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It’s Fall Color Time in the Eastern Sierras!

We just got back from the Eastern Sierras and the Fall Colors are out in full.  You probably only have a few days left to enjoy one of California’s most popular photography events.

Charley on Aspen Road
Charley reflects the yellow aspen trees.

We began our journey by loading up Charley, our Roadtrek camper van, and heading over Yosemite’s Tioga Pass.  The pass tops out at 11,000 ft., but it’s a good road, and they’ve kept the really steep parts to a minimum.  The only problem with traveling through the Yosemite high county is how much will power you’ll need to avoid stopping at every turnout.  There are vistas that will simply stun your eyeballs with their size and grandeur, and then there are those lush Tuolumne meadows that might just beckon you to spend an afternoon lazily wondering about, or enjoying a secluded picnic.  But fall happens but once a year, so try to keep your eyes on the road and your mission in mind.  I know it’s tough, but nobody ever said photography was easy!

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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

Ten Great Tips for Photographing Your Roadtrek

If you’re like me, you love your Roadtrek.  It’s your baby.  And, much like a new baby, you want to show it off.  And what better way to show it off than in pictures!  My wife Rochelle and I came up with some photography tips to help you showcase your Roadtrek Class B Van Conversion like it’s never been seen before.  So pick up your camera, or your smartphone, and let’s go shooting.

Trick #1

Play with scale.

Your Roadtrek is a pretty big beast, but we all love them because they’re so much smaller than the alternatives.

Charley looks huge next to regular cars.
Charley looks huge next to regular cars.

You can play with that size difference by photographing your van against a variety of backgrounds.  Want to show how big it is?  Then show it off against the typical passenger car, or shoot from a low perspective.  Want to make it appear smaller?  Nature is your answer.  A 10-foot tall motorhome is nothing compared to a 3,000 foot tall granite rock. 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

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

Digital Photography Packing List

Whenever Rochelle and I hit the road on a photography-based trip (which is nearly every time we step out of the house) we try to figure out what photo gear we might need to bring along with us.  Unfortunately, the answer is the same, every single time — Bring Everything!   I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I left a lens at home and found out I really needed it.  Or that spare camera body.  Or maybe a special filter.  The thing is, you just don’t know what you’re going to find when you’re searching for photographs.  You may think you’re going to get a great sunset at the beach, but you end up wanting to shoot the pelicans as they fly over your head.  Photography is a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is predictable.  So, here’s a list of what Rochelle and I bring along on the road.  How we stuff it all in the van and still have room for food and clothes is another story. Continue reading