My Kits: Action Sports Photography Gear

Action Sports KitWelcome to part two of the My Kits series, in which I outline what gear I use and why I use it in my work as a professional outdoor photographer. In the first post, I broke down the essentials of my Commercial Photography Kit, a system built around image quality and gear redundancy, with little consideration paid to size and weight. In this second post, we’ll look at the kit I use for Action Sports Photography. Each individual item, or the whole shooting match can be rented from BorrowLenses.com, which I recommend either as a solution to avoid the overhead of owning equipment, or as a means by which to experiment and test as you work to build your own perfect kit. But before we get into the nuts and bolts, a bit about how I shoot, which will shed some light on why I make the gear choices that I do.

There is one sure thing that I’ve learned about shooting sports: to get the best images, you have to be an active participant in the activities. That means that I set out with the intention of skiing, climbing, biking and paddling right alongside my athletes. This serves the purpose of giving better access and connection with my subjects, and also ensures that I cover enough ground to see a lot of opportunities to create a variety of images. The downside of this immersive approach is that I have my work cut out for me when it comes to bringing my equipment along for the ride. With this in mind, I’ve created a kit for action sports photography that I think hits the sweet spot between performance and weight and allows me to push my boundaries as a participant in adventures and capture the best images I can along the way. Continue reading

Freshies: Mountain Calligraphy in the Japanese Alps

If you’ve had your finger on the pulse of winter sports this season you’ve seen literally hundreds of dispatches from Japan as herds of North American professionals and enthusiasts headed west in search of the most elusive of snow conditions: deep, deep powder.

If your engagement in snowsports is more cursory, perhaps you haven’t even realized that Japan is a viable destination for skiing and snowboarding. If this is the case, let me be the first to share the good news. Japan is the real deal. It’s worth going just for the snow, but you’ll truly find yourself captivated by the culture, the cuisine, the hot springs, the scenery and a certain simplistic beauty in everything that surrounds you. In Japan you can find an aesthetic and spiritual purity that will set your mind right.

To know how this feels, you’ve got to go. But here’s a little sample of how it looks when the landscape, the snow and the people are in harmonic accord, as though the whole world were hand drawn by a master calligrapher, each stroke perfectly measured, but infinitely organic and inherently flawed, just the way nature intended.

As always, custom fine art prints of all of my images are available. If you like my work, please follow me online at: FacebookInstagramGoogle+500px and Twitter.  More importantly, share it with a friend and give me a hi-5 when you see me next; let’s keep things in the real world here.  Thanks!

My Kits: Outdoor Commercial Photography Gear

Commercial Photography KitI’m often asked what type of camera equipment I use to create my images, unfortunately I struggle to answer these questions in the brief exchanges offered by the various social media platforms. See, there’s no quick answer; each piece of equipment I use is part of a whole. I think in terms of kits. Each kit has a set of components that are all mandatory to accomplish the job for which the kit is designed. My work ranges from large scale commercial advertising projects with RVs and moving vans to shooting technical ski mountaineering where toothbrush handles are sacrificed to save a few grams.

Through a lot of experimentation, I’ve landed on four different kits that I use to create my images. This will be the first of four posts in which I’ll outline the essential pieces of each of my kits. We’ll start with the largest, my Commercial Photography Kit. Each individual item, or the whole shooting match can be rented from BorrowLenses.com, which I recommend either as a solution to avoid the overhead of owning equipment, or as a means by which to experiment and test as you work to build your own perfect kit.

Nikon D4S BodyNikon D4s You may be a Nikon user, a Canon user, a Sony user, a Hasselblad user. I’m not prejudiced, each has its merits. For me, in my pursuit of capturing fleeting moments in rugged places, the Nikon D4s is the best still photography camera in the world. I trust this camera with my livelihood, and know it like the back of my hand. When stakes are high, this is my camera.

 

Nikon D4S BodyNikon D4s Backup But the world is an imperfect place, and you can’t stop a commercial production because your camera is on the fritz. Every veteran shooter carries a backup body. For my commercial projects where weight is not an issue, I always carry a second D4s.

 

 

Nikon 14-24 LensNikon 14-24mm 2.8 Lens Some people love the special sauce that you can only get with a prime lens. I totally understand. But for my money, the space in my camera bag, and my style of shooting, I’m all about zoom lenses. My widest zoom is the amazing 14-24, a shockingly sharp, fast solution for broad scenes and close up action.

 

Nikon 24-70 LensNikon 24-70mm 2.8 Lens This is the work horse. If I could only have one of my 2.8 lenses, it would be the 24-70. I’ve grown especially fond of this lens for action within large landscapes, and portraits with shallow depth of field.

 

 

Nikon 70-200 LensNikon 70-200mm 2.8 LensThis long zoom lens does miracles. The image stabilization is shocking, the focus tracking is mind blowing, the sharpness is superfly. If you haven’t shot with this lens before, do yourself a favor and check it out.

 

 

Nikon 28-300 LensNikon 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 LensJust as a backup camera body is a mandatory piece of equipment for commercial shooting, I also like the security the comes with having a backup lens. This lens isn’t as fast, sharp or bombproof as the 24-70 and 70-200, but it’s a handy bit of insurance if you ever have one of the key lenses go kaput.

 

Nikon 2x Tele-ExtenderNikon 2x Tele-Extender I don’t often find myself needing anything longer than a 200mm lens for commercial applications, but for a small expense and a minor addition to the bulk of the kit, the 2x Tele-Extender makes my 200mm lens a 400mm lens. Just beware of the loss of light and sharpness that comes with using a tele-extender before you make this a permanent solution. It should also be said that if it appears that I’ll need a super long lens for a significant portion of an assignment, I’ll rent whichever super zoom seems the right tool for the job.

Nikon SB 910 FlashNikon SB-910 Flash I’m not a huge fan of shooting flash photography, as I prefer to work with the light that nature sees fit to give me. But, there are times when circumstances dictate that a bit of artificial light be introduced in order to make a shot viable. To this end, I include a Nikon SB-910 in my commercial kit every time I head out on location. It’s rarely used, but has saved my bacon on a few occasions. In the instances when I’m planning to shoot extensively with artificial light, I’ll put together an entire lighting kit tailored to the project, but that’s for another post…

Nikon En-El18 BatteryEN-EL18a Batteries Batteries, batteries, batteries. Running out of power for your camera is absolutely not an option. While these Nikon batteries have an amazing capacity, and generally last at least an entire day of heavy shooting, I carry four of them on all of my commercial assignments and recharge them every night.

 

Nikon Remote TriggerNikon MC-36 Multi-Function Remote/Intervalometer – For triggering long exposures with no camera shake, also great for setting up time lapses if you don’t like the intervalometer built into the camera’s menus. Connects to the 10-pin port in most higher end Nikon bodies.

 

 

PocketWizard Plus III TransciverPocketWizard Plus III Transceiver – As I said, I’ll usually default to natural light, but when I need to utilize artificial lighting, I use PocketWizards to remote trigger the lights via radio. These also come in very handy as remote camera triggers for shooting with multiple cameras at once, or for triggering a camera that for one reason or another is far away from my trigger finger.

 

Manfrotto TripodManfrotto 055MF3 Tripod with 468MG Hydrostatic Ball Head This tripod is the perfect mix of burly and light. It’s a three segment carbon fiber tripod weighing in at under 5 pounds and designed to support 15 pounds, plenty of stature for any body/lens combo in my commercial kit. I really love the versatility of this tripod, allowing me to shoot from as low as 6 inches, and as high as nearly 6 feet. Paired with the simplicity of the Manfrotto ball-head, I find this a quick, intuitive and reliable system.

5 in 1 ReflectorImpact 5 in 1 Oval Reflector 42×72 While I’m not a huge fan of artificial lighting, doing a bit of tweaking of the natural light is very much to my liking. If I need to insert a bit of shade here, some warm light there, some soft light under the brim of a hat, etc. This 5 in 1 reflector is priceless.

 

 

Lexar 128GB CF CardLexar Professional 1000x 128GB CompactFlash Cards If you’re shooting a fast camera, you’ve gotta use fast cards. Some of the fastest currently available are the Lexar Professional 1000x cards. The capacities on these CF cards keep expanding, and I’m thrilled at being able to utilize 128GB cards, which require very infrequent card changes, allowing me to focus on shooting.

 

Giottos BlowerGiottos Rocket Air Blower When shooting outdoors, there are challenges galore in keeping a camera and sensor clean. I always carry a Giottos air blower to blow dust and water off of the camera in challenging conditions, as well as blowing dust off of the sensor when I notice spots on the photos. One word of caution, only clean your sensor in a dust-free environment and after you’ve learned the proper techniques. Keep in mind, sometimes the blower isn’t enough, and you’ve got to use sensor swabs and cleaning fluid. Do your homework before touching your sensor, as a mistake can be extremely costly!

I hope you found this peek inside of my commercial kit a wealth of information. Now, before you freak out at the expense of this setup, keep in mind, this is only used in cases where there are significant dollars at play, and equipment failure is not an option. Please do not misconstrue this post to mean that this is the gear you NEED in order to shoot professional images. Quite the opposite is true. I’ve always been a vocal proponent for small camera systems and being in the right place at the right time; heck, I even shot for an Apple campaign with nothing more than my trusty iPhone.

If you’re thinking less is more, stay tuned for the upcoming ‘Kit’ posts in which I’ll share the paired down kits I use for Action Sports Photography, Adventure Photography, and Ultralight Photography. Feel free to comment below with questions/comments and I’ll do my best to keep the conversation going.

Full Disclosure: BorrowLenses supports select projects of mine with the necessary equipment, and I share the benefits of utilizing their services. I have been a customer of BorrowLenses in the past, and will continue to utilize them beyond the scope of this arrangement. I hope you will find them a great solution as you seek new and exciting ways to explore the world of photography and video.

Dream Campaign: Apple – Shot on iPhone 6

Scott Rinckenberger Apple Ads
When I set out to start my photography business, I did so on a single precept; explore the outdoors, create an individual vision and share it with the world. My vision is based on the idea of art through adventure, and I’ve tried to create a body of work that is unique in approach and execution, blurring the line between fine art and hard core outdoor adventure. I share this vision as widely as the cosmos will allow, and put my faith in the concept that if you build it, people will come.

Who will come? And when? That’s where the mystery lies. This mystery results in a pendulum which swings between stress and euphoria depending on the day, week or month. It’s not easy to be an independent artist, but there are certain times when the stars align and dreams really do come true. Today I’m honored to share a case-study that I hope will inspire everyone to keep putting every ounce of energy into building their own vision of success.

When I think in terms of a list of potential dream clients, one brand rises to the top. The epitome of aesthetics meeting function, the company that has literally changed the world with its innovations, the brand that has redefined modern technology, culture and design. Though there are many pretenders, there is only one Apple.

For someone in my line of work, to receive a call from Apple inquiring about photography for an upcoming campaign is like picking up the phone and finding God on the other end. “Oh, hey God, wait…you are interested in my work? You want me to send some images? Let me drop everything, including the coffee cup that just shattered at my feet due to my momentary loss of motor control.”

I’m honored, humbled and beyond exited to share my contribution to the just released Apple Shot on iPhone 6 campaign. Now, somebody please pinch me, I think I might be dreaming.

To see more from this beautiful campaign celebrating photography from around the world, check out Apple’s World Gallery, search the hashtags #shotoniphone and #shotoniphone6, and keep peeking at the backs of magazines, this campaign is far from over.

6 Tips for Boosting your Instagram Game

@scottrinck on InstagramIf you’re like me, you probably started your Instagram account by posting random photos from your phone’s camera as you went about your life. Really, that’s what it was invented for. But times have changed and the bar has been raised. Instagram has become one of the most important platforms on the planet for sharing imagery. Its user base and engagement levels have made it a key piece of marketing strategy for everyone from independent creatives to the world’s largest brands. Here are some ways to stay at the front of the pack as the competition grows ever more fierce. Continue reading

Rent This! The X-Rite Color Munki Photo Color Management Solution

If you’re a professional, or an enthusiastic amateur in any visual field, whether photography, video, graphic design or digital art, it’s your job to make sure that your work goes out into the world looking like you intended it to look.

But despite all of the fine tuning you might have been doing on your trusty computer, you may be missing a crucial step, and losing a ton of control over your output. If you haven’t calibrated your monitor and the printer you use for your artwork to make it match the global standard, you’re rolling the dice on what your art buyers, customers or fans are seeing when they look at your finished work. But there is an easy solution.

My favorite calibration tool is the X-Rite Color Munki Photo Color Management Solution. It’s just as easy to use as it is effective. The bad news is that these things cost $450, that’s halfway to a good camera lens, and a purchase that many people won’t be able to justify. But, I don’t think you should buy one. I think this is one of the perfect examples of equipment that is far better rented than bought. For $37 plus shipping you can rent one of these systems for three days from Borrow Lenses and calibrate to your heart’s content.

Rent Calibration Equipment from Borrow Lenses

I recently purchased a new iMac Retina 5K, and decided to rent a Color Munki to get this monitor in-line with the rest of my equipment as well as to update the color profiles of my other displays and my printer, all of which need recalibration over time. I thought I’d share a behind the scenes look at the steps it takes to calibrate your equipment with this great piece of tech. Continue reading

WHO is Sierra Blair-Coyle? THAT is the Question.

Who is Sierra Blair-Coyle
I sat down to read a blog article earlier today called ‘Athlete or Model: What is Sierra Blair-Coyle?’. When I read the headline I was curious, even totally on board, but after reflecting a bit, I’m calling bullshit.

If you don’t know anything about Sierra, give the post above a quick read. It’s got all the background you’ll need. Long story short, she’s one of the higher profile climbers in the world right now because she is very visible online and, to quote the author of the post, “She’s totally hot”.

I follow Sierra on Instagram, and can understand the curiosity of the author, I’ve found myself wondering whether she’s a legit climber or just a pretty face with a talent for sharing in the digital age. Then a single sentence in the article put everything in perspective for me. Continue reading

Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #1 Alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Behind the Gram 2014 – #1 Alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Alpenglow on Mt. Baker

Original Instagram Caption: Heading up to the North Cascades for a weekend up high. It’s gonna be COLD, but it’s always beautiful! Hope to see some colors like this tomorrow morning.

Technical Details: Captured with Sony Alpha A99 with Sony 70-300 4.5-5.6 Lens @ 300mm. Exposure 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400. Color and contrast adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. Cropped and uploaded via Instagram.

I posted this image in November while en route to my first winter exploration of the year in the Cascades. The actual image is from a previous November excursion to one of my favorite haunts in the entire state. Here’s the story. Continue reading

Story Behind the Top 5 Grams of 2014 – #2 Ruth Gorge Sunset

Behind the Gram 2014 – #2 Ruth Gorge Sunset

Ruth Gorge Sunset

Caption as Posted on Instagram: Today on the REI blog you can find the photos from my favorite trip of the year, and one of the most amazing places on the planet. Click the link in my profile to see the whole story.

Location: Stump Camp, Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska.

Technical Details: Captured with Nikon D610 with Nikon 27-70 2.8 Lens @ 24mm. Exposure 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640. Color and contrast adjustments in Adobe Lightroom. Cropped and uploaded via Instagram.

There are places on this planet that exist on a plane of visual drama that renders any written or spoken description completely impotent. The only wordsmith who has approached consistent success when writing of the sublimity of nature is the great John Muir. His words upon exploring the glacial landscapes of Alaska will serve well to describe the area captured in this image. Continue reading

Return the Junk and Get The Goods! – 12 Gifts for Yourself

You’ve been through everything under the Christmas Tree and by Jove, you’re not impressed. Those ski socks will be useful – ski socks are always useful – but the rest is going to rot in the closet until you can manage to do some serious re-gifting next season. Fear not, there’s a better plan. Return that blender, those corduroy slacks and the new DVD player. Take the pile of money you get, and buy yourself something that you’ll really dig. Here are some things that I’ve really enjoyed this year. Give yourself the gift of a gift for yourself. You’ve been nice. You deserve it. Continue reading