Archive for December, 2011

Next Landscape Workshop to be held 7-8 Jan 2012, in Joshua Tree NP

Posted in Photography, Travel with tags on December 23, 2011 by William Hooks


There is still space for additional workshop participants for this session during the first weekend of 2012. The fee is $200 per person, and we will camp during the evening between the 2 days of the workshop in or near the park. Please contact me for more details if you’d like to sign up, either by phone (951)-255-9568 or e-mail at


Happy holidays—-



Field testing Lowe Pro’s Sport Sling 100AW backpack

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Travel, Video on December 12, 2011 by William Hooks

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For the next several days I plan to load this backpack and evaluate it for still and video landscape work, in the Sedona region of Arizona.

The idea will be to employ minimal camera gear, winter clothing and trek poles and try to get to some good locations to experiment with HDR video and other techniques.

I’ve added specialized presets to the Slideshow module in Lightroom, which allows processing for HDR video from still image sets.


After using this item for a few days, these are my thoughts:

Bright orange easily seen pack color with reflective piping, excellent for visibility in low light. I liked being able to open the camera bay on the side of the pack without risking spilling the contents; the amount of room for additional gear was surprisingly adequate, especially considering the extremely light weight and overall small size of the pack. A water bottle pouch with compression straps also allows carrying a small tripod. It has a small top pocket as well as paired compression straps at its base.

There was no need to ever take this pack off and set it on the ground, due to the sling design.  The pack can only be carried in one particular way, also due to this design; very comfortable back panel with padding.

It rained for 2 of the last 4 days, and the base’s all-weather cover is be considered an ingeneous alternative to carrying a separate rain cover.

In short, I would highly recommend it for day hikes not involving more than a camera body and 1-2 lenses or equivalent. It allows fast, safe access to photo gear while engaging in action sports.



Newest video posted on YouTube (address: SiskoBenjamin)-“Cerveza, anyone?”

Posted in Video on December 8, 2011 by William Hooks

I’ve been wanting to post a video about my favorite beer, Dos Equis, for some time and finally did it…. I hope you enjoy the attempt at comedy.

Motorized vertical slider (Konova)

Posted in Reviews, Video on December 7, 2011 by William Hooks

This is an optional feature I added in order to enable smooth vertical clips in motion, using a Black & Decker hand drill as the ‘engine’ and connecting to the slider with a length of cord (thanks to Eric Ortlieb again, for inspiring this design). The pre-existing Matthews clamp and spud were used to attach the drill to the Konova slider at its top.

This system will yield clips of about 5 second duration moving up, and about 7 seconds with downward camera motion. I like that it’s easy to assemble and break down, as well as the price: about $20 for the drill and $10 for 25 yards of cord.

For many near-horizontal camera motions, I simply employ gravity by slightly raising one end of the Konova or my 4ft aluminum custom slider and fine

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tuning the resistance on the slider ‘s ball head.

Anaheim Bolts indoor soccer league game: images with the 500mm f/4 Nikkor on D3s camera

Posted in Photography, Reviews on December 6, 2011 by William Hooks

I shot their match against the USA team and was impressed with the 500mm super telephoto I

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 just acquired.

The light level in the arena was consistent with ISO ranging from about 2500 to 11,400 @ f/4 and I was pleased with the contrast, low noise and color rendition of this camera-lens combination. Autofocus was considered very good to excellent. A monopod helped! This is not a lens I would personally consider for handholding….

Some of these shots will be shown to Bolts staff and perhaps you’ll see a poster soon from one of them if you attend, the games are held at Anaheim Convention Center.

More images of the Pico Dolly with custom slider

Posted in Reviews, Video on December 6, 2011 by William Hooks

There are two Dotline LED lighting panels mounted on either side of the HD-DSLR (in this case the D5100 due to its articulated screen, so I can use the 5″ HDMI monitor on a separate camera). The ends of the slider are equipped with stopper arms to permit smooth termination of sliding shots.

Many thanks to Eric Ortlieb of Classic Video Productions in Aliso Viejo, CA for custom-building this aluminum slider. If you have this type of dolly and want to obtain the slider, please contact him at (949)-362-9737.

I generally prefer to use wireless lav microphones for this setup

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, in order to put the mic as close to the athlete or other talent as possible. The corresponding receiver is seen on the hot shoe of the camera with its output directly into the camera- avoiding having to sync the audio file in post. I could also accomplish this with a Sescom -25 dB cable as explained in a prior post, running XLR hifi sound through the Zoom H4N digital audio recorder.

Note the wide to normal, fast zoom lens (17-35mm f/2.8 D), which is what I would ordinarily use as a default for a medium shot.

Hsi Lai Temple Ceremony, concluding China Photography Exhibit (Sept-Nov 2011)

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Travel, Video on December 1, 2011 by William Hooks

Several of the other participating photographers joined me to accept certificates of appreciation in this 2 month international exhibit this afternoon in Hacienda Heights, CA.

I’m the one wearing the London XXX Olympiad hat….

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