Photo Cascadia Blog
Posts Tagged ‘hiking’
In this online world of the selfie crazed photo posts there is still the more classic selfie of putting up a tripod with camera for setting up the perfect scene. I like to say I have a selfie stick and jokingly point to my tripod. Taking a more old school approach I feel it can tell a better story to the viewer of what the place is like and how it might have felt. I do realize selfie as the word is coined for photos of today means holding the camera yet I am not covering big in your face shots here, it’s more nature self-portraits with purpose.
You might think it’s as easy as setting up the camera for the nature scene in front of you, setting the timer, jumping in front of the camera and waiting for the shutter to trip. Well sometimes it is, yet often it’s not. For those that have done them you know what I am talking about. Many takes to get one image that works well can get frustrating. The angle was off with your body, the way you were stepping on the trail doesn’t look natural, you are too large… or too small compared to the rest of the subjects, and the list goes on.
Why do I take these shots? Simply put because I want a human in the scene for one of a variety of reasons and in these cases I am typically the only one around or the only one willing to take the time to get the image I am after. I am not taking them for an Instagram account filled with selfies although don’t let me stop you if that is your cup of tea.
Here is me and my “selfie stick” just playing around during a hazy forest fire smoke sunset on the Oregon Coast. It usually gets some interesting looks when I use it. A family member off in the distance said “Is that Adrian taking photos with a selfie stick!” There you go… a tripod and selfie stick in one.
Now to more worthwhile information. Here is a list of things to think about I have learned over the years when trying to setup and pose myself into a scene with some example photos.
- You will want the basics. By basics I mean setup of camera, tripod and timer remote is essential. Without these you may find it very tough to impossible to get what you are conceptualizing.
- Does it look natural or too set up, the composition just like without people in the photo is critical to get right. Ask yourself how the scene balances with you in the shot and where you plan to stand, sit or do some awesome jumps!
- Besides composition of the scene the placement and body stance is very important. It should look pretty natural. If it looks overly posed or contrived you won’t be as happy with the photo in the end. You won’t know what this feels like until you practice and look at the results.
- Are you using newer equipment that allows you to see the scene in real time such as apps on phones with WiFi or Bluetooth. This way you can stand a ways from your camera to click the button when it looks right on your phone instead of setting a timer, running and stand still just in the nick of time for ‘click’.
- Show a much more of the scene and a lot less of yourself. You will see in the many examples below I am only a fraction of the scene. Sometimes you can see it’s me and other times I am small enough you can’t tell.
- Look away from camera vs always looking at camera. A viewer will tend to look more into what the image is about and what you are looking at if you are not staring at the camera.
- Bright colors might be better or worse depending on what you are after yet it’s good to think about this before you head out. Are you looking to stand out or blend into the scene.
- Buckles, straps, zippers should be checked before taking the shot. I can’t count how may times I looked at the image after the fact to find I had undone sagging buckles or straps that drew attention to what I was wearing or carrying not in the way I had hoped.
Golden Rays – While teaching a workshop a number of years back I was showing participants how putting themselves in the photo might be another composition to think of. I kept a strong composition with leading lines from the bottom corners with the road, placed myself in the power point and let it snap when it was to a natural looking position in my walk.
Mount Rainier – This is a case where color helps. It is an amazing scene yet if I had a pack that blended in the scene it would not be as dramatic. Notice the way I am positioned at an angle towards the mountain with a step up on the edge of the trail.
Alvord Desert – Notice where my right foot is placed. It’s right where the larger crack starts giving it a stronger look. The cloud also appears to stretch from the top of my head. These combined with my stance I feel provide a stronger image than simply standing anywhere on this playa.
Mount Adams – It was a fine morning along this lake and I wanted to capture what I was feeling eating breakfast and drinking coffee. Again I positioned my self in a power point and looking towards the mountain making sure none of the trees are spearing my head. This is a case where I used the app on my phone to look at the composition and then clicked the 2 second timer on my phone, very handy!
Broken Top – The intent here was to keep myself small and have a big open sky as I was staring off into it just day dreaming . I don’t like I how left the branch of the tree poking in the back of my head yet it’s less of an issue with how small I am in this image.
Walchella Falls – Notice I placed myself in one corner and the falls in the opposite corner to help create balance from those two sides. Notice the un-clipped buckles on the left side of my pack. I forgot in this case and did not notice until later.
Abiqua Falls – This was a tough one. I wanted to get myself in the stream of the falls get the side stream in the foreground. It took a number of takes to line myself up right. How did I avoid standing in the same spot each time in a sea of rocks that look at the same and about 40feet from the camera? I purposely marked each spot with a wet rock before I went back to my camera so I knew if it didn’t look quiet right to move slightly next time.
All of these images and others I have taken of myself, other objects and people can be found in my adventure gallery. If you have further thoughts to add around this topic please share them here for others to see.
When I am getting ready to head out for a hike or take my camera gear I normally don’t travel very light, except of course when I am backpacking. One of F-stop Gear’s smaller packs forces me to travel lighter than I normally would and this pack is the Kenti, the smallest in their Mountain series and the one that has the built-in ICU. I really like what it has to offer, some of what differs from other packs I have used whether F-stop or other brands.
Basic Specs – 25 liters, 3.4 lbs (1.54 kgs), 17” tall, 11” wide and 8.5” deep. Exterior is DWR-treated, 330D Double Ripstop Nylon with 1500mm Polyurethane coating. Can carry your DSLR, a few lenses, accessories and some others small items like a snack and light jacket.
Feel – When I first put it on I felt like I was ready to hit the trail for a run, not a hike. Because of it’s size the Kenti sits high which I was not used to but really like as it feels more out of the way around my lower back. When I have this loaded with little room to spare I am pleasantly surprised how well the bag holds with little to no sagging feel.
Build – Every generation of F-stop bags honestly gets better and better, this one is no exception. My first one from them I still have from years ago and I love it because it’s bright red and in great shape but you can see the difference in materials and overall build compared to their newer packs. I see no reason this won’t last through heavy use from the mountain trails to the urban back alley.
Hydration – Something I have asked for and I see is integrated in this pack is a place to put a hydration bladder that is outside of the pack with drain at bottom should it leak. A bladder inside the pack and thousands of dollars in gear is not a good combo. I had no issues putting a couple liters of water in my Camelbak bladder and getting it to fit in the hydration slot.
There are few things to note about hydration for this pack. 1) Although I got the bladder to fit fine I could not make use of the H2O hose outlet as seen in the photos. It’s simply too tight of a squeeze for the front of my hose. That said I had no issues letting it sit between the zippers, they stayed firmly in place. 2) Although my backpacking pack I use is similar in that the hydration bladder sits behind my back it has more of an arch to keep it from my pack. That said even though this area is directly touching your back when wearing the pack it felt fine without feeling the shape of the bladder with water. 3) Unless you want to keep your water bottle in your pack with gear this pack lacks an outside water bottle option.
External Straps – You can carry the tripod on the side which I did a few times yet I would suggest getting the Gatekeeper Straps as this allows for carrying it on the back center area. This would also allow you to carry other items here such as snowboard or crampons if desired. I have a feeling I will be using this pack for that purpose this winter.
Main Body Access – Admittedly I am not used to side access compartments for my camera backpacks. That said once you get used to using it nice to swing it onto one should or the other to get access to your gear without putting your bag down. Top access is roll-down for expandability as needed which is pretty cool (reminds me of my Ortlieb panniers that I use for biking). For side access I notice I don’t always remember which side I have my camera and which has my extra lenses. A trick to remember is referencing your hip belt and knowing which gear is in the side with the hip belt pocket and what gear is in the side without. If you have a mirror-less camera system or something similar in size you could put most of your gear on one side and leave the other for clothes or other items.
Pockets – There is plenty! I still remember a trip many years ago to Europe traveling on the bus talking to some climbers from England. They commented on my pack (and American’s in general) how we have so many pockets and compartments in most of our packs. I can’t deny that is me 100% whether it’s a photo bag or not. You will find plenty of places to put small and medium sized items like filters, batteries and cards.
Weather Resistance – One thing I need is something that is built to hold up to the elements and has a rain cover that you can get as an add on. It’s wet in the Northwest so I need this. Although I use the rain cover when it’s raining I have gone without it for short distances in light rain and the DWR-treated exterior repels water quite well. Don’t forget if you use the rain cover and end up tucking it in the bottom compartment to remove it later so it can fully dry out. I have come close a couple times to leaving a damp cover in there which wouldn’t smell nice weeks later!
Overall I really like this pack and for now will be my go to when I want to travel light with less gear. What is your pack of choice for travel light with your photo gear?
Disclosure Note: I am on the F-stop Gear pro team.
Photographing in the Wallowa Range
By David Cobb
They’re called the Alps of Oregon and lie in the northeast corner of the state, bordered by deep canyons, glacial moraines, and a few scattered picturesque barns. Near the town of Joseph you can photograph the mountains with a red barn in the foreground and maybe a few stray mares or you can use the crescent-shaped Wallowa Lake as a foreground leading into your mountain setting. I prefer to backpack into these mountains for the harder to get to wilderness view.
I’ve entered the 358,461 acre Eagle Cap Wilderness from different starting points and the easiest is just outside of the town of Joseph. I’ve hiked in from the west for a longer approach up the flower-filled broad valleys for a more gradual climb, but my favorite is from the more rugged south, catching a few views of the south’s craggy peaks and the handful of waterfalls that dot the area. After topping a pass or two you descend into the heavily visited lakes basin area for the stunning views of the namesake peak Eagle Cap. Pick one of the lakes for a base camp and photograph the Eagle Cap reflections from different points around the wilderness. Spend a few days at the higher elevation Glacier Lake for high-country views of Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap. An easy climb to the Eagle Cap mountaintop allows a stunning 360 vista of the wilderness and the outlying valleys and canyons.
I’ve brought a whole array of lenses into the Wallowas. I’m always packing my wide and medium-wide angle, but also a macro for flower photography, and I’ve packed my 70-200mm zoom in for more intimate scenes around the lake country. You can read more about backpacking with camera gear in my previous blog “Tips for Backpacking with Camera Gear (ultralight).”
Late July and early August are my favorite months to photograph here because snow still lingers in the mountains, but September is also nice for the bug-free air. If you decide on the earlier season, bring an ample amount of bug spray for the mosquito hoards. And if you’d rather not carry your gear on your back, stock or llama packing can be rented in the town of Joseph. If you forgot something at home, last-minute supplies can usually be found in Joseph or the larger town of Enterprise a few miles away.
So if you’re looking for a great backcountry experience with fantastic photographic opportunities this summer, the Alps of Oregon is the place to go.
By Adrian Klein
As the greens in the Columbia River Gorge start really showing their spring green glow I thought I would take a few minutes and share a few of my favorites along with some technical details to help provide some insight on how they were created. I might add a part II down the road with more favorites yet I thought narrowing it down to the top three was a good start. Hopefully this helps you out whether you are planning to photograph the Columbia River Gorge or any other lush rain forest. Happy reading and viewing.
Name: Geometric Nature
Location: Off trail deep in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? Finding the right composition in many cases is like putting together pieces of a unique puzzle, all of them different from the last. In this case the blocks or geometric shapes of the mossy rocks are what inspired me for this particular composition. There is green everywhere you turn in the Gorge yet not every image shows the endless sea of green as good as it can. I think this is one image that achieved this very well.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 17-40L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Induro Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 100, Manual Focus, 19mm, f/13 and 8 seconds
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: Final image has spots of the water blended from a 5 second exposure where 8 seconds washed it out. These were blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels.
Name: Forest Rain
Location: Creek along the trail to Gorton Creek Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? Standing in the cold wet rain with not a soul around is what inspired to keep me here until I captured something I was truly happy with. The heavy rains rolling through the area with water rolling off my hat, nose and camera gave the mood I was looking for. My feet completely numb after exiting the creek and my face filled with a smile knowing that I caught a keeper. I am sure this will remain near the top of my personal Columbia River Gorge favorites for years to come and remind me that although the rain can be cold and miserable, the outcome can certainly be worth it.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 17-40L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Gitzo Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 200, Manual Focus, 23mm, f/16 and 3.2 seconds
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: Final image was created by blending the same RAW file several times over. The heavy overcast day allowed me to get away with only one file. These were blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels. Very slight glow effect added using Gaussian Blur.
Location: Metlako Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? This waterfall has a perpetual fog cloud hanging over it for what seems like 365 days a year. That alone is beautiful yet when you have been here as many times as I have you are looking for more to take out the camera. When I saw the sun was trying to poke through I knew this was the “more” I was looking for. It did not last long however it was the inspiration I needed to make a more unique image from this popular location. Many say winter streams and falls images are not nearly as nice as spring. This image proves all season have potential. This was taken on a quiet winter morning when I was the only one around.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 70-200L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Gitzo Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 100, Manual Focus, 73mm, f/18 and ¼ of a second
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: With this scene I had about 4 stop range of exposure from the dark areas to the sunlit fog. This required parts of three images to be merged together. These were hand blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels.
You can find more of my work from the Columbia River Gorge and beyond at Adrian Klein Photography
By Adrian Klein
Over eight years ago Molly and I took my son Logan on one of his first backpacking trips. I had just bought my first DSLR that summer but knew nothing about photography. The trip was certainly more about checking out a new location and getting out for a weekend in the woods than anything else. I remember the trip well, a fantastically beautiful place relatively close to home that I had not heard of before. We still have a photo up in the house of three of us sitting on a large boulder in the creek near camp playing the card game Uno.
This year I looked at the images I captured back in 2003 and realize I have come a long way with my photography skills. Almost all of them would not make the cut today. Having a large gap of many years since visiting allows for a worthwhile retrospective to see how my work has changed. It was indeed fascinating.
Fast forward and it’s 2011. For years I have said I would go back and I put it off to go elsewhere. This year I had the perfect excuse to go. Abnormally high snow fall last winter in the Northwest kept the snow packs solid and deep on the mountains well into summer. Although there are a several “summits” in the 4,500 to 5,500 feet range the falls and creeks are located around 2,000 feet which makes them accessible most of the year.
Fortunately I was able to coax my now teenage son to go back to Opal Creek with me for a 3 day trip. We got the packs stuffed and headed out to reminisce and create new experiences. Below are some of the images I captured and details about the area.
There are several ways to get in but only one that is realistic for most. The others are longer multi-day trips. From Portland, Oregon it’s less than a couple hour drive to the main trailhead. Directions: http://www.opalcreek.org/experience/directions.aspx
The majority of the hike in I would classify as easy. The first few miles are only a few hundred feet elevation gain on dirt and gravel road. This means expect summer weekends to be busy. I have seen even jogging strollers with families making their way. That all comes to an end at Jaw Bone Flats, the old mining town converted to nature education center and a handful of cabins for visitors and residents. After that it’s a regular narrow hiking trail with a 2nd log bridge that needs to be replaced (you can still cross at your own risk which we did). After the bridge the numbers dwindle. We camped 4+ miles in from the trailhead and saw few over the 3 days. If you are camping there are numerous spots near Jaw Bone Flats, much less after that but they are there if you look. More details about getting here and the hike: http://www.oregon.com/Hike_Opal_Creek
When To Go:
Considering the majority of locations around 2,000 feet elevation and below in the Northwest are accessible most of the year there are not many limitations when to go. I have seen images taken in the area with fresh snow on the ground. I would prefer early summer with the rich fresh greens if I had to pick one. As for time of day, you are down in a canyon which means you have ample shade. Expect to be in full shade for the remainder of the day by 3 or 4pm, even in summer, which obviously has benefits allowing photographs whether it’s overcast or sunny.
This post would not be complete on this blog covering a location without discussing the photography aspect. As you can already see by the images in this post there are many opportunities and they will differ based on when you are there.
Color Depth: The images show how much color can change based on water depth, camera angle and light. It can vary from too deep to stand in to no more than ankle deep. With all of them giving various shades of opal color.
Man & Nature: If photographing man made items in nature tickles your fancy then you have a number of possibilities. The image I included of the old US Navy fire truck is one of my favorites in Jaw Bone Flats. There are other old cars, woodstoves, mining tools and more.
Reflecting Light: The light reflecting from the foliage covered walls and forest can be rather intriguing, as seen with the abstract image in this post. It may look like a bad acid trip from a Grateful Dead show. I can assure you it’s not. Many opportunities like this exist in the area when the sun is coming into the area or leaving.
Challenges: Whenever you have rushing water in a canyon the foliage is rarely completely still. Even when the wind was calm in the area I often found brush moving somewhere in the image near the water. Despite bumping up to say ISO800 I had still had movement issues most of the time.
If forests and streams are your interest when it comes to hiking and photography, this place is a must. It’s certainly a gem in more ways than one and is hard to believe this area almost met it’s demise to logging less than a couple decades ago. I know we need wood in this world but we can certainly learn to conserve to help protect spectacular places that would be completely altered for generations to come if logging came to town.
by Adrian Klein
This year I told myself I would try to make it more about seeing less visited locations or places I have not backpacked since getting into photography, with less concern about always chasing locations strictly based on photographic appeal. Not that I am looking to come home empty handed, that is anything but the case. I am just changing to make that my secondary purpose on selected trips.
Today it seems there is a large number of human folk with cameras ready to run, jump and leap to places where the landscape has a better chance of guaranteeing some level of success in the great photo chase the digital era has created. Not that I am immune from getting caught up or wanting to go to more trafficked areas. I have that urge and will follow travel to more popular areas as well (excluding the retail outlet mall on a Sunday afternoon where I turn into old grumpy Klein as my wife would say). Yet after getting into photography as a part-time professional about four years ago, I believe I lost sight of why I became very passionate about photography in the first place. Getting back to the basics will surely allow me to capture work in the end while getting back to more of what satisfies my soul both in photography and being outdoors.
With this in mind one of the trips I made this year was to Lake Abert in Southeastern Oregon. It has been on my list for a few years now yet I kept putting it off in favor of other places. I have seen a few inviting photos of the area yet it’s definitely not a photographic destination for most that travel through the area.
This trip was decided on a whim at 8:00 PM the night before leaving. I have a teenage son that wanted to be home with his friends during summer (been there) and my wife with our girls out on their own trip. That left me heading for a quiet and peaceful place by myself. Driving from the densely forested northwestern part Oregon down to the southeastern part is always fascinating watching the trees shrink in size and the views open up for many many miles.
This was a very memorable sunset. The weather could not have been better to be outdoors wandering around. I sat on these rocks with only a slight gentle breeze rolling through and temps in the mid 70’s, my ideal temperature before I start to overheat. I would not do well living in the desert, being a visitor suits me best. Sitting here it was rather peaceful. The highway was up above me yet only a car or two coming by every 5 to 10 minutes. A far cry from rush hour in the city where being stuck in traffic gets me wound up like a cat rolling around with catnip.
Just above the lake is the steep slope that leads up to Abert Rim. The rocky edge of the rim you see off in the distance of this image is actually the area where you head to the top via find your own way, there are no trails. Not all spots can you just hike on up either. On Summit Post site you can find out more info on taking the route up. I was still working on rehabbing my knee and hiked half way up the steep 2,000 foot hike. Next time I plan to do it all and possibly camp up top. As you can also see here that with the nice warm evening light the hills are filled with colorful rocks and vegetation.
Here we are at sunrise. As is obvious the color palette and feel of the area is vastly different from the warm lit up hills of sunset. Yet has its own charm and beauty. With the tall and steep albert rim you have can have up to a couple hours after sunrise to work intimate photos of the area before the bright desert sun is in your eyes. And with an area that only averages little precipitation a year there is much sun and dry weather to be had.
It’s usually easier to combine multiple images like this to make a diptych or triptych yet a little tougher to get one to stand on its own. I have taken quite a few of these over the years but this one seems to have a good balance of multiple colors. If you have not tried to search for these before it actually takes more time than you might think. There were many rocks with lichen, some with only small amounts and others with plenty. After spending a fair bit of time wandering around after sunrise this rock showed particular promise to me.
Lodging: There is nothing in the way of lodging here, including no organized campsites. You either find a nice place to pull your vehicle off the road for a quick overnight or head 40 miles south to Lakeview for true brick and mortar lodging.
Amenities: Similar to lodging there is none. No place to pickup a latte or anything even close to it. Besides highway 395 that goes through the area and a few signs with information about the birds and geology you will just find the wild outback. Thankfully it’s not developed and let’s hope it stays this way. Bring plenty of water and food!
Climate: As with most high desert areas the temperature can change dramatically at different times of the day any time of year. Summer days are very hot with 90+ Fahrenheit being common and winters cold with evenings often in the teens and single digits. And as mentioned earlier it does rain and snow here yet at 14” a year your odds of dry weather are pretty good.
Curious to know more about the history of the area? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Abert
Side Note: Wildlife Details
There was more wildlife than I expected. I anticipated snakes yet saw much more.
– Came across two snakes. One a rattlesnake which was dead and another one that I almost stepped on that hissed very loud at me which of course caught me off guard and I fell back on some rocks. It was not a gartner snake but have not been able to identify it yet with my Google searches.
– My deer crossing included some alive and one dead on the desert floor with only a furry leg and hoof left to identify. As for live deer I had to hit the brakes as one jumped out of the bushes last minute. Despite having done this many times over the years it still startles me.
– Other wildlife included: Chipmunks, squirrels, a coyote, many birds and even a fox. Not a bad list for a short trip.
Well that is my write up and images of my jaunt to part of Oregon’s Outback as it’s called. Where cattle easily out number people and your next door neighbor might be a long ways away. Looking for a place less traveled this would be it. I plan to be back soon.
by Adrian Klein