Copper Queen Mine Tour, Bisbee, AZ

By Jeff Insel

My wife and I recently spent a couple of nights in Bisbee,AZ. One of the things we wanted to see was the Copper Queen Mine Tour and we weren’t disappointed. Tours are seven days a week with several different tour times. Each tour lasts about an hour and takes you 1500 feet deep into the mine by small train (see photo).
The tours are led by retired Phelps Dodge employees, very knowledgeable about the mining history and progression of more efficient tools ie: from manpower to mules to trains.
The photo with the train is an iPhone photo as we had a light rain going on outside as we waited to enter the mine.
The Copper Queen Mine began operations in the 1880’s and was bought by Phelps Dodge in 1885. It closed in 1975 after 90 yrs of operations. It had one of the world’s largest production valuations: An estimated production of 8,032, 352 lbs of Copper, 2,871,786 ounces of Gold, 77,162,986 ounces of Silver, 304,627,600 lbs of Lead and 371,945,900 lbs of Zinc!
Tours began in 1976 through the efforts of then Bisbee Mayor, Chuck Eads, Phelps Dodge, many local volunteers and a grant from the Economic Development Administration.
The Dynamite wall photo was shot hand held, 1600 ISO, 28mm, f4.5 and 1/20th of a sec.
We learned how the miners originally dug out the tunnels, shored up the work areas, hammered spikes for the drill bits; the evolution of the different types of drills and their capabilities; how they used dynamite to bring down walls safely (see photo) and even the use of their portable toilets (see photo).
The Toilet photo was hand held, 1600 ISO, 1/3 sec, f4.5.
Even though it was about 95 outside at the start of our tour, it was nice and cool inside.
If you go, cameras are allowed but tripods aren’t practical as there’s not enough space to use one. The challenge is photographing in near darkness, some overhead lights and the hand held small flashlights we all had so some of the light is always in motion, but it’s a fun challenge.
Jeff Insel is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

MACRO VS. CLOSE-UP PHOTOGRAPHY

By Vicki Uthe

Something became clear to me recently. I realized the difference between macro and close-up photography and concluded that I’m really more of a close-up photographer than a macro person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the main difference as I understand it: With macro, you need a tripod, a non-moving subject, a lot of patience and you get in SO close to a subject that many times you need a caption to tell you what it is. With close-up, you can shoot it with most lenses, you get very close to your subject with a zoom or by walking closer but can still tell what it is without question and you can do it successfully with a moving subject.

The two images above, shot in Costa Rica in 2012, were taken with the 100 mm Canon macro lens. At the time I was SURE I was shooting macro. I even set the lens for it. Turns out these are really just close-ups. If it were a true macro image a single water drop would nearly fill the frame as would only a few of these frog eggs. (I think they are frog eggs).

I decided to dive into my archive and pull up all images shot with my two macro lenses. The first one was a Canon 100mm, f/2.8. I loved that lens and it worked well for me but in pulling up the images I began to realize I mostly shot close-ups in macro mode or not in macro mode at all but at 100mm. My other lens is the Olympus 60mm, f/2.8 that I got when I switched to the mirrorless micro four-thirds format camera a couple of years ago. Same thing. Most of my images are either close-ups in macro mode or just shooting at 60mm.

I pulled up over 8700 images shot with those two lenses and precious few could be considered truly macro. My minimalist, photograph as you go shooting style does not lend itself to true macro photography. I like to travel light with as little gear as possible.

At the very LEAST a good macro image requires a tripod and a subject that is very still. A macro lens will reduce the depth of field (the space in your image that is in focus) to the width of a credit card. This means that you must be very precise as to what you are focussing on. The slightest breeze or movement will put a flower or insect out of focus.

If you are truly interested in exploring the world of macro photography I have a resource for you. My good friend, Amy Horn, recently wrote a book with Bruce Taubert, a retired wildlife biologist, on this very subject. You can check out their book and order it here: The Art of Macro Photography

The head of this praying mantis is one of the few images I have that could truly be considered macro. It is handheld and my subject was standing very still.

I’m not sure where the line actually is between close-up and macro. This image shows how small the depth of field (the area in focus) is. His eye is about the only thing that is sharp. Always focus on the eyes.

Right? Close-up or Macro? All I know is I should have used a tripod.

I would for sure consider this one just a close-up. And it didn’t jump on me so I was happy about that. Not sure how much closer I would have been willing to get…

This little red frog was pretty tiny sitting on someone’s finger but I would still classify it as a close-up.

I really liked this image to show the shallow depth of field when your lens is in macro mode. This is rusted barbed wire wrapped around more wire. If you look close one strand is in focus while the one right next to it, and a little back, is not. I can not stress enough how crazy shallow the area in focus is with macro shooting. To the point where there is now software that allows you to focus stack. You take many images and continually adjust the focus only to “stack” them later to create an image where the whole subject is in focus. Check it out, it’s in Amy and Bruce’s book. Pretty fascinating.

Well, that’s all I have for macro. In writing this I’ve learned that macro is not my area of focus, so to speak, in photography. It is a fascinating avenue to explore, however, if you are interested.

Happy Shooting!!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

TAHOE AND THE WEATHER

By Vicki Uthe

This blog is being written to showcase the extreme difference a day can make in the weather. It is also being shared to encourage you to go out in it, the weather I mean, and take advantage of nature’s drama unfolding before you.

Over President’s Day weekend this last February I had the good fortune of being  a part of a family retreat in South Lake Tahoe. I had never been there and was really looking forward to it. I was half expecting snow covered ground but realized they were probably getting similar weather patterns to Flagstaff, where I live, and on Saturday, our first full day there, the sun was shining, the water was calm and in the sun it was a lovely temperature.

Here’s a wide shot of the swimming hole created by the docks right below our cabin. The water was SO clear and the water had slight ripples on it from a light breeze.

The shoreline felt like a small pond, not a 23 mile long lake. My wife and I decided this would be a GREAT place to bring our stand up paddle boards back to and do some exploring.

Literally the calm before the storm. We kayak and SUP a lot on Lake Powell and usually  can only experience  calm waters like this early in the morning. We call it glass. The water is like glass and it is SO beautiful and serene to paddle board on.

Here is a nice image of my cousin and her family sitting on the corner of the pier enjoying the warm afternoon temperatures.

Vessels like this paddle wheel can only float on calm waters. These kinds of boats were not made for the waves that would come the next day.

We spent a lot of time on those docks that first day. It was so pretty and warm. I’ve never seen a seaplane land on Lake Powell! I’ve only seen them near ocean towns so this was a real treat. But again, it could only do it on calm waters.

By Saturday afternoon the winds were beginning to pick up. Here you can see the difference in the chop of the water.

By Sunday the winds were gusting at over 50 miles per hour. This brave, or foolish, soul was braving the waves on the once serene dock. Due to the spray I stayed back with my camera gear so as not to get soaked.

The once calm shoreline turned into angry ocean size waves. It was spectacular to be out it. I had to really set my stance so as to not get knocked over by the wind.

The waves did this thing where they would start at one end of the dock and move to the other end. It was really cool to watch.

This is that calm corner of the pier that my cousin and her family were sitting and calmly visiting just 12 hours before. This wave would have sent them swimming!

I highly encourage you to go out in weather and shoot. But be smart! Don’t go out when lightning is close and be sure to protect your camera gear from the elements.

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Know your Equipment and Location

By David Halgrimson

Since moving back to Minnesota I have been researching places to go for photo opportunities and found a couple near where I live. One is Swan Park in Monticello Minnesota 15 miles west and Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge 25 miles north of my home. Both easily accessed.

We moved back to MN in November just when the Trumpeter Swans were starting to return to a section of the Mississippi River in Monticello. They stay from November thru February when they mate and leave for their nesting locations. The Swans along with geese and ducks like this area as the river is open due to a power plant on the river to the north and because for the past 30 plus years they get free breakfast and lunch. The Swans are the main draw at Swan Park, a very small park, maybe 40 feet wide, overlooking the river where the birds spend their days, eating, mating and fighting.

For more information on the park and the swans visit this site, http://www.monticellocci.com/pages/Swans.

About knowing the location, not just the Swan Park location, but any location. When visiting in August I went to check out Swan park only to find out there are no swans there in august, but now I knew right where to go when they returned… scouting day one. Once settled after our move, I went back and was pleasantly surprised by not only the swans, ducks and geese but the sheer numbers of them. As the story goes, over 30 years ago there were only a handful of swans and now there can be as many as 2,700 on any given day. I needed to know how to get the best view, what equipment and clothing would be best, it’s dang cold here November thru February. Because people are not allowed down at the river’s edge the area is somewhat secluded, so a good winter coat and stocking hat, warm boots and most of all special gloves. I went through three different sets of gloves to find those that would somewhat keep my hands from freezing. I found mittens with internal gloves that fold open to reveal gloved fingers and thumb to operate the camera. The glove portion of the index and middle finger have a special coating that allows for touch screen operation. Still, my fingers get very cold and I need to warm them occasionally. Next, what kind of lighting might be best for the subject. This day was bright sunlight and I found that the white swans had a good chance of blowing out the histogram, maybe a cloudy or partly cloudy day would work better or perhaps lens filters might help… scouting day 2. Oh, yes I did take pictures.

So now about knowing your equipment. On scouting day 2 I took my Lumix GX8 with a 40-150mm f/2.8 and a 300mm f/4 prime lenses and no tripod. The birds are very active, swimming, diving, taking off, landing, fighting and feeding. A slow shutter would not work but how fast should it be? I tried 400-500 with some good results for the swimming and feeding but needed much faster for the flying, landings and takeoffs.

The Lumix and lenses being new to me and not having used it for birds before, I was not quite sure what settings to use so experimented with a number with mixed results and not to my personal standards. I also found the 300mm a bit too close for many of the shots but great for the birds coming in or taking off…scouting day two.

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 100 1/640th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

Not quite as sharp as I wanted as can be seen here. Part of that is the aperture of f/4 giving less DOF.

I went home to review my images and decided to do some research on best settings for the camera and lens combinations. After some testing and experimenting and finding the settings I thought would work best for me, I decided to setup a custom setting for wildlife on both camera bodies. This included the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, high speed burst and more, this way when I am shooting birds and fast moving subjects I don’t have to remember settings I can just set the camera(s) to custom 1 and start shooting and making small adjustments as needed from there.

Now with all the scouting complete and camera settings configured it was time to return for a real shoot. I took both camera bodies, one with the 40-150mm and one with the 300mm and, yes, a tripod. I used the 300mm on the tripod for the birds in the air and the 40-150mm hand held for the action on the water.

All the scouting, researching, testing and camera setup paid off big time. I went on a bright but cloudy day, cameras all ready, my warmest gloves, set up the tripod with the 300mm, hung the other around my neck and started shooting. The results were to me more than I expected.

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 hand held

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

As can be seen in these the DOF and sharpness are much better. This is due to the faster shutter and and smaller aperture settings.

Know you equipment and do your scouting, it pays off in the long run.

Check out Arizona Highways PhotoScapes at https://photography-workshops.directory/photographer/arizona-highways-photo-workshops/

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

LEE’S FERRY WITHOUT A BOAT

By Vicki Uthe

In November 2016 we loaded our mountain bikes and tent and headed to Lee’s Ferry for a three-day campout over Veteran’s Day. The weather was spectacular. The ferry is generally the fist thing you think of when launching a Colorado River trip through Grand Canyon but this time we didn’t bring boats, we brought bikes and hiking boots.

Paria Canyon meets the river here and created this riffle. There were other buildings near the put-in that housed the ferry company back in the day. I did not include them here but they are fun to explore and photograph as well.

We parked the cars for the weekend and took the bikes all over. We road out to Highway 89 and down the road to this dirt road that seemed to go on forever.

That’s Navajo Bridge in the background, the only way over the canyon for hundreds of miles. We also had a great view of the river below.

We ran across this hogan, a traditional Dine’ dwelling, out on a dirt road with the beautiful Vermillion Cliffs in the background.

This is just a fun low angle shot I took while out on the bike ride. I had with me my Canon S120 point and shoot because it was easy to slip in and out of my pocket. It is also an easy camera to shoot one handed.

I like shadows.

Shooting while riding…NOT recommended.

This is the gate to the local cemetery that tells a very sad story. There are several children buried here that all seemed to pass in the span of a year. Not sure what the illness was but it ravaged this family.

We parked our bikes at the opening to the Lonely Dell Ranch like they were horses. This property had several buildings and an orchard. It was a great place to shoot.

Heading down Cathedral Wash, this was the trickiest part. The hike was beautiful but nothing compared to what we got to see at the bottom, our beloved Colorado River!

Mud patterns and reflections

This rock looks like a turtle head!

We found a great beach to hang out on and enjoy the roar of the river. Beach time in Northern Arizona!

Go explore, bring your camera and document your adventures. It’s fun to go back and relive them through photographs.

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Photo Workshops vs. Photo Tours – What’s the difference?

By David Halgrimson

Have you had an opportunity to take a photography workshop? And, was it really a photo workshop or was it a photo tour? There is a difference!

A workshop is a learning experience to not only take you to great places for photo opportunities but also to guide and assist you in capturing superb images by locating the best places at the perfect time, seeing the light, identifying the best compositions, using proper camera settings and much more. A great workshop will provide group and one-on-one instruction with guidance from top photographers who make their living in photography and provide strong, approachable instruction. Image critiques, evaluation, and feedback from instructors and peers are some of the additional advantages of attending a notable, high-quality workshop.

On the other hand, a photo tour usually takes you to ideal locations, but leaves you on your own. This can be great for those who just need to get there, do not need any special assistance, and prefer limited interaction with others; it really leaves the learning process strictly to you, through trial and error.

When attending a workshop you not only get interaction with the photographer, but also the chance to share with the fellow participants, which in itself is a learning experience.  It is a perfect opportunity to develop camaraderie with individuals who share the same creative passions in photography and learning.  Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer, Arizona Highways PhotoScapes offers some of the best workshops around with the most exceptional photographers in the business.  The photographers intimately know the workshop locations, and will get you to the best spots at the most opportune times, then help you get your finest shot possible – all while encouraging you to take your creative vision a step further than before.

Being an Arizona Highways Photoscapes Volunteer Trip Leader for the last 11 years, has only encouraged my feelings on the truly exceptional benefits that transpire on an AHPS Photo Workshop.  I continue to encourage others to take advantage of these opportunities, as I know first-hand just how valuable they can be.

Tetons NP Wyoming

White Sands NM New Mexico

White Sands NM Balloon Festival New Mexico

Death Valley NM California

Palouse Washington State

For more information on these prime photography workshops through Arizona Highways PhotoScapes, check out their website at https://photography-workshops.directory/photographer/arizona-highways-photo-workshops/

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

PLATEAU POINT, GRAND CANYON

By Vicki Uthe

We (my wife and I) live in Flagstaff, AZ which means Grand Canyon’s South Rim is a little over an hour away and makes for a glorious day of hiking. We like to go to the canyon for training hikes to get in shape for longer hikes.

One such day found us at the South Rim heading down Bright Angel Trail toward Indian Garden, which you can see in this image as the splash of green on the right side in the smaller canyon, then out to Plateau Point. We did it with full 25# packs. It is six miles down which means six miles back up…12 total.

Here’s another image of Indian Gardens but showing the switchback of trail heading down. My constant dilemma when doing activities such as this is…WHICH CAMERA DO I BRING?!?  Weight is almost always the first concern. I believe strongly in the “Less is More” philosophy so I only own three camera bodies, two of which are identical. I have a mirrorless Lumix Gx8 times two with four lenses and a Canon S120 point and shoot that shoots RAW images.

These images, however, were taken before I switched my setup to something lighter and easier to travel with. These images were taken with a Canon 40D and 35-70mm lens. Far heavier than I am willing to travel with these days. This is the view from Plateau Point, a 1.5 mile jaunt from Indian Gardens, to the river below. If you look closely you can see a river raft parked at the large beach on the left.

Here’s the thing about this blog: I focus on  taking images when most travelers would be shooting, during the day. In a perfect world I would be here at sunrise and/or sunset, but in a traveler’s life, that is not realistic. Time is short and many things and places are crammed into a short period of time so it is my intent to show that, even though conditions are not ideal, it is still beneficial to bring your camera and snap some pictures.

The canyon had some wildflowers  in May when we hiked. Wildflowers are always worth a stop and a shot. Here I played with a wide open F/stop to blur the canyon in the background.

The Prickly Pear cactus were in bloom as well as the cactus below. The splashes of color on the hike were wonderful to see.

So take a camera, even on long hikes. Be aware of weight so you bring the correct one and don’t regret hauling it around. And then don’t forget to take it out and shoot with it!!!

Happy shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes