Hills of the Giants

Kodiak hills captured by Z 9 / Z400f2.8

When the tide is out, all one sees across the flats are gulls, kittiwakes and some ducks. Then the tide shift and the water starts to flow back to land and with the water, life. The salmon runs are in full force and as the salmon swell the river, the Kodiak Brown Bears seemingly come out of nowhere to appear. Once quiet flats have 15-30 bears roaming the flooded landscape chasing salmon and eating spent ones. They emerge from the hillsides that line the valley, hidden in that world until they want to appear. And when the tide goes back out, the bears retreat to their sanctuary to sleep, get fatter on what they just ate and wait the ten hours for the next high tide. I never go up in those hills looking for the bears, the advantage is all there’s. I respect their home, the hills of the giants!


Boomers at The Ranch captured by Z 8 / Z14-24f2.8

Sharon, Maggie & I were on the back deck with the herd. One of the big White-tailed bucks was trying to make nice with all the does and single Bambi grazing on the apples I’d thrown out. I was photographing the buck with the one doe concentrating as I watched through the Z400 and clicking at the right moment. Then the light went away and a moment later, Boom! We looked to the west to see black skies, lightning coming our way. Boomers! We were so enthralled with the interactions we didn’t even see the fast forming storm behind us. We no sooner commented on it and the skies opened up driving us in.

Once in a while when a storm goes through near sunset, it will break and put on quite the show. I changed camera and lens, put on waterproof shoes and rainshell and waited a few minutes until the rain started to lesson. I looked to the east to an amazingly bright, full rainbow. I dashed out the door and up the slope to get a clear view of it all. The gallery of five images above represents the fifteen minutes the rainbow and skies slid on past. It was a glorious moment. We just love boomers!

Into Hyperfocal Distance?

Grand Prismatic Yellowstone captured by Z 9 / Fisheye

Are you into using Hyperfocal distance, then the Z 9 might just be your best friend. If you don’t know what Hyperfocal distance is, it is defined as:

“The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity acceptably sharp. When the lens is focused at this distance, all objects at distances from half of the hyperfocal distance out to infinity will be acceptably sharp.”

This might not come as a surprise to you, but I’m not into it but I know a lot who are and I want to help you. One of the keys to success is knowing actual distances, physical distances. I saw a person with a range finder one time and asked what they were up to, this was it. The Z 9 with it’s 4.0 firmware, when you manually focus (even if camera is in AF mode), it will tell you EXACTLY the distance on the point in which you have focused. Using an app like PhotoPills, the rest is a slam dunk. Now I would love to take credit for this but it was a 06:00 phone call from my dear friend (who shares the same bday as me) that brought this to my attention. In case you’re wondering, the Z 9 is the only body providing this kind of information. Man, I love the Z 9!

Hyperfocal distance chart on PhotoPills

Summer is Romantic!

The Palouse captured by D850 / 300f4

While some are saying fall is just around the corner, in our next of the woods it’s still hot! And in fact when I look out, it looks like summer, that brown, dried out look with harsh light wavingin the heat shimmer. With the temps and the landscape, it’s not really inviting to head out with a camera and sweat literally and figuratively to make a click. Yet …

In the process of doing some visual homework for an upcoming project I was in my location gallery looking at backgrounds, in particular, The Palouse, WA. This vast, rolling landscape has many, many faces depending literally on the day of the year. It’s a gorgeous place I love to roam as it is new every turn in the road. In the summer as the fields on its hills turn brown just before harvest, the shades of tan, brown, yellow, meld together into a magical carpet. At sunset when you venture to the top of Steptoe Butte, you lookout on a vastness it’s hard to find anywhere else.

With plenty of water in hand, broad brim hat protecting your face, you wait for that moment. When you arrive there is no photograph and you might question your decision to make the drive in the first place. Then the sun heads for the horizon and the shadows start to hint at the magic to come. Then, then just before the sun slides towards the west you see in the viewfinder why you ventured out in the heat of summer. It’s at that moment you know deep down, summer is romantic!

The Palouse captured by D850 / 300f4

A Little Heat, A Little Moisture and Boom!

South Dakota’s Blackhills captured by Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8 & Miops

The Midwest & West this time of year literally light up with the heat. Monsoons from the south bring up moisture and when it mixes with the heat, afternoon thunderheads form and with them, lightning! While some folks and critters are not big fans of Mother Nature’s fireworks, I can’t get enough of them! Yes, there is some danger in this pursuit to ourselves and our gear. That is something you must keep in mind. The National Weather Service has a great page of info to brief and keep you safe. I’ll be honest, my success in coming back with images I want to post like the one above is not very common. The main reason, just because you show up doesn’t mean the light will strike where you want it. This is what I do to improve my odds.

It begins with looking at weather apps to see where they predict afternoon thunderstorms. Just because they make the prediction is NO guarantee you’ll come back with the photo. Next, I look at the location to see if there is a foreground to go with the light. This requires a bit of map work and web searches. With this done if, if there is a better than 50/50 chance of light and there is a landscape to put it with, I’ll make the run.

These days, the photography is really darn easy, day or night! In all seriousness, just get a Miops and that’s that. If there is one mistake most folks make in this pursuit is going to wide. If you have amazing skies were a spark makes a good ascent, then go wide. Otherwise, go long, like 85mm or more. If you have a vehicle that has a hatch that opens, that helps to stay dry otherwise, expect to get wet in this process. Watch the wx map for hail as it not only can hurt, it can damage gear, vehicle and you! Otherwise, it’s the season to get out with a little heat, a little moisture and boom!

Season of the Floating Warriors

The Ranch captured by Z 8 / Z14-24f2.8

With the warmer temps of mid summer come those masters of the airways, afternoon thunderheads! While they really, really slowed down my finishing of the deck, I loved sitting there watching them grow as the day went on. Starting with clear skies and by 10:00 puffies were dotting the sky. By 13:00 there was no blue sky and by 17:00 they were black angry and ready to let loose. By 21:00 their fury released they graced the skies with shape, dimension, design and color. I have the Z 8 with the Z400f4.5 attached until dinner and then after dinner, I switch to the Z14-24f2.8 to race up the ravine to chase the clouds as they pass overhead. White balance it set to 10k, -1/3 Exp Comp dialed in, all I have to do is put one shoes and run. With Maggie running about looking for the squirrel that got away, I stare up watching the choreography of movement. The ravine provides plenty of trees to give scale and reason to look up. I zoom with my feet to keep up with Maggie and frame the skies. I just love this time of year, the season of the floating warriors.
error: Content is protected !!