On May 31st Nikon announced the release of the brand new AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens.

I’m excited to say that I had the honor and privilege of once again working with Nikon to create images for the launch of this lens.

Alabama Hills by Moonlight. Nikon D810, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

And though creating sample images for a new lens might seem as straightforward as walking around with a camera and lens in hand, the truth is that I had a ton of other tools with me to make the shoot a success. Everything from backpacking and camping equipment, to a silly number of memory cards and redundant hard drives, to warm clothes and a trusty alarm clock to kick my ass out of bed for those early morning shoots. But more than any other piece of supporting equipment there was one thing that helped me create these images for Nikon, and that was my Induro CLT 204 tripod.

“yeah it’s gorgeous there, but man is it windy!”

Shooting timelapse in the Valle Frances, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

You see, I decided to do the shoot in southern Patagonia, primarily in Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks. And these places are famous for two things: superlative natural beauty, and preposterously bad weather. Everyone who’s visited these parks will tell you: “yeah it’s gorgeous there, but man is it windy!” So I knew I’d need a rock solid platform to shoot from.

Nikon D810, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

And true to its reputation, southern Patagonia provided me with sensational landscapes to photograph, along with brutal weather to confound me. There were days of relentless rain of course, and clouds, and fog, and wind. But even during the moderately crappy days I was able to enjoy being out creating photos, thanks to the stability of the CLT 204.

Nikon D500, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

But I have to admit that when the wind really picked up I was at an impasse. Multiple times I encountered steady 50mph+ winds, with occasional gusts of 60-70 mph. At times the wind was so strong that even bearing down with my bodyweight couldn’t keep my camera and tripod from bouncing around. At those times it was best to retreat inside to read a book and wonder at the fury of the tempest outside.

But in contrast to that I also saw languidly calm days, piercingly blue skies, and scintillating sunrises and sunsets. And those were the days I relished. Those were the days when early morning wake ups led to ruby red alpenglow on the Cuernos del Paine.

Nikon D500, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

My best photography comes from getting away from the popular viewpoints

Those were the days when a blindingly bright sun illuminated the jagged textures and rich colors of the Grey Glacier.

Nikon D810, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

And those were the days when a mix of conditions led to fascinating atmospheric phenomena.

Nikon D810, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

For me, doing photography in any national park means hiking. Not only do I enjoy the exercise, but I find that my best photography comes from getting away from the popular viewpoints, hitting the paths less traveled, and allowing my inspiration to flow freely from the scene in front of me.

But one of the sure fire ways to make hiking miserable is to carry a too-heavy pack, especially when you’re trying to cover long distances. For example, a day-hike I took into the French Valley in Torres del Paine was around 16 miles round trip. I knew I’d be gone the entire day so I brought breakfast and lunch, plenty of snacks, and around 2 liters of water. Plus a rain jacket, down jacket, hat, gloves, and headlamp. Being serious about photography meant I was also carrying two camera bodies, multiple lenses, spare batteries, and different filters. It was a heavy load, and the last thing I wanted to add was the dead weight of a tripod. But that’s one thing I like about the carbon fiber CLT 204: despite its large size and stability it really doesn’t weigh all that much. Which means I can cover the distances I need to and still get the shots I want.

you can give yourself an advantage by using good equipment

Nikon D810, AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens, Induro CLT 204 Tripod

In addition to stills I also shot timelapse video for the release of this new Nikkor lens. And for timelapse, perhaps even more than for stills, you need a perfectly stationary tripod. Over the course of 4 or 5 days I shot multiple minutes’ worth of timelapse, at sunrise and sunset, or during some dramatic afternoon light.
Here’s some quick BTS footage of the camera, lens, and tripod in action.

And here is the resulting timelapse footage:

In the end it was a truly incredible experience to photograph in southern Patagonia, and an incredible honor to be entrusted by Nikon to create photos for the launch of this new lens. Nature photography doesn’t come with a guarantee, so it’s somewhat stressful to be asked to produce high-level imagery in one of the most fickle landscapes on the planet. But you can give yourself an advantage by using good equipment, and in this case having an excellent tripod with me helped immeasurably.

For more sample photos and thoughts about the lens, check out this article.