Tuesday, May 7, 2019

High Water in Yosemite

Up at 3:00am, on the road by 3:45, hoping to arrive before sunrise... the life of a photographer!

I arrive as expected, and stepped out of the car with a flashlight to check out the area. Just 20 feet from the car I discovered water... lot's of water! Some 200 yards from my desired shooting location. Now what?

Lesson #1: always have a backup plan

So, I packed the entire backpack with my RB67 kit and start hiking. A short loop around to another vantage point and it became very clear. And somewhat unique for me. The Merced river was starting to breach its banks in several areas. AKA - flood stage!

Lesson #2: be safe

I told myself, to proceed with caution, as this was new territory for me. Yes, I've been to Yosemite many times, but never with this much water. And we all know... "Swift waters kill"!!

I proceeded to do a 6 mile valley floor loop, and discovered many unique and alternate views of this beautiful valley.

This view from just north of the Swinging Bridge shows the flooded meadow. A two shot, stitched image, using FP4 Plus 120 film.

From the swinging bridge, another view of Yosemite Falls at full flow. And the river nearly twice it's normal width.

This next image shows a river flowing at the brim, right up to the tips of the banks. Several areas it leaked out into the valley loop trail causing some detours to my hike.

After a relaxing lunch, and some prayer journal time, I headed down to the Cascades and Wildcat falls. There I found the Cascades roaring (and somewhat unsafe) so I diverted straight to Wildcat Falls.

Upon arriving, I found a new obstacle... a giant boulder had fell directly in front of the falls.  I'm talking a car size boulder! Plan C.

I studied the scene and tried a few angles, and in the final editing process came up with this detail image. Actually shot on Ektar 100, and converted to B&W in post using an Infrared filter setting. I added a bit of blur to the water to help with the ethereal feel.

In all, I logged about 9 miles, and enjoyed a full day of God's glory. His power revealed through nature, its forces and its challenges, and yes, it's beauty.

The RB67 is definitely a load, but worth the weight, as these images look great at full resolution. I hiked with my Kelty Redwing 32L bag with padded inserts, and that seemed fine, but still not as friendly as simply holding the RB67 and tripod while exploring.

Unfortunately, I did discover a bum shutter on my wide angle lens, and several of the shots were ruined. As such, it sits in pieces on my desk at home, waiting for a repair shutter to arrive. Stay tuned on that repair.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Aged to perfection

Yes I am old... but not nearly as old as these scenes. From our recent hiking adventure (see below)  These were shot on Tri-X at 400, with the RB67 Pro S, and developed in D76 - 1:1.5 for 10.25 min.

Our view from Columbia Rock, half way up the Yosemite Falls trail. From left to right, North Dome (7,700 ft), Half Dome (8,600 ft), the snow capped Mount Clark (11,200 ft), and Glacier Point (7,200 ft)

Lower Yosemite Falls

Side note: this camera is nearly 40 years old, the film stock originated 65 years ago, and the D76 developer is a 99 year old formula! Great things DO last!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Hiking with the RB67 - Part 3

Nearly 20 pounds, carried up +1,500 feet! Man, am I getting old... Okay, I admit, the Yosemite Falls trail is not for the faint of heart! But the views!!

On the left, North Dome, and on the right, Half Dome
And my beautiful young daughter! 

Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome and Sentinel Rock
(left to right)

This was the first trip with the "long hike" kit. IE - the Kelty Redwing 32 with camera inserts. How did it go? Decent. Not as friendly as I would like, but workable. I purchased two padded inserts, each about 5x5x10 and stuffed them with the RB67 kit and headed out.

The inserts worked well, but the weight was definitely evident. I guess that's why they call the RB67  "The Tank"! And the 5lb tripod didn't help! I can guarantee a carbon fiber will be on my Christmas wish list...

The Kelty worked fine, and is a good fit for me. The weight never got uncomfortable, just made climbing the stair step switch backs a bit tiring. And I will admit, this was my first hike this spring, so I am a bit out of shape.

Any changes? Not really, just better choices as to desired subject and lenses (if really needed) and maybe a thinning out of filters and adapters, lens hoods, etc.

Stay tuned for a few 6x7 Tri-X pics of this adventure.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Hiking with the RB67 - Part 2

So... I had my first outing with the waist belt system.  A Think Tank belt system with two lens cups, and two pouches.  How did it go?

Pretty good actually.  Had an easy time with one exception.  Filters.  I tried to carry (3) soft wallets and (2) holders, along with a couple hard shell filter cases, which is quite bulky.

The two lenses, and extra film holder fit perfectly and carried very well.  The light meter was easy to access, and the overall experience was very good.  I think it will work for me long term.  And I don't really mind the geeky nature of the belt system, since it facilitates the RB67 system so well.

But, I may need to swap or reconfigure the pouches to resolve the filters issue.  The Chimp Cage is a bit large, and when I stuff the extra filters in it, it gets bulky and sags a bit.

As I find the next iteration, I will post back more.

Renewal - Part 2 "The Results"

Our photography group had a great outing, up near Pine Flat, shooting spring wildflowers. We had 9 people attend and we carpooled to Winton Park and a few other locations around the Blossom Trail.

The weather was perfect, with a few nice fluffy clouds, blue skies and great flowers.  Results are shown below.

Friday, March 1, 2019


Spring is coming!!

"Renewal" - a new theme for me, but really, ages old.  Going way back... to the days of Adam. In the garden!

Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you... I have given every green plant for food" Gen 1:29-30 NASB

I have been invited to join a photo group, with an emphasis on seeing and sharing God's glory.  Maybe a perfect fit for a landscape photographer?  Our theme for this quarter is "Renewal" and what better project considering spring is just around the corner.

A time when all things are new, the old is past, and signs of new life and renewal are everywhere.  Our next outing will be an attempt to capture this process.

Check back soon for a few new images!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Hiking with the RB67 - Part 1

Part One - Concept

Since acquiring the RB67, the thought of hiking with 6-7 pounds of camera around my neck seemed a bit daunting.  But I also knew from experience that the ability to quickly access the camera while hiking is key. Otherwise, the opportunities simply pass by, since it is so much work to stop, unpack, setup and compose, only to find the shot not that interesting.

But, the challenge was accepted, and I started building a few hiking kits.

My goals were to make it easy to access the gear, but also make it comfortable while hiking.  My proposed solutions were a Think Tank belt system for shorter hikes, and for casual photo walks, and a few top load case inserts for my Kelty hiking pack.

Parts are starting to arrive, so as the kits are assembled and tested I will report back. Stay tuned...