Tuesday, August 12, 2014

North Rim of the Grand Canyon August 2014

View from the North Rim with Two Fires in the Background
What a pleasure it was to join the Arizona Highways Photo Workshops along with photographer/instructor Suzanne Mathia and tour leaders Ken Brown and Rick Jacobi to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 
Two Young Navajo Dancers at the Lodge

We stayed at the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim, a very out of the way place.  If you want crowds and the canyon, go to the South Rim.  If you want peace and quiet, come to the North Rim.
Sunrise View of the Grand Canyon

Moonrise over the Grand Canyon 
We had a number of goals on this trip.  Take sunrise photos, sunset photos, photos of the moon rising, and edit in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  That’s the official title; most of us know it as Lightroom.  As a college professor, I wanted the experience of watching a day-to-day pro like Suzanne and listening to her teach Lightroom.  It was a good refresher of what I knew and gave me some different ways to teach the subject. 
I photographed with my Canon 5D Mark III, the Canon 24-105mm lens, a Tamron 2X extender, and a Manfrotto 190 tripod, essential for low light photography that gives the best chance at sharp photos with low (100, usually) ISO.
Navajo Bridge, on the way to the North Rim 
On the way to the North Rim, which takes about eight hours from Phoenix, I photographed Navajo Bridge. 
Inside the Canyon

We hit Bright Angel Point and Point Imperial at the Canyon.  To get the great morning light, what photographers call the “golden hour,” I got up at 3:30am to catch our van leaving at 4:30am.  In some of the shots, I caught the canyon during that pre-sunrise period called the “blue hour” which is only a few minutes, actually.  I did very little post processing to the blue hour photo of the canyon. 
Another View Inside the Canyon

On the last night of photographing, I was frustrated to find the moon hiding behind clouds.  So, I walked back to the van and put my equipment away.  Then I turned to see the huge moon peeking nicely out of the clouds. 

Just leaving the North Rim, we stopped to see a herd of buffalo.  They can run fast, but mostly just want to eat.  They grunt and produce a lot of, shall I say, waste material. 
Lee's Ferry

Coming back near Navajo Bridge is Lee’s Ferry.  I’ve included a photo of that entrance for boats on the Colorado River. 

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Alaska July 2014

North to Alaska!
Panorama Near Juneau, Alaska
Tracy Arm, Alaska
There is an advantage of taking a cruise ship to exotic ports.  You get there quickly and you can see a lot in a short period of time.  I could have wandered all over Alaska on my own at greater expense and a huge waste of time.  I instead went with Holland America on a cruise to Alaska and the tours got me up close for photographs.
Birds Feed Where Whales Go!

My standard travel equipment is the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm lens.  I also brought along a 2x extender.  One thing to remember on using extenders is you lose a stop or two of light.  In this case, my f/4 went to an f/8 and that is ok in daylight, but lousy in darker environments. 
Sawyer Glacier - Note the Icebergs!

From Seattle, we sailed to Alaska along the Canadian west coast and entered Tracy Arm.  We were headed to view Sawyer Glacier.  The ship sailed really close, as these photos will show.  RIGHT INTO AN ICE FIELD!  I had visions of the Titanic, but I knew we were safe.  However, if a person falls in the ice water, they have about 20 seconds before succumbing to the cold.  So I photographed with one hand while holding the railing with the other.  As pieces of the glacier broke off, you could hear what sounded like a gun shot.  KABOOM! 
A Whale Doing a Tail Flip

From Tracy Arm, we sailed to Juneau, the state capital.  I caught a small boat from Allen Marine to find whales, eagles, and otters.  It was a photographers heaven; everywhere I looked there were things to try to photograph.  On a side note, Juneau has a population of about 30,000.  When four cruise ships come in on a day, the population goes up 10,000!  And that is about every day in the summer. 
Bald Eagle at the Sitka Raptor Center

Next stop was Sitka, Alaska.  Allen Marine also got me close to wildlife on the water with more chances at finding whales.  I also visited and photographed the Alaska Raptor Center, where they nurse injured birds like bald eagles.  It’s truly a good cause, so visit that link and look around.  Another great work I visited was the Fortress of the Bear.  These folks rescue abandoned or injured bears. 
Bear at the Fortress of the Bear in Sitka

On to Ketchikan, Alaska, a lovely town that gets 300-plus inches of rain a year.  A real rain forest but not hot, cold.   One fun event I photographed was the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.  Now, yes it is hokie… but lots of fun and the events they showed were interesting and took skill.  From there we went off to the Totem Bight State Historical Park.  It’s right on the ocean and is filled with various examples of totem poles. 
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan

Then it was ocean cruising all night to Victoria, British Columbia, a lovely city I’ve visited before.  It was only a few hours stop… then back on the ship to Seattle and eventually back to the heat of Phoenix. 
Totem Bight in Ketchikan

What equipment did I wish I had taken?  Well, when I travel I like to pack light.  That means a camera body and ONE LENS.  At times, while hunting whales and eagles, I wish I had more reach.  Maybe the Canon 70-300mm lens next time? 

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Creating Dramatic Images with Small Flash

I always enjoy my nearly yearly pilgrimage to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  During the year, I am the expert and preach and cajole my students.  At Santa Fe, I find out how much more I have to come before I’m a good photographer.  The instruction and instructors I’d compare to any fine graduate school.  The food is gourmet, so there’s that to look forward to.  It all ends up to a lot of learning, a TON of hard work, and a few very good images to share with you all.

My week in July of 2014 I worked with flash and Canon expert Syl Arena, who is originally from Phoenix and is a fellow University of Arizona graduate.  He still worked me hard!  And that’s what I want.  I don’t want to do a retreat like this to be told everything I’m doing is perfect. 

I took oh probably 400+ photos.  I posted 41.  That’s about right.  Some were experiments; others were mistakes. 

Katrina at Eaves Ranch
This was a course on crafting dramatic light with small flash.  I used the Canon 600EXRT, which is radio controlled.  That means I can fire the flash without any cords.  I used a variety of flash modifiers.  One of the real benefits of the course was to try new things and really get to know the equipment I have.  I also used my Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm lens. 

We went to a variety of locations around Santa Fe and used local models. 
Freddy at Eaves Ranch

Here’s the shoot from Eaves Ranch, featuring Katrina and Freddy. 

Jio, who is studying at the University of New Mexico, is at the old abandoned power plant near Albuquerque, about 50 miles away from Santa Fe.
Jio at the Albuquerque Power Plant

Isaac is British.  He’s also an athlete, as you might gather.  The photo here has a back story.  He just was not giving me much personality so I started to scream at him.  He screamed back and you should have heard the echoes in the power plant!  Anyway, this is one of my favorite photos.
Isaac at the Power Plant

Whitney at Los Luceros
Then off we went to Los Luceros Hacienda, which dates back to the late 1700s.  I did interior shots with Whitney and outside near the river with Juan Carlos.
Juan Carlos at Los Luceros
Finally, we trekked about twenty miles outside of Santa Fe to the huge (dusty and dirty) Hansen Lumber Yard.  Julia was my model. 

Julia at Hansen Lumber Yard

Until My Next Adventure, 

See You On Down The Road!

See all of my photos from this adventure on Flickr or by clicking the Zenfolio slideshow below!