Monthly Archives: September 2010

September 21, 2010 – Vesper Peak and Lake Elan Basin

Vesper Peak and Lake Elan Basin

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I’m still making progress on all of the pictures I took two summers ago. I know, impressive, right? At this rate you’ll see the pictures I took this weekend sometime in the 2020s. I actually posted another picture from this same hike way back in the day. It was the third picture I ever posted, in fact. (Well, I also posted one last week, but whatever.) The takeaway from that is that I often go through and grab images here and there from past hikes and such, but it takes awhile for me to actually take the time to properly parse through the whole set. I’m still only about halfway through the pics from this hike, but I’ve found several decent ones, that I’m sure you’ll be seeing here sometime or another.

You’re looking at Vesper Peak. The spot where I was standing is accessible via the Sunrise Mine Trail, which is sort of near Monte Cristo on the southern side of the Mountain Loop Highway in Washington State. You hike up into a big huge basin, then up and over one of the ridgelines, crossing at a place called Headlee Pass. Then you hike along a ridge over to this spot. The water you see there is drainage from a lake which I’ve seen called Headlee Lake (named after the pass), Vesper Lake (named after the Peak), and my preferred name, Lake Elan (named after the ski company. Duh.) It’s looking like we may actually get 12 hours or so of nice weather this weekend (fingers crossed!) so I’m actually considering coming back and doing this hike again. When I was there, I just stopped at the lake, but this time I want to hike up Vesper a bit, because I think there could be some nice views. But I’d need to get an early start, which may not be possible, we’ll see.

How about you? Any awesome plans this weekend? Hmm, small talk seems a bit awkward in this context. Forget I said anything…

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm VC lens. 1/125s, f/10.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 28mm.

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September 20, 2010 – Some Weird Plant

Some Weird Plant

Some Weird Plant

Monday, September 20, 2010

Anyone have any idea what the heck this thing is? I found it earlier this summer in the Rose Garden. I’m going to call it a “flower”, but I don’t even know if that’s true. I like the texture though. That’s it for today, short post, eh?

UPDATE: Somebody identified the plant as an “Astilbe”. Now I (and you) know!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Quantaray 70-300mm lens. 1/100s, f/6.3, ISO 800. Focal length: 183mm.

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September 17, 2010 – Cascade Pass

Cascade Pass

Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park

Friday, September 17, 2010

It’s Friday again! Yesssss! Unless you’re reading this on Monday. In which case. Umm. Booooooooo. This picture was taken on the Cascade Pass trail in North Cascades National Park. It’s on the western side of the pass, probably about a quarter of a mile from the crest. It was taken in late July, last year, if that’s useful information at all. Cascade Pass is one of the more popular trails in the park, although I get the feeling that it’s more people that are local to Washington State than the alternative. (That’s actually pure conjecture, I truly know nothing about the demographics of the people that visit the park – but my feeling is that it’s much less of a destination park than, for example, Yellowstone or Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.) But, regardless, there are a fair number of people that take this trail, and if you plan on staying overnight, it’s very important to get to the ranger station early to get a permit for the campground you want.

This picture was taken at an odd time in my epic comedy of misadventures relating to my preferred lens(es). I had somewhat recently decided that the Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens (VC = image stabilized) was crap. I had sent it in for warranty repair, since the autofocus was just plain wrong the majority of the time. I had gotten it back, but still wasn’t convinced that it was working any better. (And there was no clear indication that they had actually done anything to it.) So, I had decided instead to use my previous lens for this hiking trip, which was the *non-VC* version of the same lens. It’s also never been my favorite lens, but especially as I go back and look at pictures from both of them, it seems to perform significantly better than the other one. (Although, to be fair, I used them differently. Knowing your lens has image stabilization means you’re not afraid to try using slower shutter speeds, etc.) For some inexplicable reason, I decided to leave my ISO at 400 for the whole trip. As in, it wasn’t that my ISO was set at 400 and I just didn’t realize it. No, I made a conscious decision to leave it there. I can’t possibly fathom why I would have done such a thing, it really makes no sense. The fact that I did that frustrates me to this day. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. Anyway, getting off topic there… So, I took the regular 28-300mm with me on this hike, and it did okay. I’m less disgusted with the results than I was with the previous several sets of shots I got with the IS version, but I’m still not really happy with them. It was very soon after this that I made the call to go first with a super wide-angle (I decided on the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8), a different mid-range lens (the Tamron 28-75, which was/is a FANTASTIC lens – showing that there’s definitely no problem with Tamron as a brand, just with their attempt at a superzoom – and I suspect I would have had the same experience with ANY brand of superzoom), and for the telephoto end, I fell back on my trusty old Quantaray 70-300, which was dirt cheap, and was the first lens I bought to use with my first digital SLR.

Anyway, this hike is definitely worth doing, and I plan to make it back there, hopefully soon. Since this summer turned out to be a total wash weather wise, it didn’t end up happening. Perhaps I’ll make it out there this fall, but I’m pretty busy, so it’s definitely questionable. Anyway, the pass itself is totally suitable for a day trip. You can go further up, to Sahale Arm, which I gather is a fairly difficult hike. Still doable as a day hike if you’re in good shape and get an early start, but definitely a butt-burner. There are several campgrounds in the area though, so it lends itself naturally to an overnighter. (There’s one campground just a little ways past the pass that’s a great choice, there’s one up at Sahale Arm that’s always the first one to fill up, and then there’s another one further down the far side of the pass, which is where we ended up.) Despite the fact that I just closed my parentheses, I’m going to expand on that last one – the campground we stayed at. Turns out, it’s further down elevation-wise than the trailhead is. I didn’t realize that going in. Coming back the next day was tough, especially since we had gotten soaked by a surprise thunderstorm the previous day, and so everything was wet, including my shoes. Oh well, that’s all the complaining I’m going to do. It would have been nice to make it up to Sahale Arm, but I didn’t have any juice left in my tank (I can’t speak for the other guys there with me, but I was done). That’s on my to-do list for when I make it back.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/16.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 30mm.

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September 16, 2010 – Creek Along Sunrise Mine Trail

Creek along Sunrise Mine Trail

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hey, just because it’s Thursday and I’m posting a mediocre picture doesn’t mean I have to call it out. I think it’s already obvious to everybody, right? I’m still going through the backlog of pictures taken with my crappy lens a couple years ago, and today’s photo is yet another result. Granted, not EVERYTHING mediocre about this image came from the lens. For example, I probably could have moved that branch out the way, but I didn’t. Oh well.

This was a creek crossing along the Sunrise Mine Trail. The creek may have a name, but I don’t know what it is. The Sunrise Mine Trail shoots off from the south leg of the Mountain Loop Highway, in the north-central Cascades. The trailhead is right near Big Four Mountain (the one with the picnic area) and Monte Cristo (the ghost town that’s 4 miles in along a former road). You would be forgiven for not knowing or caring where any of these landmarks are, but I do, so I’m stating them here for reference. It’s a really nice trail. It’s fairly difficult, but it’s got some great views most of the way to make up for it, none of which can be seen in this picture. It’s on my list of trails to get back to someday, perhaps a little bit later in the fall when the colors start changing. (I was there in early September, so things were still pretty green at the time.) I’m sure you’ll be seeing a few more shots from this hike here and there, I’m only about a third of the way through the pics from that day.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm VC lens. 1/40s, f/8.0, ISO 800. Focal length: 28mm.

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September 14, 2010 – Alpenglow and the Moon

Alpenglow and the Moon

Alpenglow and the Moon, near Lake City, Colorado

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today’s picture is a fairly old one, taken in that odd time between when I used a 35mm SLR and when I got my first digital SLR. When I got my first digital pocket-sized point-and-shoot, I started off by bringing both that and my 35mm with me when I’d go hiking or whatever. The idea being, I’d use the little guy for most of my pics, like taking pictures of my buddies or whatever, but if there was a shot that I would theoretically consider blowing up someday, I’d bust out the SLR. But obviously I quickly came to the conclusion that one of the two was dramatically easier to use, and actually took some decent pictures to boot. So I found myself reaching for the 35mm less and less often.

There were actually two last straws, that both hit at right about the same time. First, I had gone on a hike near Mt. St. Helens, and on that hike I had taken 3 or 4 rolls of pictures with the SLR. It was one of those days where the conditions were absolutely perfect. It was sunny, not too hazy, and there were these little fluffy white clouds that made the skies really interesting (and I had a polarizing filter to really bring them out). I was stoked to get the pictures back, because I knew they’d be amazing. Except.. they weren’t. They all just plain sucked. Four rolls of shots, and not a single gosh dang one was worth anything. It crushed me. And no, this wasn’t the only time this had ever happened to me. But it WAS the *last* time this ever happened to me. And, as if that weren’t enough, about this same time I decided to blow up a picture of Mt. Shuksan and Picture Lake. You know, that one view. I had two versions of nearly the same picture, one taken with my 35mm, and the other taken with my *2 megapixel* pocket point-and-shoot (the one I just linked to is neither of them, but it was pretty similar to both). I blew them both up to 12×18, and as it turns out, the point-and-shoot version was actually better. Even at only 2 megapixels, it looked fantastic at 12×18. Even with a crappy little plastic lens, it looked fantastic at 12×18.

After those two events, I started leaving the 35mm at home, and I never looked back. It was several years until I finally got up the courage to make the leap into an actual digital SLR, and this particular trip to Colorado landed right inside that window. So all I had with me for the whole trip was a little pocket point-and-shoot. I had upgraded to a 3.2 megapixel version by then, but still. Nowadays, I of course wonder about all the awesome shots I missed out on not having the equipment, knowledge or skills that I do now, but that’s never a worthwhile thing to worry about. I’ll just have to go back, right?

This particular picture was taken in the San Juan mountains, in the southwest corner of Colorado. There’s a little dirt mountain road that heads into the mountains from Lake City. Eventually it goes over some pass (Cinnamon Pass maybe? Not sure), but I was just driving a passenger sedan (a Subaru Legacy, AWD, but a sedan nonetheless), and the road got pretty gnarly, so I turned around before I got stuck. I did spend a night up there though, and this was snapped right before the sun went down. Ahhhh, alpenglow, my favorite.

Notes: Canon PowerShot S230 (Point and shoot). 1/500s.

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