Tag Archives: Mono Lake

Photo Contests

Now that my wife and I are back from our amazing vacation to the Eastern Sierra, I have many, many gigs of photos to go through.

One of the fun things that I’m doing with all of these images is entering a few of them in an ongoing photo contest on the State Parks website: http://www.myparkphotos.com/potd.html

So far, I entered 4 images and have been fortunate enough for each one to be selected as Photo of the Day!  Hopefully I’ll have a shot at Photo of the Month.

This is what I posted, take a look and let me know what you think (you can comment below)!

Click on each image to see a larger version

And finally, here’s another photo from the trip that I entered in the B&H Photo/Video Fall Color Contest:

In case you’re wondering, these images were created using either my Canon 60D, or my Sony NEX3.  Each of these is a composite of at least 2 images, merged to bring out the full range of detail in both the shadows and highlights using Photomatix and Photoshop.

I’ll try to put my thoughts and process in some kind of logical order and dedicate a post on HDR (at least my take on it).

That it for now.  With a little luck I’ll be sharing a Photo of the Month!  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

My New (Old) Camera

I’m back!  It’s been a fantastic month-long vacation in the Eastern Sierra with my wonderful wife and 2 Cairn Terriers.  In addition to a lot of fishing, I was also able to use 4 of the 5 cameras I brought along, including my latest addition – the Sony F707.

Aggie and Cairn Terriers

Aggie, Mulligan & Sullivan – Sony NEX3

For a camera that’s at least 10 years old, the F707 has some pretty impressive features.  These include:

  • 5.24 megapixels
  • Zeiss F2.0 Lens
  • Swivel Body
  • Exposure Bracketing
  • Burst Mode
  • Center Weighted, Multi-Segment, Spot Metering
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene Modes
  • Night Shot Mode
  • Viewfinder and LCD

I’m not going to attempt a full review in this post.  That’s already been done and you can read about it here:  DPReview, Sony F707

What I am going to do is talk about using this camera, and contrast it to something more modern.  I actually had a camera very similar to this one (the Sony F717) when it first came out, and loved using it.  In fact, that’s what started this little project.  I was looking through my files and came across photos I made with the old F717, and was reminded of just how good that camera was.  Don’t get the wrong message here, the photographer creates the image, the camera is just a tool.  What I mean is the quality of the photo includes color, contrast, noise, and sharpness.

Back to the vacation.  We were camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort on the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierra.  This was the perfect location for photography with easy access to beautiful lakes, streams, trails, wildlife, and one of my other favorites – Mono Lake.  I’ll talk more about Mono Lake and some of the other Eastern Sierra locations in future posts.

With all of the photo opportunities just outside my motorhome’s door, I got busy quickly.  Unless we decided to go fishing, I had at least 1 camera with me, usually 2.  The F707 was one of the 1st cameras to go around my neck.

The F707 has a nice feel to it.  Just enough of a handful to feel solid, but not so much as to be a pain to carry around.  The large barrel that houses the lens and some of the controls is also a good place to grip.  There was a little lag time from the moment I turned the camera on until it was ready to shoot.  The tiny LCD was also interesting, but not totally useless.  I did end up using the viewfinder more, and for an EVF (electronic viewfinder), it wasn’t bad, although it didn’t come close to the viewfinder in my Canon DSLR.

The camera that I spent most of my time comparing to the F707 is my Sony NEX3.  The NEX3 isn’t classified as a Point and Shoot (P&S) or a DSLR, but rather an Interchangeable Lens Compact (ILC).  My NEX3 is the 1st generation of ILC by Sony and has a small rectangular body, large articulating display, and 18-55mm lens.  The other most notable feature of the NEX3 is that it has an APS-C sensor, the same size as the one in my Canon DSLR.

During my unscientific in-the-field shoot out, I’d have to give the nod to my NEX3.  The NEX3 has 10 years of technological innovation in it’s favor.  While the startup time isn’t that great, the camera is faster overall, very versatile in different lighting situations, and it’s image quality is outstanding.  One of the things I really like about the NEX3 is how well it works in low light.  The feature that I use a lot while in Aperture Priority mode is Auto HDR.  I just love how it captures much more of the detail in lower light without blowing out highlights.

In the F707’s favor, I have to say that it’s image quality is outstanding considering it’s age.  Even with a smaller sensor, the images are clean, contrasty, and colorful.  And if you keep the ISO low (100), there’s no image noise to speak of.  In order to more fairly compare to the NEX3, I did use the Auto Bracketing function quite a bit.  Processing the images was as simple as importing into Photoshop and running them through the NIK HDR Efex Pro plugin.

There was one area that the F707 came out ahead in, and that’s battery life.  The F707 is a power miser compared to my NEX3.  I’d go through two NEX3 batteries to one F707 battery.  One of the nice features of the F707 is that it displays battery life in actual minutes instead of the little bar.  This would be a feature Sony should consider bringing back!

In closing, I’d like to say that it was fun to use the F707.  If it was all I had to use, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it everywhere with me and use it until it wouldn’t work anymore.  I have to admit, I get caught up in the hype and sales pitches for all of the new cameras.  It’s a vice, I just love cameras.  Having said that, I still hold to this statement – the best camera is the one you have with you!  Use what you have, and use it well.  Learn all of its functions and features so it is second nature and you won’t miss that once in a lifetime shot because you were fiddling with the dials.  You may be surprised at the quality of your images!

Here are some images from both cameras.  Let me know what you think.  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Carson Peak, Sony F707

Carson Peak – Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Rush Creek, Sony NEX3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Camera Really Takes Good Pictures!

If I never hear that statement again, it’ll be too soon!  Not too long ago, I took some candid photos for my Company’s picnic.  Nothing special, just photos of people having fun on a very nice day.

In addition to all of the food, kid’s face painting, sack races, and more food, there was  a live band.  I thought it would be fun to capture a few photos of the band members.  Using my Canon 60D with 70-200 F4 L lens made it pretty easy.  The event was held in the middle of the day, at a park with plenty of sunshine, so the F4 lens was plenty fast enough!

After it was all said and done, I emailed one of the band members copies of some of the photos, and I know he appreciated them.  But along with his sincere “thanks a lot for the pictures”, came this line, “that camera really takes good pictures”.

What could I say?  I was really stunned for a couple of seconds!   Thoughts of saying something rude or at least a smart-ass comment came to mind, but I didn’t do it.  Other than being ignorant of the craft of photography, he is a nice guy and I know he probably thought he was giving me a compliment.  It was tough not to say something that I might later regret, after all, didn’t he realize that I’m an artist?!  I don’t just push the button and blast away (ok, you’ve got me on that one, sometimes I do)!

In the end, once I got over all of the things I could have said, and I just said “thanks, I’m glad that you liked them”.  And, my feeling weren’t really hurt, so no harm done.  And, while I may consider myself a photographic artist, I’m not a snob!

I’d love to have posted a couple of photos of the band so you could see what I was talking about, but since I don’t have permission to use them this way, I’ll leave you with something else….

This is from the South Tufa State Natural Reserve at Mono Lake.  I suppose that the same thing could be said about this image – “that camera really takes good pictures”.

The thing I find interesting about that statement is that the camera didn’t get up in the cold and dark, drive itself to the location and jump up on the tripod.  It didn’t compose the image, or push its shutter at just the right moment to capture the fleeting seconds between beautiful golden light and flat boring light.

The camera I used for this shot was my Canon 40D.  While I do like it a lot, it’s still just a tool.  As I’ve mentioned before (and probably will again) it’s a nice tool with lots of features that make creating images easier, but by itself, it’s still just a hunk of plastic and metal and wires.  The image is created with the eye of the artist!

It would be fun to see other opinions on this, so if you feel like leaving a comment on the subject, that would be great!  Until the next time – Happy Shooting!