Photovision in Bryce Canyon, Utah

Added on by Paul Mullins.

My first experience in this wonderfully serene place was with a friend and previous attendee of last years Fall Yosemite workshop, Todd Reed. He  asked me out of the blue if I would be interested in going to Bryce Canyon. Well I ended up going this last weekend and WOW the inspiration one gets from this place is off the charts. There is so much to see that you have to force yourself to slow down and experience this ever-changing drama unfolding before your eyes. Walking the rim at dawn creates an ever shifting perspective and seeing your compositions change with every step. The morning sun cast slowly changing hues and shadows that demanded my full attention. For me I saw the light as the driving inspiration. At times reflecting off the fin walls lighting the hoodoos with a soft light and also wonderful textures created from side and back lighting. Shooting from the rim I found that I kept my 70-200 mm lens on the whole morning just isolating subjects that caught my attention.

 

Bryce has great dark skies for new moon night time photography. Todd and I scouted for a location that had an interesting foreground and at the same time could shoot looking southeast revealing the Milky Way in the background sky. The Rainbow Arch made for our best choice. We arrived at the location around 1:00 am, there were a few clouds that threatened to postpone our efforts but cleared enough to reveal the stars. I brought along my LED light panels with warming gels and also had a Ultrastinger flashlight ready to do some light painting. My exposure was ISO 3200 for 20 sec. at F2.8 so you don’t have much depth of field at a 2.8 aperture. I have found it difficult in the past to get an accurate focus in the dark so that afternoon I found the focus for infinity on my 17mm lens and taped it down with some gaffers tape. We were out there by ourselves, not another soul for miles, unlike my experience several weeks ago where there were 120 photographers lined up at the base of Yosemite Falls shooting the moon bow at night.

 

I hope you enjoy a few of the images I made from this amazing trip. And Todd, Thanks again for asking me to go.

PhotoVision Adventures with Paul Mullins

Added on by Paul Mullins.

We just wrapped up our Spring Yosemite Workshop, the dogwood were in bloom, the Moonbows were shining and the Tioga Pass road had just opened. but best of all was the friendships made. the chemistry was so positive and inspiring. Everyone went home with great images and new skills in being creative. 

There’s nothing quit like sharing an adventure with other photography fanatics that love finding those perfect compositions, being encouraged with good conversation, experiencing opportunities to express themselves with an image, and love learning new skills together in a non threatening positive environment. This is why you need to join us in one of my up coming photography workshops. Not only will I get you to the best locations at the right times of the day but you will discover how to really see with a new eye, not only your physical sight but also to begin seeing with your heart. 

Here are a few comments from past workshop participants;

I highly recommend that you invest in yourself. Paul Mullins is an excellent teacher and is well versed in his craft. His fall colors workshop is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see and enjoy all the beauty that God intended for us. You will be a better photographer and a better person for doing so. 

-Todd 

 

I was so glad to be a part of the workshop.  I was inspired to take my photography to a higher level.  Thanks for inspiring and helping me to approach photography differently then I ever have.  By slowing down and really looking for that inspiration and then trying to communicate that while having fun, was most beneficial to me. Thanks Paul for the great time!  Lot's of fun.  Look forward to doing it again.

-Phil

Discover a new inspired chapter in your photographic journey and sign up today! www.paulmullinsphoto.com/workshops/

Worth the Hike

Added on by Paul Mullins.

A good friend of mine, Josh Smith and I found the well traveled trail to Upper Cathedral Lake and started our way up the hill on a three and a half mile trek to one of the most spectacular lakes in the Yosemite's Tioga Pass area. We wanted to capture the last light of the day as the sun hit Cathedral from the West with beautiful side lighting and then return back under the full moon with the aid of head lamps. Upper Cathedral Lake was a great start to our Memorial Day weekend photo trip.

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Upper Cathedral Lake

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Tenaya Lake

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Twin Lakes Sunrise

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Homestead near June Lake Loop

I am really loving working with my new Nikon D800E camera. The resolution and detail is so similar to my old Hasselblad but it is about half the weight! Also I used a great new backpack that arrived the day before we left, the F-Stop Tilopa BC, perfect for day hikes with room for extra food and gear. 

Grieving my Loss, but Celebrating my Gain

Added on by Paul Mullins.

The last week has been very bittersweet for me as I came to the end of my Hasselblad era. I have been using what I consider to be the world’s best camera, the Hasselblad H3D II 39, for the last six years. With it I have produced some of my all time favorite images for my clients as well as for personal work. 

Last week, I decided to sell my Hasselblad system on EBay. Now if you don't know, this camera with 3 great lenses cost me close to $40,000 six years ago. When I first bought the H3DII I was completely obsessed with it! I wouldn't leave it at the studio overnight, I had to bring it home and put it next to my bed when I would sleep to make sure it was safe. I was pretty obsessive and over the top! But the H3D II was the camera love of my life! It’s hard to believe it just sold today for four times what I expected to get for it, but four times less than I paid. Soon we are sending it off to it's new home in Las Vegas.

I wouldn't have even considered selling it unless I was sure there was something worthy of replacing my beloved Hassy. I found it in not another $40,000 Hasselblad, but the 10 times less expensive Nikon D800e. The quality of images produced from both cameras are equally as amazing! Yesterday I took both camera systems out and did side by side comparisons using the same focal lengths, apertures and and ISO's. The Hasselblad has the same pixel count on the horizontal axis but more on the height. 39 megapixels compared to 36.5 megapixels. 16 bit depth vs. 14 bit, but the biggest pro to the Nikon D800e is the range of ISO. The Nikon goes all the way up to ISO 12,000 compared to Hasselblad's ISO 800 which I would never shoot at. To shoot the Haselblad above ISO 200 was something I never dared to do because of the intense grain. The images showed very little difference in sharpness when using Nikons best lenses at f8-f11, but the quality of the Nikon image at higher ISO is substantially better. Not to mention, it’s lighter and more compact and better for backpacking! This camera is the best camera ever!

So now I have a new love in my life and am so excited about developing our new relationship. The new era of my camera upgrades has begun again and I’m looking forward to seeing what camera the next 6 years brings me, without suffering a $40,000 loss. 

Below are some comparisons I did between the Nikon and Hasselblad. Look and see for yourself!

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This is shot with my new Nikon D800E using a 50mm prime 1.8 lens at f10 1/80.

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This photo is shot with the Hasselblad H3DII using the 50-110mm 3.5-4.5 lens at f10 1/80

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Here is the same image shot at ISO 800 on both cameras zoomed in even more. 

Below are some photographs I have taken using my Nikon D800e! 

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The Importance of Using a Tripod - Craftsmanship

Added on by Paul Mullins.

Craftsmanship is the final "C" of the creative process. Craftsmanship can best be described as the "technical" side of photography. If you haven't read the previous posts on Communication and Composition I suggest you do so we can put all 3 C's together. The first installment on Craftsmanship is the importance of using a tripod.

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Two exposures were shot and combined for this photo. A 5 second exposure was shot for the sky and water, and 15 for the rocks in the foreground, both at f32. It is impossible to achieve the blurred water effect without a tripod, therefore it is vital that you use a tripod to capture longer exposures.

I love using the Gitzo GT1541 tripod (a) with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ball head (b). The carbon fiber Gitzo tripod is ultra light weight for when I go backpacking and the quality is unsurpassable! I reccomend you hang your bag or some kind of weight on the hook in the center of the tripod just to make sure it as stable as possible. I use a medium format Hasselblad H3D2 that weighs 8 pounds with the lens attatched and my tripod supports it perfectly. I have found it is pointless to waste money on countless cheap tripods when you can invest in a quality one that will last you a lifetime.

The ball head allows me to rotate the camera smoothly to any angle I want only using one simple tightening knob. It is nice and compact as opposed to some of the bulky handles found on other heads. A fast way to attatch and detatch a camera to a tripod is to use the universal quick release clamp system. I attatch a L brackett quick release adapter (c) to my Hasselblad. It allows me to shoot both vertical and horizontal compositions while keeping my camera centered above the axis of the tripod.

A tripod is a great essential tool and allows for careful, precise composition, stability and sharp images. 

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The Value of Values - Composition

Added on by Paul Mullins.

Through these first few posts I will be discussing the three C's of creative image making: Communication, Composition and Craftsmanship. My first journal entry was about Communication and how we are inspired, this next entry will be drawn from the second category of Composition.

Proper use of values is an often overlooked asset of photography. Seeing and understanding values can really give your pictures what it needs to take your photography to the next level. Simply think in terms of three different values. Dark values mid tone values and light values. You can see the use of values in both color and black and white images. Begin with a black and white photo to more easily see values in terms of black, gray and white. Ansel had 10 value steps in his zone system but I'm going to simplify it to 3 so we can see the impact this can have on your images.

First, the most boring pictures are made up of a balance of 50% of one value and 50% of another value see example #1 below.

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To improve the image we will add in a mid tone value and break up the 50/50 symmetry, but now notice that the black and grey are the same amount and the two combined are the same as the amount of black. Example #2.

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Now lets step it up a notch and make it even better by using three disproportionate values, they are different in the amount or volume of the value. This will greatly improve the interest in a composition. Example #3

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But, still the gray and black make up half of the volume balancing the white. Rarely achieved but the most impactful, example #4 is the optimum for creating interest. Where all values are different and there is one that dominates.

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You can mix up any of the values with each other, it doesn't matter which is dominate, it could be white or it could be gray as well, but the value with the least amount of volume will become your subject. To make your subject stand out you make it the value that is the least amount of the three.

This image of the Merced River is a good example of the least value being the subject. The trees lit with the side light are in the least value and become the subject. The dominate value is mid tone grays and black or the low value is the second.

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Here is the image in graphic form using the three values.

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It can be hard at first to see values because we see in color, but keep practicing and it will come naturally to see that way. Shooting with the importance of values really takes a conscious effort, so put on your thinking caps and shoot intentionally!

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Go out and have some fun and see the value of this technique. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.