Monthly Archives: June 2012

12 Glen Photowalk-A.D. Wheeler 0624-082321-021

Watkins Glen Gorge Photowalk

This past weekend Gillian and I joined A. D. Wheeler, of A. D. Wheeler Photography, for a fun and informative photowalk at Watkins Glen Gorge in Watkins Glen, NY.

About 25 people attended and many brought their tripods and ND filters as they were after the “silky” waterfall look or were shooting HDR brackets. I decided to challenge myself and just bring my 35mm prime and shoot handheld. (or maybe I was just lazy and I didn’t want to haul my tripod…) The group got a bit bunched up at some of the more interesting locations but as polite photographers we waited patiently for tourists to pass by and for each other to get their shots.

Photographers setting up at Watkins Glen Gorge

The park offers access to the gorge from both the top and bottom. You can take a shuttle ride up and hike down or park at the top, hike down, and then take a shuttle back up to your car. You can also do as we did and to walk up and back down. Here is a view after the first sets of steps.

Foot bridge over the Gorge at Watkins Glen Park

This bridge is right at the entrance at the base of the Gorge Trail

This is the waterfall that the group in the first photo is focused on. You can actually walk behind this waterfall, hence the name Cavern Cascade.

Cavern Cascade at Watkins Glen Gorge

Cavern Cascade, the walk behind falls at Watkins Glen Gorge

And I’ll share one more of my favorites from Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen Gorge

Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen Gorge

The organizer of the photowalk, A. D. Wheeler, led a fun and informative photowalk. He also put up a Facebook group for us to post all our photos to. Check it out and visit his web site!

I Got a New Lens!

I recently purchased a new Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens from eBay. I know the 28-300 covers a larger range but when I want to go wide, 28 isn’t usually wide enough on my d300 so I would end up carrying another lens regardless. Not to mention its almost half the price. I have read lots of great reviews on the lens describing it as sharp, fast to focus, and having very good VR. I agree on all points and see no use in repeating what everyone else says about the lens. I’ll just share a few photos I have taken with it…

Before I bought this lens, I rented a copy from and took it to the NASCAR race at Darlington. Since the Darlington race is run at night, an f/2.8 or even f/4 lens would have been better, but I was still able to produce some fairly sharp photos of the action.

The photo below was shot during practice so the light was still very good. 300mm, ISO 200, f/8.0, and 1/1000s.

Danica Patrick at Darlington Raceway

Danica tries to avoid the dreaded Darlington Stripe

When the sun started setting the aperture had to open up and the ISO started climbing. This was at 180mm, ISO 900, f5.6, and 1/400s.

Lining up for a restart at Darlington

Lining up for a restart at Darlington

Below is a 100% crop of the same image. As you can see, sharpness is quite good, especially for a $500 lens.

NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway

100% crop of the above photo

As it got later in the evening, shooting conditions got worse, but at 300mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6,  and 1/400s, I am still happy with the results for what I spent on this lens.

Turn Three Action at Darlington

Turn Three Action at Darlington

Sorry, but unless I have a specific need, I will not be renting the 70-200 f/2.8 as often as I have been. Now if I can just find a $500 400-600mm zoom…

Raindrops Hitting My Car during a Stormy Sunset

Photographing the Rain

My lawn has been a mess for a couple years now so I finally broke down and hired a service to fertilize and get the weeds under control. Now that thats working and most of the weeds are gone the grass needs to fill in. So I used that as an excuse to put off mowing for a couple extra days. I finally decided to start the job one evening around 7:30PM and as luck would have it, it started raining about half way thru. The lighting was nice and the rain looked cool so I got out the camera. I played around with shutter speeds and apertures to control blur and depth of field and this is what I came up with:

A rainy day delays the mowing of the lawn

Nikon d300s with 35mm f/1.8: 1/20s at f/20 and iso 200

Here I went with a small aperture to maximize depth of field and a long shutter speed to give the rain drops a nice motion blur.

Hard rain and the setting sun

Nikon d300s 35mm f/1.8: 1/50s at f/20 and iso 200

Same technique here with a slightly higher shutter speed to control the extra light. Still good motion blur though.

Heavy rain hitting the roof of a car

Nikon d300s 70-300 AF-S VR Zoom at 125mm: 1/500s at f/4.8 and iso 200

I saw the raindrops splashing off the roof of my car and wanted to see what I could capture there. Still a bit of motion blur at 1/500s and I would have liked a bit more depth of field, but I did catch one cool splash.

Rain drops frozen in time, splashing on roof of car

Nikon d300s 70-300mm AF-S VR Zoom at 300mm: 1/3200s at f/5.6 and iso 1000

Here, I boosted the iso to 1000 to get up to 1/3200s at f/5.6. That froze things nicely but I would have liked more depth of field. Unfortunately, as I was checking shots on the display the rain stopped so I didn’t get a chance to see how the extra DoF would have looked.

This next photo turned out to be my favorite of the evening.

Raindrops Hitting My Car during a Stormy Sunset

Nikon d300s 70-300mm AF-S VR Zoom at 300mm: 1/500s at f/5.6 and iso 200

Everything came together nicely to make an interesting composition. It makes me think of those times when you get caught in a downpour on the way to your car and all you are focused on is grabbing that door handle and getting in the car and out of the rain.

We seem to have been having a lot of storms at this time of the evening lately. Hopefully I get a chance to try this again.