Posts

My Philosophy, Abbreviated

I came across an interesting article on The Versatility of Prime Lenses over at photographylife.

The images in the article were excellent and I decided to visit the photographer’s website. I found more than just photographs.

Life isn’t short at all. Everything that you will ever know will happen within your life.

Very unusual to see a well-developed statement of personal philosophy on a photographer’s website.

I do not agree with all of his statements.

I care about what intrigues me, and I don’t care much about anything else.

Although other statements were quite profound.

Dramatic landscapes are beautiful because they are so inherently free from outside influences, and their patterns exist on a scale far beyond what we can experience anywhere else. The fact that we happen to live on a beautiful planet is poetic.

All of this from a 17-year old student in Franklin, Tennessee. Very impressive start in life, Spencer Cox. You have focus, vision and passion. Those attributes will serve you well.

You can visit Spencer’s gallery here.

Not Enough Resolution

SinkFalls

From photographylife:

Just as the market is once again graced with higher resolution cameras, so too is the Internet awash with salivating consumers desperate to lap them up. Surely having a 50-megapixel camera will make them all much better photographers than they were 44 megapixels ago? The extra resolution must be the push they needed to take them from mediocrity to greatness.

Alpha Whiskey then showcases a series of images that he shot with a Nikon D40, a 6MP camera. I used to shoot with that camera. His images, by the way, are terrific and his blog is worth following. And his point is that sensor resolution is not that material to good photography.

I took the photo of Sink Falls at the top of this post in 2007 using this camera:

Nikon-D200

I loved this camera. And I got some amazing images with this camera. A Nikon D200. Basically a 10MP sensor. And certainly a 10MP sensor provides as much resolution as I might need for most of my photography. However, I did not care for the CCD sensor in the D200 — not great in low light conditions — and I upgraded to a Nikon D300 for the CMOS sensor. Slightly higher resolution but really I was after better dynamic range. The D300 was a great DX format camera with a 12MP sensor. And then after that, I purchased a Nikon D3s. Better low light performance, a full frame sensor at the same 12MP resolution.

I haven’t really seen the point of high density sensors although I now own a Nikon D800 which comes with a 36MP sensor. I only bought that camera because I was able to sell my 5-year old Nikon D3s at a great price — I literally moved over to the D800 at no cost. But I did not move over for the increased resolution. In some respects, it has a negative impact on my workflow due to the size of the files coming out of the camera.

Canon has now placed a new 50MP sensor into their newly introduced 5ds. I suspect Nikon will soon follow.

Frankly, I haven’t seen a significant change in the quality of my photography due to higher resolution sensors. It still comes down to subject, lighting and composition. I’m at that point where a camera body change won’t happen as frequently as it has in the past. At least not for a higher MP count.

Great Smoky Mountains

Pigeon Forge

In a few weeks time we will be heading back to the Great Smoky Mountains for March break. I’ve captured some great frames in the park including these ones:

Sink Falls

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

Phelps Frame by Frame

Amazing photography by Sports Illustrated. A very, very close finish.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Arriving early into San Francisco, and with meetings not starting until tomorrow, I took advantage of the afternoon and evening to shoot McClures Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Only I did not plan very well for the hike.

Point Reyes National Seashore is an exceptionally large area — over 70,000 acres. As you can see from the map below, it is a big place. I had a specific location in mind, which was good, except that it turned out to be near the northernmost tip of the area. Almost a 40-minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Point Reyes Map

Let’s go back for a moment. I am staying at the Sofitel San Francisco. A very nice hotel in Redwood City, just south of San Francisco. I had arranged for a rental car to be dropped off at the hotel for 12 noon. I was scheduled to fly in at 11am and I allowed for some time to deplane, gather luggage and get to the hotel.

Everything was fine. The plane arrived slightly ahead of schedule. Unlike the typical 45-minute wait at Toronto Pearson to get luggage, my bag was on the carousel within minutes. Beautiful sun and warm weather. Nice limo ride to the hotel. Room ready. Car arrived on time.

For whatever reason, the rental company had not filled the tank with gas. It was running about a quarter of a tank. No problem, I thought, I will fill the tank when I get to the Point Reyes area. My plan was to drive along Highway 1 — the coastal highway — until Point Reyes.

There are no gas stations up there. None. I arrived at Point Reyes at 3pm. Sunset was at 6pm. But I knew that I did not have enough gas to get to the northernmost tip of the park and get back to San Francisco. I had to drive another hour round trip to find a gas station. By this point, I was panicking. I know, I know. Typical perfectionist response. However, in this case, it was because I did not know how long it would take to physically get to McClures Beach. Having traveled this far, it would be extremely disappointing to miss the best light of the day.

I found a gas station in Fairfax. Made it back to Point Reyes by 4pm. And, with a bit of risky driving, made it to the point in 30 minutes as opposed to 40 minutes.

It is about a mile or so from the parking area to get to the prime shooting area of McClures Beach. I did not have my hiking boots. I forgot water. I forgot my flashlight — a flashlight comes in handy when you are hiking back from a strange area in the dark. I did not have appropriate clothing and I was drenched in sweat from the hike. And, when evening descended, I was shivering cold from the ocean wind and spray.

Aside from all of that, the area was fantastic and worth the six hours of driving. Here are a couple of frames from Point Reyes.

PR 4

PR 2

PR1

PR 5

Before and After

I was asked to post a before and after shot of one of my images. The before shot is what came off the camera, more or less. The image was captured in RAW, opened in Camera RAW with as neutral a setting as I could find and before I applied any post processing. I brought the image into Photoshop, converted the color profile for web display and converted to JPEG to present in this post.

The second image is how things turned out after processing in Camera RAW and Photoshop. Levels, curves, saturation, cropping, color profile conversion for the web, sharpening and conversion to JPEG. Hopefully you can see the difference between the two images.

Before

After

Ice and Cold

My wife and I went hiking yesterday at Killbear Provincial Park. The park is located just north of Parry Sound, about a 2-hour drive from home.

We dressed in layers for the cold and spent several hours hiking in snow and ice. Yesterday was supposed to offer some sunshine and it did not. The clouds remained gray and gloomy. So I made the best of the photo shoot.The first is from my wife’s camera to give you a sense of the area and the rest of the pictures are from my D200. For those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, Santa did not come through with a new D3. It’s okay. With some therapy, I can get through this tragedy.

Killbear 1

Killbear 2

Killbear 3

Killbear 4

Denny Creek

Today was my open day and a time to take some pictures in the Seattle area. I had no idea what to expect from a weather perspective and that influenced my decision on location.

I was up at 4:30 this morning. And I was on the road by 5:30. I decided to head out to Denny Creek. This is a scenic trail roughly an hour or so southeast of Seattle. I arrived at the exit around 6:30. Light was not going to be out for another hour or so and the sideroads were almost impassable due to snow. I left my rental car just off the exit from the Interstate and hiked in the dark to the trailhead. About 3 miles. The trailhead sets off on a mere 4.4 mile trail through the mountain. Steep climb and a pretty hard hike in the snow. The trail was somewhat packed although there were sections when a pair of snowshoes would have come in handy.

My legs are very, very sore.

The weather was perfect. Sunny breaks, light cloud and no rain. Amazing. Here are a few shots from the morning. I will post the full set on my flickr and photoblog over the next couple of weeks.

Denny 1

Denny 2

Denny 3

Denny 4

Denny 5