Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra, 18 ~ 25 October 2009
These are snaps I made while on Dave Wyman's October 2009 Yosemite and Bodie trips.
Now that there is a serious digital camera with a Made-in-USA image sensor, I decided to support American jobs and buy American for a change. Presented with a reasonable alternative to buy a quality American or European product, I will every time.
Thus I chose the LEICA M9 for most of these photos, whose image sensor is made by Kodak in Rochester, New York, USA, just like the sensors they put in missiles, spacecraft and satellites.
I've provided the full-resolution original JPG and DNG files in many cases for those of you who would like to see the quality I can get from this American-made sensor. I've also provided many JPGs as saved from the DNG files opened in Photoshop CS2 or CS4. It was files like this, sent to me by a friend who got an M9 before I did, that sold me on the incredible imaging power of the LEICA M9 and its extraordinary lenses. These files do things that DSLRs can't. To an experienced eye, these original files are incredible for their pixel-by-pixel sharpness that DSLRs just can't match.
I have not played with any of the colors. In one or two cases I did some minor cropping to shape, minor levels tweaks or dodging, but all the colors, especially from film, are what I got back from the lab or from the M9. I get these colors by finding colorful things to photograph.
Sure, a LEICA M9 costs a little more than a D700, but it also costs a whole lot less than a D3X, each of which have about 0% USA parts content, while the M9 is smaller, lighter, faster, and technically superior to anything from the Far East. Supporting America and its economy starts at home; it's not something you can wait for your neighbor to do.
I also brought along a LEICA M3 from 1955, since it takes the same lenses and accessories as the M9, so I could shoot RealRAW. 1955? That's before anyone had color TV, interstate highways or transistors! The world ran on vacuum tubes, photographers usually shot 5 x 7" or 8 x 10" cameras, and even light meters, if people used them at all, didn't use batteries.
I know I'll get great shots with RealRAW, but I'm new enough with the M9 that I haven't yet learned how to get perfect results. I've only had an M9 a few weeks, and it usually takes me two months to wring out a completely new kind of camera for the best results.
For instance, only when the trip was almost over did I discover that I tended to get the best color for my kind of shots at ISO Pull 80 and using the JPGs. ISO Pull 80 JPGs bump up the highlight contrast and gets rid of the greenish-yellow tinge I see in DNGs and at higher ISOs. Likewise, I started off at moderately high color saturation (Farbsättigung Mittlehoch in the German menu system I prefer), but realized I got better colors at Standard.
The M9 is so simple that I use it set to German menus, and it's still far easier to operate than any DSLR in English.
I shot these all week with a single SanDisk 8GB Extreme III SD card, downloading and backing it up every night, then reformatting it every morning. I shot 6.5GB (286 shots) on my biggest day, so I never had to break out a second card, and I shot everything in DNG + JPG at about 23 MB total per shot. Likewise, I popped in a freshly-charged M9 battery each morning, and it always lasted the day.
These files are all copyrighted. They are licensed only for live viewing online. It is prohibited to store, save, send, print or otherwise use these files without a written license agreement. I hope you enjoy looking at these, just don't go copying my files or sending them to your freinds or customers; send them links to this page instead. Thanks! Ken.
Today I drove from La Jolla to Yosemite.
American McFlag, McDonald's, LeBec, 1:39 PM.
This is cool; with a DSLR, I never could reconfigure it fast enough to grab shots like this. See the flag-striped dress? This stuff happens faster than I could find C. Fn. f8 on my D3. God Bless America!
Camera-original © JPG (5MB).
American Sidewalk, Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite National Park, California, 6:24 PM.
Shoot with an American image sensor, and you see our flag everywhere!
I shot this while walking in and out of the motel lobby with our trip leader, without stopping.
Camera-original © JPG (6 MB).
Green Fluorescent Bus , Yosemite National Park, California.
Camera-original © JPG (6 MB).
Monday, 19 October 2009: Yosemite
Our first morning in Yosemite.
Sheer Face as seen from Yosemite Valley near the Chapel, 8:04AM.
Full-resolution © JPG (6 MB) from original DNG. Darn, the 50-year old 135mm lens that sells used for $100 looks pretty darn good!
This snap isn't about rocks. It's about a large circle of light on the left balancing a small white highlight on the right.
As I chatted with the friends that came along with us on the outing, the light changed quickly, and this shot was gone in a few minutes.
Boardwalk, Yosemite Valley near the Chapel, 8:24 AM.
Full-resolution © JPG (6 MB) from original DNG.
This shot isn't a boardwalk. It is lines leading you from the left side of the photo to the kinked line on the right side of the photo. It's an inside-out "K."
Rain, Stoneman Meadow, Yosemite Valley, 9:06 AM.
Camera-original © JPG (6 MB).
Dining Room, Yosemite Valley, 9:56 AM.
This snap is about the shape of the rafters and windows. The colors of the trees in natural light match the ghoulish color of the florescent lighting on the ceiling. The trees aren't supposed to be in-focus; they are only there for color to accentuate the lines of the windows.
Shadows, Yosemite Valley, 10:08 AM.
Pooping Sidewalk, Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite Valley, 10:08 AM.
I snapped these as the group headed in and out. If I had to twiddle with menus or tripods, I'd never have made these photos.
Camera-original © JPG (4 MB).
Orange, White and Blue, Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite Valley, 12:38 AM.
Camera-original © JPG (8 MB).
The rain wet the pavement to add to the color and shine.
Halloween, Yosemite Valley Cemetery, 12:58 PM.
Full-resolution © JPG (7 MB) from original DNG.
Bus Ride, Yosemite Valley, 2:19 PM.
This shot is all about strong lines heading towards a vanishing point with a vengeance.
Fern Springs, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 3:48 PM.
Kamera-original © JPG (7.5 MB).
YES!!! Look at the big files. I can't get this from the more expensive D3X; its foreign-made sensor has a softening filter over it, euphemistically called low-pass or anti-aliasing, which eliminates the finest details which are seen by the American-made Kodak sensor.
Clearing-Sturm, Tunnel View, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 4:15 PM.
Kamera-original © JPG (4.2 MB).
Oh la la, this sensor is magnificent. You can't see all the pine needles like this with other cameras, especially with the typical optics used with those other cameras.
Face of the Monolith, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 5:11 PM.
Kamera-original © JPG (5.5 MB).
Cheating Death, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 5:40 PM.
See the two dust specks in the center? That's two climbers dangling from the sheer face of the living rock, who plan to stay overnight! Here's a blowup at 100%:
Full-resolution © JPG (6 MB) from kamera-original DNG.
Warm Maple, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 6:31 PM.
Kamera-original © JPG (5.8 MB).
Next: 20 Oktober 2009