Sunday, April 24, 2011

Morning Song

Bridalveil Falls and El Capitan from the Merced River in Yosemite National Park during sunrise on an especially magical day. It was a cold night, allowing fog to cling to the more open areas of the Yosemite Valley. I camped at Camp 4, the more primitive of Yosemite's camps, which is about 4 miles away from Bridalveil Falls (also the closest to the falls). I had this shot in mind since before I arrived in Yosemite, so when I woke up at 5:30 with the birds, I knew I was running late. No time to make a breakfast fire and brew coffee. Dawn was upon me.

So, I hopped on my bike, and enjoyed a beautiful ride to this spot. I stopped along the way a few times contemplating striking compositions, but I didn't dally for fear that the fog would lift, and I'd miss the color in the clouds. Well, I arrived at this bend in the river, and carefully moved from rock to rock, careful not to disturb the fragile flora along the bank, until I had the composition I wanted. Honestly, I was hoping for something more interesting in the foreground... but I'm not complaining.

Yosemite Valley is a magical place, and this morning was no exception.  With the songs from all of the birds providing a melody on top of the melisma of the moving water, and the occasional crescendo and decrescendo of wind, I had no need for any ipod or other musical device during my stay. This image is but one of many taken during my stay in Yosemite, and can be purchased as a fine art print, puzzle, mouse-pad, coaster, coffee-mug, etc. at my printshop.

Now, Let's talk about Stability and Camera Shake.
To take this image, I used my brand new Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod with the Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Ball Head.  Sure, I could have used any tripod, but I am super excited about this thing. It is a carbon fiber magnesium allow, so it's super strong, and super light-weight.  Not to mention, I have full-360 degree rotatability, greatly expanding my shooting options compared to my old, heavy, unsturdy aluminum tripod.  Then, with my Canon 40D set to AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing)+-2, and self-timer set to a 2-second delay, I metered the midtones of the scene at f18 1/15 ISO 100 and fired away.  Why not use my shutter-release cable, you ask?  For shots like this, where I don't need to immediately capture what I see or expose for longer than 30 seconds, I like to use the camera's self-timer.  First of all, I find it to be a hassle to take out my SRC, hook it up to the camera, and then a couple minutes later have to take it back off to put my camera back in it's bag.  Second, even with a SRC and an awesomely stable tripod, it's very easy to get camera shake by firing too soon after composing the image.  I find that 2 seconds is generally a pretty good buffer to make sure the camera's stable.  If using a non image-stabilized zoom lens, you may even want to consider the 10 second delay for certain shots (or just take a few breaths before pushing the shutter release button).  Whatever you do, by all means, DON'T PUT YOUR CAMERA ON A TRIPOD ONLY TO PRESS THE SHUTTER FOR AN IMMEDIATE CAPTURE, YOU WILL NOT GET AS SHARP OF AN IMAGE, AND YOU WILL BE WASTING YOUR TRIPOD!  Always allow some time after composing your image for the camera to settle, even when shooting panos!  Well, that's my two cents anyway.  I hope you found it informative, or at least interesting enough to read all the way through! ;-)

Thanks for reading!  Be Well!

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