My wife and I just returned from a whirlwind photography tour/vacation travelling by car through some of the most intriguing parts of the United States. We were on the road for 26 days with 19 of them focused on capturing images along our route. In all we covered 10,187 kilometres (6,330 miles).
The purpose of our tour was to replicate a typical, sightseeing automotive tour that many travelers would do and enjoy, as well as do field work for some upcoming photography e-books that I’m developing. Given our very tight schedule we created images on a ‘catch as catch can’ basis.
We made no attempt to focus our photography time during the ‘magic hour’ in the mornings or late afternoons. Nor did we make any repeat visits to any of the photography locations in an attempt to wait for ideal photography conditions. Most days we were on the road by 9AM and off by 6PM.
While the weather threatened us on many days we did have some luck getting breaks when we needed them. We also escaped a torrential downpour in Sioux Falls South Dakota which caused flooding in the city the day we departed.
A week or so later a tornado touched down in a neighboring town not too far from our accommodations in Utah.
In many instances our image captures were limited to single attempts, then we moved on to the next part of our adventure. This was especially true of roadside images.
We also kept our hiking to various locations to a modest level, usually no more than a couple of kilometers in total to reach and return from any given site.
It would be impossible to provide readers with a comprehensive selection of images in one article, so this posting provides a just few highlights. You will note in the EXIF data that I shot my Nikon 1 gear at f/8 quite a bit. Given the extremely tight time frames we had at many venues I did this purposely to try to ensure sufficient depth-of-field throughout a wide range of compositions, risking some diffraction as a result.
As noted earlier, our trip was also designed to do field work for some photography-related e-books that I am currently working on and which I am planning to publish early in the new year. I’ll keep you apprised in future articles on how these e-book projects are progressing.
Our photography tour focused mainly on Utah, with some secondary emphasis on South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.
No matter how much planning one does, and how much time one spends on the road there will always be locations that have been missed or overlooked. Much of our photography tour focused on visiting national and state parks, as well as some other popular locations such as Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. In most cases we only spent 2 to 3 hours at any given park, which took all the discipline we could muster. Most of the parks were certainly worthy of multiple day explorations, but we pressed on and followed our original plan.
I’ve added some basic location information after the EXIF data on each photograph to give you an idea of the location of each image.
I captured all of the images during our photography tour using a pair of Nikon 1 J5s and a Nikon 1 V2. I took three Nikon 1 lenses with me, including the 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-100mm f/4-5.6, and CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6. The 10-100mm f/4-5.6 was the workhorse lens of the tour.
Other than some ‘smooth water” images created at Sioux Falls South Dakota with the help of a Benro monopod and a variable neutral density filter, all of the images were taken hand held in available light. All photographs were created from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro11, CS6 and Nik Suite. When composing images using the rear panel of my J5s I had to really concentrate on using a very light shutter motion and on controlling my breathing to try to ensure I’d get the desired captures.
I used single point AF for all of the images captured during the tour and most often used matrix metering. When faced with difficult lighting I did switch on occasion to center-weighted metering and also used spot metering a few times. As is my common practice I very rarely use any exposure compensation when shooting with Nikon 1 gear. I doubt that I took even three or four dozen images during the entire tour using any kind of exposure compensation. Surprisingly I did not create nearly as many images as I first anticipated. I haven’t done a final count yet, but I estimate that I took no more than about 4,000 images during the entire trip which is probably half of what I was expecting.
Some of this is due to the fact that I saw very few birds along our route or at the various locations at which we stopped.
I never thought that I would ever say this, let alone state it in an article here at Photography Life, but after using my J5s intensively for this tour I must admit that I now find it rather strange and awkward to use an EVF to compose landscape images. It is amazing to what we can become accustomed.
Article and images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation, or reproduction of any kind including electronic is allowed without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.