Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos

CONTACT
 

30-Second Landscape: Mehrlen Creek, Sequoia National Park in May


Watch on YouTube for full-size

Here is another 30-second landscape I made on my recent backpacking trip through Sequoia National Park. This clip features Mehrlen Creek winding through the Western Sierras.

This whole area of the trail was very interesting because it featured a gorgeous waterfall cascading gently over the slick granite rock formations. It wasn't a free-fall waterfall flying over a cliff, but instead the water just kind of poured down the steep rocks, finding the path of least resistance, guided by cracks and folds in the terrain. Truly stunning.

We made camp near this creek on our final night in Sequoia National Park and I had the great pleasure of spending some leisure time reclined on a seat of rocks next to this beautiful water feature. As I laid there with the soothing sounds filling my ears and the expansive vista filling my eyes, I felt like I finally understood John Muir's obsession with this area.

Soaking in the sights and sounds from my makeshift lounge chair, I had one of those rare moments of self-awareness where I realized that I was experiencing one of the happiest moments of my life. It may sound like I'm over-inflating a relatively mundane experience, but I truly felt a heightened state of happiness that only the deep wilderness can bring out in me. Being out there in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas, observing the wonders of light and color before me, with no cell phone, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other usual diversions, I could truly enjoy the fruits of nature without distraction.

I can't wait to get back out there.

30-Second Landscape: Mehrlen Creek, Sequoia National Park in May


Watch on YouTube for full-size

I took a backpacking trip this past May with some good friends of mine through Sequoia National Park. Since weight is obviously an issue when backpacking, I decided to bring my lightweight Canon EOS Rebel T4i for some casual shooting. If I had my way, I would have brought my heavy Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera, but then I'd have to hire a sherpa and I just can't afford that.

The Rebel T4i may not be my usual medium of choice, but the fact that it shoots video came very much in handy for this trip. After a fun session of photographing Mehrlen Creek at sunset, I decided to steal take inspiration from an idea borne from the great Chase Jarvis. He does these awesome 60-second portraits which are basically short tightly-framed video clips of interesting people not really talking or doing anything particularly entertaining. It's just about observing a person and seeing what their face has to say.

I thought I'd take a cue from Chase and start making these 30-second landscapes so that you can get a taste of what the world is like wherever I happen to be taking pictures. No narration or anything. Just the sights and sounds of nature.

Enjoy.

New Landscape Photography: San Onofre Beach at Sunset


Sunset at San Onofre Beach

Sunset at San Onofre Beach
4" at f/25, Fuji Velvia 50, Lee 3-stop grad ND + Lee 1-stop grad ND
Click Image for Larger View

Last month a friend of mine and I went for a sunset shoot at San Onofre Beach in Southern CA. I'm generally a "lone wolf" when it comes to doing landscape photography because I enjoy the solitude, but Eric and I are very much simpatico when it comes to style, methodology, and philosophy (check out Eric Bryan's amazing photography at ericbryan.net).

San Onofre Beach is unlike any other in Southern California. You won't find long stretches of white sandy beaches here. Much of the beach is riddled with smooth, round boulders the size of...uh, I dunno, like a volleyball but a little smaller. I clearly know nothing about sports...

But anyway, this beach is gorgeous and generally empty. Not exactly easy to navigate this rocky shore, but the views are unbeatable. And looking inland, the shore is flanked by some stately red-sand cliffs that are quite breathtaking under sunset light.

On this shoot, I opted for the wide 6x17 format using Fuji Velvia 50 film. Now I gotta be honest...the photos are a little too dark for my liking. It's partly that I just overestimated how dark I wanted it to be, but here's the thing about Velvia 50 film: it's rated at ISO 50, but it really isn't 50. Based on my experiments and analyzation, I need to rate it more like ISO 33 or 25 in order to get accurate metering. I did ISO 33 here. I should have done 25.

And here's the other thing: my Nikkor SW 90mm f/4.5 lens exhibits some serious light falloff at the edges. Every wide angle lens on 6x17 format does. And I didn't have a center ND filter for this evening's shoot. That meant the edges came out much darker than I anticipated. The center of the frame looks spot on in regards to exposure, but the edges came out too dark. And since Velvia 50 is so contrasty, that 1 to 1-1/3 stops of light falloff at the edges looks major.

Sunset at San Onofre Beach

Post-Sunset at San Onofre Beach
20" at f/22, Fuji Velvia 50, Lee 3-stop grad ND
Click Image for Larger View

I overestimated on my metering, I used a little too much split ND, I should have rated the film at ISO 25, I needed a center ND filter. Excuses excuses. Oh well. I'll do better next time. And I just picked myself up a sweet center ND filter off eBay to remedy the light falloff issue. It was a steal at $275. Center ND filters are ridiculously expensive. They usually run about $400-$500 used.

The composition could use some improvement, too. But it's time to stop flogging myself. The photos are actually pretty solid. I'm happy with them. It's just that inner photography teacher coming out of me.

The shot at top was made right as the sun dipped to the horizon. The second image was a little after sunset. Please click the images for larger views. These images are pointless unless you can see all the details.