Sony RX100iv

Isabella’s World

Isabella's Nap. Hudson, Florida, 2017
Isabella’s Nap. Hudson, Florida, 2017

 

I recently spent a few days in Florida and had a nice visit with my nephew, his wife, and their one-year-old baby, Isabella (above).

Here are some of my work with their hands…

(My only tools were a hand-held pocket camera, the Sony RX100iv, a black T-shirt, and natural light. Post-processing was through Photoshop and the Silver Efex Pro plugin.)

 

Heather and Joshua. Hudson, Florida, 2017
Heather and Joshua. Hudson, Florida, 2017

 

Joshua's Medals. Hudson, Florida, 2017
Joshua’s Medals. Hudson, Florida, 2017

 

Isabella and Joshua. Hudson, Florida, 2017
Isabella and Joshua. Hudson, Florida, 2017

Corky Vodka Shots and Camera Movement

There is always much blab and jabber of getting the mostest-sharpest image you can possibly get out of your camera. And there is certainly a time for that.

But, there are also circumstances when you might NOT want that sharpness. In fact, maybe you want to go to the opposite extreme and throw in a whole lot of movement and blur–on purpose.

I do have one previous blog post on this subject in which I talk about this very thing: Deliberate Blur, June 1, 2014. You might want to check that out, too.

The idea of deliberately moving the camera for a special effect occurred to me once again whilst we dined at a small place in Barcelona called Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé at Carrer del Consell de Cent, 362. It used to be a very well-known and tasty pastry shop years ago (starting in 1910) and they have thankfully retained the wonderful, 1920s-era, wooden-marble facade and interior imported from Cuba. A beautimous place, for sure. 

What caught my photographer’s eyeball was the neatly arranged and nicely illuminated rack of Corky-brand vodka flavors on one wall (and, yes, someone actually drinks this stuff). It was just begging for some creative experimentation. So, this is where I went with it…(all shot with the Sony RX100iv).

First, you could try your standard well-focused shot, maybe bumping up the ISO to give you an adequate shutter speed to compensate for the fairly dim indoor lighting. Instead of shooting the subject straight on and symmetrical, though, I chose to aim at an angle to add at least a little dynamism to the picture. And I started things off at the bottom left with a bottle that appears to be out-of-place. The colors were obviously very attractive and, for me, the major element of the composition:

Corky Vodka Shots, #4. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #4. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/30th sec, F7.1, ISO1600)

 

Next, maybe you could try keeping the angle idea but doing some small, sharp, rotating movements just as you snap the shutter:

Corky Vodka Shots, #5. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #5. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/8th sec, F4.5, ISO100)

 

In this one, I tried to center the camera on one particular bottle and then rotate the camera around that chosen center point as I snapped:

Corky Vodka Shots, #6. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #6. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/8th sec, F4.5, ISO100)

 

If you do the same thing as in the previous example, but twist the camera around at a faster rate, this is what you might get. Experimentation and multiple “takes” with various movements and shutter speeds is the key:

Corky Vodka Shots, #2. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #2. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/2 sec, F7.1, ISO125)

 

A straight vertical motion might render like this. You’ll see this technique used by some photographers when shooting trees or flowers to create sort of a ghost-like effect:

Corky Vodka Shots, #7. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #7. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/8th sec, F4.5, ISO100)

 

I could have spent a good half-hour playing with the myriad possibilities, but the patrons probably would not have enjoyed the gringo with the camera lurking around their tables for so long. So, I called it quits after maybe a dozen images or so, a selection of which you see here.

Postscript: I wonder…if you have consumed a large quantity of these flavored vodka shots then perhaps all the blurry photographs I have posted here will actually be in focus, sharp as a tack??? (Except the very first one, which will actually look blurry to the alcohol-affected brain.)

Death of a Dancer

Death of a Dancer, Collage. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Death of a Dancer, Collage. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

“…Let her finish her dance,

Let her finish her dance.

Ah, dancer, ah, sweet dancer!”

William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939

 

Some image details…

–Pieces of several mannequins were found scattered in front of a clothing store that was under renovation in Mendoza’s busy-bee city center.

–Ideas began to swirl in my brain as I made various captures from different perspectives.

–Some initial basic corrections in Lightroom: contrast, highlights, shadows, clarity, sharpening, etc.

–In Photoshop: slight cropping, some cloning to remove a couple of distractions.

–B&W conversions with Google’s Silver Efex Pro, then back to Photoshop for the layering.

–Layering in PS: Played a lot with the placement of the three images within one another as well as the opacity of each layer.

–Camera: Sony RX100iv. Awesome little street camera–although the files don’t have near the adjustability of my Nikon D800 files (of course!) they are still pretty darn good coming from such a small package.

–To be printed at 18 x 12 inches on 19×13 Exhibition Fiber paper.

Arizona Summits: Trifecta at Picacho Peak

Desert Sky, #1. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Sky, #1. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016 (Back in the desert again!)

 

So, you have hiked Picacho Peak a few times, you enjoyed it, and now you want to do something different the next time the family heads out that way for a potato salad picnic.

Why not try the “Triple” next time!?

What is that, you ask? Well, instead of simply going up to the summit and back, via the wonderful, exciting, pseudo-via ferrata, Hunter Trail, you add on two more Picacho sub-peaks.

So, your tick list for the day would be:

  1. Picacho Peak main summit.
  2. North Picacho Peak (on the same “plateau” as the main summit).
  3. The Far North Picacho summit (north, along the ridge from the main saddle on the Hunter Trail).

[NOTE: For a fourth bonus summit, you could climb the minor mount just east of the main Picacho massif. The best approach to this pointy thing appears to be made by bushwhacking up from the southeast from near the park entrance. I’ll write this one up in another blog post once I actually get to it!]

If you are fast, you might do this trifecta in 2-3 hours (with some jogging, perhaps), but 4 to 5 hours would make for a more comfortable trip for the average hiker wanting to savor the views.

Be sure to take plenty of water, especially if you aren’t going in the very dead of winter. It was an unusual 102 degrees when I set out to do this just a couple of days ago (late October, 2:15p.m. start) and I drank nearly three liters of water. The sun in the afternoon really bakes that western side of the mountain, even if the eastern side might be nice and slim-shady.

Here are some beta photographs for you, all from a hand-held Sony RX-100iv

A view of the main summit of Picacho Peak, looking south toward Tucson and Mt. Lemmon, from what could be called the “North Summit”. The white paint-like stuff is actually buzzard and raptor excrement–they obviously love a poop-with-a-view just like us human beans. Don’t let the big birds carry you or your boyfriend away:

Picacho Portrait. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
Picacho Portrait. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

The Picacho Peak summit offers the intrepid hiker one of the best desert views within earshot of big trucks rolling along a major interstate highway. On the far left, and close at hand, is the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch (no, I’m not kidding, take the kiddies for a visit). Also on the left, but in the distance, are the Santa Catalina Mountains (Mt. Lemmon, 9,157′). The long straight line is Interstate 10. On the right, in the distance, you first see the start of the Tucson Mountain chain with Mt. Wrightson (9,456′) and the Santa Rita Mountains in the haze beyond that. That plowed out area with the white structures on the right and on the desert floor is the Pinal Air Park with its hundreds of used-up airliners awaiting cannibalization, mothball treatment, or possible refurbishment:

View South. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
View South. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

Here, you are looking back toward the smoggy glob of Phoenix, some 75 miles to the north. In previous blog posts, I have referred to the “Far North Summit” as the “North Summit”. I’m not sure any of those secondary high points have official names. Anyway, counting the main Picacho Peak–where I stood for this photo–those are the other two goals in your trifecta challenge. What I am calling simply the North Summit is a great spot to photograph your friends as they reach this main summit:

View North. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
View North. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

From the previously mentioned “North Summit”, you can peer over the abyss to the north (but don’t let the abyss gaze into thee!) and the route to the Far North Summit becomes apparent. In a previous blog post, I called this route Class 2 or 2+; here I label it Class 3…whatever, there is a very minor bit of scrambling involved. Psychologically, that little knife-edged section might be the area that will give your climbing paws the most pause as it is a bit exposed on both sides. Luckily, the rock is reasonably solid there and you can grab the ridge with your sweaty palms for stability–braver souls can simply walk across. At the Hunter Trail Saddle, the smaller arrow indicates the route leading first down, then up, to the main peak:

Far North Picacho View. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
Far North Picacho View. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

The desert sky starts to get interesting as the afternoon wanes. In the middle of the picture, on the very farthest horizon, is the thumb-like head of Baboquivari Peak (7,730′), a worthy climbing goal for your list. Along that same horizon to the right of it is the big mound of Kitt Peak, of observatory fame (one of the domes is barely visible on top):

Toward Babo. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
Toward Babo. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

Something of what you might see along the ridge leading to and from that “Far North Summit”. The big prow on the left would be the “North Summit” with the main Picacho Peak just out of view on the left margin. Can you spot Mt. Wrightson, Baboquivari Peak, Kitt Peak, and the Pinal Air Park?

Skeleton View. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
Skeleton View. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

The rangers say you need to be off the trails by sunset. Too bad, as I would have preferred to have been on the summit at sunset for the grand photo op. Here, the shadows on the east side of the mountain start to deepen as I head back down to un-civilization. The main Picacho Peak summit is seen in sunlight:

Cirrus View. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016
Cirrus View. Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona, 2016

 

Here are some additional links from previous trips I have made to Picacho Peak, all with nice, illustrative photographs:

February 13, 2016: Arizona Summits: Picacho Peak North Summit (Winter)

December 19, 2014: Arizona Summits: Picacho Peak (3,374′)

14er Report #33: Snowmass Mountain and “North Snowmass” (Summer Conditions, East Slopes Route)

The Upper Mountain. Snowmass Mountain, Colorado, 2016 (NEVER put the subject in the center of a picture!)
The Upper Mountain. Snowmass Mountain, Colorado, 2016 (NEVER put the subject in the center of a picture! Or so they say… For the curious, Snowmass Mountain is the second major high point in from the right while North Snowmass is farthest right. We are aiming for the ridge just left of the cliff band in the center of the picture, the standard East Slopes Route.)

 

“When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men [and women!] spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view.”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

And what a view it was for our restless souls!

It requires burning a separate mountain of calories, but the joy I feel as I climb above treeline and into the high tundra world of delicate-but-fierce wildflowers, random sculpted boulders, and laced fields of melting snow, is a joy that knows no bounds. The ever-expanding view of a crazy world left behind, the clean and crisp air (albeit with a lower oxygen content!), the warning shriek of the fat and furry marmot, the rivulets of pure mountain ice water…the sharp rocky ridges which seem ever so much sharper and well-defined as they pierce the dark blue, high-altitude, sky…

It all conspires to make the heart sing! (Thus “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music“, right? Oops, sorry to ruin the mood.)

But it is indeed true–one feels so much more alive and in the moment in such special places!

The objective of this particular trip–beautiful Snowmass Mountain–protects herself quite well from the Vibram soles of us human beans. Off in the middle of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, the peak is not readily seen from any major paved road–you must be prepared to walk a fair (or unfair, depending upon your perspective!) distance if you want the best view of its namesake ramparts.

To climb to the summit via the “normal” route in the typical fashion initially requires just over an 8-mile backpack up to a camp at 11,000′. The next day, to gain the very tippy-top, you’ll have to contend with head-high willows that whip you in the face, bountiful sections of boulder-hopping, slip-sliding away on steep scree, and titillating Class 3 scrambling on loose rock along an airy ridge. The long descent from the top of Snowmass Mountain back to your car is greater than the drop into the bottom of the Grand Canyon…oh, the sore feet!

It is no wonder, then, that Snowmass Mountain is often found somewhere near the top ten on the various lists of the most difficult Colorado 14ers.

For this adventure, and for safety and camaraderie, I teamed up with Frank, a new-found rock climbing buddy, expert skier, Outward Bound instructor, and spouse of a photographer friend. You’ll have to ask Frank, but I think we made a good team!

For the full report, along with a scree pile of images…

…click on, fellow adventurer!

Photo Walk to Long’s Gardens

With the weather threatening from various quarters, Dana Bove and I, along with Supervisor Shauna, headed out today on a nice photo walk with a couple of budding artists–kids from The Source (Attention Homes). The cloudy skies gave us a perfect celestial lightbox for some wonderful, even, lighting…perfect for shooting the famous iris varieties at Long’s Gardens, a Boulder icon since 1905.

One of the young artists in action.
One of the young artists in action.

It will be fun to go through the memory cards on the kids’ cameras to see what they came up with. Being young, creative, and uninhibited, they always seem to find unique perspectives or subjects. We will post-process and print off a few of their best and bring them to our next photo “class” at The Source. I think the kids like to see their work printed–something that doesn’t happen often these days in this world of Facebook, Instagram, 500pix, Flickr, Twizzler, Tweeter, and Twang (or whatever). [NOTE: Some of their better photographic work can usually be seen and purchased at the annual spring Attention Homes fundraiser, Kaleidoscope.]

Although the rows of irises at Long’s were quite attractive (that is what they are famous for, after all!), there were other oddities about the farm that pulled on my personal monochrome eyeballs.

All of the following images came from the tiny Sony RX100iv, an excellent mirrorless camera if you happen to be looking for something that is very pocket-portable, shoots RAW, has a bit of telephoto flexibility (24mm-70mm equivalent), surprisingly good low light capability, and enough megapixels (20mp, to be precise) to easily produce 13″ x 19″ prints.

 

First, there were the two Ford trucks, slowly being swallowed by the spring grasses and the passage of time. Oh, the stories they would tell if only their radiator grills could speak!

Sunken Ford at Long's Gardens. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Sunken Ford at Long’s Gardens. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Sunken Ford with VW Escort. Long's Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Sunken Ford with Sleek VW Escort. Long’s Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Sunken Ford, Detail. Long's Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Sunken Ford, Detail. Long’s Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Sunken Ford, #2. Long's Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Sunken Ford, #2. Long’s Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Ford Cockpit. Long's Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Ford Cockpit. Long’s Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

And, of course, the trucks needed their very own Texaco Sky Chief fuel pump, right?

Sky Chief. Long's Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Sky Chief. Long’s Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Finally, a memorial to the many thousands of citizen gardeners who have passed this way over the decades to help work the fields or to harvest and purchase a unique variety of iris for their own backyard garden:

Gardener's Fence. Long's Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Gardener’s Fence. Long’s Gardens, Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

A big thanks to Catherine Long Gates and her husband Dennis for their conversation and fine hospitality at The Gardens!

On The Benefit of Photo Walks

Fractured Self-Portrait. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Fractured Self-Portrait. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

A photo walk, and the images you gather whilst oot and aboot, may not contribute directly to your current photographic project, or your portfolio of portraits, or your birds and wildlife collection, or your waterfall series, but…

…these outings will very likely make an indirect contribution.

Grabbing your camera and just strolling about some random local area can be an excellent exercise in “seeing”. You will be forced to look very closely at the scenes around you (many not very interesting at first glance) as you try to come up with interesting compositions. You are exercising your eyeballs, your technical prowess with your photo machine, and the right half of your cerebral melon–all good things to strengthen.

You will then likely find yourself just a tad more “fit” when you do return to your favorite subject matter. So give it a try!

Last Friday, we drove up to Ft. Collins to drop off a photograph at the Center for Fine Art Photography, then took a late afternoon photo walk through the downtown area. Here I offer up the handful of images I came up with that I liked. The tool used was the very small Sony RX100iv

Urban Alley Still Life. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Urban Alley Still Life. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Circle, Lines, and Squares. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Circle, Lines, and Squares. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

The Old Chrysler. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
The Old Chrysler. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Right Angle. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Right Angle. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Circle Path. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Circle Path. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Barber Shop, #2. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Barber Shop, #2. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Changing Out the Posters. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Changing Out the Posters. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Circle Game. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Circle Game. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Want A Beer? Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Want A Beer? Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

 

Ft. Collins Community Center. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016
Ft. Collins Community Center. Ft. Collins, Colorado, 2016

A Potrerillos Wedding (Argentina)

Lone Sailboat, #1. Dique Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016
Lone Sailboat, #1. Dique Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016

 

So, you are a serious photographer as well as a guest or relative at a wedding. What do you do? Do you carry your camera? Where do you aim it? What do you photograph if you are absolutely not much of a people/wedding shooter?

Hopefully, the bride and groom (and parents!) have been, vewy, vewy wise and have contracted a professional wedding photographer to do the shoot. That will free you up to make whatever images you like of the goings on and of the surroundings. (Just be sure to stay the heck out of the path of the pros as they work.)

And so it was this past weekend at the wedding of my wife’s eldest daughter, Anna Clara. They had contracted a veritable team of excellent photogs, including ground and aerial (quadcopter) videographers. All bases were completely plastered.

Thank God. I would never want to have the responsibility of shooting a wedding. My chapeau is definitely doffed to those who do it and do it well!

So, being free of any such responsibility, here is what I came up with. Some images are from the tiny, but very capable, mirrorless Sony RX100iv and others with the Nikon D800 DSLR–and I bet you can’t tell the difference in these web-sized presentations!

 

The standard spiral stairway composition inside the Hotel Potrerillos, the wedding venue. In retrospect, I should have had the bride and groom at the top of the stairs, looking down–it would have made for a nice center of interest on this lovely stage. The entire hotel was just recently renovated and had not yet even been inaugurated. Our wedding party was the first big post-renovation event at this locale:

Hotel Potrerillos, Escaleras. Near Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Hotel Potrerillos, Escaleras. Near Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

The bride and groom. I blatantly copied the eyes closed idea from Cole Thompson, a photographer who has done a really wonderful portrait series based on this theme:

Eyes Closed. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016
Eyes Closed. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016

 

The hotel pool kept drawing my eye being, as it was, such an excellent abstract subject:

Piscina, #6. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016
Piscina, #6. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016

The bride’s elegant crown:

La corona de la novia. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016
La corona de la novia. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016

 

The groom’s elegant tie:

La corbata del novio. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016
La corbata del novio. Hotel Potrerillos, Argentina, 2016

Click here for more images!

Arizona Summits: Picacho Peak, North Summit (Winter)

Picacho Peak, #1. Arizona, 2016. (The view of the main peak from the north ridge.)
Picacho Peak, #1. Arizona, 2016. (The view of the main peak from the north ridge.)

 

Some desert images from last week’s quick visit to Tucson…

First, a note…For more complete details of Picacho Peak State Park, and photos of the main trail and the exciting, must-do, cable route to the summit, see my previous blog post from December 19, 2014.

So, you say, you have been there and done that already? Great! Here is a nice variation to explore the next time you stop at this wonderful, lush, desert oasis o’ peace during your bumper-to-bumper I-10 travels between Phoenix and Tucson: the North Summit of Picacho.

Trail details:

–This route is significantly shorter than the climb all the way to the main summit. You can get up and down the North Summit in roughly two hours depending on how much you dawdle along the way. For comparison, the climb up and back to the main summit will likely take you a minimum of three hours.

–I would call it a Class 2+ hike (with a brief bit of titillating exposure on the “Knife Edge”!), albeit with the opportunity to try out some Class 3 or 4 terrain if you wish–but the rock quality is not up to Yosemite standards, so be careful!

–The route to the North Summit deviates from the main summit trail once you get to what I call the “Main Saddle”. This is the place where you have your first views of the western horizon and the main summit trail drops steeply down the west side of the mountain.

–As with all desert hiking in this area, October through April are your best months. Woe to those innocent tyros who would attempt this in the oven of summer!

–This North Summit gives you a unique perspective on the Picacho Peak massif and it will definitely be a sunrise/sunset photography destination for me in the future.

Here are some images to guide you. They were all made with the small but powerul Sony RX100iv, the first at sunrise, the others in late afternoon…

The big picture, from the entrance:

Morning Light. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016
Morning Light. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016

 

At the Main Saddle, looking toward the ridge leading to the North Summit. Stick to the Class 2 Gully unless you want a bit more excitement. The short headwall will go at easy Class 3 to Class 4, depending on where you climb. Once you gain this headwall, cross the cactus-garden plateau and aim for the narrow ridge above:

North Summit Route. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016
North Summit Route. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016

 

A closer view of your headwall options:

North Summit Route, Initial Difficulties. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016
North Summit Route, Initial Difficulties. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016

 

A look at the narrow upper ridge. The “Knife Edge” section may give you some pause if you aren’t used to exposure, but the rock quality is good and there is a nice stone “handrail” for you to clasp with your death grip. If you are comfortable on this kind of terrain, though, you can actually just walk across:

North Ridge, Final Section. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016
North Ridge, Final Section. Picacho Peak, Arizona, 2016

 

The view back down the ridge as you approach the North Summit:

Picacho Peak View, Arizona, 2016
Picacho Peak View, Arizona, 2016