"The Four Horsemen" photo - and tribute to D700 weatherproofing

Started Jul 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
Fotogeneticist
Forum MemberPosts: 93Gear list
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Deepest thanks for all the positive comments and some answers to questions
In reply to Michael Kaplan, Jul 24, 2012

I just logged on and was pleasantly surprised to see all the positive comments about the photos and my service... thank you all! I've been on back to back sea duty for the past 7 years and 5 deployments to the Middle East and coming up on shore duty finally next year, so hard work is rewarded. But I've got a lot of making up to do to my family over the next couple of years.

Regarding the photos, here are some answers to some of the questions about them:

1. Double Sun. In the photos where there appears to be a double sun, the light source is actually from flames at the various oil platforms throughout the Middle East. As you travel through the Arabian Gulf, it's an awesome sight to pass by the flickering flames reflecting off the sand particles in the night sky or the underside of clouds during the early part of the year. Only in the Gulf can you come across such a bright light source and yet still be able to capture the stars of the Milky Way. It reminds me of the flaming eye in the Lord of the Rings films.

2. Stabilization. The only stabilization I use in these shipscapes is a Gitzo 1158T CF tripod and high ISO settings. In my opinion, photos like these have only been possible since the D700 and D3/D3s came out. Before then, the quality at high ISOs was not there. Many of these photos are taken at ISO 3200 for 30 second or more. Above 30 seconds (actually the threshold is more like 15 seconds), there's just too much rolling/pitching to obtain adequate sharpness in the stars. Only on a calm day in the Arabian Gulf (and when you've got a steady helmsman) can you capture all these elements together from a ship like a destroyer. Aircraft carriers are a different story, but, call me biased, I find destroyers much more interesting than a flat flight deck. Sometimes, I'll take 2 photos of the same scene at varying ISOs and exposure times and blend in Photoshop the highest quality parts of each exposure, but during capture, this gets to be very time consuming when you're talking about 3-5 minute exposures for the low ISO frames and that's before the dark frame long exposure NR. And then the Navy calls these "photo illustrations" instead of "photos", so I don't like to do that very often.

3. Navy Released. All these photos are released through the Navy for public use. I'm not really concerned about making money off them (although I did get a check for placing in a Navy sponsored photo contest called the Komorowski Award, which was truly an honor!). The exposure the photos have gotten in the Navy at least has been the real reward--so far, I'm proud to say that the image at the top left of the 4 photo collage has been on a magazine cover and random community publication covers (Sea Classics July 2011 issue, All Hands 2012 Calendar cover, Naval War College Review Spring 2012 edition cover and I recently saw it in a Jane's Defense services pamphlet too. These photos should be available shortly from the Defense Imagery sites--I submitted them last week. The true reward would be if the Navy could allow me to lateral transfer into the public affairs community. One of my biggest idols is Edward Steichen, former Commander in the Navy during WWII and renowned fashion photographer--but I've already been told that they're not looking for people with my background unfortunately.

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