Yellowstone National Park Adventure

It was my first adventure since a child to Yellowstone National Park, and I set forth to see if it was as I remembered. This time with my family and camera in tow searching for a shot worth a frame.

If you are a landscape or nature photographer then Yellowstone delivers. The United States first National Park, Yellowstone is full of spectacular vistas, amazing geology, historic architecture and an abundance of nature within arms (or at least cameras) reach.  

The following Gallery is a sampling of the over 3000 pictures my family took on our adventure. Watch for further posts on this photographic experience. 

 

Yellowstone National Park

 

Geared Up

Photography is not a cheap hobby. Most of us start with hopes of having the best of the best gear and capturing only the highest quality images. For me I started with many a second hand lens including Minolta standards and Sony affordable (including kit) lenses. The time has come for me to upgrade my glass and put aside my current ensemble.

The Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD which was not suited for the full-frame A900 will be moved to my Sony a330, the others put aside for another day or passed down to the next hopeful photographer.

After weighing all the options I had available for the Sony A900, I have chosen the following lenses for my kit.

  • Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss T* Standard Zoom Lens
  • Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Telephoto Zoom Lens

This professional glass combo will cover off a majority of the subject matter I will be shooting (portrait, landscape, nature, urban, etc.), I will be posting my field results on these lenses going forward, starting with my upcoming trip to Yellowstone.

Indoor Projects - How to beat the rain

Shooting outside in the rain can generate some great images, but what if you're not up for jumping over puddles, capturing reflections and wiping rain off your lens? Here are a few ideas you can execute from your studio or living room.  

Keeping it simple

If you're working with the basics (a body and a lens or two) you can probably take this opportunity to fine tune your portrait skills. This is when having kids or a family pet starts paying dividends. It's your right as a parent to torture your kids in support of your hobbies.

To keep yourself sane focus on a couple simple ideas: 

Ol' Abner was my depth of field subject for the day. This image was captured with a 135mm prime @ f/2

  • Natural light - Place your subject next to a window and work that beautiful (and likely diffused thanks to the rain clouds) light. Adjust your white balance to see how it impacts your shots. You can always do this in post if you're shooting raw but there's something satisfying about capturing your vision in the camera.
  • Test the limits of your lenses - Try out different apertures settings and compare the results on your computer. This may seem like an mind-numbing exercise but knowing your lens and its limitations can be invaluable when you're back out in the real world. Explore the bokeh and sharpness at various apertures and focal lengths. To keep the results consistent you may want to consider using a tripod. This exercise can also reveal any back or front auto focusing issues your lens may be having.

Controlling the light

If you've invested in a flash you can push your projects even further. The following ideas can be executed with a few lighting accessories and props.

  •  The "selfie" - if you have any interest in portrait photography you've likely taken some self portraits to test various lighting setups. These are essential (and often humbling) projects that help you explore the characteristics of light using different shaping and diffusing tools.

    If you're new to this you'll likely need a few items. In specific a light stand (to get that flash off camera!) a tripod for your camera seeing as you'll be in front of it, and a modifier of choice. Depending on your camera body and system you may need a mechanism to trigger the lights. In my case I don't have a built-in flash to use as a commander, so I've invested in a Phottix Odin wireless remote system.

    In this example I wanted to explore my reflection in a mirror and capture the image from behind, all while keeping the camera hidden. I used a Sony HVL-F60M with a LumiQuest Promax Softbox III.

f/9 @ 1/250 - ISO 200 - 40mm focal length - I was standing about 6 inches from the mirror in this shot.

  • Get abstract  - I had wanted to explore water photography for awhile when this idea came to me. Initially I wanted to capture objects falling into water (fruit, beads, etc) but I opted for a darker, more controlled experiment instead - ink and water. Using just one flash on a stand, a set of small vases and fish bowls and a set of coloured acrylic inks I captured the following images. You can try various exposures and lighting placements to get your preferred look. I've shared the details of my examples below.

f/5 @ 1/160 - ISO 400 - 45mm focal length
Flash was fired from above at the water line.

Virtually the same specs as the first image.
The flash was fired from above at the water line but the image was flipped in post.

At the end of the day the goal is simple - keep shooting and learning from your experiences. You never know what you'll produce when you're trapped in your house.