Golden Hour is my favorite. The light does things that you just don’t see any other time of day.
While my kids and I traveled to central Oregon to see the eclipse, I’m always looking for the Milkyway if I get away from city lights and this first night was no exception. We rolled into our friend’s property at about 11pm, but I didn’t crawl into my sleeping bag until nearly 2am.
To get the tent to glow, I've got a small Snowpeak lantern hanging from the ceiling of the tent on its lowet setting.
Going through the old catalog sometimes yields some winners. This is from a camping trip in Eastern Oregon back in 2008. We broke a few rules and camped out on the side of the road inside the painted hills.
It was early October and we had camped the previous night in the Strawberry hills in what started as 6" of snow but turned into 1.5' overnight. Because of this, it didn't seem too crazy when we camped in a tarp in the Painted Hills and it got down to 19°. I took this the following morning as we roamed the hills we'd only seen briefly the evening before.
Good times huh Aaron?
Here's the first image from our trip to Crater Lake this year. This trip was pretty close to the same time of year, but Shaun and I brought all 6 of our collective children with us. It was a very different trip to say the least.
I snuck away at the end of a full day spent visiting most every stop on the drive around the rim of the crater to make this merger of 11 images and the resulting 71 megapixel pano. It was pretty quiet, as all the kids were wiped and were happy to stay in the car.
If you click on the image you can see it full screen on a black background.
I've been back from a road trip for a little over a week now. One of the primary goals of this trip was to spend time on the road and create a photo journal to document the places and people we saw and met. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, though the culling and editing process is a little overwhelming.
We started at Crater Lake and though Shaun and I have lived in Oregon our whole lives, it was a first visit for both of us.
We arrived just shortly before Sunset the first evening of our trip and quickly sussed out the optimal location on the East rim. We figured we didn't have enough time to go find a camp spot before sunset and just hoped we'd be able to find a place to camp.
We set up cameras and tripods and then just as the sun went down, a young guy road up on a bicycle and asked how far it was to the Lodge. We were easily 8 miles or so of windy hills away and the dark was coming on quick. He introduced himself as Jimmy and told us he was working at the campground and had started riding the entire rim road at around 2pm. He had no light and looked pretty tired. We offered to help out, but he insisted on continuing on.
As soon as he rode away, I turned to Shaun and said, "We're totally gonna be picking that guy up on the way up that nasty hill."
After the sunset light was totally gone, we packed up and headed back towards the campground and halfway up a brutal hill there was a pickup with hazards flashing and Jimmy standing to the side of the road, done. A nice older couple had stopped and were trying to fit his bike into the back of the truck to give him a lift back to the campground. They had room for him but not his bike and we were able to squeeze his bike on top of all our gear. Luckily, this is how we found a great campground for the night.
We rolled into the campground and there were smiling faces that knew Jimmy and welcomed him back. The guy attending to the campsites checkin kiosk just chuckled when he saw him and then said he was gonna work Jimmy hard the next day. We found out that Jimmy is from Tawain and is here on a hospitality job program for a few more weeks. We exchanged Facebook info and turned him loose to rest while we set up camp in the dark.
As has become standard on our dude camping trips, I was up well before dawn and drove the 7 miles back up to the West rim for sunrise. It was crystal clear and came up nice and slow.
I rolled back into camp after the morning show was over and shortly after Jimmy came by while cruising the campground on his rounds to say hi. He told us more about how he hadn't really spoken much English at all before a couple months ago. Needless to say, we have a place to stay when we visit Taiwan.
As we were setting up camp the night before we'd met our camp neighbors; a couple from Germany that were on their way up the west coast visiting national parks. Milan and Elvira came over in the morning (I'm pretty sure it was the smell of bacon cooking) and we invited them to join us for breakfast. We shared our eggs, bacon and coffee. They brought PB&J, cucumber and cheese.
Elvira, (who also goes by Elly) is orginally from Bosnia and was just a child when the ethnic conflicts drove her family to relocate to Germany. She is Muslim by culture and it was interesting to hear how the she views the difference between the culture and the faith of Islam. It was clear that most Americans have a small much smaller view of the world.
Instead of parting ways, we decided to hang out and go for a hike together. They were already planning to hike the trail to the top of Garfield Peak. It's a fairly intense 3.5 miles, but the view from the top is totally worth it.
Though I've seen hundreds of photos over the years and the occasional over the wing view when flying to California, I had no idea how big it really is. You need a really wide lens to capture the whole thing. In fact, I didn't bring one wide enough, so I created a 3 shot 86 Megapixel pano in Photo Shop.
After the hike, we hugged our new friends, exchanged phone and facebook details, gave them some advice on places to visit and parted ways. We were headed to Smith Rock and they were likely headed to the painted hills...or maybe Smith Rock.
A trip like this requires a bit of fuel, so for our second gas stop, we hit the Chevron in Chemult and met Crystal. We ended up talking for awhile as the pump was having some issues and she mentioned that she is from Portland and had moved out here to help manage her family's nursery. She also mentioned that she's a pretty social person and needs the contact with people that she gets working here. She mentioned that she'd had a pretty rough morning, but she had the cheeriest smile and was so friendly in spite of it all.
After fueling up, we pushed on to Smith Rock and got there with enough time to scope out camping and then scope out the views. After a few Golden hour shots, we headed back to the campground and met up with Milan and Elvira who decided to join us.
Once the sun went down we shared some beers and bourbon and got our fair share of awesome Germany stories. Did you know that there's a game in Germany called "Mensch ärgere dich nicht" that is played almost exactly like the American game Sorry? Milan says that the Translation is "Buddy, don't be pissed off".
Also, Milan gave us a thorough list of youtube links to check out and they both gave us their versions of the drunk camp Britney guy story.
After everyone went to sleep I set up the tripod. I also woke up around 4 am and stumbled out of the tent to catch the last little bit of the Milky Way over Smith Rock.
I dragged everyone out of tents 30 minutes before sunrise and we headed over to the classic sunrise viewpoint. I wouldn't usually post two photos that are so similar, but I love the contrast and the crazy pink/purple glow on the Western horizon that happens just before the sun rises. It does the same thing on the other horizon just after sunset by the way.
After packing up our tents we decided to hang around Smith Rock for awhile and met a few more people. Matt works for the State Park Service and was doing some fantastic work to balance allowing public use and keeping the natural environment intact. He commutes from Bend and said that its nice to have a dilineation between home and work, but the commute can be a bit much at times. I made two photos. After the first, he commented that he had the classic government worker pose leaning on his shovel - so I made one more to provide evidence of work. Keep up the good work Matt!
Gabe and Ram were just wrapping up some climbing at Rope de Dope Block which is across from the main face. They were headed back to camp to get some lunch when I met them on the trail. Gabe told me that he had gotten heavy into rock climbing about two years ago and that it's sorta all he thinks about now.
After leaving Smith Rock, Shaun and I headed to Bend for lunch and thanks to Yelp, we had an amazing meal at a place called Chow. I had a Benedict called the Sampson, with Crab cakes and their own home made bread. Dang Son!
After eating we headed towards Mt. Bachelor and the Cascade lakes. We hiked the trail around Todd Lake and avoided stepping on the tiny Cascade Frogs on the trails. The lake sits beneath the view of a snow-less Mt Bachelor and is everthing a high mountain lake should be.
We then visited Sparks lake where camping spots near parking are scarce. Tyler gave us some great advice which we almost accepted, but we were a little nervous about hiking a mile away from the car with most of our gear still there (lazy man's camping trip = no back packs = only take the essentials = potential of being quite stranded and carless). Thanks for the advice Tyler, we'll give it a shot next time!
So, with camping off the table, we inprovised and settled for the Holiday Motel in Bend. It's owned by Mukesh and Neena whose family has owned and operated this and a few other motels in the Bend area for 20+ years. If you are staying in Bend, I recommend it. Nice, Clean and very affordable. Oh, and did you see the cool sign?
We checked in pretty early so we figured we'd better find some good beer. We chose Crux Fermentation and by chance, sat down across from Ben and Karin, a couple from Portland, by way of many other places. He works in Technology like Shaun and she's a nurse. Shaun and he were like 2 peas in a pod, nerding out over sci-fi books and computers.
The next morning, we hit a great local coffee place and went back to the same place for brunch. I had the same thing...being a creature of habit and all. After chowing down and a great, long conversation, we headed back towards Portland. We stopped to see the Head of the Metolious (Much better in winter btw) and then hurried back to Portland.
It was a short, but fantastic trip. Shaun is an amazing friend and it's so good to spend time talking about life while surrounded by nature. When do we start planning the next one?
Technical Notes: As you can see, I have EXIF data for all the photos embedded into the black frame at the lower right hand corner. I mainly used my Sony A7, also known as the ILCE7. When the lens isn't notated, it's because I was using a manual lens with an adaptor. For this trip I used the Olympus OM mount Zuiko 24mm, f/2.8 and a borrowed Olympus OM Zuiko 55mm, f/1.2. I also had my Film Olympus OM1, but only made aobut a dozen photos with it. Unfortunately I haven't found an easy way to add the lens data manually to EXIF.
You'll also probably notice that I used the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 which is an APSC mount lens. It crops to approximately 36mm on this camera and gives a lower megapixel image. I'm not displeased with the images, but would still like a 35mm lens that covers the whole sensor...seems like a bit of a waste to crop out all that beautiful potential. That said, I'd love to hear any thoughts on the quality of the images.
I also used the Kit 28-70 Zoom and it did a great job overall, but is still a little bulky, slow and inelegant for my tastes. Ultimately I think I'd like to end up with a wide angle prime or zoom for landscape work, a true fast 35mm for everyday and a fast 50mm or longer for portraits.
There are also a couple other shots in there from my iPhone 5S (Shaun holding the bottle of Bourbon in the dark- damn!) and my Sony NEX 7 (the deer). I also had my GoPro and took a couple timelapse sequences, but I'm still working on those.
Processing was all done in Lightroom, with one detour to Photoshop for the Pano.