Artists Point Sunrise Views and Snow Camping

I love Artists Point with its amazing views of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, north to the Canadian Border and west to Table Mountain.  You have the earn the view in the winter, as the last reaches of 542 are closed at the Ski Area.  It’s about an hour snowshoe up from there.

Usually I try to go during the week, and preferably after some fresh snowfall.  Dan and I reached the parking lot about 3 to hike up to the Point to camp.  Most people were coming back down at that point as the afternoon wound down.  I don’t use my Arcteryx Naos 55 winter pack too often but it’s perfect for this trip.  We both brought zero degree sleeping bags.  That shovel, glad I brought it.  It made making a tent pad in the snow and digging out the stakes the next day much easier.

Getting Ready in the Heather Meadows Parking Lot

Getting Ready in the Heather Meadows Parking Lot

We climbed the hill and reached the Point totally socked in with clouds.  No sunset apparently today, but there was hope for tomorrow morning.  We made camp a bit east of the Point.

Dan and our Fjallraven tent ready for the evening in the snow at Artists Point

Dan and our Fjallraven Abisko 3 tent ready for the evening in the snow at Artists Point

We awoke to temps in the teens with 20mph gusts but a beautiful morning.  I had kept my batteries in my sleeping bag that night so they still had charge.  Many photos were taken and I got a bit of drone footage as well.  We saw maybe 5 people the whole time, including two dogs in dog heaven who stopped by with their owner 🙂

Happy Husky Dogs at Artists Point

Happy Husky Dogs at Artists Point

Stillness in the snow covered trees…

Stillness in the Snow Covered Trees at Artists Point Fujifilm GFX50s

Stillness in the Snow Covered Trees at Artists Point Fujifilm GFX50s

Flew the Mavic Pro 2 drone for a few minutes to capture the scene from above and catch the light on Mount Baker.  So glad I brought it.

 

Back to down to heated seats and a triple mocha…

Winter to Spring in the NW: Drone Videos in the Mountains

I’ve been having a great time lately putting both drones up in the NW backcountry.  I started out doing this to get still imagery but have moved into video production as well.  Editing has been on my PC laptop with Adobe Premier Pro. I have two drones.  The first, much easier to fly and carry is the DJI Mavic Pro 2.  Harder to fly and transport, but with a better camera is the DJI Inspire 2 with X5S camera.  Generally, I send up the MP2 to scout and see if its worth sending up the Inspire.

So far they are without soundtracks which is fine by me.  Many more sequences to come as Spring arrives with warmer flying weather.  Please enjoy what I have so far:

Canadian Rockies Fall Colors Highlights Part 2 Lake Moraine and Lake Louise

I had arranged things so that when we came out of camping in the backcountry around Mount Assiniboine, we would have some hotel time to recoup.  To me, the Lodge at Lake Moraine is worth the splurge to be so close to the lake.  Not having to worry about parking and the nice rooms help too.

So we spent the next two days exploring Lake Louise and Moraine around sunset and sunrise.  Both were crazy busy but we expected that.  At Lake Moraine, the Rockpile is an obvious attraction but so is the nice trail half way around the lake.  I got some nice shots from both, including a wedding party getting their photos taken.

Bride and Groom at Lake Moraine Fuji GFX50s

Bride and Groom at Lake Moraine Fuji GFX50s

Lake Moraine from the Rockpile at Dusk gfx50s

Lake Moraine from the Rockpile at Dusk

Lake Moraine Angles Reflected

Lake Moraine Angles Reflected

Lake Moraine Along the Trail

Lake Moraine Along the Trail

We also took a side trip down to the Vermillion Lakes for sunset and hopefully a nice Mount Rundle reflection.  It was well worth the trip.

Vermillion Lakes Fall Colors Canon 200mm f/1.8 and GFX50s

Vermillion Lakes Fall Colors Canon 200mm f/1.8 and GFX50s

Mount Rundle Dusk Light in Vermillion Lakes

Mount Rundle Dusk Light in Vermillion Lakes

The next morning we ventured up to Lake Louise and got the first parking spot by showing up before 6am.  Several hundred of our closest friends soon followed.  It was a great experience watching the peaks around the lake light up with golden sunrise light, all reflected in the aqua waters of the lake itself.

Lake Louise Sunrise Fire gfx50s

Lake Louise Sunrise Fire

Golden Light on the Peaks Arou gfx50snd Lake Louise at Dawn

Golden Light on the Peaks Around Lake Louise at Dawn

The next day we were set to camp in the backcountry around Lake O’Hara.  We had put the tent out to dry at the hotel but it was time to get some solid meals to get ready and to finalize our shopping and gear selection.  On to Part 3…

 

Canadian Rockies Fall Colors Highlights Part 1 Mount Assiniboine

So I decided to take a friend of mine who had never been up to the Canadian Rockies around Banff for Fall colors.  And a chance to try out the Fuji GFX50s medium format camera in this beautiful environment.

I put together a simple plan starting with two nights in the Mount Assiniboine area and Magog Lake campground.  I arranged for us to fly in from the Mount Shark helipad near Canmore and then set up camp and explore.  We got some nice light, met quite a few great people and did a lot of hiking to check out the fall colors in the area.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my first visit to the area and was ready to compare to my Lake O’Hara experiences.  What I learned:

Lake Magog tent pads have very sharp rocks.
The water available is unfiltered.
It’s about a half an hour walk to the campground from the helipad.
The common cooking area is un-enclosed and unlit.

These are observations in comparison to the Lake O’Hara facilities and things to keep in mind when packing.  Beyond the camping, the surrounding beauty is unrelenting, especially in the Fall.

To get to the area, you can either hike 13 miles in or take a 10 minute helicopter ride:

Helicopter Pad Heading to Mount Assiniboine

Helicopter Pad Heading to Mount Assiniboine

Our Fjallraven Tent Ready for Anything

Our Fjallraven Tent Ready for Anything in the Lake Magog Campground

An abundance of Fall Colors around the Mount Assiniboine area.  Larches were turning and many more were ready to turn.

Trail Through the Larches Past Sunburst Peak

Trail Through the Larches Past Sunburst Peak

Golden Fall Colors Leading to Mount Assiniboine

Golden Fall Colors Leading to Mount Assiniboine

The main hike in the area is the climb up to the Nub to look back down at Sunburst Lake, Sunburst Peak and Mount Assiniboine beyond.

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak from the Nub

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak from the Nub

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak Beneath Dramatic Skies

Mount Assiniboine and Sunburst Peak Beneath Dramatic Skies

One morning down next to Lake Magog revealed a mist-covered lake that later cleared up to show Mount Assiniboine.

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist Golden Light

Mount Assiniboine in the Mist Golden Light

We spent two amazing nights in the Mount Assiniboine area.  We had to leave too soon for the next leg of our trip but hope to  be back next year for more amazing landscapes.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part III

At this point, I was in the valley heading back to camp.  Flat and boggy which was ok by me. The last of the golden light was on the hills and sheep were grazing here and there.

Heading to the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

Heading to the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

A small waterfall below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

A small waterfall below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

More bog and flowers about as the sun sets over the hills.  Tiny white flowers dotted the landscape.

In the valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

In the Vondugil valley below Suðurnámur on the way back to camp in the Icelandic HIghlands Fuji GFX50s

I made the decision to go around the Laugahringur lava fields which was a lot easier than picking your way through the lava forms and flows.  This took me past an area I had had my eye on all day, Brennisteinsalda, with vents letting out sulfurous steam clouds.

Brennisteinsalda the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens.

Brennisteinsalda the open and colorful small sulfur rocks and hot springs that are sometimes covered with smoke. This place therefore has a strong sulfur smell. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens.

After a bit more careful hiking through the lava fields, you are back on a normal trail that takes you along a canyon past the Blue Mountain trailhead.  Soon I was back at camp and dipping into my bottle of Aleve.

This was an amazing hike.  You really have to explore the area a bit beyond the parking lot and camping area.  There are easier hikes but this one serves up amazing views for all your hard work.

Visiting the Icelandic Highlands Landmannalaugar Fuji GFX50s Part II

If you are here, you have to hike a bit to see the surroundings.  So I did some research and found a vigorous loop that would take me around the area and provide amazing views from above.  One source recommended Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil, one of the longer hikes, but with a huge payoff.  I set out early hoping to be in the views around dusk.

The first part takes you up and over several peaks with incredible vistas in every direction.  Each peak seemed to be better than the last.  I largely had a place to myself, only running into four other people.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View towards Bláhjúkur, Brennisteinsalda and Laugahraun along the hike.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Lone Hiker Along the Suðurnámur mountain ridge, Icelandic Highlands.

Hiking the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands

View along the Jokulgilskvizl between the Barmur Ridge in the Icelandic Highlands.

About an hour into the hike, I got hit by a strong rain squall.  Fortunately I had my parka with me and slipped into it.  There was enough wind that I figured it would pass, and it eventually did.  I talked to two hikers who said the rest of the way was sunny and clear.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Two hikers I talked to about the weather…

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 100-300mm lens

Views over the ridge at Frostastaðavatn lake and beyond.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Massive geological features along the trail and the lava fields of Graenagil to the left

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Golden light on the green landscape of Landmannalaugar.

The trail and its views were captivating.  I lost sense of time, except for the sunset coming on brought me back.  The rain had indeed passed.  I started to descend to the valley below, taking care going down the slopes slick with loose gravel.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Trail to the valley below in Landmannalaugar

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lens

Tiny sheep on the golden hillsides of Landmannalaugar.

Views from the Suðurnámur mountain ridge and Vondugil in the Icelandic Highlands. Fuji GFX50s and 32-64mm lensIt felt good to be descending but I also missed the views from up on high.  More in Part III.

Various Zeiss Prime Lenses Adapted Onto the Fuji GFX50s

..and one very old Canon prime.

How did this happen?  Well my Sony a7r’s second shutter blew apart during a sunrise timelapse and I found myself looking into another camera body. I was going back and forth considering another a7r2 or even the a7r3.  Looking around, I came across the Fuji.  I’ve always wondered about digital medium format for landscape photography.  I rented one for the weekend and set about adapting my various Canon-mount Zeiss lenses to it.  Adapting lenses onto the GFX50s leads one into the myriad of adapters available with their pluses and minuses.

As we know, renting can lead to buying, and within a week I found myself with an almost new GFX50s.  My initial challenges were figuring out the menu system and dialing in manual focus.  Most of the online tutorials seemed to leave out an implied step or two.  Eventually I got there.  I tried adapters from Fotodiox to Viltrox and eventually settled on the Kipon AF adapter.  I meant to try to the Fringer but ordered the wrong size and by then, I was happy with the Kipon.

I adapted on my Zeiss 85 and 28 Otus lenses, my 135mm f2 ZE lens and even my old Contax 50mm f1.4.  The 28 Otus had the most vignetting.  All lenses performed well. I was especially happy with the AF using my almost 30yo Canon 200mm f1.8 lens.  Much snappier and more accurate than the Sigma MC11 or Metabones IV adapters on my Sony a7r2.

A few photos from my first few days with the camera.  Very impressed with the details and tonality.

Smith Tower Blues Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 85mm Otus lens

Smith Tower Blues Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 85mm Otus lens

Seattle Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

Seattle Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

My Contemplative Cat Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

My Contemplative Cat Fuji GFX50s and Contax 50mm lens Handheld Shot

Second Beach Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 28mm Otus lens Handheld Shot

Second Beach Sunset Fuji GFX50s and Zeiss 28mm Otus lens Handheld Shot

Smith Tower Dusk Fuji GFX50s and Canon 200mm f1.8 lens

Smith Tower Dusk Fuji GFX50s and Canon 200mm f1.8 lens