Switching. And Patience. (Morning Musings 9/18/14)

Posted on 18 September 2014 | 4 comments

Friday Night, Manhattan

Friday Night, Manhattan*

Today I’m going to muse about equipment, and how to respond to the ongoing and inevitable continuing improvements in the capabilities of photography gear. My primary context is the Canon DSLR gear that I use, though the issue that I’m “musing” about is a more general one.

I shoot mostly with a Canon 5D Mark II camera body, typically using four or fewer lenses. (I also use a Fujifilm X-trans camera for situations where small and light gear is more important than having a full frame sensor.) The 5DII is a 21MP full frame DSLR camera and can produce marvelous photographic results, including quite large high quality prints.

Recently Canon-using photographers have become acutely aware that full frame cameras from Sony (such as the A7r) and Nikon (the D800 and D810 models) incorporate important advances in digital sensor technology. These include greater photo site density (36MP sensors) and increased dynamic range (or “DR” in photospeak), and these cameras have gotten the attention of many serious photographers. (Today the issue came up in the context of a forum discussion of a vague and unsubstantiated rumor of a new Canon camera.)

Since photography relies on the technology of cameras and lenses, photographers are almost always interested in technological improvements. In fact, some folks can become so interested in this that the technology becomes more important to them than the photographs, and it be a challenge to keep things in perspective. Read more…

Morning Light, Forest and Granite

Posted on 18 September 2014 | Comment

Morning Light, Forest and Granite

Morning Light, Forest and Granite

Morning Light, Forest and Granite. Yosemite National Park, California. September 8, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning light on forests and granite terrain along the Tuolumne River on a day of rain and wildfire smoke

After about five days of beautiful late-summer conditions high in the northern Yosemite backcountry we descended to a lower elevation, partly in preparation for our departure a few days later and partly (OK, mostly) so that we could photograph in a different location for a few days. On the morning of our move to the new spot we saw a small bit of smoke in the far distance, over the shoulder of Clouds Rest, but it didn’t seem much different from the other small bits of smoke coming from the usual late-season managed fires. However, as we began our cross-country route down a steep canyon we saw that the smoke had grown and that the plume was now extending over our position. Not long after this, as we neared the bottom of the canyon, the smoke became very thick, blotting out the sun and dropping ash on us. We knew that the fire, no doubt whipped by winds that we experience in our location, had taken off — this was the start of the big “Meadow Fire” that burned in Little Yosemite Valley and which forced a number of back-country visitors to evacuate.

Fortunately, that night it rained — what perfect timing! The next morning we were up to make photographs, and for most of the day we shot between the periodic showers that swept through. Early in the morning I went to a high place to photograph this view down the canyon as light, somewhat obscured by clouds and lingering smoke, broke through gaps in the clouds to strike the forest along the river banks. But further down the canyon another shower was on its way, and before long I had to leave my position here and scramble back to my tent to wait out the next bout of rain.

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.

Morning Light, Forest and Granite

I’m Amazingly Humbled! Not. (Morning Musing 9/17/14)

Posted on 17 September 2014 | 8 comments

OK, this “morning musing” post is a) not really being posted in the “morning” (though I was musing about it then), and b) about as totally unrelated to photography as possible. Hey, its my (humble) blog!

Recently recipients of high honors or acclamations have been responding to these honors by saying, “I’m humbled.”

Probably not.

I just grabbed one definition of the word “humbled” off the web — from the Free Dictionary:

tr.v. hum·bledhum·blinghum·bles

  1. To curtail or destroy the pride of; humiliate.
  2. To cause to be meek or modest in spirit.
  3. To give a lower condition or station to; abase. See Synonyms at degrade.

Imagine that the recipient of high honors and acclaim stood in front of those conferring the honor or award and announced:

“Your award humiliates me and destroys my pride. You have reduced me to a lower condition and station, and I am abased. You have degraded me. You make me meek. Your award demotes and dishonors me and devalues me.”

Actually, you don’t have to imagine. That is essentially what it means when a person claims to be “humbled” by an honor!

If you want to have even more fun with this, see some of the synonyms and related words listed in one  of the comments following this post. Using them, our recipient might add:

Thank you for demeaning and discrediting me, humiliating me, and bringing me shame. It is wonderful to be taken down and dishonored by a group such as yours. I am embarrassed and grateful that you have castigated and diminished me in this way. I thank you for your ridicule and bad-mouthing disparagement and for presenting me with such a slanderous public affront.

I think that the people misusing the word “humbled” in this context actually mean well. They are trying to express gratitude and to not seem fat-headed or egotistical — and those are good things. However, there are better words to convey what they likely want to say. How about: “I’m grateful. Thank you. You have honored me. I never thought that this would happen. I deeply appreciate this. I want to thank all of the people who have supported me. I hope I can live up to your expectations. This means a lot to me.”

And thus ends my humble rant. ;-)

Morning Musings are somewhat irregular posts in which I write about whatever is on my mind at the moment.

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.

Shoreline Boulder and Meadow, Subalpine Lake

Posted on 17 September 2014 | Comment

Shoreline Boulder and Meadow, Subalpine Lake

Shoreline Boulder and Meadow, Subalpine Lake

Shoreline Boulder and Meadow, Subalpine Lake. Yosemite National Park, California. September 3, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Boulders, grasses, and trees along the shoreline of a subalpine lake, Yosemite National Park

Some aspects of landscape photography remind me, perhaps in a strange way, of spring skiing. In the spring there is still often plenty of snow, but the temperature swings between sub-freezing nights and warm days have some big effects on the snow. In the morning the re-frozen snow can be so hard that it is almost like trying to ski on a tilting ice rink, and you can easily find yourself skittering across the surface out of control. By late afternoon the warm temperatures melt the snow and can turn it into a slippery slush, and it can be like skiing on oatmeal. But at just the right moment, as the surface of the snow begins to soften but the lower layers are still firm, some of the best skiing possible can occur for a short period each day.

When photography in early or late light, I encounter something very similar — though with a bit of creativity it is possible to stretch things just a bit. Let’s take the afternoon, the time of day when I made this photograph of a simple scene near the outlet stream of a subalpine lake. I began my work a couple of hours before sunset, when the light was still clearly “daytime light.” The sun’s angle is higher, the shadows are more start, the light has a blue quality. As the evening approaches, there is a point at which the light seems to mellow and warm, the shadows lengthen and fill with a bit of reflected light… and almost everything begins to look beautiful. But at this point things change very quickly. I might find myself spotting a bit of light on a branch or a rock, and by the time I’m set up it has moved. While this time seems conducive to looking and contemplating, it is actually a time when I often have to work quickly before the “good light” is gone. This little scene, which is nothing all that special in objective term, was such a scene — a brief moment of warm light slanting through shoreline trees and across meadow grasses, and a few moments later the day ended.

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.

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