Palouse Photography Workshop

Washington Palouse

Hard to believe spring is already here! It’s definitely time to get back to the blog and I have unfortunately been neglecting it during my travels this winter. Plus I have been secretly enjoying some time away from the computer:) But alas it’s time to get back to it, I’ll be posting regular updates from this spring and summer on workshops, travel, and new images from around the western U.S.

On another note, we’ve just had two last minute spots open up on the Palouse Workshop in Washington State. This is a landscape photographer’s paradise and one of my favorite locations out west to photograph. If you’re itching to get out west and explore the pastel hills of the Palouse, visit my workshops page at www.jasonsavagephotography.com/workshops to secure your spot.

In the meantime happy shooting out there!

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Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

Jackson Wyoming

Grand Teton N.P. Canon 5Dsr 24-70mm 2.8L II. f11 1/125 ISO100

Just returned from a fantastic trip co-leading for Natural Habitat Adventures on their Yellowstone Winter Photo Expedition. We had such a wonderful group of travelers and perfect conditions on this trip, allowing great views of the Tetons and some pretty sweet wildlife viewing. We started out in Jackson, Wyoming working our way up into the interior of Yellowstone, exploring geyser basins around Old Faithful and eventually working our way up in the northern range of the park over the course of the week. We had some great wildlife viewing in the northeast getting to spend some time observing the wolves of the Lamar Pack and also some great Bison photography.

Winter Buffalo

Yellowstone Bison. Canon 7D mkII 500mm f4 IS II. f8 1/1000 ISO800

I’m finally back at home now getting caught up on some much overdue editing and getting ready for spring (hard to believe!) and also some upcoming talks. In a couple weeks if you happen to find yourself in western Montana, I will be giving a talk on the “Art of Nature Photography” at the Bitterroot Audubon Society on Feb. 15 in Hamilton. If interested, feel free to contact me for more details or visit their site at bitterrootaudubon.org. In the meantime, I will be enjoying the little bit of winter we have left  and looking forward to getting out and about around western Montana.

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Top ten favorite images from 2015

It’s been a fantastic year full of adventure and new friendships and I’m grateful for all the new photographers I’ve got to meet on last year’s trips and looking forward to many more in 2016. We had some great workshops this year in Olympic National Park, Montana, Yellowstone and Oregon. I want to thank all those who joined me on the 2015 workshops and those who have supported and followed my work. Being able to share my images  and meet such fantastic and amazing people along the way is a real blessing. Happy New Year to everyone, wish you the best!

Here’s my top ten favorites from 2015

Yellowstone Winter Bison

Bison, Yellowstone National Park. Canon 1DX 500mm f4L IS II+1.4X f8 1/750 ISO 200

Elowha Falls

Elowha Fall, Oregon. Canon 5D markIII 16-35mm f4L IS. f16 1″ ISO200

Montana Bison

Bison, National Bison Range, Montana. Canon 5D markIII 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L ISII. f8 1/1500 ISO400

Montana Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron, Montana. Canon 1DX 500mm f4L IS II+2X. f8 1/2000 ISO3200

Olympic National Park

Hoh Rainforest, Washington. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L. f16 1/4 ISO400

Washington Waterfalls

Palouse Falls, Washington. Canon 5D markIII 11-24mm f4L. f4 30″ ISO1600

Palouse Washington

Palouse Hills, Washington. Canon 5D markIII 100-400 4.5-5.6L IS II. f8 1/750 ISO1600

Rocky Mountain Front

Rocky Mountain Front, Montana. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L. f16 1/350 IS01600

Glacier National Park

Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park. Canon 1DX 24-70mm 2.8L II. f16 6″ ISO100

Fall Montana Tamaracks

Larch Reflections, Montana. Canon 1DX 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II. f8 1/30 ISO100

 

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What’s in my Bag

Camera Bag and Tripod
Canon Lenses

For those who were inquiring what I carry on the road these days, here’s what’s currently in my bag:

 

Canon 5Dsr
Canon 1DX
11-24mm f4L
16-35mm f4L IS
24-70mm 2.8L II
100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II
500mm f4L IS II
1.4X III & 2X III
Canon 600EX Flash &  ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter

 

I’ve recently added both the 11-24mm & Canon 5Dsr to my kit this year. The 11-24mm is an amazing wide-angle lens that opens up the door into new territory for wide-angle compositions and it’s the first rectilinear lens from Canon to go as wide as 11mm. I’ve also added the 5Dsr and have been nothing but impressed by the resolution this camera delivers, although 50mp does require some beefier memory cards and data storage, but a superb landscape camera all-around, especially when combined with the 11-24mm.

Overall this selection of lenses works well for me and my style of shooting. When I’m not on wildlife specific trips I usually leave the 500mm behind, especially when needing to travel light and the 100-400mm fills in nicely. For most of my work I tend to use the 16-35mm and 100-400mm and if I had to carry only two lenses, these would be it.

 

 

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Palouse, Washington

Palouse Washington

Yellow crop duster over the rolling hills of the Palouse. Canon 5D markIII 100-400mm f4.5-5.4L IS II. f8 1/750 ISO1600

Now that the year’s winding down, I’m finally back home for a bit getting caught up on some of last year’s images. I thought I would share a few from this last June on our Palouse photography workshop in Washington State. The Palouse sits in a unique area of eastern Washington and is home to a major agricultural area producing wheat and other crops. The beautiful topography of this area provides endless places to wander for landscape photographers as its rolling hills and pastel hues create painterly scenes reminiscent of Tuscany.

A tip for those who plan to visit: Make sure to pack your telephoto lens as a lot of the classic landscape shots are surprisingly far away and compose better with a focal length in the 300mm-400mm range and even beyond. I routinely will pack my 500mm and use with and without teleconverters to isolate some of the tighter compositions. Apart from the scenic overlooks such as Steptoe Butte there are still plenty of places to use a wide-angle.

I’m really looking forward to getting back out there this next year on my June workshop and revisiting some of these spots. The great thing about the Palouse is it’s such a dynamic and ever changing landscape, between what’s been planted, harvested, the changing light, and weather conditions, it’s never the same scene twice. As of this blog post, there are still a couple of spots open on the 2016 workshop, visit my workshops page for more details.

Palouse Photo Workshop

Palouse Falls under a night sky. Canon 5D markIII 11-24mm f4L. f4 ISO1600 30″

Steptoe Butte

The classic view from Steptoe Butte, Palouse. Canon 5D markIII 500mm f4L IS II f8 1/500 ISO400

 

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Canon 5Dsr Initial Impressions

The Organ

“The Organ” Arches N.P. Canon 5Dsr, 24-70 2.8L f11 1/30 ISO400

So this last month I started working with Canon’s new large megapixel camera the 5Dsr and decided to test it out in Arches National Park on some classic landscapes. I thought I would share a few of my initial impressions of the camera’s performance regarding resolution and overall image quality.

The 5Dsr packs a whopping 50 megapixels into a 35mm full frame sensor and initially I was somewhat skeptical at how the camera would perform noise-wise. And of course in processing all those pixels I was also concerned with speed and storage space.

I was previously using Canon’s 5D markIII for most of my shooting when it came to landscapes. The 5D markIII in my opinion is one of the best well rounded do-all cameras in Canon’s lineup and as far as image quality goes, it’s color rendition, resolution and ISO noise performance are superb. Of course there is always room for improvement and I think for landscape shooters, the new 5Dsr fills some of those areas.

Canon EOS Camera 50mpThe 5Dsr is an exact replica, body-wise, of the 5D markIII. So for those already shooting with the 5D markIII, you should feel right at home. Inside however, the 5Dsr is a completely different camera. The sensor packs in 50 megapixels and for the “r” version there is also an anti-aliasing filter cancellation, which essentially is providing ultimate sharpness straight out of camera, without the need for more aggressive post process sharpening.

The processors are also different using dual Digic 6 processors which gives the camera great speed for how much data you are actually moving around. This also puts the 5Dsr at 5fps for action, which when you think about it, is pretty impressive for 50 megapixels. It also gives you the ability to switch “in camera” to different crop modes, imitating either an APS-H or APS-C crop sensor at either 1.3X or 1.6X. This in turn provides extra reach for those photographing wildlife. On a side note, you do get a crop preview in camera in these modes, however the imported file is still the original full resolution file with a crop applied after bringing into Lightroom. I have used this for wildlife and it works well giving you a good visual and at 5fps, it’s still fast enough to capture most encounters.

For high ISO noise, the 5Dsr performs exactly like the Canon 7D markII and for good reason. Both cameras have the same pixel pitch of 4.14 microns. In my opinion, I am happy shooting up to ISO 1600 for most situations. However most people using this camera are going to be landscape shooters and once on a tripod at ISO 100, noise and quality are excellent.

North Window

“Turret Arch,North Window”, Arches N.P. Canon 5Dsr 16-35mm f4L IS f11 1/45 ISO 100

 

My overall impressions so far are very positive. The main impact of this camera is resolution and for those making large prints, this is the camera to get if you’re shooting Canon. I compared a 20X30 print out of the 5Dsr to an up-ressed 20X30 from a 1DX and there’s simply no comparison, the 5Dsr produces amazing detail and refined resolution. At low ISOs it’s simply amazing quality.

I haven’t had too many gripes so far with this body other than a couple of small complaints:

The battery life is not the greatest. I haven’t tested specifically how many shots out of each battery, but it’s noticeably less than the 5D markIII. Also for some reason both on this camera and the 7D markII, the color balance on the LCD screen is a very warm yellowish tint, not a huge thing, but a noticable departure from previous EOS bodies and somewhat annoying.

Other than that it’s been a lot of fun to shoot with and I would highly recommend it for landscape shooters and those making large prints. Hard to believe we’re now seeing 40-50 megapixels becoming the norm in digital photography. Now time to start shopping for some more hard drives….

Utah Landscape Arch

“Landscape Arch”, Arches N.P. Canon 5dsr 11-24mm f4L f16 1/15 ISO 100

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Final thoughts on Canon’s 11-24mm f4L

 

Canon Wide Angle Lens

Now that I’ve had a good 5-6 months of working with Canon’s new 11-24mm, I thought I would give my final thoughts on how this unique lens fits into my own particular workflow and also how its super-wide perspective opens up new creative possibilities for photographers.

Last March I received the 11-24mm just as I was heading into Yellowstone for a couple weeks in early spring and had the chance to work a few landscapes in and around the northwest corner of the park. This was my first experience with the lens and my first experience with that initial jaw-dropping moment when you look through the viewfinder to see what 11mm really looks like.

Having used a variety of wide-angles over the years, I hadn’t really ventured beyond my 16-35mm or 15mm fisheye. I’ve done some pano work with tilt shifts giving wider perspectives, but really going past 16mm with a rectilinear lens was new territory for me.

After getting over the whole coolness factor of the super-wide, I was surprised in the difficulty I had trying to compose certain compositions, especially going wider than 14mm. Arranging the scene took a little more creative thought and also the acceptance that too wide is too wide for certain scenes. A good friend of mine also reminded me about the “wide-itis” you can get when you have something like this in your bag.

Over the course of the next few months I worked this lens in Oregon’s waterfalls, Washington’s rainforests and up though the Rockies into Glacier National Park. Over these trips I learned when to pull out the 11-24mm and when not to. When appropriate, these extra-wide focal lengths create amazing images and open up the doors for creativity in compositional arrangements and new ways to think outside the box. They also allow for immense foreground inclusion and add increased dimension to the scene.

 

Canon Wide Angle Lens

Even though the front element isn’t totally sealed, it stands up to rain and mist very well. Here its getting a thorough soaking in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

 

Beyond the 11-24mm’s unique perspective, the optics are superb. I’ve been nothing but pleased with sharpness and resolution across the whole range of focal lengths. Corners look good, chromatic aberration is almost non-existent and really, I can’t find anything negative to say about its optics. I will also add that Canon has done an amazing job with its new coatings. Fingerprints and cleaning are excellent to deal with and I’m feeling much more confident running around with its massive protruding front element.

A couple weeks back I was shooting in a field of fireweed in Glacier National Park and stepped away from my tripod only to look back in horror and see it, my 1DX, and the 11-24mm go crashing front element first into the ground. Fortunatley, the patch of fireweed cushioned the fall, but there was a whole bunch of leaves, pollen and other stuff mushed into the lens. After a good cleaning, not a single scratch, again impressed at these tough coatings Canon is working with.

The only negatives I have to say on the lens as reported previously are its weight and price. It’s a big heavy lens that takes up a lot of room in the bag and adds extra heft when trying to travel light. This is probably the biggest negative to me, but it is the price you pay for this focal length range. Speaking of price, at $3000 it’s also  a big hit to most photographer’s wallets and hard to swallow for a lot of us, but all in all, I think its worth the cost of admission for the quality and opportunity it provides.

Even with its size and price, the 11-24mm still has found a permanent spot in my camera bag and has become a working part of my landscape arsenal. It has allowed me to capture compositions and perspectives that normally would have been impossible and it’s spurred new creativity for more unique landscapes. Overall it is a remarkable engineering achievement by Canon that delivers superb results. I highly recommend this lens to anyone looking for the ultimate in sharpness and super-wide perspectives for their landscape work.

Olympic National Park

Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @15mm f16 1.5″ ISO100

Olympic National Park

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @16mm f16 1/4 ISO400

 

Canon Wide-angle Lens

Arrowleaved Balsamroot, Columbia River Gorge, WA. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @11mm f16 1/1000 ISO1600

Washington Palouse

Palouse Falls, Washington. Canon 5D markIII 11-24mm f4L @11mm f4 30″ ISO1600

Montana Mountains

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @11mm f16 1/20 ISO100

Montana Photography

Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @11mm f16 1/10 ISO50

 

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Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Falls. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L. f16 1/10 ISO50

Just finished up a fantastic private workshop in Glacier National Park this last week. It was so refreshing to be back in Glacier this year, one of my absolute favorite locations right here in my backyard in Montana. Had a wonderful few days with my client with an epic fog and light show our first morning and some pretty sweet wildlife encounters during our stay.

Just arrived in Seattle for a trip out to the Peninsula, but will be back to Glacier in a couple weeks for my annual workshop and will have some more images to share soon. As of right now I’m enjoying the cool down of the Pacific Northwest temps compared to the seemingly endless heat wave we’ve had further inland in the west, next stop Olympic National Park!

 

Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Lake. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L. f16 1/4 ISO100

 

Glacier National Park

Grizzly. Canon 1DX 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS II. f5.6 1/125 ISO3200

Glacier National Park

Ferns. Canon 1DX 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II. f27 1/4 ISO1600

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Spring Photography Workshops

Oregon Waterfalls

Elowha Falls, Oregon. Canon 5D MarkIII, 16-35mm f4L IS. f16 1″ ISO100

Well I’m finally back home after a busy spring in the Pacific Northwest. I had some fantastic travelers and amazing destinations this year. April I was out in Oregon working the Columbia River Gorge, exploring some new locations and it really seems like the waterfalls here are just endless. The more I explore further into both Oregon and Washington the more I am amazed I what I keep stumbling upon. Beyond the green and waterfalls, wildflowers were early this year and I was fortunate enough to catch them at the beginning of the month, but towards the end of April things were definitely winding down, still some great stuff though.

Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach, Washington. Canon 1DX, 16-35mm f4L IS. f4 0.3″ ISO3200

The month of May had me tromping around one of my absolute favorite locations in the western U.S., Olympic National Park. I can never get enough of Olympic Peninsula’s rainforests and the endless compositions you can find as you wander through the old growth sitka spruces and big leaf maple trees. We also had great beach stuff as well, visiting the iconic Ruby beach and Rialto and lucking out with some pretty sweet sunsets while photographing the seascapes.

Washington Waterfalls

Palouse Falls, Washington. Canon 5D Mark III, 11-24mm f4L. f4 30″ ISO1600

June I was in Washington’s Palouse region and had a fantastic trip photographing the soft rolling hills of eastern Washington and visiting the many classic barns throughout the area. We also had a fun night photographing Palouse Falls under the milky way while a group of fun and wild photographers lent their light painting skills and helped light up the falls. All in all a great trip and one of my favorite areas to shoot close to home.

It’s nice to be back in the mountains of Montana though and to see all the new life that’s happening here in the Bitterroot Valley.  We’re beginning to see arrival of new fawns in our backyard, nesting birds, and young goslings growing up. Summer is officially here. In a couple weeks I will be heading back out to Washington’s Olympic peninsula, this time on official family vacation with the promise of putting down the cameras and soaking it up at Lake Crescent for the week:)

In July I will be gearing up for more Glacier National Park workshops and should have some more stuff to share soon. Thanks to all the great travelers on my workshops this year, you all have truly made it such a pleasure and a whole heck of a lot of fun being out there doing what we do!

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Montana’s National Bison Range

Montana Wildlife

Bison and Montana sky. Canon 5D markIII 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II. f8 1/1500 ISO400

It’s nice to be back doing some photography in Montana! It’s been a busy couple months getting caught up on print orders and traveling for workshops and now finally having a little time to sneak out for some photography in western Montana before I head back out. Things are looking spectacular out here right now and are only getting better. The National Bison Range is just a short drive from where we live in the Bitterroot and one of my favorite locations to photograph in the Mission Valley. Arrow-leaved balsamroots are in bloom, baby bison running around and snow still on the peaks. I only wish I had more time to spend here! Out last night I had some good luck with Yellow-headed blackbirds and some nice backlight work with the Bison. The light was also pretty nice on the Mission Mountains at sunset:) What I love about the Bison range is that even though it’s boundaries are small, it has so many rich elements in one area. The wildlife is usually within decent working distances, great bird habitat and you can’t beat the geography and the Missions as a backdrop. Lots of potential and you never know what you’re going to come away with. Looking forward to more trips this summer!

Montana Birds

Yellow-headed Blackbird. Canon 1DX, 500mm f4L IS II, 2X tc. f11 1/1500 ISO1600

Montana Sunset

Mission Mountain Sunset. Canon 5D markIII, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II. f11 1/20 ISO100

 

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