Friday, January 30, 2009

Goodbye to the Redwoods

This is my fifth and final day in the Redwoods in some ways I’m sorry to leave. Everyday I went into the woods I came out with a lot of good images. Every time I walked the trails I continuously was amazed at the utter beauty of this area. I kept a running joke with myself about turning a corner and coming face to face with a animal long extinct or some human in bearskin carrying a club; what I did find on my last day borders on the strange, at least to me. I found a tree that was growing across the trail I was on with roots at both ends and shoots that were growing upwards. I also found a tree that had taken root on top of an older fallen tree.

I’m sorry to leave but I figure I’ll be back. I would also like to encourage those who have not done so to visit this beautiful place, you won’t be sorry.

I head home in the morning stopping twice but should be home on Monday; Tuesday is when the real work begins loading all the images onto the studio computer then shifting and sorting through to find the ones I want to print. We’ve decided to add a new gallery to our website that will contain recent or current work; the work will stay in this gallery for a couple months then either be moved to the appropriate gallery or removed all together so please visit the website.

I’d like to thank Michael Reichmann owner of The Luminous Landscape whose visit to the Redwoods and subsequent video (Volume 4 Issue 16) prompted this trip.

Thanks for taking the time to visit and view the images.


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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Surf and Turf

I am awed at the lushness of the forest with the colors and dense trees. The trees are so thick in places that even while it’s a sunny day you find yourself in deep dark shadows where the temperature borders between chilly and down right cold. I’ve found that a good sturdy tripod is a necessity as most of my exposures are either ½ second to 1 full second. Any time I shot faster than ½ second I thought I was a speed demon!

I want to put a plug here for a great place to eat called “She-She’s Caf├ę” on Highway 199 in Gasquet. This place has been here “forever” and the current owner (who’s nickname is She-She) has owned and operated the place for the past 24 years. If you get hungry like I did today and want a good old fashion messy hamburger then this is the place. I had spent the morning in the woods and had built up an appetite by the time I drove past and saw the open sign. I decided to stop and I’m glad I did great food! Of course I went right back into the woods to work my lunch off.
The final image is sunset from today at Harris Beach State Park; decided to return there to see the sunset.

Hope you’ve enjoy the images.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A day at the beach

Woke up to rain and cold, perfect conditions to do some beach shots. I head out looking for the perfect beach to set up at needing only a few conditions, rocks, surf, and water. Sunrise was around 730 this morning and I was on the road by 630 while it was still pitch black outside. I had been going up and down the coast to the south so I figured to head north maybe go into Oregon which is only 20 miles away. I got into the small city of Brookings OR just as the sky was lighting up and saw the surf and rocks so made a fast left turn into “Harris Beach State Park”. I parked at the southern end overlooking the part of the beach that caught my attention so I decided to stay there.

As many of you know by now I’ve switch my primary photography kit to a Cambo RS1000 which is a technical camera; while it’s a great setup for landscape and such I felt I had to rely on my Phase One AFD 645 III camera body with a choice of two really great lens, 28mm and 75-150 both of which were made specifically for digital medium format. So lugging my tripod, camera and an extra lens (not counting extra batteries) I started off to do battle with the wind, surf, and rocks. But first I had to walk down a trail which at best estimate was close to ¼ mile (going down wasn’t the problem, that ¼ mile trail turned into a 1 mile trail going back up!).

I got to the beach just as the sun was coming up and had about an hour of perfect lighting conditions.

This may seem backwards however the final image was sunset last night taken from the balcony of my room in Crescent City.

I hope you enjoy the images. I’m going back to the Redwoods tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting..


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More from the Redwoods

This entire area is made up of many different parks, both National and State and most deal with the Redwoods. I decided that I’d try my luck a little further south in an area that I had past through Sunday on my way to Crescent City. The original destination was “Lady Bird Johnson Grove” and do the 1 mile loop; while I did end up there the getting there was much more fun. I had also past a sign on Sunday which gives drives a scenic diversion from the 101 which itself is very scenic; I figured if they’re advertising this stretch as being more scenic I’d have to go, the problem was that I couldn’t remember where I saw the sign.

The scenic drive happened to be on my way to Lady Bird so I decided to take it. For those of you who are keeping track, the drive is along the “Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway” and you really don’t want to miss it. Is it better than “Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park”? It’s not better nor is it worse; it offers a different scenic landscape one which I spent the majority of my day in.

For those who might not know, a mature redwood tree is huge, we’re talking a trunk which is measured in yards not feet (I’ve attached an image showing a comparison between my Ford Edge 4 door parked next to one of these and that wasn’t the largest); anyway as I was driving on the parkway I came to a wayside called “Big Tree Wayside”. Now I figured that the folks naming this stuff either ran out of the cool names or they where just having some fun so I decided to stop and see. Turns out that yes there were some big trees as well as an extensive walking/hiking trail which I took. Several hours and many miles (and several images) later I arrived at the Elk Prairie Visitor Center and Park Headquarters where I rested up for the 1.5 mile walk back to the car (I actually had the choice of walking on the road which would have been slightly more than ½ mile).

After finding the car and collapsing in the drivers seat I continued to Lady Bird. I’m not going to write much about Lady Bird as frankly I didn’t like it; guess I’ve gotten too spoiled by what I’ve seen so far.

Again for those who are keeping track; I plan on returning to Jedediah as well as Big Tree but first I’m driving up the coast tomorrow into Oregon.

Hope you enjoy the images.

I want to add a side note here. I was asked several months ago to submit a couple images to Phase One (they made one of my cameras as well as the digital back I use). I woke this morning to see that Phase One has me listed on their website as “Photographer of the Week”. Needless to say I’m very honored and pleased with this. If you’re interested in seeing some of the landscape images go to PhaseOne.

Thank you for visiting


Please click on “comments” should you like to leave a message.

This posted has been edited to correct some stupid typos!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jedediah Smith Redwoods

Started today with a visit to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park which if you’re in the area is a must; Stout Grove in particular. Stout Grove is home to a stand of uncut Redwoods and also the place where Jurassic Park was filmed; I half expected to meet some creature coming around the corner. I kept hearing creaking noises which I can only figure were coming from the trees as they moved (I’m sure it wasn’t my knees).

Only spent a couple hours in the park and have decided to return later this week. I did go to the coast in hopes of doing some landscape shots and stayed for sunset. The coastal images are from Wilson Creek area as well as the Klamath River Overlook.

More Redwoods tomorrow; hope you enjoy the images.


CA1 Coastal Highway

Before I left San Rafael I had 2 choices for my route to Crescent City, short faster up the 101 or slightly longer and (I thought) slightly slower by going up the 1 then turning onto the 101 at the end. I use a GPS whenever I travel and let it do the routing for me as I’ve found that way is pretty much going to be much more accurate; the first choice showed a travel time of around 6 hours with the second slightly longer but in any case less than 7 hours. Bottom line is that I took a 6 hour drive and turned it into a 10 hour drive; and no I really didn’t intend to do that. But in any case I was very glad I did what I did.

Driving up CA-1 is something you really need to do at least once. CA-1 hugs the coast lines for miles and can be slow going so if you are in a big hurry you may want to think twice. By taking the route I was able to pass though the many small villages that dot the coastline as well as see some beautiful coastal vistas and from a landscape photographer’s perspective it is not to be missed. I saw a combination of miles upon miles of the Pacific Ocean coastline as well as tree shrouded roads much like Big Sur to the south, only longer and in some cases better. The only thing I didn’t do is stop and take any images of the trees however I won’t dwell on my error.

Here’s a couple images I took along the coast coming up here yesterday, they were taken with either our Canon G-9 or medium format Phase One 645, enjoy!

These were taken just a little further up the coast

I’m head into the Redwood National Park today and will post more later.


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

San Rafael CA

Looking at the images from yesterday I can truly say that they will get better, maybe not by much until I get to the Redwoods tomorrow but they should be a little bit better today.

Today I left Barstow headed north with the ultimate destination of the Embassy Suites in San Rafael. Getting here was fun as once I got north of Bakersfield I was in an area I had not traveled in before; actually the furthest north I’ve been in California has been Carmel and Monterrey (I’m not counting the times I traveled through SFO airport) so this is all new to me.

Traveling north on CA58 takes you through Tehachapi and what’s neat about that is the windmills dotting the hillside along the way.

Not sure how many will catch this reference but I’ll give it a try anyway. Still on the 58 just a couple miles past all the windmills is a place on the right side of the road (East?) that I’ve seen before as we driven this same route going to the Sequoia’s as well as Carmel. This time I had our little point-n-shoot ready. While I’m not sure what purpose it serves it nevertheless reminds me of a structure right out of Mad Max. Go figure…

The cloud coverage was much like driving underneath a layer of cotton. Guess you had to be there …

I finally reach the 5 after I got north of Bakersfield then on to the 580 into San Francisco where the drivers are nuts! I had thought I’d go over the Bay Bridge just to say I did however when I got to the turn off the traffic was stopped for what looked like miles and this is mid-afternoon on a Saturday. I decided to follow my GPS and head right into San Rafael crossing a double decker bridge (at least that was my impression) to arrive safely at the hotel in San Rafael.

What’s next? I leave here in the morning and plan on hugging the coast as much as I can on my way to Crescent City where I hang my hat till next weekend; plenty of time for landscapes in the Redwoods as well as along the coast.

Thanks for letting me share.

by the way - I've decided not to post any more updates till I can share either coastal or redwood images - maybe Tuesday at the latest.

Friday, January 23, 2009

On The Road Again

We’re on the road again, this time to Crescent City California to visit the Redwood National and State Parks. Actually Don is on the road while Sandy stays home in Tucson in order to finally go to the Tucson Gem Show, something she’s wanted to do now for several years.

This trip started on Friday January 23rd however I won’t be in Northern California till Sunday. I’m staying overnight in Barstow on Friday then on to San Rafael which is just a little north of San Francisco. As it’s only a 6 hour drive (according to the GPS) I hope to get in early enough to do at least a little sightseeing before checking into the hotel. Sunday will see be driving north to Crescent City where I’ll be staying for the next week.

The goal of this trip is to spend quality time in and around the redwoods in hopes to capturing them in all their glory. The secondary goal is to do several days doing coastal shoots around sunset and hopeful with at least one storm. The landscape images of the redwoods will be taken primarily with my Cambo RS 1000 while the coastal images with the Phase One 645 AFD III.

I plan to share a couple images each day to let you see what it looks like and of course attempt to write about the experience as well. I may not write everyday but I do hope to do at least 3 entries while I’m there.

So, there you have it, you now know what Iron Creek Photography is up to.

I hope you enjoy the future entries.


I do promise the photos will get better!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Phase One & Cambo RS 1000

Moving Platforms

I had a conversation with Chris Lawery while on the way home from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon recently; part of the conversation centered on my thoughts and feelings of Cambos newest technical camera, the RS 1000.

I’ve recently made a move from what was my primary camera kit, Phase One AFD III and P30+ to a technical camera. I was able to test the RS this past October while at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the test, as short as it was sold me on the camera. Coming back home to Tucson I returned the test camera to Capture Integration and immediately ordered one along with a 35mm lens.

I’ve had my RS now for just shy of 90 days and while it’s a short time I will state that I believe it to be one of the best landscape kits I’ve ever had the pleasure to either own or use.

It’s the end of December now and as I’ve already said above, I’ve used the RS1000 on two different trips, both to the Grand Canyon and on numerous occasions around Tucson. The next major trip for me is at the end of January 2009 when I travel to Crescent City CA to photograph the giant redwoods and do some coastal imagery as well. I plan on using the RS in the redwoods and probably switch to the Phase One AFD III for the coastal shots.

In moving to the Cambo RS1000 I also had to make a move from the digital back I had previously used, a Phase One P30+. The P30+ had served me well during the time I had it allowing me to capture stunning landscapes throughout the Southwest as well as our recent trip to Alaska however it just wasn’t suited to be mated to a technical camera. I had originally looked at and almost brought a Phase One P45 when I was researching my first digital back but for whatever the reason had decided to purchase the P30+, a move I never looked back on nor regretted. Now with making the move to a technical camera I knew from my research I would be faced with either keeping the P30+ and buying another digital back – a move that just wasn’t financially smart or using the P30+ as a trade-up for the P45+ which I did. Speaking of digital backs, yes the P65 looks great and yes I’d take one in a heart beat if given one (okay there’s a big hint Phase One) however there’s that financial thing again.

One last comment about the Phase One P30+ back as I don’t want to give the impression that it failed me in any way. This back allowed me to produce a 2-shot image later merged into one panorama at 30x60 which is stunningly clear in ever aspect. The image is so well regarded that it only hung on display at our gallery for one week before it sold. And yes I see the same level of detail in the images taken with the P45+. So here’s the end of this part – if anyone is thinking of buying a P30 or P45 my suggestion and recommendation is do it! And to be completely honest and aboveboard you need to contact Capture Integration and no I don’t work for them nor do I own any stock in the company.

It's All About the Nodal Point

There’s been a heck of a lot written about the Cambo Company and just about all of it is very good. Cambo has a body, the WDS that has been around for quite awhile. The WDS allows one to shoot both digitally or with film. While in the early stages of my research I had contemplated the WDS and in fact was on the verge of ordering one. The WDS has one drawback that affects my workflow; I like taking multiple images then using Photoshop CS4 to produce large, in your face panoramas. It’s all about movements and the lens nodal point in producing the type of an image I take and that was the Achilles heel of the WDS - the movements. While the WDS offers movements it does it at a sacrifice of moving the lens. The back of the WDS offers left and right movements while the rise and fall are on the lens itself thus introducing the possibility of error. This still would be a better solution to what I have been using with my Phase One 645; I normally use a Really Right Stuff Ultimate-Pro Omni-Pivot Panorama kit to accomplish this. Please don’t take this the wrong way as RRS makes some incredibly great photographic gear (just look at my bank account). I’ve used the Omni-Pivot to capture great images with both my 35mm and medium format however it can’t compete to what a good technical camera offers.

Cambo made a decision to design a camera body similar to the WDS but to make it strictly for digital. What they came up with was the Cambo RS 1000, a body that has a smaller footprint than the WDS with all the movements at the rear.

Here’s an exercise anyone can do who isn’t clear on the concept; take your left hand and make a circle with your fingers; that’s the lens. Now with your right hand held open place it next to your left hand and move only your right hand. If you did it the way I hope you did that demonstrates the digital back (your right hand) making all the movements (left, right, up and down) while the lens (your left hand) stayed in one place. You wind up using what is called the lens circle to its fullest while keeping the lens stationary; achieving a rock solid nodal point on your lens eliminating distortion of your images.

Multiple images taken with the Cambo RS 1000 then later processed into one panorama gives you a workable image file that is well over 99% usable. I’ve actually achieved image files using both a single row two image as well as two rows, two columns that once Photoshop had completed the merge that at least one side and more that likely two were perfect while the other two sides had a partial row of less than ½ pixel missing.

Before anyone starts, this image is an example only, prior to any LCC being done; I want you to see the amount of white showing on the top, left, and bottom so please don’t be up off by the color shift.

What’s next?

I’m still in the process of obtaining large panoramas of the southwest and am also testing the waters regarding layering multiple images each with a slightly different focus to achieve an image that is crystal sharp from my toes to the horizon, all the while using the Cambo RS 1000.


If I were asked my recommendation I would offer the following based on my experience: If you want to take stunning images of landscapes think very hard about the Cambo RS 1000 – it won’t let you down. If you want a backup camera (I refer to this as my point and shoot) get either a Mamiya or Phase One 645 AFD III. If you want the very best digital back money can buy – Phase One.

In closing here’s a rundown of my current landscape kits:

Cambo RS 1000
35mm lens
72mm lens
Phase One 645 AFD III
80mm lens
28mm lens
75-150 mm lens
300 mm lens

Digital Back:
Phase One P45+

Here’s a quick plug for Capture Integration. Call them and talk to them, after about two minutes you’ll see why they are the best. They care about not only selling the best equipment there is they care more about the person they sell to. Finding a good camera dealer (especially medium format) is much like a marriage – you both need to be in it for the long haul. I’m proud to call Capture Integration a friend.

Thanks for listening or in this case reading…


Don Libby
Iron Creek Photography
Tucson AZ

Added notes:

This article also appears on Capture Integration's Blog under the "guest writers" section

I also hope to be adding comments on both the new ability of Photoshop CS4 to perform auto blending as well as comments on Phase One's newest release of Capture One 4.6. Till then please remember that it's easy to leave a comment - just click the word "Comments" below and follow the instructions.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Years

This was taken from our backyard on New Years Eve where the Moon and Venus was at their closest.

We hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday

Sandy & Don

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