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Our backyard: Rockies & Colorado Plateau on foot with my daughter RJ

I've read and perused all the stories/pix for this Sony visual write-up and almost didn't participate: "Are you nuts going against the pros with pro gear and writing in American E that is your 4th self-taught language, albeit the fave one (grew up with Am. BBs & Elvis)?" Seeing the wow-factor pix from Prague, Florence, Himalayas and other exotic locales discouraged me. Big time. Slept on it two nights; received the last call Sony email last week.

Our contribution has an intrinsic value in the surreal morphology, features and fascia in the locations of the Old West where I've found my true home due to its vast untouched beauty & wildlife, the sunny, semi-arid clime with its violent storms any time of year and its great people. Driving thousand of miles while backpacking and hiking in the backcountry hundreds over 27 years, I've earned it. Sleeping under the stars with the camera, tab, USB charger and batteries at my feet inside the sleeping bag, I am ready to shoot in a NY minute to catch the ephemeral magic of the alpine or desert sunups and sundowns in solitude, with my daughter or a close friend. As my grandparents did, I took our daughter RJ camping at age three. Ten times that later, she remembers dad playing guitar by the fire, the night sky, pancakes after sunup & horseback riding in my lap. We've been doing it ever since; bonding, healing and coping with divorce 25 years ago. The wilderness truly has this uncanny spiritual power.

Being raised with three-gens of applied science folks and being one myself, I dare to give a few tips to the pros; thinking out of the box and solving problems is in our DNA.

Ad 1) Use your feet as much as possible 'in-situ' (travel light as this ole mntn goat); use an 8" tab as a backup, remote & LCD - I have to being almost blind on my R-eye, must use AF in manual mode and the fast and accurate Sony delivers! Using a lot the 3 shots HDR instead of stacking like in the Nikon; a must in the desert. For editing have Lr, Topaz Labs, PhaseOne (for Sony) and Nik (got it free). Used to have the full Ps CZ version but don't like the leasing at all!

Ad 2) Take the utmost care of your costly gear anywhere in the desert, on beaches, et al. On my 'Route66' trip in April 2015 to S-UT/N-AZ, the fine silt on a windy day destroyed my young buddy Pat's brand new Cannon mega-zoom in 5 hours! I warned him. I use a chest photo-pack and a tight, padded and zippered case for the Sony Alpha Nex-5 & the tab while hiking. During shooting, after each shot, I put the Sony in the case, zip it up & put under my high-tech fabric shirt/top that filters the silt, unlike cotton. Even on calm days, the silt gets into everything! It is not dust but fine abrasive silica! Shooting the golden light on a tripod, I cover the camera even for 20 secs! That's why I don't fiddle w/ lenses in the desert. Have all the filters but use only Zeiss UV filter that never leaves the lens. Using my feet & getting on my knees, butt or belly, I get the color of the water right every time w/out the polarizing filter.

Ad 3) The best SW for dealing with the insane desert contrast is Topaz and Nik.


Eat your heart out, Ps.

Having the sight handicap, sitting in front of the 24" HD monitor & 33" HD TV (use HDMI)  gives me bad headaches due to glasses. Last fall while RJ was cramming math and physics on the tab and mirroring the complex graphics on the big 4K screen, I hit my forehead! How about the final postproduction editing in 4K. Having a music recording studio around the PC, have boxes of cables including a 15" certified HDMI 2.0 w/ Ethernet. The PC is in the bedroom, the 4K TV is in the living room next to that wall. It barely reaches but the difference is phenomenal! Thanks to upscaling (Sony & Samsung are the best, forget the rest!), the resolution is 'wow' - don't need glasses, color rendition is very accurate (forget calibrating) & the detail is frigging great, no need for blowing up parts of the shot! Don't take my word for it but try it; 4K TVs are much cheaper and more useful than 4K PC monitors! Topaz SW supports 4K, BTW. Save mullah for photo gear. There you have it.

Robert J. & Rojana Joy Santholzer aka Robert of Prague

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