The Covid Camping Sunsets & Scenery video slideshow features scenic views at many lesser known locations throughout the west. All of the images in this slideshow were captured during my Covid isolation camping tour. The original plan was a six month camping venture starting in August 2019. Because of Covid, the trip did not end until April 2022 after the vaccines did their job. I personally have breathing issues at times, so catching Covid would have meant coming to an untimely end. My own occupation as a chef was also caput back then, so the decision to keep on camping was easy to make. Unfortunately I drained the piggy bank while doing so, but I accumulated tons of imagery that is finally being sorted for publication. This sunset presentation is the first and a few more nature slideshows are in the works.
Since I had plenty of time to spare while Covid camping, I took on many new skills. One big goal was to learn as much about photography as possible. As I learned better techniques, the equipment in my camera bag gradually improved and so did the quality of the finished images. Every purchase was a major financial setback, but better equipment was necessary for pursuing specialized interests.
The first round of tripod stills were Nikon D7500 1.5 crop sensor renditions. I was also using the cropped camera for night sky scenes and soon realized that a full frame camera would be a better choice for this task. Later in 2020 the Nikon Z5 mirrorless full frame camera was offered for a very low introductory price during the raging pandemic. Tripod stills are exactly what this bargain priced camera was designed for, so I nabbed the opportunity. All along the way the old crop sensor camera lenses were traded in for fast pro DSLR full frame zoom lenses or precise mirrorless prime lenses.
Learning how to take better sunset pictures was first on the list for a good reason. At that time I was sharing pretty sunset images daily at social networks during Covid, just to help cheer up viewers. This is how the Covid sunset collection began. Because the RAW image files were only quickly processed for immediate publication, there were many flaws that had to be corrected at a later date. There were also many RAW files that were never processed that piled up while camping. Needless to say, it took more than one year to reprocess the massive amount of image files and the job was finally completed in late 2023. The first results can be viewed in this Covid Camping Sunsets & Scenery slideshow presentation!
On the downside, dust on the sensor or the back lens made processing the photos much more difficult. Dust is practically unavoidable in the desert southwest and the raging dust storms make the problem worse. The old style zoom lenses do have a way of vacuuming dust and it collects on the back lens, which causes tiny gray bokeh dots that are noticeable at 100% magnification. I eventually became adept at removing and cleaning the back lens while doing occasional overnighters in cheap motel rooms, simply because the Nikon repair facility was closed during Covid. The new mirrorless internal zoom lenses have much better dust sealing, which definitely is something to keep in mind if you spend a lot of time in the desert southwest.
Dust or one tiny piece of lint fiber on the camera sensor will cause deep dark spots in photos. Cleaning a sensor while in the field has to be done only in dust free conditions, so several days often passed before performing this task while camping. As a result an entire series of images often had dust spots, which is a real drag. On a side note, the imaging software that I use for cleaning up dust spots has greatly improved since the Covid camping ordeal. Recently reprocessing the Covid tour images turned out to be a good choice.
Not every Covid sunset from 2019 through 2022 was captured with the click of the shutter. Two successive years of summer season extreme wildfire smoke caused me to put the stills camera back in the bag. Traveling frequently sometimes meant arriving after dark. There were days when staying warm and comfortable while camping was far more important than taking a picture. Rain and high winds also had a way of canceling stills sessions. Even so, I ended up with 490 finished stills images while Covid camping with the majority being sunsets. The numbers eventually were whittled down to about 390 photos for this slideshow presentation with 5 seconds of viewing time per image.
The filming locations were basically the same places that I sat up a tripod for time lapse videos:
• Angel Peak
• Big Sandy
• Browns Park
• Death Valley
• Gold Butte
• Grand Canyon Parashant
• Joshua Tree
• Lake Mead
• Lone Pine
• Medicine Bow
• Mojave Preserve
• Mojave Trails
• Mt Rainier
• Pearce Ferry Landing
• Petrified Forest
• Salton Sea
• Sumpter Valley
• Trona Pinnacles
Plenty of information about these sites can be found in the Destination West website. I tended to stay away from the crowded famous landmarks of the west during Covid, so only the lesser known vacant places with pleasant scenery are depicted. An instrumental music soundtrack was embedded to enhance the viewing experience. This 30 minute slideshow certainly is a study in desert sunsets and the colors definitely capture attention!
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