View Full Version : Peak of the Season

04-15-2008, 06:32 PM
Okay ... so I just got back from Colorado (4/12-15) ... with a load of SONY α700 stuff. Not as much as I had hoped for, but I figure some good stuff, none the less. The weather was exceptional ... pristene blue skies, devoid of clouds ... temps in the high 60s and low 70s. Give me a camera!

Sadly, all I had for this treat were my three lenses (10-20, 17-50, 80-400) and I shot this 400mm-shot through some branches, from the Garden of the Gods ...

EXIF: Tokina ATX-840 @ 400mm - f/11 - 1/250 sec. - ISO-200 - Manual

It was the first time I realized that there is something on top of ol' Pike's Peak.

100% Crop of above

I wound up with this crop (below) as my print for the trip:

EXIF: TAMRON 17-50mm f/2.8 @ 45mm - f/16 - 1/350 sec. - ISO-800 - Manual (crop)

Impressive mountain. As you can easily tell, no small feat getting to it either. As I drove up to the base of Pike's Peak, I found out that the last 3 miles of the 19-mile road to get to the summit were closed to traffic. They estimate it will take an average of two hours to make the round trip, there and back. Sounds like a trip to downtown Chicago, from O'Hare airport ... during rush hour ... and to think: this is on a dedicated, empty road! :eek:

04-15-2008, 07:14 PM
I popped into the US Air Force Academy (guess they'll let anybody in, huh?) ... and did the nickel tour ... by myself. I hate crowds. Anyway, many people probably don't realize this ... the the USAFA is on 18,000+ acres No kidding! How's that for running room?

Well, here's a pseudo-HDR I carved out from a shot I took of a B-17 (from WWII) and the Cadet Chapel. The original shot was okay, but I wanted something more from the shot, as my Grandfather used to be involved with the B-17 Bomber Group in Jolly ol' England. A tribute to him and the Army-Air Force of 1943 ... something modern ... mixed with the past.


I then went for a geometric composition, which is definitely a snap with this structure. I felt the framing caught what I wanted from this image. You can see the detail of the stained glass along each vertical and it makes you truly appreciate the interior, when you get inside of it:

EXIF: TAMRON 17-50mm f/2.8 @ 22mm - f/8 - ISO-100 - Manual

Of course, what would a trip to the Cadet Chapel be without the interior, obligatory 10mm roof shot?

EXIF: SIGMA 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm - f/4 - 1/15 sec. - ISO-400 - Manual
(for Griptape ... this is no "test shot")

Going to altar ... going to get mar ... uh, enlightened. LOL

EXIF: SIGMA 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm - f/8 - 1/15 sec. - ISO-1600 - Manual

The Cadet Chapel allows you two hours to get your wedding done ... and then it's another ... and another ... not shot-gun weddings, but rather machine-gun weddings.

Here's the side view, looking West ... and check out that mountainside, through the windows.

EXIF: SIGMA 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm - f/4 - 1/15 sec. - ISO-400 - Manual

Then turning around and seeing the wonderful pipe organ that was installed, also. Man, this is some excellent equipment.

EXIF: TAMRON 17-50mm f/2.8 @ 24mm - f/2.8 - 1/10 sec. - ISO-800 - Manual

Driving from the Northern entrance gate to the Southern entrance seemed nearly five or more miles. Know any other colleges with that kind of elbow room? Wow!

BTW: I really do want people to notice the SHUTTER SPEED with these "handheld" indoor shots. Folks, that's 1/10th and 1/15th of a second. Without Image Stability or a tripod, that simply won't happen. Enjoy! ;)

04-15-2008, 07:55 PM
I took this, because someone went to a lot of trouble to set this site up as a "photographic opportunity." Hey, who am I to dispute that?

EXIF: TAMRON 17-50mm f/2.8 @ 50mm - f/13 - 1/350 sec - ISO-800 - Manual

I do believe NATURE knows how to color itself. The richness of that orange area, in the upper right, is an honest example. Saturation was not altered at all!

This huge verticle orange wall really was incredible, with how smooth it was. Shooting into the direct sun also added a serious challenge to ol' Don. I'm not sure why, but I had to have this shot. A little later on ... it became impossible:


Since my wife's cousin was doing the tour directing ... she thought this image of the center section of the garden held some interest, also. Although the contrast with the sky lacks depth, the penetration into the shadows is pretty good. I figure I'll share it, too:


Then this (from the west side of the GOTG) Direct sunlight making for the high contrast:
EXIF: TAMRON 17-50mm f/2.8 @ 35mm - f/8 - 1/750 sec - ISO-800 - Manual

Just to give you some idea of the scale of this thing ... here's a 100% crop with some dude climbing this beastie. UTE understand why, if you'd been there, too. The crop was taken from the area in the lower left hand part of the above image ... near that white verticle finger-like bolder. Yeah, that's "Mr. Dot."

Finally this (from south side of the GOTG)
EXIF: Tokina ATX-840 @ 80mm - f/11 - 1/125 sec - ISO-200 - Manual

04-15-2008, 08:37 PM
One of the surprising finds were Dinosaur foot prints permanently displayed in layers of the soil near "Red Rocks." Someone took the time to dye the prints so they would contrast well in images like this. The sun was behind the hill, so exposure was bizarre, in this shadow area.

Okay, I ask: "What would you do?" But, of course ... -Click!- :D


04-15-2008, 08:59 PM
In my tribute to Ansel Adams ... and taking a little liberty with my zoom on the moon ...


Below is the original, which kind of inspired me, when I looked up and it caught my eye. The moon seemed bigger, in real life ... but, this is an eye-opener ... or squinter. Several people around saw my attempt at composition and thought it was "cool." Anyway ... I worked it up.


Below is the "Red Rocks" Amphitheater, which was a nightmare to shoot because of the huge range (f/22) of light available, due to the sun rapidly setting in the West (behind me). The seats were completely shadowed (f/2.8) ... the background totally exposed to the sun ... so a five-layer HDR to the rescue. Hey, it was a shot at getting the exposure. Nothing I could have taken in one shot, without a 1/2 ND4 (or maybe even an 1/2 ND8, in this case filter) or something similar :o The five-shot overlay also effectively eliminated the people who were running back & forth, up & down the rows of seating for exercise or whatever. I wonder if this place is insured for falls and such? :rolleyes:


Original center exposure

Just try and figure out what's back there, from this shot. :eek: This definitely qualified for a "creative solution" ... much like some of the photographic problems were undertaken in school. Obviously, metering for the center of this exposure meant little to nothing. The highlights and shadows clearly exceeded the sensor's limitation of 3 full f-stops, which is something I have been trying to explain to some folks, on here.

I may continue to play with how the HDR deals with this, to try to improve it ... as this was my initial attempt with this composition. I figure it's not that bad, considering it was entirely HANDHELD through all five shots! :p

EDIT: After some more toying around with the A700's capability, I realized I missed a golden opportunity to try out the DRO capability of this camera. From my current understanding, it may have been able to cope with this wild swing of exposure rather than trying to do it with conventional (flim type) methods. I will make a concerted effort to try this feature out, as shooting permits, throughout the upcoming outdoor season. I have seen some encouraging results. :)

04-15-2008, 09:28 PM
I can honestly say my appreciation for taking of many of these recent Colorado shots was directly attributable to the training I received not only at Oakton College, but also with the many varied and colorful exchanges I have participated in, right here, on the DCRP. Sure, we haven't always agreed in aspect of the craft, but that is what makes it so fun, in my estimation. The variety of tastes and viewing we all have. Seeing through each others eyes ... not always understanding, but just the fact that we can have the "vision."

Cool stuff. Thanks for looking. Suggestions are invited ... discussion appreciated.

04-16-2008, 05:13 AM
Real nice I like the one with the moon.

04-16-2008, 06:53 AM
Thanks, Frank ...

We were on the move ... no tripod to use ... so the long shots and layered stuff was really kind of tough to do. It's just so much better when you can bring the right equipment. I lost a couple shots to that problem.

Wish I could say the huge Moon was my idea, but I was inspired by "a master." Although Ansel's Moon was a bit smaller, per se. You do what works? LOL :D

Anyway ... I am impressed with what I was able to get with the SONY α700. It was monstrously efficient, although I did eventually suffer some "sensor contamination" with all the lens swapping I did. I will have to do some inspection and dry air blow outs to clean it up, even with the sensor's "clean shake". The sand and dust has to be taken into consideration. Illinois does not get that much dust, that's for sure, so it is truly an environment issue. I hate to even imagine what the Canon EOS 20D would have been like, under the same conditions. I think it had a "dust magnet" built into its sensor.

04-16-2008, 12:55 PM
:cool: Great shots Don! That moon shot is my fav :)

04-16-2008, 06:54 PM
That's more like it Don, a little travel and landscape photography.
The light on the second Garden of the Gods shot is really good, that's one of the best of your series. I like the interior shot of the chapel, but I would have used a smaller f/stop: the top of the frame is a little OOF. The moon shot looks like 2 frames to me, and there is a little too much negative space at the bottom of the frame, a little crop would go a long way.

04-16-2008, 07:38 PM
TenD ... I've looked at the Moonshot a couple times, with crop ... and I believe it tends to lose a lot of the drama, by shortening it. It has a certain "spire" effect to it, that gets lost by trimming it down. The moon tends to look like it has a ways to go into the night sky, which leaves you with a kind of growing "anticipation."

I've gotten a lot of good responses with it just the way it is ... so my gut says: "leave it alone.", but I do appreciate the suggestion. Proportionally, shortening it just tends to ruin the flow, dark to light.

Just to placate you and, perhaps, further the discussion ... here is a shot at a crop:


... and, I'm going to post it in "Moonshots" in the Gallery. LOL That'll teach 'em! :p

04-16-2008, 11:20 PM
I did make some recent edits to the string of images ... for continuity purposes. I hope they improve the flow.

Enjoy and thanks for looking. It was a blast.

04-19-2008, 01:27 AM
One of the stranger things I did locate, on my 30-year later return to Lowry AFB, in Denver,
was in "Hanger 1" ...


:eek: No kidding, a "Death Star"-killing X-wing fighter, complete with a shiny, new R-2 Unit, the "Ultimate Backseat Driver".


"Lift these, I can ... "


04-20-2008, 12:40 PM
I went a little further, reviewing that Cadet Chapel Roof shot I did ... saw the deep saturation the A700 gave it, in its rather uncorrected form ... and wondered, HDR?

So, here it is ...


A little too sterile, for my tastes.

04-20-2008, 10:07 PM
One of the most curious things I found, driving up through the mountains, along US-6 ... given the season, was this ...


Honest to jake ... 60-degree day ... and solid snow. I saw it as I was driving up into the mountains, on US-6 ... I parked the car about 1/4-mile further up and hiked back, to try and get it right.

On the flipside, traveling down the mountains, on the Golden Gate Canyon Road (which is just an excuse for a dry road slalom you can run your sports car down) ... toward Golden, CO ... this valley along the way. Yes, that is a cliff edge ... and the road has limited guardrails. :eek:


04-25-2008, 11:16 AM
Wow ...

I got a nice surprise, today, when the American Institute of Architecture contacted me for permission to use my USAFA Cadet Chapel Interior Roof shot in their upcoming "Shape of America" project.

I tell you, that is some kind of "turn-around" for production ... I only took the shot less than two weeks ago!

EXIF: SIGMA 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm - f/4 - 1/15 sec. - ISO-400 - Manual - Handheld

It is getting better, everyday. :D

My advice: Get a SONY DSLR and decent glass ... and quit foolin' around! :p I, honestly, could not have gotten this without the SIGMA's yawning 10mm range. It was the very reason I bought it ... and dog gone ... good choice, apparently. Well, some technique and the SONY α700's Super SteadyShot™ might have a little to do with it ... but, for goodness sake, don't tell that to the photographer. He's just holding the camera "at the ready", right? The images form themselves ... :rolleyes: