Archive for February 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Columbia Gorge Weather   2 comments

Columbia_Gorge_2-24-14_5D3_002

Single-image Sunday: Island Sunset – Thailand   6 comments

Traditional fishing boats are secured in a placid little bay on the island of Koh Lipe in the Andamon Sea off the coast of Thailand.

Traditional fishing boats are secured in a placid little bay on the island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand.  Click on picture for the high-res. version & purchase options.

I wanted to do a follow-up to Friday’s post on giving your photos a sense of place.  This is a travel image from my month-long trip to Thailand several years ago.  If you’ve been there or to any neighboring countries, or seen photos, perhaps you guessed the location.  That was the idea!  I composed the image so that the traditional Thai long-tail fishing boats were silhouetted against a wonderful sunset on the little paradise called Koh Lipe off the coast of southern Thailand.

I wanted to include the little boy fishing off the boat (at right), but in this shot he’s a bit too small.  Right afterward I got a few where he was more prominent, but by then it had gotten pretty dark.  This image turned out to have the best balance between the overall scene and the slow-paced, sea-focused life going on here.  That really is the core idea behind including a sense of place into your photos.  The goal is to include elements that will help to add some key details, and yet capture enough of the scene to both take advantage of the light and put the viewer into the scene – all in a well-composed, attractive image.  The small things you do to give your images a sense of place will breathe life into them.  And that can definitely be a challenge!

Koh Lipe was, when I visited, undergoing a transformation.  It had been ‘discovered’ by tourists recently and so the vanguard of (mostly) backpackers had arrived.  A small-scale building boom was going on.  No resorts..yet, but there may be now.  Next to the largest harbor and beach lies the island’s only real village.  It’s a busy warren of rustic little lodges, eateries and a few gift shops.  Definitely a buzz about the place.  Outside of that it was still pretty quiet.

The beach in the above picture is on the other, quieter side of the island, accessible via a walking trail through dense jungle.  I arrived just in time for sunset after a full day encircling the island on foot.  I stayed in a sort of shack perched above a rocky section of coast not far from the backpacker village:  a half-hour walk or 10-minute boat ride.  My simple wood bungalow was open-air, had no electricity, and was much quieter and more peaceful than the village.  Great snorkeling was steps away.  And best of all, it cost $7/night.  I suspect Koh Lipe is not the same now, but it has a ways to go before it becomes Koh Samui or (gasp!) Phuket.  

A great option near Koh Lipe if you really want to get away from it all is Koh Tarutao.  It’s a National Marine Park, so is nearly undeveloped and very pristine compared to many of the Thai islands.  The best way to visit is to simply bring along a tent and food, walk down the road from the ferry terminal and set up camp at one of the beachside sites.  There is one restaurant near the dock.  I’m guessing it hasn’t changed much, being inside a park.  It’s a rather large island with dense, mountainous jungle and a seemingly endless rugged coastline dotted with empty beaches. 

This morphed into a travel post I guess.  I’m going to cheat and include a second image (from Koh Tarutao).  There are many islands in southern Thailand, but unless you want a resort experience or the (full-moon) party scene, you would do well to research the natural areas, then when you arrive look further for relatively undeveloped places that may not even show up on the web.  They are out there.  Thanks for reading!

A beachwalk on Koh Tarutao, southern Thailand.

Walking the beach on Koh Tarutao under yet another glorious Andaman Sea sunset in southern Thailand.  Click on image for purchase options.

Friday Foto Talk: A Sense of Place   22 comments

The ranch country of southwestern Colorado in late autumn.

The ranch country of southwestern Colorado in late autumn.

This is a more subtle and difficult aspect of photography, a topic I’ve thought about off and on ever since I picked up a camera.  Until now I’ve avoided writing about it.  It’s one of those things you sort of feel when you see a picture.  It can be subtle, and perhaps you don’t notice when it’s missing.  But every image that has a sense of place is better for it, often much better.

I’m very subject-centered when it comes to photography.  I really only care about the subject.  It sometimes seems I only care about light, but that’s because any subject looks better in beautiful light.  While a lot of photographers look for a subject (like a person or interesting tree) to put into a scene, for me it’s mostly about the scene itself.  That’s because every scene is a place, and I think of places as subjects.  Any interesting things – people, animals, rocks or trees – that I can include in the scene are there because they make the place more interesting to look at.  For me, they’re smaller elements of the larger subject, the place.  But if they don’t really belong there, I don’t really like the picture.

Courthouse Towers in Arches National Park, Utah speaks strongly of the American Southwest.

Courthouse Towers in Arches National Park, Utah speaks strongly of the American Southwest.

Okay, so now that you know my biases on the topic, let’s see what we can do about laying out ways to insert a sense of place into your images.  By the way, even if you’re mostly a people photographer, or you do wildlife, these tips apply to you, maybe even more so than to landscape photographers.  And if you do travel photography, this is important stuff!

      • Learn as much as you can about the place:  the plants, animals, human and prehistory.  Of course you’re going to know more about areas close to home, but don’t get complacent.  We’ve all been surprised to learn something we didn’t know about our home-towns or states.  Use that knowledge in your photography.  The more you know, the better your pictures will be, so when traveling don’t just research places to photograph.  Start with the background information and let photo spots fall out from that.
      • Study the pictures in magazines like National Geographic.  The editors at Nat. Geo. nearly always choose images with a strong sense of place.
This farmstead in Nepal is complimented and also placed by virtue of the high mountain in the background.

This shot of a farmstead in Nepal has a stronger sense of place by virtue of the high Himalayan mountain in the background.

      • Photograph during “typical” weather conditions.  For example, I live in the Pacific Northwest.  This area is most famous for its rain and tall trees.  I know (more than many residents) how diverse it is here, with glaciers, deserts and canyons, sunny grasslands.  But when I can, and at least in western Oregon and Washington, I do landscape photography during rainy spells.  If you avoid the stormy weather here, you are not going to capture images with the strongest sense of place.
The rugged coast along the northern Olympic Peninsula in Washington is often wrapped in fog.

The rugged coast along the northern Olympic Peninsula in Washington is often wrapped in fog.

      • When you have a strong subject, by all means zoom in.  But also make images with a hint of background, perhaps out of focus.  Include shots that are dominated by landscape, with the subject much smaller.  Try putting the subject in the background with a ‘typical’ foreground.  In other words, mix it up and shoot at a variety of focal lengths and apertures.  When you view the pictures later, ask yourself which one has the best balance between impact/interest and a sense of place.
This house in Leadville, Colorado, registered as a historic landmark, is better placed with the foreground picket fence.

This house in Leadville, Colorado, registered as a historic landmark, is better placed with the foreground picket fence.

      • Speaking of strong subjects, when you’re looking for subjects to target, think about how strongly they will place themselves.  In other words, photographing waterfalls here in the Pacific Northwest is a no-brainer in terms of sense of place, even if a bit obvious.  Some things like lighthouses could be on any coastline.  So be on the lookout for elements that will zero in on the specific area.
A very recent image of Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge was captured during typical Oregon weather.

A very recent image of Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge was captured during typical Oregon weather.

Several subtle elements come together here to place this shot: palms, rice paddy, distinctive house.  Take a guess where it is.

Several subtle elements come together here to place this shot.  Look at the plant growth, the unique house, and take a guess where it is in a comment below.

      • Move around.  This is good general practice, but when combined with an open-minded focus, this can really open up compositions that add a sense of place.  Sometimes I’m not even aware of it, but the desire to shoot a composition that is unusual or different will often yield a picture with a strong sense of place.
      • While you’re moving around, try shots with very wide angles, focal lengths shorter than 17 mm.  Even consider getting a fisheye lens.  When combined with getting very close to things, this will help to put viewers into the image, which is part of giving them a sense of place.
      • Look for compositions that include the little things that will tell viewers where the place is.  This shouldn’t be subtle.  People might not know as much about the place as you do, and so need fairly obvious elements to place it.  For example, Spanish moss in the deep south, ferns here in the Pacific Northwest, red rocks in the Southwest, eucalyptus trees in Australia and baobabs or mopane trees in Africa.
The ferns and big trees give this image a strong sense of place, and many viewers would recognize the trees as redwoods, greatly narrowing  things down.

The ferns and big trees give this image a strong sense of place, and many viewers would recognize the trees as redwoods, greatly narrowing things down.

      • Include shots with plenty of depth.  I wrote a blog post with tips on adding a sense of depth to your images, so check that out.  Anytime your images have the illusion of depth, the viewer is drawn into the image as if they were there.  By itself this doesn’t do much for your goal of including a sense of place, but in combination with the other things, it can be powerful.
      • Shoot details and small scenes.  This allows you to focus on one aspect of a place.  It’s a great way to zero in on small elements that help to place the image, things that might get lost if they were part of a larger composition.
The adobe construction of this historic home in Taos, New Mexico is apparent in this image.

The adobe construction is apparent in this image of a historic home in Taos, New Mexico.

      • Also do the opposite of the above.  Step back and show the surroundings.  Sometimes you can be too close, or inside of a place, which robs the viewer of the ability to see its overall setting.  Sometimes this is called the “establishment shot”.  It establishes the setting.
The mountain town of Ouray, Colorado is closely surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains.

The mountain town of Ouray, Colorado is closely surrounded by the spectacular San Juan Mountains.

 

      • Don’t forget a good caption.  I did a recent post on captions.  Although your photo should do most of the work of giving the viewer a sense of place, why not include a good subject-centered, educational caption to fill things out?
      • Don’t turn up your nose at shooting the occasional sign, if they’re interesting and can be used to place photos in a slide show.
Crossing into a remote part of Colorado on a lonely road.

Crossing into a remote part of Colorado on a lonely road.

      • Including some human elements in landscape photographs can help to give them a sense of place.  For example, a rail fence says ranch country; when combined with quaking aspens, the impression of a rural Rocky Mountain setting is strong.
Sometimes the residents of an area have done the work for you.  Shooting public art like this mural in Taos, New Mexico can add to your image the sense of place felt by the artist.

Sometimes the residents of an area have done the work for you. Shooting public art like this mural in Taos, New Mexico can add to your image the sense of place felt by the artist.  The adobe construction also helps place it.

Colorado in fall means the quaking aspen are in golden leaf.

Colorado in fall means the quaking aspen are in golden leaf.

      • One caveat:  Beware the cliche!  There is a balance between not being too subtle and overdoing things.  This is most common with travel photography.  If you’re including something like the Eiffel Tower, make it a small part of the scene, or somehow get a fresh take on it.  Don’t avoid shooting something like the Taj Mahal straight on, especially in beautiful light.  Just move around and try different compositions and perspectives.
Prayer flags in the Himalaya are not hard to find, so they have become super-abundant in pictures.  But they still insert a strong sense of place into an image.  Just don't overuse them!

Prayer flags in the Himalaya are not hard to find, so they have become super-abundant in pictures. But they still insert a strong sense of place into an image. Just don’t overuse them!

      • When it comes time to process your images on the computer, pay close attention to the mood you create.  Often it’s useful to try the image in black and white to see if it strengthens its sense of place.  The idea of place is tied to that of time, so if you think having an ‘old-timey’ look will help, then go for it!  Whatever you do, don’t treat all images in a similar way (such as high contrast and saturated colors).  This is from someone who was guilty of that for a time.
This image of Lake Crescent on Washington's Olympic Peninsula has the kind of low-key atmosphere that called for sepia and film grain.

Lake Crescent on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula has the kind of low-key atmosphere that harkens back to the old days of summer vacation, a mood enhanced by sepia and film grain.

An image with a strong sense of place can make the viewer a part of the scene, which of course strengthens your images and makes people want to look at them.  And it’s not just travel photography that benefits; all sorts of pictures are made better with a sense of place.  Have a great weekend and happy shooting!

This is actually one of my favorite images from the desert southwest.  I know many wouldn't agree, but you tell me.  Despite the lack of any obvious identifying features, does it give a strong sense of place?

Road to Nowhere:  This image is actually one of my favorite images from the desert southwest. I know many wouldn’t agree, but you tell me. Despite the lack of any obvious identifying features, does it have a strong sense of place?

An image from Arches National Park in Utah profiles the park's typical 'fins' of orange sandstone.

An image from Arches National Park in Utah profiles the park’s typical ‘fins’ of orange sandstone.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Old Movie Backdrop   3 comments

Marlboro Man Country

Friday Foto Talk: Photographing Couples   2 comments

A couple spends some time near the cathedral in Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

I caught this couple spending time together near the cathedral in Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

This is a topic I’ll admit I don’t have a ton of practice with.  One reason is my aversion to ever shooting weddings.  That said, I do love photographing couples, either in portrait or candid.  There is very little to it, actually.  All depends on how comfortable the couple is with each other (how long they’ve been together) and how comfortable they are with you, the photographer.  A few tips:

      • The Closer the Better.  For portraits, when you first get a couple in position to photograph, they will most likely be too far from each other.  You will invariably need to ask them to get closer.  Keep a light atmosphere, don’t make it seem like you want them to swap spit or make the shot look otherwise classless.  But get them touching.
      • Focus is Key.  Unlike with a single person, it’s more difficult to get focus right with couples.  You will likely need to use a smaller aperture, with larger depth of field, in order to get both people in focus.  This is a much bigger deal when you position one in front of the other, but watch it even when their faces are side by side.  Try to position yourself so both pairs of eyes are the same distance from you.  Then you have the option to open up your aperture more and go for less depth of field.  Every few shots call for a mini-break and check out the shots on your camera’s LCD, making sure (at minimum) both pairs of eyes are sharp.
      • Create a Relaxed Atmosphere.  Do what feels natural to you in order to get them comfortable.  Be yourself.  Music can work wonders, just make sure you’ve asked them what they like and play that.  Often all it takes is a little time, and a somewhat stiff poses disappear, replaced by natural and attractive ones.  Take that time.  And be ready to shoot away when poses and expressions turn natural.
      • Expressions.  The idea is to avoid the stiff, formal look.  Smiles are great but I’ve found they can look phony if you just ask them to smile (depends on the person).  Do things to get their expression to change.  Try telling jokes, or asking them questions that pique their interest or get them thinking.  In fact, if they are thinking about anything but the fact their picture is being taken, even if it’s only for a second or two, you increase your chances of getting more natural and attractive expressions.
      • Get it Right in Camera:  Move stray hairs, get rid of lint or smudges, and have them position their faces so as to minimize anything less than attractive.  For example, you may need to remind people to move their chins forward slightly to give faces a slimmer look and avoid double chins.
      • Mix it up.   Though I do very little “directing”, you can easily mix things up by changing their positions, asking one to look at the other, or asking them both to look at various places.  Before you start, get in mind whether you’re just going to use one place/background or several.  Also think about whether you want standing, sitting, lying or other positions.  Nothing wrong with keeping it simple and working variety into it in more subtle ways – such as with expressions.
      • Candids:  Although it’s not nice to be a paparazzi, you should consider sneak shots if the light and setting is right.  If you’re found out (which is more common than not), just smile and walk up to tell them it was just too tempting, that they are too attractive a couple, then show them the shot.  It’s usually a lot easier to explain than it is with individuals (though that isn’t hard either).
      • More on Candids:  Candids can work well with smaller apertures, where more of the scene is in focus.  Though the couple receives less attention than with portraits, don’t worry so much about their getting ‘lost’ in the shot.  The viewer will naturally lock on to any person in a picture.  Look for story-telling pictures with couples, think beyond cuddling or gazing into each other’s eyes, go for unusual settings.
      • Background Matters.  See the discussion below.  Just realize that whether you are shooting a candid or a portrait, the background can make or break the shot.
      • Lighting Matters.  I won’t go into artificial lighting (flash) here.  That’s worth a separate post.  See below for a discussion on natural lighting considerations.
An attractive Norwegian couple on holiday on beautiful Laguna Apoyo, Nicaragua.

An attractive Norwegian couple on holiday at beautiful Laguna Apoyo, Nicaragua.

BACKGROUNDS

If you’re using a natural background or inside in a room, the background will likely be too busy.  It will have too much detail.  If you shoot so both your subjects and the background are in focus, that detail will draw attention away from the lovely couple.  So your depth of field will need to be shallow; that is, you will use a large aperture (small f-number).  But don’t use such a large aperture that one of their faces are out of focus.

If you’re shooting portraits, you can always use an artificial (paper or fabric) background, in which case your aperture can be smaller.  Then you can shoot at an aperture that is sharpest for that lens (usually two stops above wide open).  Make sure to get the lighting right on the background, as well as the couple.

The guy on the left was sweet on this young woman from Ometepe, Nicaragua.  Though I should have had him tuck his shirt in completely, I think it's funny that he apparently hurried to do it before the picture.

The vaquero on the left was sweet on this young woman from Ometepe, Nicaragua. Though I should have had him tuck his shirt in completely, I think it’s funny that he apparently hurried to do it before the picture.

LIGHTING

With natural lighting, the more diffuse the better.  A cloudy day is great, as is indoors next to a window, so long as the sun is not shining directly into it.  If you have bright sunshine (and the sun is not setting or rising), go into the shade of a tree or building.  Often you can get great light on a bright day by moving to a place that is at the edge of shade but near a reflective surface (white pavement, water, etc.).

More ideas:  If you can, consider using a reflector to bounce natural light back into the shadowed side of their faces.  An assistant or stand is likely going to be necessary, as is a reflector that’s larger than one you might use with a single person.  Don’t let one person cast dark shadow on the face of the other.   Try shooting them right at the edge of shadow for a little drama.

I hope you got something out of this.  I wrote it partly to remind myself that I haven’t been shooting enough people of late.  But you are the main reason.  Let me know if you have any questions, or have any interest in one of the images.  They are copyrighted and not available for free download, sorry.  This is especially important since individuals’ privacy is at stake.  Have a great weekend!

A couple kisses at sundown at the top of Rocky Butte in Portland, Oregon.

A couple kisses at sundown on top of Rocky Butte in Portland, Oregon.  They didn’t know I shot this until immediately after, and were not bothered.

Winter Olympics (Share your World)   14 comments

My backyard is a long way from the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

My backyard is a long way from the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

That Cee comes up with some great ideas for challenges.  This is a “Share your World” challenge, where you answer a few simple questions – this week on the Winter Olympics.  I really love the Olympics, I’m not ashamed to admit.  For some reason I’m not watching these games.  Maybe I’ll start.  Since I’m marginally better at winter sports than summer, the winter games have always been a favorite.  I really hope you’ll answer some too, either in the comments below or by going to Cee’s page and doing one yourself.  Now on to the questions:

      • Have you watched or plan to watch any of the 2014 Winter Olympics?  Think I’ve already answered this one.  I’ll probably catch a little, at least some skiing and maybe a hockey game.
      • What is your favorite winter Olympic event? Would you ever want to be an expert in that sport?  The Downhill, without a doubt.  I’ve gone pretty fast on skis but no way would I ever be able to go that fast.  About as likely as hitting a major leaguer’s slider or blocking Terrel Suggs (NFL linebacker).  I’d love to be an expert in the downhill skiing, at least down to the giant slalom.
Oneonta Gorge in Oregon's Columbia Gorge Scenic Area  is not an easy place to access in winter.

Oneonta Gorge in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge Scenic Area is not an easy place to access in winter.

      • Have you ever met an Olympic Athlete?  Actually two.  I ran into a U.S. mogul skier once, in Hawaii, hiking at night to the active lava entering the ocean (of all things).  Think she said she won a silver or bronze, but I don’t really remember much (besides the lava and her blonde hair).  For a time I knew a multiple gold medalist (summer games) named Mariel Zagunis.  She’s still one of the world’s best women at fencing sabre, and has golds from two successive games.  I was one of her high school science teachers.  I remember giving her homework to do while she was off to Europe or somewhere for fencing tournaments.  She always seemed very calm and focused, but otherwise not super-athletic.  I think that’s what it really takes.
Ice-clad wall along Oneonta Gorge.

Ice-clad wall along Oneonta Gorge.

      • Do you have a favorite athlete? Name sport.  Currently, I’ll say Haloti Ngata of the Ravens (American football).  He’s just so huge (6’4″ 350 lbs) but very athletic and dominant.  He plays for my hometown’s team, went to my alma mater (U of Oregon) and best of all, he’s Samoan.  I imagine him on a palm-fringed beach, cooking up and eating whole chicken after whole chicken, and laughing.  Historically there are several more, but I don’t idolize athletes, at least since I was a young boy.
Snow on moss on lichen on basalt, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

Snow on moss on lichen on basalt: Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge begins to break free of the icy grip of a cold snap.

Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge begins to break free from a cold snap.

      • What is your favorite exercise or sport? Is there a reason why?  Probably cross-country skiing.  I love all types, from track skating to back-country telemarking.  To go on long tours where you must use all types of skiing technique, plus call upon your navigation and winter travel skills, ability to evaluate avalanche dangers, and your determination, it seems to bring everything together.  The fact that it exercises your whole body, you can do it when the weather is good, bad or in between, the zen state it can put you in, its rhythm and grace, the downhill fun; all that makes it almost the perfect outdoor sport.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out Cees challenge and to add your two cents on any one or all of the questions below.

Oneonta Creek is thawing rapidly in this shot at dusk looking downstream from atop the log jam.

Oneonta Creek is thawing rapidly in this shot at dusk looking downstream from atop the log jam.

Winter sunset near Mount Hood in Oregon.

Winter sunset near Mount Hood in Oregon.

 

Spring is Coming   9 comments

A flower that has just burst forth from the spring snow at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

An icy bloom has just burst forth from the spring snow at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

I wanted to give you all in the north some hope for spring.  If these flowers can steel themselves and burst forth from the snow-covered ground to stand tall, confident they won’t have long to wait for the sun’s warmth to kiss their faces and allow them to bloom with color, then so can we.

Single-image Sunday: Frozen Portal   11 comments

I titled this shot Frozen Portal because it is the entrance to Oneonta Gorge.  Located in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, it’s a popular place to photograph anytime and very popular to wade in hot summer weather.  It is a follow-up to Friday Foto Talk – Winter is Unforgiving.  Check that out for a few tips on photographing in wintertime.  This picture is copyrighted and not available for free download without my permission, sorry.  Please contact me if you’re interested, or just click on the image.

The infamous log jam that must be negotiated in order to enter the gorge is visible behind the snow-covered rock at left-center.  I’ve never seen this particular view of Oneonta posted in a picture before, so thought I’d give a different perspective on an oft-photographed place.  I had to stand in thigh-deep freezing water to get this shot, but what is temporary discomfort when you can capture rare frozen Columbia River Gorge scenery like this.  My apologies to any of you in the southern hemisphere who are sweating through the dog days of summer.

Oneonta Creek in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge is gripped by winter.

Oneonta Creek in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge is gripped by winter.

Friday Foto Talk: Winter is Unforgiving I   11 comments

The wind comes screaming down the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

The wind comes screaming down the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

I thought I’d take a break from all the metadata talk and get back to the field.  We are getting some snow around these parts and the photography is changing as a result.  But getting to and from the places I like to shoot has been a challenge.  This and next week’s posts will discuss how to meet some of these challenges and safely enjoy photography in wintertime.

I have never been much to worry about footing in snow and ice.  Being a skier and climber, I have pretty good balance and coordination.  But recently I’ve performed a few spectacular face-plants.  Thankfully there is no photographic evidence.  I know, funny, huh?  Maybe for you!

Horsetail Falls in winter, Columbia River Gorge.

Horsetail Falls in winter, Columbia River Gorge.

A lot of hikers around here use traction devices for your feet.  They range from simple “mini-chains” to a lighter version of crampons that ice climbers use.  Some look like the studs on car tires.  There is quite the variety – check them out at REI online .  You can also make your own, but that means dedicating a pair of boots or sneakers.  It’s certainly cheaper than buying, but you lose the ability to use them on a variety of footwear.

As I mentioned, I have always just dealt with slippery conditions.  I wear good boots and turn around when things too get steep and icy (unless I have my crampons and ice axe).  Yesterday I was hiking back from the waterfall pictured below, in the Columbia River Gorge.  About 5 inches of light snow lay over patch ice.  As you might expect I went down, hard.  It was a surprise to me; a wake-up call.  I’m glad my camera was safely stowed in my pack.  It would have likely been damaged.

Beautiful Faery Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is nearly frozen over.well on the way to being frozen over.

Beautiful Faery Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is nearly frozen over.

When I went down a second time, despite using care, I sat there thinking.  Perhaps it was time to get some strap-on traction devices.  Maybe it’s foolish pride that’s keeping me from getting them, similar to the fact I rarely use trekking poles.  I know one thing: it’s more embarrassing to go head over heels than take a moment to put on traction devices at the trail head.

Safety for yourself is most important.  But there’s also a lesson here concerning your camera gear.  I mostly recommend keeping your camera handy when out photographing.  You will certainly miss more shots if your camera is inside your pack or bag.  But winter is an exception.  If you are in snow or in areas where the footing is suspect, you need to take the time to stow your camera away in your camera pack or bag.  This goes for anytime you walk from one place to another.

Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is an easy cascade to visit in wintertime, being just a short hike from the road.

Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge is an easy cascade to visit in wintertime, being just a short hike from the road.

If you don’t take precautions and sacrifice photo readiness, your camera gear could easily be damaged.  And if you somehow save it from being bashed against a rock, your camera could end up being encased in packed snow.  I’ve had it happen, and it’s very difficult to clear it before some water gets inside.

So go ahead, feel free to imagine my pratfalls and laugh.  But also use the opportunity to consider traction devices for your shoes when you’re out photographing in wintertime.  The goal is, after all, to not only get the shot but to get you and your camera back safely.  Have a great weekend and happy shooting!

The pink light of a winter sunset catches a snowy Mount Hood over the Columbia River.

The pink light of a winter sunset catches a snowy Mount Hood over the Columbia River.

Wordless Wednesday: Crescent Moon & Columbia River   9 comments

_MGL0033

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