A Photo Trip to Margaret Falls

Linda at Margaret Falls

First bridge

Along the path

Reinecker Creek

Fallen Cedars

Crooked tree

 

 

Bridge to Margaret Falls

Margaret Falls, British Columbia (B)

I have spent the last few days slowly dismantling an old shed I built over 20 years ago. I will say that I enjoyed building that ramshackle structure that has served as a goat barn, a chicken coup, and lastly for storing stuff I didn’t know what to do with. The process of destruction hasn’t been going all that quickly because I have been finding any excuse to delay my work taking it apart and I suppose that’s why when my wife mentioned it would be pleasant to go to Margaret Falls I didn’t hesitate to put our cameras in the car and head out for an easy drive.

Margaret Falls is a 200 feet high cascade that drops into Reinecker Creek on the edge of Shuswap Lake’s Herald Provincial Park. Local lore says the falls gets its name from the first white woman to see them. I also have been told it was called Reinecker Falls. But I wonder what that place was called by those that went there long before the white settlers.

It is the place, and not the waterfall that draws tourists and photographers to make the short trek through that moss covered, old-growth cedar forest nestled in a narrow gorge.

Reinecker Creek falls down a sheer rock face and into the narrow chasm creating a wonderland for those that walk along the beautiful gulley filled with large trees and looming cliffs above.

Before one is even aware of the unique ecosystem, there is the envelopment of a waft cool, damp air that on a hot July day will be a startling difference in temperature. Knowing that we included jackets with our camera gear.

Over the years Linda and I have spent many hours wandering along paths with cameras and tripods, but this time the wind was picking up and we could see large, dark clouds looming. So we just brought our cameras in case we had to make a quick getaway. I do not remember how many times I have taken pictures along that cool walkway up to the falls, or all the different camera formats I have used. I have been there in every season of the year, rain or snow, and I have even photographed a wedding there.

For this visit Linda used a 24mm prime and I used my 24-85mm zoom. Wide angle is a must for that narrow canyon.

The overcast day really wasn’t a bother because our modern full-frame cameras can easily handle 1600 ISO and depending on our subject’s location we could choose either 125th or 250th of a second shutterspeed an still keep our aperture small enough to get reasonable depth-of-field.

One rarely has the trail to Margaret Falls to themselves. To achieve scenic photography photographers have to be patient. However, this outing was petty good. Our only interruption was a guy on his mountain bicycle that turned around and left when he realized there were people on the trail. And we met some people that told us they were celebrating their 70th reunion. They gently ambled up the path to the waterfalls, extended their arms for cell phone snaps and then left, giving us all the time we needed to compose our pictures. I did have a good time, but, as free as I was to wander around with my camera and 24-85mm lens, I missed having my tripod. We have decided to return in a week or two packing tripods and neutral density filters prepared and spend a bit more time.

I always look forward to comments. Thanks, John

 

I Prefer Using Flash

Bonnie, Monica & Patti

Bonnie, Monica & Patti

Flash & Reflector

Flash & Reflector

Off Camera flash

Off Camera flash

Lighting fun (2)

 

I like using flash. I know that really isn’t surprising to regular readers. Like most beginning photographers there was once a time that I thought the only circumstance to use a flash on my camera was when it was too dark to take a picture.

When I first began taking pictures for others I dreaded late afternoon events that forced me to shoot in low light. And when Kodak and Ilford introduced their 1600 & 3200 ISO films I joined others in applauding, and ignorantly thought I could forgo ever having to attach a flash on my camera again. However, although those amazing films would let us capture our subject in limited light, the side effect was nasty grain that was almost as bad as push developing film.

For those that don’t know what the term “pushing developing film” means, photographers would, for example, rate their 400ISO at 800ISO and double the development time to achieve a more sensitive emulsion – grainy as the outcome was.

When I looked into what successful portrait photographers were doing with flash I knew I needed to move out of the natural light rut. And I began the struggle to learn how to employ flash any time I photographed people. However, it was noted photographer, Dean Collins’, whose writings and classes opened the doors to using off-camera flash. He was the first that pulled me out of what he called the “artist” mode, and got me thinking about photography as a craft. He wrote, “Anybody who says that photography is 95 percent feeling and five percent technique is a coward.”

Before I learned about wireless flash, I would connect and splice wires together so I could use my flash on a light stand at some distance. To get the proper off-camera light one would go through lots of calculations. (There wasn’t a digital LCD on the back of a film camera) With trial and error I came to know that my old manual flash, with a folded men’s white handkerchief covering it, would give me a nice soft, diffused light at 10 feet.

Olympus introduced the first TTL (through-the-lens) flash metering in the 1970s and other manufacturers followed soon after. I began using Nikon’s early TTL, the SB16, on a Nikon F3 and my world changed – no more clumsy calculations. I have been a fan of TTL since then and with every camera upgrade I also upgraded to the latest technology in TTL flash.

When using manual flash, there is no control by the flash or camera; the light is simply a constant amount of light that’s emitted from the flashgun. With TTL flash, the output is controlled by the camera’s metering system, and is not a constant amount of light emitted from the flashgun.

I have used TTL flashes on and off-camera since the late 1970s. Taking nothing for granted I read everything I could find, and took as many classes as I could get to figure out the best way to use TTL flash, and after all these years I am pretty comfortable using TTL in any condition.

I constantly try to convince and help others to stop being lazy and to include flash when they make portraits indoors or out, and for many years I have lead sessions for those photographers that decide to take the step to using off-camera flash.

The included images are of participants in my last one-day workshop on using TTL and manual flash off-camera in daylight. I will steal the words of probably the most famous teacher, lecturer, and author, Joe McNally, and say that the best part of spending the day with those willing photographers that joined me on their adventure into shooting under the sun with flash is realizing, “The moment it clicks” for them.

I do enjoy all comments. Thank you, John

The Vancouver Camera Show and Swap meet 2015

Linda at the SwapMeet

Linda at our table

Camera Swap find

A good find at the Swap meet

Camera Swap Meet

Check out this Leica

Vancouver Swap meet 2

Lets assemble this 4X5 camera 

Ziggy Rhode

The Swap Meet organizer, Ziggy Rhode selling a Hasselblad

Vancouver Swap Meet 1

Wow, a nice twin lens at the Vancouver swap.

 

The Western Canada Photographic Historic Association hosts Vancouver, British Columbia’s, original camera show and swap meet each year. This long-running show has now reached its 39th year, and makes the claim of being the largest in Canada with I believe approximately 120 tables, and I have no doubt well over 1,000 people walked through the doors this year.

I can’t remember exactly when we (my wife and I) had our first table there, maybe some time late 1990s. Since then each year we join an always-interesting diversity of photographers in a large, photographic equipment packed hall in Burnaby, BC, who are eager to exchange information and ideas, and, of course, are looking for great deals on all kinds of camera equipment.

Each year we make the three and a half hour drive from Kamloops the day before and lodge overnight and eagerly join other vendors the next day at 7:30AM to setup. The early morning scene is so much fun as we interact with others busily arranging equipment on tables before the show even begins. When I arrived I was happy to see people I have known for years. Better put, I was happy to see people I have known for only one day a year for about 20 years.

For me it is always a rush to organize my table quickly so I am ready for the swap meet’s early bird shoppers who pay a premium to begin shopping at 9am. That group of shoppers isn’t so much into browsing as they are searching for specific pieces, and they will walk quickly by a vendor’s table unless they spy that item.

At the 10am regular admission I always am glad to get a chance to sit for a moment (only a moment) after the hour of non-stop showing, demonstrating, explaining, and, of course, bargaining with savvy photographers.

Spending a day surrounded by a huge selection of cameras and other photography equipment is exhilarating, and getting a chance to talk with other photographers about their different interests is invigorating. Even after all these years I always learn something.

As I have mentioned before when I have written about this exciting event, one will find photographers of every age, from experienced elders to young people accompanied by patient parents. This congregation includes all kinds of lifestyles, interests, and photographic specialties. There are those that are dedicated to film, historic cameras, and processes of the past, walking alongside others that carry the latest and brightest in modern technology.

Other than actually pointing a camera at some inspiring subject, a gathering like the Vancouver Swap is a superb way to meet and exchange information with other photographers, and look at and check out the many kinds of photographic equipment that would not be so easily available anywhere else.

I had a great time with the photographers I met this year and the depending on who joined me at my table, the conversations always changed. My day of selling was a success, as it was for most of the dealers I talked to at the end of the day. And I even had some time to purchase another lens for myself, which is always nice.

I always look forward to any comments. Thank you, John

 

 

The Best Camera for Outdoor and Wildlife Photography

Outdoor camera

Washington Landscape

Eagle

Landscape Photographer

Digital technology has been around long enough that I occasionally forget there are many people that have never used anything but small-sensored point and shoot digicams. I recently talked with an amateur photographer who was planning to discard his well-used point-and-shoot camera hoping that a DSLR would help him take better pictures. No, that’s not exactly right. He believed like so many others that a better camera would make him a better photographer. Actually, his question was, “What would be the best camera for outdoors and wildlife photography?” He is an outdoorsman and “needed the whole meal deal,” although I am not sure what he actually meant by that. Perhaps he wanted one camera that would be capable of doing everything.

What should be my advice to an aspiring wildlife photographer? I could give him my personal perspective, and I could suggest he search out wildlife and scenic photographer sites online to make his own decisions.

I will summarize what I got from a check of advice from avid wildlife photographers. Wildlife photography is harder on a camera than any other type of photography. Most of the time photographers will need to push the limits of their cameras. And, photographing wildlife will demand speed, resolution, and a well-built, quality camera, and, therefore, the best cameras for wildlife photos are usually the most expensive ones.

The photographer then should begin by looking at cameras that are durable, and capable of taking some bumping around, and be sturdy enough to take some abuse from the weather. And because the photographer would be shooting in all types of lighting conditions, especially low light, early in the morning, or at the end of the day, I would recommend looking at, and expecting to pay more for models capable of higher ISO.

Unlike a tiny digicam the photographer will need to concern him/herself with the lens, as well as with the camera. Personally, I would save my money on the camera and spend it on a quality lens. A saying I have heard over and over ever since I have been in this medium is that “it’s all about the glass,” referring to the lens. A photographer, like any craftsperson, needs the correct tools.

Then there is the discussion of full frame versus crop-sensor cameras when one is deciding on which is the best DSLR. Hmm…I think that’s a can of worms best left for later. There are enough confusing choices to keep a photographer awake at night with topics like which camera manufacturer, which model, and which lens. And I suppose there are also the possibilities with the new host of lightweight, mirror-less cameras making their way into photographer’s bags.

I plan on spending some time helping this about-to-be wildlife/scenic photographer make his own choice about his camera equipment. I would rather not be one of those that advise a particular manufacturer. That choice should be the photographer’s.

If we were able to ask Ansel Adams, one of the most famous scenic photographers, for his thoughts, he would say, “The single most important component of a camera is twelve inches behind it.”

I know that does not assist with the decision of what camera that photographer should get, but it does let him know that whatever he gets, he will absolutely need to spend time learning how to use it.

I always enjoy comments. Thank you, John

Chewy the Marmot and Chase Creek Falls

Chewy the Marmot

Chase creek Falls

Chase Creek April 2015

Path back to town

Spring is here. The weather has slowly warmed up I can see from my porch that the snow on the mountaintops is diminishing, so I decided it was time to visit a waterfall not far from my home.

I usually avoid waterfalls at this time of year because high volumes of murky, spring water rushing over the falls isn’t that photogenic and one never knows if the river’s bank will give away while you position your tripod. However, with the low volumes of water being reported I was sure that at Chase Creek Falls the interesting stream features like rocks and trees would be visible with the reduced water flow.

When I got to Chase Falls and parked my car I noticed a small sign along the trail that said to watch for a local marmot named “Chewy”. And sure enough, as I passed a large pile of very big rocks, there was a big marmot perched on top like some amusement park guard.

Marmots are usually shy when one walks near their burrow, but this rodent didn’t seem to be bothered in the least and readily posed for me as I hopped from rock to rock making portraits of him or maybe her. I did see a couple of immature marmots scurry out of sight; so I might be right thinking Chewy might be her instead him.

When I purchased my first DSLR years ago and began learning how to use Photoshop I remember saying to a friend that what I liked best was how easily one could crop without getting the degradation that came when cropping prints made from film. The problem with 35mm film was that anything shot over 400ISO was always grainy so that shooting wide and cropping later was usually disappointing. That’s why many photographers preferred medium or large format cameras to the tiny 35mm film.

I set my tripod up and focused my 24mm lens on the falls and shot wide.  I knew that when I viewed my images on my computer I would choose a crop that fit the rule-of-thirds without loosing much detail.

Modern DSLR sensors are much better in their ability to capture grainless detail at high ISOs than 35mm film was and even cropping away 50% of the picture doesn’t reduce the quality very much.

The low water level made it easy to scramble among the large rocks along the bank and chose a comfortable location to set my tripod up. I used a couple of neutral density (ND) filters so I could reduce my shutter speed to 3, then 4, 5, and finally 6 seconds to slow the water down and I chose a small aperture for lots of depth of field.

I have always enjoyed photographing that waterfall. I think I made my first photographs of it sometime in 1976, and I cannot recall how many times I have been back there since. I am fortunate to have a place like that so close to home where I can always find something to photograph.

With that I think I should end with a quote by a great Canadian photographer, Freeman Patterson, who says, “Seeing, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions. It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.”

I look forward to comments. Thank you, John

Infrared photography moves a photographer far from the usual.

Horses in meadow

Monty Creek

Pritchard Barn

Spring pond                                                Pond Cattail

Monty Creek Church  Watch for Livestock

Sometimes it is necessary for me to get away from doing the usual things. My time as a photographer is spent being precise. I meter for the light and shadow, striving for the best possible exposure, and not much is left to chance.

On the Easter weekend I spent a day photographing a family Christening. My job was to take a creative approach to photographing that religious occasion and telling the family’s story. At an event such as a Christening nothing waits for the photographer and there is no time to correct omissions or mistakes.

The main rule for me was to keep out of everyone’s way, not to become a focal point of attention, and never to miss any thing that happens.

The next morning as I sat at my computer working on the post-production photo editing of the Christening my wife mentioned she would like to finish off the roll of film she had been saving for a sunny day. It didn’t take much convincing to ignore the day’s “to do” list and as I looked out at the clear blue sky I realized I needed something to take off the stress I had been feeling.

There is nothing quite like infrared photography. It is always an exploration when I use the well-worn Nikon D100 that I had modified many years ago to only “see” infrared light.

Vegetation appears white or near white. Black surfaces can appear gray or almost white depending on the angle of reflected light, and if photographed from the right direction the sky becomes black. The bluer the sky, the more the chance there is for an unworldly, surreal effect. And white surfaces can glow with a brightness that illuminates the sky.

I have written about infrared before, but for those that are new to this subject here is the gist of it.

Digital camera sensors are as sensitive to infrared light as to visible light. In order to stop infrared light from contaminating images manufacturers place what they call “a hot filter” in front of the sensor to block the infrared part of the spectrum and still allow the visible light to pass through. My infrared modified D100 has had that filter removed and replaced with a custom filter that allows for infrared only.

My wife wanted to visit a marshy area not far from our home that on wet years fills up with water, and is annually visited by birds, ducks, and geese. But this year’s early dry spring has not given the marsh much water, and when I walked up to the dam two ducks quacked loudly and flew away, and that was the only wildlife sighting for the day.

The back roads always have something to photograph, so we moved on and chose our subjects depending on the light. Linda was shooting with her old medium format 1950’s Ikoflex and was looking for interesting features like fallen trees and rock formations. That particular old film camera doesn’t have an automatic mode, or an in camera meter and requires a hand held light meter. I am sure the few passers by wondered at a woman standing roadside with a boxy thing hanging from her neck while she peered at something in her outstretched hand.

I just explored, and unlike Linda’s limited, 12 exposure roll of film, I had an almost endless supply of digital choice, and besides, infrared changes the way we see things. So I pointed my camera at anything that caught my eye.

I began this discussion with the words, “I spend my time being precise.” And “Not much is left to chance.” However, not so much with infrared. I only use the meter as a not-so-precise guide, and don’t worry about much else. I do try for interesting angles of the subjects I photograph, but sometimes I am in for a surprise when I bring the images up on my monitor.

Shooting infrared is always an exploration, a discovery and moves a photographer far from the usual.

I look forward to all comments. Thanks, John

 

10 Suggestions for Successful People Photography.

 

Constable Mike Moyer

Constable Mike Moyer.

Actor

Professional Actor

Actor 2

Professional Actor

 

I had an interesting discussion with another photographer over coffee this morning. He had brought his memory card with several different pictures and as we talked about his shots he asked, “What is your favorite photography subject?”

Like many other photographers, what I like best changes with whatever I’m currently photographing, and I enjoy photographing just about everything. But in truth most of my subjects in the past 40 years have been people. My reply was, “I enjoy photographing people.”

I’ve been employed doing many types of photography since I began earning my living as a photographer in the 1970’s. And I have worked as a photographer for all types of organizations photographing all types of subjects. However, most of the time I have photographed people.  I think most photography is of people.  We take pictures of our family, of friends, and of people at celebrations and other events.

His next question was, “how do you make a photograph that is more than just the usual snap shot?”

Here are my 10 suggestions that contribute to successful people photographs.

  1. When you take pictures of people look at them and pay attention to their appearance to ensure they look their best.  Don’t just rapidly take a photo and realize later that you should have had your subject adjust something, e.g., a necklace, glasses, a collar, or especially, that tie.
  2. Do three-quarter poses of single subjects. By that I mean turn their body so that they view the camera from over their shoulder.  Choose interesting and flattering angles or points of view. Avoid straight on or “up the nose” headshots.
  3. Focus on the subject’s eyes. When we talk to people we make eye contact. There is a greater chance of your subject liking the photo if their eyes are sharp and not closed or looking away. Ensure that subjects smile.  In my experience when subjects say they want a serious photo without a smile they appear sour or unhappy in the final photo. Do one of each as a compromise.
  4. Select an appropriate lens. Avoid short focal length lenses. On a full frame camera my favorite is 105mm. However, with crop-frame cameras I don’t mind 70mm. Longer focal length lenses create a flattering perspective.
  5. For portraits, an aperture of f/4 or wider will soften the background and make your subject stand out, but for group photos use an aperture of at least f/8 or smaller to increase the zone of focus (depth of field).
  6. Look at the background behind your subject especially when doing outdoor portraitures.  You don’t want the photo to appear to have something growing out of your subject’s head or to have objects in your photograph that are distracting.
  7. Pay attention to uncomplimentary shadows created by the sun, your flash, or other light sources.
  8. Get things ready first. Contemplate the poses before you photograph your subject. The best way to bore your subject and loose the moment is to make them wait.
  9. Tighten up the shot. Get rid of unwanted elements in the photograph that do nothing for it. If there is more than one person make them get close together.
  10. Talk to your subjects. The most successful portrait photographers are those who talk to and relate to their subjects.  We are dealing with people and we communicate by talking. Don’t hide behind the camera.

And as always be positive about the photograph you are about to make. Get excited. Your excitement will be contagious and affect those around you.

I appreciate comments. Thanks, John

My website is at http://www.enmanscamera.com