January 6, 2010 – Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Hey everyone, we’re halfway through the week. Nice job! Today’s picture is from far northern Washington, only a handful of miles from the Canadian border. This is the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Canada all the way down to Mexico, traversing the crest all the way down through Washington, Oregon, and California. In Washington and Oregon, that means the Cascades. Down in California, I believe it goes through the Sierra, seems like a logical enough guess, right? I was just out for a day hike that day, but I ran into three distinct groups of folks who were hiking through. Two of them in particular had both left Canada on the same day 2 or 3 days previous, so they were obviously just getting started on quite an adventure. I had driven up to Harts Pass, which is just north of the North Cascades National Park boundary, and camped out there for the night. Then I hiked north toward Windy Pass (which wasn’t, and in fact was located at a DIP in the trail, so when I passed the pass I didn’t even realize it), and drove back to Seattle that night. Hart’s Pass is located a fair ways up a somewhat nasty forest road (meaning it gets a bit steep and rocky and narrow in spots, with some actually pretty incredible dropoffs on the side), but other than that it’s not too difficult to get to. (Except that it takes a LOOOONG time to get out there, it’s not convenient to *anything*.) You could do it in a standard front wheel drive car, although it’d be uncomfortable in spots.

This is another illustration of a common “rule” in photography: that the light is a lot better very early in the morning and very late in the afternoon. This wasn’t taken either of those times, and while the scenery is still nice, the light is uninspiring. The colors came out quite flat, which was disappointing although not really unexpected. I tried playing around with the white balance settings on my camera, and it helped a bit with the flatness, but it left a somewhat dirty-looking brown tinge, definitely not ideal. But it’s a gorgeous area and a nice hike so I left it in there anyway. I had been hoping to get there early enough the night before to catch that magic late afternoon time, but unfortunately I didn’t make it out as early as I had hoped, so I missed it by an hour or so. Sigh.

Also, this was right at the time when I was having huge problems with my image-stabilized 28-300 mm Tamron lens. It just plain wouldn’t focus. It *thought* it was focused, but it was way off. As in, not even close. Super annoying. Which meant all of the pictures I took that weekend were hand-focused. (Essentially meaning I used a super small aperture, focused near infinity, and hoped for the best.) It was shortly after this time that I sent in the lens for warranty “repair” (which didn’t really help), and then decided in sequence that 1) That lens was garbage, and I should go back to using the non-stabilized version, 2) that even the non-stabilized version resulted in me making compromises in image quality that I wasn’t comfortable with, and ultimately 3) that the idea of trying to find one lens that would cover my whole range such that I wouldn’t have to change lenses while hiking sadly wasn’t a workable goal, and 4) I would need to find a whole set of lenses to get it done. That resulted in 3 lenses: a Tokina 11-16 for wide angle shots, a Tamron 28-75 for most purposes (although that’s in the process of being replaced by a Tamron 17-50 – it’s in the mail right now), and my old Quantaray 70-300 for telephoto purposes. (Although that’s not my long-term solution. I don’t use it much, and even though it was really cheap it’s not a bad lens, so there’s not much of a push to replace it with something better yet. Although when I do it’ll probably be something like a 50-200.) As always, if you have any questions about what gear I use and why, please don’t be shy. I’m hardly an expert, but it’s taken me a long time (and an embarrassingly large chunk of my disposable income budget) to get to a set that I’m reasonably happy with, and I’m still not at a point where I’m totally happy. Sigh. Someday, someday.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/160s, f/9.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 35mm.

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