We finally had some decent weather for a change and I spent the weekend doing two things that I love the most, learning and teaching. I stopped by Austin on my way to the Hill Country for a “head shot” (portrait) workshop by Kirk Tuck. It was a great class and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then I headed out to Pedernales Falls State Park to provide some one-on-one landscape coaching. Thankfully, the weather Saturday evening and Sunday morning was exceptional and we got some great shots of the falls and surrounding area. All in all, a very enjoyable weekend.
I’ve decided to spread my photographic wings a little in 2010 and spend some more time shooting people or at least including people in my landscape & nature work more often. This family was very accommodating after I offered some help in launching them from shore. Never seen a kayak this full of gear before. Must be gear lust affects more than just photographers these days.
Gone Fishing – Bastrop, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 30mm, f/5.6 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.
It’s been way too long since I last travelled to the Texas Hill Country and those wide open spaces are calling to me once again. So it’s Road Trip Time (RTT) because Life’s Too Short (LTS) and that pretty much sums it up for me.
The weather here in Texas has been downright miserable this winter but there’s a high pressure system moving from the west that promises a bit of sunshine and some nice clouds. After weeks of overcast skies and rain the rivers and creeks in the Hill Country are flowing fast and furious, which makes for some nice photographic opportunities.
There are a few tips to keep in mind when shooting in inclement weather in central Texas:
It’s Tough to Get a Great Sot when Your Hands Are Freezing Cold!
It’s darn cold shooting waterfalls in the dead of winter so keep those hands warm but tactile with a pair of Mechanix Wear Coyote gloves. Used by the US military, NASCAR® pit crews and photographers worldwide, these little beauties are incredible. They keep your hands warm while allowing you to use your camera as if you weren’t wearing gloves at all! And for rock climbing to get that great shot, they are second to none!
Think Safety and Come Back Alive!
It’s not enough just to pack an extra lens, filters, memory cards and tripod. You need to be thinking “what if something happens to me?” when packing for those day hikes to your favorite spot. If you fall and injure yourself, packing for safety can mean the difference between life and death in the freezing cold..
I’ve owned way more photo bags than I care to admit and never found exactly the right one to fit my needs. That is, until I found Moose Peterson’s MP-7 Photopack. This lightweight but sturdy pack fits me like a glove and holds more gear than my poor old back will ever allow me to carry.
Here is a list of what I pack for a typical day hike and shoot.
- Canon 5D Mark II with EF 24-105mm f/4L zoom attached.
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L zoom with lens hood.
- Canon Ef 28mm f/1.8 lens.
- Canon G10 with Lensmate collar.
- Singh-Ray CP, Vari-ND & ND Grad filters (8).
- Black Rapid R-Strap & Clips.
- Bubble level, CF cards, lens cloths.
- Garmin Dakota 20 GPS on one strap.
- Motorola MR350 Two Way Radio on the other strap.
- Emergency Thermal Mylar Blanket.
- Hiker’s First Aid Kit.
- LED Flashlight & Hunting Knife.
- Emergency Food & Water.
- Gitzo Traveller Tripod & RRS Ballhead strapped to the bottom of the pack.
If you think I pack a lot of stuff in my MP-7 take a look at what Moose Peterson packs!
Talk About a Virgance in the Force!
Nikon today announced the world’s first ultra wide-angle zoom lens with vibration reduction, the AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR. I’m stunned by the innovative design of this full-frame lens. It looks hardly bigger than Canon’s 17-40mm f/4 lens but packs a four-stop VR (image stabilization for us Canon shooters) system.
Think about the possibilities.
- How about hand-holding a landscape shot down to about 1/8th of a second exposure and coming back with a tach sharp image?
- How about photo-walking with this lens in NYC and being able to really capture that sense of just how big the Big Apple really is?
- And where does this leave us Canon shooters?
- Will big “C” react to this competitive challenge or leave us hanging as they did when Nikon added their own hot shoe mounted GPS system?
I wonder what Fake Chuck has to say?
Sometimes it’s a little tough expressing relative size in a photograph. After all, it’s only a two dimensional representation of a three-dimensional subject. In landscape photography this can be especially difficult since the camera tends to “compress” the image perspective somewhat.
Runoff – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 85mm, f/22 for 1/13th of a second at ISO 50. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.
Take the shot above for example. Can you tell how large the waterfalls and surrounding rocks really are? Can you tell how close they are to you? Me neither! Which is why it’s always a good idea to add some visual clue to your landscape images to help viewers judge the size of your subject and distance the subject is from the viewer. In some cases a simple foreground object can be used to add this sense of “perspective”. In others it’s simply best to add people in your landscape images as shown below. There’s nothing better to add a sense of relative size than having a person in your shot.
(And yes, those folks were mighty close to the slippery edge out there. You should have seen me & my tripod )
I love McKinney Falls State Park. Anytime there’s a serious rain, the upper and lower falls become wonderful photographic subjects and they’re never the same two days in a row. That’s why McKinney Falls is always a stop during the Texas Landscape Safari.
After the Rain – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 75mm, f/29 for 1/5th of a second at ISO 50. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.
How to Get this Type of Shot (without a neutral density filter):
- Cloudy, overcast days are your best choice for this type of shot. Set your ISO to the absolute lowest number. On the Canon 5D2 this means enabling ISO Expansion using C.Fn 1-3 and setting it to “L” (ISO 50).
- Set your camera to manual (M) and adjust your aperture to somewhere around f/22 or smaller until you achieve a shutter speed of greater than 1/8th of a second. The longer the better! And don’t worry about diffraction softening your image unless you plan to print it larger than 24 x 36.
- Manually focus your lens about 1/3rd of the way into the image (hyper-focal distance) for best results. You want everything in perfect focus so check your depth of field often.
- A good sturdy tripod is a must in a situation like this. I recommend a carbon-fiber tripod for shooting waterfalls since any camera shake will ruin your long exposure shots.
- Be Careful. Wet rocks are about the most dangerous surface to walk on. I recommend buying a good pair of hiking boot or shoes with Vibram soles. I shop at REI and the folks there will help you pick the right pair for your feet.
Garner State Park is on of the busiest state parks in Texas. Folks come from across Texas and the other 49 states to swim and fish in the Frio river and hike the steep limestone cliffs surrounding the park. From the top you can see the Texas Hill Country in all its glory!
Those Texas Hills – Concan, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/13 for 1/13th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.
Wide Open Spaces – Fredericksburg, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/11 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta. Click on the image above for a larger version.
I live in Sugar Land, a bustling suburb about 20 miles southwest of Houston. I’ve put down roots here and raised four beautiful daughters that are the pride and joy of my wife and I. I live here, work here and worship here in Sugar Land. The community is clean, the people are good and life is pleasant.
But the Texas Hill Country calls to me. There’s just no other way to describe it. In all my travels I’ve never visited a place that felt more like home than the Hill Country. It’s a region like no other on the planet, stretching from La Grange, Smithville and Rockdale in the east to Uvalde, Rock Springs and Junction in the west.; from New Braunfels and San Antonio in the south to Temple and Lampasas in the north. A region of placid rivers in the summer like the Frio, Sabinal and Guadalupe to raging torrents like the Llano, Pedernales and Colorado in the springtime. A region of rolling hills, rocky uplifts and valleys full of deep rich soil.
The Texas Hill Country is region of distinct character, as independent as the folks that settled here and as beautiful as any place on Earth.
I’ve made several trips to Gorman Falls in the past few years and always found the beauty to be quite spectacular. Colorado Bend State Park is our first stop during the Texas Landscape Safari and the folks that attend the workshop are always stunned by the quiet beauty in this remote valley.
I’ll never forget my first solitary visit to Gorman Falls last year before the draught set in. I arrived at the park before dawn and hiked about 2 miles to the falls, following the trail staked out with orange markers. The sun was just rising over the hills to the east and I knew I had to hurry to catch that perfect light that comes only in the early morning hours. I arrived at the end of the trail at first light to find the steep, rocky descent down to the base of the falls. The climb down always looks treacherous with few well defined steps carved into the rock face to guide you. About half way down, there are a some steel poles and cables cemented into place and I used those to guide my descent, carrying my tripod in one hand and my camera slung over my shoulder. This is not a hike I usually take alone and at my age, a slip and fall could spell disaster, so I double-checked to make sure that my cell phone had reception.
At the bottom of the ravine I stood in wonder at the magnificent spectacle before me. Gorman Falls is one of our state’s most pristine natural environments and it seemed as if no one had been down here for years. The falls before me was surrounded by trees with the early morning sunlight filtering through the leaves. The green moss covered rocks and the cool spray of the falls was a refreshing sight after my long hike. Excited at the prospect of capturing this beauty I quickly setup my tripod and camera and selected a medium zoom lens for my first exposures. As I sighted through my viewfinder I knew the long hike and difficult climb had been worth it. I’d found a perfect spot to spend a few wonderful hours doing what I love the most.