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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

East Boulder Trail

October 29th, 2008 · 2 Comments

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Even the best photos that I took yesterday at Rock Creek Farm disappointed me. While the views were stunning, they weren’t sharp.

I was sure that the problem was me instead of the camera — “user error.” But I had made so many changes to the setup of my new Canon 50D single lens reflex camera that it took me a few hours last night to figure out where I had gone wrong.

The day before a local professional photographer, Doug Goodin, came over to my apartment and graciously spent more than two hours educating me. His visit was great fun, and he taught me more tricks and tips than I had picked up from any other source.

Doug is a photographic purist who generally avoids filters and doesn’t boost sharpness or saturation in his pictures.

“The colors in your pictures can’t possibly be real!” people have told him.

“Have you been there at sunrise?” he replies. That stops them. And I decided to follow.

One of the changes that I made in my camera setup after Doug’s visit was to cut the sharpness. But instead of setting it to normal, in my ignorance I set it to be completely unsharp. My fault, not Doug’s!

After hoping that I had fixed the problem, I was anxious to get out on the trail today. The hike I chose was the “East Boulder Trail,” which is just nine miles northeast of my apartment. I got there just before sunrise on a surprisingly warm morning that didn’t require a jacket or gloves (although I did carry a hand warmer in each hand).

Years ago I used to hike this beautiful trail. But for some reason that I don’t understand, I haven’t been there for a couple of years.

Today it was even more beautiful than I remembered it.

It\'s 7:30 a.m. and First Light in Boulder

It's 7:30 a.m. and First Light in Boulder

A Wide Spot on Boulder Creek

A Wide Spot on Boulder Creek

A Narrow Spot on Boulder Creek

A Narrow Spot on Boulder Creek

Boulder\'s \"White Rocks\" and Whiter Rockies

Boulder's White Rocks and Whiter Rockies

A Hot-Air Balloon Appears -- Apparently High Above the Rockies

A Hot-Air Balloon Appears -- Apparently High Above the Rockies

It\'s \"Real Yellow\"

Its Real Yellow

An Old Barn

An Old Barn

These “tack sharp” photos make me a lot happier than I was with those that I took yesterday.


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Posted in: Hiking, Photography

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Robert Fenton // Oct 31, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Yes, while I disagree with your purist friend, he does have valid points about filters especially when used incorrectly. I will always err on the side of a polarizer when doing many shots and using some filters when the situation calls for them. However, I try not to use any of them indiscriminately as they can distort the results more than be an aid as they were intended. One filter that I have a habit if making a permanent one is the UV (ultraviolet) filter whether correctly or incorrectly. While stationed in Ethiopia at 8000 plus feet, it was a necessity and that has carried over to my use all the time.

    Just remember that what people recommend can be good advice, but I personally prefer to experiment to determine what works best for the environment I find myself in or the time of day when I am taking the picture. The factors around you can also dictate what you use or don’t use for the picture you desire. Also remember that humidity and temperature can also affect the picture – even using the digital cameras, even though some photographers will disagree with me unless it is at the extremes.

    I have enjoyed your pictures very much and some are excellent for time of day and subject matter.

    I just don’t want to influence your efforts, just raise questions to discuss with your fellow shutter bug friends. And I am willing to say that you will get many points of view.

    Best of luck
    Bob Fenton

  • 2 David Mendosa // Nov 1, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Dear Bob,

    I appreciate your thoughtful comments very much. As you wisely suggest, I am experimenting on my own even while I solicit advice from the experts. In fact, I still tend to use a polarizing filter a lot, not only for the sun but for lakes, streams, and leaves, all of which I photograph a lot of.

    My professional friend on the other hand recommends a graduated neutral density filter, which I have resisted. At the scale where I display my photos nobody has persuaded me that the recovery tool of Aperture 2 does a worse job.

    What I am struggling with is saturation. I know that many of my photos that I took with my previous camera, the Panasonic Lumix, were oversaturated and unreal looking. I am definitely cutting back. But some saturation still looks better to me.

    By the way, what were you doing in Ethiopia when? When I was stationed in Nairobi with USAID between 1965 and 1968 I got a chance to visit Addis Ababa to see a friend there. I had a film SLR then and got a few good shots in that area. But it’s sure changed since then!

    Best regards,


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