Back in July 2009, I bought myself my first, and still only, real camera.
By real, I mean a DSLR. Specifically the Nikon D90. I’m not sure why I chose this specific model, more than likely it was at the high end of my budget, but I know I selected Nikon because one of my diving buddies swore by Nikon, so I bought it.
It’s the camera I took to Tanzania in 2011 (along with a small Canon point and shoot that I have since given away to my nephew to make movies with). I can’t say I was a great photographer – I definitely lived on Auto and practiced Spray and Pray.
However, back in 2011, I either read something or saw something about light painting, and I had this grand idea to play around with long exposures using sparklers.
I got some really fun shots but didn’t continue doing this at all.
Anyways, I have this fancy camera that is now an antique, but I feel like it’s pretty solid and can do some wonderful things even today.
Like take pictures of hot air balloons.
But I’m still shooting auto.
Photography is definitely a hobby or skill that you have to continually practice, or you’ll lose it. Today, I am still having a brain block in understanding the different settings and knowing which ones to use on the fly, but I just need to get out there and practice.
At the end of next month we’re going to be heading out to California for my mom’s memorial service. My mom passed away in October of 2022, and she wanted her ashes spread back in Lone Pine. I haven’t been back to Lone Pine since June of 2005 when my sister graduated from high school.
Since I don’t know the next time I’ll be back, plus the fact that Katie has never been, I wanted the opportunity to try and get some really good pictures while there. Plus we’re taking a roundabout trip there and back, so we’ll get to experience quite a big of the Sierras (and the Inyos) on our drive, not to mention some of the scenery we’ll drive through in Utah on the way back.
While I may not fully understand cameras and lenses, I knew I wanted something specifically for landscapes. Apparently that’s a wide angle lens. So while trying to research the “best” lens to get, I remembered that lots of places rent them, so I started looking at renting a lens.
But then YouTube distracted me. (What did we do before YouTube? I’ve learned so much from there.) I was trying to find some good videos about landscape photography (and astrophotography!) I came across a video where the photographer was using a Tokina lens. So more research was done, and I found that this particular lens is very highly rated, and I could find a great condition used version for not much more than renting a comparable Nikkor lens. So I bought it.
I present my Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 wide angle lens.
After inspecting the new/used lens (I had never bought used camera gear before) it appeared to be in great condition. It came with all of the caps and the lens hood (I bought a circular polarized filter for it). Everything except a lens bag.
My plan was to take some random shots off my balcony using my tripod to get an idea of what it looked like, but I couldn’t find the tripod mount (I have since located it – but still can’t find my remote or my Eye-Fi card) so I had to hold my camera with my hands. I wanted to use a tripod just to have the camera in the exact same location every time.
All pictures were with auto focus enabled and in Aperture priority mode.
My first image was using my 55-200mm lens. This picture is at 55m f/4.
Same shot, just using my 18-105mm lens. The picture is at 18mm f/3.5.
The last of previous collection of lenses is my 35mm prime lens
And finally, the new lens. Taken at the widest setting – 11mm – even to this untrained eye I can see a huge difference in how much scenery can be captured.
My plan today was to take my camera and new lens out when I went for a walk and see how it worked with better subjects, but it’s far too windy today.
I have about a month to get used to using this lens and maybe to even try my hand at some astrophotography. The light pollution in Lone Pine is pretty minimal (especially compared to here in Colorado) but it won’t be a new moon when we’re there. Maybe I can still get something before the moon rises (or as it sets).
I remember my grandfather always trying to video the Sunrise on Mount Whitney (yes, Whitney is on the west, but when the sun rose over the Inyos, it would light up the Sierras spectacularly, and I would love to try and capture that. Be a nice homage to Bub.