2014—Balancing The Big Dipper

We spent last Friday night at Balanced Rock in Arches taking photos of heavenly bodies with light painting by Moose. We spent at least a half hour setting up our cameras to capture heavenly bodies. It was a more difficult process than I thought it would be and I need to keep practicing it but I doubt I’ll be able to find gorgeous star studded night skies without light pollution around here. After we adjusted our settings to capture the Milky Way, we stumbled our way in the dark up to Balanced Rock. Moose ‘painted’ Balanced Rock with swaths of light ( you can read Moose’s comments about the experience here ) while we triggered our cameras on cue. My results are marginal at best but the potential for something fabulous is there. Here is my shot of the Big Dipper with Balanced Rock awash in light to the left.

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2014—Lesser Goldfinch

You’d think having just returned from a photography shoot with the goal of improving my photographic skills, I’d be a bit more attuned to making sure I set my camera up correctly. I forgot I was still set to aperture priority, a setting Moose Peterson almost always shoots in, when I went outside to photograph a pair of finches flitting around the yard, so I was mislead when the camera’s built in meter indicated proper exposure. I normally shoot in Manual mode and make exposure adjustments as I look at the image through the viewfinder. Because I forgot how the camera was set up, and because of the AP setting, the camera’s meter indicated proper exposure. The thing is, not only was I set to Aperture Priority but I also had Exposure Compensation set to minus one and 2/3 stops, settings left over from our last shoot in Utah on Sunday. However the lighting at midday when I took this shot didn’t require exposure compensation. And just now when I checked the capture time, I realized I haven’t returned either camera to its Pacific time settings. As a result of my incorrect settings, I had to increase exposure in Lightroom by slightly more than one full stop. Sigh.

I only got a couple of shots of the male lesser goldfinch before both birds disappeared but I kind of like the tilt of his head and the colorful background. It would be better if that twig weren’t directly in front of him but he flew off when I moved to get a better angle.


2014—Ruffled Feathers

This raven at Island in the Sky, Canyonlands (at least I think that’s where we were on our last sunset shoot) remained calm and unruffled while a bunch of photographers using various length lenses, surrounded it as it perched atop a juniper in the late afternoon sun waiting for someone to open the trash can so it could scavenge. Its feathers were ruffled only by the wind.

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I’m home from my Moab adventure. I’ve missed a few days of posts because our days were full and long and I didn’t have the time or the energy to post. The trip was a wonderful mix of photography, food, fiascos, fortitude, friendship, fissures, and few clouds (hey, I’m on a roll with the f-words!). With Moose Peterson, it’s all about the light and the light on this trip was not what we were all hoping for because there were few clouds to enhance our sunrises and sunsets and the light was bright and harsh on our midday excursions. So, we sought other types of photographic subjects that took advantage of the type of light we did have.

As we searched at midday of Day 4 for photo opportunities we encountered right next to the roadway, sheer cliffs from which rock climbers dangled. Spider-man doesn’t have a leg up on the guys and gals we watched. The first climber is rappelling down the rocks after finishing his climb; His shadow on the wall made me think of Spider-man. To show some scale to these rock walls, the second photo shows a climber ascending.

I had my 24-70mm lens on my D800 for these shots, using Aperture priority with the f/stop set to 7.1. The first shot is at 70mm, the second is 24mm. I first tried the 70-200mm lens but I didn’t like the results because it didn’t let me show the scale of the walls. What separated us from the climbers was a two lane road. Behind us was the Colorado River so we couldn’t back up too far.

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2014—Fish Eye

This morning, Kevin let me use his fisheye lens to take this shot at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. It is my favorite shot of the morning and I had lots of help editing it. When complete frustration at my editing efforts became apparent, Richard stepped in to help; then he suggested I ask Moose for help, which I did. When Moose came to my rescue, he asked me what I didn’t like about the photo and I told him I didn’t like the brightness at the center of the shot. He first suggested cropping, then when I was still displeased, he suggested I reduce the brightness of the upper left blues and that I decrease the highlights and increase exposure. Wow! What a difference. I love this shot; the background reminds me of the background of the Mona Lisa. Hmmm. If I didn’t know that Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in the early 1500’s, I would swear he came to Mesa Arch to paint it.

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2014—Arches Day 2—Soaring Heights

We left this morning at 5:45AM and returned to the lodge after 7PM. Tomorrow’s adventure starts at 5AM so I am not spending too much time editing photos tonight because I need sleep. We’ll have a Digital Darkroom session when we return from our morning shoot so I’ll work on them then.

These photos are from our morning visit to Arches National Park. We arrived at South Window Arch for sunrise. After last night’s incredible windstorm, the sky was bright and clear. We climbed up to the arch and after a brief time, I realized that I was the only one still on the west side of the arch. I climbed up into the arch and looked out at everyone perched on ledges on the other side. I gasped in horror until Moose shouted that I was in people’s shot so I either had to retreat or join them. Because I never ascend or descend anything more than one or two steps high, I didn’t think I could maneuver down that craggy slope but Richard came to my rescue and took my camera and tripod while I somehow managed to slip and slide my way down. I found a place to perch out of everyone’s way and set up. The first shot shows Robert, one of my fellow photographers, carrying his tripod through the arch and that’s the moon to his right. You can get a feel for the size of this arch. And see the craggy slope I descended. Yikes.

After South Window Arch, we walked over to Double Arch. I had another chance to learn rock climbing and decided to go for it. The last two shots are inside Double Arch. Bob loaned me his 16mm Fisheye lens for the first shot. I love this look. I was laying back against the rocks for this shot. However, I’m not used to having such a wide field of view. You can see a fellow photographer in the lower right of this shot. Now I understand why I so often and easily get into trouble by walking into someone’s shot here. I’m going to have to be more careful. We all have wide angle lenses but I’m just not used to their expansive field of view. The final photo is another shot of the double arches looking up at them from outside. I took the previous photo from up inside these arches, about midway up the shaded area at center right . I managed to get down off the rocks unscathed but did have to slide down on the seat of my pants for a few feet because I was afraid I might topple down if I didn’t. I haven’t checked my jeans yet to see if they have holes. I’m sure they’re red from the rocks, though. Dang this fear of heights!

I’ll save photos from the other shoots today for another blog post.

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2014—Arches Day 1—A Room With A View

We’re here! Red Cliffs Lodge is in a breathtaking setting, one we couldn’t resist running out to photograph as soon as we checked into our rooms. The red cliffs loom majestically over the slowly moving Colorado River with a backdrop of passing storm clouds. This area is stunningly beautiful. I hope I take photos over the next four days that will do it justice. And what a difference an hour makes. I took the first photo about 4:15 and as I was writing my blog to post it, I looked outside, saw the light breaking through and ran out to get another shot. I’m glad I did because the difference really does illustrate that it’s “all about the light” and now, a mere 15 minutes later, the view out my window looks just like the first shot again.

Moose, Kevin, and Sharon (Mrs. Moose) met us at the Grand Junction airport as the seven workshop participants arrived over the course of the morning and early afternoon from all parts of the country. It looks like we’ll have a fun group and I know most of them from previous trips! I know Kevin and Moose, of course, from my two trips with them last year; Eric, Bob, and Javier were on the Grand Canyon trip; and Richard was in the Grand Tetons. I know Sharon from many e-mails and phone calls but this was our first face to face meeting. The two new (to me) participants are Connie and Robert.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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2014—All Zipped Up

I’m leaving tomorrow morning at the ungodly hour of 4AM for the airport to fly to Arches National Park in Utah for another photography workshop with Moose Peterson and Kevin Dobler. Most of my camera gear is packed into my ThinkTank camera bag and my suitcase is bulging to the point of bursting but I managed to get my tripod and hiking boots and a week’s worth of cold weather clothes into a carryon size suitcase AND zip it closed! I wasn’t going to take any photos today because I’ve been busy packing and getting ready but once everything was packed, I had some time so I checked out my Flickr group’s challenges and I thought my bulging suitcase would fit the “containers” challenge. With my tripod packed, I had to improvise with a stack of books on the step ladder and I decided to focus just on the zippers.

Oh, and I used my 24-70mm and my D800 for this shot. Although it’s a closeup, I didn’t feel the need to macro-ize it. (Is that even a word?)

Day 49-4


“The use of money is all the advantage there is in having money.”

—Poor Richard’s Almanack

Benjamin Franklin’s words work for me. They help me justify my photography-related purchases including my most recent, the 105mm macro lens. And today’s Flickr challenge is “details” and what better way to put my continuing macro obsession to good use than a nice detail shot!

I happened to have one of the new “counterfeit proof” hundred dollar bills in my wallet. I thought of taking shots of some of the new additions to the bill but Ben’s eyes drew me in.

Day 48-2

2014—Anatomy of Butternut Squash Soup

As I cut open the butternut squash to make a pot of one of my favorite soups, the look of the fibers with the seeds brought to mind an anatomical closeup of arteries. I thought my shots using my newest obsession, my macro lens, might gross out my scant few blog followers because they really did look like arteries so I decided to use the anatomy analogy for the soup and took closeups of some of the main ingredients:

Butternut squash, carrots, sage, garlic, leek.

Anatomy of Butternut Squash Soup