Going Alpine : Backcountry camping

At the very start of the autobiographical book/movie “Wild”, author Cheryl Strayed drops her pack on a rock, sits down and pulls her boot off. Placing her nemesis down on the rock beside her she peels back her sock to reveal a very sore, extremely blistered foot. While no where as bad as Ms. Strayed’s feet, nor looking as bad as the hollywood make-up used on Reese Witherspoon’s, my own two feet took a beating this past weekend. It was my own fault really. I have been having some back issues lately and decided to change out the insoles of my hiking boots for the better orthotic ones I use in my running shoes. The result was that my old reliable hiking boots now rubbed in all the wrong places.

Why all this talk about boots and blisters on a photography blog you ask? Well, here’s the thing, as I have probably mentioned before, I am a lazy photographer. Sure, I will carry all my gear and tripod for 4 hours up a mountain, but getting me out of my cozy sleeping bag at 5 am for sunrise? Not going to happen. I can do 6. 5am, not so much. Adding into the mix blistered feet that were only comfortable in flip-flops meant that I wasn’t going to venture much further than a couple of hundred meters from the tent, and I certainly wasn’t going to be walking any hills in said flip-flops to find the best vantage point. Fortunately we were blessed with a spectacular campsite with gorgeous views, so I didn’t have to go far to get some pretty decent images.

On Friday afternoon we began our hike in to Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial park from the Diamond Head parking lot. The weather was hot, but agreeable. The path was, for the most part, logging road rough. Wide enough to hike two to three abreast for a good portion of it and rocky enough to easily twist an ankle if you didn’t pay attention. At the 1.5 hour mark we hit Red Heather Meadows which has a historical significance from hikes of yore. The one thing I correctly remembered about it was the abundance of flies (The biting kind!). Just after Red Heather you break out of the trees and get your first glimpse of the mountains around you.

(Click any of the following images to see larger on black)

Heading into the Alpine

FUJIFILM (18mm, f/11, 1/140 sec, ISO200)
Heading into the Alpine

Hiking Partners

FUJIFILM (18mm, f/11, 1/240 sec, ISO200)
Hiking Partners : Happy to hit the alpine

We had been pretty worried that the air quality wasn’t going to be very good. Two weeks ago this whole area was blanketed with thick smoke from fires in Pemberton. From the campsite you could still see smoke in the valleys, and there was still a slight haze in the air, but other than that we were very lucky.

View From our tent

FUJIFILM (10mm, f/11, 1/2 sec, ISO200)
View from the tent

We were also blessed with an absolutely spectacular sunset on the Friday night. The trick with shooting sunsets is to under expose and then restore the shadow detail in post. The Fuji X-series cameras are great at capturing detail in underexposed areas.

Friday Night Sunset

FUJIFILM (18mm, f/18, 6 sec, ISO200)
Friday Night Sunset

Friday Night Sunset

FUJIFILM (18mm, f/18, 2.5 sec, ISO200)
Friday Night Sunset

The first morning I managed to roll out of the tent just after the sun crested the mountains. I grabbed the camera, which had the 14mm mounted on it in the unlikely scenario I get out of the tent in the middle of the night to shoot stars, and tripod and quickly limped over to get these shots. I managed to leave all my other lenses and filters in the tent. Did I already say I was lazy?

Diamond Head and The Gargoyles

FUJIFILM (14mm, f/20, 1/25 sec, ISO200)
Diamond Head and The Gargoyles

Sunrise on little Elfin Lake

FUJIFILM (14mm, f/14, 1/40 sec, ISO200)
Sunrise on little Elfin Lake

During the day the clouds cleared away and we were blessed with a clear sky for the evening. I had set up my camera ready to shoot the stars when I noticed behind me the crescent moon and Jupiter descending to the horizon. I quickly changed lenses to get this shot:

Sunrise on little Elfin Lake

FUJIFILM (121.8mm, f/11, 1/6 sec, ISO200)
Sunrise on little Elfin Lake

Switching back to the 14mm I made a couple of captures of the stars that night. I wanted to capture the entire Milky Way but the orientation of it did not match my intended subject. I should have moved but the days hike had made my blisters much worse so I worked with the cards I was dealt.

Starry Night

FUJIFILM (14mm, f/2.8, 30 sec, ISO3200)
Starry Night with International Space Station

Milky Way

FUJIFILM (14mm, f/2.8, 30 sec, ISO6400)
Milky Way

Now for the geary/technical stuff
For the trip I packed in my Fuji X-T1, the Fujinon 10-24mm,  14 f2.8, 18-55 and 55-200. I wasn’t sure if I should bring them all but I ended up using each of the lenses, and the total kit weighed less than my old Nikon with 1 lens, so that was a bonus. Processing the shots in Lightroom CC, I import all photos using the Fuji Astia setting as I like the nice warm tones it gives the Raw files. Once imported, I drop the highlights and open up the shadows, set the white and black points and add a little vignette. Even though I had brought all of my Split Neutral density filters along on the hike I never used them, so I added a bit of a graduated filter in LR if needed.

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