The first week of May, 2011, my wife and I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah to do genealogy research and to also take photographs of Temple Square.
We had signed up with a small group of other genealogy researchers that call themselves "Our Little Genealogy Group." Becky, my wife, is more involved and serious about genealogy than I am. I guess I'm more of just a dabbler, though I do enjoy it to a degree.
There were a total of eight in our group. We stayed in the Plaza Hotel which is next door to the LDS Family History Library, which is also just across the street from the Mormon Tabernacle and Mormon Temple. When I got frustrated searching for my ancestors or got bored and needed to get away, I would take a break and head out with my camera and tripod to take photographs.
Most mornings, our group usually met for breakfast around 8 o'clock in JB's Restaurant in the hotel before going to the library. Several of those mornings I went out for about an hour to an hour and a half before breakfast and took pictures as the light was just spilling over the eastern Wasatch Mountains.
The Temple grounds were flooded with color from all the beautifully prepared flower gardens, which were mostly tulips.
On Sunday morning, May 8, two of our group had early flights out and departed for the airport, while the remaining six of us went out on a five hour sightseeing tour with Salt Lake City Tours which included a buffet lunch at a nice restaurant.
Our first stop was basically across the street from our hotel to watch and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during their Mother's Day performance which was being taped and also broadcast live over BYUTV.
This was our first day of possible stormy weather and rain all week. The skies were dark and dreary looking, but the rain did hold out until just about the end of our guided tour when some light rain and drizzle was encountered.
All the pictures you will see here were taken during that tour. I decided to just play tourist and carried my Nikon D700 camera with a 24-120 f/4.0 zoom lens around my neck. My backpack with other lenses and gear was put into secured storage along with our luggage at the hotel until we left for the airport. There is nothing spectacular about these images. They are just documentary photos that anyone with a good digital camera could have taken.
When I awoke this morning, the first thing heard over the local news was about the massive 8.9 earthquake and devastating tsunami that swept over the coast of Japan. Then there were predictions that later in the morning, the Hawaiian Islands would be impacted by a strong surge and eventually the entire western coast of the United States would be affected.
I thought about my July 2008 trip to the coast of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. I remembered the sign posted at the public access to the beach at Lincoln City.
On the evening before when my wife, Becky, and I found a motel for the night in Lincoln City, we struck up a conversation with the clerk about places to see and photograph. She told us about all the starfish we could find and photograph the next morning at low tide.
She told us to go to a small parking area which holds about four cars at the entrance to the beach, and to get there early. She said we would have to hike about a half mile or so up the beach to the seastacks.
The following morning, We checked out of the motel early and drove our rented Subaru Outback to the area she described. There was one parking space left which we took.
It was a damp and chilly morning. Becky and I hiked up the beach, but had doubts if we would see many starfish. We rounded a big rock and there they were, clinging to rocks and on the sand as described. Becky was ecstatic.
Glancing around at the rugged terrain that separated us from high ground, the thought did cross my mind that there was no way we could quickly escape to safety if we had to.
We got our pictures, headed back down the beach to our car, and left town in search of more photo opportunities farther down the coast.
After this recent disaster to Japan, it makes one realize that anywhere we go, there is no escaping risk.
Taking pictures of fireworks can be a challenge for many photographers, me included. In this article I will try to explain some of the pitfalls most of us face while trying to record the explosion of color on the camera's sensor.
First though, you must find a place where you can set up your tripod without worrying about people accidently kicking or tripping over it. Yes, a tripod is definitely a must unless you can find a wall, a post, or someplace where you can steady the camera while keeping the shutter open for several seconds during the exposure. A cable release or electronic remote is also equally important to minimize any camera movement.
Set your camera on manual mode so you have complete control of the exposure and focus. Next, set the ISO to 400 as a starting point which can then be adjusted up or down to compensate for any exposure differences. Set the aperature to f/11 and leave it there. F/11 will give a fairly good depth of field using a wide angle lens. Next, set the shutter to "Bulb" setting. This will let you hold the shutter open to record multiple bursts of color on each picture.
Last night at the Shelby County Fairgrounds event, I checked the camera monitor after a couple of shots and determined that the colors were too light. I adjusted the ISO to 200 which recorded more detail in the colorful streaks.
Take lots and lots of pictures during these events and you should take home some images that you can be proud of showing off.
Last updated or revised on January 8, 2015.
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