Weekend In Mammoth
My wife and I were able to get away from the heat of Los Angeles recently and spent a weekend at the Tamarack Lodge on Twin Lakes by Mammoth Mountain. Things did not start out smoothly as we arrived late and spend almost an hour trying to find our cabin in the dark with a rather poor map. After almost an hour of searching, we finally settled in after midnight. We awoke in the morning to a glorious day in the Sierras and spent the day exploring the area and making use of the many miles of bike trails the run through the forest between the numerous lakes in the area. The second night, we turned in early so we could be up at sunrise to take a walk around the lake in the morning light.
Just a short distance from the cabin we found this boat dock on the perfectly still lake. Normally when photographing a scene like the one above, if I set up to properly expose the sky at the top, the reflected image in the lake would be way too dark. Setting the exposure for the reflected sky would create a almost white sky at the top.
|The answer, a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. These filters are indespensible for situations like this. In my camera bag, I always carry two Singh-Ray Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density Filters. These filters are darker on the top and clear on the bottom with a transition that is either hard or soft. The image to the left shows a three stop hard transition filter and a two stop soft transition filter. I used the two stop soft for the photo about and set my exposure for the sky at the top.|
Another way to accomplish this would be to take two photographs, one exposed for the sky at the top and one exposed for the reflected sky and use Photoshop the combine the two. Coming from years of photographing with film, I still prefer to get it right in camera.
A little later at another spot of the lake, we looked across to see that smoke from fires at the nearby campground settling over the area. Again, I used the two stop soft graduated neutral density filter and added a polarizer to control the reflection coming from the lake as I wanted to capture some submerged roots, logs, and rocks.
On our way back to our cabin we walked through a patch of beautful tiny flowers and I just had to stop, break out my macro lens and have some fun.
The size of these tiny, delicate flowers is very decieving, this clump is only about two inches wide. To capture this, I very carefully set up my tripod so as not the disturb the many other plants around and oriented the camera so that the front of the lens was just a few inches away so the clump of flowers would fill the frame.
Although the weekend started out a little rough, it sure ended up being a wonderful and peaceful get away.