Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hike 2014.007 -- Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve

Hiked Friday, February 14. I just hiked this place two weeks previous, but I forgot my camera. So I decided I'd stop by here on this next trip past the Mojave Preserve, as well.

Unfortunately, with a relatively late start and the longer drive from the LA area versus from the Las Vegas area, the strong shadow at the dune crest was gone by the time I got there.

It was also hotter than expected: mid-70s on up to low-80s. That's a little crazy for mid-February.
So it was a shorts and t-shirt hike, with my funny floppy hat. It's still a pretty short distance. And, while warm, it was not HOT. So I tromped my way across the sand again.

Actually having my camera this time, I took plenty of shots. As noted earlier, the shadows weren't as dramatic as last time. But I had plenty to occupy myself with shooting. Lots of grass, shadows of grass on sand, sand ripples, and details of the sand.

I also got to experiment some with a "new" lens I had. It's actually an old lens: A Tamron 500mm catadioptric telephoto lens. "Catadioptric" means it uses mirrors and lenses to fit the long focal length into a relatively short package.

I bought this lens years ago, for my Canon 35mm cameras that I no longer use. But after some poking around on the Internet, I discovered that adapters could be had to fit this old Tamron "Adaptall" mount to my Nikon dslr. It would not have autofocus, of course. Also, the lens if a fixed aperture lens, so there's no adjustment possible with the f-stop: It's just a plain f/8.
Obviously, it has no vibration reduction technology. Further, while it's a 500mm focal length for a 35mm camera, it turns out that on the smaller photo sensor of these dslr (as opposed to a "full-frame dslr," which would cost a lot more), I'm actually getting the equivalent of 750mm. That's a lot of magnification to try to hand-hold.

Yet further, because the camera gets no feedback from the lens, you can only shoot in full manual mode. Nothing you can do with the aperture, but you can/need to set the camera's ISO ("speed") and shutter speed. Ideally, you want something around 1/1000 of a second, to try to minimize the blur from camera shake.

These long telephotos have what they call shallow depth of field, so the part of the image that's in focus is only a very short range in distance. So, put all these factors together, and using this particular lens to good effect is going to be tough, even under the best of circumstances. I'm thinking maybe with a monopod, I might have some luck using it for shooting waterfowl, though.

On this trip, I used it to shoot some long-range shots of my car, from the crest of the dune, a distant structure near some powerlines, and a far-off set of rocky outcroppings. Oh, yes, and the German tourists on top of the crest. That one, and the last photo on this post, are with the super long telephoto. I'm not thrilled with the results, but considering that it only cost me about $20 to make the old lens usable on my new camera, I am still pretty pleased.

3 miles for the day. I'm well behind my blogging, now. I'm up to 9 hikes for the year, and have blogged only three of them. And one of them was hiked twice! Got some catching up to do.

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