That is the truth that I believe in; one where the status quo has no control over your personal sovereignty and you begin to go back to the roots of our non-reality. The desert is one such place of mystery, full of the Unknown. I’ve learned this over the last decade and a half while roaming canyon labyrinths and mountain ranges. What I have witnessed adds a lot of meaning to this short life of mine. We rural desert dwellers see and hear a lot more than those who get entrapped and surrounded by dense civilization. Out there on the outskirts of the fringe you begin to see what’s truly shrouded while being accompanied by structures and ruins from the distant past that slowly wrought and crumble to the harsh desert elements.
During my travels along the US/Mexican Border between Calexico, California, and Brownsville, Texas, my favorite borderland landscapes were found in Far West Texas around Marfa, Terlingua and Alpine, Texas. This is a good location to escape winter somewhat!
These photographs were taken in April of 2015 but I can only imagine what Christmas would be like in this Big Bend Country? As a desert rat, I would guess that the nights still get cold in winter, but the day time hours are fairly pleasant. According to the latest weather check for Terlingua, it’s 42 degrees Fahrenheit with an average of 70 degrees this week. Not bad for December!
The mountains off in the distance are Big Bend National Park. I highly recommend photographers avoid this national park because I was harassed by park rangers there and they don’t take too kindly to any photographers using cameras in the national park. Locals warned me that I would run into trouble and I have enough fodder for a good story. On top of that, I would recommend visiting Texas’s own Big Bend State Park which is much more inclusive towards visitors and in my opinion, more beautiful than the national park!
This picture was captured with the Olympus EM5 (a Micro Four Thirds) Camera by me in mid-Spring near Alamagordo, New Mexico. This whole region found in the Southern part of the state including Far West Texas is quite enchanting and memorable. I love every aspect of New Mexico, from the cultural diversity to the colorful and varied landscapes.
Captured the typography on this old trailer that has been abandoned to the elements with a Voigtlander Heliar 15mm F4.5 Super Wide on a Sony Alpha 7R… I’m enjoying the combination and the lens is extremely sharp and is able to exploit the 36MP sensor on the Sony. My goal is to get out 4-5 days a week to shoot even if it is only a few miles from home!
I captured these landscapes a few years ago out by Big Water, Utah on the way to Lake Powell, just after sundown.
In the early 1990s, Bill Clinton, President of the United States declared this national monument a rare treasure and designated over 1.7 million acres of land in Southern Utah off-limits. It stirred a noteworthy controversy with local ranchers who have worked on the land for generations. On the other side of the token, there are countless historical Indigenous cultural and archeological sites inside the monument as well as an unknown treasure trove of undiscovered dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.
I do empathize with the ranchers and people whose livelihoods were affected by the monument’s creation, including my own family, but it was worth preserving these irreplaceable and priceless resources. These sacred places do not belong to us; they belong to the future generations who have yet to be born and these histories cannot be rewritten and can easily be lost in time, forever, with any sort of carelessness.
As a photographer, the landscapes of the Grand Staircase remind me of another planet – a strange alien world in another galaxy and that is an amazing feeling to tap into. Places like Big-Water can heal the soul with its sheer beauty and you can feel the ancient ones (historic tribal peoples) whom once used this land. Traces of their long existence are found all over the monument.
I’ll be returning to Grand Staircase pretty soon with a Sony A7R and capture much more details photos of these alien landscapes.
For veteran photographers like me, Talking Tree, we started out posting photographs through a photoblog between the years of 2004-2010 and then came Instagram. Since corporations have started clamping down on organic social reach – people like myself are returning back to our roots and this comes as GREAT NEWS!!!
Some of you caught hints of this already! – This is Brandon Stone’s official announcement:
He’s bringing back Photoblogs.org! Brandon had this to say:
I need your help. This is a big deal for me. It affects my livelihood and the decisions I’ll be making for my future. I rarely ask anyone for anything, but I am right now. If you have ever wanted to see photoblogs succeed, now is the time to help. I’m ready to build something cool and I’m looking for your support. I can’t do this without you.
We had such an amazing community of photobloggers back in the day and I would like to see if we can make something new that can at least capture some of what once was.
I have a lot of ideas for how to make independent photoblogging as easy and simple as Instagram and this is just the first step toward that greater goal.
Thanks to all of you for being my friends over the years. You are all such a great group of people. Here’s the fund drive link again. Any amount will help and if you could spread the word, that would definitely be appreciated. Thanks again!
Here’s the link to the fund drive page: photoblogs.org/fund-drive
Also, if any of you are on Twitter, it would be really helpful if you could RT this: twitter.com/LBStone/status/789136814955257856
Voigtlander Heliar 15mm Test Drive
The other day I had the opportunity to take the new Voigtlander Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 Aspherical III Lens for Sony E for a test drive using the Sony A7R. The results were pretty otherworldly for amazing landscapes. The sharpness of the lens, all the way into the extreme corners, passed my professional scrutiny. What is really pleasing is the fact that the Sony E-Mount version of the Voigtländer communicates all necessary EXIF data to the camera. It also automatically engages manual focus assist when you turn the manual focus dial on the lens.
I had to trade out several legacy lenses in order to raise enough money to cover the cost of this lens. Here’s a few more test examples from the same shoot, below.
Other thoughts regarding the Voigtlander…
All-in-all this lens really nails everything I need in a ultra wide for landscapes. When I finally switched to Sony Full Frame a few months ago from Micro Four Thirds – I was completely surprised by the unexpected learning curve that came with moving back into full-frame. The truth is, legacy glass works well on cropped sensors because the small sensor cuts out the imperfect corners of most legacy lenses while only utilizing the best part of the lens in the center. Switching up to a 36 megapixel sensor on a Sony Alpha A7R amplifies the smallest flaws of old 35mm lenses. So the HUNT for decent wide angle turned into quite a chore.
Bad Experiences with Samyang vs Voigtlander!?
There are a few legacy lenses that work nicely with the Sony but when shooting with Micro Four Thirds, I was used to shooting super-wide for landscape work. So my initial choice was the Rokinon 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens. The first copy of this 14mm lens turned out to be a de-centered piece of trash aka a $300 dollar paper weight. The whole right side of the frame was terribly blurry. I ended up trying three times to get a decent copy of the lens and finally gave up. When I tried to reach out to Samyang /Rokinon about this negative experience, they ignored me and deleted my comments on their Facebook fan page. That inspired me to do some research which led me to Voigtlander’s offerings. I was able to secure a near-perfect copy of the Heliar 15mm III on the first round despite the fact that Cosina/Voigtlander has had some manufacturing issues with the 15mm, as well, resulting in this thread on Fred Miranda. However the latest copies of Heliar III (as of Sept. 2016) seem to be totally fixed and I got my copy from one of their latest production batches.Yes, I also heard about the new Rokinon 14mm F2.8 Auto Focus Lens for Sony E-Mount. It was announced while I was investigating the Voigtlander.
Long Hunt for a Superwide Finally Settled! 🙂
With Cosina’s ability to listen to customers, fix any quality control issues they may have, as well as having a long history in the camera business; I am decidedly in favor of Cosina/Voigtlander and their high quality products. I’m happy with this iteration of the classic Heliar 15mm Super Wide lens. It reminds me of the days when shooting with Voigtlander’s 35mm Best-L camera with a 15mm Heliar attached. I miss those old film days and I’m glad to be shooting landscapes with a Sony Full Frame.