Friday, April 29, 2011

Comb Ridge Utah



Facing the ridge from the west you'll quickly see how it got its name - at least that's what Don has thought since first seeing it May 2004.

Comb Ridge is an immense sandstone formation tilted at an angle of about 20 degrees and just about 80 miles (128 km) long running north - south. Comb Wash and Butler Wash roads run on either side of the ridge and while we use the term "road" you need to remember you're out in the boonies.

Comb Ridge
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (24mm) f/8 1/125 ISO 100


Working along Comb Ridge
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (42mm) f/8 1/125 ISO 100


Comb Wash Road is on the west side connecting Routes 163 and 95 and is approximately 20 miles long. The road can be very sandy in spots, rocky, rutted in others and in some places all the above. We feel the best way to travel Comb Wash Road is in a high-clearance 4x4; if it's raining or just stopped raining you'll also need to consider mud - lots and lots of mud.  This is one of those places we're glad to have both the high clearance and 4x4 as you'll need the high clearance for most of the road you'll also might need that 4x4 as well. 

Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (48mm) f/8 1/200 ISO100
 
Leica M9
Summicron 50mm f/9.5 1/500 ISO 160
 
Remember you'll be in an area that has no water, no facilities and generally difficult access with not many people. What you will find is spectacular scenery which as landscape photographers just the place we like to be in.  

Off Snow Flats Road
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (45mm) f/8 1/250 ISO 100

As previously reported, we traded our Jeep Rubicon in for a 2011 Ford F150 Raptor and wanted to take it out and see what it could do in rough country, thus the main purpose of the trip.  We have been going through the small town of Bluff Utah since 2004 passing the Desert Rose Inn on our way to Moab.  Every time we passed the Desert Rose we kept saying we'd like to stay there; so in planning this quick getaway we decided to make reservations and very pleased we did. 

2011 Ford F150 Raptor
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (51mm) f/8 1/200 ISO 100


Looking over the shoulder
Leica M9
Summicron 50mm f/9.5 1/500 ISO 160

We left Tucson early Tuesday morning driving a scenic route north on Route 191 which took us passed the Hubbell Trading Post, through Chinle AZ and into Bluff UT all told approximately 420 miles.   We arrived late afternoon with plenty of time to explore Comb Ridge prior to sunset. 

This was Sandy's first time at Comb Ridge and we turned onto Comb Wash Road heading north off Route 163. Off the pavement and onto the red dirt that's found throughout this area. Comb Wash Road splits to the right and stays close to the base of the ridge while Snow Flats Road turns left and runs in a northwestern direction. We drove north crossing areas where water runs across the road in the wet season, driving down 3 to 4% grades on dirt, dusty road before coming around a corner and beginning the climb upwards. We drove past areas where tumble weeds were piled so high along the road we thought they were taller than the truck. We saw no-one on the road during the entire drive north to Route 95.
  
Tumble Weeds
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (24mm) f/8 1/200 ISO 100
The other side of the road
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (24mm) f/8 1/200 ISO 100

We still had a couple hours before sunset and neither of us had ever seen the eastern side of the ridge we decided to take Butler Wash Road south back towards Bluff. While we found the scenery not as appealing as the western side it does offer it's own unique scenery. The road is slightly better than Comb Wash Road and for the most part felt a non 4x4 could be safe here but as always you need to be careful.

We arrived in Bluff around 8 P.M. checked into the Desert Rose and got a good night's rest before heading out the following morning. The following morning we headed into the Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley for lunch at Goulding's Lodge & Trading Post before retuning to the west side of Comb Ridge where we spent the majority of the time. Returning to Comb Wash Road we decided to explore Snow Flats Road taking it to within 7-miles of Route 261 before turning around and going back to Comb Wash Road.
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (68mm) f/8 1/400 ISO 100
The area where we shot the pictographs that we shared in the previous post.
Sandy working
Leica M9
Summicon 50mm f/11 1/250 ISO 320
This is what Sandy was capturing
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (24mm) f/8 1/80 ISO 500
 
Don will be returning to the area in June for a couple of days and of course will be staying at the Desert Rose before heading west to Page and meeting with Ken Doo to shoot slot canyons in the area.
Our next post will be on Valley of the Gods which is right down the road so stay tuned.
Once again thank you for visiting and please remember your comments and questions are always welcome.


Sandy & Don

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Low Light Shooting Canon 1DsIII & Leica M9

Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (58mm) f/8 1/80 ISO 640
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I


The images posted here are samples of the work Sandy & I were able to accomplish while in the Comb Ridge area of Bluff Utah last week.  I hadn't intended to post a blog on this however while selecting and processing images for a Comb Ridge Blog this morning I decided to show what these two cameras can do in low light, shadows, slow shutter speeds, high ISO, and hand-held.

Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (28mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 500
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate II

Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (38mm) f/8 1/80 ISO 640
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I

Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (43mm) f/8 1/80 ISO 640
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I


I've been fascinated with the Comb Ridge area since 2004 when I camped out there and at Valley of the Gods and this has been the first time I've been able to revisit since.  I had seen several examples of petroglyphs on my first visit and wanted to revisit them on this.  There's a road (of sorts) on either side of the ridge connecting Route 163 and 95.  The images on this post were all taken on the west side, Comb Ridge Road.  We'll discuss this area later in another entry.
 

Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (59mm) f/8 1/80 ISO 640
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I

The images have all be processed using a combination of Photoshop CS5 and Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.
 
Canon 1DsIII
EF 24-70 (24mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 800
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I

The area where we found this rock art is small (small enough that we had to take turns shooting) and mostly in shadows thus the need for high ISO. I'll be returning here in June and have hopes of capturing this with the Cambo WRS/P45+ on that time it'll be on tripod...

Leica M9
Summicron 50mm f/13 1/60 ISO 100
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I

Leica M9

Summicron 50mm f/11 1/60 ISO 1000
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I

Leica M9
Summicron 50mm f/11 1/125 ISO 1000
Nik Silver Efex Pro Antique Plate I


I came away from this mornings processing very pleased with what the 1DsIII and M9 can do in a relatively low light environment, especially handheld.  Also the more I use Silver Efex Pro the more I like what it does to our images.  The majority of these images also have been treated with the High Pass filter to add a certain amount of sharpening.


The next entry will show the beautiful landscape of the area as well as include a video or two so please stay tuned.

Once again I'd like to thank you for visiting and please remember your comments and questions are always welcome.


Don

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Fun Post...

 Canon 1DsIII
EF135mm f/8 1/320 ISO 50

So, what do you do while you wait for the glass company to come and replace your windshield?  If you're like me you sit at the computer and play with images.

Canon 1DsIII
EF24-70 (54mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 160

All the images included in this post are from our recent trip to Bluff Utah. We stopped at the Hubbell Trading Post located in Ganado AZ for a brief rest and to visit. The Hubbell Trading Post is a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service and remains in operation. If you're in the area heading on Route 191 you really need to stop here to get a sense of history of the area.

Leica M9
Elmarit 24mm f/4 1/8 ISO 320

Leica M9
Elmarit 24mm f/4 1/8 ISO 320

I wanted to try a few things differently with the images from Hubbell and allowed my imagination to run wild.  All the images were processed in Photoshop CS5 and a combination of Nik Silver EFEX Pro and HDR Efex Pro (or both).  The images were taken either with the Canon 1DsIII or Leica M9.


Leica M9
Elmarit 24mm f/3.4 1/15 ISO 250 

Leica M9
Elmarit 24mm f/11 1/180 ISO 320

The windshield is being replaced and I've finished playing. Our next post will be on the Comb Ridge area of Bluff Utah which will also include videos from our truck cam so stay tuned.

Thanks as always for visiting and please remember your comments and questions are always welcome.







Don

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Using a Cambo WRS Medium Format Technical Camera



I've written briefly about the RF75 a couple months ago and wanted to add a few comments after more usage. Lee designed the RF75 for use on rangefinder cameras which by their nature are small compact bodies using equally small compact lenses. Shortly after reading about this system I decided to try it on my Cambo WRS1000 technical camera thinking that while the lenses are larger than my Leica M9 the filter threads are very close to one another.

The RF75 filter system consists of 2-basic parts; the adapter ring which attaches directly to the lens using the filter threads and the filter holder which attaches to the adaptor ring and is held in place with a spring loaded plunger. The adaptor rings range in sizes from 39-67mm. The filter holder can be adapted to hold one or two 75x90mm filters along with an optional clip-on polarizing filter. I found I needed adaptor rings of 39, 46, 49 and 55mm to fit my Leica lenses however I a smaller ring for my Medium Format Schneider 72 and 120mm lenses and now use 2-step rings (40.5-52 and 52-55) which are then connected to the 55mm ring.

My Cambo lens kit consist of three, 35mm Schneider which has a center filter attached, as well as Schneider 72 and 120mm. I've used the Lee RF75 with great success on the 72 and 120mm lenses using the step-rings and found I get no vignetting.

Valley of the Gods
120mm, processed using Capture One Pro & CS5

Along Comb Ridge
35mm, processed entirely in Capture One Pro

Along Comb Ridge
35mm, processed using Capture One Pro and CS5

Post Processing:

I use a Phase One P45+ digital back to capture the images with the WRS. A technical camera allows the photographer to use movements thus making better use of the lens circle. While the lens itself remain stationary the back moves around the lens, left to right and up and down; these movements allow for multiple image captures with very little image distortion. The down-side is that the movement of the back on the rear of the lens can introduce color shifts however these can be easily fixed.

Valley of the Gods
120mm, 3-image panorama processed in Capture One Pro & CS5



This is the same image and shows the joy of digital capture. I enjoy the simple look of some landscape images in black and white and can experiment with the image. This is the same color image above it however I took the file and using Nik Silver Efex Pro turned it into a black and white rendering using Agfa APX Pro 100 film look. I feel both images look good and each it's own special appeal.

While it's slightly more involved, my normal workflow in processing a medium format image is first opening Phase One's Capture One Pro 6, a program made specifically for Phase One digital backs.  Capture One "fixes" the color shift and also allows for a multitude of other processing.  Another processing tool I normally use is Adobe Photoshop CS5 where I can stitch multiple images together into one large panoramic image.

Valley of the Gods
120mm, 3-image panorama processed in Capture One & CS5

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you're still left with a bad image.



This is the result of 5-images shot in portrait mode, using the 120mm lens with the RF75 filter system attached (I used .9 and .6 neutral density filters to get a more dramatic sky).  I was so intent on the placement of the filters that I completely forgot to double check the focus of the lens thus the image is ever so slightly out of focus.

The next entry addresses Bluff UT, Comb Ridge and Valley of the Gods in more detail along with images from Sandy's Canon 1DsIII and my Leica M9. We'll also be including at least one video taken from our new Ford Raptor showing the beauty of the area we drove through.

Stay tuned...

Don

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Death Valley Part II (35mm and Medium Format) - corrected

edit: It has been brought to our attention that the blog as intended was cut short due to some unknown forces.  We've added the missing section to the end and changed the title to reflect this corrected version.


Father Crowley Point PanoCanon 1DsIII EF24-70 (70mm) f/8 1/250 ISO 100

Father Crowley Point Cambo WRS1000/Phase One P45+ Schneider 72mm 


While Part I consisted solely of images taken with the Leica M9 this part will have mostly Canon 1DsIII along with a couple sample images from the Cambo WRS1000/P45+ technical camera.

Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (43mm) f/5 1/500 ISO 100

We got into the area late afternoon on a Friday and were greeted with high winds and beautify skies. We made Father Crowley Point our first stop and were greeted with what is now a paved parking area; this spot had always been unpaved in the past and this was somewhat of a surprise.  The unpaved, primitive road was still there that leads out to the furthest point overlooking Death Valley.  We made our way out there and found the wind was gusting over 30 MPH which made setting up a tripod tricky - walking and standing upright was an exercise in itself!
We found this old truck a couple mile from Death Valley and thought it cool.
Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (70mm) f/8 1/250 ISO 200

Winter comes to Teakettle Junction and The Racetrack...

video


video

Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (70mm) f/6.3 1/200 ISO100

 Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (24mm) f/8 1/200 ISO100
Can you spot our teakettle?
Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (38mm) f/8 1/200 ISO 100
 
Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (57mm) f/8 1/200 ISO 100

Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (62mm) f/8 1/200 ISO 100

Cambo WRS P45+ Schneider 24mm

History of Stovepipe Wells


Mosaic Canyon

Canon 1DsIII EF17-40 (17mm) f/5 1/125 ISO 200

Canon 1DsIII EF17-40 (17mm) f/5 1/125 ISO 200

Canon 1DsIII EF17-40 (40mm) f/5.6 1/125 ISO 200

Golden Canyon
Canon 1DsIII EF17-40 (40mm) f/8 1/125 ISO 50
Devil's Golf Course

Canon 1DsIII EF 24-70 (62mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 50

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Canon 1DsIII EF135mm f/8 1/100 ISO 50

Don working..

Canon 1DsIII EF135mm f/8 1/250 ISO 50

And this is what he was working on..

 Cambo WRS/P45+ Schneider 72mm f/8 1/250 ISO 50

"Joshua Tree"
Canon 1DsIII EF24-70 (70mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 50

This should give a perspective of just how low Death Valley is.  We parked at Badwater and when we returned to the jeep we saw the (very small) sign almost directly above the jeep.  We've enlarged the sign so it can be seen easier "Sea Level".  We had been parked, and walked several hundred feet below sea level.



We enjoyed our all too brief visit to Death Valley so much we've already made plans for a longer visit next spring. This also marks our last trip in the jeep; our future trips will be in a 2011 Ford F150 Raptor (a truck that jeep wishes it could make).

Thank you as always for visiting and please remember your comments and questions are always welcome.


Sandy & Don