Category Archives: Images

Fenix HP30 Review

For those that follow me, you know I get a bit off the beaten path. In the last few years, that has included more and more canoeing. With a few planned shots of cypress at night, I wanted a headlamp that would help me navigate and be seen, should I be in a higher traffic area.I have also always been a flashlight junkie, looking for brighter and brighter lights. Well, with LED technology, this has advanced very quickly and allowed for more compact and powerful lights that actually have decent running times.

I have had a few of the random run-of-mill headlamps from Princeton-Tec, Black Diamond, etc. They are all basically the same. Plastic housings and around $40 and 40 lumens or so. Great for camp and hiking but when I am paddling I want much more illumination than that. Since I am using both hands to paddle, I could not use a handheld flashlight so I went looking for a more powerful headlamp. Enter the HP30. I was immediately impressed with the specs, 500 lumens on high and nearly 4 hours of runtime and an aluminum body. Also with 4 main brightness settings (4, 65, 200, 500 lumens, and turbo 900 lumens) it isn’t just a one trick pony. The other detail I really liked it that the reflector makes it more of a spotlight with a flip-up diffuser for when you want it more like a flood light. For paddling, this is great because I want more throw to my light, to see where I am going, but then can switch to a dimmer setting and put on the diffuser at my destination when I want to rummage through my gear and canoe. Also, if I am light-painting my subject at night, it will be nice to have both flood and spot in one light to try different effects.

The lamp with diffuser flipped up. The grey button turns it on and off and cycles through the brightness levels. Orange is momentary turbo mode.

I took the light out to the Everglades the other night to try it out and the high really is powerful. I have stronger handheld lights, but being used to the wimpier headlamps, the 500 lumens was really impressive and lit up everything I needed across the pond.

The downside of this power is additional weight from increased battery size. Fortunately, the battery pack is on a long cord that can reach your pants to clip on a belt loop. I actually dropped it in my shirt pocket, which is what will usually be available since I wear hiking shirts a lot. It was convenient enough and not an annoyance. One thing I really liked is the battery pack is not a self-contained unit that needs to be charged, but houses 2 18650 Lithium batteries. I already use these a lot and have rechargeable versions. This is great because I can have back-ups ready to go and just swap them out as needed. The other huge bonus I didn’t notice until I got the light is that the battery pack has a USB outlet to charge other accessories in an emergency.

The battery pack opened to show the removable 18650 batteries and the USB outlet.

All in all, I am really excited to get out with this light. The other option was a Light and Motion headlamp at several hundred dollars. For under $90 the HP30 seemed like a bargain, but after playing around with it, I definitely feel this is a great bang for your buck. It is exactly what I was looking for and I can’t wait to try it out this summer on some of my planned outings and images.

 

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Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is composed of 7 islands approximately 70 miles west of Key West. It also contains and protects about 101 square miles of marine habitat. The most notable landmark of Dry Tortugas, however, is Fort Jefferson. It was thought a good idea to have the fort to help protect the straits connecting the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Construction began in 1847 and continued on through the Civil War, but was never fully finished. It served as a prison during the Civil War and its most famous inhabitant was Samuel Mudd, an American physician who was convicted and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the 1865 assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

I had been wanting to get to the Tortugas for years and finally planned a trip this past December. I timed it for the full moon, so I could try some night photography. I booked a two night camping trip and got all my gear ready.

The trip started with 25 mph winds and made for a rough boat ride. I took the Yankee Freedom over, from Key West. I paid to have a kayak ferried with me, which never was launched do to wind. It also clouded over and I spent 2 days waiting for the wind to subside and the sun to come out. Snorkeling is supposed to be great down there, but with all the wind, visibility was pitiful. Just at sunset on the second day, the clouds began to break and I made sure to take advantage of it.

The clouds also stayed sparse enough for me to get something including the moon, or at least the light from it.

I went to sleep a little less nervous about a failed trip and awoke for sunrise. It didn’t amount to much but I knew what I wanted to do with the warm early light.

Although this image is iconic of Ft. Jefferson, I felt this light was pretty rare to capture. Most photographers are day-trippers and are never on the island when the light is this good. I camped for 2 nights and finally got this on the third day. Lucky me!

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Long Lens Landscapes

Seems a bit of a contradiction but a telephoto can be a very effective lens for compelling landscape images. I started out shooting landscapes with the ultra-wide angle, which can be utilized to create depth in an image through an in-your-face foreground pulling the viewer in. Long lenses of maybe 200mm plus can be great for isolation or compression of elements to show repeating lines and patterns. I have been slowly adding images when they present themselves, but on my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, I got 2 I was happy with and figured I would dig up some of the others.

At, 400mm I was able to isolate the layers of trees and the fog that separated them.

I was actually hoping to get an image like this from the Painted Hills before I even got there. I was happy the light cooperated, softly highlighting the center of the image so it was bordered in both color tone and luminosity.

A young slash pine among larger trees. The 400mm allowed me to isolate this tree and compress the depth of the background trees, giving the appearance of a denser forest.

Long lenses also can elp when the light is not ideal. Here, in tough light, I shot this scene in the shadowed side of the hill.

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Ft. Myers Beach Pier Variations

2 weeks ago I participated in Artfest Ft. Myers. So, after setting up on Friday I ran over to the Ft. Myers Beach Pier hoping for a nice sunset over it. I got a decent sunset but after that I continued to shoot. I never seem to be happy with just one take on a place and many times my favorite develops after I have gone through a few compositions. Anyways, here are a few different views I took. My personal favorite is the last, taken in the perfect balance of natural twilight and the glow of artificial lighting.

Thanks for looking!

Paul

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Those Foggy Mornings

I am not a morning person. As a photographer, this can be a big hindrance. It means I am missing 50% of the good-light opportunities of the day.  If you look through my portfolio you will notice a lot of sunsets. The sunrises, however, are a bit limited.

One thing that sunrises have that definitely helps pull me out of bed, is the possibility of fog. I always strive to have a mood or atmosphere to my images. This can be created most easily by lighting at the ends of the day(sunrise/sunset). Fog, however, really can ramp things up.

In the Everglades, I  seem to gravitate to the pinelands when it is foggy. Sometimes hard to shot, the fog can really simplify things and allow you to isolate elements easier. I went out twice recently and got several images I am happy with.

The first morning I stayed around the Long Pine Key Campground. There is a lake there with an awesome island of pines that is a wonderful element. I created this panoramic before the sun came up and the moody blues really helped here.

The Still of Morning

This morning was so thick with fog, and you could hear the condensation dripping off the trees.  It was perfectly still and quiet. As the sun broke through the fog I hiked out in the pinelands to get a composition I had in mind but never with these conditions. As I was hiking out to this spot (1 mile away) I could hear turkeys calling. They were reintroduced to Long Pine key after several attempts and it is good to know they have stuck around and not become bobcat food.

A New Beginning

I hiked back to the lake to see how everything looked with different lighting conditions and got this tighter shot of the island.

This was the first shoot of the year and for several months. It definitely helped renew my desire to get out and to create new images.

As the forecast called for fog again, I ran out a week later and it happened to coincide with the full moon. What is great about the full moon is that it rises and sets opposite the sun. This can help with the evening out of lighting conditions and lead to some dramatic images.

As I was driving out this morning I noticed the fog wasn’t as thick as I wanted. I was thinking of running out to the dwarf cypress but decided to go to Pine Glades Lake. I figured getting the  moon setting would be a nice image. I waited until the sun was about the break the horizon and got this image. It is a single image double processed to just barely bring back the overly bright moon. The sun’s light on the foreground helped to even out the dynamic range.

Moonset Over Pine Glades Lake

I briefly walked back into the pinelands and shot this clump of pines, with a nice glow behind them.

Fog doesn’t always help produce dramatic images but sometimes subtle is what you need. Still there is no denying it helps set the mood. Have a great weekend everyone!

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