Using the Toyota Prius for Travel and Photography

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Travel | Posted on 03-07-2014

It may sound like an unlikely topic, but in the business of Landscape photography, transportation is an important consideration. I’ve gone from different size trucks to this final unexpected choice. The Toyota Prius, with fold-down back seats and 50mpg has made it an extremely cost-effective and flexible car.

Even if the money were of no concern I wouldn’t fly all the time. I enjoy seeing the countryside and exploring a bit.

Based in Dallas Texas, I’ve driven the Prius all over Texas, the American Southwest, California, as well as to New Hampshire, Maine, and the Florida Keys. In this article I thought it would be fun to show the experience and some of the statistics, and maybe make a case for the benefits of a hybrid in Outdoor and Landscape Photography. Of course there is at least one downside as well, and I’ll go into that.

 

Prius1
Tucson Saguaro National Park

 

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Lightening the Load in Outdoor Photography

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Gear, Travel | Posted on 27-06-2014

Ok, I know I’m late to the party! To make a long story short I thought I could just tough it out. But, as I found out, it wasn’t necessarily possible or even worth it. I’m talking about the load of gear us Photographers take when doing Outdoor Photography. Personally, I do Landscapes, but lots of you do travel, sports, nature, or just family stuff and end up with a 25lb camera bag.

For some quick background, like many I’ve been through numerous camera bags, camera systems, and tripods. The camera system changes are extremely tricky as we are trying to find gear that meets our technical requirements, and unfortunately, most of us love the technology and get sucked into making changes for some pie-in-the-sky solution to all of our problems. I won’t go any further as I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun.

I started with Nikon 35mm stuff, ending up with all kinds of glass, from fisheye to 400mm. Many of you can relate. Not only is the bag heavy with glass and super-duper camera bodies, the tripod and ballhead to hold these things are massive and heavy.

When I finally moved to just doing Landscapes professionally, I sold everything and moved up to Medium Format Digital, specifically Phase One. I bought the 45mm, 80mm, and 150mm lenses. To put this in perspective – just the body, digital back, and those three lenses weighs in at 9 pounds. Add a laptop, camera bag, batteries, Gps, other gadgets, tripod and ballhead and you can see where this is leading. But I wasn’t done.

After a year of lugging these, the idea of traveling 1000+ miles (I’m based in Dallas) with only one camera body seemed foolish, so I invested in a Cambo technical camera with just one lens, the Schneider 35mm. (21mm equivalent) So if anything happened I had the finest wide-angle money could buy. Much slower to operate, but actually the best quality possible, especially at wide angles. Don’t misunderstand, this was no second-place camera. It’s the ultimate with a slower workflow, and I used it all the time.

The Cambo body with lens is 3 pounds, so all total my current full setup is around 30 pounds. (I know some of you are laughing at me… saying ‘Is that all?’)

 

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Close-Up shot 1       Close-Up shot 2
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Better Photography Self-training Guide

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Training | Posted on 06-03-2014

Better Photography for those of you with no time for training classes…

 

For many years I’ve had friends express an interest in learning how to take better photographs, but they are so busy juggling a career and numerous other things in their lives that they lose familiarity with their Camera. Others want to work towards going full-time in Photography. As part of a series of training booklets I have put together a guide to help do just that – Take Better Photographs!

Yes, it’s all been said before. I agree. But it hasn’t worked! I think many will find this guide more helpful than purely technical books, and it’s easy to come back to as a reference.

 

Better Photography Topics

 

Covering the basics of photography, camera settings, and creativity, the booklet is written in a fairly non-technical style with examples. Here is what it covers:

  • The Camera
  • Digital Sensor Technology
  • The Shutter
  • The Aperture
  • ISO
  • Lighting and Flash
  • Camera Settings (Auto-ISO, White Balance, RAW vs JPG, etc.)
  • Creative Photography
  • Natural Light and Camera Limitations

The booklet is available as a downloadable PDF file, and at a discount during the introduction. To purchase the guide, click on the following link, choose Add to Cart for the Better Photography Guide, and Paypal will process your credit card payment.

http://www.glorious-landscape.com/training.html

Click the PDF icon for a sample

Adobe

 

 

 

 

Creating a Camera Startup Checklist

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Gear, Workflow | Posted on 07-12-2013

You travel hundreds, or thousands of miles to a location, typically in a rush before leaving, and arrive late afternoon. You’re at a magnificent location and the lighting is perfect. You see your subject, whatever that might be, and you quickly pull out the camera and start doing the easiest thing in the world – tap the shutter button. What could possibly go wrong.

The other day I took a snapshot of my wife while testing the flash with the built-in neutral density filter on my Fuji X100s. (She’s used to it!) I took a few shots, and moved on. Some minutes later I had the chance to zoom-in to inspect these shots when I realized that my subjects were almost all out of focus. Then it dawned on me that I had left the camera in Manual-focus mode, but I was shooting as if the lens were set to auto-focus. The camera doesn’t warn me because the focusing electronics have been turned off . That’s the point of Manual.

Oops

Manual-focus mode – oops

I wanted to share my rules for solving this – might as well show it alongside my own failure. It wouldn’t be so funny on a professional gig. In this situation I didn’t use my own rules because it was a snapshot, and not critically important. But, it reminded me again how problematic this is with modern electronic and highly configurable cameras. Picking up your camera to shoot, with no idea of the state of the settings is just a roll of the dice. In this case I DID go through a basic setup, but I missed one important item. Don’t trust your memory!

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Having a Plan B when shooting Landscapes

Posted by Mark Esposito | Posted in Color, Fall, Fine Art | Posted on 21-10-2013

Over the last couple of weeks I was scheduled to photograph the fall colors in New Hampshire. The way things turned out reminded me once again how important it is to have a Plan B, or a second location to explore.

We drove from Dallas Texas to Lincoln New Hampshire in my trusty Toyota Prius – 50mpg! (More on that in another article, but 1850 miles one way at a cost of $114) That kind of a drive is a big commitment of time, and not one that I want to see wasted. On the other hand, in Landscape Photography there are no guarantees even when the best plans are made.

Ansel Adams, in his Autobiography wrote, “Fortune Magazine asked me to make a survey of Los Angeles in about 1945. They wanted pictures of the exotic indigenous architecture such as the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood. There were many such awful examples around Los Angeles, and I drove hundreds of miles in pursuit of them. I was completely frustrated by a continuous drizzle; no shaft of southern California sun ever touched the difficult scene. The deadline was in three short weeks. … Early every morning I drove out onto the wet streets, trying my best to find and capture the architectural obscenities that loomed through the drizzle; but even these objects needed sunlight.”

In his case there were no options for a Plan B, but often there are, as I found during the trip to New Hampshire. I had been monitoring the fall foliage reports on a smartphone app. Many of the states with great fall foliage have web sites dedicated to reporting their conditions for visitors. Smartphones are enormously helpful in Landscape Photography. New Hampshire has a wonder fall foliage smartphone app and webpage.

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