Tag Archives: South Tufa

Panasonic FZ1000, Landscape Camera Part 2

It’s been over a year since I last wrote about using the FZ1000 as a landscape camera.  And I’m happy to report that my opinion hasn’t changed, the FZ1000 is a great landscape camera!

This year, we spent 3 weeks in the Eastern Sierra.  In addition to fishing, photography and golf were on our list of activities.  I brought my Panasonic GX8 (with various lenses) and FZ1000.  One of the advantages of this camera combination is that they share the same battery.  I carry 4 batteries and 2 chargers and have had no problem running out of power with either camera.

Almost all of my photos begin as RAW files.  Sometimes I shoot both RAW and jpeg at the same time, especially when I want to use the FZ1000’s in camera black & white function.  The reason I shoot RAW is because I post process my photos.  This is my personal choice, and is something I enjoy doing, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.  If you’re one that doesn’t want to do post processing, or very limited processing, the jpegs from both the GX8 and FZ1000 are quite nice once you tweak some of the setting to your particular style.

Another benefit of using the Panasonic gear is I can get away with a much smaller/lighter tripod.  Both cameras are equipped with image stabilizers, but when the light is low, or for using long shutter speeds a tripod is necessary.  

And now for the photos:





I’ve had my FZ1000 for almost 2 years now. It has been without a doubt one of the most versatile cameras I have ever owned. There are times when I have to remember that I have a GX8 and need to use it because I will always reach for the FZ1000 automatically. Panasonic has recently release an updated version, the FZ2000/2500, but from some reports I have seen it isn’t a huge leap forward in image quality. It seems that it’s got additional features better suited for video, but the FZ1000 is still a match for it in the still photo department. That’s good to know because I don’t have any plans to move on. The FZ1000 is not only my go-to camera, but also my favorite!

Mono Lake

Mono Lake is a very interesting place.  Not only because of it’s unique ecosystem, but also because it’s one of my “happy places”.  I find myself daydreaming about the many visits I’ve been able to make over the years, and the numerous photo opportunities I’ve been presented.

Big Clouds, Mono Lake

It seems that I’m looking back more and more to those quiet and serene places I’ve visited in the Eastern Sierra.  As my job becomes more demanding and tedious, I look forward to each opportunity to get away and pay another visit to Mono Lake.  Once I’m there, I also try and make it a point to slow down and breath it all in.  This may sound silly to some, but I want to have a clear mind and really attempt to feel the spirit of this wonderful place.

While I consider Mono Lake to be almost sacred ground, there are others that may not share my feelings.  It’s true that if you visit Mono Lake during the middle of the day, you may come away disappointed.  There are no trees to offer shade, and it can get hot.  And there are the flies.  Yes, lots of flies.  These black flies inhabit the shoreline of Mono Lake in uncountable numbers, turning the ground black.  The interesting thing about the flies (called Alkali Fly) is that they are not your typical house fly, and will rarely ever land on people.  And finally, some will be put off by the smell.  Mono Lake is more salty than the ocean, and does have a unique odor.

I don’t want to turn this post into a science lesson.  If you’d like to learn more, click on this link –  Mono Lake.

Getting back to the fluffy stuff, I just love walking along the shoreline of the South Tufa State Reserve.  While I do love getting up in the dark and arriving before sunrise, I was privileged to see some amazing sunsets.  This happened last year, late in September.  The sky kept changing, becoming more colorful with each passing moment.  Just when it seemed like the show was over, the colors changed from various shades of red to a warm golden sheen.

Mono Lake Sunset

For those that can’t get out of bed for sunrise, and for others that may not be able to make the trip for sunset, there are other options.  While mid-day sun doesn’t usually provide the best light, you aren’t completely out of luck.  The trick is to keep an eye on the sky.  I’ve had plenty of mid-day to late afternoon photo ops, but I always wait until there is some sort of action in the sky.

What kind of action?  Storm clouds.  Luckily during the summer months the chances for afternoon thunderstorms increase.  There’s an old saying, “bad weather, great photos”.  I’m not sure who said that, but I find it to be true.  I’m not talking about gray, drab rain clouds that fill the sky and have not character or features.  I’m talking about big, bold, billowing thunderheads, reaching thousands of feet into the air!  The kind of clouds that make you feel small and insignificant in comparison.

One note of caution is advisable here.  It’s one thing to stand in awe and take pictures from a respectable distance.  I’ve done this safely many times from the South Tufa, watching and photographing the storms passing across the middle of the lake and on the far shore.  But you need to pay attention!  If the storm shifts and moves in your direction, you need to seek shelter.  Not only can you get caught in a major downpour with your camera gear, but there can be some pretty severe lightning.

Mono Lake Clouds, black and whiteNext issue – what kind of camera gear do you need?  Good question!  I’d say whatever you have will be ok.  It just depends on what you want to do.  I’ve seen (and used) everything from simple point and shoots to high end DSLR’s to View Cameras.  There’s another old saying, “F8 and be there”.  The  f-stop is up to you, but being there is very important.  You can’t take pictures if you don’t have your camera, and all the camera gear in world will do you no good if you aren’t there!

As I already mentioned, I’ve used everything from my “Precious” (little point and shoot) to a large DSLR and various accessories.  This includes a tripod.  Just remember, large cameras require large lenses and large tripods.  I’ve carried them many times down the boardwalk from the parking lot to the shoreline.  I usually don’t get too tired or sore until after the long walk back to the car.  My point is that this stuff can get heavy, so be prepared!  It may also get dirty, so you’ll need to exercise some caution in and around the sand and water.

No matter which camera (or cameras) you decide to bring, try to mix up your shots.  In addition to those eye level grab shots, don’t be afraid to get down low.  Bring a towel to kneel on, and shoot low to get a unique perspective on this fantastic landscape.  And try to remember to shoot a few vertically.  I’d also suggest that in addition to a wide angle lens that you consider something in a moderate telephoto, say 70-200mm.  You can zoom in on some of the birds that call Mono Lake home, or isolate a unique tufa formation.

Brand, make, or model don’t really matter.  This isn’t the time or place to worry about the specifications of your gear, or wishing you had something else.  Fixed lens or zoom, again it doesn’t matter.  I think this quote from Ansel Adams is appropriate – “A good photograph is knowing where to stand”.  You just need to be there.  Use what you have, and enjoy the show!

Tufa Sunset, Mono Lake

In closing, I hope you are able to pay a visit to Mono Lake.  Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center!  And if you have the time, drive over to the South Tufa and enjoy the view.  I’ll talk about another area of Mono Lake with some very unique and delicate formations called Sand Tufa.

Until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

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!