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UV Landscapes, Sierra Nevada, California, October 2019

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#1 Bill De Jager

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 23:07

I've done little at UVP for several years. Mostly this has been due to a health condition which didn't leave me much energy after expending my energy on work. Fortuitously this condition has substantially improved very recently and I'm in the process of resuming a more energetic and productive life.

In mid-October, just at the beginning of my improvement, I made my annual autumn trip to the high reaches of the Sierra Nevada mountains and areas to the east in the state of California, U.S.A. I'd hoped to make a serious effort to do UV color photography, but somehow I managed to leave my camera (a broadband Canon 6D) in JPEG-only mode and never caught the problem until I returned home. I was positive I'd set the camera correctly before leaving home. I must remember - check at home - then double-check when I get there. It also would have been good if I'd backed up files at the hotel as I'd intended to, which also would have led to me catching the error after a couple of days (I was camping on alternate nights).

So instead of processing RAWs, all I have this time for UV are some jpegs taken in black and white.

What's different about this effort, in relation to my past ones, is that I'd read here that the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens (one of my very few EF-mount lenses) is usable in UV. I decided to test this on my trip. One frustration of shooting in UV has been the general impracticality of easy point-and-shoot photography, unlike visible light and (to a lesser degree) IR photography. Methodical tripod work is all good and well, but it's not for every photo on every trip.

So the camera was handheld. Focus was done in the OVF rather than enlarged live view like I would normally do with UV. With this lens I had to manually focus on both closer and more distant subjects, due to focus shift, but that it wasn't that hard to get decent results most of the time. Not pin-sharp, but usable when viewed at reduced resolution. I expect it would be easier to get sharp on-the-fly results on a mirrorless camera, if banding can be avoided. ISO was set at 3200, the lens was often but not always wide open, and the shutter speed was often rather slow. I used a Baader Venus filter.

The 6D works well as a UV camera. The shorter register distance will allow use of a wider range of adapted lenses. However, a UV-nikkor requires an adapter. Overall, the combination of camera and lens made a workable informal UV kit as long as care was taken regarding focus and shutter speed issues.

The photos in this series were taken along or near the Tioga Road, in Yosemite National Park or the adjacent Inyo National Forest, with one exception. First, a pond below Mt. Gibbs:

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Mt Gibbs and Pond by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

A rush (Juncus) nearby:

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Juncus at pond near Dana Meadows by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

A young lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. murrayana) at Tuolumne Meadows, with more in the background.

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Young Lodgepole Pine by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

More coming.
Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#2 dabateman

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 07:02

Interesting BW and glad to see you back.
Before I joined I remember reading some of your posts.
I look forward to seeing more images.

#3 Cadmium

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 09:10

Bill, Very nice photos, I like 1 and 2 a lot.

#4 dabateman

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 14:56

I actually like the third shot the best. It reminds me of a scene from either a Chaplin or Buster Keaton movie, with the same contrast as the print I watched.

#5 Bill De Jager

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 19:08

Thank you, dabateman and Cadmium.

View Postdabateman, on 29 December 2019 - 14:56, said:

I actually like the third shot the best. It reminds me of a scene from either a Chaplin or Buster Keaton movie, with the same contrast as the print I watched.

It was a better composition before I cropped off the bottom so I wouldn't have to downsize the photo as much.

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Young Lodgepole Pine - Full Photo by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

Here's another one, showing a general view of the Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. I focused the lens on the stump in the foreground which works well in the composition.

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Tuolumne Meadows by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

Note that all these photos are at relatively high elevations, so far ranging from ~2600 to ~2900 meters (~8600 to ~9600 feet). In terms of climate and vegetation this corresponds to a boreal forest. This stands in contrast to the famous Yosemite Valley (which many people think is the entire park) at 1200 meters (4000 feet) which has a mild montane Mediterranean climate with a long growing season and mixed coniferous-hardwood forests.
Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#6 Andrea B.

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 19:54

Hi Bill -- It's really great to see you out and around, working your UV photography.

We all have to keep "pre-flight" checklists in mind when shooting UV given that the technical requirements are a bit more stringent than with "ordinary" visible photography. I have also learned this the hard way after shooting UV incorrectly a couple of times in places where I cannot easily return. But we live, we learn. Well, most of the time anyway. :grin:

Kudos to you for shooting some UV at 8600-9600 feet! The altitude here just south of Santa Fe really got to me for about 2 months after moving here from my almost sea level 125 feet in NJ. Everything around here is between 6800-7200 feet so I did have quite a change. I bought some of that canned oxygen and found it useful while I was adjusting. I learned that we never attain an oxygen level over 95% when living at this altitude.

Those Lodgepole Pines are interesting to me in UV. The needles are quite UV-absorbing, but the bark is UV-reflective. Next time when you are out there photographing these interesting trees, think about bringing home some details which would make a nice entry on the botanical board. You would want to get a visible photo of the tree as a whole and add a few close-ups of cones, needles and bark. Then repeat in UV. I will always help with the formal write-up for anyone who is willing to contribute the photos.

Right now I'm interested in pines in general having just attended a talk at our local library about Pinyon-Juniper woodlands and savannahs which are the ecosystems around here where I live near Santa Fe. At first everything looked alike as I scanned the land. The I began to see that there were male and female Junipers in some cases. And that some of those Junipers were actually Pinyon pines (Pinus edulis)! Now that my house is functional and most of the boxes unpacked, it is time to get out there and make some good studies of these plants before the wildflowers begin to bloom in the spring.
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#7 Bill De Jager

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Posted 31 December 2019 - 20:42

Thanks, Andrea. Glad your move went well and you're acclimating to your new environment. I've been to New Mexico three times - once in a snowstorm, briefly, once in mid-summer for a week, and once in early winter for a week. The summer heat amazed me because due to low humidity it didn't feel anywhere near as hot as the thermometer indicated. The winter visit was really, really dry - my wife didn't like what that did to her nose.

There's quite an ecological gradient from New Mexico to California and Nevada, as a primarily summer-based precipitation regime shifts to a winter-based one farther west. So some plants are found in both areas but there are a lot of differences. We also have pinyon-juniper woodland, but with different species of pine (Pinus monophylla vs. P. edulis) and juniper (Juniperus osteosperma vs. J. monosperma). Our ponderosa pines are a different race than yours: https://www.fs.fed.u...5/psw_rp265.pdf. I'm hoping to get up to the California mountains again in the next few months, though the sites shown in these (and upcoming) photos are snowed in for the next five-six months.

This year the summer monsoon largely failed in the southwest. Hopefully that won't be the case in 2020, and you may find a lot of plants responding to summer rains if that's the case. Now that you're in the west, there is another consideration - periodic droughts including the one currently happening in parts of your new state. You may want to bookmark this site: https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/ .

Here are the final three photos in this series. The first two are in the vicinity of Saddlebag Lake, Inyo National Forest.

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East Side of the Sierra Crest north of Tioga Pass by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

Looks kind of like a 19th century photo on a glass plate, thanks to the low contrast! The photo shows the transition from upper boreal forest (mainly Sierra Nevada lodgepole pine) to timberline with whitebark pine (P. albicaulis) to above timberline. The snow and ice fields were left over from previous winters and may include a couple of small glaciers.

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Saddlebag Lake by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

Finally, bristlecone pine woodland in the White Mountains of California:

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Patriarch Grove by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

This is a different species than you have in New Mexico - P. longaeva vs. P. aristata. The substrate is mainly dolomite and the climate is essentially a timberline desert.

Edited by Bill De Jager, 31 December 2019 - 20:45.

Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#8 OlDoinyo

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 01:00

These photos have a nice old-school feel about them--I think they might benefit from a sepia workup. You might be interested in my musings from five years ago about the subject:

https://www.ultravio...__fromsearch__1

#9 Andy Perrin

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 02:52

I love these images! Very Ansel Adams-y.

#10 Bill De Jager

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 03:02

Thanks, Andy. Good observations, OlDoinyo, and thanks for the link - I missed that discussion the first time.

How's this? I feel like I should be lugging around an 8x10 view camera and some glass plates with help from my mule.

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East Side of the Sierra Crest north of Tioga Pass - Tinted by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

Edited by Bill De Jager, 04 January 2020 - 19:56.

Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#11 Andy Perrin

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 04:45

Didn’t someone around here have a project to make a camera with a large format sensor?

#12 JMC

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 08:40

Andy - this the one?

http://largesense.com/

I loaned him a UV (LaLaU) and IR (R72) filter earlier this year for some experiments. He will apparently be sharing them on his website at some point.
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#13 dabateman

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 12:42

View PostJMC, on 01 January 2020 - 08:40, said:

Andy - this the one?

http://largesense.com/

I loaned him a UV (LaLaU) and IR (R72) filter earlier this year for some experiments. He will apparently be sharing them on his website at some point.

Now that is a true full frame camera, beeing as one whom likes prints at 8x10.
The video of the LS911 is amazing. The depth of field and the tone are exactly of the large film camera Chaplin used in an early side of the street gag with a girl from 1920s.
Too bad that camera is the exact opposite of what I seek with more depth of field and telephoto view.
I would need a really wide lens and stick to hyperfocus distances to get a whole flower in.
But for people whom like people and portraits, that would be very special camera.
The LS911, means that the sensor is 9 inches by 11 inches in size.

#14 Andy Perrin

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Posted 01 January 2020 - 15:44

Ooh, I think so, Jonathan. That is really cool.

#15 Andrea B.

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 01:57

The photo "East Side of the Sierra Crest" does benefit from a tinted monotone. It brings out better the "UV fade" from near to far, methinks.

I've had some success with green tones also. Here a link to that and also to a sepia: https://www.ultravio...cape-interlude/
Andrea G. Blum
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#16 Cadmium

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 05:57

Bill, Very nice added photos. :smile:

#17 Bill De Jager

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 20:31

Andrea, thanks for the ideas and link. I had originally intended to use a sepia tint but the purple tint ended up giving the look I wanted. I tried playing around with sepia tones and didn't really like the results. I should research 19th-century photo technology to get a better sense of how the appearances of monochrome photos changed over time.

Thank you, Cadmium. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they came out.
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#18 Bill De Jager

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Posted 11 March 2021 - 21:13

I was reviewing the photos from this trip again and was again struck by how some of them seem to have a vintage look, like photos taken back in the 19th century. For instance:

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Tuolumne Meadows Trees by Bill de Jager, on Flickr

I wonder how much of this effect is due to those old photos consisting of a blend of the shorter visible wavelengths and UV? The spectrum of the collodion process can be seen here: https://www.lundphot...odion_film.html. It would seem that the violet and blue components of visible light would still greatly outweigh the UV contribution, at least by a factor of five (my guesstimate from eyeballing the sea-level solar spectrum graph). On the other hand, perhaps the blue and violet components of light aren't really so different from UV-A in terms of how they illuminate a landscape. That's something I'm going to have to look into.

Edited by Bill De Jager, 11 March 2021 - 21:14.

Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.

#19 Stefano

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Posted 11 March 2021 - 21:22

It may well be. Vegetation is dark up to blue, so a photo taken at 400-480 nm would look pretty similar to UV at, say, 350-400 nm.

Foliage is still dark in visible light, you can see this if you convert a normal visible light image to B&W, it does reflect green but not that much actually. Still, it looks darker in UV, you can tell the difference.

#20 Bill De Jager

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Posted 12 March 2021 - 00:56

It would be interesting to simulate the collodion process spectral response, but the necessary filters with decent performance look to be expensive. Something like an 80A filter still lets in fair amount of the longer visible wavelengths so I suspect it wouldn't really be that similar.

Edited by Bill De Jager, 12 March 2021 - 00:56.

Studying the botany and plant geography of California and western North America for almost 50 years.