Category Archives: Travel

Sights and colors of Autum

The last week of September, I took a short trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. In addition to getting some much-needed “away time”, I wanted to photograph Elk in the rut and the colorful Aspens at their peak. I was surprised to discover that I arrived at the best week- for both!

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 Nikon D-800, 600mm F4.0 Nikkor lens, tripod.

The bulls and their hormones were very active and good images were easily found. The color was a bit splotchy as there was a previous beetle kill in the the pines. But a little perseverance paid off with some nice color.

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Nikon D-800, 80-200 mm zoom Nikkor lens, tripod.

Copyright © 2014 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

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Thirteen ways to mount a camera

We all know that a tripod is a recommended way to mount your camera for better pictures. The use of a tripod helps to stabilize the camera and prevent unwanted camera shake. It also provides a very precise platform for framing and composition. It provides repeatability from frame-to-frame. And, it nicely slows you down so that more thought and refinements may be worked into every image.

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In addition to the standard tripod, there are many methods to securely mount a camera where perhaps a tripod is not practical. And in many cases, a perspective other than the often used 5′ 7″ view point is often welcome. Let’s review some:

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The tripod may be outfitted with a very short, or no center post at all. This allows the camera to be placed almost at ground level.

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For the lowest perspective of all, an inverted center post of the tripod allows the lens to be at ground level.

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A tripod accessory option is the right-angle mount. This unit provides an unobstructed vertical view downward. Be certain to counter weight the tripod with a sand bag or shot bag for safety.

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One of the most useful grip accessories is the Magic Clamp. It will mount securely to pipe, rafter, door or window frame, limb or other sturdy fixture. A standard ball head is fitted by the use of a threaded stud.

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Here the right-angle mount us used for mounting multiple cameras. One camera is on a ball head on the threaded end of the mount and the other on a tripod ball head on a Magic Clamp with stud. A heavy, sturdy tripod is called for with this set up.

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Another near-ground perspective may be obtained with a common ball-head mounted to a piece of lumber for ground placement. Additional holes may be drilled through the wood for large nails to anchor the unit against movement.

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Another low-perspective approach is a Hollywood head or grip head fixed to a platform with a baby stud on a plate secured to a piece of lumber.

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Another use of the Hollywood head is on a Hollywood arm on a light stand. This can provide a vantage point inaccessible with a tripod. This rig must be secured with plenty of sand bags.

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An articulated Magic Arm with a magic clamp provides versatility in mounting and positioning the camera. A flat plate with tripod screw on the far end of the arm facilitates camera mounting. Whenever rigs like this are mounted in a remote position, a safety cable must be used to prevent a fall with subsequent damage or injury.

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For smooth surfaces like windows or doors, or on car hoods, this vacuum cup and mount is ideal. It is often wise to use redundant mounts for moving vehicles. Additional vacuum mounts with Magic Arms and steel rods make good secondary supports.

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A variety of ground supports are commercially manufactured. This one also doubles as a car window mount.

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And, last but certainly not least, is the tried-and-true sandbag. Whether commercially manufactured, or home-made, the sand bag provides a lot of solutions. Some commercial sand bags have built-in tripod threads for a ball head. Many folks use dry beans for the unit. I personally like heavier aquarium gravel. When traveling, take the bag empty and fill it on location.

Please remember, that with any camera mounting, safety and security are paramount. Use common sense. And always use safety cables and sandbags for all  equipment and accessories. This is especially valid if the mount is remote and the camera is not being attended.

Copyright © 2014 Brian Loflin. All rights protected.

These boots have done some walking!

After leaving the service in 1971, I reinvested in some more modern camping and hiking equipment along with photography gear. New technology mountaineering equipment was arriving on the market that replaced war surplus tents and sleeping bags. One of my new investments was a good pair of boots.

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My first pair of mountaineering boots. Nikon D2Xs, 60 mm F 2.8 Macro Nikkor, Flash.

The boots I acquired are a pair of Galibier guide boots made by Richard Ponvert of France. These boots have served me very well for many years. They have walked untold miles, climbed Fourteeners in Colorado, endured minus 40 degree temperatures in British Columbia and kept my feet dry in raging streams and mines in Mexico. But, sadly over 4o years later they have become obsolete.

Today, these great boots are still made but somewhat hard to find, especially here in the States. Galibier was a pretty well regarded footwear maker in the 1970s and 1980s and was a manufacturer that helped pioneer new innovations in boot making. They were excellent boots for that day and age. Also heavy (about 5 pounds) and very stiff. But they were rugged, could take almost any punishment and gave exceptional support.

Modern materials have brought many advances to the boot making industry. New waterproof and lightweight materials have replaced the heavy leather uppers, new breathable fabrics now line the interiors and Vibram® lug soles have become industry standard. What we get today is a superb boot with less than half the weight for a somewhat more moderate price.

So yes, I too, have made the move to a more modern boot. Do I think they are better? I would never believe that they are as tough and perhaps supportive as the Galibiers, but the weight and comfort make a ton of difference.

© 2013 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

I had the pleasure to lead a photography trip to this fabulous New Mexico birding hot spot for a few days in early December. Bosque del Apache NWR lies on the Rio Grande about halfway from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, NM. This National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing photography destination as it is the resting spot for migratory water fowl in late winter. The birds are there by literally tens of thousands, always an impressive sight! As it turned out, the weather was somewhat mild and photo perfect. I thought I would post a few images from the trip.

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One of nine thousand Sandhill cranes takes off in the early morning light. The birds slept overnight in a shallow pond right by the roadside. They would take off by ones and twos and in very large masses, often right over our head.

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With a wing span of six feet, Sandhill cranes are elegant fliers. They feed in dry fields during the day and return to shallow water at night. At Bosque del Apache the massive numbers of these large birds presented many photographic opportunities as well as a cacophony of sound as they vocalized to each other.

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Snow geese were everywhere! Frequently they would take flight in an explosive liftoff by the hundreds. Often, they would circle and come right back. Later, they may explode again and move to another field or other part of the refuge system.

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My good friend and photographer, Dolph McCranie with poster enumerating Bosque’s bird count for the time we were there. As you can see by the numbers, finding a subject was an easy task.

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A bobcat was a very lucky find. This cat was stalking a small group of Mallard ducks when I spied it near a small canal. A slow, careful approach resulted in a relatively nice image.

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After shooting birds, many of the group photographed other sights in and around Socorro, NM, like the interior of the Capitol Bar, one of the oldest in the Southwest and in business since 1896.

All images Nikon D2Xs and Nikkor optics including 600 mm F 4, 80-200 mm F 2.8, 28-70 F 2.8 and 15 mm F 3.5.

© Copyright Brian Loflin 2012. All rights reserved.

Texas Spring

I believe this image is all about wildflower season in Texas. This photograph was taken at the entrance road into private ranch land just south of Llano, Texas, during the first week of April, 2012. This scenic vista is typical of the vegetation and topography found in “The Hill Country”. The area is predominant  oak-juniper woodland where ashe juniper, live oak, shin oak and mesquite are the dominant trees. Deeply dissected limestone hillsides, broad, undulating divides and stony plains establish biodiversity in this region. The soils are shallow and are frequently calcareous in origin. Limestone outcrops are everywhere, frequently presenting seemingly-impenetrable, solid limestone plates just inches under the surface.

But, as poor as the soils seem, The Hill Country supports one of the most spectacular explosions of colorful wildflowers that may be found. People travel from far and wide just to witness Wildflowers in Texas.

Nikon D2Xs, 28-70mm F2.8 Nikkor lens. Seven frame HDR image.

© Copyright 2012 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

It’s Snowing! (Somewhere)

Austin, Texas is not known to be the snow capital of North America. And it’s not even the rain city. With the long drought recently broken by nice rains, we have begun to accumulate a little of the much-needed moisture for our spring wildflower germination. If it keeps up into January and some in February it should be a nice year.

While watching some of the snows in New Mexico, and the Northern Plains, I was reminded of a great photo day in the mountains west of Denver in February several years ago.

I thought I would resurrect one of those images to post here.

Nikon D2Xs, Nikkor 80-200mm F2.8 D AF zoom lens, Gitzo tripod.

While this image is not of grand mountains nor famous skiers, it evokes a sense of place for me as it was taken at at a favorite old haunt at Guanella Pass just west of Georgetown, CO.

I enjoy the composition leading upward and to the right from the rock anchoring the lower left corner. Except for the spot of color on that rock, this image could easily be mistaken for a black and white. It is important with images like this to nail the exposure. The blacks need to be good and dark with detail remaining and the white highlights pure, but with detail and texture of the snow remaining.

From a traditionalist standpoint the composition works well with the Golden Rectangle (or Fibonacci Spiral) superimposed on it (black) and the Rule of Thirds grid (red). But those are rules.

I say rules are simply guidelines to coach our eye for compositions that work. Must we follow rules? Well, of course not! We have to feel the composition, and when it feels right, voila! Some say that rules are made to be broken. When? There must be another rule for that.

But that’s another story. If it feels good, save it. Print it.

© Brian Loflin 2011. All rights reserved.

Currency

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