Monthly Archives: June 2013

Follow the Signs

One of the fun things about traveling without a schedule is to follow trails you wouldn’t otherwise pursue. I had a couple of days before my Rocky Mountain High session started, so I spent some time exploring Colorado. I had two things on my agenda, Hanging Lake and Mt. Evans. Other than that, I could explore freely.

Hope Tree, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Hope Tree, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

While driving through Glenwood Springs I saw a sign that said “Doc Holliday’s Grave.” I followed the signs to a trailhead in a residential neighborhood and started climbing. The trail was about 1/2 mile long and, of course, uphill. The first thing I came across was this tree with the colorful flags I’ve now called the “Hope Tree.” All of the flags had words such as hope, love, etc written on them. I have no idea what the story behind the tree was, but it was photogenic nonetheless.

After a few minutes to take some bracketed exposures for HDR processing later, I continued up the trail. At the top of the hill was a small cemetery with probably 50-100 graves. The signs continued pointing to Doc Holliday’s grave, and I followed them.

Doc Holliday's 'Grave,' Linwood Cemetery, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Doc Holliday’s ‘Grave,’ Linwood Cemetery, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Eventually, I found the site of his ‘grave.’ I put the word grave in quotation marks for a reason. The informative signs indicated that no one was sure if Doc Holliday was buried under the tombstone. The tombstone was erected later, and apparently no one is quite sure where he is buried in the cemetery. Nevertheless, tourists want a grave site, so the town gave him one. I also learned that he died at the age of 36 of tuberculosis. His last words were reportedly, “this is funny,” referring to the irony of a noted gunman and gambler dying in a bed with his boots off. You can read more about the life of Doc Holliday here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Holliday

 

 

This unplanned excursion gave me some interesting photo opportunities and I learned a little about the history of the Old West. Sometimes you just have to follow the signs.

Equipment Used

Olympus OMD EM-5

Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8

Gitzo 0540 Tripod

Really Right Stuff BH-30

Crumpler Haven in a Patagonia Daypack

 

Once More, With Feeling

Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

June 26, 2013

I first saw Hanging Lake about 8 years ago on a family vacation. I took some pictures at the time, but it was mid-day and, while they were fun snapshots, I always wanted to go back. Often, once I find a location I want to shoot, it takes multiple trips to find just the right composition and lighting.

Last week I was in Colorado to be a leadership mentor for the Rocky Mountain High program. I took the opportunity to arrive about two days early to do some shooting. My first stop was Hanging Lake. I arrived in Denver about noon and drove straight to Glenwood Springs (about 3 hours) to the Hanging Lake trailhead.

The Hanging Lake trail is only about 1 mile long, but unfortunately, it’s all uphill. The trail gains about 1,000 feet of elevation in that short mile up Glenwood Canyon. Couple that elevation gain with the 8,000 base elevation at the trail head and you have quite a workout — especially when you are arriving from the flatlands of Florida! Thank goodness for my lightweight micro four-thirds gear.

Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The green color of the water comes from the travertine rock formation that forms the lake and the mineral content of the water. The color of the water is just as you see it. I haven’t done any strange Photoshop tricks to modify it. The lake is quite fragile ecologically, so you can’t swim in it or otherwise enter the water.

I arrived at the lake at about 7 PM and shot for about an hour. The light was good, but not spectacular. The lake sits deep in a canyon and I think it would be quite unusual to get something other than flat light. Nevertheless, the early evening light was nice. For the vertical shot, I climbed on a rock right behind the waterfall. I was precariously perched upon a small rock with my tripod and almost fell off the rock. It was worth it to get the shot. 🙂

I descended the steep trail before it got too dark and went straight to my hotel. I briefly contemplated going back for sunrise, but since sunrise was at 5:30, I would have had to leave my hotel before 4 AM — a little too early after traveling all day on the previous day.

Although this was my second attempt at Hanging Lake and I like the most recent shots better than my first set, I still think that I may have a few trips left in me for this location. I still want to find that magical light at this magical location.

If you are interested in hiking to Hanging Lake, you can find an excellent guide here:

Hiking Guide for Hanging Lake

If you would like to purchase prints of Hanging Lake, you can find them in my Landscape Gallery:

Hanging Lake Prints

Equipment Used

Olympus OMD EM-5

Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8

Gitzo 0540 Tripod

Really Right Stuff BH-30

Lee Seven5 3-stop ND

Crumpler Haven in a Patagonia Daypack

Backpacking with Micro Four-Thirds

Backpacking Setup

Backpacking Setup

Jun 12, 2013

The picture at left is why I love the micro four-thirds format so much.  What you see is all I need for a week of backpacking in Colorado. The whole setup probably weighs less than 7 lbs, including tripod. I’m confident that what you see here will allow me to capture everything I want while in the backcountry, and I won’t kill my back lugging heavy equipment. This also gives me room for those little nice-to-have extras like a tent and sleeping bag.  I just put all of this stuff in the Crumpler Haven bag and stuff it in my backpack. I strap the tripod to the outside of the pack.

I’ll be on the road with limited access for the next week or so, but hopefully I’ll have something to show for it on the blog when I return.

Equipment shown (with Amazon links)

Olympus OM-D EM-5 with Really Right Stuff L-plate

Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8

Panasonic 35-100 f/2.8

Olympus 9-18

Crumpler Haven – Large

Lowepro Filter Pouch with various Lee Seven5 filters

Gitzo 0540 tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-30 Ballhead

Violins

Violins - Old and New

Violins – Old and New

June 10, 2013

Besides photography, my other hobby is music. I’ve played violin since about the age of 8 and I currently play with several groups. The groups range from a community orchestra to the praise band at my church. For the praise band, I normally play a 5-string electric violin.

Violins are beautiful works of art, but difficult to photograph. They have highly reflective curved surfaces that make lighting difficult. It’s akin to shooting cars. I’ve taken pictures like these before, but I’ve never been quite pleased with the lighting. Since I got the new Olympus macro lens this week, I decided to try again.

The pictures for this post were lit with two diffused speedlights at 45-degree angles. One was in a Lastolite softbox and the other was in a Kacey beauty dish with a diffusion sock. The lights were at about a 45-degree angle to the instruments to avoid harsh reflections.

The top photo is my favorite from this session, but here are two others I liked from this series:

Violin Scrolls

Violin Scrolls

 

Violins

Violins

Equipment Used

Olympus OM-D EM-5

Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Lastolite Speedlight Softbox – 24×24

Kacey Beauty Dish with Diffusion Sock

Two Nikon SB-800 Speedlights

Olympus 60mm Macro on Sale – $399

June 10, 2013

I took the plunge last week and bought the Olympus 60mm Macro lens. It’s a great, sharp lens. Of course, 3 days after I bought it, it went on sale for $100 less. At $399, this lens is a tremendous bargain.

Luckily, Amazon refunded the difference after I sent them a short e-mail. Amazon’s customer service has been outstanding in the last year or so. They have really upped their game in responsiveness and helpfulness. This excellent service coupled with the “free” 2-day shipping as an Amazon Prime member is why they are now my first choice for photo equipment. I sometimes still go to the big New York shops for specialty equipment that Amazon doesn’t carry, but I always check Amazon first. No hassle customer service is worth its weight in gold.

You can get the amazing Olympus 60mm macro lens at Amazon for $399 at this link while it lasts.