landscape

Photography Tips #1 - How To Photograph the Redwoods!

I was recently lucky enough to visit northern California and photograph the majestic Coastal Redwoods!  If any of you have had the chance to visit this area, you know that producing decent photos of the redwoods can be quite challenging.  Here are a few tips that I put together:

Five images stitched together to create a 6x17 format panorama.  This was shot using the 35mm F1.4 XF lens on my Fujifilm X-T1.

Five images stitched together to create a 6x17 format panorama.  This was shot using the 35mm F1.4 XF lens on my Fujifilm X-T1.

1.  It is best to avoid wide angle lenses, except for specific close proximity compositions.  A wide angle lens tends to transform the huge and awe inspiring trunks of the redwoods into skinny straw-like figures.  That is unlikely to be the effect most photographers are trying to achieve.  

2.  Use a normal (35mm APS-C) or telephoto lens.  A normal lens will allow you to retain the width, breadth, and enormity of the tree trucks (see panoramic image above).  Careful composition can produce wonderful results!  A telephoto lens will allow you to compress the depth of the forest, making it appear to look more dense than it really is.

3.  Don't try to photograph the entire redwood tree!  It is not only a fruitless effort, but even if you succeed, you will almost always lose a sense of scale...or the tree will appear to be leaning away from you!

As you can see here...a normal lens (35mm APS-C) does a fine job of retaining the scale of the trees.

As you can see here...a normal lens (35mm APS-C) does a fine job of retaining the scale of the trees.

4.  Scale back your camera's exposure compensation dial (-1, -2, -3, etc.) to account somewhat for high contrast conditions when shadows and sunlit trees are combined in you composition!  Sometimes the light meter in your camera overcompensates for the darks areas at the expense of the bright areas...resulting in loss of detail in those portions of your photo.  Play around with your settings to find something that looks good.

5.  Set your aperture to F16, use a tripod, and use your camera's timer function.  Since each of your exposures are likely to last several seconds, stability is your friend!

6.  Don't ignore smaller, more intimate compositions in lieu of always capturing the bigger scene! Also, don't be scared to break out the macro lens!

7.  Don't hesitate trying some black and white photography.  Concentrate more on composition, textures, contrast, and lighting to produce some truly wonderful results!

Bring forth you inner Ansel Adams!  Black and white photography can be fun...producing compositions that you would typically ignore.

Bring forth you inner Ansel Adams!  Black and white photography can be fun...producing compositions that you would typically ignore.

8.  As an alternate to digital photography, go old school with analog.  Whether it be 35mm, medium format, panoramic, or large format...go for it!

This composition utilizes trees on opposite sides of the image to frame the "tree of interest" in the center of the photograph.

This composition utilizes trees on opposite sides of the image to frame the "tree of interest" in the center of the photograph.

Once again...the normal lens is your friend as shown in this photo.

Once again...the normal lens is your friend as shown in this photo.

My list of tips are merely the tip of the iceberg!  As you get out there and shoot...you will find other "tips" that help you as a photographer express your vision through your photography!

Planning Underway For Photography Vacation To Newfoundland!

The time continues to move closer to my 2016 photography-oriented vacation trip!  For the most part, I started this annual photography ritual back in 2007, with my trip to the National Parks of the West Coast, USA.  This was my first trip with a DSLR, my good old friend the Pentax K10D.  My photographic odyssey took me to Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Lassen, Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Olympic units of the NPS system!  It proved to be a learning experience in regards to photographic technique...primarily lighting and composition.  A quick outline of my annual trips follows:

  1. [2007] - National Parks and Monuments of the West Coast, USA
  2. [2008] - Australia (Northern Territory, New South Wales) and New Zealand (North Island)
  3. [2009] - Australia (South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania)
  4. [2010] - Australia (Western Australia)
  5. [2011] - Canada (National Parks of the Canadian Rockies)
  6. [2012] - Australia (Queensland and New South Wales)
  7. [2013] - Hawaii (Big Island)
  8. [2014] - California (Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, and Yosemite NP)
  9. [2015] - Hawaii (Maui)

So where will 2016 take me you ask?  This year I'll be off to Newfoundland-Labrador, Canada!  I'll actually be spending all my time on Newfoundland...Labrador will have to wait for another time.  I'm still trying to figure out what photographic equipment to bring with me.  I am weighing the possibility of buying a new Fujifilm X-Pro2 for the trip.  If not, I might opt for a couple of new weather-resistant lenses from Fuji:  XF16mmF1.4 R WR and/or XF35mmF2 R WR.

At any rate...I'll be opting for my Fujifilm gear:  Fujifilm X-Pro1, Fujifilm X-T1, and the Fujifilm X100S plus an assortment of lenses.  My biggest decision will be trying to decide on what analog gear to bring.  Should I go only with medium format...or both medium format and 35mm?  That is certainly the question!  The possible film cameras I'll be bringing include the following:

  • Bronica RF645
  • Fujfilm GF670 Pro
  • Voigtlander Perkeo I
  • Zeiss Ikon ZM
  • Leica M6

Luckily I don't have to make the decision right this very moment...but it will have to be made soon!  Whatever gear I end up taking, the trip to Newfoundland promises to be an experience of a lifetime!  I'll post further details of the trip as it approaches...and provide details and photos of my experiences!

A Look Back For Something New...Revisiting RAW Images

Something new and exciting is waiting to be discovered in your photographic past!  Think back to a photo project completed five to ten years ago. Inside that project are RAW images…images that you either overlooked or have already processed and shared.  Don’t view those photos/projects as complete!  In the 5-10 years since they were taken, substantial improvements in both RAW processing software and your post-processing skills have opened up a whole world of new possibilities!  

I recently revisited photos taken during my 2008 trip to the Northern Territory of Australia…specifically my photos from West MacDonnell National Park, east of Alice Springs.  Looking back on some of my photos…it wasn’t hard to see “something new.”  When I say “something new”, I see new possibilities!  What could I possibly gain by taking another look at these RAW images?  It wasn’t long before I found out and was amazed!

A Walk Through Standley Chasm, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Pentax K10D; Sigma 10-20mm lens @ 10mm; f9.5, 1/10 sec., ISO 100

One of my favorite photos was of a woman walking away from me in the narrow stream bed at the bottom of Standley Chasm.  The photo was originally taken in color and oriented as a portrait, capturing the towering cliffs on each side of the chasm.  Although I really liked my previous interpretation, lately I’ve been really getting into panoramic landscape scenes, specifically the 6x12 and 6x17 formats.  I decided to convert the image to black and white, while cropping it to the 6x17 format.  Adding more details to the highlights, lightening the shadows a bit, boosting contrast, and sharpening resulted in “something new.”  For a look back at the older version of this photo, visit https://flic.kr/s/aHsj2vL8rQ.

For a look at my revisited RAW images, visit https://flic.kr/s/aHsknHBpzo.

The bottom line is this…revisit RAW images from the past, you will probably find “something new!”

Day #2 North Along Eastern Flank of Sierra Nevada Mountains

After grabbing a quick breakfast in Bishop, CA, I continued my journey north.  The morning light illuminated the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains brilliantly!  I made a quick side trip on the June Lake Loop, just off U.S. Highway 395.  The views along this loop were fantastic!  I was treated to fall colors reflecting off the lake and brilliant hues of yellow-leafed aspens on the slopes of the surrounding mountains.  I stopped off at the Mono Lake Interagency Visitor Center in Lee Vining, CA before continuing on to Mono Lake.  The lake was as charming as ever...bright blue waters contrasting sharply with the white calcium carbonate shoreline and the browns and blacks of the surrounding volcanic hills.  

June Lake, California  USA  Fujifilm X-Pro1;  XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS; f/16  1/35  200 ISO @ 174mm

June Lake, California  USA

Fujifilm X-Pro1; XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS; f/16  1/35  200 ISO @ 174mm

Mono Lake, California  USA  Fujifilm X-Pro1;  XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS; f/18  1/320  200 ISO @ 200mm

Mono Lake, California  USA

Fujifilm X-Pro1; XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS; f/18  1/320  200 ISO @ 200mm

A Trip To The Sierra Nevada Mountains!

After a busy year of work that included quite a bit of travel, I'm finally on vacation!  This year I'll be exploring two very different locales photographically...the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and the state of Missouri.  This post will deal exclusively with the California portion of the trip.  

Along the Mt. Whitney Portal Road outside of Lone Pine, California  Fujifilm X100S

Along the Mt. Whitney Portal Road outside of Lone Pine, California

Fujifilm X100S

I packed up my rental, a nice Kia Sportage and departed my home in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area.  I was all ready for my 650 miles drive to my first night stop at Bishop, CA.  I packed several cameras for this trip:

Fujifilm X-Pro1; Fujifilm X-T1; Fujfilm X100S; Fujifilm X-S1; Pentax 67II, Bronica RF645, Voigtlander Perkeo I; Voigtlander Bessa I

I made my first diversion at Lone Pine, CA...diverting on to the Mt. Whitney Portal Road.  As I climbed higher and higher I passed through the Alabama Hills, closing in on the majestic Sierra Nevadas!  It wasn't long before I was putting to use my four of Fujifilm cameras.  The views were simply amazing.  The biggest difficulty in shooting was the angle of the sun.  Unfortunately it was late afternoon and my primary subject of interest, the Sierra Nevadas, were west of me!  I was able to ameliorate this issue by taking my shots perpendicular the suns direction.  Although it wasn't optimal...I was able to capture several really nice shots.  The Mt. Whitney Portal Road ended in a canyon containing monstrous trees.  Yes...this was the reward of vacation!

Base of Mt. Whitney, California  USA  Fujifilm X-T1; XF14mmF2.8R

Base of Mt. Whitney, California  USA

Fujifilm X-T1; XF14mmF2.8R