Camera Club Confidential is Retiring; New Posts are at

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For the past few years, I’ve been using Camera Club Confidential as a journal of my education in photography, taking notes for my future reference and sharing them here in the hope those notes might be useful to others.

This year I’ve launched a new blog – – where I share very brief tips for improving our images while keeping the joy in our photography. It’s still a work in progress, but I want NoBadLight to be a place of one-minute tips and trickery for everyone who takes or makes photographs, whether you use a pocket camera, a phone, or a dslr that costs more than your car. I hope you’ll join the fun. Thanks, DZ

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No Such Thing as “Just a Robin.”

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A robin. Absolutely common and absolutely beautiful

We took a walk in the park today, and I brought my bird rig (Nikon D7100, Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, Nikon TC17eII 1.7x teleconverter) in case we saw some Red Tailed Hawks or Turkey Vultures or Owls (Superb Owl Sunday will be here soon).

Sometimes, when I stalk raptors or large sea birds, I find myself attracted to a bit of motion or color, but then saying, “It’s just a Robin,” or “it’s just a Phoebe,” or “it’s just an Acorn Woodpecker.” Shame on me. We saw all of these beauties on our walk today.


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Filed under Camera Gear, Nature Photography

Long-Term Review: Is the TC17eII Teleconverter the Right Tool for My Photography?

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Procured in the fall of 2011. I use it often, but always feel a little dirty.

My current bird rig is a Nikon D7100, a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, and a Nikon TC17eII teleconverter.

My love/hate relationship with the teleconverter may help other bird enthusiasts decide whether to invest in long lenses or take a component approach, as I have. Continue reading

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What Will I Photograph in 2016?

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My Suzuki Vstrom 650 at Lake Casitas. Fujifilm X100s. I resolve to take more photo breaks on my rides.

Good question. My job at the Orfalea Foundation ends this year, so I’ll start 2016 by ramping up my freelance business: Dizzy One Ventures. I’m already shooting events for one client and writing newsletters for another. If I can add three more of each, I can postpone looking for another job indefinitely.

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Backyard birding is a great joy, but I resolve to practice better shot discipline. Nikon D7100; Nikon 70-200 f/2.8; Nikon TC17eII.

But I’ll still need to shoot for myself. I suspect I’ll make lots of bird and motorcycle images, but I’d also like to do more portraiture, which I miss dearly, and I want to shoot on location.

I’m working on a lighting kit I could carry on the motorcycle, which is no small task, since my current lighting bag doesn’t fit in the trunk of my car.

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My son on a recent sojourn to Zzyzx Road (and, in this image, Peggy Sue’s Diner). I have mixed emotions about the Fujifilm X100s these days, but I’m forcing myself to use it as my travel camera. I prefer my Nikons, but the X100s is mighty easy to carry around.

I also want to document more family events, but shoot them as well as I would for a client. Last week I put the X100s on “drunk mode” (fully automatic) and made a lot of awful photos with inadequate depth of field. It’s pretty dispiriting when the only professional photographer in the family gets the worst images of a holiday party.

I’ve been using the D610 for all of my work-for-hire shooting, but I want to integrate it more into my personal work as well. This month I’ve shot precisely zero personal images with it, which is a shame, because the image quality is excellent.

Historically, I’ve struggled to keep photography joyful when I am also doing it professionally. Best. Struggle. Ever. Looking forward to it in 2016.

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Working from home should let me photograph my neighbors during better lit times of day. Nikon D7100; Nikon 70-200 f/2.8; Nikon TC17eII.

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I had never seen a kingfisher in the neighborhood before today. This one was in a tree two houses away, which reminds me that I will probably try once again to get a more serious birding lens in 2016. We’ll see. Nikon D7100; Nikon 70-200 f/2.8; Nikon TC17eII.

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Sharpness Isn’t Everything, But It Sure is Something

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Every now and then, I get a glimpse of the gear’s possibilities, and it makes me more determined than ever to become a more disciplined shooter. No small task for the self-proclaimed premier blogger for lazy, disorganized, impatient photographers. Well, sometimes we have to compromise and put some effort in.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Motivation, Nature Photography, Uncategorized