As an aspiring landscape photographer,  I have the opportunity to explore less traveled parks and remote wilderness areas. This blog shares of my "notes from the field," including photography techniques, hiking tips and lessons learned the hard way ... like the time I fell through the ice in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park.  I welcome your comments and thank you for visiting our site.   Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer, Field Photographer 

White Pocket Landscape Photography: Weather on the Plateau

June 04, 2013  •  7 Comments

 

Ominous storm clouds at White Pocket,  Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness area. Weather on the Plateau, South Coyote Buttes, Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona-Utah Border “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Capture My Arizona Photo of the Day, NIKON D200,f/18 @ 14 mm1/30ISO 100

"White Pocket is part of the 112,500 acre Paria Canyon – Vermillion Cliffs wilderness located about 30 miles west of Page, Arizona. This remote acreage was officially designated a national wilderness area in 1984 under the Arizona Wilderness Act. Unlike North Coyote Buttes (the “Wave”) and other protected areas,  no passes are required for access and hiking at White Pocket. Still, the area is remote and the deep “sugar sand” covered road is  impassable certain times of the year, even for high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles. With all of that in mind, we were delighted to have the place to ourselves on our first visit to White Pockets a few years ago. 

"Brain Rock" and a small reflecting pool, following rain showers at White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs. Dream World, White Pocket, Paria Plateau in Northern Arizona

Since that time, the location has been published in Arizona Highways magazine and it is no longer a best-kept secret. In fact, during our most recent visit to the area, it seem like a pre-announced photography outing with about 15 fully outfitted landscape photographers on site. All were friendly and accommodating, some even offering photography tips and sharing high-end lenses. Most gratifying, everyone was respectful of the land, grateful for the rare opportunity to opportunity to visit this unique place.

NIKON D200,f/22 @ 17 mm1/20ISO 100

Sky reflection in transient pool at White Pocket, Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona - Utah border.  Eye to the Sky Reflection, White Pocket, Paria Plateau in Northern Arizona

Everyone else left the area when dark storm clouds and rain emerged in the late morning.  We remained at White Pocket a couple more hours, which proved to be the most worthwhile experience.

 D200,f/22 @ 12 mm1/6ISO 100

White pockets is comprised of hard white and pastel colored rock, some having a glazed porcelain like surface. Some of the formations resemble “brain rock,” while other sections have a smooth flowing appearance. On the day of the storm, the “pockets” were full of fresh clear water, displaying mirror image reflections of the dramatic stormy sky. After the rain, the white rock was transformed to a warm taupe color, creating a whole new visual experience, which remained through the time of our departure.

In the aftermath of heavy rains, reflections of colorful rock formations at White Pocket,  Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona.  Reflections, White Pocket, Paria Plateau in Northern Arizona

Despite the rain and extensive flooding of the road, we made it safely out of White Pocket and back to Lee's Ferry, Arizona, with no problems. The trip home conjured up memories of our first journey to the area, when we broke a shock absorber on the jeep, and a more recent trip involving a flat tire and broken tire jack.

NIKON D200,f/20 @ 18 mm1/25ISO 100

Rock outcroppings laced with mineral deposits at White Pocket,  Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Arizona and Utah Border.  White Pocket, Paria Plateau in Northern Arizona

That time, we were truly outside of the electronic communication loop, with no cell phone service or clear “On Star” access. Fortunately, we were “rescued” by a true professional photographer and a real gentleman, John Weller. Refusing to accept any money for his time and effort, John said, "I'm glad to have my little Subaru help out a Hummer!" We are still grateful for the assistance and remain inspired by John’s recent book, Great Sand Dunes National Park: Between Light and Shadow."

NIKON D300,f/22 @ 20 mm1/100ISO 200

Excerpt from Windswept Landscape: Images from the Arizona-Utah Border, Tom Gendron, Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer and Steve Stilwell. 

 

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

www.mwrphotos.com

 

 


Memorial Day Photo Tribute to American Patriots

May 27, 2013  •  1 Comment

Field Cross Salute, bronze sculpture at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona. Field Cross Salute, Bronze Sculpture

All we have of freedom, all we use or know - 
  This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
”  ~ Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899
 

On this Memorial Day and every day, we are deeply indebted to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.   As no words can adequately express our gratitude, we pause for a moment of silence and salute  these true American patriots and their families. 

Field Cross Salute, Wesley Bolin Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona, D800E, f/8 @ 380 mm1/100ISO 500

Bronze sculpture of Field Cross Salute, at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona. Field Cross Salute, Bronze Sculpture

 

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

www.mwrphotos.com

 

Related posts:  Veteran’s Day, 2012: United We Stand, United We Stand, United We Stand, Chicago, Independence Day and Photo Tribute to the People of Boston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Field Cross Salute, Wesley Bolin Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona, NIKON D300, f/11 @ 40 mm1/125ISO 400

USCGC Taney, a United States coast guard high endurance cutter anchored in the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  USCGC Taney, United States Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter, Baltimore, Maryland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USCGC Taney, United States Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter, Baltimore Inner Harbor, NIKON D300, f/14 @ 31 mm10sISO 200

USS Arizona Flag and Mast, located at Wesley Bolin Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona.   USS Arizona Anchor & Mast Wesley Bolin Plaza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USS Arizona Anchor and Mast, Wesley Bolin Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona, NIKON D300, f/10 @ 48 mm1/250ISO 400

National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona. Veterans Cemetary Under Blue Skies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona, NIKON D800E, f/22 @ 17 mm1/30ISO 200


Photo Tribute to the People of Boston

May 01, 2013  •  10 Comments

 

American flag hanging proudly in building atrium, with tall ships in the Boston Harbor. United States Flag Hanging Proudly in Boston, Massachusetts

In the aftermath of the tragic Boston bombings, our thoughts and prayers are with the many victims and their families.  Sadly, media images of this unthinkable act of terrorism haunt us all, also conjuring memories of September 11.  A heightened awareness of national security has returned, somehow uniting the nation in this time of deep mourning.

 

Against this dark backdrop, after considerable thought,  I am posting a few earlier photos from the Greater Boston area. These images are presented as a small, but sincere tribute to the bombing victims and the fine people of this truly historical American city.  These scenes are from better days, an era we can only hope to recapture – at least in part – with the healing of time.  

 

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of visiting Boston twice, both times on business travel and once with the company of our immediate family.  During our extended family visit, we packed in lots of sightseeing:  The Tall Ships in Boston Harbor, Boston Commons, Harvard, Salem and a Red Socks game at historic Fenway ballpark.  Downtown Boston skyscrapers support commerce and a vibrant city life. Downtown Boston, Archway View

 

Greater Boston is home to many internationally recognized institutions, diverse cultures and wonderful neighborhood communities.  Like every thriving urban center, Boston is so much more than a collection of civic gathering places and historical buildings. Boston’s institutions were created by dedicated citizens, all for the public good.

Tall ship masts with international flags, docked in Boston Harbor. Boston Harbor, Tall Ships, Masts and International Flags

 

Considered to be strong and tough natured, the citizens of Boston built one of America’s world-class cities brick by brick and idea by idea – all through hard work and perseverance. Clearly, their tireless work has been guided by a strong sense of community, innovation and genuine collaboration.

Historic clock tower in Boston.   Boston Clock Tower

Night time exposure of buildings and bridge during a heavy rain storm in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. After the Storm, Boston, Massachusettes

 

In this quiet hour, the resilient human spirit offers the prospect of hope and restoration, both for  the city of  Boston and our great nation as a whole. 

 

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

www.mwrphotos.com

 


Death Valley Landscape Photography: The Race Track

April 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 

 

Moving bolder leaves a distinctive track at the Race Track, Death Valley National Park, California.  Natural Travel, The Race Track, Death Valley National Park, California "Our long anticipated trip to “The Race Track” (Death Valley National Park, California) was one of near misses and joyful discovery.  First, although the dirt road was in good condition, the dusty drive back to this area seemed to take an eternity.  It probably didn’t help that we stopped several times along the way, spending considerable time at the Ubehebe Crater and then at the Joshua tree forest.

NIKON D200,f/29 @ 48 mm1/6ISO 100

Second, and of greater concern, once we arrived at the ancient dry lake bed known as the “Race Track,” we did not see any of the “moving boulders” or other landmarks associated with this area.  “Could the boulders all have been washed away, or maybe even moved by poachers?,”  we wondered aloud.  Surrounded by the Cottonwood Mountains and the Last Chance Range, the area was certainly picturesque, but not what we had come to see. 

As it turned out, the touted racetrack is situated on the far South end of the vast lake bed; “just like in the pictures.”  Thinking back on the whole scenario, we were all a bit myopic in our initial view of the lakebed. We also had a mistaken sense of distance in this other worldly setting. 

Sliding bolder on dry lake bed at the Race Track, Death Valley National Park, California.  Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, California

Like so many places in Death Valley, there were simply no familiar points of reference to discern distance or a sense of scale. Understandably, even experienced travelers can easily become disoriented and lost in this borderless terrain.

Mysteriously, the movement of boulders across the dry lake bed has created long track marks in the mud, some up to 3,000 feet long.  Some track marks form perfectly straight lines, others are curved and a few are appear as curious “zig zag” patterns.

 NIKON D200,f/29 @ 52 mm1/4ISO 100

Although no one has actually seen the rocks move, geologists explain that the boulders slide across the dried mud floor when rainfall turns the hard mud into a slick surface.  Strong wind is also a factor in the movement of rocks across the flat, unprotected lake bed.   Described as “playa,” the dry silt forms remarkably consistent polygonal patterns across the entire expanse of the lake bed.  

Two sliding boulders leave tracks at the Race Track, Death Valley National Park. Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, California

NIKON D200,f/25 @ 25 mm1/10ISO 100

Irreverently, after a bit of contemplation in this wondrous place, my brother, Brian, declared the theory of the moving rocks to be hoax.  He shared some of own conspiracy theories to account for the distinct tracks in the mud. 

Brian explained that pranksters or park rangers must have pulled the rocks across the lake bed using long ropes attached to vehicles; or, that the rocks were periodically rolled across the lake bed from low flying aircraft, just like bowling balls, etc.  So much for the wonders of nature and our childlike suspension of disbelief …."

Dried playa and repeating patterns in dry lake, at the Race Track, Death Valley, California.  Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, California

 

NIKON D200,f/16 @ 22 mm1/40ISO 100

 

 

Excerpted from From Rock to Sand: Death Valley Landscapes, Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Steve Stilwell and Brian Reinkensmeyer 

 

Mesquite Sand Dunes formations at Death Valley National Park, California. Mesquite Flat Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, near Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, NIKON D300,f/18 @ 40 mm1/30ISO 200

 

 

For more Death Valley images, see Death Valley Sand Dunes

 

www.mwrphotos.com 


Upgrading to a Full-Frame Camera: Ownership Costs and Benefits

April 06, 2013  •  4 Comments

Full-frame DSLR camera and gear: Nikon D800E, camera lenses and Mac Book Pro Retina. _DSC5884

After long deliberation, I finally made the leap – or arguably the dive – to a full-frame digital camera.  With the impressive new generation of full-frame DSLR’s and more reasonable price points, I could at long last justify this purchase in my own mind. I could not be more pleased with my first full-frame camera, the Nikon D800E.  That said, the additional costs associated with this upgrade have been substantial, far more than I had anticipated.  Not to complain, but outlays for two new lenses, a laptop computer and other items really start to add up … 

Reflecting on the upgrade to a full-frame DSLR, it is instructive to consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and the Total Benefits of Ownership (TBO).  While a complete cost analysis is beyond the scope of the article, management accounting principles provide a solid framework in considering the start-up costs, lifecycle plan and business opportunities occasioned by a major camera upgrade.

Total Cost of Ownership 

Planning for a full-frame camera purchase, I budgeted for a new wide angle lens to replace my current Nikon DX lens designed for the APS-C size sensor. My calculations also included the sale of the DX lens, quickly sold on Craig’s List.

What I did not contemplate was the need for a longer telephoto lens, given the loss of the 1.5x crop factor with my APS-C sensor camera, a Nikon D300.  Surely, I thought, my Nikon 70 -200 mm telephoto lens coupled with a Nikon 1.4 tele-converter will suffice on a full-frame sensor. Not so, I learned, when registering for a photography workshop with some wildlife shoots. With my old APS-C camera bodies, this lens setup stretched to 420 mm with the 1.5 crop factor.  On the full-frame camera, however, the same lens set-up provides a maximum focal length of only 280 mm: barely enough magnification to capture a group photo of Moose Elk assembled on a distant hillside at Rocky Mountain National Park.  I ended up buying a Sigma 150 – 500 mm telephoto lens to provide that extra “reach.”

Additional costs were also incurred with the purchase of a new computer. Admittedly, my earlier computer (a Dell running Windows XP) had become quite dated, but it still worked well enough with photo files from my 12.2 megapixel DSLR.  Photographers with more up-to-date computer gear might not incur this major expense. However, the large digital files generated by a full-frame DSLR may require additional hard drive storage and/or processor upgrades to support a smooth workflow.  

The need for additional computer resources occurs during the creation of large composite images from a full-frame camera.  Specifically, this is applicable in creating multi-photo “stitched” panoramic images, HDR images and “stacked” hyper-focal images.  Substantial computing power is imperative for efficient retrieval, merging, storage and editing of the enormous multi-photo full frame digital files. With these factors in mind, I opted to purchase an Apple Mac Book Pro laptop computer with a solid state drive.    

While individual circumstances will vary, my overall outlay for the full frame camera, lenses and other items was approximately $9,047.

 

TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP

 

 

   

 

ITEM

COST

 

Camera Equipment:

 

 

Nikon D800E

 $3,100.00

 

Nikon 17 - 35 mm  f/2.8 lens

 $1,769.00

 

Sigma 150 - 500 mm lens

 $1,019.00

 

   

 

Computer:

 

 

Apple Mac Pro Retina

 $2,799.00

 

Peripherals

 $300.00

 

   

 

Miscellaneous:

 

 

Extra battery

 $60.00

 

86 mm UV filter

 $30.00

 

86 mm polarizer filter

 $80.00

 

Hi speed memory cards

 $100.00

 

   

 

TOTAL

 $9,047.00

     

My overall expenditure was reduced by proceeds from the sale of my Nikon 12 -24 mm wide angle DX lens (used sales price of $650) and will be further reduced by the sale of a Nikon D300 body (estimated value of $625). With these offsetting revenues, the total cost of ownership for my upgrade to a full frame DSLR is $7,772 .

NET TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP

   

Purchase Costs

 $9,047.00

Revenue from equipment sales

 $(1,275.00)

   

NET COST

 $7,772.00

For discussion purposes, let us assume that the full frame camera and other equipment will be used over a five year period or longer.   This is probably a fair assumption for this Nikon D800E camera body and computer, but the lenses should have a longer period of use. Using these figures without adjustments for opportunity cost or inflation, our cost of ownership for the full-frame camera is $1,554.4 per year or $129.53 per month.  If we decrease or eliminate the cost of the new computer and/or lenses, the annualized cost of full frame camera ownership is further reduced.

Missing from this quick analysis are the costs of equipment maintenance (e.g.,  sensor cleaning ), repairs, extended warranties and insurance coverage. 

Total Benefits of Ownership

With this ownership cost estimate in hand, we next consider the Total Benefits of Ownership for a full-frame DSLR. The benefits take into account increases in high value work, accuracy and efficiency, and improved customer service.  These benefits must be weighed against the equipment costs, which can also be equated to annual or monthly costs. From my perspective, the full frame DLSR really delivers on all fronts when judged in this framework (no pun intended). 

The extraordinarily high quality of full-frame DSLR images is derived from a combination of interrelated factors including larger pixel sizes, increased sharpness and high resolution, low noise and improved color differentiation. These factors are addressed in Ken Rockwell’s informative article, “The Full-Frame Advantage” (2007), which discusses the technical basis and practical implications of full frame cameras.

Full-frame image have ample resolution for creation of large scale prints, be that in the form of prints, canvas wraps or metal.  Large scale printing has been one of my key considerations, as I’ve always wanted to present landscape photographs on a grand scale – like that of gallery displayed fine art paintings.

Large photo files generated by the full frame sensor also allow for major image cropping, while still maintaining high resolution files. The photograph from the National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona, was heavily cropped from a full frame photo, still having more than adequate resolution for display.   While the cropped version of this scene was not planned in the photo shoot, it turned out to be the best scene of the series ultimately receiving recognition on the Capture My Arizona.   In memory of our war veterans, a cross and Saguaro cactus in sunset light at National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona. National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona quiet at dusk. Phoenix, Arizona.

National Memorial Cemetery, Phoenix, Arizona - Capture My Arizona Photos of the Day, NIKON D800E,f/20 @ 19 mm1/15ISO 200

The opportunity for this kind of creative editing also provides for “close up” fields of view in post processing, in effect extending the length of a telephoto lens.

From a business standpoint, the use of a full-frame DSLR gives rise to expanded lines of photography services, some heretofore reserved for large and medium format photographers.

Final Thoughts

Beyond this kind of cost-benefit analysis and technical considerations, I find a certain “peace of mind” knowing that my time in field is well spent creating the highest resolution images currently possible with a full-frame DSLR. So often, photography travels bring us to places where we may never return or transient moments never to be repeated.  Using a full-frame DSLR - the state of the art tool today - affords the photographer an added sense of confidence and a degree of satisfaction not so easily measured in dollars.  Point Reyes coastline in Northern California.  Point Reyes Limantour Beach Grass

Time exposure photograph of cascading creek along the Bootjack Trail, Muir Woods, California.  Muir Woods Bootjack Trail River Cascade, California

 

Limantour Beach at Point Reyes, California, NIKON D800E, f/18 @ 40 mm1/50ISO 400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bootjack Trail, Muir Woods, California,  NIKON D800E,f/16 @ 30 mm4sISO 800

 

 

For more photos from the Muir Woods and the Northern California Coast, see California Coastline. 

 

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer

http://www.mwrphotos.com

 

 

 

Notes from the Field

Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.  

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