Sometimes, not only is it a lazy day, it’s a “why bother to go anywhere else to shoot day.” That describes my backyard out here in the wilds of New Mexico. Sometimes an amazing scene appears out of nowhere and I’ll just grab the nearest camera. That may not be the best one, but light changes so fast around here that I can’t get particular. Since most of the focus is on sky and clouds, that creates a big problem when crunching these down as small JPEGs. Because there is so much subtlety and gradation in those clouds, they tend to become blotchy as they are compressed. So I have to compromise.
We haven’t gotten a lot of snow this year. It keeps missing us, but all the surrounding areas are getting epic amounts. Oh well, January is typically a dry month in the local mountains. February and March are generally when we get most of our snow pack which is so important for the Spring run-off. The smoke in the lower right photograph is the result of what’s called a “Controlled Burn” around here. The Forest Service will start a fire to burn out dead leaves and logs that could ignite during the hot weather.
Today was bleak, very dark and moody up there, as my title suggests. We are skiing at 12,000 feet and mountain weather can change VERY quickly and dramatically. I always have the tiny Sony HX-99 with me because it fits in the front ski pocket and I hardly know it’s there. The sensor is small, but I continue to be amazed at what a good job it does…capturing a lot of detail with a pretty nice dynamic range. I used to try carrying the “real” camera with me, but it was just too much effort and it put an expensive camera in harm’s way. I couldn’t adequately protect it. By the way, I also would NOT want to fall on it! Ouch and Snap.
This is supposed to be a site dedicated to black and white photographs only. But I’m going to make an exception here. This was the “Biblical” event in our skies that I was awed by as I drove home yesterday. It filled the entire sky and here is the jpeg-compressed pale imitation of what I saw. I had to pull over and just watch as the light changed. Luckily I had the Olympus M5iii with me. For a small sensor, I’m always amazed at how able it is. I haven’t added any color or contrast.
We never get tired of the dramatic play of light in New Mexico. Because we’re at 7000 feet, and higher, we get these deep blue skies. Well, that translates into a deep gray in these black and white photos.
The picture at the top and bottom right was taken with a new camera for me. It’s been around for awhile, but curiosity made me give it a try. That’s the Olympus OMD M5 M3. I had one of the earliest Olympus OMs a long time ago. It was called the OM-1, a film camera, and it was unique for its time…small and beautifully crafted. I think I wore it out. The Zuiko lenses were fantastic even then.
So that was part of the influence that moved me to try Olympus once more. I liked the possibility of “focus stacking” in camera and the 1:1 format which I love but cannot get with the Sony A6500 (which is another gem). That image was shot with the lens which Olympus is now packaging as a kit with the camera body, the weather-proof, 12-45mm f4. That’s the equivalent of a 24-90mm in full frame terms. I’ve shot many more pictures since, and I am impressed. Really impressed with it. That’s a micro 4/3rds sensor that honestly rivals the quality of the A6500. Of course the 6500 can see in the dark when paired up with the Sigma 56mm f1.4, but the IBIS on this camera is astounding and nothing like I’ve ever experienced. The lens is also astounding. The weather-proofing is probably second to none as well. And it’s small and light just like its great, great, great, grandparent the OM-1.
The pictures on the sand dunes were taken at White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico. If you don’t have a weather-sealed camera and lens in that environment when the winds kick up, your camera is done for!
I see quite a bit of color-banding and hazing in some of the images. That results from crunching these pictures into JPEGS that will load reasonably fast. The color is NOT part of the original RAW or PSD files. I don’t know why that happened this time since I’m using the same procedure as always. I increased the resolution and I’m still seeing it. I think it’s due to the amazing subtlety and gradation of the clouds and sky.
Others shots show first snow in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Maybe it will be an early ski season? The other pictures of people walking were taken in my neighborhood. There’s a lot of space out here. Not many people. I like that.
I went skiing for the first time this season. We have little snow in our mountains and we’re limited to three or four runs. I don’t care. The views there are amazing and the snow was fast.
At this time of the year, the shadows are long and dramatic and I love the way they print the snow with strong linear patterns. I’m always attracted to those strong black and white, figure/ground scenes. For mountain activities, I use the VERY small Sony HX-99 camera. It fits in the front of my jacket where it can stay nice and warm. This camera has a tiny sensor (1/2 inch) but it shoots RAW. It always amazes me. And for anyone who doesn’t need to make large prints, give it a try. It’s a lot of camera in a really small package.
It’s unusual for the weather to be gloomy here. We ski in bright sunshine most of the season. But when it snows, it snows! Our snow is feather-light most of the time. That’s great for powder skiing, but it takes a while to establish a base as a result.