joe macnally


Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries, charger and case.

Batteries are key to all things digital.

About seven months ago I decided to stop the endless cycle of purchasing AA batteries and made the switch to Sanyo's eneloop Ni-MH rechargeable batteries for use in my strobes.

There are plenty of rechargeable battery options out there, but so far I have not had any issues using these in my Nikon SB900 and SB910. I also have been using them in my wireless keyboard and mouse.

Upfront they are more expensive than traditional AAs, but if you have ever had to run into a convenience store on the way to an assignment, then you know that isn't always the case. Given that scenario, spending $12.99 on a 4-Pack of rechargeable AA's  seems like a bargain, right?

Things to consider if you make the switch.

1. Buy enough rechargeable batteries so you can eliminate the need for traditional batteries altogether.
2. The batteries come pre-charged and are ready for use right out of the pack.
3. Once charged, the manufacturer claims the batteries will hold that charge for three years.
4. While initial cost is more, they pay for themselves quickly.
5. You have to carry another charger and remember to use it.

I recently read a great tip for organizing your rechargeable batteries over on Joe McNally's blog. To avoid mixing charged and depleted batteries use two pouches, such as Eagle Creek Pack-It Sacs, one green for charged batteries and red one for depleted batteries. If you can't find red and green, then really any two colors will work as long as it makes sense to you.

Final word of advice if you decide to make the transition. Habits are hard to break, so be careful to not throw your new rechargeable batteries in the trash. The best case is that you realize it and have to simply dig through the garbage, worse case, it becomes an expensive mistake.

Finally if all goes wrong, there is always that convenience store.


HDR photograph of Owl's Head lighthouse in Maine.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photograph taken during a family vacation to Maine during the winter. This was the first vacation that I remember where I specifically wanted to take photographs as part of the experience.
For many years taking pictures has been my job. That's not to say I didn't like being a photographer, in fact I loved it, and still do, however over time I came to realize that the only work I had to show was related to the job. And while I am proud of that work and still get excited to see my photos in print, I had stopped taking images for the fun of it. Very little personal photography.

When someone would discover I was a photographer they would invariably ask what I liked to take pictures of, or where they could see my work and until recently the best I could offer was a website that hadn't been updated in nine years or maybe tell them to do a Google search on my name plus Navy and they would see some examples.

So what changed? What has me excited about personal photography again? Why am I blogging and tweeting again, posting photos on Flickr, 500px, and Google+? The answer isn't simple, but I do know it has something to do with the web and more specifically the incredible photographers, some young and some recognizable, out there who are sharing their work and techniques everywhere, mostly on the sites I mentioned above, but also through their blogs and videos on YouTube.

HDR photograph from the rafters of the Museum of the U.S. Navy.
Experimenting with HDR at the Museum of the U.S. Navy located at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.
This didn't happen overnight and it's been kind of a slow return. I really started getting excited about the time that High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography was coming on the scene and I stumbled across Trey Ratcliff's site. Trey's incredible images and willingness to share how he made them had me trying HDR techniques myself and I was hooked. It was fun to try something new. But more than that, blogs and web TV from Scott Kelby and the Photoshop guys, podcasts from Leo Laporte and the TWIT network, all had me itching to get back out there.

Joe Macnally of National Geographic and small strobe fame along with David Hobby from had me actually looking forward to taking environmental portraits at work again.

All this isn't really new I guess, I've been following photographers like Rob Galbraith, Dave Black and others on the web for a long time. I suppose it all just hit the tipping point and I'm glad.

So thanks to all those photographers who are so willing to share and make it easy to feel as if I'm surrounded by friends with the ability to share work, discuss work and for the inspiration to dust off my website and blog.

After 28 years in the business it really is nice to feel so inspired again.