Backcountry skiing in Colorado (testing the E-M5 weather sealing)

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by phidauex, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    One of the reasons I bought the E-M5 was to take it to harsh places and still get good shots. Not all of my lenses are weather sealed, but so far I've found that even the non-weather sealed units hold up pretty well to incidental moisture. Still saving up for the new 12-40mm so I can have a full weather sealed combo!

    This last trip was a day ski up to the open space around the old ghost town of Caribou, near Boulder, CO. We covered about 6 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain, and caught some surprisingly enjoyable skiing despite the wind. This trip was for me to try out the Olympus 40-150mm cheap telephoto. It is NOT weather sealed, but I wanted to put it through its paces and see how it handled the environment.

    When skiing, I carry the camera on a Capture PRO clip (with the micro attachment, which fits the E-M5 nicely), attached to the waist belt of my pack, which makes for easy one-handed access from my right hand. The camera is pretty well protected so close to my groin, which is heavily defended from trees and rocks by instinct. If I'm doing something hairy I pull the camera off and stick it in the pouch of my pack (Black Diamond Outlaw, which has an access port at your back, so you just spin the pack around on your body without removing the waist belt, and slide stuff in and out of the pack - a killer feature, in my opinion.

    I've taken a few falls with the camera in this position and not had any lasting damage. Not that I recommend it, of course, but I've been pleased so far at its resiliency.

    Most shots are cropped and somewhat heavily processed from the RAW files. This is a hard environment to shoot in, moving fast, heavy gloves, strong wind, blasting sun, etc. The technique is really to just set some reasonable parameters in Aperture Priority/C-AF mode, shoot RAW for the amazing shadow detail, set burst mode, and spray-n-pray.

    Skinning up. 22 degrees sounds cold at the car, but feels as hot as a beach after you've been pumping uphill for an hour.

    From the top, a view of James Peak in Boulder County, CO. Shot with the 40-150mm, zoomed all the way in, handheld in bright sun.

    A hazard of the job. The dog we were skiing with was a ball of constant energy. In this case I had skied down ahead to take some pictures of my comrades descending, and Jycke (Yee-kay) decided to meet up with me by straight-lining the hill. This is what I saw and the camera captured at 40mm, shooting in full burst mode. Note that in the second to last image, Jycke is fully airborne. Dog, camera and photographer all survived the high-speed collision, but I did bend one my ski poles that I was backstopped against.

    Gotta do one in B&W. Droppin' knees and blastin' crud.

    Making it look easy. Shot partially zoomed in Sequential L burst mode, a great way of capturing action, and I love the E-M5's fast recovery from long bursts.

    Job well done.

    The full Flickr set, if you are interested.

    Thanks for reading!
    • Like Like x 10
  2. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Looks like fun! Envious both of your trip and all the snow you have on the ground! I'm still waiting for enough to finally take my E-M5 snowshoeing...
  3. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    This is payback for the last few years of bad snow here and everyone from Cali saying "Oh whats the matter? Things are great here in Tahoe!". ;) You are always welcome to come out here if you miss it.

    The E-M5 does great in the snow. It is a hard environment for photography because it is so bright that the dynamic range to the shadows is enormous. Shooting RAW is worth it for the dynamic range alone - some of these shots would have been unusable as JPGs, but the detail left in the shadows and highlights in RAW is wild.
  4. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    It sure looks like fun! Thanks for sharing all the details of your setup...
  5. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    I may be bumping, but I'll make up for it by offering a few shots from this weekend's backcountry hut trip (to the Goodwin-Greene hut, south of Aspen). We logged 23 miles of travel and 5400 ft of combined vertical. We didn't count how many liters of wine consumed, but "lots" would be an appropriate estimate.

    Rokinon fisheye works great, even when shooting straight into the sun!

    30 second exposure capturing a hint of the Milky Way! Hut sure looks warm, especially after huddling in the snow with the camera for 15 minutes.

    Continuous drive shooting pays off again!

    Thanks for viewing!
    • Like Like x 4
  6. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Great stuff, Sam, thanks for sharing!