Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona

I had the opportunity to go to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument while on a Jeep Club trip to The Devil’s Highway. I’ll cover the Devil’s Highway in a different piece. I’ll just say that the drive through the Devil’s Highway or El Camino del Diablo is an interesting and hazardous trip.

This was one of those you get what you get type of trips for me as an amateur photographer. This wasn’t a long trip for us but we tend to meander a bit so we arrived at the park about noon or so. I realize this was not an optimal time for good photography but again this was not a photography based trip. I was happy to have had the opportunity to visit the park.

This area is a mining are mines and tailings pretty much everywhere. The town of Ajo is close as is the town of Why.

The Monument is a National Park Service run affair so you have to stop and get tickets to enter the park. When we were there the park was pretty empty so we managed to take a leisurely drive through the park. The road is not paved but you don’t need a 4WD vehicle to get through the park.

I was impressed by the colors and textures of the area. I sometimes have difficulty seeing past the different shades of brown. The day we were there the sky had some clouds so that made it a bit better as far as photography goes.

I would like to go back and spend an entire day at the park. I’d like to watch the sun rise and set at the park. There is a lot to explore in the park.

Make sure that you bring plenty of water especially in the summer months. Exploring the park and getting out of the car from time to time is an adventure. During the summer you will also have to take care and keep an eye out for the desert critters.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Camera Kit Update and extended

I did a post about my camera kit and realized that while I do carry my camera and a couple accessories in a belt pouch I did neglect to mention that I have other bits of camera gear stashed around as well. I typically wear one of two vests neither of which is a photographer specific vest. I have two because I wear one for winter and one for summer. Both vests have lots of pockets which I utilize to carry some other camera related gear, like a pen brush, and cleaning rag. I also have a small notebook and pen/pencil in my pocket. You never know when you may need to write something down. I sometimes take photos at events and I figure my 'subject' may like a copy of the photo.

I also carry homemade business cards to identify myself. I have my name and that I'm a portrait photographer along with my cell phone number and email address. I created a separate photography only address so I know that email I receive on that address is typically photo related. I still get the usual spam pill and male enhancer emails but I just delete those as I normally would.

I tend to also carry a photo mat card with me. I keep one in my car and one in my large camera bag. I use those to 'check' out a photo before taking it. Instead of using my hands like the old timers used to do I use the card. Ansel Adams used one for his photos so I figure if it was good enough for him then I will use one too. It is actually easier then dragging out your camera and composing a photo. The card can be used in landscape or portrait and can also be zoomed. You will get a quick idea of how something will look as a photo.

I have a smart phone and I have apps that give me the sun rise and sun set times for where I am. I also have a depth of field app that I use to determine how much range I have for my lens. I am sort of old school about the phone still. If I'm out taking pictures I don't want to be interrupted by answering the phone.

I figure I've got enough gear to take the photo I want. My main thing with the smaller kit is to be prepared to document something I find interesting without carrying my d-SLR and three lenses and a couple of Speedlites and stands with me all the time. The small kit helps me remember what I saw that was interesting in the first place.

You can see in the photo on the right me and my vest. You'll have to look close to view my small kit which is behind the hanging camera and under the red patch. You'll also be able to notice that the vest in front looks a little distorted, that's because I carry most of my 'extra' camera gear there. What you can't see is that I have also a second point and shoot camera in one of the vest front pockets. Both P/S cameras are 10+ megapixels so I'm not that picky about having JPEG and RAW files mixed. My philosophy is still the worst photo ever is the one not taken. It is all about making memories and sharing.