Le Géant Endormi

The Sleeping Giant (shown at the Festival Nature Namur 2014)

As announced in my previous post, one of my pictures has been selected by the 2014 International Namur Nature Photography Competition.
I wanted to wait to show the image here to keep the exclusivity for those of you who were going to visit the exhibition in Namur. The Festival has now ended so here is my picture.
I did not get the 1st prize in the Landscape category with it but is was still one of the few selected in this category. In total, 141 pictures have been selected in 13 categories, from 6200 submitted images. Not bad!
If you visited the exhibition of the Competition during the first week-end of the Festival, you would not have found my picture (as I experienced it myself). A problem seems to have occurred when printing my image and this led to a delay while a new print was produced. Anyway, it was finally visible during the rest of the exhibition. When I saw it, I was a bit surprised by its size, or rather its lack thereof! I’m so used to seeing in a very large print that I found the Competition standardized print length (80 cm) very short.
Some of you who had visited my latest exhibition in June might remember this image as I had shown it there too.

The sleeping giant

The sleeping giant

This picture was taken in central Oregon, in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Painted Hills Unit). I had seen pictures of this place before and I really wanted to see it by myself. I was based in Bend for a few days during my trip to Oregon a few years ago and getting to the Monument meant more than 2 hours drive. The weather when I arrived there was depressing, with low clouds and rain. I thought that I had not done this trip to go back empty handed so I started to explore the area and took a few pictures, mostly details to avoid the grey and sad sky. But just before I was going to leave at the end of the day, the sky finally cleared partially, just enough to let the end of the day sun illuminate the hills. The light was marvelous, with the sun low on the horizon bringing out all the details and colours of the ground still wet from the rain. And the dark grey clouds still present in the East gave me a nice backdrop. Even if the light was changing fast, I took the time to set up my tripod and take a series of several (vertical) images that I later combined with AutopanoPro to obtain this landscape image. Working this way allows me to print this image up to a large size with excellent quality. I had a ‘test print’ done at 180×60 cm, now hanging on a wall at home, and, each time I look at it, I still see new details that I had not noticed before.
If you want to see more images from this amazing place, have a look at my Oregon gallery.

How to use topographic maps on a TomTom GPS

Landscape photography often requires reaching places that are not easy to access with the main roads. My experience has shown me that it is very easy to get lost when you take a wrong turn on a dirt road in the middle of the desert… So I was looking for something that could help me by combining the precision of topographic maps and the ease of use of a car GPS. Combining my TomTom GPS with TTMaps (bringing the ability to display topographic maps on a TomTom GPS) has given me what I was looking for.

On a dirt road along Nipple Bench, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

Continue Reading…

A very cheap DIY spare part for my tripod

My Manfrotto 190B tripod has been following me everywhere and in all conditions for many years. It is now quite battered and its head even has a bent handle. But, until now, no parts had gone missing. That is… until my latest trip to the US.

Utah had a very wet early October in 2010 and it meant that the clay soil of the Capitol Reef National Park had turned into deep mud when I was there.

The Castle, seen during a flash flood of the Fremont river in Capitol Reef National ParkA waterfall appears out of nowhere after a big thunderstorm in Capitol Reef National Park

After several days of continuous rain and thunderstorms, I finally had the chance to take some pictures under the sun but with my feet (and those of my tripod) in deep red mud. A few hours after I had taken the following picture, I noticed that one of the rubber feet of my tripod was missing. It probably remained stuck in the deep mud. So if you ever find a black tripod rubber shoe somewhere along the main road crossing the park, it could be mine. 😉

The sun is finally back after several days of thunderstorms in Capitol Reef National Park. This picture was shot along the main highway through the park.

This meant that I ended up with a tripod with one leg slippery and unstable on hard ground. Not the best for a piece of equipment that is supposed to bring good stability to my camera ! Back home, I started looking for a replacement for this little piece of rubber. Looking at the Manfrotto catalog, I quickly understood that to replace one rubber shoe, I would need to buy a set of three costing at least 25 Euros. A bit expensive for such a small piece of rubber !

By coincidence, I noticed that the rubber shoes at the end of the metal legs of chairs or stools were very similar to what I was looking for. I easily found these rubber stool shoes in a local DIY shop (Brico here in Belgium). For the price of a 1/10th of the official Manfrotto spare part, I had a set of four of these rubber shoes. They exist in several diameters and the 19mm ones fitted perfectly on my tripod model. Other available sizes would easily fit other tripod legs diameters.
Actually, they look strikingly similar to the original Manfrotto tripod shoes that were attached to my tripod (see the pictures below).

The original rubber shoe on my Manfrotto 190B tripod. Dirty, I know...And my DIY replacement. As good if not better than the original !

So, for those of you looking for a replacement rubber shoe for your tripod (Manfrotto or other), look no further than your local DIY shop !

UPDATE: A little while after I had written this post, I discovered the Manfrotto Spares website. You can find all spare parts for Manfrotto tripods there.

Happy New Year !

For all of you who did not receive the paper version of my greetings card, here is the picture that I had chosen to illustrate it.
This was taken on a snowy early October 2009 morning in in the Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California. These mule deers (Odocoileus hemionus) were posing very patiently for me. You may have seen this picture already in my California-Oregon photo trip.

Mule deers (Odocoileus hemionus) on a snowy early October morning in the Lava Beds National Monument, Northern California

Colorado & Utah teaser

I am currently busy with sorting and selecting pictures from my latest trip to Colorado and Utah to upload on my website. When they will be ready, I will also add a new Photo Trips page with details of this trip. In the meantime, here are two pictures as a small teaser.

Dawn on Maroon Bells, near Aspen, Colorado The Wahweap Hoodoos, near Big Water, Utah

Third prize in a Best Holiday Picture Contest

I usually do not take part in photography contests but, this year, I submitted one image to the 2010 Best Holiday Picture Contest organised by the company where I work. And I had the nice surprise to get the third prize in the contest with the following picture. You may already have seen it on my Wyoming & Utah photo trip page. It was taken early on a cold September morning, on the car park of the Grand Prismatic spring in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming). I still wonder if this sign was meant as a joke or if it was real ! The huge smoke cloud at the back is caused by vapour coming out of the springs in the cold autumn morning.

No smoking !