What lenses to take for Sierra trip

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I'm planning my first trip to the Sierra (probably 2 weeks in October), including the Owens Valley, and would like lens recommendations from experienced LF photographers. I need to carry a minimum of equipment, since I'm unable to walk far from the truck. I will be shooting 4x5 B&W. I want to use the same filters for all lenses. My present thoughts are to carry three lenses, a wide-angle (90mm Angulon), normal (135mm Xenar), and long (8.25" Dagor)lens. All take Series VI filters, and the Dagor will convert to 14" if needed. Another possibility would be to take my Polyplast casket set (105, 135, 165, 195,& 220mm) and forget about very long or short focal lengths. TIA

-- Willhelmn (bmitch@comcast.net), May 04, 2002


I could live very well with your 1st scenario. 90, 135, and 210 are good choices. Something that will catch you off guard though (I live with this daily here in the DSW) is that at higher elevations in our incredibly dry air you'll be amazed at the contrast range your meter will be telling you between shadow and sunlight. Plan for it. 4 stops is normal. When you figure out how to really control that let me know and I'll do it too. Moonlight works well. If you get bored with the gorgeous Sierra's toodle over to Tonopah and shoot some old mining stuff.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), May 04, 2002.

Could you elaborate on that? 4 stops between sunlight and shadow is not so unusual for anywhere. Please explain.

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), May 05, 2002.

Sorry, thought it was quite different than eastern moister states. I have a helluva time in Bodie and the Bristlecones. Both 8500 ft. + with air that's normal at 14% or so humidity. Could just be me.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), May 05, 2002.

I would be happy with either set in this area. One of my friends who also stays close to the truck got a long lens for use in the desert after his first trip out here, but it sounds like your Dagor will take care of that if you need it.

-- Tom Perkins (Thomas1592@msn.com), May 05, 2002.

Hi If your working close to the car, why not take them all.Lenses don't take up much room, and you can pick which you want to walk with at will. The air is thin up there, and therefore the sky renders much darker then you would expect.Most filters will make sky almost black! I have been taking pictures up there for over twenty years (even teach workshops there)and one thing you have to be very carefull of is taking warm clothes.Any time after mid July there is always a chance of snow! It can be hot one day, and snowing the next.Need more info? just e=mail me Don

-- Don Cameron (don@doncameron.com), May 05, 2002.

Willhelmn: I would suggest you have a good look at photography books with Sierra content to see what you like. Some photographers make the most of wide angle lenses, others prefer the long views. Guide yourself according to your own instincts. Photographers like Dykinga go with a slew of lenses from 58 to 400mm on 4X5. Others like David Muench take a 47mm at one end to a 500 at the other. Regards,

-- Julio Fernandez (gluemax@sympatico.ca), May 05, 2002.

Ansel Adams book, The Negative, has quite a number of B-W photographs taken in the High Sierras. The book can assist you in making up your mind what focal length lens you want. Adams is best known for his artistry in showing the effects of light and shadow. His former associate, Carmel photographer John Saxon, has a B-W book on Yosemite Valley landscapes, where he gives lens focal length for each image. He emphasizes pictures taken at twilight with diffuse flat lighting. He seems to favor 210* focal lengths. Their styles differ considerably from that of David Muench. Adams and Saxon hardly ever take a picture where there is some object of interest in the foreground set off from the far landscape. Muench favors wide-angles for the near-far photographs. You asked about what focal lengths are more suitable for roadside shooting -- I do not know. You may want to follow up by looking at Tranquility Images website -- lots of roadside B-W images of the Sierras........................................

-- David (caldw@aol.com), May 12, 2002.

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