Tag Archives: Manfrotto

Eastern Sierra, 2013

I’m back!  My wife, 3 dogs and I have spent the last 3 weeks camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort, right across the street from Silver Lake, on the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierra.

Silver Lake and Carson Peak

Although we visit there every year, the experience is never the same.  One year we had late afternoon thunderstorms almost every day.  Last year we had very warm weather for most of the month we were there.  This year we had snow on 3 different occasions!

As for photography, this year was a little different in respect as well.  If you’ve followed this blog at all, you may have noticed that I’m moving towards smaller, lighter cameras and associated accessories.  This year, I really made use of my Olympus E-P3 and Panasonic GX-1.  These are categorized as Micro 4/3rds (M4/3), mirrorless cameras.  Although I did bring my Canon 60D DSLR, I only used it a couple of times.

On one occasion, I brought both my 60D and Oly out at the same time, mostly as a side by side comparison in real world usage.  I took them to Mono Lake’s South Tufa, and carried them and all of their supporting “stuff” down the boardwalk and across the sand to the Tufa.  This isn’t a scientific, pixel peeping review of the results, but rather my opinion of each type camera system in a real life situation.  Here’s my bottom line – if someone would have made me a fair offer for the Canon stuff, I would have sold it then and there!  What a pain in the back it was!  After carrying it around I was really sorry that I brought it.  Yes, the sensor is bigger than the Oly’s.  Yes, it’s better at action photography.  But, I wasn’t shooting action.  And to my eye, the image quality isn’t any better that what I’m getting out of the Oly.

There is one thing I can say about my Oly, it is tough!  I slipped and fell once and smacked it on the ground.  Another time I got fumble fingered and dropped it.  Although it has a couple of nicks and dings, it works perfectly.

If you have a DSLR that you like, keep liking and using it!  I’m not here to talk anyone out of their DSLR.  I’m just sharing my experience in case you are curious about something smaller, but don’t want to drop down to a point and shoot.  There are options!

Rant Warningthe opinion expressed in the following rant are my own, your experience my vary!

One of the other things I noticed this year was the behavior of other photographers.  I’ve met and talked with quite a few over the past few years.  When it’s just one or two out by themselves, they were usually approachable and polite when greeted with a “good morning”.  But when I was unfortunate enough to come across a group of them (workshop) I found them unfriendly, rude, and obnoxious.  What is it that turns people into jerks when they group together?  I would be embarrassed if I were part of one of these groups with people behaving so badly.  It seemed to me – if you were in one of these groups or workshops, you owned all of the view around you.  One jerk in particular was loudly proclaiming to some poor folks, that dared venture near him, that he needed them out of his field of view, which looked to be in excess of 180 degrees (this didn’t happen just once while he was taking a picture, but over and over).  And this isn’t the only example.  I ran across at least 3 of these groups, and didn’t see much difference between them.

While I’ve never been part of a photography workshop or photography group, I wouldn’t want you to give up the idea because of what I’ve experienced.  I’m sure there are some good ones out there, with leaders that would reel in the jerks, I just haven’t seen it happen.  But if you wanted to join one of these groups, go for it, they just aren’t for me.

End of Rant…

Back to photography.  This year I really tried to slow down and take my time composing my shots.  I also tried to focus attention to single elements in the frame and not go for each whole grand scene.  Sometimes I would include an anchor in the foreground, something that would add interest, and help give some depth to a scene.  Other times I would focus on something small, like a leaf.  There are exceptions, such as when the sky was really putting on a show over Mono Lake, but for the most part, I tried to keep my images this year much more intimate.

After 3 weeks of shooting I have a lot of editing to do.  It’s funny, when people see me walking back to the motorhome carrying my gear, they ask if I’ve gotten a lot of great shots.  I usually say, “I hope so”.  That may seem like a funny answer, but until you actually look at what you have on a larger screen, you don’t really have an idea if you “got a lot of great shots”.  Looking at pictures on the little LCD on the camera gives you general idea, but you need to see them on the computer screen to make any real determination if it’s a keeper or gets tossed.

Here are some of the photos that I’ve had time to work on:

Silver Lake Pond

Carson Peak

The Log, Silver Lake

Silver Lake Leaves

That’s it for now.  If you have a different opinion or experience with either DSLR’s vs other options or photography workshops, don’t be bashful, use the comment section.

Until next time – Happy Shooting!

I Can’t Wait For Fall!

One of the things I really look forward to each year is changing seasons, especially from Summer to Fall.  Where I live we get some crazy temperature swings while going through this transition, but I love it just the same.

What I really enjoy about this time of year is heading out for a photo adventure.  There are many different places to go, but the Eastern Sierra is at the top of my list.  I realize that there’s quite a show in the Eastern States, but the Eastern Sierra does a pretty admirable job too!
I started really paying attention to the Fall colors in the Eastern Sierra about 6 years ago.   My wife and I made a special trip to see all of the brilliant color for ourselves.  Back then I had my trusty Canon Rebel 300D, my 1st DSLR.  At the time it was quite advanced with it’s 6 megapixels and interchangeable lens. I could add filters, use an external flash, and make very respectable prints from 4×6 to 8×10. In case you’ve never seen the 300D or forgot what it looked like, here’s a picture of one:

When we arrived at our destination I could hardly believe how beautiful it was!  Stunning color everywhere.  The Aspen’s were various shades of yellow, orange, and red.  I knew this was going to a special trip with many photo opportunities!  We started out in the high country above Bishop California, in and around Bishop Creek:

Fortunately, we were not limited to the Bishop Creek area.  The color was everywhere there were Aspen tree’s in the Eastern Sierra.  We explored the June Lake Loop and the Lundy Lake area.  It was interesting to see so many other photographers running around. This was one time of the year when the Fishermen were outnumbered by another group of outdoor enthusiast.

With regards to my photography, I didn’t really do anything special.  I did most of my work back then in jpeg format, and almost always in Aperture Priority mode (meaning I would select the aperture and the camera would set the shutter speed).  I would set my ISO to 100 to eliminate the potential for any noise in my images.  One of the things I was religious about was using a tripod.  I have a big, heavy Manfrotto.  Yes there are newer models out that are not so heavy, but they are expensive and my old Manfrotto is rock steady, so I’ll save my money and keep using it!  The last thing I did was using neutral density filters when I was around water.

Neutral density filters are a handy tool when you want to reduce the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor.  In this case I wanted to use a long shutter speed to cause the moving water to blur (inferring motion), but didn’t want to overexpose my image.  You can get neutral density filters in varying degrees of light blocking power.  Be sure to read the description because each maker seems to have their own terminology regarding how much light (usually measured in Stops) will be reduced.  Here are a couple of examples of using a neutral density filter to blur moving water:

There’s a final tip I can share, something that I’m also religious about!  While you can try taking pictures all day, there are really only 2 times of the day when you’ll have the best light (sometimes only 1 time depending on where you are).  If you want to nail that contest winning image, especially in the Eastern Sierra, you’re going to have to get your butt out of bed!  Magic happens when the sun is rising over the White Mountains and you see the Alpen Glow on the Eastern Sierra.  I’ve started many of my photo outings at 5:00am (depending on where I was going).  I wanted to get to my spot, and be set up and ready to go when the show starts!  And I must say that I’ve rarely been disappointed.  Some mornings may be a little better than others, but stop and look where you are!  You are in God’s Country and it doesn’t get much better than that!

Here are a couple links to the places I get most of my photo gear.  You can go there and search on neutral density filters, or Manfrotto tripods, or anything else having to do with photography:

Adorama: http://www.adorama.com/
B&H:  http://www.bhphotovideo.com/

Be sure to visit my gallery (click the Photo Gallery link at the top of the page).  Until next time, Happy Shooting!