Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Colors Photo Excursion

My roommate, Sam, yells through the door, "Scott, a buddy of mine and I are going to try to find a ghost town. Do you want to go?" Eh, why not.

We drove around the mountains of the front range, not really finding a ghost town, then we decided to just drive to the 4th of July Trailhead. The fall colors are going off right now. We didn't actually make it to the trailhead, so we just stopped and decided to explore the woods.

I had my Sony A6000 with the 18-105 F/4 with Optical Steady Shot (Image Stabilization) and I just hand held these shots at 1/15th to get the blurred water shots. IS is pretty amazing. I had my tripod in the car, but that was soo far away.

Happy Fall everyone!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Climbing and Night Photography in Vedauwoo

I've been in Vedauwoo more this year than any other climbing area besides Eldo. It's been fun getting a lot better at trad climbing (Though, I went sport climbing this weekend and last weekend, and it's been a refreshing change). Alex Vidal and I went over Labor Day weekend and got on some great climbs.

Alex taking in the sunset at the incredible rock garden on top of Edward's Crack at Walt's Wall (Main Area)

I struggled up Currey's Diagonal (5.10b+++) as it is an off-angle crimp rail with smeared feet and micro-cam protection  instead of the bomber hand jams you're expecting. Then Alex and I climbed Edward's Crack up to Hassler's Hatbox, definitely one of my favorite climbs I've done. HH gets only one star and 5.6 in the book, but deserves 4 stars and 5.7+ (Vedauwoo rating, 5.8+ elsewhere). I then gave a strong go at Best of the Blues (5.10b), the first pitch of Lucille's. Absolutely worth getting on. Fun climbing to a powerful roof bulge move. It protects very well. Then you can stare longingly at Lucille's.

We checked out Reynold's Hill the second day. It has a really nice approach, and it's removed from the noise of the highway quite a bit. We climbed past a dead bird and through the bushes to a very stout but fun route, Cosmic Debris (5.8+++). Needs to get more traffic to clean it up a bit. We then climbed Pooh Corner a few times. Alex cruised this flaring hand crack, but it was a battle for me. I like variation as I'm still not 100% with pure hand jams. The Maiden  is a fantastically fun route that would be an ultraclassic if it were 60 feet longer.  It's called 5.6 but would easily be 5.8 anywhere else. Then Alex fought his way up the Matron, a 5.8 squeeze chimney.

I found it a lot easier to face the other way, but then again I was on top rope. 

Unknown girl climbing Pooh Corner at ssunset 
View of Reynold's Hill from the approach
The bridge

Every time I've gone to the Voo it has thunderstormed all around me, but it's never rained or thunderstormed on me.  That night the milkyway was out in force and the lightning storm was creating quite the light show. I'm still working on really capturing the milky way well. I also forgot my tripod, so I was balancing my camera on rocks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Valmont Bike Park - Testing My New Lens

A couple of weeks ago I had about an hour I needed to waste and I was over by the Valmont Bike Park in north Boulder with my camera and new Sigma 35mm Art 1.4 lens, so I decided to test it out. The light was amazing and the lens performed beautifully. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sony A6000, Lightroom, and a few Photos

A few weekends ago I went on a mini-sufferfest up West Magnolia to Rollinsville Pass with Alex Vidal on my new mountain bike. Long story short, it was not my favorite ride. But I took a few shots of Alex blasting down a trail filled with loose rocks, one that happened to destroy his disc brake rotor. Good times.

Shot with the Canon 55-220 FD at 55mm, the only focal length that wasn't absurdly blurry

Shot with Canon 50mm 1.8 FD at f/1.8 - for some reason the only aperture I could get to work despite the manual aperture ring. 

The damaged goods

A couple mildly related notes:
I didn't have my Sony A6000 for 4 months because Sony outsources their repairs to a terrible company called Precision Camera. Absolutely the worst. But I'm psyched to have my camera back, and I've been using it way more than my Canon's. I've struggled to find good lenses for this camera though. The kit 16-50 is unreliable and lacks sharpness at anything below f/8. I tried the 16mm f/2.8 and it was not any better. I bought the Rokinon 12mm f/2 E-Mount and absolutely love it. It's been my only usable lens since January.

Since I've gotten my camera back I ordered an adapter for my old Canon AE-1 film camera's FD lenses. I found out that those lenses are in terrible shape. I can barely get a sharp image out of any of the three. The 50mm f/1.8 won't change apertures (out of 1.8) despite having a manual ring. The zoom lenses are progressively worse. I finally caved and bought the Sony 18-105 F/4 but have yet to put it through its paces. Despite all of this lens hunting, I've been shooting with the A6000 a ton over the last several weeks and editing I've been blown away by the quality of this tiny APS-C camera. Most of the adventure shots as of late that I have posted are from this camera. I highly recommend it (just don't get it serviced by Precision Camera).
But seriously, the body only is only $450 right now. It's an incredible camera for that price. Right now I can't think of a better camera for adventures. 
Second unrelated point: 
I've been a user of Photoshop for 10 years and half heartedly jumped on the Lightroom‬ bandwagon when it came out. I saw that it had its uses, but generally stuck with Bridge and Photoshop for most of my editing. I recognized that for really large jobs Lightroom was much better for managing the project, but I preferred my own organization structure. I generally felt that Lightroom could get most photos close to where I liked them but just couldn't finish the job and I would move them into Photoshop. I've recently discovered some free plug-ins that really boosted my Lightroom editing game and I'm exploring using it more as my primary editor. I'm sure Katrin Bell and Luis Carducci will find that entertaining as I insisted that all editing should be done in Photoshop when they were my interns.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Skiing the Last Weekend of August

I missed skiing in July, otherwise I would have skied every month this year. I have a friend that has skied 24 straight months, very impressive. But in the depths of summer you really have to earn your turns.

I love that Eric is always trying to get me out, but when Eric hit me up to hike to Isabelle Glacier in the Indian Peaks I tried to find something else to do. A full day of hiking with my skis on my back is not my favorite activity. But when I didn't have anything else to do I said what the hell.

Eric Poore and his roommate Steve picked me up at 6am to head to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, and by the time we get to the trailhead the parking lot is overflowing. We finally find a spot an additional mile away from the trailhead and start booting it past Lost Lake and towards the Isabelle Glacier.

Steve and Eric greet the sun with skis. Note Eric's broken wrist. 

Lake Isabelle looking pretty low

Steve and I took the riverbed instead of the meandering trail. I have a condition where I hate meandering trails and try to go in the straightest line possible. 

Eric and Steve try to decide what they want to ski and how many times. We ended up skiing the small ribbon between the two glaciers.

A small alpine lake, Eric debated "pond skimming" it.

Higher alpine pond. If it were a few feet fuller I think it would be a pretty incredible infinite pond.

Shoshoni Peak's South Buttress over Isabelle Glacier. There are several 5.10 trad routes up there that would be cool to do 
 It was a long 4.5 mile hike in. There's a lot of almost flat walking interrupted by steep shelves that gain you elevation. Once we reached the boulder field it was scrambling over surprisingly loose boulders that kept attempting to dump you into dark pits and crush you.

Eric and Steve pull out glacier crampons from their packs...I didn't even consider that as an option. So instead of try to toe point in my ski boots, I elected to keep my approach shoes on and climb the granite slab to the top of the couloir.

Eric climbing with only one functioning hand.

The couloir kept going up and to the right pretty far beyond what I could see from here. 
After shooting Eric from a perch where I thought would be a great vantage to see them skiing down, Eric informed me that there was a lot more couloir and I should get higher. I climbed further up the slab until it cliffed out. I had a few different options for how to climb the cliff, but only one looked doable with skis on my back. The rock on the slab had been bomber granite, but the cliff disintegrated into a band of molting rock. Every move I did I pulled off several loose rocks before committing to it. I climbed up the constriction a couple different ways and kept down climbing because I didn't feel good about the moves and the prospect of falling. Finally, after again trying to downclimb another way I figured out a stemming move that allowed my skis to fit under the roof and put me in a good position to pull up a flake to top out. At the time this crux felt like alpine 5.7/5.8 to me, but it was probably enhanced by the fact that I couldn't do a lot of movement with the skis on my back. I was psyched to be out of that constriction and to the top of the couloir where I could see Steve and Eric getting ready to ski.

Steve skiing in style

Eric running it out with Lake Isabelle in the background. The mountains were incredibly hazy, filled with smoke from all of the wildfires around the west that week. 
 I downclimbed a loose band of the cliff to get down to the snow, put my boots and skis on, made several glorious turns in the sun softened snow which might have taken me 60 seconds to descend, pulled up next to Eric and Steve to celebrate the awesomeness we just partook, and quickly took my boots off. I think I might have been in my ski boots for a total of 120 seconds, probably my quickest record yet! We then 'skied' down the scree field in our approach shoes and made the 4.5 mile hike out, our A-Frame skies hitting the back of our calves the entire way out (seriously, there's got to be a better way!).

Eric descends through a field of alpine tundra flora
As always with these kinds of trips, mostly type 2 fun, we were psyched to get back to the car. But also, as always, we can't wait until our next adventure. It will probably be to ski the glacier behind Eric in the above photo.