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Outdoor photography at Oak Creek, part one

Outdoor photography encompasses a myriad of subjects from landscapes to avian creatures crossing the heavens above. I’ll be exploring this subject on a regular basis, sharing my gear selection, techniques, composition and much more.

Oak Creek, Arizona

Combing through my files and today I talk about a visit to the banks of Oak Creek in Sedona, AZ. Getting out into the open air in among the Vortexes of Sedona is a great pick me up. Being behind the screen of the electronic world in which you and I spend a fair amount of time as photographers can get old. Afternoon on the banks of Oak Creek near Cathedral Rock with dappled sunlight and cool breezes is heavenly.

The gear

I was formerly a Panasonic Lumix Ambassador, therefore I have a lot of their gear. My thoughts and recommendations will lean in that direction since that is the gear I use. Know that other camera companies have similar systems especially Olympus. Panasonic and Olympus share the same lens mount which means there are more lens choices available.

Since I was out for the afternoon, I took a lot of gear to have many options for various shooting situations. Included in that day’s kit were three cameras, five lenses and two tripods. The reason I was able to pack so many alternatives is that of the light weight of Panasonic’s micro four-thirds camera system.

The super long reach of the 100-400 lens zoomed long makes for a beautiful, almost macro, feel to the images

The first camera and lens has been one of my favorites, the Lumix GX85 with the Leica 100-400mm lens. (side note – the Lumix GX85 plus two lenses is currently a smokin’ deal at B&H for under $500!) The Leica 100-400mm lens is about $1600 but I use this lens tons when making outdoor images.

This is a killer combination for wildlife and art photography. One of the reasons this combo works so well is the five-axis image stabilization in camera plus two axis in the paired lens. This combination gives an extra five stops of handhold-ability. I find no need for a tripod in almost any situation, unless it involves multiple exposures for creation of a single image. The weight is only four pounds.

Wildlife

The 400mm zoom (similar to a 800mm view on full-frame cameras) allows you to not disturb the wildlife yet still get a large image of the subject in the frame.

Of course, reaching across the creek for small wildlife and getting plenty of detail is evident. The 100-400mm lens has a similar view to a 200-800mm in the full-frame world and with the stabilization makes for sharp images.

Another feature that helps in obtaining sharp images is the removal of the anti-alias filter. This was placed in front of sensors in the past to help prevent moire patterns. That is now being handled by the processing engine. The filter blurred detail. The noise patterns showed the adverse effects using this filter. I am getting a film grain-like noise which is allowing me to push up ISO if necessary with no ill effects.

The background flowers were quite small but using the lens at 400mm it causes the flowers to be viewed quite large in relation to the grasses.

These were just a few images from this camera/lens combo. In my next post I’ll share why I bring another camera and the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens (along with a couple of others). Outdoor photography brings a lot of opportunity for a day out and just being creative with your image making.

Check out more of my favorite gear when hiking and photographing wildflowers.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

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