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Luck Sure Helps
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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Luck Sure Helps
Luck Sure Helps
Luck Sure Helps
Luck Sure Helps
Luck Sure Helps
Luck Sure Helps

    There’re lots of popular trails that wind up the Chisos Mts. here in Big Bend N.P. near Chisos Village Camp Ground where I’ll be for three days and nights starting March 30, but I’ll be looking at those mountain tops from the bottom. I thought I was in fairly good shape, but this 5,000 foot altitude is whipping me and all of those trails go up. I walked to the vista where you can see out through the Windows, an opening in the mountains, at the bluffs and Chihuahua Desert in the distance for maybe 10-15 miles. It’s only .4 mile from my site where my nest (slide-in camper on a pick up truck) is parked, but it was like climbing a staircase with more than 1,000 steps. I had to stop every ten steps, pant and recover. I know better, I won’t be climbing the peaks. Living at less than a foot of elevation on the DelMarva Peninsula that has no climbs except the stairmaster at the gym, where I go to get my lungs in condition for the thin air and continual climb. In a couple days I’ll be moving closer to the Rio Grande River which is less than 2,000 feet above sea level, more like Maryland. This is a well planned campground. There’re about 60- 70 sites, but each has plenty of privacy.  The park is about the size of the state of Rhode Island and contains a mountain range, miles and miles of the desert, 90-plus miles of the wild Rio Grande River, and Boquillas and Santa Elena Canyons, which that River flows through. It’s truly a magnificent and varied landscape.
    In Big Cypress, America’s Jungle, in the EverGlades, I could carry my 100-400mm telephoto lens on a medium weight Canon Rebel SLR camera, another comparable camera with a medium range (18-135mm) telephoto lens in a waistline pack; sometimes I’d put another camera with my 180mm closeup lens in a pistol holster case and maybe a tripod wedged in my belt. All in all that was 25-30 lbs. of weight, but it didn’t bother me. Here I can’t do that. I bought a new Panasonic Lumix DMC-F270 with a 20-800mm fixed lens to replace my knock around/bar camera that is light. I’ll be carrying that one a lot.  Although tonight I’ll be taking a Canon camera with a medium zoom lens to the vista. The wind has been blowing all day at 15-30mph clip, so the sky is cloudless and it is very clear.  I want the advantage of that camera’s Fstop 38 for recording the distant detail of the landscape. The Lumix only goes to F8. I guess for the convenience of being light weight and much less cost, I have to give something up.
    I climbed to the vista, saw pretty much what I saw last night, but I’m a photographer, so I still took a couple photos.  Now, for one of the biggest events of each day for me, downloading, looking at, and editing my photos. I don’t get a picture of everything I see, but what I get records the day’s happenings and some pretty amazing stuff.
    I have a program that allows me to combine photos into panoramas if I start at the far left, then center, then right and make sure each image overlaps a little at the edge with a shot before it of scenic view too big to include in the camera. I can also merge different light settings (Fstop, shutter speed or ISO/ASA) of the same subject or scene, so I can brighten shadows, eliminate highlites and create what is called the High Dynamic Range of the scene. That’s really nice and impresses me! Yesterday when I went to photograph the sunset, the people from the other campsites went to the same place. I’m not unsociable, but don’t bother me when I’m doing my photos. When I’m distracted I miss things.
    How do I get such good photos of wildlife and scenery? Of course there are many detailed reasons, but being in a place where I know I’ll get the chance many times and for long periods of time is paramount. Going on a tour usually doesn’t work. I need to set my own agenda.  Photography is not a group event and lots and lots of patience is needed. I have to stay ready, talking to someone prevents that; the camera needs to be in my hands and the proper settings have to be already done. If your camera is in a case, it just takes too long to retrieve it to catch the action, and my eyes have become motion detectors, because motion can indicate that’s where wildlife is. Of course a little luck sure helps, too.
    Identifying wildlife can be tough and I always don’t accomplish it in detail. A good reference book helps, knowing what can be seen in that location limits the possibilities, and when possible, I later ask a local or someone at a visitor center. A lot of times I just enjoy and the exact kind of insect or tree, etc., really doesn’t matter. I do know what most animals and birds are, though, but of course not all.
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