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stevekwiat August 12, 2016
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Behind The Lens

It was the last day of my fishing trip to the High Sierras and had planned to fish my way down Eastern High Sierras on Highway 395 but the weather and surroundings were too magical. When Convict Lake came into view, for the first time in my life, I thought of my camera instead of my fishing outfit. Spent the rest of the day seeking picturesque scenes as I drove towards Los Angeles, Ca. to fly home to Hawaii.
After several stops shooting early morning streams and high mountains first sunlight, I turned off the main highway to explore the Convict Lake area. It was void of people. It was after the tourist season in mid October and the mountains already had a sprinkling of termination dust. When the Lake came in to view around 8:30am, there was no wind and the lake looked like a mirror.
Everything I had been reading about photography boiled down to lighting in one way or another. When I saw the mountains around the tight valley the lake was nestled in all lit up with their reflection on the still lake, I elected to use my new tripod for the first time. As photography was new to me, I was trusting the knowledge I had read online and wanted the best capture possible of this gorgeous view before me. Everything in the valley was lighted and I knew this moment wouldn't last that long. I spent an hour trying different viewpoints around the lake and the lighting remained basically the same. As I drove from the valley, a cloud darkened the sky- I was gifted those moments.
My first camera took me over six months to research, compare and select according to my budget. The features on the new Nikon D 7000 seemed in line with what I was looking for. I found one on Ebay with a low shutter count. The lenses took longer. For a wide angle zoom lens (With close up fishing pictures and landscape in mind) I finally elected the Nikon 16-85mm. Knowing I would favor Landscape pics, I found a used Bogen Manfratto light weight telescopic tripod with carrying case. Also,purchased a Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote so not to disturb my landscape pics.
Fishing was my primary target, as usual, on this solo trip to the Eastern High Sierras, Ca. However, it was the first year that I had my new camera gear with me. When I woke that last morning, I started to search the map for various trout streams and lakes that I would drive by in route south. The morning was cold and still with a sprinkling of puffy clouds overhead and somehow extra bright and vibrant. This was the last day my out of state fishing license was valid and knew I wouldn't be returning till the next year from my home in Hawaii. But, the mountains and clouds were so dramatic in the morning light, I had to use my new camera gear and quickly forgot about fishing. This was the first time in my life this had happened. Suddenly, I was filled with the boyish excitement of adventure and ran with it. Even with trout jumping in the lakes I shot that day, I never touched my fishing gear.
No post anything. I didn't have Photoshop yet and didn't know about post editing at all. I learned photography by centering the pictures as I wanted to see them in print. I practiced this centering for the next year never cropping any of my pics.
In my camera bag
Being very persnickety, I traded in my first lenses, a Nikon 16-85 and Nikon 70-300, for the Nikon 24-70 and 70-200 to get an even more detailed, crisp capture. My dream camera is the Nikon D-800e, but still learning on my old D 7000.
Don't pass up the moments when the lighting and subjects are perfect and be willing to do a little work to get the shots you feel are best. This may mean lugging your gear over rough terrain and packing more gear than you think you need. When the lighting is not perfect, but you know you won't have an opportunity to shoot your selected subjects again, use your camera settings and equipment knowledge to get the most out of what you have to work with. There is always a great pic to be had one way or another.

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