Home > Newsletter > JHP Newsletter - 2005, No. 6, 2 September

JHP Newsletter - 2005, No. 6, 2 September

Equipment: L-Bracket

I've been using a quick-release L-bracket with my 1Ds Mk II, and I love it. An L-bracket allows the camera body to be mounted in a vertical orientation while leaving the tripod head in the usual position. I had been hesitant to spend the extra bucks for an L-bracket compared to a regular mounting plate, but was starting to get tired of having to readjust the tripod legs when I switched from a horizontal composition of a scene to a vertical composition of the same scene. With the L-bracket, it's a snap to switch from horizontal to vertical, and it's also more convenient to have the camera remain "balanced" over the tripod head when shooting vertically. If you shoot a lot of vertical images with short lenses (ie, those without a tripod mount of their own), I would strongly encourage you to get an L-bracket. When you do, you'll probably wonder why you didn't get one sooner.

Travel: Colorado Wildflowers

Right after returning from Norway, I made a weeklong trip at the end of July to shoot wildflowers in the mountains of western Colorado. I visited the Paradise Divide area near Crested Butte, Yankee Boy Basin near Ouray, and American Basin between Silverton and Lake City. It was a lot of fun exploring these areas, and really exciting to be doing my first real 4WD travel. In addition to shooting the flowers, I also shot several groups of yellowbelly marmots and pikas.

Cow Parsnip (White) and
Alpine Sunflower (Yellow)
Washington Gulch, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado
Evergreens With Fog
Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Paintbrush (Orange) and
Alpine Goldenrod (Yellow)
Yankee Boy Basin,
Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado
Waterfall on Sneffels Creek
Yankee Boy Basin,
Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado
Blue Columbine (Foreground) with Golden Aster (Background)
American Basin,
Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Yellowbelly Marmot
Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado
Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Travel: West Coast and the Southwest

I've recently returned from a three-week trip to attend a workshop in the San Francisco Bay area via the Oregon coast and the Southwest. The bulk of my shooting on the way was on the five days I spent on the Oregon coast while making my way from Ecola State Park in the north to the CA border. There were low coastal clouds and some fog almost the whole time I was there, which severely limited what and when I could shoot. I had a great time at Ecola State Park, Bandon, and Harris Beach State Park.

I also stopped at Bowling Ball Beach near Point Arena, CA. The beach gets its name from the hundreds of round boulders. They must be bowling balls for giants though, because they're 3- to 4-ft (0.9- to 1.2-m) in diameter. They're under water most of the time, and are only exposed during negative tides. When I was there, the negative tide was a couple of hours before sunrise, so I got out there bright and early (OK, early and still dark), and watched the water come in.

Sea Stacks and Stream
Harris Beach State Park, Oregon
Bowling Ball Beach
Northern California

The three-day workshop was titled Digital Printing for the Fine Art Photographer, and was taught by Charles Cramer and Bill Atkinson. Charlie is a well-known fine art photographer who established himself as an expert in darkroom techniques. Bill was an influential member of the original Macintosh user interface design team at Apple, and was an early pioneer in the field of digital printing. It was Bill's profiling work with Epson printers that helped digital printing overtake darkroom printing. Even if you're not a Mac user, you're probably familiar with one of Bill's inventions, the "marching ants" that are used by graphics programs to denote selected areas. The workshop was OK. I picked up some new techniques and had a problem resolved, but I was frustrated by the generally slow pace.

On my way back, I went through Yosemite NP, CA. I find it very frustrating to try to shoot there because it's been shot to death by other photographers. The first photographically rewarding stop after the workshop was the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest east of Bishop, CA, where some of the trees are 4600 years old.

Then I headed east across the center of NV, an area of the country I had never been in before. I was surprised at how interesting the Great Basin is. It's comprised of many mountain ranges, with peaks up to about 13,000 ft (4000 m), running north and south breaking up the generally flat basin which is between 4000 and 5000 ft (1200 and 1500 m) in elevation. I headed through this great unknown territory in order to visit the also unknown Great Basin NP on the eastern edge of NV. I had seen it many times on the map, but had never ventured out to it. The park encompasses part of the Snake Range, and shows the diversity that occurs between 5,000 and 13,000 ft (1500 and 4000 m). It also has several bristlecone pine groves, including the oldest living tree which is about 4900 years old. The park also contains Lehman Caves, a smallish cavern with spectacular formations.

Bristlecone Pine at Sunrise
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest,
Inyo National Forest, California
Grant Range
Great Basin, Nevada

After a quick overnight stop at Zion NP, UT, I spent two nights on the North Rim of Grand Canyon NP, another place I had never been before. The North Rim has a very different environment than the South Rim because of the different elevations and the wide, and deep, canyon separating the two rims. The lower South Rim has forests of Pinyon pine and juniper (boring), and the higher North Rim has forests of spruce, fir, and aspen interspersed with meadows (interesting). The homo sapiens at the South Rim generally arrive in tour busses or RVs, wait for a parking spot to open up, then rush to the overlooks to snap a quick picture without interrupting their conversations about home, whereas the homo sapiens at the North Rim generally arrive in cars, trucks, or motor cycles, take their pick of spots in mostly empty parking lots, mosey out to the overlooks where they stay until the sun sets, and don't talk much in order not to disturb the silence. I spent the first night at the North Rim complex, and the second night out at Point Sublime which is at the end of a 20-mi (32-km) 4WD road. I was joined at Point Sublime by a retired couple from South Africa who had driven there in their vehicle, which they had brought from South Africa, on their way from South America to Alaska. They had been on the road for 16 months — fantastic!!

Mt. Hayden and the view South
from Pt Imperia
Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona
View to the SE from Pt Sublime
Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona

Take care, and happy shooting.

— James

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