Category Archives: Utah

iPhone vs. “big” cameras?

When I’m traveling, I try to take an iPhone photo when I get to a new place.  Sometimes I forget but when I can remember, the iPhone’s GPS capability records the location for me.  Then when I’m back home, it makes it easier to map out exactly where I’ve been.

This is one of the first photo’s I made on our trip out to Utah a few weeks ago:

Cedar Breaks National Monument amphitheaterCedar Breaks National Monument amphitheater iPhone panorama

 When I posted it on Flickr, I commented “Straight out of the iPhone’s panorama mode. I’m not sure why I have all these other cameras.”  And I do like the photo.  Phone cameras do pretty well, especially in good light.  So I wondered …

When I got home and processed the rest of my photos, I took a look at some of the other iPhone images compared with similar images from my “big” cameras (interchangeable lens cameras with larger sensors).  Here’s another example:

Sunrise at Point Supreme, iPhone PanoramaSunrise at Point Supreme, iPhone version – Panorama mode

Although the light was very pretty that morning, it was also very challenging for the iPhone sensor and lens.    I’ve tried to adjust the photo to be as similar as possible to the one below.  But I can still see major differences.  I made the next photo a minute or so later and very near the same spot with an Olympus E-M5 II micro four-thirds camera and the 12 – 40 mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens.

Sunrise at Point Supreme
Sunrise at Point Supreme – Olympus version – multi image panorama

After looking at several cases where I had similar photos, I think this example shows why we need to keep our big cameras.

  • The exposure latitude and dynamic range capability of sensors that are larger than the one in the iPhone means that the dark areas have more detail and less noise, and the bright areas are less likely to blow out.  For high contrast light (sunrise / sunset) this helps a lot.
  • The lens in the iPhone didn’t handle the flare / glare very well.
  • The resolution capabilities of phone cameras are growing.  But with careful capture, I can create much larger images with the big cameras.  For instance the last photo above is 58 megapixel. The amount of detail in a file that large is enormous compared to a phone photo.
  • Control:  For me, the big cameras beat phone cameras in flexibility / control and ergonomics.  I can easily control everything from lens choice to aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.  You can get apps for your phone that add better controls, but I find them inconvenient and don’t often use the ones I have.
  • Color / white balance:  The default color and white balance on the phone are very good.  But when I use the big cameras, I can shoot in RAW format, which makes adjusting white balance and color much easier in post processing.  RAW format also allows more adjustment latitude, since I’m working with a 14 bit file in RAW, instead of an 8 bit jpg file.  RAW is coming to the iPhone soon, which should help.

So there are some reasons why I think big cameras are worth the extra weight / trouble of bringing them along.  I use my phone camera to supplement them.  How about you?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Utah road trip – Chapter 2

As promised, this is the second installment of images from our trip to Utah.  You can revisit chapter one at this link to see photos from Cedar Breaks and Brian Head Peak.  This time, I’ve included images from Bryce Canyon, Zion, Red Canyon, and the road to Capitol Reef.  At the end of the post are two photos MK made.  I don’t often include “behind the scenes” photos, but maybe you’ll like them as much as I do.

Agua Canyon HoodooAgua Canyon Hoodoo, Bryce Canyon National Park

The first four photos in this post are all stitched panoramas.  I found it very hard to fit Utah landscapes into a single frame!  I made the one above with a 200mm equivalent telephoto lens.  I wanted to show a lot of detail in the foreground hoodoo and bring the hazy background closer to make the hoodoo stand out.  I like the result.

Hoodoos watch the sun riseHoodoos watch the sun rise.  Black and white infrared panorama from our drive through Red Canyon on Route 12.

I brought my infrared converted camera on the trip and used it often.  It’s good to have when the visible light gets harsh, since the scene will often look different in IR.  In the composition above, the two almost human looking hoodoos on the top of the cliff drew my eye.  They seemed to be enjoying the sunrise too.  I also liked the way the IR light was hitting the trees and the cliff on the far left.

A switchback near Nepworth WashA switch back near Nepworth Wash, Zion National Park.  

The locals kept warning us about congestion in the parks and there were a lot of people at Zion.  But compared to Orlando we thought the traffic and crowds were pretty light – especially for a holiday weekend.  I composed the frame above to leave two buses and their people mostly out of view on the right.

Desert stormsDesert storms. This is a false color infrared panorama made along Route 12 between Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park.  

The clouds and rain storms were awesome on the day we drove over to Escalante and Capitol Reef.  IR does well with clouds.  I like the way the ones above look almost three-dimensional.

And here are the two “behind the scenes” images:

Brian Head Peak
Ed and his Nikon (not too close to the edge!) at 11,307 feet on Brian Head Peak.  Photo by MK Rosack, used with permission
MK and Ed at Rainbow Point, Bryce Canyon
MK and Ed at Rainbow Point, Bryce Canyon – we weren’t very tired at this point in the morning – that came later.  Photo by MK Rosack, used with permission.

If you’re interested, you can see more photos from this trip in my Utah album on Flickr.  And you can click on the ones in the post to see larger versions.  I really enjoyed the tour and definitely want to go back and spend more time in this extremely scenic area.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved.

Epic Utah road trip – Chapter 1

I have many “out of Florida” photos to share with you today from Utah.  MK wanted to take a short sightseeing trip out there over the 4th of July weekend and asked me to be her travel buddy.  Of course, I couldn’t turn that down!  Last year on my trip out west , I passed up seeing Zion and Bryce Canyon because I wanted more time in Death Valley National Park.  I’m glad I got to go back.

Flowers at daybreakFlowers at daybreak – Cedar Breaks National Monument.  We visited this beautiful place twice.  The second time before dawn, when we were the only ones there.

Because this was my first time there and our visit was so short, I’m going to write more of a “travel log” instead of a “what and where they are and how to photograph them”.  I wouldn’t try to write that until I was way more familiar with the area.  I will say that it is spectacularly scenic and if you get a chance, just go.  You’ll find all sorts of things to point your camera at.

The first place we visited was Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It was a surprise to me – I hadn’t really heard of it before.  It’s very scenic and has a lot of wildlife too.  We saw many deer on the trip.  Unfortunately, there were several on the side of the road – we watched carefully to make sure we didn’t hit any.

Morning deerMorning deer

We actually went by Cedar Breaks twice.  The second day, we left early to find a sunrise spot and ended up there.  By ourselves – magnificent!

Sunrise at Point SupremeSunrise at Point Supreme – Cedar Breaks

We were walking through the visitors area and I was looking around in the trees trying to find the bird making a very strange call I didn’t recognize. A nice German gentleman came up to me and pointed out the Marmot that was making the racket. A bit embarrassing – but I did get a photo.

Yellow Bellied MarmotYellow Bellied Marmot

Our bird watching was casual, but I did record one new life bird.

Mountain BluebirdMountain Bluebird – These were quite common at Cedar Breaks National Monument

One other place we wandered to was Brian Head Peak – a very scenic ski town.  You can tell from the first photo and this one that there were lots of wildflowers blooming – a beautiful bonus!

Flowers by the road to the topFlowers by the road to the top – On the way up to 11,000 feet at Brian Head Peak, Utah

Here’s a summary of our trip:

  • 53 hours duration (Saturday morning – Monday evening)
  • 1,091 miles driven
  • 3 National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef)
  • 3 National Monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanagos)
  • 1 All-American Scenic Byway (Route 12)
  • 1 life bird (Mountain Bluebird)
  • 1 Yellow-Bellied Singing Marmot
  • 1 Elk
  • Lots of deer
  • 14 stamps for MK’s National Park Service passport
  • 700+ photos
  • 1 epic father-daughter Utah road trip! We were so very tired when we got home!

What a terrific trip – thank you MK! I’m still going through the photos and adding favorites to my Utah album on Flickr.  You can take a look there if you want to see more.  And click on any of the photos in this post  to see a larger version on Flickr.

I’ll work on a post with photos from the other spots next week.  Until then, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.