Category Archives: Tongue in Cheek

Morning Musings: Secret Lives of Landscape Photographers (9/12/14)

Secret (Banjo) Lives of Landscape Photographers
Secret (Banjo) Lives of Landscape Photographers

Secret (Banjo) Lives of Landscape Photographers. Sierra Nevada, California. September 5, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Landscape photographers relaxing with a little midday banjo music. (Scot Miller, Charles Cramer, Annette Bottaro-Walklet, Mike Osborne, Karl Kroeber, G Dan Mitchell)

I know the romantic notions about the daily lives of landscape photographers: days full of stunning golden hour light, incalculable beauties everywhere at every moment, the sublime life, rainbows, unicorns, etc. But the truth is more complex. Up before dawn and out into the cold without breakfast, shooting for hours until the light turns “blah,” then a long, boring midday period before the beautiful light returns hours later, then photographing into the frigid darkness.

It is often a struggle to find something useful to do in the backcountry during those midday hours. There are meals to eat, tents to tidy, and naps to take, but the hours are still long. We think we’ve found a solution. There’s nothing like a few hours of backcountry banjo ensemble music to make the time pass more quickly. Here the group nears the conclusion of the Adagietto movement of Mahler’s Symphony #5.

So, the next time you are in the Sierra Nevada backcountry and you pass a group of heavily laden photographers with tripods, folding chairs, and banjo cases on their backs, stop and say “hi.” ;-)

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

B&H “Pi Day” Logo

I got a kick out of this. Someone at B&H is having a bit too much fun on “Pi Day!” ;-)

B&H Photo-Video "Pi Day" Logo
B&H Photo-Video “Pi Day” Logo

For those few who may not know, March 14 is informally known as “Pi Day” in recognition of the connection to the 3.14 date – and it is also a well-known day for pi-related jokes.

(B&H Photo is a site-sponsor.

The Only “Wow” Lens

From time to time, and perhaps more often than necessary, the forumtography question concerning lenses that produce a “wow” factor (and perhaps even a “3D effect!”) arises and leads to great long discussions about which exotic and expensive lenses will make any photograph into a classic.

There is only one such lens.

The only true “wow” lens, as any proper lens connoisseur knows without asking, is the 1956 39.5mm Heptagon Mega L v. 58 B (Czechoslovakia model) with the German manual extender modification screw attachment and the maximum f/1. 39 aperture and the unique crank-operated tilt-shift mechanism that was carved from ebony wood. The optical spatial construction of the crystalline substructure was temporally modified by skilled yet enigmatic craftsmen under the tutelage of the original optical specialists of the Third Order, each of whom spent at least 14 years mastering their art while performing menial manual manipulations and modifications of modular componentry that had been properly aged and then conditioned in alpine ice caves in order to ensure optimal thermo-stable meta-optical stability and compound image purity in the sub-atomic and meta-cognitive domains, with both affective and psycho-motor orientation.

The ineffable and subtle purity of the drawing power of this legendary optic can turn any photographer into a Cartier-Bresson, an Adams, or an Avedon, as the case may be. Although unbeknownst to the general population and only shared among the elect who have been chosen to experience the technical, aesthetic and spiritual perfection of the Heptagon optic and who are sufficiently suggestible, this is actually the primary causal factor behind the creation of virtually all truly great photography during the past 100 years. Some have come close, but none have achieved greatness without it. Why, the effect is simply magical. All I can say is…

… wow.

Note: If you are a new photographer looking for serious advice about lens selection for your DSLR, you have probably figured out by now that this article doesn’t provide it. (Actually, in an intentionally satirical way, it does address an important question about the eternal hope that magical lenses will lead to magical photography.) In any case, I think some might find the following earlier post useful: Beginner Question: What Lenses Should I Get?

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Now Open

San Francisco Photograph - An abandoned toilet stands next to a Chase Bank "Now Open" sign in the Chinatown district of San Francisco.
An abandoned toilet stands next to a Chase Bank “Now Open” sign in the Chinatown district of San Francisco.

Now Open. San Francisco, California. July 15 2011. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

An abandoned toilet stands next to a Chase Bank “Now Open” sign in the Chinatown district of San Francisco.

Sometimes the world just hands you things that you couldn’t come up with on your own if you tried.

The opportunities for bad puns are so tempting here, but I’ll struggle to resist, and instead simply offer a few words about the location and the, uh, scene. On this summer day I was wandering around San Francisco to do street photography, and walked up Grant Street. Grant is such a tourist place that I often instead head off to some nearby streets that are a bit less geared to the tourist trade, so I picked up a cross street and wandered up toward Stockton Street. At one point as I walked past a busy area of markets and other small businesses I happened to notice this odd (and perhaps unfortunate, if you are the bank) juxtaposition of sidewalk “decorations.”

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.