Oct 2010

Let's Go


I took some friends on a photo shoot tonight. This train is over a mile long.  This photo was taken at a very awkward angle.  I was hanging on a ladder of the next car holding my D300 with 24-70 lens behind my head.  This was the photo I captured as I was setting up. This is an HDR made from a single image.

Click here to view on black.

Fall on the River

Colorful Provo River

This is an HDR that was processed from a single photo using Photomatix Pro.  Work had been extremely hard this day.  I came home and told my wife I needed some time to process the day.  I grabbed my camera and headed up Provo Canyon.  I arrived at this spot right as the sun was setting.

Click here to view on Black.

Thanks for visiting today.


John Burton


This photo is of John Burton . John will be an excellent addition to the Board of Education in Alpine District. I endorse him and his campaign.

I normally don’t enter the public arena of politics, but I thought I would use my blog today to help a great educator in the last days before election day. John Burton has devoted his life to educating our youth. He has been a teacher, elementary principal, elementary principal supervisor, and now a teacher of university student teachers.

He is currently running for a position on the Board of Education in the Alpine School District in Alpine, Utah. Please take a moment to look at his web page and the positions he stands for. If you live in the American Fork area I highly encourage you to vote for John on November 2, 2010.

Making Scenic Photography Opportunities

Here is another blog from Dave of DCStep. Recently both of us have been quite busy. I hope to have many new entries in the coming weeks. Recently work and family have gotten in the way taking photos. Family comes first and work is necessary to pay the bills. Thank you for visiting. Please take some time to visit my site and also the great photos on Dave’s site.

I take two primary types of scenic photographs. One type is shots of opportunity, where I’m lucky enough to have my camera with me and a striking sunset or sunrise presents itself or I happen on a beautiful place at just the right time. Another type is the planned scenic or landscape shot. This blog entry will discuss planning scenic images.

Following is an image I took last August at
Echo Lake, Colorado:


A big part of taking successful scenic images is putting yourself into scenic places. I try to do that several times per year, whether on vacation, as in my recent cruise to Alaska, or business in Atlanta or on specific photography oriented trips, like when I took the image at Echo Lake, Colorado. The main objective of the trip was to ascend Mount Evans to locate mountain goats and bighorn sheep to photograph with my 500mm and my 70-200mm lenses, but I always like to consider if a wildlife photography trip might contain some scenic photography opportunities. Knowing that I’d be in the mountains and scenic lakes might be there; I looked at the map and noted that Echo Lake was right on my way to Mount Evans.

Mount Evans is known for big crowds on weekends because you can drive your vehicle all the way to the top and it’s a popular place for sporting events, like bike races. All of the traffic and events tie up the only two-lane road in and out and scare of some of the animals and ruin other shots. Because my work is flexible I was able to go up on a weekday. I chose to go in early morning to further reduce crowds and to give myself the best odds for good light.

The weekend before my short trek I studied the weather report for the likely clearest morning of the coming week. For either goats or scenic shots, I didn’t want overcast skies, so I picked a day when high pressure was predicted. The ideal scenic shot might have a few clouds in it and maybe some red tinge due to low sun; however, the “safe” shot is with a clear sky. From images that I’d seen by others, I knew that Echo Lake was a reflecting lake, with trees and mountain showing.

Mountain lakes are usually in valleys and mountain valleys don’t usually get sun until almost an hour after sunrise, sometimes later. Sunrise was just after 6 a.m. on my chosen day, so I planned to get to echo lake between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Another reason to be early is because breezes start building in the mountains not long after the sun rises and a stiff breeze will ruin the reflective properties of the water surface. In my image of Echo Lake the water was mirror-smooth.

If Echo had been my main objective I probably would have been there at sunrise. A professional photographer trying to get the best possible shot of the lake might have been there several sunrises and sunsets in a row, hoping for something really “special.” Trying to distinguish their work, pros spend a lot of effort getting to places that the average person seldom sees. Echo Lake is certainly not a rare site. Compare that to a mountain site that might require two-days to pack in and you see the difference in dedication level.

In one way, describing my effort to take this shot makes it seem like I’m lazy. Still, my objective is to help others discover how easy it is to take pictures that make you proud with just a little extra effort. A casual photographer could have happened by the same scene and got a shot roughly equivalent to mine with almost any Point & Shoot camera, it just won’t happen to them as often as for those of us that plan for it and try to make it happen.

Anyway, my planning was successful and I literally drove up to the lake, stopped my car twenty-feet from where I took this image, stepped out, sat down on a rock, low and close to the water and pressed the shutter.

I used my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens at 55mm. This is a great, sharp lens. I use DxO Optic Pro for RAW conversion to remove the small geometric errors that most zooms contain, particularly at the wide end of their zoom ranges. I used a relatively small aperture of f/11 to give good depth of field. My low ISO of 100 was selected to minimize the chances of digital noise. -1/3EV was used to keep the sky from looking washed out. A graduated neutral density filter (“GND”) is often used for this purpose, but I didn’t think the sky was bright enough to warrant pulling mine out.

I also prefer to use my full-frame Canon 5D MkII for scenic photography because of its great clarity and huge image with lots of pixels on the subject (24 mega-pixels). Also, the angle of view is wider than my 7D with its 1.6x crop factor sensor. For instance, on my 7D my 24-105mm lens give the field of view of a 38-168mm lens on the 5D MkII.

My tripod was in my car, but I didn’t use it because the shutter speed of 1/60
th second was adequate for me to simply brace my arms against my knees as I sat on a rock at the water’s edge. I try to go for the lowest ISO practical and a small aperture for scenic shots. If the shutter speed drops below 1/50th second, then I leave the ISO low and pull out the tripod and remote release. You can get away with less if you’ll never blow the image up into a large print or pixel-peep it, but I’m trying to get images that’ll withstand the most detailed scrutiny.

This is the very first shot that I took. I moved around the lake and took maybe another twenty, but this was the best of the lot, taken from the exact spot of where my eye led me. As I approached I drove by the lake to survey it, did a U-turn and came back to this spot.

By the way, here’s one of the results of the main purpose of my trip to
Mount Evans:

Snake Grass

Snake Grass

This photo was taken last year when we had a lot of color. This year the colors were drab and brown. I found this spot of snake grass with many colorful leaves that had fallen into the water. Click to view on Black.

Thank you for visiting.




The colors this year in Utah have been hard to find.  On a recent camping outing with my son I found this isolated patch of yellow in a beautiful aspen grove. Click to view on Black.

Thanks for visiting