Last week we took what I thought would be a grand paragliding odyssey to Utah, Wyoming, and maybe Colorado. We first went to the Point of the Mountain and quickly became demoralized due to our lack of skills in high wind and having to learn around a huge amount of people while trying not to cause collisions between others. So failing that, we thought it would be nice to go up American Fork Canyon and hike Timp from the Timpanooke Trail. I’ve hiked from the Aspen Grove side more times than I can remember, but only once from the Timpanooke side, which is also the prettier, but longer trail.
Anyways, we were only able to make it just under 3/4’s of the way from the peak due to thin snow bridges with no alternate way around them. I’ve never been stopped by snow before on the Aspen Grove side, but I guess there are very limited spots to ascend on the Timpanooke side. I don’t even care about the peak, but I was super bummed as I really wanted to show Amber Emerald Lake and get some pictures from there; one of the prettiest spots on the planet if you ask me. Here is a shot near the end of the trail for us looking back towards the backside of Alta and Snowbird. Yeah, I grew up just a few minutes drive from here near Aspen Grove. This makes me miss it!
The full sized panorama’s can be found by clicking on the pictures and going to the larger sizes in flickr, these small sized shots really blow..
I haven’t touched this blog in a while, but there is good reason for this. I took a conductor position with the BNSF railroad in Alliance, Nebraska. I am about to start into my 3rd week of training out of 15 weeks total before I shake baby noob status and become a regular full-time employee. I have been wanting to get out of working in an office and instead working outside and this position definitely offers this as well as the ability to work almost anywhere in the mid-west and western states.
Photography wise, Nebraska speaks to me a lot more than Georgia ever did. The sky is one of the few places in the country that has very little pollution in the sky, the sun starts to bake warm sunset tones onto the terra firma by about 1:30 pm, and there is a ton of interesting farm scenery and plenty of abandoned buildings sprinkled through out. The biggest problem I have will be finding time away from the volumes of books I need to study to pass all of my tests in between my OJT.
I don’t usually go into churches on my own free will, but I spied this abandoned beauty right off the side of the road the first time I was in the area for my hiring session a few months ago. I made a couple of mistakes to chalk up to my list of photography foibles.
- The D700 remembers what ISO you shot at last in RAW or JPEG rather than just using whatever ISO you dial in, at least this is what I think happened. The camera was at ISO 1250 in JPEG when I pulled it out of the bag and I knew enough to dial the ISO down to 200. Then I switched to RAW to shoot Like a Boss and ended up coming home to discover all my shots were set at ISO 1250. I assume the camera remembered what I was using the last time I shot RAW, but I will have to test this to be sure.
- When I went inside the church, I started walking around like a clown not being cautious with my steps. Sure enough I stepped right onto the only piece of wood with nails sticking straight up. Lucky for me, the nail was not long enough to make it through the sole of my tennis shoe. FACT- Anyone who has ever been in the military has 1/4 parts blood and 3/4 parts random inoculations running through their arteries and veins. I now deplore inoculations and anthrax filled up the last remaining space that tetanus would need to occupy my circulatory system. This is why they now mist the flu vaccine straight into my brain via my nasal cavities due to all of the empty space up there.
- I left my polarizer back in Georgia with my wife who will not be moving out here until she separates in February or March 😦
The interior shots are HDR’s that I could barely sharpen due to the higher ISO creating noise problems during the HDR processing and the outside shots are just that, outside shots. Had I not taken the shot of the church from the outside, knowing it was taken in the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest, I would have guessed it was DRI processed, but it is just the Nebraska 5-hours-long sunset at about 1:30 pm with the sun behind my back!
Not Dodge as in the auto maker, but dodge as in a little dodging here and a little burning there really helped make this picture have an almost three dimensional feel to it. The four exposures ran through Photomatix HDR process helps with bringing out a unique look to the textures as well. I must say I love the new version. It is stupid simple to get rid of ghosted objects and even has a bunch of presets to get you to a starting point for getting your shot to look how you would like it. Anyways, I found this truck a while ago and wanted to come back with a camera during a sunset or sunrise. Got lucky on a trip to Andersonville and hit this as the sun was setting on our way back.
I have two friends travelling around in Thailand right now, one of them has a Flickr page and some great shots of Thailand found here. Naturally I am jealous, especially when I see shots of the Andaman Sea. I started going through my shots from our last trip to Thailand back in November/December of last year with the intent of putting together a tutorial on exactly how I throw together a lot of my DRI/HDR blended shots. I spent all morning on it, but I was not happy with the shot and scrapped the tutorial part. I cannot just delete the photo after all that work though! This first was taken in the city of Ayutthaya in one of the many, many shrines they have. The other is the 6 shot DRI that I worked on taken during the early morning sunrise at Railay Beach. If you could deport all of the tourists from the area except me and my wife, give me about 100 bags of sea salt and vinegar potato chips, a kayak and couple of years supply of sunscreen, it would be the ultimate beach paradise!
Along our drive through Wyoming we entered into a place I had never visited before, Big Horn Basin. It was quite a pleasant area with very green fields surrounded by strikingly orange rock, wide open ranges, lots of moose, and a couple of waterfalls. Since it is kind of in the middle of nowhere, there was not very much traffic, which makes you feel like you have the area all to yourself. I wouldn’t mind going back sometime as I am sure there is a lot to explore, I could even live in one of the surrounding towns!
When we landed in the States earlier this year, we went straight from the airport to an auto dealership and purchased a vehicle. From there we visited families in Utah and Idaho, the road tripped through the Tetons, Yellowstone, Wyoming, South Dakota, all the way down to Georgia. There was still a lot of snow in the Yellowstone area and a pass we wanted to use was closed about a mile and a half from the top. We ended up taking an impromptu trip on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. It is like a different world in this area after living in Japan. Completely desolate and vast, wide open spaces. Here is a 4-shot pano I snapped from a pull out.
Been a while since I dug down into my D80 archive territory, but I have been yearning and burning for more time back in Kyoto, especially for this coming fall. That is just torture to think about because there isn’t any way it will happen this year. 😦
Time was a tickin for me. I had one more free day available to go into downtown Tokyo before I would be leaving Japan and I STILL had not shot the Roppongi clock. It is kind of easy to miss since it is behind the Mori Tower, but damnit, there is a Starbucks right across the street with an open air seating area. I could have been comfortably sitting across the street sniping people as they walk past the clock while sipping down my Grande Carmel Machiotto that is sized for a midget and priced for a baron!
I don’t know what the hell kind of time it is flashing, if it is even time at all. The numbers seem to be a bit more random and only change once every 10 seconds or so. Maybe it is a Mayan numerical countdown until the end of the world, I don’t know. I just know that you need to take a walk behind the Mori Tower and find this clock and feed your camera!
Minato-ku Ward is a great place to escape the relative bustle of Tokyo if you ever find yourself in the area. There is a great Sapporo Beer Garden located here at Ebisu Garden. You could probably spend a couple of hours within this little complex to find cool pictures due to the interesting architecture and open market that is regularly hosted here.
I finally bought an Arca-Swiss plate for my 70-200 tripod foot so I can start getting some landscape and architectural shots with this most excellent lens. I have really liked the results, although, if it gets very windy, I find that my carbon fiber tripod is a little bit too much on the travel size to be able to handle long exposure shots with the 70-200 mounted up there without getting a little blur. It was a bit windy this evening, so I had to hang my entire bag on the tripod to ensure all exposures would come out sharp.
I usually do not mess around with using filters in my post processing, it seems to take a long time for me to get them right. I attempted it in this shot since the sky was ugly as can be reflecting all of the city light in the frozen moisture particles. I think it is an improvement, but it is hard to make the look subtle. I am also thinking about purchasing a Cokin Z-Filter system in the future and switching the 14-24 for the new 24/1.4, mostly so I can use filters in my landscape shots. I’ll test it out on the 70-200 before making the switch; I have never used filters before and 14mm is a lot to lose!
And last, but not least.. I leave you with more snow monkeys. I just cannot get enough these little guys!
This friendly local fly fisher saw me shooting pictures of the sunset on my tripod and tried to communicate with me, asking if it was okay to move to the area my camera was pointed. Above and beyond respectful and I would never expect anyone to stay out of the way of a photographer in a public area like this, but I was actually quite glad he was going to position himself close to the setting sun rays reflecting off of the water. I hurriedly moved my tripod into place for a better composition with my freezing cold wife in tow and snapped these off.
I have only a couple of weeks left here in Japan and kept realizing that there were quite a few shots that I did not have due to my short notice move to Turkey before last summer. Now that I am back, I now have only a few weekends left before leaving Japan for good. We basically only had this last weekend as our only time when we don’t have something planned and getting a good shot of Fuji was one of “those shots” I was missing out on. So we threw our sleeping bags into our small little Toyota Starlet to camp out on Friday night for a 4am viewing of Fuji across Lake Motosu as long as our luck way for clear viewing conditions.
Two people sleeping in a Toyota Starlet goes against the grain of the universe and I would never recommend anyone ever try that. On top of not being able to sleep in 3 cubic feet worth of space, I also omitted my allergy meds, and allergies in Japan kick my ass. Luckily the weather cooperated and we had our first clear skies in what seemed like weeks. Not only did we get an awesome viewing at Lake Motosu, but we were also able to get some nice warm light paint on Fuji across nearby Lake Saiko.
My weakness in Tokyo.. Architecture. I have to shoot it.
I always enjoy going back to Shinjuku for a chance to shoot all of the many buildings and man-made structures that are abound in this area. Some of my favorite shots were from these two vantage points below. I already have shot both of these structures below from almost the exact same spot. This time I just tried a slightly different angle of view and differences in processing.