Aneroid Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness

Fourth of July weekend was spent at Aneroid Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon.  Though I did not take a large amount of pictures, my goal was to use the 24mm TSE lens to capture some different views of the lake.  The two shots shared here are each composites of two images.

The first image was taken in the evening with the sun setting behind the mountain ridge in the frame.  I wanted to include the clear water of the lake and the rocks below.  I used a circular polarizer to mitigate the reflection on the lake.  I do not believe tilt was involved since the foreground was not very close to the lens.  I had forgotten my bubble level so had to eyeball the lake’s horizon.  Each image was shifted up/down and overlaps over 50% resulting in a nice 4×5 aspect ratio image.

Another aspect of this image I want to point out is the use of a circular polarizer.  Too often I read online people dismissing the need of a circular polarizer on a wide angle lens.  Yes, the effect it could have would not deepen the blues within a sky evenly.  However, I most enjoy the reflection-cutting ability polarizers have on water.  I could not see the bottom of the lake with my own eyes as well as the camera-lens-polarizer combination could.  For me, a polarizer on a wide angle lens makes complete sense when shooting water (or wet objects).

Aneroid Lake Evening

The second photo was taken in the morning.  Dawn light was nice but I have no regrets missing the light by a few minutes.  Just a few clouds; I’m ok with the result I got anyway.  This shot required tilting to maximize DOF.  I even took three different exposures with a plan of an HDR panoramic stitch.  However, the detail in the “normally” exposed image of the three files had enough detail to rescue the highlight data.  Again, this is two photos with 50%+ overlaps resulting in a nice 4×5 aspect rato.  Using the tilt-shift at the lake was a fun experience.

Aneroid lake Dawn

One last image to prove I explored beyond the lake.  This area sits above Aneroid Lake along the Tenderfoot Pass trail.

Along the Tenderfoot Pass Trail

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Seven Devils Mountains, Idaho

I had a craving for the mountains. I also had a craving for camping. Fortunately my wife felt likewise. With numerous options within a relatively short drive, we decided on the Seven Devils in North Central Idaho. This would be my second time to visit this range. Prior to my backpacking trip last year I assiduously researched the terrain in and around these mountains. Using Google Earth I determined that the Forest Service road would come around a bend near the final destination and open up to a grand view of the mountains. After a few miles of climbing up a collection of switchbacks all the while being jarred by the washboard ride, the glimpses of canyons and mountains come into full view especially the Seven Devils being right in your face as you round the corner.

This time in the mountains was a little more casual. No backpacking was planned but “little” hikes here and there were enjoyed. We warmed up with a very short hike up to the Heaven’s Gate fire lookout. We had great views all around. We followed that up with a healthier hike to overlook Papoose Lake just north of the lookout. This hike had a little up and down but the saddle that overlooked the lake was quite nice. After making it back to the car and ultimately camp, we had some lunch and rested before the main attraction was tackled. I had planned to hike the climbers route from the Seven Devils lake campground to overlook Mirror Lake. While viewing the cirque from camp, I felt intimidated having lost my hiking legs a little. I also felt sorry for what I might be putting my wife through. After a mile and ~800ft of progress, we were atop the saddle preparing to view Mirror Lake. The trail was strenuous but not difficult. Going down was a little tricky with the scree along the trail, but the view (as always) was worth it.

Brianna overlooking Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake Detail

Of the two mornings I had an opportunity to shoot sunrise, I only shot the first morning. I was fairly satisfied with what I had. Shooting only with the 24 TS-E lens, I was playing around with shifting for panos. I also used a circular polarizer to help balance the reflection on the lake surface. It was a rejuvenating trip to the mountains with a handful of shots I was pleased with. My greatest pleasure was that my wife actually enjoyed the strenuous hike, especially with such a gorgeous view as a reward.

Dawn at Seven Devils Lake

Sunrise at Seven Devils Lake

Wildflowers at Heaven’s Gate

Photography and Chopin

A few years ago, at the outset of my interest in landscape photography, I read Ansel Adams’ autobiography.  I was already familiar with some of his work but was not aware of his classical piano ability.  Unlike Adams, I haven’t had to choose between the camera and piano.  However, my skill in either area doesn’t approach his.  Nonetheless, I’ve been playing piano for about 15 years; I’ve been a serious amateur photographer for only five years.  Listening to classical piano music is very enjoyable.  It’s akin to viewing photos online or in books or on television shows like Planet Earth.  I see sights that I’d love to capture with my camera.  Likewise I hear compositions that I could only wish to play as effortlessly and skillfully and some pianists.

This is where the parallel between the two lie.  The pieces I can play are at an intermediate level.  Pieces such as Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven) and Paderewski’s Nocturne in B flat major are among my favorites.  However, Frederic Chopin is my most favorite composer and I can play some Nocturnes and Preludes.  His grandest pieces by far are his Ballades.  These pieces have beautiful simple sections as well as lightning fast sections; quiet sections as well as thunderous sections.  I know more technically different pieces exist.  To proclaim these pieces as the altogether acme of piano music might be an overstatement.  For me, they are the most relaxing and grandiloquent pieces to hear.  Below are links to Krystian Zimerman playing the four Ballades.

Ballade No. 1     Ballade No. 2     Ballade No. 3     Ballade No. 4 Pt 1     Ballade No. 4 Pt 2

On the photographic-side of this idea I have the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.  I’ve never visited either nor had the privilege to photograph them.  Photographers for many years have been visiting and even living in these areas to capture the beauty in all seasons and in all weather.  Innumerable images have been captured displaying natures grandiloquence.  I would love the opportunity to visit both of these places and drink the views with my eyes and camera lens.  Though luck is at time involved in photographs, immense time and knowledge of a place usually leads to the most dramatic and intimate of shots.  Knowing when the weather might be right, or the sun, or the moon, and subsequently spending the time necessary to capture all the elements precisely and perfectly leads to some of the most breathtaking images.  I’m sure there have been iconic images captured that are not a result of such assiduousness but that is beyond the scope of this analogy.

Imnaha River Canyon

In my five years in the West I’ve visited some of the iconic areas:  Moab, Death Valley, Zion, Yellowstone and the Pacific Northwest just to name a few.  However, I’ve spent innumerble days and hours in the Owyhees, Sawtooths, White Clouds and Hells Canyon.  Most of this traipsing has been done within Idaho but some has been done in Oregon’s dry side.  Many National Parks lie within a day’s drive but my choice is to drive to the Imnaha River rather than Rainier; to spend a weekend backpacking in the Sawtooths rather than exploring the Tetons or Glacier NP; to camp along a random canyon deep in the Owyhees rather than Canyonlands or Bryce.  Time and money has definitely influenced my ability to experience the more extravagant locales.  But the more time I spent throughout my immediate region I’ve found numerous photographic spots that are quicker to access and that hasn’t been overshot my anybody with an SLR.

Sawtooth Sunrise, Goat Lake

All of this is to say that I’ve become satisfied with having all the opportunities I’ve had regionally rather than traveling to any place ending in “National Park.”  (Don’t get me wrong, I’d jump at any such opportunity, but I don’t strain my time and wallet to do so.)  I currently live in the Palouse; it’s gaining great popularity with photographers.  Still there is so much to know about this area and so much to see that cannot be seen in one weekend.  I’m content with waiting for the right conditions at sunrise from Skyline Drive or spending a weekend revisiting any area of Hells Canyon to recapture it’s beauty in different light.  Likewise, I’m content with playing a crescendo or diminuendo of a simpler classical piece or learning how to time my fingers while playing triplets with the left hand and a melody with the right.  I may be far from Carnegie Hall but I’m satisfied with my private performance; I may be far from a national-renowned art gallery but I’m satisfied within the slice of America I live and the images I’ve made.

Owyhee River, near the Three Forks