Anyone that knows me, knows that I have only a few outside interests other than my family; I consider Shadow, our 70 pound black lab part of the family. What can I say, I’m a dog lover.

Side note: if anyone is looking for a rescue dog, the folks at DFW Lab Rescue are great. ( I fully support their mission and all the effort the volunteers put in.

But I am off topic, this post is about photography. Like most hobbyists, I spent years running around with first with my 35mm equipment and sometimes with my 2 ¼, an assortment of lenses, a Bogen tripod that weighed as much as a small animal, flashes, filters, backdrops during the period I got into portraiture, and a myriad of other stuff.

It was backbreaking but definitely worth it. While an amateur, I have gotten some photos over the years that I am rather proud to show. Well as you can imagine, the tonnage just did not match up with my other hobby, camping.

I’ve been camping, canoeing, rafting and light climbing since I was a child. My lens assortment was great. Ranging from a standalone wide angle lens to a moderately fast 300 mm and a few intermediate zooms, they provided great flexibility. I must confess though, that bashing a big lens on a canyon wall while rafting through a rapid on the Colorado River was not too great. At least I got a fair image out of it!

Over the years I switched to digital, a Canon EOS Digital body with a few new lenses. During the time my son Jeff was in Scouting working his way to Eagle, we went camping once per month for a few years. Add summer and winter camps – usually a week each, my attending Wood Badge training along with a few extended trips with the family and I had lots of opportunity to shoot the outdoors.

My love of outdoors photography began to centralize on panoramas: big panoramas. People that know me, especially the teckie me, can’t see me taking off my watch, turning off my phone, my 2-way pager in the 90’s, my  computers, tablet, etc. etc. Photography was the only way I could express to others what this beautiful country is like.

It really started coming together for me a few years ago. There is nothing like standing high in a canyon range or relatively alone in a river bed and taking it all in.

Well as I said, the flexibility of all that stuff just was incongruous with my desire to get out there.

As my early digital equipment was getting old I decided to take a rather radical turn, for me at least. I’ve been experimenting for the last few years with a one of the new super zooms on the market.

My choice was the Nikon Coolpix P100. It’s a pretty nifty little camera. I know, the serious shooters are saying, Huh? It’s a glorified point-and-shoot. Well, I guess it is, but is weights about 17.0 oz., has a fairly nice piece of glass – 26x optical zoom with a couple of different types of image stabilization, macro capability, 10 Megapixels resolution – fair, full 1080 HD video with stereo audio, what was at the time a version of their new backside illuminated CMOS sensor, a really bright 3.0-inch vari-angle HVGA Color Display, oh and did I say it weighs just over a pound?

Well there was a learning curve – a few actually. Going from Canon to Nikon: that alone is almost a left brain right brain thing, going to a fixed lens system, and on.

Well, as Mikie says, “I like it, I really like it”.  There have been some rather large trade-offs, but the P100 really got points last september during a fly fishing trip to the

Owhyee River in southeast Oregon. There’s just something about being mid body deep in a river, wearing waders in this case, using your walking stick for balance and then reaching overhead into your daypack for camera and being able to really perform.  There is just no way I could have done that with my old set-up. Again, please remember, I am a hobbyiest, but you judge for yourselves and tell me what you think.

Assuming I can get it all together, my wife and I will be going to Big Bend Ranch State Park. According to Texas Parks and Recreation, “…he scenic drive along the River Road, following the meanders of the Rio Grande, is among the most spectacular in the nation…”

Here are a few samples of of my panoramas. What are your thoughts? To all you photographers reading this, is it worth the tradeoff?

If anyone from Nikon or Canon, Soney Leica, Olympus, etc. is reading this, I’d love to test some of your new equipment during this summer’s trip. Please call me.

The Galena Overlook – Northern Idaho.

Cathedral – Central Park West – New York City.

Owahyee River, Oregon.

Fly fishermen on the Owhyee River, Oregon.

Winter on the Mississippi River, St. Paul, MN.

Panorama of Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Flower on side of Gun Lake, Michigan.

Pretty evil looking spider in the back yard!

Stage side, Opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, TX.

Looking up – Opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, TX.

Collage – The Puppet Parade

Costumed Performer – Opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, TX

Boating at Sunset

River Sunset

July 4th – Cedar Creek Lake, Texas

Big Tex – State Fair 2011

Texas Rangers – Panorama

Sunset – Cedar Creek Lake, Texas.