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Offical 2011 Eastern Sierra/Owens Valley FAQ/Q&A

mmariant

Morro Bay, US
677 posts

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mmariant Team Member Expert photography teacher Nikonian since 21st Jun 2008
Sat 25-Jun-11 04:05 AM

The October 2011 Eastern Sierra & Owens Valley workshop is sold out for this year. Due to unprecedented popular demand (the workshop sold out nine months prior to the start date), we added an additional 5 spots for the workshop, and they sold out quickly as well. I have hired an additional instructor, Joe Johnston, to assist during the workshop. Joe has assisted on the Big Sur 2010 workshop, as well as this spring's Death Valley workshop, and brings a wealth of photographic knowledge to the workshop!


LOCATIONS:
As a teaser for the workshop, a quick summary of locations:
• Mt. Whitney (tallest mountain in the lower 48)
• Mono Lake (tufa spires rising out of the calm waters under the alpine glow at sunrise)
• Bristlecone Pine Forest (oldest living things in the world(!) and beuatifully sculpted)
• Alabama Hills (bizarre rock formations)
• Bodie Ghost Town (this place is legendary; sprawling ghost town in an arrested state of decay!)
• Lundy Lake/Canyon & Mill Creek (the beaver pond always ends up being a workshop favorite)
• Bishop Creek (this is the true secret location for many landscape photographers, with aspen groves tucked under glacial peaks)
• Dramatic sunsets and sunrises over the Sierra Nevada range, from locations deep in the mountains
• And a special star trails location that just can't be beat!

A big plus for this workshop is that it is not located in a National Park or an isolated location. The workshop base is in Bishop, Calif., a large city with numerous motel and dining options. This keeps the collateral costs (lodging, food) at a low price point, compared to the inflated prices you find in the national parks and other isolated locations.


SCHEDULE:
If you read the comments from previous workshops, you know that this workshop has a great diversity of locations from low deserts to high-altitude mountains, with lots of early mornings and late nights. I believe one person put it best when they said, "Who needs sleep and oxygen!"

To help ease everyone into the rough schedule we will be having, here are the daily start/end times for the workshop:

Thurs, Oct 20th:
Start: 9:00am in Bishop
End: 7:30pm ETA back in Bishop

Fri, Oct 21st:
Start: 5:30am departure from Bishop
End: 11:00pm ETA back in Bishop (mid-afternoon break back in Bishop scheduled with late lunch/early dinner)

Sat, Oct 22nd:
Start: 5:30am departure from Bishop
End: 8:30pm ETA back in Bishop

Sun, Oct 23rd:
Start: 5:00am departure from Bishop
End: Noon workshop completion.

There is a rest period set in the mid-afternoon for both Friday and Saturday, as I know that it's nearly impossible to keep the type of schedule we will be doing. And the early morning and late evenings are the crucial events/locations of the workshop.



ACCOMMODATIONS & TRAVEL:
We will be staying in Bishop, located on Highway 395. Please use this link to download a list of recommended hotels as well as the workshop start time and location.
http://www.nikonians.org/dcfp/user_files/198085.pdf


MEALS:
The workshop schedule usually allows for a sit-down breakfast and sit-down dinner every day, while some days we will have a sit-down lunch or get a lunch to-go in order to maximize our shooting time. NOTE: Every day, we will not be eating breakfast until AFTER our first shooting location. Since we will be at our first location pre-dawn, if you are the type that needs to get a little something in your stomach first thing, I recommend bringing some snacks for pre-breakfast.


WORKSHOP SCHEDULE:
The workshop will begin on Thursday, October 20 with the required orientation during breakfast, and will conclude Sunday, May 23 just after lunch, allowing for travel time back to the airport/home.

Each day will include a full-schedule of shooting of all the environments of the Eastern Sierra & Owens Valley. We will begin at sunrise and go to sunset each day, with some days going well past sunset. There will also be an exercise in "Astro Photography" one of the nights.

A detailed itinerary of our daily schedule will be provided to everyone during the workshop orientation.


TRANSPORTATION:
During the breakfast orientation, we will make carpooling choices to avoid having a caravan of vehicles with one driver in each vehicle! Four cars will easily support transportation needs for the four days. If there are members of this group who have a vehicle ideal for carpooling and are willing to volunteer, I applaud you for your efforts.

In addition, if workshop participants are driving from the same areas, or flying into the same airport, I strongly recommend establishing a carpool to and from Bishop for both before and after the workshop. Please post in the forum below where you are coming from or the airport you are flying into so that we can begin that dialogue.

*** PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR ARRIVAL DETAILS, INCLUDING IF YOU ARE CARPOOLING. I would appreciate it if everyone could email me at mmariant@nikonians.org their travel plans AND their cell phone contact information so if there is a problem with arrivals, we can communicate. I will reply to your email with my cell phone number.


TERRAIN:
Nearly all of our photo locations are either just off trail or in fairly level locations. Some might require light boulder-scrambling for additional vantage points, if desired. Some of the locations that we will be shooting at are of high elevation, including over 10,000 feet. Yes, you do experience shortness of breath. We take it very easy at the upper elevations. If you have concerns or reservations about this, please privately email me at: mmariant@nikonians.org


PHOTO EQUIPMENT:
• While a full-range of focal-length lenses, from wide to medium-tele is sufficient for this workshop, I am not one to state that the workshop requires certain lenses or cameras in order to properly capture the scene. Lenses that start in the 17mm range on the wide side and top out at 200mm on the long side will do a fine job. Chances of seeing wildlife and needing a 300mm or longer lens? About 1-5%.

• A tripod is a must, however.

• One piece of equipment that I strongly recommend is a graduated neutral density (ND) filter. There are several options out there for filters, varying from graduatedto the Vario-n-Duo. The graduated ND filter that I would recommend would be either a 2-stop or 3-stop soft graduated filter. These help balance out the brighter sky to the dark foreground. The region that we will be exploring is ground zero for the advent and application of grad filters. Again, not required, but would be helpful. Can you survive without the grad filter? Absolutely. There are two options for these graduated neutral density filters: glass or plastic/resin. Glass is more expensive, but better quality, while the plastic/resin produce some horrible and unacceptable color casts on longer exposures. Stay away from the plastic ones at all costs, if you can.

Within these graduated ND filters, there are two types referred to as 'hard' or 'soft', in reference to how the degree of gradation. Hard has almost a delineated line between the clear portion of the filter and the darker ND portion. Soft has a more gradual gradation and I recommend the 'soft' filter for first-time use.

Note the the amount of ND is referred to in a decimal form, with every .3 being -1 stop of light. So a .9 would be -3 ND.

For landscape photography, I would recommend a -3 stop soft graduated ND filter.

Here is the link to the filters at B&H:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=graduated+neutral+density+filters&N=0&InitialSearch=yes

Note that these filters measure 4"x4", 4"x4.5" or 4"x5" in dimension. They can be hand-held or (ideally) placed in a Cokin P-filter holder. This opens up another proverbial 'can of worms' as the P-filter holder attaches to the end of the lens on the P-filter adapter ring. So the ring goes on the lens, the P-filter holder goes on the adapter ring and the filter goes in the P-filter holder.

• There will be an evening of star trails and astrophotography, one of the highlights of the workshop. You don't need any experience for this type of photography as there will be full instruction on the technique and methods. What will be needed is a cable release that allows you to lock the shutter for longer then 30 seconds. Not a cable release that simply clicks the shutter, but rather can hold the shutter open for any length of time. (Check your camera/manual to determine exactly what your camera is capable of doing and what type of shutter release you would need. Some cameras can hold the shutter open on 'bulb' with a locking camera release cable.) If you bring the wrong one (or don't bring one at all) you will be greatly disappointed in not being able to participate in the star trails exercise.

• I also suggest bringing a flash if you have one, as you might want to use it to 'paint' the foreground in the sunrise or sunset shots, as well as during our "Astro Photography" exercise to paint our foreground object.

In regards to carrying your camera equipment, I strongly recommend a small photo backpack, waistbelt and/or chest harness (such as those from ThinkTank) as it will be much easier to carry your gear in this manner than with a bulky camera bag. When packing and choosing your gear to bring, remember one thing: keep it simple and light!


NON-PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT:
• Alarm clock

• Cool clothes for the day and light-weight jacket for the evenings (daytime temps in Owens Valley will be in the low 90s while in the low 70s in the upper elevations. Evening temperatures could drop to the low 40s)

• A flashlight/head lamp and hat are REQUIRED.

• Good light-duty hiking boots with excellent traction are REQUIRED as we will be off-trail and might be doing some light boulder scrambling at times and good foot traction and strong ankle support is necessary.


**************


That should do it! Feel free to post any questions here in this dedicated Eastern Sierra & Owens Valley 2011 workshop thread.

See you in the outdoors!


Attachment #1, (pdf file)

____________________________
Michael A. Mariant
Nikonians Academy Faculty
Master Your Vision Workshops

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