Happy Earth Day to you, this April 22nd, 2018. I feel like I experience Earth Day every time I visit a national park. On this occasion, I was up with scads of other people at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, watching: the sunrise.
The National Parks Traveler has just published my latest “Photography In The National Parks” article. Click on the photo to go to my story.
I finished every single one of my errands/chores yesterday so I could drive out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge this morning to see what might be there: tall grass and reeds and cattails with lots of water but not much birdlife – at least, not in the area in which I found myself and nothing near to me and my 500mm lens. The clouds on this morning, however, were dark and fluffy and big and presaged the coming storms predicted for today. So I pulled out the other tripod and my Canon 5DSR with the 16-35mm f//4 IS lens, affixed a circular polarizer to it and used my grad ND filter to bring out the texture in the clouds.
Clouds are a photographer’s best friend. They add drama and character to an already lovely scene and can really spice up an otherwise ordinary or ho-hum scene. The thing about photographing awesome clouds, though, is that you also need a frame of reference or some scale. So don’t just photograph the clouds themselves. Your viewers won’t know whether this was a horizon-filling scene or just a small spot in the sky. Add some ground or buildings or *something* to the cloud scene.
Copyright Rebecca L Latson, all rights reserved.
(Note: this is not a full, thorough, pixel-peeping review of either lens. If you are looking for that, you won’t find it in this post).
A 14mm View of Creekfield Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DSR body)
I recently purchased a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II lens from Lensauthority and wanted to try it out at Brazos Bend State Park, here in Texas. I live about 25 minutes away from the park and this was the perfect venue for some super-wide angle shots. I loaded up the Canon 5DS and 5DSR camera bodies with these lenses and hit the road.
You might not think there is much difference between a 16-35mm and 14mm lens, but there actually is. It’s not huge, but it’s still a difference. And, in retrospect, what I should have done was take along the 16-35mm lens to show that difference. Maybe next time.
I like prime lenses. I know that many reviews say the newer versions of the zoom lenses are just as sharp as the primes. But I still think prime lenses are a teeny bit sharper (although I do love my 24-70mm and 16-35mm lenses which I travel with exclusively).
I like the 14mm lens for the interesting perspective such a super-wide gives. It’s perfect for landscapes and for architecture (interior views, especially). This lens is going with me on my late March Big Bend National Park trip to photograph the cactus blooms.
Another 14mm View of Creekfield Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DSR body)
I also purchased a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II lens from BH Photo. It’s not the super-wide angle that the 14mm lens is, but it’s a gorgeous lens nonetheless which produces wonderfully sharp images, and I find that I use the 24mm focal length quite a bit for my landscapes. As I mentioned earlier, I do like the primes (although the zooms are far more practical to take on a trip, I admit).
A 24mm View of Creekfield Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DS body)
So the 24mm lens is going along with the 14mm lens to Big Bend National Park. As is my Canon 100mm macro lens and my Canon 100-400mm lens. Aside from the telephoto, this next Big Bend trip is going to be a prime lens-kind of trip.
Another 24mm View of Creekfield Lake (cropped just a little to make it more panoramic-ish), Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DS body)
It is. It’s almost the end of 2015 and I, for one, am ready for it to be done with. Except for my boob job in January, it’s been a pretty shitty year I’ll admit.
My 89-year old mother became ill in early February and subsequently died on the 19th, one day prior to my elder sister’s birthday. We can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we were both there to care for Mom at the end of it all. From then on, life and work went to hell in a handbasket. I’d break into tears every time I thought of Mom or thought of (or heard or saw) something that reminded me of Mom, My sister and I constantly second-guessed ourselves concerning Mom (woulda, coulda, shoulda). I found myself working for a horrible boss who made my work life miserable. I was not in the least interested in photography. And my entire life revolved around being Executrix of Mom’s estate.
Poor Mom. She thought she was leaving my sister and me with a nice little nest egg of her savings. As it was, my sister and I spent every single penny of that nest-egg savings getting Mom’s house up to snuff so we could finally put it on the market; fingers crossed that this sale goes through smoothly so we can be done with it. These upgrades included a total re-grade and re-sod of the entire front, back and side yards around the house (including the addition of what they call “French drains” to get the standing water to drain into the ditches around the house thanks to the horrid spring thunderstorms Texas constantly experienced all April and May); installation of more foundation pillars in the hallway; patching and repainting the cracks in the walls caused by the foundation work as well as the house’s normal settling issues here in southeast Texas; re-carpeting the hallway, one bedroom and the large den; getting the electrical issues worked out; installing a new roof to replace the one damaged by a freak April hailstorm; fixing the garage door, removing all of the high-tech hurricane storm shutters; and a number of other smaller issues – all required by the home inspector’s and the structural engineer’s report and the current realtor’s suggestions to make the house more – well – salable. This work has all taken two months shy of a year since Mom’s death. It’s been an albatross around my neck and I can’t thank my sister’s husband enough for all of his help – his 30 years in the construction business has enabled me to keep from going mad and throttling most of the people and businesses within this horrid little Podunk Texas town in which I currently reside. My experience this year has lead me to believe that there is absolutely no business here in this town that is totally trustworthy. At least, not when it comes to dealing with a divorced, middle-aged woman such as myself. Fuck ‘em all, I say.
As you can probably tell by now, this entire experience has given birth to the New Me: Angry White Woman.
I don’t take shit off of anybody anymore and I’m far more vocal about my feelings, opinions and beliefs (this includes my political and non-religious leanings, much to many of my Facebook friends’ annoyance). I have discovered I am also far more willing to stick my neck out at work and push back to the dirty politics I experience on behalf of myself and my friends who either cannot or will not push back themselves (it’s easier for me to do it since I’m close to early retirement and I don’t have a family for whom I must provide – this allows me to follow the courage of my convictions).
It’s taken me 54 years, and I’m absolutely certain Mom’s death was the catalyst to make me realize what is truly important in my life. Hint: it aint work. Work is not my life and never has been – it just pays the bills, pays for my camera equipment and allows me to travel. No, what is really important – to me – is family and people who love me.
I no longer have family here in Texas. They all live out in the Pacific Northwest, and sooner rather than later, that is where I will move. I am making my plans little by little. I don’t want to grow old and spend my remaining days alone in a Texas nursing home, waiting to die, far away from people I love and who love me. Besides that, I’ve never been a huge fan of Texas and am ready for the next adventure further west where the mountains and my family live.
I’m also trying to regain my photo mojo. I’ve done a few small photo projects this year, including:
Using my new 11-24mm, 100mm macro, and 500mm prime lenses at Brazos Bend State Park, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and around my home and my mother’s home;
Spending a wonderful sunrise photo shoot as well as an entire day in the photo pit at the 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow;
Performing my duties as staff photographer for The Merchant Prince and capturing images for his use out at the 2015 Texas Renaissance Festival;
Photographing my newest great niece whom I have never met until last year (for only 20 minutes before getting to the airport) and who is now almost 3 years old;
And photographing my company’s annual gingerbread decorating event.
I haven’t really taken any photo holiday because almost all of my annual vacation days were spent caring for Mom and thereafter taking care of the estate. I did take a short trip to visit my sister and her family in eastern Washington over Labor Day, spent a weekend in Santa Fe NM during the Memorial Day holiday, and visited my sister and her family, again, during Thanksgiving.
My main vacation is coming up and I hope it will be the jump start to much more photography in 2016: I’m going to be spending 10 days in Europe (including Christmas and New Year): 8 days in London and 2 days in Paris. Everything is paid for, I printed out all of my tickets, and I am all packed, including my camera backpack:
I’m not taking my 70-200mm lens because it’s heavy and my backpack is already heavy enough (plus I’m taking two suitcases as well as my laptop bag with travel laptop, mouse, memory card readers, 2 external hard drives – 1 TB each, iPhone, iPad, book, and folder with all of my ticket information for the various venues I will attend). I can only take so much – don’t even ask me what I’ve packed in the suitcases (grin).
I apologize for not publishing more blog posts. I know one is supposed to do that to keep readership and to keep one’s writing skills in tip-top shape. I’ll get back into the groove, I promise. I’ll have free WiFi in my London and Paris hotels, so I know I’ll be editing photos and writing about my experiences, uploading to both my Facebook photography page as well as my Twitter account. I may even publish a post while there. For now, stay tuned to forthcoming imagery from my 2015 trip, as well as the trips I have planned for 2016. I plan on making up for lost time.