The Omnicharge 20 is a new portable charger, offering many features that makes it stand out compared to your average smartphone charger. But how well does it do the job? To answer this question, Harold took the Omnicharge home with him and tried it out for himself. Here’s what he thought:
“Having tried many battery and portable inverter options over the years, I decided to give the Omnicharge a try. In terms of options to charge a variety of items, the Omnicharge does not disappoint…
When I first saw the Omnicharge 20, I thought I was simply looking at a larger version of a standard smartphone or tablet battery pack / charger. But looks can be deceiving, and the more I checked it out, the more features I discovered.
First, the capacity is significant… 20,400 mAh. Without delving into the numbers, that’s more than 5x the capacity of a standard portable charger, and is listed as being enough battery capacity to pretty much charge a laptop once, up to 9 full smartphone charges, or up to 8 full tablet charges.
Output ports include a 3-prong AC/HVDC (high-voltage DC) 3-prong socket, 2 x USB ports, a co-ax (i.e. “barrel”) DC port, and even a Qi wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones. A status screen (OLED) shows basically everything you need to know about it… battery capacity, charge time remaining, battery temperature, which ports are active, DC port setting, AC port setting, wireless device charging, etc. A menu can also be displayed to allow configuring the Omnicharge; that can be controlled with the power button, the USB power button, and the AC power button. As I went through the options I could see that every aspect of the device (except the USB ports) has multiple functions. I found the Quick Start Guide to be rather sparse, but found useful information on the manufacturer’s website: http://omnicharge.co.
To charge the Omnicharge 20, you can use the included AC adapter, or you can use the supplied USB-to-DC cable to charge it using USB-compatible AC/DC adapters you may already have for your smartphone / tablet / camera, or you can even charge it with a solar charger; the Omnicharge can accept DC from 4.5volts to 36volts. This means it can be charged at home, in a car, or even outside where no pluggable power source is available.
Unlike other portable electronics, the charging port can even be used to charge the Omnicharge or it can be used to charge devices from the Omnicharge. There is a menu option to tell the charger how to use the DC port, and even what output voltage to use. NOTE: Before setting up the DC output port, it’s important to know the voltage rating for whatever devices will be plugged in. This info is usually either on the device or on the power adapters that come with the devices. If not sure, best to contact the device manufacturers.
After making sure the Omnicharge 20 was fully charged (approximately 2-3 hours to charge from zero), I started “plugging” away…
I opted to test the Omnicharge 20 Pro kit, as it comes with a set of cables / connectors to charge a variety of laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and Apple through the DC output port. After turning on the unit, I set the DC port to provide 20volts output, plugged the supplied MagSafe2 (Apple) adapter into the Omnicharge and the laptop, and watched it go. IMPORTANT: Before configuring DC output power, make sure you identify the voltage needed for your device… either from your device’s AC adapter (look for DC output voltage), or from the manufacturer; if unsure, always check with the manufacturer. The MagSafe2 plug displayed its orange light to show it was charging the laptop. While using the computer, the battery percentage indicator showed the charging progress. After about 40 minutes, the laptop battery went from about 25% charged to 98%. Nice.
I turned the unit off and made sure the DC port was ready for input. After re-charging the Omnicharge, I decided to give it more of a challenge. I took an older Apple computer (one without the MagSafe2), and went to charge it using its AC adapter. While the Omnicharge uses a sine-wave inverter (tech talk for saying you can plug an AC-powered item into a DC power source) to provide the 120volts AC to charge your device, it can also be configured to output 150volts DC via the same port… not something that would ever occur to many of us. ****IMPORTANT**** This should only be set if you know for sure that your AC adapter uses a switching power supply that can take the higher input voltage!! For camera chargers and other basic electronics, or if simply not sure, stay with the standard 120volt AC setting!! Using the wrong setting can damage your devices. For the older Apple laptop, both options worked, so I used the higher voltage DC setting. The display indicates whether it is set for AC or HVDC (high-voltage DC), so you can see at a glance if you have it set right.
The Omnicharge can charge multiple devices at the same time, and it keeps tabs on the charger / battery temperature. If it gets too stressed or too hot, it shuts down. The output and temperature are constantly shown on the display, and it enables a fan to help dissipate any heat. While I was charging the older laptop, I plugged in my smartphone to charge it at the same time. The Omnicharge balanced the output accordingly. The specs say it can be plugged in / charged while charging other devices… so I plugged it in, and it continued to perform. The temperature gauge showed it getting up to about 113 degrees, but it never got too warm to touch.
Independent of the other testing, I have also repeatedly plugged camera chargers into the AC port (configured for 120volt AC), and found it so much more convenient to have the Omnicharge nearby than to find an available wall socket to accommodate the camera charger.
The Omnicharge 20 packs a lot of features into a small package, and yet is a much simpler / flexible portable power solution than I have used before.”
Oren Helbok has been fascinated with trains since he was a kid growing up in the Bronx, when he’d head down to the local tracks with his dad, a skilled amateur photographer, and have picnic suppers. “My first photo was of a steam train, taken when I was 6 years old,” he says. “I was completely swept away by the engines.”
Today, Oren’s fascination continues, and he now regularly heads out between 60 to 70 days a year to photograph the steam trains near his home in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. “The Strasburg Rail Road, which is the oldest continuously running short-line railroad in the country, is only about two hours south of me, and there are a number of other railroads that also operate steam,” he says.
When he was a boy, the trains were all about the hardware. “Now that I’m older, I’ve realized the thing that’s most important about the trains is the people who are doing the work,” he says. “So while I still enjoy capturing pictures of the trains themselves, I also want there to be some connection to either the landscape, the places they’re traveling through, or the people working on the trains.”
Oren recently spent a full day at the Strasburg site with the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC wide-angle lens. “This lens was recommended to me by a fellow photographer who said if I was looking for a stellar wide-angle lens, this was the one to try,” he says. “And it’s the best there is. What I was looking for was a super-wide-angle lens that I could use in a locomotive cab. I wanted to capture these guys at work, and I needed something that could get as much of that small space from inside as possible. The F/2.8 maximum aperture helps me out when the lighting isn’t great, and the Vibration Compensation (VC) feature is indispensable to counteract the movement on the train. Steam locomotives don’t ride like Cadillacs—they tend to bounce around, so the VC is infinitely helpful.”
Although he’s not trying to fool anyone into thinking his images are from another era, he does try to lend them a historical feel by eliminating modern distractions. “If I’m out in the middle of the landscape, for example, I’ll go out of my way to avoid a billboard or taking a shot right from the side of the highway, unless there’s some kind of story I can tell about how that train comes through that particular landscape,” he says.
As for how he photographs the people in his train photos, Oren tries to stay unobtrusive and captures many of his images from the back or the side, where his subjects’ faces aren’t in full view. “That’s not to dehumanize the work that’s being done, but to depersonalize it,” he says. “What I mean is, a photo isn’t necessarily about one particular person—that person stands for all of the people throughout the history of steam railroading who’ve done this job. I try to make my photos somewhat timeless that way.”
He did that with one crew member standing with his back to Oren. “That guy had been at work just 30 minutes, but it was August and one of the hottest, muggiest days I’d ever experienced down by the trains,” he says. “It was brutal. He’d already sweated right through his shirt. I wanted to show that aspect of the job without the distraction of his face or expression. I let the sweat speak for itself.”
Oren enjoys showing the workers in their element, including when they’re hosing down and detailing the cars (a.k.a. the “spit-and-polish” job) and shoveling the coal. “The tight spaces I show here is exactly why I needed this 15-30 lens,” he says. “I wanted to capture as much of what’s going on as possible in a very small piece of real estate. I needed the big, wide view that the 15-30 offers.”
Every month, a locomotive undergoes what’s called a boiler wash, which is when the crew cleans out any accumulated gunk. “When you put water into a boiler and heat it up, if there’s any crud in that water, it can separate out and end up coating the surfaces,” Oren explains. “That gunk blocks various orifices you don’t want blocked and makes everything less efficient, so once a month they have to open up all of those plugs and wash the boiler out.”
The man seen here had just finished up that job. “I shot this in the engine house, so there was a significant amount of light coming from behind him from the building’s large windows on the left-hand side,” Oren says. “There were also some fluorescent fixtures running across the ceiling, but by this time of day, with the other track empty and no engine sitting there, the light was able to come in unimpeded. That helped give me just the right illumination I needed for this image.”
Sometimes Oren is even lucky enough to get some steam in the shot. “The photo of one of the crew working on top of the train was taken in perfect conditions for that kind of thing,” he explains. “With steam in particular, cold weather is best, as well as humidity. It was a seriously hot day, so I didn’t have that cold, but the air was so humid it couldn’t absorb anything else. That meant the steam, instead of vanishing, simply hung in the air.”
Of course, he also had to grab a shot of the person at the top of the train crew hierarchy. “The engineer is the one who’s in charge,” he says. “He’s got his hand on the throttle and is the one who gets to drive the engine.” This was another chance for Oren to hold his camera outside the car as the engineer peered out of his own window, offering a more intimate environmental portrait. “At this railroad, they’re trying to provide a very particular experience for their customers, without modern items getting in the way,” Oren notes. “That’s why this engineer looks like he could’ve stepped out of another time period. All of the guys who work here dress the part and look authentic. Maybe once in a while you’ll see a crew member with keys attached to a caribiner, but that’s about as anachronistic as it’ll get.”
Another experiment Oren’s been dabbling in: capturing pictures of the landscape while he’s riding in the train. “I won’t look through the viewfinder in those cases, but rather hang the camera out over the gate and either use Live View or just shoot away and hope for the best, based on what I’d already seen with my own eyes,” he says. “In this one in particular, you not only have the lines of the railroad car itself, but the lines in that field next to the train car. In Lancaster County, there are a lot of Amish farms, and they regularly plow their fields and create those lines. The VC on the 15-30 was critical here to keep everything sharp.”
Capturing the whole train itself against the context of the landscape is another way Oren put the 15-30 to the test. “I had set myself the challenge of going out the entire day with that one lens, and using it not only in tight spaces, but also in wide-open areas,” he says. “I wanted to make the most of it in completely different situations. So yes, I show a train here, but it’s a train against that landscape, with that huge sky filled with cumulus clouds. That gives a whole new angle to the story I’m trying to tell.”
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Dominic Cox grew up in the heart of New York City, with two parents who were artists and a penchant for people-watching. “I grew up with some of the best scenes in the world before my eyes,” he says. “I couldn’t draw or paint like my parents, but I soon realized that the camera allowed me to record what I observed. I’m still interested in documenting so many different things: city streets, the people in them, the beach and ocean, cars, boats, planes. I just keep my camera ready and wait for what unfolds.”
When it comes to portraits of people on the street, Dominic strives for authenticity. “There was once a photographer who said that all photographers are voyeurs,” he says. “I don’t know if that’s an absolute truth, but I do know I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that yes, I’m definitely a voyeur—but not in a creepy way. I don’t like to take photos of people who are posed and perfect, but I do try for pictures you wouldn’t be ashamed to see yourself in if I showed you. I’m trying to show something honest.”
When he’s out roaming the streets, Dominic brings his Tamron SP 70-200mm VC, SP 15-30mm VC, SP 150-600mm VC, SP 35mm F/1.8 prime and SP 85mm F/1.8. “I love the versatility I can achieve with these lenses in my bag,” he says. “The 15-30 is one of my favorites recently, and I’ve barely scratched the surface with it. And I appreciate the fact that Tamron is adding image stabilization across their line, especially since most of what I shoot is handheld using available light. I have to shoot this way. Not only is it difficult to carry a tripod around (many places won’t let you in with one), but I like to be able to have spontaneous movement, cut angles, get low. I don’t want another piece of equipment I have to drag along with me, because it would just slow me down.”
Dominic tries to balance his subjects and their environment, with his subjects taking center stage. “I have my favorite range of apertures and a distance I naturally shoot from,” he explains. “If I’m shooting on a city street, I’m not necessarily trying to blur everything out so you don’t know the person’s in an urban environment. For instance, high-end fashion photographers might take a picture of a model in an amazing gown in a back alley somewhere in the Meatpacking District, and they’ll shoot wide open and get close so they can blur out all the trash and other distracting elements, which I can appreciate in those circumstances. However, when I shoot, I want to show the background, as well as make the subject and the foreground stand out. I never tire of looking at a photo with an urban backdrop. For that reason, F/2.8 is one of my favorite apertures to use. It borders on documentary, because I’m documenting a specific place and a specific time.”
Dominic usually doesn’t know beforehand where he’s going to end up—or what photos he’s going to end up with. “I’m somewhat of a nomadic wanderer, though I will stay in a particular area for a while, just to observe and let things happen,” he says. “I want people to fall into my frame, for someone to show up pure and unaware. I want to capture the essence of the person without having them pose, and that 70-200 lens especially helps me stay unobtrusive so I can do that.”
Whether he concentrates on color or black-and-white photos is something Dominic tries to decide before he heads out. “I like to mix my work up,” he says. “Even on my Instagram, I’ll post three color photos, then alternate those with three black-and-white photos. I like black and white because it focuses your attention on expressions and textures more, on the light and shadows, whereas with color, it’s how we see things every day. I almost feel like you have to up your photography game to show the emotion you see in black-and-white photos in a color image, because you’ve got the color existing as an added distraction if you don’t shoot it right.”
Dominic finds himself on his photo walks at almost any time of the day. “Of course I appreciate the so-called golden hour in the mornings and late afternoon/early evenings,” he says. “But in the morning I’m usually out for a ride on my bike or doing some other form of physical activity (it’s when I’m the most motivated), and in the early evening, I’m a homebody who likes to have dinner and watch a movie with my wife. So I do find myself out and about in the midafternoon in the harsh sunlight, and I actually enjoy it. I like the challenge of working with different apertures and shutter speeds to get the desired results, of trying to create an appealing photo in demanding conditions. Anyone can take a photo when the ideal lighting is present. But try doing it when the clouds are going back and forth in between the buildings, when the light is constantly changing. That’s when you feel like you’re creating magic.”
Dominic talks about eight images he recently took in his hometown with his arsenal of Tamron lenses:
30mm – f/3.2 – 1/320 – ISO 800
I saw this scene first at the ground level. This is a bar on the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, right on the Hudson. I walked up from the riverside and saw the people milling about and thought it exemplified just hanging out in the city. I didn’t want to take the picture straight on, though, so I went up to the top of the building and shot down instead with my 15-30. I thought it was a more interesting vantage point, and it also offered a bit of anonymity as well. I liked the contrast of the lines of the metal gate leading down into the pattern of the hexagons below.
200mm – f/2.8 – 1/500 – ISO 100
This was a vendor in an outdoor flea market, and as soon as I saw him I thought, “Wow, I’ve got to photograph this guy.” He looked like a model you’d see in a Gap or Old Navy ad, with that tattoo under his clavicle reading, “Sometimes I imagine being free.” I also loved all of the different elements that complemented the photo, including the retro items he was selling. By placing the words “Brooklyn” into the top of the frame, I was also able to establish a place for the photo. I used the 70-200 for this, zooming all the way in to 200mm to capture this candid moment.
200mm – f/3.2 – 1/1600 – ISO 100
I grew up in Washington Square Park, where this photo was taken, and it holds many fond memories for me. I would spend nights in this park, and I recently took a trip back to New York for the purpose of retracing a lot of my footsteps. This guy was a typical New Yorker, sporting a look I’ve seen many times in my own life—he’s wearing those signature boots, for example, which an old friend of mine who was a punk rocker used to wear back in the day. I identify with the look. Plus, the dog reminded me of Toto from the Wizard of Oz. In terms of the fountain, I wanted to add that in to make the image a little more dynamic, but without taking away from my subject. I blurred it out just enough so that the dog owner was still clearly the focus of the photo.
30mm – f/2.8 – 1/800 – ISO 3200
I love black-and-white photography, but sometimes a photo just calls out for color. This night scene of a food stand in New York City was taken on 42nd Street with the Tamron 15-30 as I was heading west from the East Side. Now, I don’t usually eat the type of food you find at food stands like this, because I tend to eat healthier fare, but I wanted to take this photo because it’s the type of fast food that many New Yorkers live off of, even well into the night. I even called this photo “Farm Fresh,” as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what clearly isn’t farm-fresh food. I loved the color of the signs on the stands and the lighting. It wasn’t hard to expose for, since there was enough ambient light. I didn’t want it to be completely exposed anyway—I like the fact that there’s some shadow in the photo. I really wanted the focus to be on the light that was over him, where the steam was rising up over his cooking. Shooting it at 1/800th of a second at F/2.8 did the trick.
200mm – f/2.8 – 1/500 – ISO 640
This photo was taken in Times Square, where I was visiting after more than a year’s absence. I was there for hours with my camera, just waiting for photo opportunities to pop up. I was across the street, under a scaffold trying to stay dry, when I noticed this couple with their baby. You can’t see the dad, who’s behind one of the planters. But the real focus was on the mother and child. The beauty and intimacy of the moment just struck me, especially since the child was the one holding the umbrella while the mother knelt down next to the stroller in the rain. It was a warm, comforting scene.
200mm – f/5.0 – 1/200 – ISO 100
This photo was taken out of photographer’s envy. It was taken on Fifth Avenue, right near Tiffany and Co., an extremely ritzy area of Manhattan. The woman was a model on location, being fussed over by a team of people. I was across the street with the 70-200mm lens and I was able to steal that shot as the photographers commissioned to take her picture were at work doing the same. It would be a dream for me to have that kind of opportunity in the near future, with a model all styled with hair and makeup, and a team taking care of all the other logistics so I could just concentrate on composition.
180mm – f/2.8 – 1/400 – ISO 100
This woman is a vendor at an outdoor flea market, selling straw bowls, and she was sitting down during a break and taking a call. She happened to look up as I was taking the picture with the 70-200, but it’s not like I asked her to pose, so it still looks natural and authentic. Everything about this scene made for a great color photo, from her flawless, incredible skin to the colorful headwrap she had on to the tapestry of the bag she was carrying. The fact that you can see part of “New York” on the bag also gives a sense of place, like I discussed earlier. Although she was my subject, I wanted the bowls in the image also, so I placed them subtly in the foreground.
35mm – f/1.8 – 1/500 – ISO 100
Louis Mendes is probably one of the most photographed photographers in the world, and a centerpiece of the New York City landscape. I was returning a lens on Ninth Avenue last year, and he was out there taking pictures; he frequently stands in that location and takes people’s portraits for a fee. I spotted him, and he looked so interesting and distinguished, from the way he was dressed to his classic 1940s camera. I walked up to him and started a conversation with him and it led to this portrait with the 35mm.
To see more of Dominic Cox’s photos, check out his Instagram @PhotographyIsTheMuse.
October 26, 2017, Commack, New York— Tamron USA, Inc. , announces the launch of a new ultra-telephoto zoom lens, 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD (Model A035), for full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras. The Model A035 delivers fast and precise AF performance and consistently powerful VC (Vibration Compensation) 4 stops*1 benefits thanks to the high-speed Dual MPU (Micro-Processing Unit) control system that is found in the latest Tamron lens models. The advanced optical design of Model A035 includes three LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements for aberration reduction and Tamron’s original eBAND Coating for superior anti-reflection performance. At 1.115g (39.3 oz), the new lens is the lightest in its class*2 and features magnesium alloy in key areas of the lens barrel to ensure weight reduction, and improve strength and portability. Model A035 is compatible with Tamron’s 1.4X tele converter and the Tamron TAP-in ConsoleTM that enables lens customizations for focus adjustments, VC mechanism adjustments and more. Additionally, an Arca Swiss compatible tripod mount is available as an optional accessory. The new Tamron 100-400mm will be available in both Canon and Nikon mounts on November 16th at $799.
1. High-speed Dual MPU (Micro-Processing Unit) control system delivers quick and highly
responsive autofocus performance plus outstanding VC image stabilization
The Dual MPU system includes an MPU dedicated to vibration compensation processing, enhancing the computational capacity of the entire system. An MPU with built-in DSP (Digital Signal Processor) provides high-speed digital signal processing and achieves outstanding autofocus performance and vibration compensation, both indispensable for ultra-telephoto photography.
2. Superb image quality in an ultra-telephoto zoom lens
The Model A035 includes three LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements for optimal optical design and aberration correction. Lighter weight, increased light transmission and crisp images with excellent contrast are achieved by reducing the number of lens elements while ensuring an appropriate balance with aberration correction. The A035 has minimum object distance (MOD) of 1.5 m (59 in) and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.6 for close-up work.
3. Exclusive eBAND Coating reduces flare and ghosting
The new A035 features Tamron’s eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating, which has an extremely low refractive index and fine multiple-layer coating technology, to achieve outstanding antireflection performance. BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating, with excellent antireflection characteristics, increases light transmission. These coating technologies greatly reduce the ghosting and flare that can occur when subjects are backlit.
4. Lightest weight, 1,115 g (39.3 oz) lens in the ultra-telephoto zoom lens class*, and only 196.5 mm (7.7 in) long
Magnesium alloy is used in key areas of the lens barrel to improve weight reduction, strength and portability. Total length of 196.5 mm (Nikon mount) means a compact size for an ultra-telephoto zoom lens covering up to 400 mm, and the A035 can therefore be easily carried in a standard camera bag. Combined with excellent vibration compensation functions, the compact size enables successful handheld ultra-telephoto photography.
5. Optional accessory tripod mount is Arca-Swiss compatible
An Arca-Swiss style tripod mount is available as an optional accessory. Designed exclusively for Model A035, it provides quick and secure attachment to a tripod and greater stability. An easy-to-hold grip shape includes an expanded mounting plane, and the use of magnesium helps achieve lighter weight, thereby further facilitating handheld photography.
6. Compatible with tele-converters and TAP-in Console
Model A035 is compatible with tele converters designed exclusively for Tamron lenses to achieve 1.4X and 2X the original focal length*. It’s also compatible with Tamron’s TAP-in Console (Model TAP-01), an optional accessory enabling users to update lens firmware and customize the lens settings, including adjustments of focusing positions for autofocusing and the operation modes for the lens’s Vibration Compensation system.
*Use of the 1.4× tele converter results in light reduction of 1 F stop; use of the 2× tele converter results in the loss of 2 F stops
Available focusing mode when used with 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD (Model A035)
|When using viewfinder||When using live view mode|
|With 1.4x tele converter||AF3*4/MF||AF4/MF|
|With 2.0x tele converter||MF||AF4/MF|
3 Autofocus functions normally on any camera that offers F/8 autofocusing (see your camera’s instruction manual for your camera’s ability).
4 Subjects with low contrast and/or luminosity values can sometimes result in out-of-focus images.
7. Moisture-Resistant construction and fluorine coating for enhanced weather protection
The surface of the front element is coated with a protective fluorine compound that has excellent water- and oil-repellant qualities. The front surface is easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture or oily fingerprints, allowing for much easier maintenance. Also, with active use of the A035 for outdoor photography likely, sealant is used in each of the movable and joining areas of the lens barrel to resist the intrusion of moisture.
8. Electromagnetic diaphragm system now used also for Nikon-mount lenses
An electromagnetic diaphragm system, which has been a standard feature for Canon-mount lenses, is now employed in Nikon-mount lenses*. More precise diaphragm and aperture control is possible because the diaphragm blades are driven and controlled by a built-in motor through electronic pulse signals.
* Available only with cameras compatible with the electromagnetic diaphragm (D5, D4s, D4, D3X, Df, D850，D810, D810A, D800, D800E, D750, D600, D610, D300S, D500, D7500, D7200, D7100, D7000, D5600, D5500, D5300, D5200, D5100, D5000, D3400, D3300, D3200, D3100). (As of October, 2017; Tamron)
9. External design places importance on functionality and ease of use
While inheriting the design that makes use of many organic curves and the delicately polished form down to fine details that characterize the SP lens series, the new Model A035 comes with a highly sophisticated design that also places a lot of importance on the lens’s functionality and ease of use, featuring an overall form that faithfully encompasses the internal structures within, a slim Luminous Gold brand ring and the switch shape design.
Fly Fishing in Wyoming with the Tamron 70-200mm
Growing up in Colorado, and now a grad student at the University of Wyoming, Ben Kraushaar has spent his entire life immersed in the great outdoors. He’d always been interested in taking pictures while enjoying Mother Nature, but it wasn’t until 2012 when this casual hobby captured more of his attention.
“I’d decided to hike the Colorado Trail, a nearly 500-mile backpacking trip that starts in Denver and ends in Durango,” he says. “I wanted to document the journey, so I finally invested in a relatively decent camera. My goal was to fly-fish the whole trail and take photos the entire time. After that trip, I published an article about my experience in a fly-fishing magazine, and that was the catalyst for all of my future adventures.”
This summer Ben indulged both passions in Wyoming, where his girlfriend, Anna, was conducting fieldwork. To capture photos on this fly-fishing trip, he used the new Tamron SP 70-200mm VC G2 lens, which he says was invaluable for its focal-length range and Vibration Compensation (VC) technology. “With the 5-stop image stabilization on this lens, it made shooting handheld much easier—and I primarily shoot handheld when I’m fly-fishing,” he says. “It’s too much to haul a tripod into the backcountry. The VC proved especially helpful, as I generally have to use a really fast shutter speed to slow the bend of the rod down to freeze it. The best fly-fishing photos are also generally in lower light, so having that VC allows me to use that faster shutter speed in those lighting conditions to freeze the scene.”
Telling the story of a full day of fly-fishing means paying attention to every aspect of the sport. “It’s more of a lifestyle than an individual event, so there are plenty of things associated with it that can serve as subjects,” Ben notes. “Whether it’s photos of people camping, getting ready to fish, or the actual act of fishing, there’s plenty of versatility in terms of the tale you can tell. You also can’t neglect those amazing landscapes in front of your camera, or the close-up shots of the fish if you’re lucky enough to catch one.”
Ben typically heads out in the late afternoon or early evening for his fly-fishing adventures. “The best fishing is during those times, and that coincides with the best light,” he says. “I don’t mind shooting in midday if it’s overcast, but when it’s sunny, it’s hard to reduce all of the shadows. I shoot all natural light, mainly because carrying extra lighting equipment would be difficult. Since I’m also fly-fishing, I usually have my rod and other fishing gear, so I try to keep my photography equipment to a bare minimum.”
The 70-200 G2’s maximum F/2.8 aperture helps Ben set the scene as he wades, often knee-deep, into the water. “When I’m shooting a photo of someone casting a line, I try to use a low aperture like that F/2.8, especially when there’s a busy background,” he says. “Whether it’s trees or bushes, that low aperture helps blur out the background and isolate my subject. It also eliminates noise when I’m trying to get a silhouette of my subject against a blue sky or the water.”
Ben’s biggest challenges when fly-fishing? Besides that less-than-ideal lighting during midday fishing expeditions, it would be the natural perils that come with the sport. “Sometimes the rivers are really slippery,” he says. “I have to do my best to try not to fall in and ruin my equipment.”
Which leads to the important matter of Ben keeping his gear protected. “I’ve yet to drop my camera in the water, but I have dropped five phones,” he laughs. “Sometimes I can tuck my camera in my waders a bit, so when I’m walking and splashing in the water, it’s not getting very wet, but the moisture-resistant build on this lens helps immensely on dreary, drizzly days. Sometimes my favorite photos come from when I’m out in the rain or snow, so having that water resistance is clutch and gives me the confidence that I’m not damaging my gear.”
Here, six of Ben’s images from his trip to the Cowboy State:
200mm, F/2.8, 1/400th sec., ISO 400
This is a photo of my girlfriend, Anna. She’s a wildlife biologist. She always likes wearing colorful bandannas to keep the sun off her face and neck, and she’s shooting me a little glare here because I’m taking her picture. What’s nice about the 70-200 G2 is its capabilities as a portrait lens. With that F/2.8 aperture, you can achieve appealing bokeh and create some beautiful portraits.
190mm, F/2.8, 1/400th sec., ISO 400
This photo of Anna catching a trout was taken on a river near Pinedale. It was evening, so the gold reflection on the water is from that last golden light in the sky. The river was mostly in the shadows, but the sun was really low, so I was able to capture all of those yellow-orange tones.
I was standing up on a hillside for this shot. At that higher perspective, I was able to get nothing but water next to her in the frame. If I’d been positioned lower, I would’ve gotten the bank on the other side of the river, which would’ve taken away from the photo. I was at 190mm, so I was zoomed almost all the way in.
200mm, F/2.8, 1/1600th sec., ISO 100
70mm, F/2.8, 1/3200th sec., ISO 100
These next two photos show Anna casting a line, which means I had to try to freeze the action, as I discussed earlier. Usually, the line and the tip of the rod are moving really fast, so to freeze that and not get any blur of the line or rod, you have to shoot really fast. I usually end up shooting 1/1000th or faster for fly-fishing. Having that F/2.8 maximum aperture at 200mm allows me to get really tight and isolate my subject.
116mm, F/2.8, 1/640th sec., ISO 100
When you’re out on the river, there are an endless number of potential objects to shoot through and use as frames for your subjects. It’s really fun to play around with. In this case I blurred the greenery in the foreground a bit, which made an effective frame for Anna as she was wading away from me.
I also like the composition of this image (the whole walking-away narrative), because with fly-fishing, there’s a mysterious aspect to it. People will often post a picture of themselves fishing somewhere, and they won’t want to give their location away because it’s a sweet spot. So having just a hat in the photo, or someone looking away, adds to the whole secretive nature of the sport.
70mm, F/2.8, 1/2000th sec., ISO 100
We were at a lake near Dubois, Wyoming, and we came upon this scene with this one huge, random boulder. If you look around the rest of this area, it’s pretty clear of any sort of rocks, yet here we had this one beast. I wanted to take a landscape shot, but by putting a person into it, I was able to create a sense of scale. With this lens, you can zoom out to get a wider view or get the subject tighter in the scene by pulling the background in closer.
200mm, F/2.8, 1/2000th sec., ISO 100
This is a photo of one of my girlfriend’s collaborators on her research project; she’s also really into fly-fishing. Here’s where she’s holding up the ultimate prize—a fish she caught. Sometimes you can spend over an hour trying to figure out what fly to tie on or what the fish are eating, so when you finally do catch a fish, it’s a very rewarding experience that proves you solved some sort of puzzle.
When that happens, the atmosphere changes from super-quiet peacefulness to animated excitement. I wanted to document that energy, and the emotions she was showing through her facial expressions, when she got to finally hold the results of all her hard efforts. By zooming in to 200mm, I was able to capture that moment.
To see more of Ben Kraushaar’s work, go to www.benjaminkraushaar.com.
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Two Tamron lenses accompanied Vinit on his trip to the Last Frontier: the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 VC and the SP 150-600mm VC G2. “I definitely wanted to have the 150-600 with me for taking pictures of wildlife,” he says. “And I found it useful for other logistical reasons. For example, when you’re in Denali National Park, you can’t take your private vehicle into much of it, so we were on a bus. Shooting through bus glass can be tricky, but my handheld pictures of the snowcapped mountains through the windows came out amazing.”