Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Watchman

Zion Watchman
ISO: 100  Focal Length: 15mm 
Aperture: f/6.3  Shutter Speed: 1/50
Filter: Lee 0.9 GND Soft Edge
Shooting the Watchman with the Virgin River is one of Zion's iconic shots. I didn't want to make my shot like what most people were doing so instead of shooting from the road I wandered down the Pa'rus trail a little bit until I found this spot. It was nice because I was the only photographer there and when I walked back to the road there were probably 15-20 photographers cleaning up. I used a little lower aperture number than I would normally use because I didn't like how my shots were turning out with the water blurred. The Lee GND was key for this shot and it really helped balance the exposure between the foreground and the sky. Lining up a GND is pretty easy. I handhold my filters. To start I hold the filter against the lens with the dark part of the filter completely out of the frame and then while looking through the viewfinder I slide the filter down until the transition between light and dark is against the horizon.

When I got this shot into the computer I still thought the exposure wasn't balanced like I wanted it to be. So I loaded the single RAW file into HDR Efex Pro and tone mapped it. At first the result was WAY too strong so I dialed back the settings by about half in order to get a realistic result. I came away being very pleased with the shot. 

If you love the national parks please check out my kickstarter project on the right.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My National Parks Project

I am setting out on a photography project to show how budget cuts are affecting the national parks and why the national parks are worth protecting. This project just launched on kickstarter. I've read so many articles about how the parks are being affected but I want to show the affects of budget cuts. Pictures will tell this story better than words will.

Why this is important?
The national parks are an incredible resource for our country. They conserve historic and beautiful places and they bring in roughly $10 in economic activity for every dollar invested. In today’s dollars the park budget has fallen by nearly 15% in the last decade and the parks are now facing an additional $110 million in budget cuts. 
Currently over 1/3 of the trails in the park system are in poor or seriously deficient condition and 90% of the roads are in fair or poor condition.
These new cuts will force the parks to have fewer employees and many visitors centers will have shortened hours or will be closed all together. A visitor’s center I just went to last summer in Grand Teton national park will be closed under these new cuts. 
How the project will be successful?
To accomplish this I will visit 10 national parks and capture how they are affected by budget cuts. I have already started researching ways to show how the parks are affected, I have been pouring over data to find places in the parks that have been affected by cuts. I will also capture the very best of our national parks, the wildlife and scenery to show why our national parks are worth preserving for future generations.   Everyday during the project I will be up before dawn and stay out until dark to make sure I capture the images needed to tell the story of the condition of the national parks.