April 11, 2018

Cloudy, 33 Degrees, Southwest Winds 5 – 10 mph.

It’s another dull gray day this morning, and after yesterday’s beautiful snow and sunshine, it’s a little hard to take. For the hundredth time, where is spring?

The overcast is low and it’s spitting snow or sleet as we walk to the woods. I stop, as always, to shoot the road with my long lens. I carried the tripod again today, in order to get the best possible quality of image. I want it sharp enough to print at a large scale.

I don’t have much but road shots today, but boy are they nice.

After yesterday’s energy expended on photography and the beautiful pictures I got, it’s hard to be enthusiastic about a gray day with no snow and no light. I really only plan to shoot the road and take my wide angle lens down to the marsh and see what it does to the compositions down there.

Yesterday, when I was shooting the snow and the sunrise, I wished I had the wide angle with me. I haven’t used it in some time now, so I thought I’d give it a go this morning, even if the light and conditions weren’t good. A comparison with yesterday’s shots should be instructive.

Same place as yesterday, and utterly boring without the morning light and the snow.

I sure got a lesson in why I should be getting up before sunrise. The light was stunning and I got gorgeous photographs. I’ve made a promise to myself to get up at least once or twice a week when the sun is shining. I don’t need to shoot that spot a million times, but I do want a record of how it changes through the year.

Unfortunately, I can’t get into Island Lake Park until 8:00 am. That’s too late for the sunrise this time of year, and most times of year. The drive out there makes it difficult to hit sunrise as well.

I’m also thinking more about trying evening at the woods or in the park. I don’t think the sun setting in the West will work all that well from my relatively scenic spots in the woods—they face East. But the road might look good in evening light, so it’s worth a try. The park is another option.

Small changes in composition really change these road pictures. You’d have to look at them side by side to get the effect.

I don’t know why I’m so lazy, but I never want to get up early, and I don’t want to go out in the evening either. Probably, it’s because I’m shooting every single morning and editing and writing to boot.

So, after yesterday’s activity, not a very ambitious walk today, but that’s okay. I did notice that I found the walk more strenuous with the tripod and the two lenses in my pack. You wouldn’t think eight or ten pounds of weight would make much difference, but it seems to.

Right now the pendulum of weight versus quality is swinging back in the direction of quality, but I have to say I don’t like carrying all the weight and messing with the tripod and lenses in the snow. It’s a completely different experience from carrying just a camera and lens on a shoulder strap, as I usually do. Never mind carrying the NEX-7, which is like carrying nothing.

Another slightly different angle.

Not only is the weight significant, but the entire shooting experience is different. You don’t feel like exploring little things by the side of the trail when you’re carrying the tripod. Too much trouble to set up and shoot some little thing that may amount to nothing.

With a camera on a strap, you feel free to explore anything you come across. But of course, you’re sacrificing ultimate quality because there’s rarely enough light to hand hold a shot at low ISOs and reasonable shutter speeds. I’m always shooting at 400 or 800 ISO and I can see the grain when I zoom in on my images. I can also see the subtle blur from hand holding. That’s what got me carrying the tripod again. Blur.

Small changes in viewpoint and framing make a significant difference. I’ve shot this road almost every day for 70 days now and I am still not tired of it. 

By the way, I don’t use the strap that comes with the camera. The stock straps keeps the camera on your chest, where it bounces around, and swings forward every time you bend over. It’s very conspicuous as well, which I don’t like. I don’t need to announce that I’m a photographer.

I use a shoulder strap that goes over one shoulder and connects to the camera with a swivel screwed into the tripod mount. I adjust the camera to sit on my right hip, close to my right hand, where I can grab the grip easily. I push it slightly behind my hip to keep it out of the way when I’m walking. It’s inconspicuous, convenient, and stays out of the way when you’re moving around. If you haven’t tried one, you should. You’ll love it.

We have warm weather predicted for later this week, but there will be more cold beyond that. I keep dreaming of shooting young green leaves on warm, sunny mornings and evenings. It remains a dream for a while longer.

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