JHP Newsletter - 2008, No. 3, 8 November
Greetings from southern New Mexico!
Equipment: Apple MacBook Pro
I've bought a new laptop to replace my 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, the first generation of Mac laptops to have Intel chips. I was waiting for the latest MacBook Pro models to be released with the hope that they would include a quad-core chip. Well, not only didn't they come with a quad-core chip, they only came with a glossy screen. I'd rather not have to look at a mirror while computing, so I bought an Apple refurbished just-discontinued model with a matte screen at a great price. It's a 15-inch model with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 200 GB 7200 rpm hard drive. I opted for the smaller and faster hard drive because it really makes a difference on application launch times and virtual memory. The free space I have on the drive (about 100 GB now) allows the system to use about 70 GB for virtual memory, which really helps performance with multiple applications open. My old laptop only had about 30 GB of free space which really slowed operation when running multiple applications.
Equipment: Epson Stylus Photo R2880
I've also purchased a new Epson Stylus Photo R2880 inkjet printer. When I moved into the RV, I sold the Epson Stylus Photo 2200 and Epson Stylus Pro 4800 with the idea of purchasing an R2880 when they became available. The R2880 is the perfect printer for my needs. It can print on paper up to 13 inches wide, which is the largest that I had ever used with the larger 4800. The R2880 uses UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta inks that are held in cartridges that ride on the print head, so it's easier to switch the photo-black and matte-black inks. While I miss the paper tray in the 4800, the sheet feeder of the R2880 actually works! With the 2200, I had to manually help each piece of paper start to feed into the printer, a very labor-intensive process. The R2880 will gladly feed one piece of paper from a stack in the sheet feeder, so it's much easier to set up the printer queue with a series of prints. The R2880 is also a lot quieter than either the 2200 or 4800.
Travel: Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks
We spent almost four weeks in Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada, beginning in late July. The Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park was great for grizzly bears! We had several encounters that were good for photography, and the best was one morning when we spent about an hour with the bear shown below left as it was browsing through the berry bushes near the road. The encounter ended on a sour note because a ranger showed up and protected us from the threatening animal (read, "the bear was peacefully eating berries and the humans were calmly and quietly watching and enjoying the bear in its natural habitat"). The ranger had everyone clear the area, then he fired some rubber bullets at the bear until it left the area. On another morning, I had a blast shooting a moose cow with last years calf along Lake Sherburne. My favorite image is of them standing by the lake (below right).
1/125 sec, f5.6, ISO 800
1/125 sec, f8, ISO 400
The weather wasn't very cooperative for shooting landscapes. Most sunrises and sunsets were rather bland. There was some decent light one morning, and I was able to capture the nice pink clouds above the peaks at St. Mary Lake (below left). It was very windy for the first several days too which prevented us from shooting any wildflowers. The wind finally stopped, and I was able to get some nice shots of some showy daisies (below center) and harebell (below right).
(at 40mm), 1.5 sec, f11, ISO 100
1/10 sec, f8, ISO 100
1/4 sec, f11, ISO 100
The trip over the border to Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada, was uneventful. My prior border crossings by car had been a big hassle with long waits and even a search, but this time, both entering Canada and then returning to the US were the easiest driving border crossings I've ever had! Each took only about two minutes because we didn't have to wait in a line of cars, nor did we have to answer anything but a basic set of questions.
We went back to Glacier National Park and finished up our stay in the St. Mary area. The wildlife was great around Logan Pass, especially along the Hidden Lake Trail. The area is known for mountain goats, and we had many opportunities to shoot them. The kid below center was hanging out with its mother by the small overlook parking lot just west of Logan Pass. I was initially going to shoot it with my long lens, my standard wildlife setup, but decided to shoot it with a wide angle to get it in its environment, something that's usually hard to do. The little guy didn't mind me getting within a few feet to take his picture. We had several good encounters with hoary marmots along the Hidden Lake Trail as they fed on the lush green vegetation (below right).
1/125 sec, f5.6, ISO 640
(at 32mm), 1/180 sec, f11, ISO 100
1/500 sec, f8, ISO 200
Travel: Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
We spent a week in Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota at the end of August. I was particularly interested in the pronghorn, but my favorite shots were of other species. Custer State Park is known for its large herd of bison, but I generally don't find the bison very photogenic because all of the adults are branded. One morning, we came across a small group of bison with calves near the road in some wonderful light, so we stopped and set up. One calf came up to its mother and rubbed against her, and I was able to capture one of my favorite bison shots ever (below left). Another good subject on this trip was the blacktail prairie dogs. The shot with the highest "aw" factor was of two prairie dogs sharing a meal atop their burrow (below right).
1/125 sec, f11, ISO 500
1/750 sec, f8, ISO 200
Travel: Moose Near Walden, Colorado
We spent a week in mid September near Walden, Colorado, to shoot moose. Moose were reintroduced to Colorado near Walden, and it's a great place to shoot them, particularly in Colorado State Forest State Park. We were able to shoot a cooperative cow and calf near the top of Cameron Pass on two different mornings (below left). It was near-freezing in the mornings which meant frost. Frost on the ground, on the trees, and even on the moose! My favorite frost image is of a yellow leaf (below right).
1/125 sec, f5.6, ISO 800
1/4 sec, f8, ISO 100
Travel: Colorado Fall Color
We spent three weeks at the end of September and the beginning of October shooting fall color in western Colorado. The trees were about a week later than usual this year, so it took a while to actually start shooting. The first good color we found was near Aspen, and the grove along the road to Independence Pass just east of Aspen was particularly nice (below left). We went to Marroon Bells for a few days, and in addition to taking the standard shots of the Bells reflected in Maroon Lake, I also captured a more intimate image of an aspen tree with orange leaves (below right).
1/8 sec, f16, ISO 100
0.3 sec, f8, ISO 100
Then we went to the Crystal Mill which was a first for me. It's a popular photographic subject in Colorado, and I was interested in capturing something other than the standard view. When we first arrived, some local kids were fishing in the river just below the mill, ruining the standard compositions. I waited for them to leave, and by the time they did, the sun had gone down far enough that there was no longer any mixed light on the mill or the surrounding mountains, and I was able to capture a unique image of the mill (below left).
The area around Kebler Pass (west of Crested Butte) had great color. Most aspen leaves turn yellow, so the patch of reddish-orange aspen leaves near the rock formation know as The Dyke provides a nice splash of color to the rather monotonous yellow leaves (below right). We also spent some time in the San Juan Mountains near Ouray in southwestern Colorado. The area is my favorite place to shoot fall color in Colorado because the mountain peaks are usually covered with snow. We arrived on the same day as a weather system, and couldn't shoot much for three days because of the mostly solid cloud cover with occasional rain. The good news is that when the weather broke on the fourth morning, there was a nice layer of new snow on the peaks. However, the scrub oak was mostly a dull brown (maybe it had changed earlier) and the aspen still had lots of green. While I captured some interesting images, none are as interesting as the ones I've included in this Newsletter. We'll have to go back another year to try to get some more great shots.
1, 2, and 4 sec, f11, ISO 100
1/60 sec, f11, ISO 100
Take care and happy shooting.
James Hager Photography :: www.jameshagerphoto.com