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Old Mar 13, 2012, 7:36 PM   #1
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Relative newbie landscape photog here. Heading to Shiloh National Park in two weeks to tour this major Civil War battle site on its 150th anniversary. It's spring here in the south so I expect to see lots of blooming foliage and on the day I'm going, not many tourist.

I'll be carrying my tripod, my new Sony A580 and my limited selection of lenses. I have a Tamron 17-50 2.8 plus my Tamrom 18-250. I also added two new B&W Circular Polarizers.

I need all the helpful suggestions I can get.
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Old Mar 13, 2012, 8:18 PM   #2
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My quick reply / initial thoughts are:

1. You'll probably be using either of your lenses at the wide settings (17mm and 18mm). Find out at what settings the photos are acceptably sharp (I have a friend who has the Tamron 17-50, and he said it's not sharp on the corners / borders unless stopped down quite a bit, but even then his Nikon kit lens is sharper at the corners / borders).

2. If it's a sunny day, use your B&W CPL. If it's cloudy, don't. A CPL will block light, meaning you might either need a higher ISO (or a tripod) to avoid camera shake at some settings.

3. Use your lens hoods. Lens hoods avoid stray light / flare hitting the front of the lens. Particularly if strong sun light hits the front of the lens, this can cause 'sun spots' or 'lack of contrast' in the photos.

4. Practise, practise, practise BEFORE your trip - with your Sony A580 camera, so you can 'take photos' intuitively, ie so you don't have to spend so much time thinking / adjusting settings, but it will be more natural / quick.

5. A tripod can assist in sharper landscape photos. But it can be a pain to carry. I'm not sure you'll need it if the sun is out, unless you want photos of yourself included, or special effects (eg HDR).

6. If I was to go to a place like that (specifically for landscapes), I'd probably also pack an 'ultra-wide' (eg 10-20mm type lens)... but the 17mm is already quite 'wide'. Having said that, a telezoom can also be helpful in some settings (eg to 'highlight' a certain part of the battle site - or to have a special perspective on it). I often go travelling to landscape places with these 3 lenses: Canon 15-85mm, Sigma 10-20mm and Canon 70-300mm L.

All the best. Looking forward to seeing some photos after you've been there.

Paul

Last edited by pj1974; Mar 15, 2012 at 5:34 AM.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 7:22 AM   #3
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I use may Canon 17 - 85mm 2.8 as may walk-about lens so you'll enjoy your 2.8 as well. Your other lens will also come in handy to zoom in on some interesting points of your tour. Is there going to be a mock battle?

To use or not use a polarizer...that is always a good question. I have several which add up to 15 stops which I've used to really slow down the shutter (i.e. - taking lightning shots in the horizon during mid day with sun over head.)

But if your not trying to slow down the shutter but just want to know when to use it, my rule of thumb is 'if it's good and bright outside and your reaching for your sunglasses to ware then it's a good sign your camera could use the filter too.' It's good to have these filters as often times your looking towards the sun for your shot and you'll need to tone down the highlights.

Below is a shot using polorizers as this foggy shot was taken shooting toward the sun.

Good luck and as my friend Paul suggested, ..."Practice, practice, practice"!

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Old Mar 14, 2012, 8:12 AM   #4
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There will be mock battles but not when I am there. I wanted to see the place in its natural beauty. This area of the south has gentle rolling hills, natural pastures ringed in red bud and dogwood trees, again which should be blooming when I am there. I am using the services of a professional tour guide to get a lay of the land and once I understand how the battle progressed, I plan on making other trips there, particularly at sunup and sunset. There are some particularly interesting spots like "bloody pond" and the "hornets nest". Sadly, there were some 27,000 casulaties there.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 6:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outhouse View Post
Relative newbie landscape photog here. Heading to Shiloh National Park in two weeks to tour this major Civil War battle site on its 150th anniversary. It's spring here in the south so I expect to see lots of blooming foliage and on the day I'm going, not many tourist.

I'll be carrying my tripod, my new Sony A580 and my limited selection of lenses. I have a Tamron 17-50 2.8 plus my Tamrom 18-250. I also added two new B&W Circular Polarizers.

I need all the helpful suggestions I can get.
i shoot almost all my outdoor shots with a polarizer. even on cloudy days, it deepens color saturation and helps contrast, and if i'm using a tripod, i don't care if the shutter slows down.

shooting landscapes, you want to keep your aperture stopped down around f/8 or so to give you maximum depth of field, and only open it up all the way if you want to isolate focus on a specific part of the scene. if you can, pick up a remote shutter release, which will help avoid camera movement from your hand pressing the shutter, especially on long exposures.

if you plan to shoot sunsets, it's best to wait till the sun is completely below the horizon... that way you avoid the 'brassy' look that often comes when you shoot into the sun, and you'll get a lot more color as well.

Paul mentioned the Tamron 17-50 being a bit soft in the corners at larger apertures. i have their 17-35, and while it's fine on my crop body, which never "sees" the corners, on my FF 5D, the corners get pretty mushy unless i stop it down. kinda takes away the advantage of the f/2.8. if you're shooting scenes where there's nothing much of interest in the corners, maybe grass and sky or something like that, and you can crop away the soft parts, that's fine. otherwise, you'll definitely want to shoot it stopped down. my 17-35 starts getting acceptably sharp at f/8 or so, and is at its best between f/11 and f/16.

good luck!
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 6:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spy View Post
I use may Canon 17 - 85mm 2.8 as may walk-about lens so you'll enjoy your 2.8 as well. Your other lens will also come in handy to zoom in on some interesting points of your tour. Is there going to be a mock battle?

To use or not use a polarizer...that is always a good question. I have several which add up to 15 stops which I've used to really slow down the shutter (i.e. - taking lightning shots in the horizon during mid day with sun over head.)

Kevin
www.poetryofmotion.com
Kevin - you have a polarizer that cuts out 15 stops??? i've never heard of such a thing... ND filters, yeah, but a polarizer?
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 8:24 PM   #7
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Squirl, stack two polarizers together, look through them while turning one. What happens?
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Old Mar 15, 2012, 8:56 AM   #8
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Squirl, right...i have 15 stops worth of ND filters. Thanks for the correction. Still new to this thing. :-D
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Old Mar 16, 2012, 10:30 PM   #9
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That sounds great, and all the above is great advice. I'm actually driving down to Shiloh from the DC area for the weekend reenactment, so I'll be there when it's most crowded

I'm anxious to see your shots, and contrast them with what I see when it's jammed with people. My father's a huge Civil War history buff, and he and I meet up to attend historical and battle reenactments - lot's of them around DC/MD/PA/VA. As you're lucky enough to do, we also really enjoy exploring the sites when we're on our own, kayaking down Antietam Creek for example. It's very humbling to quietly contemplate the sacrifices people for our country. I'm glad you'll have that experience there. As I said, I'm looking forward to your view!
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Old Mar 23, 2012, 10:09 AM   #10
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I lived about 30 miles from Shiloh Battlefield for eight years. It is a beautiful place. You will have a wonderful time and plenty of photo opportunities. There are many other State parks in the area that are just as pretty but do not have the rich history. The re-enactment day is quite busy, people park and walk for miles to view it. Also, there are some very good Tn bar-b-que and catfish eateries in the area. Makes me miss it just a bit. Have fun.
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