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.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Before I get to today’s picture, I’ve got some news for everyone: yesterday I decided to go ahead and start buying Facebook ads for my page! I’m not sure what led me to decide to do that, but it’s probably some combination of boredom and the heat getting to my brain. BUT – they actually worked, and I got a whole *army* (well, a small one) of new fans! Woooo! (With Mr. Feker Belay leading the charge and being the first one to click on my ad) Welcome everyone!! It didn’t last too long though – it only took about an hour to max out my daily budget, which is a whopping buck fifty.
Right, so, the picture.
This was taken along the Pacific Crest Trail near Harts Pass. Harts Pass is at the end of a 25-ish mile forest road that basically parallels Highway 20 in Washington State (the highway that takes you through North Cascades National Park), but runs just north of the park boundary. It’s notable because you can drive up to 6200 feet, which is pretty rare in Washington, it’s right up there near treeline, way up in the alpine, and there are great views of some of the rocky, craggy peaks inside the park.
The PCT runs right through there, so it’s a great place for scrubs like me to see it. (While I was on the trail that day, I came across three people who were doing Canada-to-Mexico!) Harts Pass is basically the first real landmark along the trail (if you’re starting from Canada), so all of the thru-hikers I met were only on day 3 of their cross-continental trip. Anyway, it’s really pretty up there, definitely worth checking out.
This picture was right near the beginning of my hike, probably about half a mile from the trailhead. I had slept in the car the night before, so I got a really early start (7 am or so – really early for me, anyway), which worked out really well. As I’ve mentioned several times, the light during the middle of the day can really suck (today was no exception), so the early morning sunshine put a nice warm glow on everything.
The frustrating part of the hike was that my go-to lens, my 28-300 mm do-everything lens with image-stabilization, STOPPED FREAKIN’ FOCUSING RIGHT! It would THINK it was focusing (it would beep and tell me “Yeah, I’m focused, right on that spot over there”, but it would just plain be WAY off.) When you’re as obsessed as I am with taking pictures (that’s honestly the only reason I was up there), it’s truly heartbreaking when your equipment malfunctions. The day turned out to not be a total loss, as I was able to revert to manual focusing, with mixed results. Usually, you should avoid manual focus at all costs if possible, because if you’re even slightly off, you probably won’t realize it until you get home and look at it on the big screen (which is obviously too late to do anything about it). But since focusing is essentially logarithmic (the difference between focusing 5 and 10 feet away is huge, but the difference between focusing 5 and 10 MILES away is basically nothing), as long as I kept my subjects pretty far away, I could mostly get away with it. Also, I bumped up my ISO for most of the day, letting me use smaller apertures, which meant my depth of field was pretty big. So even if my focus point wasn’t exactly on my subject, it was generally close enough. Thus, this picture.
I’ll go ahead and stop here before I take up TOO much room in your news feed, I don’t want to scare away all of these new fans that I literally paid for out of my own pocket. 😉 Once again, welcome! (And, as long as I’m going to call out Feker for being the first, I may as well round out the rest of the top 5: Drew Mortvedt, Ryan Rizzuti, Monika Alvarez, and Terina Wahab. Thanks for signing up! That goes for the rest of you too, btw.)
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/160s, f/7.1, ISO 200. Focal length: 109 mm.