Photography Workshop in the Eastern Sierra

Photography Workshop in the Eastern Sierra

June, 2015Bodie-03155

Derrick Story (www.thedigitalstory.com) hosted a 4-day photography workshop in the California’s Eastern Sierra region. Initially, he called it the “Bodie Workshop,” and that was the first location we visited. But, since we also photographed at Mono Lake, Green Creek in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and within the town of Bridgeport, it became the “Eastern Sierra Workshop.”

From the beginning, one thing Derrick emphasized was to enjoy ourselves, relax, and keep from making our time there seem like work.

Bodie-03044My personal goals were to improve my photography, and to observe how someone else ran a workshop. Being a photography instructor, I wanted to compare my methods, and to learn different approaches. And, to teach photography, my own photography must be good.

It was difficult for me to follow his advice, but by the third day, I was much more relaxed.Bodie-03166

The workshop was terrific. (Does anyone say “terrific” these days?)

Bodie is a ghost town about 20 miles north of Mono Lake, and has a photographic opportunity around every corner, literally. There is an old school, a church, a hotel, numerous shops, abandoned homes, a fire station, and a stamp mill for the ore. It is now a California State Park, and attempts are being made to preserve as many of the historical buildings as possible. When we visited, the day was perfect: mild weather, blue skies and puffy white clouds.

Mono Lake-04397

Have you heard about the light in the Sierras? For many years, I have read John Muir, Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Dewitt Jones, and others, speak of the light. It is, indeed, unlike anywhere else I have been.

Mono Lake, with its dwindling water level and tufa formations, is like a scene from a sci-fi movie. We stayed until after sunset, watching the sun light up the landscape, and filling our memory cards and our internal memory banks.Mono Lake-03302

Where ever we went, Derrick was there to encourage, suggest, and guide us in our photographic journey. Yes, just as other workshop leaders do; but Derrick has a calm and mild persona, that he passed on to us.

Next year, he will lead a similar workshop – but in the fall. It should make for great photography!Green Creek-04254

www.thedigitalstory.com

 

 

 

 


I have been absent from posting for some time.  This is the first attempt to catch up – I hope you will follow along…

 

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My Christmas Wish List

  My Christmas Wish List 

     Ever get asked: “What do you want for Christmas this year?” Supposedly, photographers should be easy to buy for – but, we are not. Many things are personal. We have specific preferences, and to a non-photographer – even one who means well – it is not always obvious what works for us. We have favorite brands, or we need (want!) an accessory that works differently, or maybe we already have that piece!

As you may know, I have worked at Bedford Camera for more than 15 years, and Bedford’s stocks most of the products listed here. But there are a few items you can find, or will need to find, elsewhere.

So, here is – in no particular order – my personal wish list. If you have a photographer to buy for, or if you need to give someone some ideas, you should find this helpful.

  • Sony Cybershot RX100 camera: Really??!! Yes, I already have a camera, and I love it!   However, none are perfect for every occasion. This is a pocket-sized camera that can be fully automatic or I can use as many pro-type features as I want, including shooting in RAW image format. There are 3 models, ingeniously named RX100, RX100 II, and RX100 III; prices range from $499 to $799 – but watch for sales!
  • Sony Alpha 6000: This camera is only slightly larger than the RX100’s, but uses interchangeable lenses, making it more versatile, and is one of the fastest focusing cameras around. With lens, its price is $799 – but is on sale right now for $699. (Alternatively, the similar A5100 kit is on sale for $599.)
  • Tamron 16-300 Lens: An all-around lens good for nearly any type of shooting we need to do. Its price is $629, but right now there is an available rebate-by-mail. An alternative is the nearly as all-around 18-270 lens, priced at $449.
  • Tamron 150-600 Lens: Given very high ratings for quality, this lens is great for wildlife, including birds. You can have this for a remarkably low price of $1,069. (Sigma has announced a similar lens that should be available soon.)
  • Xume Magnetic Filter Adapters: (Pronounced “zoom”) With these devices, I could avoid fumbling with filters, while trying to screw them to the front of lenses. A fairly new product, kit prices range from about $50 to $100, depending on the filter diameter. www.xumeadapters.com
  • Speaking of filters, I could use another circular polarizing filter, in the 77mm diameter size. And, if I am blessed with any of the lenses previously mentioned, some of them may come in a size I do not already have.
  • Batteries: Can we have too many? If your photographer only has one or two, this could make a great stocking stuffer.
  • Memory cards: Another stocking stuffer. It is always good to have several on hand. And, as we add video or time lapse to our shooting, higher capacity cards will be needed. The good news is the price continues to drop! FYI – I am looking for a high-speed 32- or 64-gb size.
  • Workshops or classes: I plan to attend one with Derrick Story (www.thedigitalstory.com/workshops) next summer, but there are also others nearby. (Bedford Camera sells a coupon good toward any class/workshop. The lead instructor there is very good!) www.bedfords.com
  • Adobe Creative Cloud for Photographers:  OK, I do already have this, but it really needs to be included.  For $9.99 per month, you can own the full version of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, and they will be constantly updated.  https://creative.adobe.com/plans/photography
  • Coffee-table Picture Book or Trail Guidebook by Tim Ernst. Cannot go wrong with one of these. (But check the library first!) http://www.timernst.com/
  • For other photography books, Books-A-Million has the best (largest) collection in my area, or you can search online. Again, check your photographer’s library first.

There are more accessories, much more, than listed here. Point-of-view cameras (Go-Pro, Sony Action Cams), tripods (Manfrotto, Really Right Stuff), camera bags and backpacks (LowePro), remote control devices, and light sources, just to mention a few. Your local camera store really is the best place to start looking. The sales staff is there to answer your questions, show you the choices, and help you find just the right gift for your photographer. Meanwhile, if you see my lovely bride, Gayle, please make sure she has a copy of this list!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Lights, Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma

Christmas Lights, Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma

California Photo Festival

California Photo Festival

In October, I traveled to San Luis Obispo, California, to attend the California Photo Festival, aka “Click 4”, the fourth annual event.  The week-long event is organized by Hal and Victoria Schmitt, who own and operate Light Photographic Workshops in Los Osos, California.  There was a wide selection of subject matter in the classes, and photo shoots in vineyards, on the California beach in several locations, and on the city streets.  We took photos of horses and riders, small critters, sunsets and sunrises, birds and other animals, and portraits of various models in a multitude of locales.

Instructors included Marc Muench, Rob Sheppard, Ben Willmore, Lee Varis, and Rick Sammon, as well as a dozen more.  In addition, a number of vendors and equipment companies were on hand to show their equipment; not a huge trade show, but plenty of goodies to see and touch.  🙂

The cost for the Festival  is reasonable, given the huge amount of information presented.  Interested?  Next year’s event is scheduled, but not yet accepting registration.  Click the link above, or here, for more information.

Here are a few photos from my library.  Hope you enjoy them!

“Horses on the Beach”

The intention was to photograph members of Cal Poly Tech’s Polo Team riding their horses in the surf at Morro Bay with a marvelous sunset in the background.  The riders were there with their horses, but alas! we had no sun, just clouds, fog, and mist.  We still made photographs!  🙂

Horses on the Beach

Polo player in the surf at Morro Bay

Horses on the Beach

Polo players riding in the surf at Morro Bay

One of the Cal Poly Polo team takes a break from the action.  I really liked the reflection the wet sand gave us...

One of the Cal Poly Polo team takes a break from the action. I really liked the reflection the wet sand gave us…

“Macro Critters!”

Another photo shoot set up for us was captive small animals – lizards, chameleon, snakes, spiders and insects – in “stations” that we could move to and from, making photographs of the small animals.  Great fun, although somewhat cramped space.  I carried my tripod, but left the legs together, using it like a monopod.

The Chameleon was perhaps the most photographed

The Chameleon was perhaps the most photographed

Colorful, exotic lubber grasshopper

Colorful, exotic lubber grasshopper

Gila Monster.  I grew up hearing terrible stories about this animal...

Gila Monster. I grew up hearing terrible stories about this animal…

“The Elfin Forest”

The morning after photographing the horses on the beach, I was in a group that went out for sunrise.  Again, fog, drizzle, and clouds hid the sun.  So, we turned out attention to details.  We were in an area called the “Elfin Forest” which was populated with a dwarf oak tree, and more…

Small shrub with dried flowers and seed pods.

Small shrub with dried flowers and seed pods.

Bracken Fern closeup

Bracken Fern closeup

“Photo Walk With Rick Sammon”

Another sunset opportunity, and finally, we saw the sun.  Not to complain, but that is all there was to see – not a cloud in the sky, leaving the sun without a complement.  We walked along the street at the Morro Bay Harbor, and still made photographs.

I photographed one of the other participants, with the sun backlighting him, creating the sun-star.

I photographed one of the other participants, backlit by the sun.

Morro Bay Harbor with Morro Rock on the horizon, just after the sun has gone down.

Morro Bay Harbor with Morro Rock on the horizon, just after the sun has gone down.

Morro Bay Harbor at dusk.

Morro Bay Harbor at dusk.

There were other classes and photo shoots; these are just some of my favorite images…

The California Photo Fest makes for a good destination, and will present the participant with a lot of information.  Almost too much info!  🙂  But, if you pick and choose your classes and shoots, and don’t overdo yourself, you can learn much.

All photos were taken with the Sony Alpha 77; lenses were the Sony 16-50, Tamron 180 macro, Tamron 70-300.

California Coastal Highway

California Coastal Highway

In October, I attended the California Photo Festival in San Luis Obispo, California.  (I plan to discuss that event in a forthcoming blog post.)  Arriving a couple of days in advance of the event, I spent most of one day driving up the Pacific coast on California Highway 1, also known as Cabrillo Highway, toward Big Sur.  No destination, just exploring.  Although my family lived for a few years in California a long time ago, I had never visited this part of the state, and on this trip only a portion of the route.  Another time…  Anyway, here are a few photographs from that day…

In a sharp bend of the road – and there were many of those – is this small beach, gated and marked with a “private property” sign.  One of several enjoyable sights to be seen on the drive.

Small, private beach along Highway 1

Small, private beach along Highway 1

 

This is another photo, shot vertically, of the same beach from a slightly different viewpoint.

Private Beach along Highway 1

Private Beach along Highway 1

 

High on a bluff, with sea lions below – so far away they almost cannot be seen in the photo – is a private residence.

Home with an ocean view

Home with an ocean view

 

 

This photo is a crop of the previous one.

 

Home on the bluff

Home on the bluff

 

The Big Creek Bridge, not quite as photogenic as the Bixby Creek Bridge from what I have read, but I enjoyed photographing it.

Big Creek Bridge

Big Creek Bridge

 

Just a short visit to this beautiful part of our country, leaving me with a strong desire to return.  I only scratched the surface, and did not visit at the best (photographically speaking) time of day.  If you have been there, you know what I mean.

 

Sony Alpha 77, Sony SAL 16-50 and Tamron 70-300 lenses.

Looking into the Past

Looking into the Past

We’ve written before of visiting a small portion of historic Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Extremely interesting to look back and remember the past – the 1930’s and 1940’s, when thousands of farmers migrated to the west, or the 1950’s and 60’s, when a TV show, “Route 66”, epitomized our romantic idea of traveling on The Mother Road, as John Steinbeck called it.  Sometimes melancholy, we look at what was, and think of how time and “progress” moved away from the road, and its people.

A year ago, I visited Bristow for its “Route 66 Car, Truck, Bike, and Tractor Show” on Labor Day Weekend.  Here is my post relating to that:  “Route 66 Revisited”.  The point of this rambling is that I returned again this year, Saturday, August 31.  Here are some photographs from the visit.  Hope you enjoy them.

69 Dodge Charger RT, restored to near-new

69 Dodge Charger RT, restored to near-new

 

 

Hood of the 69 Dodge Charger, with Bristow's Main Street in the background.

Hood of the 69 Dodge Charger, with Bristow’s Main Street in the background.

 

 

1964 Corvette Stringray

Another highly desirable car from the 60’s, the 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, and still highly desirable today!

 

 

Ford Model A.  I thought it appropriate to have "Firehouse" in the background...

Ford Model A. I thought it appropriate to have “Firehouse” in the background…

 

 

Cars and trucks from the 50's and 60's lined Bristow's Main Street...

Cars and trucks from the 50’s and 60’s lined Bristow’s Main Street…

 

 

 

Side panel of a red 1966 Ford Mustang.  Yes, I had one like it...

Side panel of a red 1966 Ford Mustang. Yes, I had one like it…

 

 

Well known along Route 66, the Rock Café in Stroud serves a great lunch.

Well known along Route 66, the Rock Café in Stroud serves a great lunch.

 

 

Road Sign, welcoming travelers to the small town of Davenport, Oklahoma

Road Sign, welcoming travelers to the small town of Davenport, Oklahoma

 

If travel photography interests you, or if just sight-seeing travel is your thing, try to see what’s left before it’s gone – or replaced by new tourist attractions, in an imitation of what used to be…

 

Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 lens, Tamron 70-300 lens

Van Buren Main Street

Here are some images I shot on an early morning of “Historic Main Street” in Van Buren, Arkansas – just some glimpses of where we call home.

Magenta Staircase in Van Buren

Magenta colored stairs behind a metal gate lead up to a private residence in Van Buren, Arkansas

 

Antiques sign in Van Buren

Antiques sign below a roof in downtown Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Red Bicycle Wheel Van Buren

Red bicycle wheel in a store window in downtown Van Buren

 

Street windows Van Buren

A trio of windows facing Main Street in Van Buren, Arkansas

 

Van Buren Door

A door off Main Street, Downtown Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Flower Bouquet

One of several along Main Street, Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Ice Cream Parlor bench

Bench in front of the Ice Cream Parlor, Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

Three Windows

Another trio of windows on Main Street Van Buren, Arkansas

 

 

My intentions were to look for and photograph patterns and the color red; downtown Van Buren has plenty of both…

I used the Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 and Tamron 70-300 lenses – and the Manfrotto tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

 

 

Black Bass Lake

Every two years, the Photographic Society of Northwest Arkansas (www.psnwa.org) hosts the Mid-America Photographic Symposium (MAPSYM). This year, for the first time, I was able to attend the weekend event, held in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Kudos to the PSNWA for putting on a first-class event, aimed at photography enthusiasts and professionals alike.

One outing I joined was an early morning “Nature Hike” at Black Bass Lake.  Even if you’ve ever been to Eureka Springs, a small community built on a steep hillside, I doubt you’ve heard about this lake. At least, I hadn’t, and I overheard another participant, from the area, say the same thing.  So, we drove down a steep hill on a gravel road, to the lake, and it was like going to another world; right in the middle of the community, we were suddenly in a wilderness.  It was so cool! (Are we supposed to say “cool” any more? I can’t keep up, so I just say what I feel.)
The morning was typical spring for this area; cool and damp. The lake had some misty fog hanging over the surface, and fortuitously, there were two fishermen in a small boat…

Two fishermen on Black Bass Lake, in the misty fog.

Two fishermen on Black Bass Lake, in the misty fog.

 

Walking one of the trails around the lake, I photographed this C-curved blade of grass, with a dew drop hanging on.  Those that know me, and especially those that have sat through a class with me, have heard me stress simplicity…

C-dew drop

Dew drop clings to a curved blade of grass, alongside Black Bass Lake, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

There were also a number of these purple flowers; according to Don Kurz’s Arkansas Wildflowers book, it’s called the Leather Flower.  Cool flower…

Leather Flower (Clematis versicolor)

Leather Flower along Black Bass Lake, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

 

So, it was an interesting weekend.  I learned a bit about how Hanson Fong takes portraits, saw & listened to Nikon’s Mark Kettenhofen deliver an awesome keynote presentation, and more.  Glad I went.  🙂

 

Camera used was the Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 f/2.8 (I love this lens!) and Minolta 100 macro, Manfrotto tripod with Really Right Stuff ball head.