Archive for October, 2009

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Monday, October 19th, 2009

Dolly Sods October 2009

Somehow I have managed to go all of 2009 without going on a backpacking trip. A few friends and I planned to break the streak by spending a night at Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia; but the weekend we chose (this past weekend) proved to be ill-fated. The weather has been terrible up and down the eastern seaboard this weekend, and West Virginia was not spared. We decided to soldier on anyway, along with a surprising number of other hardy outdoorspeople that we saw on the trail once there.

So our group of four, plus canine friend Roxy, set out on Saturday morning in 35-degree temperatures and horizontally blown snow. To stay warm, we had to keep moving, and so I didn’t spent too much time setting up great photos; that said, it’s extremely easy to take pretty pictures at Dolly Sods, so I’m still pretty happy with some of what I got. (Above, windswept and snow-covered grasses on Raven Ridge.) Here’s a shot of our group at a quick break for food, taken from a nearby ridge that provided a nicely elevated viewpoint:

Dolly Sods October 2009

While the four of us were warm enough with all of our insulated clothing, Roxy was shivering and clearly uncomfortable after a few hours, although she was still having a grand time and running all over the place. So we decided not to stay the night, and to make it a long loop hike instead. So I guess I still haven’t technically gone on a backpacking trip all year. But getting Roxy back into the warm car was a very good decision, as she was shivering uncontrollably after the last stretch of our hike brought us out of the relatively sheltered Blackbird Knob Trail into the exposed part of FR75 near the north end of the plateau.

Dolly Sods October 2009

I brought my D700 (no MB-D10) and 24-70/2.8. The lens selection was a tough decision. I decided not to go with the 14-24/2.8 as my main lens because the exposed front element would have been impossible to keep free of snow and moisture. I found myself craving a telephoto at times, but there’s no way I’m lugging my 80-200/2.8 on a backpacking trip. Perhaps someday I’ll pick up a cheap used 70-300. That said, the 24-70 served nicely for the trip, and I didn’t really notice the weight at all. I just carried the D700 slung over my shoulder – no fancy pack attachment or anything like that. That’s how I’ve always carried SLRs when backpacking; I’ve never felt it overly bothersome, and I always have the camera at hand to take photos, instead of having to dig into my pack.

Of course, the weather was wet, but the nature of it – snow rather than sustained rain – was such that I was never worried about the D700. It was completely exposed for the entire trip and the moisture was never an issue, except I had to clean the lens a couple times, and water got under the plastic LCD protector, which I eventually just took off.

Dolly Sods October 2009

One nice thing was that my three companions were each wearing rain shells of different bright colors: one red, one yellow and one blue. Perfect for creating points of interest in the sea of white and grey. (I took several landscape photos that are full color, not B&W conversions, but could easily be mistaken as such, as the palette was so muted by the weather.) The above photo is a decent example.

The full gallery of photos is here. I’m in the middle of writing an actual trip report that I’ll link to when it’s ready (it won’t be on this blog as it won’t be photography-focused at all).

By request: kittens!

Thursday, October 15th, 2009


My new housemate got new housemates, in the form of two absurdly cute kittens. She has multiple kittens, I have multiple cameras. Cameras + kittens = way too many pictures. Here are a couple. (More here.)



ISO 102,400

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

St. Vincent 16

OK, this is just getting ridiculous. I guess Nikon knows its target audience for the new D3s – photojournalists and sports photogs who can actually use these insane ISO values. And concert photographers! Except concert photographers don’t make any money and so can’t afford this thing. I sure could have used a better ISO 12,800 (which the D3s can now do without the artificial “HI 1.0” boosting) at some of the shows I covered recently.

More on those later, perhaps; for now, the headline photo is one of the best-looking ISO 6400 photos I’ve ever captured. St. Vincent at a very dim Black Cat. Below, one of the best-looking ISO 12800 photos I’ve ever captured… Bloody Panda at an even dimmer The Red & the Black (f/1.4, 1/25 sec).

Bloody Panda 4

If the D3s really has a stop better ISO performance than the D3/D700, I can’t wait to see what the next generation of sensor technology brings.

Regionals: two thousand more photos

Monday, October 5th, 2009

2009 Mid-Atlantic Open Regionals

I saw some great games at Sunday of the UPA Mid-Atlantic Open Regionals: a final that went to double game point and ended with an upset victory as usually dominant Ring of Fire lost the region (to DC’s Truck Stop) for the first time since 2002, and a 2nd place game that saw Ring almost lose again, this time to fellow North Carolinians Los, but pull out a 15-14 victory after being down 14-12 and 8-5 at half (my favorite play: Los taking half with a cross-field thumber). The 3rd place game for the last bid to nationals was more anticlimactic as it was clear Los was at the end of their emotional and physical rope after losing that heartbreaker to Ring. Pike wins, just like in 2007, but with no epic comeback needed. Man, I feel for those Los guys.

I took 2,000 photos, most of which suck. Seriously, with all the harsh sunlight and the shadows it entailed, I’d have rather just sat and watched. Until someone can figure out how to put a giant diffusion dome on top of an Ultimate field, I’ll always dislike shooting in bright sunlight.

The above sneak preview is Ring getting a huge layout D near Truck Stop’s endzone in the finals. They converted to bring the score back on serve and eventually force double game point. Full coverage up soon at Ultiphotos.