Taken with the Canon G9 during a very strenuous Open Space hike in the Loma Alta district. Although I used (OK, the camera used) a fairly high shutter speed the photo still seems a little indistinct. So I went into Photoshop and applied a watercolor conversion . . . voila! Kind of a pointillist effect.
This reminds me of the movie Blow-Up. This scene interested me primarily because of the sun obscured by clouds and reflected in the pond. But just as I took the photo a small bird flew across the pond, also reflected. But, unseen by me until I examined the image at a larger resolution, noticible as a blur against the farther trees: a much larger bird (hawk?) flying by.
Photo: Pond, San Geronimo Golf Course—Marin County, 2010
Mike drove as far up the Whitney Portal Road as possible (closed at the first big switchback). Clouds were swirling around the impossibly close mountains of the eastern Sierra, with recent snow decorating the pine trees.
Interesting. In a matter of a few hours Mike had gone from below sea level to the base of Mt. Whitney.
Photos: Spring Storm, East Range—Sierra Nevada, 2010; Branches & Snow—Sierra Nevada, 2010
Mike drove up the Whitney Portal Road until he reached his best viewpoint: a wide flat area with some bear-proof dumpsters. He's been there many a time: oh yes. Flakes were still coming down; there were clumps of snow in the sage plants. The Nikon's aspect ratio (that Mike has complained about) was made for this kind of scene.
At a wide-open space high in the Inyo Mountains: snow starting to collect on the ground. Mike pulled the truck over and turned off the engine; as he did so he heard a curious, very unique dry chittering sound. Turned out that he was in the midst of falling snow pellets, otherwise known as graupel. Small pellets, lighter than hail, but heavy enough to be heard as they hit the ground.
Mike woke up during the night to hear rain falling on the camper shell. In the early gray dawn he struggled out of his sleeping bag, donned his parka and emerged into a wet and drear campground.
After his granola bar and coffee breakfast he left driving east on highway 190, windshield wipers turned to the full on position. Once inside the clouds blanketing Towne Pass he encountered extremely limited visibility and a scattering of snow on the sage plants.
Photos: Panamint Valley Road—Death Valley, 2010; Snow & Fog—Death Valley, 2010; Raindrops on Camper Shell Window—Death Valley, 2010
There they are again: photographers lined up in front of a famous landscape, and, emblematic of their Serious Intent, most of them had their cameras firmly screwed onto a tripod.
But isn't it time to seriously reconsider the utility of the tripod? Right now I can think of only a few situations requiring the use of a tripod: an HDR (high dynamic range) shot (requires varying exposures of the same shot), extremely low light photography, and product-type shots: all technical and/or specialized situations. And the technical reasons for using a tripod are gradually diminishing: hand-held HDR shots are becoming more common, and the latest digital SLRs are becoming more proficient at combining high speed with low noise. Add image stabilization into the mix and shots that only recently would have been tripod-only can now be easily handheld.
I know that some say that a tripod will assist in composing a photograph, but I just don't see it; in fact, I have more "keepers" shooting handheld than when using a tripod. (Why is that? Best guess: a) handheld = more flexibility in shooting angles and, more shots, b) tripod = static compositions and, decreased shots.) (And, when I say "more shots" I mean more varied shots.)
You can find a lot of advice on photography blogs, the writers somehow compelled to start compiling lists of do's and dont's in which can often be seen a certain kind of geezerish Tripod Nostalgia at work. Sure: in the olden times a tripod was, in fact, necessary in order to take the photograph, since a 4x5 view camera was really not meant to be used handheld. But now?