The Ride of a Lifetime

A Drive to Remember

The Ride of a Lifetime – Davis Mountains, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 24mm, f/16 for 1/6th of a second at ISO 100 using Singh-Ray’s warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.

GPS Coordinates: 30°43’9″ N 104°11’16″ W, 5846 ft

This is one long and wordy post so dig in.

We live in interesting times my friends. It’s stated that just one generation ago most folks went to work for a company at age 20 and retired from that same company at age 62 with a generous “pension plan”. Today, we’re told, the “average” person will have worked at five to seven different companies in two to three different industries by the time he or she reaches age 62. This “new age” worker may never retire at all and if they do, they walk away with a 401K “savings” worth considerably less than they think their 40 years of hard work is worth. Not exactly the “American Dream” the previous generation lived.

Or is it?

Much is currently being said about how the rise of the Internet and the new “Social Media” are killing off the world’s newspapers, magazines and television. We’re lead to believe this new age of instant and “free” information is sucking the life blood out of the once robust news and entertainment industry and creating a generation of FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram addicts that can’t get enough of their 24x7x365 fifteen minutes of fame. Not exactly your evening news with Walter Cronkite.

Or is it?

We’re told that the massive influx of cheap DSLR cameras from Japan, Korea and China is driving down the price for professional wedding, sports, travel, commercial and landscape photography so much that thousands of professional shooters have been replaced by millions of amateur shooters, effectively killing off the entire industry. It’s said that the stock agencies have been replaced by the micro-stock agencies that have themselves been supplanted by Art Directors trolling Flickr and Google Images sending the already rock bottom prices for photography even lower. Not exactly what Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Lachapelle or Annie Lebovitz had in mind when they got started.

Or is it?

The Shifting Paradigm
Sometimes we forget how far technology has come in such a short period of time and we underestimate the impact this change has caused in our daily lives. Prior to the twentieth century mankind’s basic situation hadn’t changed much in the past 10,000 years. Yes, civilizations had risen and fallen, wars had been won and lost and the Lord had sent his only son to redeem our souls. Still, people’s daily lives revolved around their family, their village and their region. Most knew little about the rest of the world and few had spare time for idle curiosity.

That all changed in the past 150 years with the most dramatic changes coming during the last 50 years. The industrial revolution created a new paradigm for non-farm workers and gave birth to the “9 – 5 Job”. It created thousands of jobs by inventing mass production, making durable goods cheap enough for these same “workers” to buy.

But the industrial revolution also killed many jobs by making those durable goods less expensively than they were made “by hand” before. The artisans and craftsmen of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century experienced this technological “shift” firsthand and found their life’s work too expensive to compete against the marvels of mass production. (Sound familiar?)

Fast forward to the 1930′s, 40′s & 50′s and the rise of the modern labor union. Union workers strike against company owners and win wage and benefit increases and give birth to the first pension plans. Non-union white-collar workers negotiate for the same benefits as their blue-collar brothers and create an affluent middle class with one single goal; retirement.

Never before in the history of mankind had a large percentage of people “stopped working” at age 62 and spent the rest of their (now longer) lives pursuing leisure activities. Whole new industries emerge designed to cater to this new middle class. The newspaper industry and print journalism in general flourished as people had the time and money to spend learning about the rest of the world. But this “golden age of print” didn’t last for long.

Radio and television become the media of choice in the 1960′s and 70′s with the war in Vietnam and the anti-war protests at home being covered every evening at 5:30 PM (CST). Newspaper subscriptions began their decades long decline and advertisers flocked to the TV like bees to honey. (We’ve been here before haven’t we?)

Fast forward to the 1980′s & 90′s. The integrated circuit is developed and the computer age is upon us. Main-frame computers costing millions are quietly replaced by faster and smaller mini-computers and a whole generation of assembly language programmers find themselves “made redundant” (until the Y2K scare). Only a few years go by and the venerable mini-computer falls to the “personal computer” or PC. A whole generation of COBOL programmers find themselves also “made redundant”. Apple opens their doors and Bill Gates releases Microsoft “Windows”. IBM and DEC find their market share dwindling day by day. (Getting the picture?)

Fast forward to the past decade. PCs, laptops and notebook computers are everywhere. Microsoft releases Excel, Word, PowerPoint, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, Exchange Server and Commerce Server and dominates the world software market. The smaller software companies and contract programmers find themselves broke, acquired or run out of business by the GIANT Microsoft. The governments of the US and several European nations sue Microsoft due to their dominance and domination of the global software market. Microsoft’s market share and profits continue to climb while the PC manufacturers find themselves barely able to make a profit. Mergers take place. Some hardware companies go out of business altogether and the profit margins of the remaining few continue to shrink. (Seem Familiar?)

Apple reinvents itself, retools, revamps and re-engineers its line of desktop, workstation and notebook computers and carefully controls the hardware to match their new operating system, OS-X. Apple opens their bricks & mortar stores amid speculation that they’ve lost their mind, but the crowds love the concept and devout PC users begin to switch to Mac. Microsoft releases one slow, buggy operating system after another which fall flat on their faces. Apple begins a series of humorous ads laughing at Microsoft’s misfortune. Apple releases new iPods, MacBooks, iMacs, Mac Pros, iTunes, the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4G, iPhone 5G and the iPad series. Microsoft continues to watch their market share begin to slip until it’s an all out avalanche of folks switching to Apple products. (Myself included)

In Closing
For every dramatic “shift” in our society, in our technology and in the world of business, there will be those that adapt, survive and even thrive. There will also be those that cannot adapt and they will rail against the heavens, gnash their teeth and loudly call out for “social justice”.

The best advice I can give anyone starting out in the photo business is to follow your own path and be realistic in your goals. For example, there are thousands of very talented wedding photographers around the globe looking for work. The average price that a typical wedding photographer can charge has dropped by 50% in the past two years. Perhaps this isn’t the best time to target that market segment.

Finding niche markets or industries needing economical photographic work is not simple but with Google and the help of your local Chamber of Commerce, it can certainly be done. Do some research and get a listing of all the small businesses in your immediate area. Send out a targeted email blast and follow up with a phone call. Don’t sit in your home office spending hour after hour on FaceBook, Twitter or Instagram. If you want to succeed as a professional photographer then get out there and “sell” your services.

Follow your own path and enjoy the ride of a lifetime!

Jeff

Canyon Walls – Big Bend National Park, Texas

One of my favorite spots to photograph in Big Bend National Park is Santa Elena Canyon, a spectacular channel cut deep into the bedrock of the Chihuahuan Desert. The canyon walls rise over 1800 feet from the desert floor to overlook the Rio Grande and our southern border with Mexico.

Canyon Walls

Canyon Walls – Big Bend National Park, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 40mm, f/16 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 100 using Singh-Ray’s warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.

GPS Coordinates: 29°9’58″ N 103°36’39″ W, 2173 ft

Cold Day at Caprock Canyons State Park, Texas

Cold Day at Caprock Canyons

Cold Day at Caprock Canyons State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
EOS 5D Mark III w/ GP-E
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L IS USM lens and tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 19mm, f/14 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

Instagram

Hiking the CCC Ridge Trail at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

“The rugged Palo Duro Canyon, the nation’s second largest such gorge, located in the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle, is home to one of the Lone Star State’s largest state parks (some 28,978 acres). In the 1930s, seven different CCC outfits, four composed solely of veterans and two solely of young African Americans, were assigned the task of transforming a daunting geographical area–though clearly one of the state’s most important scenic and natural areas–into an inviting park for guests.

CCC Ridge Trail

Among the CCC’s prime tasks was developing over eleven miles of road to gain access to the canyon floor, which they accomplished while also establishing strategically located lookout points, picnic areas, steps, and trails that accentuated the Lighthouse, Castle, and Capitol peaks. Throughout the park Palo Duro’s team of architects and planners took full advantage of the spectrum of picturesque scenes the landscape had to offer. Four Cow Camp cabins invite close-up views of the canyon floor; and Coronado Lodge, the large rubble stone concession building situated on the rim of the canyon, offers a spectacular view of the canyon stretching off into the horizon. Meanwhile, in one of the CCC’s most inspired moves, three of the park’s stone-constructed overnight cabins were set directly into the canyon’s rim.”

Hiking Palo Duro Canyon

CCC Ridge Trail – Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
EOS 5D Mark III w/ GP-E
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens and tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 17mm, f/16 for 1/13th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

Instagram

The Spanish Skirts of Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon is approximately 120 miles long and 600 to 800 feet deep and is the second largest canyon in the United States. The canyon was formed less than 1 million years ago when the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River first carved its way through the Southern High Plains. The rocks expose a geo- logic story which began approximately 250 million years ago, layer by layer revealing a panoramic view of magnificent color. The canyon’s archeological and ethnological treasures suggest about twelve thousand years of human habitation, rising and waning as climate varied among periods of abundant moisture, aridity, and sometimes fearfully severe drought.

Spanish Skirts

Spanish Skirts – Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
EOS 5D Mark III w/ GP-E
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens and tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 26mm, f/16 for 1/10th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

Instagram

Straight & Narrow

The drive from Canyon, Texas to Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a gorgeous ten miles of straight and narrow county road. Oh, what a view on a quiet, moonlit night!

Straight and Narrow

Straight & Narrow – Canyon, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
EOS 5D Mark III w/ GP-E
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens and tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 27mm, f/16 for 1/15th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter and 2-stop, soft, graduated neutral density filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

Instagram

Guadalupe Peak & El Capitan

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the world’s premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era. The park is known for its extensive hiking and backpacking opportunities in one of the nation’s most pristine wilderness areas. Birding, history, and many other opportunities to learn and have fun await visitors in this hidden gem of West Texas.

El Capitan and Guadalupe Peak

Oh the Valleys & the Peaks – Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
Copyright © 2013 Jeff Lynch Photography
EOS 5D Mark III w/ GP-E
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with GP-E2 unit attached, set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens and tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 35mm, f/16 for 1/30th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray warming polarizer filter. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 4.

Click on the image above for a larger version.

Instagram

Workshop Preparation Post #5: Packing for Landscape Photography

As I’ve posted before, gear selection and packing for a landscape photography trip is a cumbersome task. Each time I set out for a few days or a few weeks I begin by putting together a shoot list and hiking schedule. I also check the weather forecast for the area of Texas I’ll be traveling though and pray for any cold fronts approaching from the north or west. The last thing I want is a cloudless sky.

Packing for Landscape Photography

Pulling together a shoot list is a common enough task for most commercial photographers but I find few landscape or nature shooters that follow this discipline. I like to maximize my time in the field but I can’t carry fifty pounds of cameras and lenses on each hike so a shoot list is essential.

So here is a list of what I pack for a typical landscape outing.

  • Canon 5D Mark III with EF 17-40mm f/4L USM zoom attached.
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L zoom with lens hood.
  • Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt & Shift Lens.
  • Gitzo Traveller Tripod & RRS Ballhead.
  • Singh-Ray CP, Vari-ND & ND Grad filters.
  • Black Rapid R-Strap & Clips.
  • Bubble level, CF cards, lens cloths.
  • Garmin 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 Bail-Out Rope.
  • Water, typically three 24oz bottles.
  • Trail Snacks (for energy).

This much gear weighs in a little under 20 lbs and fits comfortably in my pack. The nice thing is, the weight decreases during the hike as I consume my water supply and trail snacks. I caution folks about carrying too much weight in their packs. I’ve done these hikes and climbs several times in the past few years and every extra ounce of weight you carry takes that much more energy. When you’re out shooting in nature, the last thing you need to be thinking about is how sore your lower back is from lugging around all that gear.

In fact, during my spring workshop (Texas Landscape Safari) I may carry only one lens (24-105mm) on my 5D3 and a few filters in my pockets. I load my pack up with as much water as I can carry along with some apples for energy. One thing I tell all my attendees; if it’s a choice between a lens or a bottle of water, always take the water. The Texas sun can be a relentless companion and folks that don’t respect its strength soon find themselves dehydrated and exhausted. Not a great combination for a budding landscape photographer during a workshop.