Sunday, September 18, 2016

Some things change; other things stay the same

There have been a lot of changes (and some not so much) since my last blog post; however long ago it was.

First and foremost (as it's the largest change in size) I traded in my Subaru for a Ford F150 pick-up truck.  This is primarily to provide us with a decent tow vehicle for our camping trailer; which enabled us to spend a week in Colorado (near Colorado Springs) and provided me an opportunity to visit Pikes Peak and the spectacular views from the summit.

It also provided me with a great photo platform for a visit to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, here in Oklahoma. To me this is a wonderful location to escape the "noise" of civilization and unwind. When there's no vehicles driving down the gravel roads, all you hear is the sound of nature, mainly just the wind. You might be wondering just what I meant about the truck being a great photo platform; well that has to do with the local inhabitants of the prairie preserve, the bison heard. Jumping in the truck bed gives a great elevated vantage point that also prevents any errant bison from getting too close to me; a great safety feature.

The above is a 180 panorama I took from a scenic outlook spot with a 35mm lens (50mm effective). And I have to say that the rolling hills so remind me of parts of Dartmoor National Park in England, which is an all time favorite location of mine, that I grew up visiting as often as i could. Colorado helped to provide me a renewed taste of rocky and elevated terrain, something that's pretty lacking in Oklahoma. And I certainly intend to start traveling more to interesting locations.

Okay, back to the bison. For my photos of them I broke out an old Nikkor 300mm manual focus lens I have. And here lies a few discoveries: 1. I'm seriously out of practice using a manual focus lens, especially on moving targets and 2. the manual focus system on the Nikon D2X is not that great for moving targets. It uses a range-finder style indicator to show when you are in focus but the focus target is in the center of the viewfinder, so focusing and then recomposing provides plenty of time for the subject to move; I so miss the split focus indicator on my old manual focus cameras, so much easier to use and didn't require you to "centrally focus". Anyway, it unfortunately meant, as I found out later, that most of my photos are a little soft on focus, or off by a lot.

Now for the things that haven't changed. I'm still spending 8 hours a day in front of a computer for my "other job" and have lost my desire to spend long periods in front of a computer when I am away from the office. Unfortunately that has seriously effected my photography as, shooting digital photos, you have to do everything on a computer. Suffering from technology burnout is not conducive to being a photographer. Maybe I need to step away from digital and go back to film for a while, and have the photo lab do all the work for me. That way all I would need to do is any additional editing and sorting.

Whatever I decide to do, something will need to change so I stand a chance to recover my passion and drive for photography.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Visit to Robber's Cave State Park

I recently started what could be a long running project, visiting and photographing National Parks and State Parks; starting off in Oklahoma, my “home” state. Not the I have visited many yet, in fact, this recent trip to Robber’s Cave was my inaugural trip. For anyone interested in visiting, you can find out a lot of information on the Robber’s Cave page of the TravelOK website here:

As it turned out, weather affected things somewhat, as there was rain and storms moving through the area as we were traveling to the park. In fact, for a while I was not sure if we would be doing much more than holing up in the cabin we had rented for the entirety of our 2 day stay. Luckily, the morning after our arrival was a lot drier as the weather front had moved away. It was still damp from the previous day’s storms but it was not actively raining anymore.

My plans were not set in stone but I was wanting to take some 180 and 360 panoramic shots as well as some HDR/regular landscape and detail shots; which is pretty much what I did. The climb up to the cave was interesting as the ground was still a little wet and the rocks were slick in spots, plus I was carrying my backpack of camera gear and a large tripod strapped to the side. Once I reached the summit of the climb and neared the cave entrance I was greeted with nice panoramic views of the surrounding area. And one of the biggest things I had noted was how clear the air was here; moss and lichen were everywhere. Trees and rocks were covered, creating fascinating textures and patterns.

Now on to the photographs.

Picture 1 is a 180 panorama of the actual cave. I took this so that I could capture the entirety of the cave entrance without having to use an ultra-wide lens, and subsequent image distortion.

Picture 2 is a simple landscape shot using an 8mm full-frame fish eye lens and is looking out from near the cave, out over the valley.
Pictures 3, 4 and 5 are closer detail shots of the patterns and textures the mosses and lichens were making.

Picture 6 is from a HDR bracket set of the Devil’s Slide feature below the cave.
I also took a HDR bracket set 360 panorama, which due to viewing issues will be posted to my 360cities account. It is not a full 360/180 circular panorama as I didn’t include a zenith and nadir shot but it is still a great view of the cave and surrounding area.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Still going!

After taking some time off from photography I want to reassure all of my readers that I am still alive and well. It's a new year and I am starting to put together some plans for photo projects, primarily for panoramic and HDR (and maybe panoramic HDR's) landscapes and cityscapes. One thing I did pick up to assist me on these new endeavors is a Garmin GPS so I can get accurate location details for geotagging my work. This is especially important for the panoramas as there is the possibility of having them featured on Google Earth. Some may say that using a cellphone app should be sufficient but I found that there are some major downsides to this when compared to using a "true" GPS device. I haven't set any specific journey times as yet but will certainly keep you all informed as I get my plans solidified. Stay tuned for me to come...