Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing is a scenic place on the snake river in Grand Teton National Park. The river winds through the fields and forests at a slow pace providing some mirror like images of the Grand Teton Mountains. It's been said that photographs taken from here are the most famous of mountain-scape images.

Schwabacher Landing is why Teton National Park is famous for its scenery. Click on this link for a map on how to get to the parking area. When you arrive at the parking area you will see a good view of the Grand Tetons, but in my opinion this is not the best spot. Head down to the snake river and you will see a trail heading north. Take this trail that follows the river for about a 1/4 mile to an opening and a calm area in the river. Most likely there will be a group of photogs already in place. The mountain range runs north and south, and Schwabacher is on the east side of the mountains, it's almost exclusively a sunrise spot. You could get some cool silhouettes in the evening with an orange sky, but mainly your best bet will be right when the sun strikes the peaks of The Grand Tetons.

When I was photographing at Schwabacher Landing I could hear an elk bugling. It's a beautiful scene for all your senses, but one must be aware that this is a wild area and it's wise to take caution, especially at dawn or dusk when the animals are out and about. Beware that this is also bear country, it's always wise to carry bear spray.

When in Grand Teton and the Yellowstone area Schwabacher Landing is a must see. This weeks post picture was taken at sunrise with a 16-35mm at f16. I used a 2 stop split grad ND filter to help balance the light in the scene.

5 Holiday Christmas Ideas for Landscape Photographers

It's that time a year again. It's time to buy your special someone a gift for Christmas. Here are 5 Holiday Christmas Ideas for Landscape Photographers 1) Filters! One of the most important tools for a landscape photographer is the Neutral Density Graduated filter, another filter is the circular polarizer. These 2 filters should be in every nature and landscape photographers bag. Find Polarizers Here and Find ND Filters Here

2) A cable release. Both Nikon and Canon make them, some of them are wireless. These will help the landscape and nature photographer achieve those tack sharp photographs.

3) Rain gear for your camera. There are several options out there. You can get a disposable, or a reusable version. The disposable ones are relatively cheap, but if you are shooting in rain all the time it may be worth while to invest a reusable version.

4) A hotshoe  bubble level. This will assure that your horizon lines are straight. Nothing is more annoying than a diagonal horizon line.

5) A good ball head and tripod. These are worth their weight in gold to a landscape and nature photographer. In my opinion these two things are almost as important as the camera itself. Hope this helps with the holiday shopping.

Lowepro Vertex 200 AW Backpack

This is a review of my photo backpack the Lowepro Vertex 200 AW Backpack. Lowepro has a great reputation among professional photogs as one of, if not the best, bag and backpack makers for photography gear. When I was researching bags, and there are tons of bags, Lowepro was consistently coming up in my searches. First thing I had to ask my self was what style of bag do I want? I used to carry around a Timbuk2 messenger bag for my gear but that didn't work very well, besides having all the weight of my gear on one shoulder, there wasn't protection for my lenses and such.  I decided being that I did have a lot of gear and it was heavy I needed a backpack. My style of photography usually requires me to be out in nature, hiking, climbing, crawling, and just about anything else you would expect being outdoors, so I needed something that was easy to carry and protective. The AW means all-weather. There is a fold up cover, that has its own little pouch designed in the bag, so when it starts to get bad outside, the cover will protect your gear on the inside. Along with the all-weather cover it comes with water-resistant heavy-duty zippers. Just like the Lowepro website states The Lowepro Vertex "is made for the outdoors". As good as it is on the outside, the inside is just as nice. It's very well padded, it has plenty of space, and easily customizable. It has a little pocket where I can keep manuals, a little notebook, and a white balance gray card. There is also a separate compartment that will hold a medium-sized laptop computer.

This bag has all I need for a hiking trip. I can pack all my gear and some. I carry headlamps, flashes, my leatherman, my 70-200 2.8, my 16-35 2.8, my 50 1.4, and my camera body. I also carry my chargers and spare batteries and memory cards.... basically my whole kit.There are straps and pouches on the outside of the bag to strap on your tripod or a water bottle.

All these features are fine and dandy but the big kicker for me was that it fits all the way under the seat in front of me when I am flying. The smaller planes have the little overhead compartments, which this won't fit into (at least on Delta), but it will fit under your seat. When I fly I never let my gear leave my sight. Even if you are late to your flight on a 757 and there is no overhead room, which is common theses days, you will still be able to put it under your seat, and that sure beats having to check it.

So in review the Lowepro Vertex 200 AW is an awesome bag inside and out. It's sealed from the elements,it's big enough to carry a lot of gear including a laptop, its zippers and other materials are tough and durable, and best of all it is travel friendly. I have used this bag for a couple of years now and couldn't be happier.

Highly Recommended!

Really Right Stuff BH-55

Today I am going to talk about the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head. When I started to look for a new ball head (as my gear was getting bigger and heavier), I did what most would do, and that's search the internet for the "best" ball head. Like most I came up with about 10 different answers. Arca-Swiss, Acratech, Gitzo, Linhof, Kirk, Manfrotto, Induro, Really Right Stuff (RRS), and much more. I spent days, weeks, and months trying to decide which one would work best for me and something that would be hard to out grow. I visited camera stores, searched blogs, read reviews, I even looked at what my favorite photogs were using. So after all my research and deliberation I decided between two. Kirk and RRS. Along with RRS, Kirk has a wonderful reputation in the field among pros. Kirk's manufactured in Indiana (close to my home state), and have an attractive price. They also have a full line of camera plates, lens plates, flash brackets, macro tools, and more. There really wasn't a reason not to invest in Kirk products. Like Kirk, RRS has all the plates, brackets, macro tools, but they also have an extensive line of pano tools. So which one to choose?

Well RRS had a couple features that I liked. One: it uses a lever quick release, two: it's a lower profile, 3: it looks pretty darn sexy. Don't lie to yourself looks do matter. So were those couple of things worth the extra mula?

RRS manufactured in San Louis Obispo CA, which is about 30 minutes from where I was living at the time. I decided to stop by their shop to see one first hand. Finding their shop was a bit tricky, I didn't notice any shop signs when I went, but being that most of their sales come from online its understandable. I opened the front door and walked into a small room with a couple of ball heads and tripods set up. I was promptly greeted by a younger guy (his name escapes me) and he demonstrated their products for me. We talked about tripods, ball heads and photography in general. He also showed me the back warehouse where they do most of their work. I was so impressed with the friendliness of the staff and the customer service, it made me finally decide to go with RRS. Service is a big deal to me. I am always willing to pay more for a product or service knowing that the people behind the scenes care about me and care about the products they sell. Kudos to RRS.

Along with my ball head, I have 2 RRS camera L-plates, and a lens plate. The ball head main knob is big and easy to find, the support is rock solid, the ball head is silky smooth, and the lever release makes it easy and fast to switch from landscape to portrait. I have had my BH-55 in the bitter cold of northern Michigan, and in the sandy desert heat of Arizona. Never had a problem with it! It's rated to support up to 50 lbs, so I shouldn't have to worry about out growing it. Besides the big locking knob, it has a drag knob you can set so you can move the camera freely and once you let go, the camera will stay in that position. This feature also keeps the camera from suddenly flopping when the main lock knob is loose. The last knob is a panning knob, just loosen it and you will be able to pan smoothly across the scene. I use the panning feature to make some simple panoramas.

I am very pleased with my ball head and I am also pleased with RRS as a company. I recommend them to anyone looking for a new camera support system. They are a bit pricey but the saying "you get what you pay for" holds true in this case. I can't even imagine my kit with out it. My work flow is that much easier and more enjoyable, that to me is worth the price of admission alone!

Highly Recommended!

Art Wolfe

Today I am going to talk about the Art Wolfe 2010 Seminar Tour: The Art of Composition. This a seminar that for the most part covers what to look for and what not to do in composition. Art covers how he got started, who inspires him, and how he looks at a photograph. Art uses examples from his photo library as well as examples of other well-known artists. He touches lightly on what equipment he uses and why, he touches on design, color, light, and much more.As he scrolls through his photo library sharing tips, showing unprocessed images, going over a series of photos to explain how he got the "final" image, you absorb information that you can't  get anywhere but from a pro first hand. Art has a magnificent body of work with many famous images that he shares with the audience. There are several images where you can just hear the audience gasp with awe. Then he explains how he got the image(technical and artistically), his thought process, why he did it a certain way, and why he didn't do it another way. This seminar is a great seminar for amateur and semipro photogs, and even the pros will be able to see into the mind of a master. The info I retained is sure to help my photography and I am sure if you attend it will also benefit yours.

Thanks again Art for sharing. Highly recommended.