Aerial Volcano Photography

Ok well Mount St Helens isn’t an active volcano per se.  It last erupted and basically blew its top off in May of 1980.  Like most people in Seattle of a certain age, I remember what I was doing on that date.  I was rollerskating around Gasworks Park to Donna Summer.  Ok then.

Anyway, the result of the happenings on that date back in 1980 are a very photogenic crater in SW Washington.  I have a friend who likes to fly and we went up last night and headed down to Mount St Helens. I brought two Zeiss prime MF lenses and my Sony a7r2. My friend who was also shooting had his 5DSr and 24-70.

I was in the front seat, wearing all black to reduce glare. Kurt basically flies wherever we need to get the shots we want. I had the camera set to internal stabilization and the MF lens set to infinity. When I shot out the side window, glare creeped in but shooting through the curved front glass cut it down considerably. I watched my shutter speeds to keep them above 1/300 as much as possible.

I got about 1000 RAW files and so far about 85% are keepers…I love this perspective of the mountain and I think we both did a nice job of capturing the sunset light.

Approaching Boeing Field at Night Seattle Aerial night Photography

Approaching Boeing Field at Night

Sunstar Lights Up Mount St Helens at Sunset

Sunstar Lights Up Mount St Helens at Sunset

Golden Light on Mount St Helens from the Air

Golden Light on Mount St Helens from the Air

Sunset Skies Above Mount St Helens from the Air

Sunset Skies Above Mount St Helens from the Air

Sunrays Bathe the Volcanic Wasteland Below St Helens from the Air

Sunrays Bathe the Volcanic Wasteland Below St Helens from the Air

Mount St Helens Aerial Crater Closeup

Mount St Helens Aerial Crater Closeup

Mount St Helens Aerial Photography Sunset

Mount St Helens Aerial Photography Sunset

Snow and Mud Details along the Crater of St Helens Aerial

Snow and Mud Details along the Crater of St Helens Aerial

Crater of St Helens onto Spirit Lake and Rainier in the Distance

Crater of St Helens onto Spirit Lake and Rainier in the Distance

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Sunset Light Warms up the St Helens Crater Aerial Photography

Edge of St Helens Crater and Rainier in the Distance Aerial Photography

Edge of St Helens Crater and Rainier in the Distance Aerial Photography

Approaching Mount St Helens By Helicopter Panorama

Approaching Mount St Helens By Helicopter Panorama

 

 

First Visit to the Banff Area for Photography

I finally made a trip the Banff area for photos.  I think its hard to be a landscape photographer and not be aware of the beauty in this area.  June seemed to be a good time to go.  Lakes were melted out and the summer crowds had yet to hit hard.  We went for a week, flying into Calgary, renting a car and heading west.

Our first stop was a night in the Fairmont Lake Louise.  I was pleasantly surprised to be upgraded from our basic room to one of the 5 best rooms in the hotel .  Amazing views and it really set the bar high for our trip.

The weather, however, wasn’t as spectacular.  Clouds, rain, and wind were on the menu for the first few days.  This allowed a lot of scouting however and we drove all over figuring out compositions and how to get to certain places.

The remainder of our stay was in Canmore.  I learned not only is Banff mostly a sunrise location (to me) but also being in Canmore was a bit far from the spots I wanted to be at around sunrise.

A few highlights from the trip:

Moraine Lake Banff Sunrise Alpenglow Reflection

Moraine Lake Banff Sunrise Alpenglow Reflection

Peyto Lake 10mm Cloudscape

Peyto Lake 10mm Cloudscape

Banff Avenue and Snow Peak

Banff Avenue and Snow Peak

Mount Rundle and Vermillion Lakes

Mount Rundle and Vermillion Lakes

Fairmont Lake Louise

Fairmont Lake Louise

Peaks Above Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Peaks Above Moraine Lake at Sunrise

Schlepping That Beast – Zeiss 28mm Otus Goes to Europe

I sent a few photos from my trip to my contact at Zeiss.  Her response was:

“Wow, Mike. These are great.  You should get some badge of honor for schlepping that beast around with you.”

It didn’t seem like much at the time but yes the Zeiss 28mm Otus isn’t subtle.  I had planned my visit to London and Paris around my Zeiss deliverables, but you really have to carry it day to day to get the whole picture of its size.  It’s kind of like the Blazing Saddles Moment. “S’cuse me while I whip this out…”  On the other hand, most of my shots are handheld, so it’s clearly manageable.

The payoff of course is stunning image quality.  Shots that really stood out on my editing laptop really bloomed in vivid, contrasty detail on my home 34″ 4K monitor.  And clearly my editors at Zeiss are happy.  Now where’s my badge?  🙂 #zeiss

Liberty London Interior Zeiss 28mm OtusParis Pons Invalides at Sunset Zeiss 28mm OtusParis Palais Garnier Opera House Stairwells Zeiss 28mm OtusParis Palais Garnier Opera House Ceiling Zeiss 28mm OtusParis Dusk Notre Dame and the Seine Zeiss 28mm OtusParis Dusk Flower Shop Zeiss 28mm OtusParis Dusk Eiffel Tower Shadow Zeiss 28mm OtusTower Bridge View from the Tower of London Zeiss 28mm OtusThames Sunset Big Ben Reflection Zeiss 28mm Otus

 

London and Paris Redux

My last visit to these two cities was years ago.  I had just gotten my first serious camera, a Canon Digital Rebel and kit lens.  I got some nice shots and promised myself I would be back.

I learned I was going to visit them again about two months ago and started researching shots and locales.  I also put together a gear list.  Three weeks ago, Zeiss had provided me with a 28mm f/1.4 Otus and I knew this would be prime hunting grounds for this gem of a lens.  My camera pack came together like this:

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Bag full of Zeiss goodness headed to Europe

So the adventure began on the 14th and started in London, where we had rented an airnbn with a great view.

London along the Thames night view of the Tower Bridge

Next night it was up to the Shard for some handheld night shots of the city.  The 85mm Otus was my savior for sharp night shots from above.

Zeiss 85mm Otus handheld night shot of the Tower Bridge from the Shard

Zeiss 85mm Otus handheld night shot of the St Pauls and the Thames from the Shard

Really an amazing place, the Shard.  The next day we were off to the Tower to see how the 28mm Otus did.  More on that later  🙂

 

Over Seattle. Aerial Shooting with Sony a7r2 and Zeiss 55mm

Got about an hour’s notice to go flying but I can definitely be ready quickly.  We flew for about an hour around Seattle and I was able to capture several great shots.  Most were keepers in fact.  I was shooting through glass in a Robinson R66 copter. #seattle #aerial

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Nighttime Empire State Building Photography

I had read a bit about going to the Empire State Building and shooting with a tripod.  Apparently things had changed a bit especially with their increased security.  They confiscated my tripod.  I was later able to get it back but I knew it would make my night shooting more challenging.  I had two lenses with me:  Zeiss 85mm Otus 1.4 and Zeiss 55mm 1.8.  I set my Sony a7r2 settings to manual focus, timer shutter and Optical Stabilization On.  I focused carefully using focus preview and checked the shots afterwards for sharpeness.  I think I did ok.  #empirestatebuilding.

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Times Square Night Photography from the Empire State Building

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Times Square Night Photography from the Empire State Building

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Brooklyn Queens Night Photography from the Empire State Building

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Downtown Manhattan Night Photography from the Empire State Building

Flying Around the Snowy Cascades

Had the chance yesterday to go flying with some friends up around the Central Cascades as we got a nice clear day finally.  I went with my Sony A7R2 for its in-camera lens stabilization and my Zeiss 55/1.8 lens for its fast aperture and great rendering.  With the settings on Continuous AF, Steady Shot set at 55mm and burst mode, I got mostly keepers.

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View of the Snowy Cascade range

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Snowy Cascades in the foreground leading up to Mount Rainier

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A snowy Ridge atop the Cascades

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Very popular hike called Mount Si peaks here, with a view back towards Seattle