Tag Archives: range

Family, Sierra Meadow

Family, Sierra Meadow
A mother and sons in a High Sierra meadow near the MInarets

Family, Sierra Meadow. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. July 4, 2006.© Copyright 2006 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A mother and sons in a High Sierra meadow near the Minarets

For some reason that I cannot quite recall, not too long ago I took an excursion through some old photographs from about a decade ago, from a time just after I had made most of the transition from film to digital photography. (This past week a friend asked if i had photographs from a 2005 trip, so I’ve been digging into this old work even more.) Back in these days I was slightly past my “wonder if digital is all that?” stage, and I was moving resolutely away from film and toward digital technologies. The results were becoming quite usable, though I was still shooting landscapes with a cropped sensor camera!

On this trip I joined up with my brother, his wife, and their three young sons. Although I had taken all of my children into the backcountry when they were young, those days were largely behind my by this point and I had almost forgotten what it is like to backpack with children. And my many solo trips back in these days had made me perhaps hyper self-reliant, to the point that I tended to let everyone fend for himself or herself. I recall being reminded of this by my brother who was bit less than pleased when I crossed a creek flooding portions of the meadow in this photograph and then kept going! Look closely and you may be able to see some of the rest of my party down in that meadow as twilight falls.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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From Valley to Crest

From Valley to Crest
Afternoon light and haze, clearing storm clouds, eastern Sierra Nevada

From Valley to Crest. Eastern Sierra Nevada, California. August 7, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Afternoon light and haze, clearing storm clouds, eastern Sierra Nevada

In early August I was (of course!) once again in the Sierra for several days. This time the main event was to be a short backpacking trip with long-time back-country friends — a “taking it easy” trip to a beautiful group of lakes in the Rock Creek drainage. Our plan was to meet on at the trailhead or on the trail, to do the short hike to a central lake, set up a base camp, and relax and explore for a few days.

I decided to head up early, partly to have a bit of time to adapt the elevation, but also to do a bit of photography. (My backpacking partners were more “normal” people — not “abnormal” photograph-obsessed folks like me!) Arriving in the Yosemite high country at noon on a Friday in August, I did not spend much time at all trying to find a campsite there, instead heading straight over the crest and down to a less crowded spot. With camp set up, it was time to go make some photographs. Taking advantage of my east side location, I decided to head south a short distance along US 395, where I could find beautiful vistas of high desert terrain rising to the crest of the Sierra Nevada, augmented on this day by dissipating storm clouds and a bit of haze from early season wildfires.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Pine Trees, Morning

Pine Trees, Morning
A small grove of high elevation pine trees in morning Sierra Nevada light

Pine Trees, Morning. Sierra Nevada, California. August 10, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small grove of high elevation pine trees in morning Sierra Nevada light

Although I visit the Sierra frequently, it has been some time since my last real backpacking trip and even longer since I last me up with my “Talusdancers” friends. The Talusdancers go way back — to a time about two decades ago when a loosely organized group of us began joining regularly for Sierra backcountry trips that ranged from a few days to longer than a week. In early August I had the opportunity to get these things back on track, with a three-day backpack trip in the eastern Sierra with three of the old gang. I arrived before the others, was on the trail by mid-afternoon, and had set up camp and was fixing dinner before the sun set. My friends apparently got to the trailhead much later and didn’t start hiking until about 6:00 PM. As the sun was setting I heard the “holler” of my friend Owen coming from across the valley, and I yelled back to let him know I as there. They soon arrived, and I can report that there are few things more wonderful that meeting up in the backcountry with good friends you have not seen for some time!

Our camp was on a rise above the shore of a sub-alpine lake, a very familiar Sierra Nevada setting. Beyond the lake to the west the terrain rises, past more lakes and thinning trees, into the alpine zone, and eventually to Sierra crest peaks and ridge lines. To the east there was a long valley with several more lakes, ending at a drop off between the descending canyon walls, and in the far distance we could see the high desert of Owens Valley and even further off the line of the White Mountains. We camped in the midst of an open grove of small, high-elevation lodgepole pines, common Sierra trees, but always beautiful in the early morning light.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Timberline Meadow, Morning

Timberline Meadow, Morning
A small Sierra Nevada timberline meadow in morning light, surrounded by rocky alpine terrain

Timberline Meadow, Morning. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, California. September 13, 2013. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small Sierra Nevada timberline meadow in morning light, surrounded by rocky alpine terrain

This photograph comes from a long visit to the Sierra back-country in September of 2013. A group of photographers made our way into the high backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park (with the help of pack animals) and set up there to make photographs in this 11,000+’ region for the better part of a week. We remained camped in one spot for the entire time. That might seem less exciting that moving on and covering more ground in the Sierra — and experience that I have also had. However, by remaining in one spot we were able to learn the personality of that specific little area much more deeply and to see it in various conditions: morning and evening, rain and fair weather, and more.

This is a humble little photograph — no towering peaks, building clouds, dramatic weather here. However, I got to know this little spot quite well during our visit. It was right “in the neighborhood,” and on a morning like this one I could roll out of my tent, lift my pack, walk uphill for five minutes or so, and be in this meadowy glade, filled with granite slabs and boulders and backed by rocky slopes leading to a nearby ridge.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Island and Trees, Tuolumne River

Island and Trees, Tuolumne River
Trees grow on a small, rocky island in the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park

Island and Trees, Tuolumne River. Yosemite National Park, California. July 12, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Trees grow on a small, rocky island in the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park

This first evening on a recent trip to the Yosemite high country turned out to be a special one in several ways. I arrived in the park in the middle of the day and was fortune to snag a camp site at Tuolumne Meadows. (The place is busy and often full during the summer high season, but certain strategies can increase the odds — for example, I arrived on Sunday at just about the time that folks had to check out of the camp ground.) I set up my simple camp, lounged around a bit, and then it was time to head out and look for photographs. I headed back along Tioga Pass Road, making note of several possibilities as I passed the meadow, then turned around to go back to one of them. Along the way I decided to pull over to take in the view and by lucky coincidence I pulled in right behind my friends Michael and Claudia. We ended up heading out across the meadow to a likely photography location. Within moments a couple caught up with us — another group of friends, Charlotte and Gary!

The group of us continued hiking along the river, eventually reaching a beautiful area where the slope increased, the channel narrowed, and the river picked up speed. Here it glides across granite slabs, bounces around and across boulders, and occasionally pools for a moment in hollows in the valley. We stopped at a granite bowl where the river takes a bend, and I photographed this small island and its trees against a background of late-afternoon sky with dissipating clouds.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

The Canon 5Ds R — Dynamic Range Examples

Updated August 13, 2015 to add a second dynamic range adjustment example.

Ongoing development and refinement of digital camera technology continues to improve cameras and the technical quality of the images they produce. Color accuracy improves, dynamic range expands, sensor resolution increases, AF accuracy gets better, and so on.

The Canon EOS 5Ds and the Canon EOS 5Ds R continue this process. Their most notable feature is the 50.6 megapixel (MP) sensor, currently the highest sensor photo site density available on full frame digital cameras. (Nikon and Sony both produce 36MP sensor cameras using Sony sensors, and Sony has introduced a camera with a 42MP sensor. Note that the differences between 36MP, 42MP, and 50.6MP are less than you might expect.)

When it comes to dynamic range — the ability of the sensor to record a wide range of luminosity levels from very bright to quite dark in a single exposure — Sony is the current champion, and cameras using their sensors have the largest available dynamic range among comparable cameras. (Some MF cameras have more dynamic range capability than any current full frame camera. )

(All current digital cameras capture images with more dynamic range than we can display on monitors or in prints — the display media cannot keep up with the capture technology. Consequently, the primary advantage of greater dynamic range comes in post-production, where the photographer will find more useful scene data in darker areas that can be “pushed” or otherwise recovered while maintaining useful image quality.)

If you can get more dynamic range without giving up anything else, there is no reason not to have it. In marginal situations, that extra bit of dynamic range might enable you to get a bit more image data in a single exposure, while a photographer with a camera providing less dynamic range is a bit more likely to have to use exposure bracketing or HDR techniques (which combine multiple images in post-production), use a graduated neutral density filter, or possibly find ways to suppress noise in shadow areas of scenes with very wide dynamic range. That said, all current high quality digital cameras capture a wide dynamic range — much larger, for example, that was possible with typical film media. (Note, however, that no currently available full frame camera can capture in a single exposure the largest dynamic range scenes that you may encounter.)

With all of that in mind, I thought I’d share a couple examples of files from the Canon 5Ds R that have been pushed quite a bit. Continue reading The Canon 5Ds R — Dynamic Range Examples

Tuolumne River, Evening

Tuolumne River, Evening
Evening clouds dissipate above the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park

Tuolumne River, Evening. Yosemite National Park, California. July 12, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening clouds dissipate above the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park

For the past few days I’ve been photographing in the Yosemite high country. When arriving at some familiar places in the Sierra Nevada I tend to follow certain rituals. I often arrive in the middle of the day and whenever possible on the day when the largest number of visitors are leaving — this makes it a bit more likely that I’ll find a campsite. That’s how it worked out on this Sunday, when I was able to grab a tent campsite at Tuolumne Meadows, even though it is the start of the peak season. As usual, I spent an hour or so getting my basic camp set up, then sat for a while, resting up from the drive and eating lunch and thinking about where I might photograph later in the day. I finally came up with vaguest of vague plans: I would simply start out by driving back down the road a ways to see what I could find. This turned out to be fortuitous decision.

In some ways it was a typical high country summer evening, with clearing clouds from recent monsoonal rain softening the light a bit. I passed a beautiful clump of trees that were dramatically lit by the low-angle sun but there was no place to pull over. I continued on up the road a ways, finally turned around, and as I headed back I decided to pull over where I could take in the wider view. There were two vehicles in the pull-out already and as I pulled in I wondered if I was going to startle the woman getting out of the one right in front of me. I took another look and soon realized that she was my friend Claudia, and that the other car was her husband Michael’s vehicle. (It still astonishes me how often I run into friends in the Sierra.) After greetings we decided to wander out along the Tuolumne to see what evening would bring. They set out across the meadow and a few minutes later I followed. As I walked I became vaguely aware that another couple was following in the same direction and when we met up at the far side of the meadow we realized that there were Charlotte and Gary, yet another couple I know! Joining “forces,” now we wandered down the river this beautiful area of small trees, open views, granite slabs, and flowing water.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.