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The “First Stop” Toward Texas

Photographers usually know that the first few shots of any photo endeavor are usually the worst. It takes time to warm up, figure out what settings to use, and try to make sense of the scene in front of them.

Tonight, as my friend Kurt Johnson (pictured above in his natural habitat) and I embarked on a journey to Texas, we stopped on the side of the road for about 20 minutes in Cape Girardeau.

In case you are asking, YES, of course we drove all day to stop by the side of the road and photograph random weeds and grasses!


Man, this was a fun little stop.

I kept the Fujifilm GFX camera in the car and instead took out the Nikon Z8 with the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 and 24-120 f/4. Also with me is the 1.4 teleconverter.

Why this combo? Well… I’m experimenting with what I would consider the “ultimate” two-lens setup. This combination with the Nikon allows me to go from 24-560mm (with the TC). Considering that the 24-100 can fit in my pants pocket (I’m a big guy, so we have big pockets), this is an incredibly versatile way to shoot.

With this combination, the Z8 and 100-400 are my main pairing. The 100-400 is fantastic for compression and isolating elements in the field… with the bonus of being able to focus at near macro-level. The 240-120, then, would be what I would use for wide-angle shots.

This was my first shot of the day with the 100-400, and you can see how good it is at isolating the background. Love the pink, white, and green here.

Roadsides are sometimes wonderful to photograph, and although the sun was nearly set for the day, we still had decent light to work with.

Of course, I had to make it under the bridge and to where the stream was, and I started working there, first with a slightly wider scene:

And then noticing a few details near this spot. I mostly stood in one place and just zoomed in with the 100-400 to find interesting things:

I looked down and noticed this. Thanks to Kurt Johnson, I am starting to attempt to develop my “black-and-white” eye, which means paying a little more attention to contrast:

This squirrel was pretty cute, and again, I’m wildly happy with the Nikkor 100-400 f/4-5.6. I mostly bought it for wildlife, but I’m finding it hard to remove from the camera for almost everything I’m doing right now.

I moved to different part of the road and found a small field of green that I loved:

This 100-400 is SO awesome at close-up shots:

The sun was setting, so I had to move quickly for the last few shots:

And finally, we were driving back to the hotel before we saw a few deer behind a fence. I pulled in quickly to a driveway and ran to the trunk to get the Z8 with 100-400. The light was pretty dark, so I was at ISO4000, f/5.6 and 1/160 on the shutter. Amazingly, I got a few very decent shots, this one is the best:

So, yeah. First stops usually aren’t great, but this one was truly an exception.

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