Just don’t forget the basics…

In the last several blogs, I’ve talked about new shooting and editing techniques and all the fun I’ve been having.  These past few weeks have been truly amazing for me, up until a couple nights ago.  I was reading one of my books on High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography – the chapter on tripods – and a I came on a little ‘Tip’ sidebar that said, “Rather counterintuitively, using a tripod in conjunction with image stabilization can result in unsharp images, so it is advisable to turn stabilization off whenever your camera is tripod-mounted.”

For a little quick background, many lens manufacturers build their lenses to correct for small movements and shakes, resulting in sharper pictures.  Each manufacturer calls it something different (Canon says image stabilization and Tamron uses vibration control, for example), but they all accomplish the same thing.  The problem is that when a camera is mounted on a tripod (versus handheld), these small movements and shakes don’t occur, so the lens panics (figuratively, not literally) and introduces some shake so the image stabilization system has something to do.  It’s kind of like those overprotective parents in movies and TV shows that obsess over their children’s first date or outing with friends – inventing problems that aren’t occurring.  It makes for a humorous story line, but it doesn’t make good pictures.  The lesson: turn off the image stabilization (if the lens has it) when using a tripod!

Is this new information to me?  No!  It’s a basic action in photography, the same as turning on the charging the battery, turning on the camera, taking the lens cap off, or putting a memory card in the camera.  Have I been doing it?  Well, no.  I have been concentrating so hard on the neutral density filters and camera settings, getting a good composition, and remembering the cable release to reduce camera shake on the tripod.  I haven’t been turning off the image stabilization on my lenses! Silly me!  The biggest problem has been blending the different exposures in HDR software, where I was seeing lots of ‘ghosting’ or blurred portions in the final image.  I attributed it to wind blowing the tree branches or the differences in water flow, never thinking about that dadburned image stabilization.  So, lesson learned and reminder to take care of the basics!  Will I forget again?  Yes!  After all, I’m still learning.

For this week’s images, I’ll start with my recent trip to Glen Alpine Falls, on Taylor Creek upstream from Fallen Leaf Lake which feeds into Lake Tahoe.  With all the snow the Sierras received this year, the Falls are running strong and are very beautiful.  If you want to go see them, take CA 89 along the west shore of Lake Tahoe, a few miles south of Emerald Bay, and turn west on the road to Fallen Leaf Lake.  The Falls are on the far west end of the Lake.  I had to park at the fire station and hike about a quarter mile up a hill – an easy hike and well worth it!  I had rented a Canon 10-22 Wide Angle Lens from Gordon’s Photo Service (gordonsphotoservice.com), to try something different from my lenses.  It was fun to use that lens – with the short focal length and the natural distortion on the edges of the images, I had to adjust my shooting style – especially to create the panoramas.

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Glen Alpine Falls – 5 exposures, HDR processed in Photomatix and Photoshop.

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For this image of the Falls, I stitched together 4 images to create a panorama. I used the wide angle lens turned 90 degrees (long axis vertical), with a 4 stop neutral density filter to slow the water for the picture, merging in Photoshop.

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This is Taylor Creek, downstream of the Falls. I made 5 exposures and blended them in Photomatix to bring out the beautiful colors in the rocks.

With Spring, our trees are flowering!

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A macro of the flowers on a Perfect Purple tree in our backyard!

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These flowers are on our Pear tree – hopefully, the bees will come and we will have Pears this year!

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With all the moisture we’ve had this Winter, the desert is full of color. I’ve never noticed these desert plants before, but they are blooming all over the Carson Valley! This one is just up the road from our house!

I haven’t forgotten the wildlife in our area, although the Raptors are mostly gone.  Here’s a few:

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My education in bird identification continues. I was very excited to see this, thinking I had something exotic like a female Canvasback Duck. Turns out, it’s just a Mutt Duck. Apparently, Mallards aren’t very selective when they mate, giving us birds like this. It is, however, very pretty – for a Mutt!

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I drove past a Western Meadowlark a couple months ago, so when I saw this one I was determined to get the picture. I posted this to the ‘Yep I’m from Wyoming’ page on Facebook and, at last count, I was well over 130 likes! For those of you unfamiliar with my home state – the Western Meadowlark is the Wyoming State Bird!

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These Owlets live in the Carson Valley, and share the nest with Mom, Dad, and two siblings.

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This Great Horned Owl was on a branch over the nest, with 2-3 Owlets in the nest. Not sure if it was just the wind, or if the kids were acting up that day, but I love the look on its face.

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This Quail was running around my backyard, but stopped long enough for me to get this picture!

I’ll close with a few scenery shots.

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This is an abandoned ranch house in Hope Valley, just across the border in California.

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This waterfall is on CA 89, on the west end of Emerald Bay.

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The Carson Valley is one of the ‘go to’ places for soaring. These two gliders were in the sky over my house. They weren’t as close as it appears in this image.

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My lovely bride asked for a short drive last Sunday, and we happened on this scene along Waterloo Lane in the Carson Valley.

Shooting the West (shootingthewest.org) is only a couple weeks away!  I’m putting the finishing touches on my presentation and am very excited to be a part of this great event this year.  If you’re near Winnemucca in a couple weeks – stop by the Convention Center and see the pictures!  This Sunday is April 17, the day the Ford Mustang was introduced at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.  It’s National Mustang Day, so I’ll be driving the Bullitt to celebrate.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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