Thursday, October 25, 2007

Photographing Bryce

Bryce Point - Craig Wolf
It's not often that I get to sleep in a teepee, but that's just what happened on my trip to Bryce. I never like to plan things out I find it too restrictive. I like to follow the weather and the weatherman said that a storm was brewing in Bryce National Park. So packed up and headed from Moab down to Bryce. Now a teepee isn't great during a storm, but I didn't have a lot of choices since all the rooms both at the park and in town were full. Tourists were everywhere. I'd say about 50 percent of the people visiting were French and about 20 percent were either German or Italian. There were quite a few Japanese too, but not many Americans. The Europeans absolutely love Bryce! As for the teepee it was fun. It didn't rain while I was there, but I did get the clouds I was hoping for. Yippee kay ay!

Bryce Point,Utah - Craig Wolf
I went to Bryce once before and I really liked Bryce Point. Sunrise is the best time to photograph Bryce. I was the first one to get there. Many others showed up later. I imagine there were many more at Sunrise and Sunset Points. If you want to zoom in on some of the Hoodoos Sunrise and Sunset Point are the best, but if you want the whole enchilada I prefer Bryce Point. As for Bryce Point I like to photograph it just before the sun creeps over the horizon. It gets very contrasty after the sun comes up. It can be done if you have enough clouds softening the light.

Bryce Hoodoos - Craig Wolf
As for Sunrise and Sunset Point I like backlight. You might think that the face of the Hoodoos would be too dark, but they're so close together that you get light bouncing in from the other Hoodoos. You just have to pick out the ones that have that glow. It's truly amazing in person. The light show continues for some time after sunup. The shot here is from a previous trip because I just ran out of time on this trip and my back can only take so many days of sleeping on the cold hard ground. I hope you can make it to Bryce it's wonderful visit with or without a camera. There's some great trails to explore and if you like to gamble it's not too far from Vegas. If you really like to gamble try the teepee.

For more photos see my Latest Additions Gallery
Ruby's Inn RV Park with Teepees

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pixel Wrangler

Balance Rock - Craig Wolf
O.K. Here's a quick post of how light can change the mood of a photograph. While at Arches National Park the wind picked up and it changed from a nice sunny day into thunder showers. Then after standing in the wind and rain for hours I left.

As I turned out of the parking lot the light began to peek through the clouds and I drove right back and jumped out. I had been standing with a fellow photographer Robert Curtis who kept telling me that the clouds would break. Of course he had also left. As the sun poured onto the rocks, and the dark storm clouds remained in the background, Robert pulled up. He hadn't gone very far either.

The Sunset put on quite a show and I kept shooting right into twilight. I had plenty of time to make a couple of panoramas. It's amazing to see the dramatic change from photo to photo. It's the same subject only the light is changing. Ah the life of a Pixel Wrangler on the open range.

For more photos see my gallery.

Balance Rock - Craig Wolf

Balance Rock - Craig Wolf

Balance Rock - Craig Wolf

Balance Rock - Craig Wolf

Balance Rock - Craig Wolf
A special thanks goes out to Robert Curtis for encouraging me to stay.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Photographing Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch,UT - Craig Wolf
After an hour drive from Moab and a short hike I arrived at the famed Mesa Arch. It was 45 minutes before Sunrise and I wasn't alone. At least 8 other photographers were already in place. In what was likely the very best spot was a Italian photographer with a 4x5 and to his left were 2 other pro photographers. By the time the sun came up the total had doubled (mostly Germans), but everyone was polite and I was able to get a good spot. Thanks to one and all.

Mesa Arch, UT Med Wide - Craig Wolf
I had seen many photos from this very spot. When sailors finally cross the equator they get a tattoo of Neptune. I believe with this shot you earn your right of passage, but instead of Neptune it'll be Ansel Adams. (Lovely thought huh.) Anyway, I thought that the sweet light would be right at Sunrise and last but for a few minutes. The light was good at that time, providing a red glow underneath, but the rest of the Arch was very dark, so I zoomed in a little to capture the under glow and valley below. I stopped down f22 and focused on the far lip of the arch which gave me enough depth of field to reach from the front face of the arch to valley below. I just let the sun peek through in order to get a sun star. (Make sure you use a small f-stop. I used f22.) I shot a few more and then I waited for the sun to really come up. About 15 minutes later the Arch had enough ambient light to show detail and the glow was just as bright. I angled my shot to show more of the Arch and a little sky.

Mesa Arch Panorama - Craig Wolf
About 40 minutes after Sunrise the glow was just starting to fade. Most of the photographers had left but a few die hards were still up front. (Including me.) I wanted to get the entire arch in so I did a quick pano group. I set my camera up in the portrait position (Vertical - an L-Bracket really helps here). I made sure that my focus, aperture and shutter were all on manual. I wasn't using a polarizer, but if I had I would have taken it off to ensure a even sky. Then I loosened the base of my ballhead and took about 8 shots with plenty of overlap. (That's not what hangs over my belt, but about a 50 percent overlap of each frame.) I just rotate the camera using the base. The tripod was fairly level, but not prefect.

Back at the ranch I stitched the frames together with ArcSoft's Panorama Maker 4. I thought the perspective would be off since I was so close, but it was fine. Not bad for one morning's work. As for the tattoo well...

Tech Info: Canon 1Ds Mark II, Tamron 28-75mm Lens, Gitzo Tripod, No Filters.
For more on Panoramas see my previous article A Stitch In Time
More more photos see my gallery - Latest Additions