Travels with Charley

Exploring the Grand Tetons

Charley and the Grand Tetons
Charley and the Grand Tetons

Rochelle and I recently returned from a wonderful road trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  It was one of those special trips where, on the long drive home, we already started planning for our return.  I can still hear the cry of the bear cub who “misplaced” his mom, and the excited voices coming from folks hunched over their scopes who spied wolf cubs romping in the grass.  And the wildlife was only part of the story.  The skies decided to grace us with a cloud show like I’ve never seen down here in dry, dry California.   And we were able to take part in it all, from the comfort of our little Class B Motorhome Charley.

I’m going to break up this story so I can give a little more detail about the two parks. That’s because most stories about the parks shortchange the Grand Tetons in favor of its big brother Yellowstone to the north.   But if you’ve ever visited the Grand Tetons, you already know that this is a park that doesn’t take second billing lightly.  In fact, it may be my favorite of the two, even rivaling Yosemite for that special “Photographer’s Dreamland” space in my heart. Continue reading

If you can’t find Things to Photograph in California, You should take up another Hobby.

It’s been gorgeous in Central California the past couple of weeks.  We had just enough rain in March to help the flowers pop, and now the green grass and yellow poppies are dominating the foothills.  It seems like every morning beckons us to pick up our cameras and hit the road – and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Charley Roadtrek SS Agile-1 We’ve crisscrossed the State, finding some unique, and some not-so-unique, photographic opportunities. Continue reading

Getting Out of Your Photography Comfort Zone.

When it comes to photography, most of us have special subjects that we love to shoot.  I love landscapes and trains.  Rochelle prefers portraits and abstracts.  So, it isn’t surprising that those subjects make up the “bread and butter” of our photographic experiences.

But you know what?  Shooting the same thing all of the time is boring.   And when you’re shooting “Your Favorite Thing”, your standards can become so ridiculously high, it’s easy to be disappointed by anything that’s less than an “OMG! THAT’s AMAZING!”  photograph.  And trust me; those types of shots don’t come along very often.Knights Ferry Civil War Reenactment-24

So, to relieve the boredom of shooting the same subject a million times, and also relieve some of the pressure from looking for that one killer shot, Rochelle and I often go out and shoot something entirely different, just for the heck of it.  And it turns out, that’s when we have some of the most fun.  So that’s why we spent all day Saturday at a Civil War Reenactment in Knight’s Ferry California.  Continue reading

Photography Fun Doesn’t Stop After Dark.

Everybody shoots sunsets.  I doubt if you could find a photographer, or any traveler with a camera, who hasn’t tried their hand at capturing that last light of the day.  And I don’t blame them.  I’ve shot more than a few sunsets myself.    But unless you’re presented with a wonderful sky full of dramatic clouds, or some exceptional reflected color, your sunset shot isn’t going to turn any heads.

That’s why Rochelle and I try to study other astronomical events to see if we can incorporate them into our photography.  And it turns out our favorite celestial body is often not the sun, but the moon.  But before I get into the ins and “mostly” outs of shooting the moon, let me tell you a bit about our most recent weekend in Yosemite. Continue reading

Yosemite Update – Should you Stay or Should you Go?

Part of being a good nature photographer is studying the weather.  After our long, long, horribly long dry spell, it was great to finally see a weather report that said anything other than “unseasonably warm and dry for the foreseeable future”.  Gad, I was sick of seeing that.  I was also going nuts looking out at blue skies and brown grass.  Where were the clouds?  Where was the water? 

Finally, we’re getting some much needed rain.  And while it may end up being less than we need, it’s certainly more than we had.  The hills are turning green, the streams are starting to flow, and most importantly, the storm clouds have returned to Yosemite.  And that makes now the perfect time for Yosemite photography.

Why is March the nicest month to photograph Yosemite? Continue reading

There and Back Again, a Photographer’s Tale

Yes, I did steal the title from the Hobbit, but I almost named this “Beauty and the Beasts” which would have been an even more blatant rip off.  I hope I don’t get sued by Tolkien or Disney because both titles are perfect for this story.  You see, I have just recently gotten hooked on nature wildlife photography and I have already found out two very important truths; you do often have to go “There and Back Again” to get the right shot, and there is plenty of beauty, and more than a few beasts to photograph when you do.

backyard deerI have to preface this story with the news that Rochelle and I just picked up two new lenses.  For Rochelle, who is a bit of a speed freak when it comes to glass, the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 fit the bill perfectly.  I, on the other hand, wanted a bit more range, so I went for the 70-400.  So my lens is a bit slower than Rochelle’s, but covers more distance.  They are both Sony G lenses, which mean they’re ultra-quiet and super sharp.  So we both got what we really wanted, and of course, being married, we share both lenses equally.  Right.  Sure we do.

Before we went on our first wildlife photography hunt, I decided to do a little practice shooting at home.  Luckily for me, there is plenty of wildlife right outside the door.  This young buck was my first conquest.  I was happy with the shot, but I realized right then that I wouldn’t have a front porch railing to brace the camera on out in the field.  And I would need some kind of a brace because my new lens is very, very big and heavy. So, I made sure to pack both the tripods and the monopods for our first trip. Continue reading