Pentax 645Z Does Big Sur

Working my way up the coast from Santa Barbara to Big Sur was not without its landscape obstacles.  The past rains and forest fires along the coastline shut down U.S. 1 from Santa Barbara up through Big Sur.  Forcing a road detour to U.S. 101, which cut through the central agricultural breadbasket of California.  Wide tracts of farmland were dedicated to vineyards and produce once we got closer to Salinas.  It was a traffic hassle free ride up 101, which made for a quicker trip to our destination in Carmel and eventually up to Moss Landing.  The work around driving had us going to Carmel and then heading south to Big Sur via U.S. 1.  U.S 1 when it’s fully open is in its own right, a fabulous travel journey along California's rugged coastline.  Besides the incredible scenery, there are ample opportunities to shoot wildlife.  Elephant seals, otters, grey whales, and birds of prey are found along the coastline.  Highway 101 provides a different landscape, and for photographers looking for agricultural opportunities set with mountain backdrops will not be disappointed.  This redirect gave me an opportunity to work on my migrant farming project, which was an unexpected bonus of the redirect up 101.  The Pentax 645Z was my main camera of choice, and my camera bag included the two lenses that I have come to rely on heavily on my road trips.  The 55mm 2.8 and the most current version of 35mm 3.5 wide-angle lens.  My third lens in the 90mm 2.8 with Pentax's version of vibration control, but I find this lens to be very heavy and only bring it along when I think it can add something different to my photography.  This is the ones lens that really needs a tripod to work well.  Partially because I feel as I'm aging it's getting harder to keep this lens still, despite it's SR shake vibration moniker.  Fortunately, we had fabulous weather conditions, and the camera set up and lenses worked like they always do - without a hitch.  One thing I'm thankful for on the 645Z is its dynamic range and its ability to pull details out of the shadows.  The camera also works very well at high ISO, and I find its autofocusing to be very quick and spot on.  The reason I wet medium format with Pentax has been the unbelievable resolution from the files it produces.  Most of my printed work ranges 30x30, 30x40 and 40x60.  When you look at those images the detail found in the images is just outstanding.  If you can, do drive up U.S 1 and 101.  Both roads will provide you with numerous opportunities for capturing captivating images.

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March 8, 2018 by Floyd V. Arthur

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