Beneath the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.
Category Archives: Landscape
The November desktop wallpaper is arriving a few days early this month. I have to do it while I have time, however. I’m currently in Oaxaca, Mexico, for the next week to photograph the Day of the Dead celebration. I’ll be posting some images from here later. This month’s wallpaper is of the fall colors and a waterfall at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. I’ve also not had a chance to add the calendar to the image. I doubt most of you will miss it and many of you may actually appreciate that more. I really don’t know what most of you would like so feel free to let me know what you like in the comments.
There are only two resolutions available this month; one for the iPad optimized for the Retina Display and a large high resolution version that should work for most everything else. You can click on the photo below for the large 2500×1667 high resolution version, or click on the links below for the resolution of your choice.
Enjoy! and share with your friends.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out my 2014 wall calendar. For this year, I have put together a collection of my nature abstracts called The Nature of the Abstract. You can preview the calendar and, if you choose, purchase it here.
In truth, the main storm front had passed through the area earlier and only passing showers remained. The rain from the black mass in this photo, arriving overhead shortly after this image was taken, was particularly intense. My upper half was kept dry by a halfway decent rain jacket but the lower half ended up pretty well drenched, much of it likely due to runoff from the upper half. Wind on wet jeans can be rather cold so I took that as a sign it was time to go home. Of course, the sun came out after that.
Yaquina Head is a natural scenic area just north of Newport that is managed by the US Park Service. This is a relatively recent development. What used to be a gravel road leading out to the lighthouse and a rock quarry that was slowly dismantling the headland is now a paved road. The rock quarry is now the site of an interpretive center. Paved paths and stairways lead down to tide pools at the base of rocky cliffs. What used to be free now requires an entrance fee. Although I’ve been there quite a few times since these improvements have been made, they were completed long after I left Newport for greener pastures. It’s still a bit odd seeing the headland this way.
Overall, the changes are a vast improvement to a beautiful area that was being gradually destroyed to make gravel. It can be mildly irritating to have to pay to enter an area that I used to access for free, but that’s a minor inconvenience and a small price to pay for protecting the headland. (It actually only costs to drive in; you can walk in for nothing.) What can be more frustrating is that the area closes at sunset, right when the light is best. Back home this week to visit the parents, the government has been in the midst of its pointless shutdown and while the gate was locked, I was free to stay as long as I pleased. It turns out cold, wet jeans are just as effective at sending me home as a park ranger.
Don’t forget to check out my 2014 wall calendar. For this year, I have put together a collection of my nature abstracts called The Nature of the Abstract. You can preview the calendar and, if you choose, purchase it here.
I’ve been wanting to go full-frame for a couple years now but the investment required to do so held me back. Not only would I need to buy a new camera body, I would also need a new wide-angle zoom since the Canon 10-22 mm I have won’t work on full-frame bodies. Considering the inflated price for a 5D Mark III and my limited income over the past few years, it was all more than I could justify. However, a work gig I had over the last year got me thinking about it more seriously. Then this past fall Canon released the 6D, a full frame camera costing a good $1000 less than the Mark III. What might be considered an enthusiast-level camera, it is for the most part designed and priced for those moving up from lower-end crop sensor cameras and as such, some compromises were made in features; however, because the 6D was coming out 6 months later than the 5D it also includes some technology and features not included in the 5D. What to do? In the end I decided the cost savings were worth the compromises and went with the 6D.
I don’t write much about cameras and gear much on this blog, and in fact, this may be a first. This won’t be a review so much as a hands-on, just giving my thoughts and impressions after using the 6D for the last few months. In general, I’m happy with the camera although there have been a few annoyances, most of which I knew about going in.
One of the biggest annoyances, and one I was unaware of or at least overlooked when I purchased the camera, is the change in the layout of the controls on the back of the camera. Physically, the camera feels about the same in my hand as my previous camera, the 7D, but the layout of controls is significantly different. In fact, the 5D and 7D are much closer to each other in layout than to the 6D. I’m not sure why such a radical change in layout was required but considering I still use my 7D it can be quite irritating at times. Not only were the locations of buttons moved, but the operation of the thumb wheel was changed as well. Why?
The 6D uses SD memory cards, whereas the 7D and other higher-end models use the larger CF cards. This means I’m having to buy all new cards. Although the 6D is generally intended for photographers upgrading from lower end models, most of which use SD cards, it would nice if Canon would stick with a set format, certainly at least within camera class levels.
The 6D has fewer auto-focus points than other models and they’re clustered relatively close to the center of the frame. Generally, this doesn’t bother me much as I usually only use one focus point and move it around depending on how and what I’m shooting. The auto-focus does seem marginally slower and less precise. Not that it can’t obtain an accurate focus, it just sometimes seems to take a bit longer than what I’m used to with the 7D. Canon also saw fit to only include two programmable C slots on the exposure mode knob as opposed to the usual three slots. Apparently this was to make room for a Scene mode. Personally I find this a bit silly since even most amateurs moving up to a full-frame camera would almost surely have moved beyond the level of using scene modes. Something that wasn’t mentioned in any of the reviews I read and I didn’t notice until having used the camera for several months was the omission of a PC plug for an external flash. Now, considering how long it took me to notice it wasn’t there should tell you something about often I use this; however, it seems like an odd thing to omit. Maybe Canon feels that with everyone going to wireless these days it isn’t necessary, and maybe that’s true.
So what are some of the things I like? Well, the 6D includes a couple built-in technologies that were previously only available as expensive add-ons. One of these is GPS, which stamps every photo with a location geo-tag to identify the exact spot where the photo was taken and which can be read by Lightroom or many photo upload sites. Unfortunately, when this function is enabled it is always on, regardless of whether the itself camera is on or off. This can be a minor drain on the battery. I also found the altitude accuracy to be rather poor (+100 ft), although it’s possible it has something to do with the GPS system and not with the camera function. I haven’t really done any investigation to determine why there might be such a large discrepancy.
Another interesting new feature is the inclusion of wifi connectivity. This, combined with Canon’s app for smart phones and tablets, allows for wireless connection to the camera for remote shooting, adjustment of exposure settings, and review/downloading of images on the camera. It’s a fun feature, and one which I might use occasionally, although it’s not something I’ll use on a regular basis. I found the process for making the connection between the phone and camera isn’t particularly intuitive and user friendly but generally works ok once you are connected. When the wifi function is enabled, the USB connection is disabled, which if you didn’t know this or forget can cause some extreme frustration the next time you try to download images to your computer.
The full frame sensor in the 6D does a pretty good job with low light, high ISO situations, noticeably better than my 7D. It’s good enough that I’m much more inclined to leave the ISO setting on Auto. You’ll still get quite a bit of noise at extremely high ISOs but with some good noise-reduction software you can still get some useable images. Maybe not sellable, but certainly good enough for posting on a blog or website, or making small prints (see image below). For long-exposures, I haven’t noticed much improvement over the 7D. If you were to do a detailed side by side comparison, you may see some differences but I don’t think it’s as significant as with the improvements in high ISO performance.
One other small feature that I appreciate is the ability to do auto-exposure bracketing with more than three images. This is very useful if you are doing any HDR work. To get an exposure bracket with more than three images with the 7D I had to do it manually which risked moving the camera between exposures.
Modern cameras, even low-end point and shoot cameras, have become very advanced and feature dense and this camera is no exception. There are a lot of other features I could talk about but these are some of the things that have made the most impression on me so far. Am I happy with the camera? For the most part, yes. Is it perfect? No, but I don’t think perfect is out there. It will do the job for me now. I do sometimes wish I had gone all out and purchased the 5D Mark III but really, the pictures I would make with it wouldn’t be any better than what I’ll do with the 6D and hey, there’s a lot that I can do with an extra thousand dollars.
Sometimes life feels like a continuum of change. And of course, it really is. For that reason most of us do what we can to bring some stability into our lives, grabbing on to whatever we can that makes us feel anchored. I suppose I do that too, to some extent. I like to think of myself as more adventurous than I really am, but I do seem to get a bit bored if I spend too much time in one place. I can’t really do continuous travel for more than a month or two before it gets tiresome, but I’m finding that spending six months to a year or so is a nice way to experience a place.
Given all that, my time here in Darwin is rapidly coming to a close. In about a month I’ll be heading off to the Philippines for an extended stay. What with wrapping things up here and making preparations for moving on, I haven’t had a chance to get out much with the camera. To be honest, I’ve felt like I’ve hit a wall here photographically. One should, of course, really use those sort of feelings as a challenge and an opportunity for growth, but that’s often easier said than done. With this upcoming change there will also be a lot of travel, which I’m looking forward to. I’ll be in Oregon and Washington in October with possibly a few days in San Francisco. At the end of October I’ll be in Oaxaca, Mexico for about two weeks for Day of the Dead. Sometime in the first half of next year I’d like to get to Japan and/or maybe South Korea and China, but that’s tentative ideas at this point. And of course there will be much exploring of the Philippines.