I am a portrait photographer. It is what I do and I am pretty good at it. Not fantastic…have a long way to go…but pretty good. I don’t shoot weddings, flowers, or pets…and I don’t do landscapes. Well, not until last week. You see, I know enough about good landscape photography to know it entails getting up at ungodly hours, enduring hot sunsets, bugs, suffering through cold mornings, and then trying to find/organize your camera gear in the dark, wearing gloves and a headlamp. I am more of the sleep in, no appointments before ten, air conditioned studios, or at least outdoor sessions on nice days and cool evening…kinda guy. I did the rest of that stuff in the Army. You know…been there, done that, got the olive green T-shirt. So when a friend, Master Photographer, owner of Soul Images Gallery, and Tour Leader Jeff Johnson advertised his tour to the famous Colorado Sand Dunes National Park, I was torn. I wanted to see the dunes as in a previous career I flew over then many times and thought how cool it would be to see them on the ground. But of course all those awful things that landscape photographers have to do came to mind…early and late, hot and cold, dark, gloves, bugs. Hmmmm. I have been meaning to go there for years, but I know if I went alone, when that alarm went off a 0400, I would just figure the light cannot be all THAT bad at noon and I’d turn the darn thing off. But with a group, I would have to suck it up and show up. [blockQuote position="right"] You see, I know enough about good landscape photography to know it entails getting up at ungodly hours...[/blockQuote] So why write a blog post that has nothing—or very little—to do with the type of photography that the majority of the people reading this? Because I want to encourage you to do something different from your normal work. Go shoot something for fun—something you would not ordinarily do. It could invigorate your creativity, sharpen your camera-handling skills, and if you go with a group you will make new friends and networking is never a bad thing. The challenge with a lot of landscape stuff is to turn it into art—straight from the camera, these things are pretty boring, actually. You will also find some new uses for your Photoshop skills. So here is a small selection of the images I brought back from the Sand Dunes National Park. You have to look for people in some of them to get an idea of the scale of these things! Yeah…I enjoyed it. Since my main purpose here is really to review equipment: Before I get to the camera gear, don’t forget a trip to REI. You need a hat, hiking boots, sunscreen, insect repellent, heavy socks, gloves (both heavy ones and ones you can work your camera controls while wearing them), raingear, and Chapstick. Oh yeah, you need a really LOUD alarm clock!
Here is my gear:
I use a Markins tripod head, but any of the good (expensive) heads from RRS, Kirk, Gitzo, Manfrotto, etc. will work.
Singh Ray Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density Filters
Cokin Filter holder to mount filters
Filter system requires an adapter to mount filter holder to lens Happy Trails,