doubt you can go wrong with either Canon or Nikon. I think people obsess too much about their equipment and don’t focus enough on better technique and composition. Sure, it’s nice to have good glass.

    Anyhow, I’ve had fantastic luck with all of my Canon products and have been really happy with their durability. I shoot via kayak often and in the marshes and wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay region.

  • Reply
    September 28, 2008 at 3:03 PM

    Canon lately HAS dropped the ball, but the new 5D Mark II is certainly up to making an amazing comeback =)

    I’ve been stalling getting a newer body simply because I’ve now got Canon lenses but their current bodies are all taking somewhat of a back seat.

    Why won’t the new 5D come out faster!!!! Its the only really great product they have going for them right now. *Grrr* Hurry up Canon? We miss you! </3

  • Reply
    September 28, 2008 at 3:53 PM

    canon 450d here …

  • Reply
    Damien K Quick
    September 28, 2008 at 8:52 PM

    I use Canon, only because I have used them for a fair few years now and have built up a canon lens collection. I only just put to rest my EOS300 film SLR, in favor of a new Digital Version. And after much research I narrowed it down to either a Nikon D90 or the new EOS 50D, and both those cameras are very much on par, canon now integrating their new DIGiC 4 processors. Since I already have a range of canon lens, and opting for 15.1MP, Ive just put a deposit down on the Canon EOS 50D. now I have to wait 2 days for the official Australian Release. *excitement*
    Camera brands.. My two cents!….. its all up to the user. A great artist can produce art no matter what tool he uses. Its just what ever camera your comfortable with and can afford.

  • Reply
    hashimoto rafael
    September 28, 2008 at 9:54 PM

    i have 2 cameras of canon a eos kiss N and a 40D.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2008 at 3:54 PM

    I was thinking of the Nikon D90 because of the video feature, or D700 for low noise high ISO, but the Canon 5D2 is looking pretty neat so far, seems close enough to D700 on noise (but not at all convinced it’s equal or better than D700 on noise) and looks like it has a lot better video than D90. I have plenty of time to make a decision.

    I really don’t think the brand name itself should matter, the user should take the time to weigh the systems as they are, there are differences in the systems that lend themselves more to some uses more than others, or to personal preference on how it feels or operates. Anything else is just brand cheerleading.

  • Reply
    Ed Lau
    September 29, 2008 at 11:53 PM

    I shoot with a 1D Mk II but I’m thinking of adding the 5D Mk II to my arsenal when it’s released.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2008 at 5:02 AM

    These posts always create so many comments! Looks like most people are only loyal to their lenses, which is good.

    I have a Nikon D50, mainly because I was about to buy the Canon 350D (just before the 400 came out) when they all ran out of stock and the D50 was in the shop, it was a good price, and the guy in the shop said he thought the Nikon interface and controls were a little easier to use. I was sold. Then I realised than my SLR was a Nikon and my old lens would probably work!

    Have been meaning to do a test to compare the quality of the lenses I’ve got. It seems that my 50mm is so much sharper than the kit 18-55mm…

    What a great chance you had to go on that shoot! I hope I’ll have time and opportunity to do some interesting photography when I finish uni.

  • Reply
    October 21, 2008 at 4:51 AM

    Canon 450D. Or is it a XSi. Why is it that 450D sounds so much more advanced? :)

  • Reply
    Thorsten Jochim
    October 23, 2008 at 9:50 AM

    As a professional photographer I´m shooting with Canon since the first day working digital many years ago. Canon has amazing lenses, and if you´ve worked with a 1.4/24mm L-Lens you´ll never ask for anything else, especially not for an old Nikon Lens.

    I am often discussing with colleagues the same question: What is the best system? But there are a lot more questions that are very important to talk about (I think more important, than the question Canon or Nikon): What Light we are using? What can we learn from the the old legends in photography like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, etc.?

    I think, that if you can´t work with light, situations and models it doesn´t matter what system you are using. A H3DII-51 won´t help in that case.

    I´m still earning money from pictures sold by my stock agencies made 5 years ago with the Canon 10D with 6MP.

    Coming back to your question: Canon hasn´t dropped the ball. The gap to Nikon gots smaller, but there´s no reason to consider any system change. Ok, the TTL-Flash-System from Nikon is better, but if you want to take really exciting pictures you will work with Pocket Wizards and Flashes in Manual Mode.
    And the new Canon 5D Mark II with its 21MP and 14Bit Color Depth for under $2.500 Street Price lets no questions open who is setting the defaults.

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