Autumn Arrives

By Roger (5 November 2017)

Autumn has arrived, with all its color and cooler temperatures. I hope you're getting out there and exercising your shutter finger. Although you can't tell from the blog, I've been out there every weekend.

Bacon Hollow Overlook, Shenandoah National Park

I had plans for this weekend, but the weather was rainy, so I called an audible and stopped by the Nature Visions Photo Expo (link). It's held locally, in Manassas, so I was able to make a last minute decision to drop in. Matt Kloskowski was the keynote speaker. He was one of the original Photoshop Guys, and I've been lucky enough to join a couple of photo trips with Matt. He's a great instructor and all-around nice guy. His current blog is here.

Although this conference is much smaller than many, I always enjoy meeting with some of my local photo buddies. There is no cost to walk through, and the photos on display, from half a dozen local photo clubs, are always a pleasure to browse through. I talked to several vendors about a new camera but managed to escape with my wallet intact.

This is also the conference in which the Raptor Conservancy brings several of their rescued raptors for display. You have the chance to photograph them, very close, for a small contribution. The birds are placed on a tree branch, with a small stand of trees behind them, giving them a more natural look.

From an earlier raptor shoot, at Nature Visions Photo Expo

We don't talk much about gear on this blog, but while I was there, I spent some time with Paul English, from Photo Gear Designs (link). They have a special tool for my bird photography friends, the External Sight Mount (ESM-1) Tracker. It is an inexpensive tool that fits into the camera's hot shoe and is used for tracking fast-moving subjects, like flying birds, when you have a long telephoto lens mounted. When you calibrate the ESM-1 to your lens, you can track the subject using the reticle, instead of the viewfinder. I tried their demonstration set-up and found it highly effective. Although I am not a bird photographer, I could immediately see the value for this sight for some other hard to track subjects, like racing. If you buy one, tell them, “Roger sent me.”

The ESM-1

Last weekend, we had better weather, so I made the short trip to Skyline Drive, in the Shenandoah National Park. My goal was to get some fall color, with a gorgeous sunrise. The park is only 50 miles from our current house, but I hadn't been on Skyline Drive since I was a teenager. (My only excuse – albeit a weak one – is that I prefer to photograph people over things.) The color was a little muted because of the dry conditions, and the sunrise was a bust. It happens.

At the Loft Mountain Overlook, just a little after sunrise, I found this tree being lit by the warm early light, just as the sun was clearing the mountains on it's way into a clear sky. You can see the effect of the warm sunrise light on the on foliage. This lovely light is why landscape photographers are always up for sunrise; you get a similar light at sunset. The quality of the light can have a major impact on your final image.

Loft Mountain Overlook

Loft Mountain Overlook

With the sun being too high in the sky for great light, I took the trail to Dark Hollows Falls to try some long exposure water shots. The waterfall was pretty disappointing because of the dry conditions; it'll look much nicer in the spring with more water rushing down. There was, however, a bonus for those with a fitness tracker. According to mine, there were 39 flights of steps back up to my vehicle, along the rough trail. So, there's that.

Step carefully on this trail

In a significantly less exerting event, Mark and I led our eighth Worldwide Photowalk, in Manassas. We had a group of two dozen photographers ambling through the Old Town Manassas area. Our animated group walked through the farmer's market and Old Town Jubilee along our route. Many of us met for a post-walk lunch at CJ Finz, near our start point. The weather was almost as pleasant as the company. Thanks to all who attended.

Our 2017 Worldwide Photowalk group

There are so many new things to discuss as the photography world continues to evolve. The new Photoshop and Lightroom have created some interesting new capabilities and have generated lots of heated discussions. The other photo post-processing companies haven't taken a break, either. These and other topics will have to wait for another blog.