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My Favorite Camera and 2 Lenses for Traveling Light for Landscape Photography: a7CR, 16-35 f/4G, 70-200 f/4GII Macro


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I have been spending some solitary time out West in Nevada at a state park called, "The Valley of Fire" this week.  I chose to travel really small and lightweight, so no tripod, no primes, and nothing heavy that will slow me down.  The Valley of Fire is one of the best secrets of the West, and is overshadowed by the many national parks that surround it.  It's off the beaten path, in the middle of nowhere, but is just an hour's drive from The Strip in Las Vegas.  It is a magical place with few people around to get in the way. 

Could contain: Rock, Nature, Outdoors, Scenery, Mountain

I'm out here for a week of getting up before dawn, shooting every sunrise and sunset when the light is best.  I'm living the life of a National Geographic photographer, at least in my head.  Shooting landscapes here is easy.  Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to capture, but the very best light of the day is fleeting, and if you are not ready for sudden and fast changes, you can easily miss the shot.

Could contain: Nature, Outdoors, Wilderness, Rock, Landscape, Scenery, Mountain, Cliff, Peak, Valley

I chose the Sony a7CR for my camera as it is the lightest weight camera that packs a powerful 60mp punch, though I have been shooting all 16:9 this week so it's been a fantastic 51mp camera for me.  It weighs nothing and the EVF is great to see the subtle changes I need to see before committing a file to the card.  My lens choice was pretty easy as I got the try out the new FE70-200mm f/4G II Macro lens before it was announced on a big motorcycle trip this summer.  I knew right away I would have to buy one for sure after using it.  It covers everything I need from 70mm to 300mm (APS-C crop in camera).

Could contain: Agavaceae, Plant


Could contain: Rock, Nature, Outdoors, Landscape, Mountain, Valley, Cliff, Scenery, Canyon, Wilderness

In the wide department, I bought a lens just for this trip: FE16-35mm f/4G PZ.  This thing is itty-bitty and weighs nothing.  It even fits in my pocket if I need to.  It's also really sharp wide open at f/4.  I'm a photojournalist at heart and so tripods are only used if they have to be, so I'm traveling lite this trip.  I like putting focus in a particular place in the frame so shooting wide open allows me to direct the eye to more where I want.  I've never been a fan of images where everything from 6" to infinity is sharp.  I'm more interested in the light and the drama it creates across the landscape.

Could contain: Cliff, Nature, Outdoors, Rock, Mountain, Valley, Canyon, Wilderness, Mesa, Scenery


Could contain: Nature, Outdoors, Wilderness, Landscape, Rock, Soil, Scenery, Desert, Ground, Peak

Each morning I wake up at 4:00am and get moving.  I drive about an hour from my hotel to the entrance to the VOF and then enter.  I try to figure out where is a good place to start when the sun rises and I get to that spot and wait.  Once I get the image I want, it's off to the races!  The comes on fast and I need to move as much as possible and capture everything I can in about 1.5 hours.  The lower the sun is, the more drama is there, the higher it gets in the sky, the less drama.  I try to pick from one of the many target rich environments the park offers and them move around, even running sometimes to get someplace faster.  I shoot, move, shoot, and move.  I'm using both lenses and changing them out as needed.  It's a gas and time goes fast.  Sunrise out here this week has been at 6:22am each day and by the time it's 9am, the light is gone.  Then I drive the hour back to civilization and grab something to eat and then siesta.  I try to sleep from 11a till 3pm, and then I drive back down for sunset and repeat the process.

Could contain: Rock, Cliff, Nature, Outdoors, Mesa, Mountain, Mountain Range, Peak, Archaeology


Could contain: Nature, Outdoors, Wilderness, Rock, Hiking, Mountain, Valley, Landscape, Vegetation, Soil

If you know me, it's probably because you know I shoot sports, and I do love that work.  Landscapes are a new passion of mine, and one I hope to share with others next year when I offer a workshop in the Valley of Fire from February 22-26th, 2024.  I have been checking out hotels, eating at different restaurants trying to figure out the best experience for next year.  I love the Valley of Fire and it's one of the best kept secrets in the State of Nevada, if not the West.  If you are a fan of old Westerns, check out the film, "The Professionals," shot here in the Valley of Fire in 1966.  I watched it last night and recognized many of the landscapes I've been shooting in this week.

Could contain: Mountain, Mountain Range, Nature, Outdoors, Peak, Landscape, Scenery, Rock, Valley, Sky

Could contain: Nature, Outdoors, Grand Canyon, Landmark, Scenery, Sky, Plateau

This is truly a magical place and I know I'll be coming back here every chance I get from now on.  Every sunset and sunrise offers a new opportunity to make amazing photographs here.  It's a tremendous target rich environment that always offers a rich pay-off even if you come up empty 50 miles away in the casinos.  Before I head back out today to shoot some more this evening, I'm hoping to get the workshop hotel all lined up and block book some rooms.  Look for details about the 2024 Valley of Fire Workshop on the Calendar of events right here on alphauniverse.  Thanks for reading all this and looking at a few frames from my solitary retreat this week.  Peace!  pm-r 🙂


Could contain: Rock, Nature, Outdoors, Wilderness, Desert, Scenery, Landscape, Sky

Edited by pm-r
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