Agile

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

No Snow. No Problem. California has Beaches too.

We’ve had a dry, dry winter so far in California.  And while the dry and unseasonably warm weather is playing heck with our ski season, our winter snow photography, and more importantly, the State-wide drought situation, it has allowed us to quickly dewinterize our Class B Roadtrek and hit the road. 

Fortunately for us, we’re only a few hours away from some amazing scenes. Some we’re very familiar with, and some we’ve only just begun to explore.  I thought I’d use this post to let you know where we’ve been and give you some of the inside dope if you decide to travel there yourself. Continue reading

What Kind of Photography do You Like to do?

Before you make an investment in new camera equipment, it’s a good thing to know what you plan to do with it.  I know it seems like there’s an obvious answer.  You’re going to take pictures with it…duh!  But, if you look past the obvious, you’ll realize that every time you buy a new piece of equipment, you’re also making an investment in the time it takes to learn how to use it, in the storage space it takes to carry it, and the additional add-ons you’ll need to buy so it works the way you want it to.

So before I buy new photo toys, I try to figure out how the new equipment will fit into my lifestyle.  Will I use it a lot?  Will it make my photography better?  Can I do something similar with the equipment I already have?  I know I have a limited amount of accessible space in my Roadtrek Agile motorhome, so I need to make sure I get the biggest bang for my buck.

But this story isn’t about what I would buy.  It’s about you. So, take a minute and think about the subjects you really like to photograph.  If you’re the type of photographer who only likes to take pictures of one thing, such as birds, or landscapes or your grandkids, you’ve got some easy, though not necessarily cheap, choices to make.  But if you’re the type of photographer, like me and my wife Rochelle, who like to shoot anything and everything, your choices are much more difficult.  Continue reading

Photographing Yosemite in the Winter.

This will be the first year we get to take our Roadtrek Agile, Charley, to Yosemite in the Winter and I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous about driving those icy winter roads in my multi-ton Class B.  However, I think if we stick to moderately dry weather days we’ll be okay.  There is certainly a lot of motivation for going, because Winter is the very best time to photograph the park.

Most of the year, the great photographs of Yosemite can only happen in the very early morning and in the late afternoon.  Those are the times of day when the sunlight is soft enough to avoid overly harsh contrast.  But the light in the winter is low all day long, and many days are filled with clouds and fog, both of which even out the available light.  There are some days in the Winter when you can shoot all day long while you enjoy the ever-changing light on Yosemite’s huge granite cliffs.

So, where should you go?  Continue reading

The Off-Season Guide to Yosemite National Park, Part 2

Yosemite Valley has fewer visitors in the off-season for two simple reasons.  It can be difficult to get there, and difficult to get around once you’re there.  _DSC4153enfused-EditOur favorite friend, and often our most hated foe, snow, stops most people in their tracks.  It makes driving a challenge, camping a chore, and even changes the definition of “walking” from a “pleasant stroll” to a “contact sport”.

We’ve only had Charley for six months now, so we haven’t had a chance to try out our new Roadtrek Agile in the snow.  I haven’t even picked up a set of chains, though I know I’ll have to soon.   I’m not really in a hurry because our other vehicle, an all-wheel drive Subaru Outback, P1020421is amazing in the snow, and it’s even better when I switch out its summer shoes for a set of snow tires. Continue reading

The Off-Season Guide to Yosemite National Park, Part 1

My wife and I are lucky enough to live so close to Yosemite that we’ve been there hundreds of times.  SONY DSCAfter all these trips, we’ve discovered the best places to stay, the best places to eat and most importantly, the best places to take pictures.  Read on, and we’ll share some of our secrets with you.

Yosemite used to have a well-defined off season.  If you headed to the park in October or April, you would have the place to yourself.  That’s no longer the case.  Now, just about any month can be called “crowded” in comparison to other national parks.  I blame the crowds on cameras.  Everyone wants to take pictures with their new digital camera, and quite frankly, there’s no better place to take pictures then in Yosemite.

However, there are far less people in the park from early October to the end of April.  And that’s especially true on weekdays, or in periods of “bad” weather. Continue reading