If you are like me, every now and then you think about new camera gear. Well, that is exactly what I did this summer. I had a few lenses that I no longer used so I traded them in for a new lens. BHPhotoVideo offers a great service. On their form, select the gear you want to trade in and they send a price quote. If that is of interest, ship the lens with the postage paid label. Once they receive your camera gear you receive an email confirming the offer. If it’s what you want, you can get a check, e-card or trade in value at their store. For me, I chose trade in.
So when I purchased my Olympus 90mm macro lens, the trade in value came off the top of the invoice saving me $$$ on sales tax!
After our second annual trip to the Boundary Waters, I wanted to share how I kept my camera safe, dry and easy to access through canoeing and portaging. Boundary Waters Gear can be simple if you think through what you really need. If you aren’t familiar with the Boundary Waters, check out my previous post here.
On the Boundary Waters, we carry everything: food, tents, clothing, etc. Each day we packed up camp, paddled and portaged most of the day, then chose a new camp. During the week, we paddled and portaged about 50 miles. With this schedule, my gear needed to be light, accessible and water safe.
My camera was the Olympus OMD1MII with the 12-40 f/2.8 lens. I chose this lens because it was light and captures great close up (wide angle macro) images too. In addition, I purchased a lens cap leash – last year I dropped a lens cap and lost it in the water. A long lens would have been great for birding, but not worth the weight in my opinion.
The Manfrotto mini tripod was perfect for sunrise and sunset shoots and a Singh-Ray Circular Polarizer completed the setup. Of course, I took an extra battery. All of this fit into my Overboard Camera Dry Bag (https://amzn.to/3qpLR5o). The shoulder strap on the dry bag made it easy to clip onto the boat or wear over my shoulder during portages. See the photo with my camera dry bag and the large 60 lb Duluth bag of gear and food? This was captured at the start of a portage. So, I could easily open the bag and grab photos whenever needed.
In places like the Boundary Waters, I don’t want the gear to take over from the fun of the trip, so I kept it simple. Below are a few more images captured on the trip.
Do you have a personal project? My list of personal projects is longer than I care to admit and includes locations, techniques, gear-specific items, etc. One of my personal projects continues to be shooting water: from ice to oceans and everywhere in between. But the locations range from Flagstaff to International travel. In Flagstaff, one of my favorite “go-to” places to photograph is Buffalo Park. This park is in the middle of the city with great views of Mount Elden and Humphrey’s Peak. After our spring snow melt, the normally dry pond filled with water so I went out for a sunrise shoot. If I only have a little time, Buffalo Park is a great place. I’ve shot portraits, macro, sports, and of course, landscapes at this park. Do you have a “go-to” spot close to your home?
This next image was shot of my son running at sunset. I wanted a light burst, so I stopped down to f/22
And another of him running during the day.
Below are several more images captured at Buffalo Park. From rock climbing to astrophotography, this location has a lot to offer. Challenge: find “your go-to” spot.
One of my favorite techniques to demonstrate on a workshop is the technique of “shooting through.” It’s really very simple. You need a large group of flowers and with a long focal length or macro lens, position flowers very close to your lens. The petals can actually touch your lens. Then, focus on a flower beyond the close petals and capture the shot with a wide aperture. While demonstrating for the group, I captured this image of golden lupine with a 100mm lens, f/4, 1/250 sec.
Have you ever tried narrowing your yearly images to your top 5? That is the theme here, my top images of 2022. I do this every year and it isn’t easy. Do I pick top images from different quarters? trips? genres? Well, this year, they are the top images that stood out based on light, composition, subject matter, and wow factor. I did get a little help from the family. I put the images in grid mode and starting with about a dozen images I kept asking them to remove two that weren’t as strong until I was down to these five.
Boundary Water Fog
I captured this image while canoeing in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters in August of 2022. We woke up to a thick fog and thought it had to be captured. So, Gretchen and her brother, Neil paddled and I “duffed” (sat in the middle) taking photos before the fog lifted. This image brings back that peaceful feeling from that morning on the water. Olympus OMD1 M3, 12-40mm, 1/640 sec, f/5, ISO 400.
Cape Perpetua Light
While driving along Highway 1 on the Oregon coast in September 2022, I was treated to a spectacular light show at Cape Perpetua. I turned a corner and saw this light coming through the fog on the pullout to a campground. My gut told me to stop, so I turned down the road, stopped and took the shot. Moments later, the fog was gone. My takeaway lesson – don’t ever think you will get the shot later – stop and capture the moment.
Macro photography is my passion, so this project incorporates uniquely folded sheets of paper and off-camera gelled flashes. When I started this project, my husband decided to purchase a laser cutter so that we can cut our own paper perfectly. As a result, I plan on pursing more of these in 2023.
Hoopii falls, Kauai
To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, Rod and I spend 10 days in Kauai. We hiked, ran, and photographed waterfalls. What an absolute joy. Getting to this position in the waterfall took some clever walking and handling of gear. Thankfully, Rod is always up to assist!
If you ever saw the movie “Benny & June,” then Ferguson’s Cafe might look familiar. In Spokane, Washington’s Garland District I walked up and down the street photographing the many neon signs at night. Ferguson’s was by far my favorite.
There you have it, my top five images of 2022. I’m thankful my family offered opinions on these images because sometimes I get stuck on my emotional attachment to the area instead of the quality of the photo. This is a great exercise in evaluating photos, if you haven’t tried it before, give it a try.
After a week of scouting along the Oregon Coast for my photo workshop in 2023. I’ve narrowed down my favorite images. With such diversity along the coast from waterfalls to crashing waves, it was not easy for me to choose. Not to mention the great macro opportunities and wildlife scenes. My favorite photo goes to…..(drumroll please) Sweet Creek Falls! With a close second to Ocean Beach sunrise.
And then there are a few other favorites from macro detailed images to fog and the final image from Bandon Beach. All of these were considered for different reasons. Whether it was the unique perspective of the subject or the great light, they were definitely in my top images.
And then there is the series from Thor’s Well where it’s not uncommon to get wet from high tide sneaker waves. I did not get wet but after capturing my shots, I stepped back to watch how close other tourists got. Luckily, no one got soaked!
After your next trip, take the time to sift through the photos to find your favorites. Sometimes it is hard to decide.
And if you would like to join me along the Central Coast of Oregon September 12-17, 2023 – sign up here: ahps.org.
The question asked most about our trip to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters was, “How were the mosquitos?” Well, I have to say, they enjoyed our visit! The mosquitos were thick at times, but we were prepared and dealt with them. I knew very little about the Boundary Waters, so this travel blog shares my new knowledge of the area and our back country adventure.
According to Paul Vincent, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) is one of America’s most remote and cherished wilderness areas accessible primarily by canoe. It extends 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada Border, with over 1,100 lakes and 1,500 miles of canoe routes. It was hard for me to imagine until I saw it firsthand. (Explore Minnesota) In the large lakes, the water is so clean, that it is drinkable without a filter.
Our good friends (Gretchen and Ron) have extensive knowledge and experience in the BWCA, so we followed all their gear recommendations. We brought one wet outfit and one dry outfit for the 6.5 days with additional waterproof gear/warm layers. The clothes were pretreated with Permethrin to discourage biting bugs and it worked well. We also acquired an ultra-lightweight tent, sleeping bags, and chairs to keep us comfy at camp. Of course, I brought a camera, so I bought a waterproof bag (OverBoard Waterproof SLR Bag) that clipped to the canoe or hung over my shoulder. The easy-to-access bag kept me shooting on land and water. Lastly, an outfitter provided us with canoes and packs.
Our group included eight people with four canoes, and each canoe carried two people, with all their gear (personal gear, tent, sleeping bags) along with a portion of group gear (food, stoves, tarp, pans, etc). We carried food, a tarp, and the pancake griddle pans as our group gear. This made for a heavy pack. When I first put it on, I started falling backward. Rod caught me and expressed concern about whether I would be able to carry it all. We estimated the pack was 60 pounds. After cinching down the straps and leaning forward, I was ready to go.
On the Water
We put in at Baker Lake, a small quiet lake with lily pads, flowers, and towering trees along the shore. An amazing sight to see. After a mere 2000 feet of paddling, we got out of our canoes to portage. Portaging consists of carrying your gear (canoe too) across the land to get to the next lake or river. At this portage, we decided to walk the canoes through the stream and bypass the land portage. That put us on Peterson Lake.
In such a short timeframe, we were immersed in nature where the only sounds came from loons, white-throated sparrows, eagles, paddles, and us. As we paddled, Gretchen and Ron taught us how to read the maps identifying approved campsites and portages. We floated past lily pads and dense forests, and occasionally, beaver dams caused us to exit the canoe. After two days, Rod and I were somewhat pros at portaging. He picked up the pack and put it on my back before we left the water. Then, he picked up the canoe, flipped it on his shoulders and we hiked to the other side. Our portages ranged from 25 feet to almost a mile and are measured in “rods” (unit of measurement). 320 rods equal a mile.
The best part of portaging was grabbing the wild blueberries, raspberries, and chanterelle mushrooms. On one portage, others in our group picked a bunch to use in our pancakes the next morning. We saw bear scat, moose footprints, leaches, swans, frogs, and turtles. On a few of the longer portages when I was hiking alone, I did sing out loud to avoid encountering any bear.
We paddled and portaged an average of 7 miles a day with a total of 40+ miles for the week. Although portaging got easier, I slipped once and fell on my back (pack). The pack was so awkward, I looked like a turtle and needed help getting up. Each day, we paddled to a campground for lunch. Sometimes we took a swim, then paddled more to a new campground to pitch our tents for the night. We passed some people on canoes, but most of the time it was just our group. We did encounter rain on several occasions, but we had the right gear, so it wasn’t problematic. It was all so relaxing.
Each afternoon was an adventure to find a campsite. Camping is permitted at approved sites only and if you can’t find an open campsite on a lake, you portage until you find another site. Sometimes that meant you went to several different lakes because campsites are not found on all lakes. Once at camp, we pitched tents, set up the tarp, gathered wood, swam, played music, ate, and on our last night, we had a poetry slam. Gretchen challenged us to write a poem based on 5 given words. It was fun seeing the creativity put into each poem. We heard love poems, poems written from the perspective of a swan, from the mosquito perspective, a haiku, and my short and sweet poem sums up my week (bold words were required):
A canoe and paddle we did rent, to float the lake and pitch a tent. I hope that every son and daughter get to row on the beautiful Boundary Waters.
Besides the cool things mentioned above, my highlights of the week were many, but my favorite memory was the foggy morning. Before I could even ask anyone to get out in the water on the canoe, Neil and Gretchen offered. And then they had me “duff” (sit in the middle of the canoe) and took me out on the water. It was a magical morning – so quiet and still. When we returned to land, I photographed the dew on spider webs. I could have spent hours at this site.
It has been two weeks since we returned and all I do is think of returning. I didn’t think spending 6.5 days in nature without electronics would have such an impact on me. The BWCA is such a pristine area with fresh water so clean (big lakes only) you don’t need a filter to drink it. I didn’t know that was possible today. Let’s protect this area. The Boundary Waters is threatened by copper mining and if you would like to take action visit: https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/.
While on our 10-day Hawaiian vacation celebrating our 30th anniversary, my husband and I hiked to Ho’opi’i Falls, Kauai. Normally, we get up early for the best light, but our plans changed when we woke up to rain, so we ended up at Ho’opi’i Falls. With less-than-ideal light, it was important to find a good location that eliminated direct light.
Here is my process as I found the best composition that day.
A past participant and friend, Lorri Oliver, shared some water refraction images a while back that used a different technique than mine. Since it was summer, I decided to give it a try. If you are familiar with my work, you might recognize that I hang paper on a background for the colors to refract through the glass. Her method positions a computer monitor with different colored images in the background. So, I created colored boxes and stripes in Photoshop, then pulled a few of my photographs as well to serve as backgrounds. Here are the resulting images:
Finding the perfect glass makes each photo unique. The last time I went to a second-hand store, I found several new glasses to try. I really liked the red/white/blue image glass for its simple top and knobs at the base. I love how the colors refract and shine through the glass knobs. Check out my setup in the below photo. Check out my YouTube video if you want to see more on water refraction. AmyHornphotographer Refraction video.
This question haunts me every time I use my camera, “Did I achieve focus?” It’s not as simple as zooming in on the LCD panel. For the past four years, my eye prescription changed dramatically causing cataract surgery in both eyes and as a result, I wasn’t always sure my images were in focus. My eyes see distance fairly well, but not close up (because my new lenses are for distance only). My doctor and I thought this was the best solution for the sharpest images. The only problem is that the surgery only corrected the astigmatism in one eye. As a result, I still need prescriptive adjustment to see far sharply. The downside to my new lenses is that I can’t see near.
So, for the past year, I’ve used progressive glasses to accommodate both the astigmatism and seeing near. I don’t like progressive glasses. Hiking over rocks at Watson Lake was miserable, not to mention I constantly moved my head around to find the sweet spot of focus. So, for the past two months, I returned to contacts to correct my astigmatism and readers for close-up/computer work. I’m finally back to really enjoying photography and don’t find myself saying, “Is it in focus?” after every image. Do you have a better solution to finding focus with vision problems?