Bradley Lake

Our first stop on our road trip from Idaho to Georgia was Teton National Park. We quick pitched our tent to secure a camping spot then took off down the road for a hike to Bradley Lake. We didn’t know it at the time, but this blue sky during the hike was the last we would see until we were almost in Georgia. The rain began a couple of minutes before we reached the car and then it turned into what felt like a full on monsoon. Breaking the tent down in the morning was fun using the break-down-the-tent-while-still-inside-of-it-leaving-the-rain-fly-for-last technique. This place is definitely needing further attention from me in the future.

Eight Shot Pano. Full size can be found HERE in all of its glory.

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Snag

We are leaving for 2 nights in Savannah early tomorrow morning. That doesn’t allow us much time for exploring, but we’ll take what we can get! I give you a couple of snags taken on the East Rim Trail at Zion National Park. These are all single exposures taken in the middle of the day thanks to the polarizer I bought for the 16-35VR. I am not completely sold on using a polarizer on a wide angle, though. I think the sky looks just about as unnatural as your average HDR or DRI shot, but I also have a ton of shots where parts of the sky are so dark compared to the rest of the shot, that I cannot even figure out how to even it out and have it still look natural in post. I am tempted to stick with my 14-24 and sell off the 16-35, then just build my own filter holder for the 14-24 so I can at least use square graduated density filters.

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Snag

Snagggg

After dropping down the east-side slope of the the Big Horn Basin, we eyed this scenic pullout off of I-90 near the town of Sheridan, Wy. I was blown away by the amount of green your eyes take in at this spot. I thought I had to shoot a pano to try and do this view some justice, but sadly, it does not even come close to how neat it was as the sun was setting. This is a series of 5 shots stitched together in Autopano Pro.

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Desolation

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!

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Taking It All In

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.

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Filtered

I had B&H send me the new 16-35 VR lens to my parents place in Utah. We were visiting for a week after Japan and Zion National Park was only 35 minutes drive away, so it would be an ideal place to see if this lens would perform well enough to replace my amazing 14-24. I am looking into using a square filter system in the future and also purchased an ND 8 filter and circular polarizer. Right now I can tell you that I cannot believe I waited this long to use a circular polarizer. It does a remarkable job of reigning in the entire dynamic range of a shot with a bright sky in it. Here is a quick two-shot panorama from Observation Point taken around mid-day.

Observation Point

I was nervous about this lens since I had seen some online examples taken with it that were pretty fuzzy in the corners, but this copy so far seems to be sharp enough for me (this shot has smearing in the lower right corner due to stretching for the pano). No lens currently matches the Nikon 14-24 in corner sharpness, but it just is not for filter use without an expensive custom filter system and no chance of using a CP.

And one more benefit from this new lens is that it uses 77mm filter threads, the same size used on both models of the 70-200 lens. Here is a shot using that polarizer on my 70-200 to bring out the blue sky and reduce reflections from the sandstone monoliths.

Decromascape

Change

It is fast approaching 2 months since my last post. Since that time we have packed up and moved out of Japan, visited with family in the states of Utah and Idaho, followed by a 3,500 mile road trip to our new home for who knows how long in the middle of Georgia; not the country, the state.. We are still living in a hotel, which is why I have not been anxious to post photos. Processing them on my laptop is slow compared to the desktop and my monitor is not capable of displaying the actual color of my shots. Hopefully we will move into our place in the next 10-15 days and get back to normal.

Well, here is a shot from the first day of our road trip that pretty well sums up how the majority of it went. From our departure in Idaho, we planned on seeing the Tetons, Yellowstone, Beartooth Pass, and Badlands before continuing on down to Georgia. The first day in the Tetons was the only day it was not raining profusely, but it was on the verge almost the entire time we were hiking. Pure photographic frustration!

Omnibow

Second Chance

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.

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Feilacious

Probably my last picture I will be posting for a few days. About to have my last grand hurrah in Tokyo with a friend and our camera gear. I really want to eventually move to Germany in the future, but I will be missing all of the sites to be seen in Tokyo and how easy it is to get around anywhere in the city. It is a photographers dream.

Feilacious

Points of Interest

Every time I jump on any highway in Turkey and get a little ways out from where I live, I am constantly seeing things on the side of the road that are truly interesting from a photographic standpoint. Things like old abandoned buildings, odd animals all alone in the middle of nowhere, vast expanses of crops planted in a perfectly straight row leading towards the horizon, you name it. Usually we are in such a hurry that we just blast on by. We did make one stop for this interesting tree all alone out in a vibrant field with the Taurus mountain range lining the background. This spot is about an hours drive from Cappadocia.

Turkey Tree

Erciyes Dağı Yeni Yıl

Took a little New Years break ski trip up north to Mt. Erciyes, a big 3,916 metre stratovolcano that can be seen from Cappadocia. When we arrived at night, it was extremely bright out due to the full moon, which I hear was a blue moon. Me and one of my friends eschewed the New Years festivities at the deluxe hotel that we had booked and decided to enjoy the blisteringly cold night air with our cameras.

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I pulled out my handy LED key chain light to graffiti the mountain with a New Years declaration about some girl I know named Amber who should have been there to partake in the lovely wind chill with her husband!

New Years Declaration

These long exposures were really fun to play around with my flash as well. Me and my friend would hold my SB-600 flash and fire off the test flash a couple of times at each other while strategically hiding the flash unit from view of the camera to create some neat effects. Too bad my retarded ass kept moving around between flashes so that I look like a fragmented apparition!

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Combined, neither me or my friend had enough common sense to at least dress up warm enough to stay out in the cold for very long, a damn shame because the views were simply amazing. After about an hour and a half, our tennis shoes became the weakest link and we had to quick pack everything up and head back to a warm car to try and regain feeling in our feet. While packing up we noticed our gear was extremely frosted over.

D90 Stress Test

Modern gear is pretty damn awesome though; it all kept working so well, we had no idea it was all coated with frost until I happened to shine my LED on it. I think we were too preoccupied running in place and hopping around in circles like Indians for warmth! We headed out again the following night since this night was so amazing, but the 2nd time was so windy that we could not steady our tripods enough to take any sharp shots with such long exposures. I guess I’ll just have to go back again!

Frosty the Tripod

Ayutthaya Vertorama

Looks seemingly normal, but what in the hell is going on with those poles on both sides? That is because this is a vertorama, aka 2 shots stitched together like a panorama, except they are stitched vertically. The picture is warped a bit to insure that every pixel in both shots are perfectly lined up. Also, both shots were comprised of 5 exposures each which were then HDR’d in Photomatix before stitching them together.

Ayutthaya Vertorama

Heaven & Hell

School has started again for me and it is rudely encroaching on my free time to work on my photos.. Damned dirty school! What did you ever teach me about photography? Nothing!

Well this was the evening that I took about 60% of my shots for the entire trip to Thailand. The majority of shots taken here were mostly unremarkable highlighted by a huge series of vertical panorama multiple exposure shots I took of the entire 360 degrees of Railay Beach– that were unfortunately kind of overexposed since I was too good for my histogram or meter during the series. We’ll see if I can save it in the future.

Heaven & Hell

Sunspot

I was never quite sure how nature photographers were able to catch fast moving animals with their zoom lenses. I still have yet to look that up, but I am guess the answer is something like single servo focus and Nikon’s 3D tracking which is pretty much the mode that chooses the focus point for you. I always shot in single servo, single point focus where I choose the focus point since letting the camera pick out a point sounds kind of sketchy at best. When I was on top of the Galata Tower in Istanbul there were a lot of Seagulls flying around and I thought it would be fun to try and get a shot.

I just could not get a sharp shot using my old single point method and was missing a lot of shots just trying to get the focus point onto a fast moving gull. I decided to give 3D tracking a try with continuous servo… I was actually amazed, but it was quickly locking onto the gulls and getting a lot of sharp shots. I just wished I had a bit more reach, but I did get a shot that I ended up liking. It wasn’t one of the typical shots, but one that I thought would be terrible as I was shooting since the sun was right behind the bird, alas, here it is.

Sunspot

ps- stupid wingtip! Why oh why did I cut you off???