Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Perhaps You’ve Heard the News

July 29, 2012

I’m sure many of you have heard the news about the 32 year old mountain climber named Ben Horne that recently died in Peru. Though I never met him, I’ve read about his adventures in the local newspaper. Earlier this year, I spoke to one of his friends at a local art show. He saw my name, and said that he knows the “other” Ben Horne. I knew instantly who he was talking about.

My name isn’t very common — so it’s strange that the two Ben Hornes in San Diego that are just one year apart, and we both love the outdoors. I offer my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the other Ben Horne.

Pardon the Silence

July 9, 2012

I’m sure many of you have noticed my absence as of lately. Over the past few years, I’ve visited the Colorado Plateau each spring — but that wasn’t in the plans for the spring of 2012. I can assure you that there is good reason though. The past several months in particular have been crunch time for wedding planning. Lyubov and I tied the knot just over a week ago. It was a fun wedding, and we spent our honeymoon in Zion National Park.

We’ve been to Zion many times in the past, but we saved the best hike in the park — Angels Landing — for our honeymoon. Those who are afraid of heights will want to skip this one, but the views are outstanding. I recorded much of the hike with my GoPro mounted to a chest harness. It gives a great perspective of tedious trail that climbs a razorback sandstone ridge.

Now that the wedding is complete, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me. I have many Gear Guide videos planned, as well as another shooting trip in the near future.

A Great Bag for all the Landscape Essentials

October 10, 2011

Over the past few weeks, I have been streamlining my equipment. Since I started shooting large format, I’ve carried all the essential equipment (meter, grad filters, stop watch, cable release, notes, etc) in a Lowepro Street & Field setup. The deluxe waistbelt + utility pouches allowed easy access while shooting. Though very convenient while shooting, this setup was difficult to store in my Gregory or Osprey backpacks.

Enter the Tamrac Zuma 2 iPad case — that’s right, an iPad case. This thin, streamlined case has two primary compartments: one for an Apple iPad, and the other for various supplies including a Canon G12, memory cards, wireless keyboard, etc. The iPad compartment is — of course — padded, and is a great place to put my Sekonic light meter, and all 4 of my graduated neutral density filters. The second compartment is perfect for my stopwatch, tape measure, notebook, cable releases, and some other filters.

While shooting, I can either sling this case across my body like a messenger bag, or hang it from the hook on my tripod. Either way, I have easy access to all my shooting essentials. Because of the low profile shape of this bag, I can easily stuff it into my Gregory Whitney 95, or my smaller Osprey Atmos 65.

Tamrac Zuma 2: Exterior View

Tamrac Zuma 2: Interior Compartment great for organization. This is a great place for my cable releases, notepad, stopwatch, tape measure, etc.

Padded rear compartment for grad filters, meter, etc.

Free Film Friday on Twitter #FFF

September 29, 2011

I had a (brilliant) idea the other day. Such ideas don’t happen often, so I had to sit down and make sure it was in fact an idea.

I have a freezer full of film, some of which I don’t plan on using for quite some time. I prefer to keep very recent film in my stock, and some of the film is getting a bit old. This film has been kept refrigerated/frozen for all of its life, and I’m looking to give it a good home.

Tomorrow on Twitter, I’ll give away the first of this film.

What format am I giving away?  What type of film?  How much film?

Follow me on Twitter (@BenHorne) and you’ll get all the details tomorrow. This will be the first of many Free Film Fridays.

Colorado Plateau 2011: Day 9

August 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

This was the final day of my June 2011 trip to the Colorado Plateau. I’ll be posting a trip recap in the coming week with the lessons I’ve learned, and my thoughts about the trip. Thanks for following along!

Got Film? Badger Does.

April 26, 2011

After my last minute scramble for film before my January trip to Death Valley, I decided to stock up early for my June trip. I visited the usual sources, and found that 8×10 is increasingly difficult to find.
Badger Graphic Supply currently has an excellent supply of film. I’ve ordered from them in the past, and highly recommend them. I stocked up on Fuji Velvia 50 and Kodak Ektar 100. I also purchased some Portra 160VC to experiment with.

Let’s support these guys, and their effort to provide us film shooters with the stuff we need.  Thanks Badger!

Thank You

March 14, 2011

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to my blog readers. Creating this content is a blast, and I’m glad others enjoy it. I love being able to share my experiences with you guys.

I walk a fine line by sharing the large format experience. It is easy to come across as arrogant (look at me with my hoity-toity wooden camera!) , but I think I have avoided that. Sure, some people who follow my blog are large format shooters, but the vast majority of my readers shoot digital.

I plan on getting a digital SLR again for those fast shots (Where are you 5D3?), but large format will always be my primary format. This is photography at its most simple state. The camera is a tool, and limitation breeds creativity.

As many of you know, this isn’t about the camera — it’s about the experience. Shutter speeds, f-stops, and ISO transcend all formats of photography. This is about photography, love of the craft, and exploring the beauty of the natural world.

My goal is to share my triumphs, my failures, and the lessons I’ve learned. I hope to convey the feeling of being there, and the excitement of getting the shot.

Let’s face it, photography requires a perfect balance of technical knowledge, and artistic vision. Beginning photographers are often overwhelmed by the technical side, but it gets easier with practice. I hope my video journals and trip recaps contain useful shooting information.

If I didn’t truly enjoy photography, I wouldn’t be doing this. I put my heart into photography, and I’m glad it shows. I am in a unique position to take frequent shooting trips. I hope this gets others excited about the outdoors, and photography.

I strive to keep my blog free of commercial postings and ads. I’m not here to sell you anything. Even if I offer workshops or ebooks in the future, I will not use my blog as a sales platform. That would only distract from the stories and experiences I have to share. If you would like to support me, my blog, and my photographic journey, I appreciate all donations — no matter how small they may seem. Thank you so much everyone who has contributed thus far. I truly appreciate it!

So here’s to a great audience.  Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing more of my journey.

In the coming week, I will be sharing my experience with Kodak Ektar vs. Fuji Velvia. I’ve had several people inquire about this. Spoiler alert: Me likey!

Crisis Averted

January 14, 2011

On my last trip to Zion, I recall hearing a popping sound while hiking with my backpack full of camera gear. I knew it wasn’t my back or knees, so it must have been something in my backpack. When I made it back to camp, everything seemed okay. That was early in the trip, and I soon forgot about it.

It was only this past Sunday when I was packing for Death Valley that I remembered the mysterious sound.

I emptied my Gregory backpack, and inspected it. Sure enough, the right side of the hip-belt seemed a little looser than usual.

A  quick google search for “Gregory Palisade 80” listed several review sites. Most of the reviews were glowing, but there was a troubling number of reviews that mentioned “Catastrophic Hip-belt failure.”

I refined my google search to include this troubling phrase.

I found numerous accounts of the belt failing. There are two plastic “wings” that transfer weight from the pack to the hips. Each wing is attached to the base of the pack with two bolts. The bottom bolt provides a pivot point, and the top locks the angle of the hip-belt.

I removed the padded portion of the belt, and examined the underlying plastic. On both sides, the lower bolts were no longer attached. A large crack in the plastic freed the lower bolts, and was heading straight toward the upper bolts. If that crack spread any further, the upper bolts would release — transferring all 60 lbs in the pack to my spine. I would literally have to drag the pack behind me. There is no way that I could hike even a reasonable distance with that kind of weight on my spine.

Gregory is well aware of this issue, and blames the failure on a faulty mixture of plastic that was manufactured in China (Big surprise!). I purchased my pack in mid 2008.  Since then, they have supposedly fixed this issue. The new plastic hip-belt reinforcements are suppose to be much stronger.

Gregory places a lifetime warranty on their bags, so that was not an issue. I can simply call them up, and arrange for the replacement parts. The repair is a simple enough task and requires only an Allen wrench.

Here’s the problem. I discovered this on Sunday, January 9th — less than one week before my big trip to Death Valley. A repair was out of the question.

I visited the local REI where I originally purchased the bag. They fully refunded my 3 year old backpack.  Talk about service!

I would have purchased the exact same bag again, but it was not in stock. Instead, I paid the $32 to upgrade to a Gregory Whitney 95. This pack is just a hair larger, which gives me a bit more space for the mahogany end table I like to take with me on hikes.

This pack has the exact same suspension system, which I found to be incredibly comfortable. So long as the hip-belt issue is resolved, I think I will be just fine. I’ll certainly keep an eye on the hip-belt this time. If I ever see a crack, I know that Gregory will take care of it. I’ll certainly be treating it with the utmost care.

Thanks REI! You’re a lifesaver!

New Year, New Computer

January 6, 2011

On New Years Day, I paid a visit to the Fashion Valley Apple Store here in San Diego. I was on a mission to buy a new computer.

For the past 5.5 years, I have been using a Mac G5 (Pre Intel) with a dual 2.3 GHz processor. This system was fully loaded with RAM, and I honestly had no complaints about the speed while working in Photoshop. My large format scans are 2GB, and the file size only gets larger when I use layers. It’s not uncommon to have a file size larger than 10GB.

On my old system, these files took a long time to open. That was my only speed bump. After opening the file Photoshop was fast.

As time has passed, software incompatibility has become a serious issue. Video editing software in particular was the breaking point.

My new video setup is a Panasonic TM700. This is the camera that I will use for all of video journals. Like most video cameras these days, the TM700 shoots in the AVCHD format.

Apple’s iMovie ’08 was the first version to support AVCHD. Even though I was running Leopard, and I had iMovie ’08 installed on my G5, I was not able to connect to the camera because the software required an Intel chip.

This leads me to my visit to the Apple Store on New Years Day.

The modern incarnation of my G5 is now known as the Mac Pro. It comes in three flavors: good (quad core), amazing (8 core), and ridiculous (12 core). I chose the “amazing” 8 core option, which comes standard with 6GB of RAM. I was helped by two very knowledgeable people, and it was a great experience.

I’d like to think that I single-handedly helped Steve Jobs pay his mortgage this month.

In the past, the excitement of a new computer was short-lived. The moment of bliss was rudely interrupted by re-installing software, transferring POP3 email settings, and making sure I grabbed all my obscure files off the hard drive. Ultimately, the migration from old to new was a nightmare.

This was my first time going from an old Mac to a new Mac.

Upon turning on the new system, I was prompted to connect both computers with a Firewire 800 cable. I did so, and waited for the magic to happen. After nearly 30 minutes, the process was complete.

All of my software (Photoshop, Quickbooks, Transmit FTP, etc) all transferred flawlessly. There was no need to install a single program. When I reconnected my external hard drives, I found that the backup software was also in perfect condition. My email settings, bookmarks, and everything else were untouched.

I scoured my computer to find *something* that was not transferred. I couldn’t find anything.

Really — it WAS that easy.

Critics will say that I could have bought a Windows 7 machine with identical stats for much less — I will not argue that fact. The “Apple Tax” is alive and well.

However, this effortless migration from one system to another makes it worthwhile.

After scrubbing the hard drive on my G5, and giving it a clean install of Leopard, it’ll end up on Ebay. Thanks G5! You’ve served me well!

Yikes! That could have been bad!

January 4, 2011

Infinite Horizon: Photographed on Fuji Velvia 50 (8x10)

I’m now officially gearing up for my next trip: Death Valley National Park.  This will be my third trip to the park, and I have high expectations for the photographic potential.  During the month of December, Death Valley received over 3 inches of rain. As a result, Badwater is once again flooded. This will make for some great photographic opportunities.

Another personal goal of mine is to capture a great photo of the dunes. On large format, this is not an easy task. This year, I want to think big, shoot big, and walk away with great shots.

I’m also pleased to announce that have an entirely new video setup for my video journal. I am using a Panasonic TM700 along with an external Sennheiser mic for improved audio.  I hope to produce even better video than previous trips, and bring you the viewer along for the ride!

This brings me back to the title of this blog post — which I’m sure you are wondering about.  What could have been so bad?

Today after work, I made a checklist of supplies I will need for my trip.  Scribbled first on my list was “Fuji Velvia 50 8×10 — 1 Box”

I think we all can agree that film is a very important part of large format photography. If it wasn’t for film, I’d just be hiking around with a mahogany end table in my backpack.

I went to all the usual sources:  Out of Stock,  Out of Stock, Out of Stock, Out of Stock.


I  have a partial box of 5 sheets left in the freezer.  Let’s see, 11 days in Death Valley, and 5 sheets of film.  That’s too crazy for even me!

Up until now, 8×10 sheet film came in quantities of 10.  To help sell more film, and keep the production lines running (which I’m all for!), Fuji has decided to sell quantities of 20.  Again, this is just fine with me.

Here’s the problem, all the 10 sheet boxes have sold out, and the 20 sheet boxes have not yet shipped.


I thought to myself, where could I possibly find some more Velvia?  Simple. It’s the same place you can find used shoes and GI Joe. Ebay.

I found a highly regarded seller with several boxes available.

*fingers crossed*