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Ben, I just looked at your video. I thought you did a very nice job explaining how you selected your camera height and angle of view. I am puzzled about one issue. I cannot imagine leaving my gear out on the salt flats overnight. I know exactly where you made that shot and I do know you had some walking and also had to avoid some wet areas. I know I would start out 5 or 10 minutes earlier rather than leave my gear out. I wonder is it really that difficult to set up your gear for a morning...Show more →
Jim, When I shoot my D800, I do exact as you suggest -- leaving early enough to get there ahead of the light so I can setup my shot. With the 8x10, it's a different story. To get a shot before sunrise, I have to setup the camera the day before. Otherwise, it's too dark before sunrise to see anything on the ground glass and compose a shot, much less focus. When shooting in Death Valley, I try to find compositions that work for both sunrise or sunset (often facing north or south). That way, I can take a shot in the evening, then again the next morning. I'm not worried about the camera itself. A trash bag will protect it from the elements, and if it gets blown over by a freak wind --- I can always replace it. I'm not concerned about anyone "finding" it overnight because it is very difficult to find a camera covered by a black bag in the middle of the night. I use a GPS to find it in the morning. It's an odd technique, but it's also the easiest way to get the sort of shots I like.
Also, keep in mind that the 8x10 has zero electronics. It's just a wooden box with leather bellows. Though I almost always leave the lens attached overnight, I could theoretically take it with me if I wanted. The focus is set by the camera body, so all I would need to do is put the lens on in the morning.