Category Archives: Fall Color

Mono Lake Drama

Mono Lake is one of my favorite places for photography.  My wife, 3 small dogs, and I make an annual trip to the Eastern Sierra for Fall colors and I always try to make the short trip to Mono Lake.  This year was no exception.

As usual, I brought along several cameras.  The lineup included my Olympus E-M5, Sony RX100, and Panasonic FZ1000.  So far the FZ1000 has seen the most use, followed closely by the RX100.  Sadly the E-M5 has seen no use (the trip isn’t over just yet).  Why the FZ1000?  Because it is the most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I used it to make photos of everything from the Alabama Hills and Eastern Sierra under nothing but moonlight, and to take quick snaps of a herd of deer passing through camp, handheld in low light.

Getting back to Mono Lake. I had a lot of fun with the FZ1000.  The clouds were really dramatic on the day of my visit.  They were so dramatic that they almost didn’t seem real.  I’m sure Mono Lake has had millions of photos made of it.  One of the things I like to do is see if I can find something different, something unique to set my photos apart.  The stormy sky was a big help with that!  The other thing I did was try out some of the different artistic modes available in the FZ1000.  I did shoot normally (RAW, aperture priority, ISO 125/200), but also made quite a few photos using the “Dramatic Black and White” mode.

Here are the results in Dramatic Black and White:

And just for fun, here are some in color (edited from the original RAW files):

I know there are some of you that are wondering if a camera like the FZ1000 is for you. Nobody can answer that question for you but you. But based on my experience using this camera, I can say with confidence that it is an amazing camera! Yes, it is considered a bridge camera (not a DSLR), and it has a 1″ sensor vs cameras with larger APS-C and M43 sensors. And one more thing, it really isn’t that small. In fact, it’s quite large compared to my E-M5. On the plus side, it is quick and easy to use. And not having to change lenses is huge! I carry it and a few other supplies in a small messenger bag. I think the image quality is excellent, and I’m able to tweak the RAW files as much (or little) as I want. Don’t count this camera out (or one like it) just because of its sensor size!

That’s it for this post, until next time Happy Shooting!

Tips and Tricks

How many times have you come across advertisements, tweets, or the like where it starts out something like this, “20 Crazy Tips and Tricks to Make You a Better Photographer”.  I’ve seen more of these than I can count.  It seems that everyone is looking for a shortcut, some magic pill that will make them automatically jump to the head of the line and become the “best” photographer in town.  As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of this approach.

Are there any quick and easy ways to improve your photography?  Good question, and I don’t know that I have the answer for that.  I do know that there is one way to improve, and that would be to work at it!  Vince Lombardi said it best, “the price of success is hard work”.  What does that mean as it relates to photography?  Again, a good question and another that I don’t know if I have the answer.  To begin the process of improvement I think you need to know what it is that you want from your photography.  What inspires you, makes you want to take your camera out and push the button?  Is it the stark beauty of black and white, or is it the vibrant color of a landscape painted in Fall Color?  Or could it be to capture family memories as your kids grow up?  It helps give some direction to your quest for improvement by knowing what it is that you want.

“What about the gear?” you may be asking right about now.  You may be worried that you only have a simple point and shoot camera or just use the camera on your phone.  My thoughts on gear are pretty simple and while not original go something like this, the best camera is the one you have with you!  You might have the most expensive Canon or Nikon and all of the best lenses that money can buy.  Unfortunately that won’t do you any good if it’s sitting at home when something grabs your attention and you have nothing to capture the moment with.  So having a simple point and shoot or your phone is ok.  They may have some limitations that the higher end gear doesn’t, but in the end it’s the image and/or the memory that count.  Don’t get me wrong, you need to know how to use the device that you have.  You should know how to use it backwards and forwards so when the moment comes that you need it you aren’t wasting time fiddling around with the knobs and buttons.  This is the part that anyone can learn, the technical part.  It’s the other part that gets tricky!

What is the other part?  Still another good question, and I still don’t know if I have an answer for it.  To me the other part is the emotional impact that an image has.  It’s the thing that grabs you and makes you want to look at it.  You may wonder what it was like to be there, or what was the photographer trying to tell you,  or what’s the story behind it.  When this happens with one of my images I know I’m on the right track.  It’s very seldom that gear talk comes into play when I have successfully created an image with emotional impact.  Does the gear really matter at this point?  Only to those gear heads that can’t see beyond the pixels.  When I’ve successfully created that image that really works, who cares if I did it with a Canon, Sony or Olympus.  I don’t want to come off as insincere because I will post the gear used for a particular shot.  This is simply done as a matter of record to those that are interested.  Maybe someone is interested because they are in the market for a new camera and are looking for examples for comparison sake.  In that regard I hope the camera info I post is of use.

How do you learn the other part?  Another good and hard to answer question.  Hopefully I’m not coming across as dumb by not having the answer to all of these good questions.  I think these words on the subject are about the best you’ll find, “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” ― Ansel Adam

Can this be learned in a class or workshop?  Personally speaking that approach doesn’t work for me.  But maybe it will work for you.  The best thing to do is get out there are try it.  Try a lot of things.  There are some great resources floating around out there on the web, and most of them are free.  If you want to step it up there are also plenty of lessons out there that may cost you a few bucks, but in the end they may be worth it.  If you are the sort of person that learns best from a classroom setting just be sure that you are there to develop your vision and not just mimic the instructors.  And I’d suggest that you check out the content of the class or workshop.  If you are interested in black and white street photography then signing up for a workshop focusing on landscapes may not be right for you.

In closing this post I’d like to point out something that I’ve learned in all of my years with photography, and that is that I still have a lot to learn.  Hopefully you’ll discover your own path and vision!

Below are a few images of scenes that inspire me.  What is it that inspires you?  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

I’m Back!

It’s been a while since my last post.  After my last air show things have slowed down a bit (at least with the camera).  Other than family get togethers, I haven’t done a lot of photography.

Summer isn’t really one of my favorite seasons.  Usually I try to just get through it and prepare for Fall.  During this slower time I enjoy going back through my photos from the past and editing them, and if they are good enough, share them.

One of the things I recently purchased for my up coming Eastern Sierra trip is a Trigger Trap.  This is a combination App for my phone, and an adaptor that connects my phone to my camera.  The app allows me to control everything from a single shot, to various types of interval shooting, including timelapse.  I did a quick test in the backyard and so far I’m impressed and can’t wait to see what it can do!

In addition to working with my photo’s, I have been taking my Olympus E-M5 with me in the backyard.  There’s a Hummingbird that’s been teasing me.  I call my E-M5 Hummingbird repellent.  It seems that every time I get it out and ready, the Hummingbird won’t show up!  That’s ok, I enjoy the challenge, and have managed to get a couple of shots.


I’m going to end this post with a new favorite photo I recently shared on several sites. It’s a favorite because I think it really captures the spirt of one of the special places that I enjoy for photography (and fishing, dog walks, and family time). This is Silver Lake, on the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierra. It seems like yesterday, but this was taken last year, right after one of several snow storms we were privileged to experience!

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

That’s it for now. Until next time, Happy Shooting!