Tag Archives: california

Really Right Stuff Gear Review

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reallyrightstuff.com

 

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A low angle set-up was required to capture this sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park

Adding a camera support system to your gear, consisting of a tripod and head, opens up an entire new world of shooting possibilities, not possible with handheld photography. There are many tripod set-up options available, and surfing the web can quickly become overwhelming. When it comes to a camera support system, quality is of utmost importance, after all a tripod and head needs to function smoothly and accurately to give you the best opportunity to capture a sharp image, not to mention keeping your camera secure. That is why I was both thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to work with the Really Right Stuff Company, but seriously, they do not need my approval.

The really right stuff company started out in 1990, and currently ship their gear to over 120 countries. They have turned into a huge success, for good reason. The quality of their product is exceptional, and provides both pro and amateur photographer with a wealth of camera support gear necessary to capture great images.

As a landscape photographer, I have gone through several different tripod and ballhead combinations. Now, after 16 years of photographing in the field, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can choose photo gear which will give me the best chance possible to get the shot. Right out of the box, my RRS gear felt different than any other camera support gear I have used, giving me an instant feeling of having a professional quality product with me in the field. Using RRS equipment, has actually given me the chance to set up in more shooting situations than ever before. The piece of mind I have knowing my camera is on such solid support is invaluable, from the feel of the camera being firmly attached to the tripod and head, to the super-smooth action of adjusting the tripod legs and positioning the ballhead, for every shot.

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Tripod legs spread out unevenly on various sized rocks for this 25-second exposure was no problem using my Really Right Stuff camera support system

Whether shopping for a complete system package or individual piece of gear, Really Right Stuff carries everything required to keep your camera firmly supported in just about every situation. After careful research, I had no hesitation in upgrading to an RRS support system. I found their website to be very informative, and in no time I was able to find the best package to suit my needs. However, if more help is required, customer support is available by both phone or email, and the response time is typically very fast and very helpful. The RRS gear I chose to be my prime camera support system, is listed below. To help you select the right tripod, the RRS website includes an illustrated guide, specifically designed to match the length of each tripod model with the physical height of the photographer. I thought this was a very nice touch. Included in my package is a dedicated quick release L-Plate, which attaches to the camera, and is available for most DSLR models. The L-Plate makes the transition between shooting horizontal and vertical format, incredibly quick and smooth. For the ballhead, I chose lever-release over screw-knob as my preferred clamp option. This option allows for maximum speed during set-up, as well as offering maximum camera stability.

My camera support system set-up

TVC-23 Versa series-2 3 sections/leg Tripod

BH-40 mid-size lever release Ballhead

BD810-L L-Plate

It may have taken me a while to get on the Really Right Stuff band wagon, but now I have, I could not be happier. Their gear receives my highest recommendation.

 

David Shield  www.davidshieldphotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog For Peace

“Why, if we can love, appreciate and respect the many colors in nature, can we not feel the same about the simple black and white of humanity.”

Hanalei Bay Moving Light

Hanalei Bay Sunrise

Above the image of Hanalei Bay, is the Mission Statement I have used for my website, since it was created almost five years ago. More than any social media appreciation I have been fortunate to receive and more than image print and media sales, this is the most important goal I continue to wish for and work toward.

Gates of Moonlight

Yosemite National Park’s Valley View by moonlight

If you have watched a political debate recently, you may have heard a candidate claim that America is great, or America is the greatest nation in the world. I believe that verbiage would be more accurate if the word “is” were changed to “could be.” While there is so much good about America, there is also too much suffering and wrongdoing, to make the claim that this is the greatest nation, today.

What America does have an abundance of, is great natural beauty. Now, more than ever, I strive to be one of many photographers, not only in America, but all over the world that through our images of nature, show humanity that this world is a truly beautiful place.

If all people, no matter what color, religion or beliefs make an effort to be better to each other, every day, it is possible that we will start to see the world for how beautiful it is, and never again ask the question of the Mission Statement posted at the beginning of this writing.

Lake Tahoe Summer Sunrise

Lake Tahoe Summer Sunrise

 

 

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Fall-The Gathering**OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH**

With my last new image for the month, I am hoping to make more people aware of the importance of regular mammograms. If discovered early enough, a woman can beat cancer. I did not know this, until witnessing it firsthand. It made me realize how important it is to share this message.

The gathering at North Lake takes place at sunrise, during fall in the Eastern Sierras. I arrived here while it was still dark, and was greeted by an early season snow storm. Using my headlamp to navigate the area, I quickly found a spot to set up, just before the place became overrun with photographers. The storm broke for a short time during sunrise, allowing for a small window of opportunity to capture some High Sierra Mountain light.

Keep Tahoe Beautiful

A summer sunrise sheds light to awaken a beautiful lupine field at Lake Tahoe

The day’s first sun rays awaken a beautiful lupine field, during a summer sunrise at Lake Tahoe.

Recently I experienced one of the most beautiful scenes I have witnessed, while photographing wildflowers at Lake Tahoe. However, even with the excitement of capturing new images, I could not ignore the sadness I felt during my visit here.

Not that long ago, this particular view could not be experienced. The recent record-low snow pack has resulted in a dramatic drop in Lake Tahoe’s water level. Due to this fact, both locals and visitors could now experience the immense beauty of an area once completely under water.

Standing in the middle of all this, taking in the breathtaking show, my goal was to photograph the beauty. However, my biggest hope is that the coming winter produces a large enough snow pack to return Lake Tahoe to a healthier level.

*Breast Cancer Awareness*Reach Out*

A colorful dramatic sunrise at Natural Bridges State Beach, in Santa Cruz.

A colorful dramatic sunrise at Natural Bridges State Beach, in Santa Cruz, California.

*Breast Cancer Awareness*Reach Out*

I wanted to do something different, and share a story with my latest image.

Just over a year ago a mother moved to the U.S. to be closer to her son. For years and for various reasons she had not taken the time to make any medical appointments. Now in the U.S. she was encouraged to take better care of herself and sign up for a medical plan. This led to her having a routine mammogram followed by a biopsy, and then being diagnosed with breast cancer. Learning that she had breast cancer was a shock and very scary; however in this case the fortunate thing was the cancer was detected early, at stage one. The oncology doctor scheduled the woman for the necessary lumpectomy surgery, and after some recovery time and tests it was thankfully confirmed that the woman had beaten breast cancer.

I hope by writing this short story, I will be able to reach out to someone who will think about reminding their wife, sister, daughter, girlfriend and of course mother to have regular mammograms. This is so important and means a lot to me. Cancer is a very hard word to hear, but if caught early, the chances of survival can increase enough to save many lives.

Landscape Photography Twilight LE Technique

One great benefit of having some interest in the sky during sunrise or sunset is the opportunity to photograph a scene at different times, and be able to come away with more than one acceptable image.

On this particular morning, there was very nice cloud cover above Lake Tahoe. Hoping to make the best of the situation, I set up to photograph not only at sunrise, but also just before and after sunrise. I also used different filter techniques to photograph each moment, so I could capture multiple effects. For this image I used a 10-stop ND filter, to show the effect of streaking pre-sunrise clouds above Emerald Bay. When shooting in the direction of the sun, I like to use a long exposure to obtain this streaking cloud effect just before sunrise and also after sunset, through twilight.

Carefully check the first couple of exposures in the camera’s viewfinder. If you notice blown-out highlights in the sky you will have to adjust the in-camera exposure. Another option is to attach a neutral density grad filter to your Big Stopper filter. This will eliminate blown-out highlights,

Essential Backpacking Tips for Wilderness Photography

Image Introduction by Christopher Robinson – Editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine

“Spanning the width of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, King’s Canyon National Park features some of the most dramatic scenery in the world. Along with Sequoia National Park, which is immediately south of King’s Canyon NP, a priceless segment of the wilderness is preserved by the National Park Service. While paved roads traverse the combined Sequoia & King’s Canyon area, if you can park and hike up into the higher elevations, you’ll find vistas like this.” 

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Bullfrog Lake – Kings Canyon National Park

Reaching wilderness vistas such as Bullfrog Lake, may seem intimidating to many outdoor enthusiasts. However, with careful preplanning, accessing these beautiful higher elevation views might not be as hard as you think.

Being prepared and knowing your limitations are just two of the most important elements to consider. Below, I will cover what I feel are the most important tips to assist you in reaching the heart of nature.

1. Know your limitations

First and foremost, it is very important to know what your body is capable of. If you are in reasonably good shape, you can probably prepare yourself quite easily for a longer hike. Keep in mind that many wilderness areas will require that you not only hike the distance lengthwise, but that you are also able to complete the elevation gain. Therefore, ensure that you have first attained all the details of the hike you are planning to take, so you know it is within your personal comfort level.

Hiking into the wilderness usually means that you intend to camp overnight. With this in mind, if your destination is say, 5-miles, you will have enough rest and a chance to refuel before making the return hike.

2. Physical preparation

If you are new to hiking, start by walking in a local park, or an area that you want to photograph that has an easy to moderate trail. Maybe a mile or two round-trip. The important thing is to start out slowly, before steadily increasing the length of your walk or hike. Comfortably walking 5-miles in a day, is a good indication that you are ready for the next step. If you are preparing for an overnight backpacking trip, put some items in your backpack, and carry the pack during your practice walks. Doing this will also help you get used to hiking while carrying the extra weight of your gear.

3. Elevation Acclimation

If the hike you are planning to take requires a substantial elevation gain, first make sure that you spend a good hour or two at a location where the altitude is higher than you are used to. Depending where you live, you may be able to do this by simply driving somewhere that is located at a higher elevation, such as a State Park. Once there, walk around as much as possible, and don’t forget to pack a lunch. Exercise, eating and resting are all important things to experience while acclimating your body to higher elevations.

Many visitors traveling just to experience the great outdoors, make sure they have the extra time needed to get acclimated to the high elevation, before beginning a hike. I have met several people while on the trail, that have told me they are just hiking part of the trail, as a day hike, just so they can get used to the conditions. This is a great idea for hikers who are traveling from an area where the elevation is low, and have not experienced conditions at high elevations.

4. Dress Comfortably

Dress with the option of adding layers. Depending on the season, you may start out wearing just a tee shirt. However, temperatures in high elevation areas can drop dramatically towards the end of the day and into the evening. You will probably add at least one layer by the time you reach your destination.

Your feet will probably feel the brunt of a long hike more than any other part of your body; therefore comfortable footwear is a necessity. If you buy hiking boots specifically for this hike, make sure you test them to make sure they are going to remain comfortable, throughout the journey. I usually test my new hiking boots thoroughly, by going on several long walks, in the days leading up to my trip.

5. Pack Light

While you will want to make sure that you pack everything needed for your trip, it is very important that you pack as light as possible. This will go a long way in maximizing your overall comfort level, during the hike.

Before buying any item for my trip, I always do extensive research to determine each item I eventually choose to buy. This determination is based on three important factors. They are quality, weight and cost.

All of my camping gear, including clothing was bought from REI. They have an excellent website, where you can find a detailed description of each item, as well as many customer reviews for most of the items. REI stores also usually have great customer service, and a very relaxed return and exchange policy.  http://www.rei.com

6. Test Your Gear Before You Go

Take enough time to learn how to use your new gear, and to make sure everything works correctly. Whether it be your new mini-stove, headlamp or tent. I cannot emphasize this enough. Can you imagine trying to setup your new tent after a long hike, only to discover that you are not able to figure out how to do this. I always practice putting my tent up at home several times, to avoid what could lead to an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous situation, while out in the wilderness.

A comfortable backpack is also essential for your trip. Another great thing about shopping at REI, is they have very knowledgeable staff. Not only will they recommend the best backpack for you, based on your needs, but you will be able to put the backpack on in the store, and walk around. They will even put items in the pack, as well as help you adjust the fittings to fit your body comfortably.

7. Gear Essentials

Below is a list of gear I include in my backpack, while on an overnight stay in the wilderness. While I believe each item on this list to be essential, this is not an all-inclusive list, nor do I always use each item on every trip I take.

  1. Tent (Rain and windproof)
  2. Sleeping Bag (Rated to 20 degrees or lower)
  3. Thin Floor Mattress (A blow-up mattress is a good option)
  4. Extra clothing (Think layers and having dry clothes available)
  5. Liquid (I take both water and Gatorade)
  6. Water treatment filter (Optional, but a necessity on longer hikes)
  7. Food (Nutrition bars, dry snacks, soup) All available at REI
  8. Small camping stove (Cup-a-soup can feel like a 5-star meal in the wilderness, and can really warm you up)
  9. Small can of burner fuel
  10. Waterproof matches plus some type of auto lighter
  11. Small first aid kit
  12. Aspirin (Headaches are common while at higher elevations)
  13. Flashlight (Headlamps are exceptional for handsfree operation)
  14. Spare batteries
  15. Bear spray
  16. Toiletries
  17. Something to bury waste or take-out
  18. Map and compass (Or GPS unit)
  19. Bug repellant
  20. Whistle (For making noise in bear country, or to make people aware of your location)
  21. Pocketknife (A multi-tool utility knife would be ideal)
  22. Sunscreen Lotion

Always let someone know where you are going, and when you plan to return home.

By now, you have probably realized the importance of choosing the lightest gear possible. Don’t forget, you will be adding camera gear! I try to plan in advance for the exact type of shots I want to capture, and take just the necessary camera gear needed to achieve my goals.

With enough preparation and careful planning, you will be far less intimidated at the thought of trekking into the great outdoors. The wilderness can be an incredible source of beauty and inspiration, and the rewards for getting into the heart of nature are often simply priceless.

Ediza Lake – Ansel Adams Wilderness