This weekend Eric and I went on a hiking adventure in Hamilton with our cameras, backpacks, and tripod in tote. I totally underestimated how tiring lugging 10 pounds of camera equipment would be while fumbling all over steep trails. Somehow I didn’t wipe out despite wearing my 5 year old sneakers with the soles worn out. I will not be making that mistake twice!
I didn’t know this until recently, but Hamilton has over 120 waterfalls, making it a very scenic area for photography. Hamilton calls itself the “waterfall capital of the world”. Quite a claim! As I type this post on Sunday evening, Eric is printing a map and plans to pin all of the 120 falls that we visit this summer. He has that “man on a mission” look in his eyes. Help…
Before I get to our weekend adventure, here’s a little backstory about how we came to love photography. It’s a fairly recent interest of ours, or maybe I’m just in denial about how long ago 2007 really is…
Eric bought his first DSLR camera (a Canon 30D) and promptly fell in love with travel photography on a trip to Mexico. I was intimidated by using such a huge camera with so many (breakable) functions, so I stuck with my point-and-shoot (Canon Powershot). His camera made me nervous! My track record wasn’t exactly stellar with my point-and-shoot camera anyways; I dropped it countless times. Plus, I could tuck it into my purse wherever I went and it was easy to use. The point-and-shoot did the trick for a while, but as I would soon find out, I quickly outgrew it (or maybe my purse just got bigger). We continued to enjoy travel photography whenever we found ourselves away from home.
We got engaged in Mexico. Thanks to my point-and-shoot snuck in my purse, I have evidence!
End of 2008
October 31st, I started Oh She Glows. I continued to use my point-and-shoot camera for about a year and a half. Eric’s camera sat mostly unused in the closet while I ignored it.
Mid-to-end of 2009, after much persuasion from Eric (I think he was trying to tell me something!), I tried out his fancy pants camera. Well, his camera didn’t leave my sticky little hands from that point forward. The clarity was unreal and I instantly regretted not using it sooner. I was still intimidated by all of the functions on the 30D and continued to shoot in automatic mode (often with a flash), even though he insisted I shoot in raw mode to get the most benefit out of it.
All in due time. I think it’s clear by this point that I’m not one to rush into anything!
I finally started to shoot in raw, manual mode by the end of 2010. Whohoo! I’d like to say that it was easy at first, but there was definitely a major learning curve. All the rules seemed opposite of logic. Habits can be hard to break so I went back to automatic a few times before manual mode finally clicked (literally) with my brain. Once I figured out what my camera could do for me, it opened up a whole other understanding and interest.
I invested in my own camera equipment [see my FAQ page (question #10) for more info], Eric got his camera back (but now wants a new one), and photography is now a huge part of our lives. It drives me crazy at times and can be incredibly frustrating, but the challenge is what keeps me coming back each day. I also learned quite a bit from the book Plate to Pixel. My old point-and-shoot finally died so I now have a newer Canon Powershot camera, still tucked away in my purse at all times! Eric has started to teach himself how to create HDR photos as well as dabbling with Microsoft Photosynth more recently. More on that later.
Our first hiking destination this weekend was to Webster Falls (photo top of page). It’s very close to the parking lot and extremely easy to get to on well-groomed paths. Very family friendly! After Webster, we walked over to Tews Falls, which was only a 15 minute walk or so from Webster. This walk was a bit more challenging with plenty of stairs, but it was still on well-groomed trails and very easy to find. You can see Tews falls below on the right. This picture was taken from the look out point. Gorgeous!
Apparently there are stairs that lead down to the base of the falls, but they were closed this weekend. I would’ve just packed up and headed to the next waterfall, but Eric thought it was a good idea to get to the base of Tews falls on our own. Off roading! Eek. I thought he was crazy, but he eventually convinced me with aid of the random directions he printed online. Double eek.
After hiking on what was mostly ungroomed, rocky trails, we ended up getting off-trail for over half an hour. The directions mentioned a campground and when we came across this “lost cabin” we thought that was it. Well, it wasn’t the campground, but we were so tired at this point we were debating a nap!
By the time we arrived to the base, we were hot, sweaty, slightly cranky (mostly me), and thankful to be near water. Thirty seconds prior to this, I threatened Eric that I was leaving if we didn’t find it soon. ha!
It was off with the sneakers and on with the Crocs!!!
The water was freezing at first, but really refreshing! I was a bit scared getting in the water, but I survived.
The view of Tews from the base! The hike was definitely worth it.
Water is a great way to learn the influence of shutter speed. The images below left are taken using a fast shutter speed (approx 1/400 of a second) and the images below right are taken using a very slow shutter speed (around 1 second or so). The tripod is necessary to ground the camera and prevent shake (although I think there was still a bit of shake as it was on uneven rocks). Also, when using slow shutter speeds, the pictures will be really blurry without a tripod. Lugging the tripod was a pain, but I wouldn’t have been able to get the pictures on the right without it.
You can see that the fast shutter speed (left) results in choppier water, while the slow shutter speed (right) results in flowy & smooth water. I’m partial to the right. What about you?
I was covered in Goosebumps head to toe after I got out of the water, but quickly sweat up a storm during the uphill hike back.
After taking tons of pictures, we sat on a rock and relaxed! It was so peaceful listening to the waterfall. We munched on some Endurance Crackers for good measure.
The end of day 1 left us sore and stiff, but super excited for day 2. That will have to wait for another post!
In the meantime, check out this Microsoft Photosynth 360 panoramic that Eric put together. In a nut shell, Eric took between 50-125 photos in a 360 degree grid of the area, from the bottom to the top. Then he put them all into this Microsoft Photosynth program and the result is below. There are a couple patchy areas, but I think it’s a great first effort! This type of photography suits his mathematical and analytical personality very well! He’s working on a few tutorial posts for the blog coming up (on HDR and Photosynth), so keep your eyes peeled.
You can click and drag your mouse and scroll to zoom into the photo. You will need Silverlight installed to view it, by the way.
Falls from day 2
See you for part 2!