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Featured Winter Waterfall Ice Hike

Discussion in 'Nature' started by waday, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Hi all,

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions in the other thread: Landscape/waterfall questions

    I completed a winter waterfall photography workshop and ice hike (I call it the ice hike). This is from the Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania. This hike was about 3-3.5 miles long.

    While the trail can be likened to an upside down triangle, we started at the northeast most point and hiked downhill to the southern point.

    Everyone met in the southern parking lot around 9 AM, then drove up to the upper lot, leaving a few cars behind. We geared up at the upper lot, and then started the hike. This trail is closed in the winter to all except those with the proper gear. I’m not sure what the gear requirements are for ice climbing, but for ice hiking, we needed: helmet, rope, harness, ice axe, and crampons.

    24973243607_6762119fa6_z. Around the corner by Wade, on Flickr

    Despite my fears of warmer weather melting all the snow, there was snow aplenty. The temperatures were warm enough (and I had enough base layers on) that I didn’t need to wear a heavy winter coat. Very nice.

    After a short hike to the trail map, our guide discussed where we’d be hiking.

    25970365588_eae6fdc224_z. Up here by Wade, on Flickr

    Despite the trail being closed to all except those with appropriate gear, the trails in this area appeared to be heavily traveled since the most recent snowfalls. There were still leaves hanging from a few trees. The colors of the leaves against the somewhat monochrome colors of the snow and brown trees really made things pop.

    24973243697_b12e8956e5_z. Orange Winter by Wade, on Flickr

    Because the age range and physical capacity of the group varied, we would take breaks often. In addition, we had some gear problems, like crampons coming off, or needing to layer down. Some were eager to keep on hiking.

    39133824734_6968b175d3_z. Are you coming? by Wade, on Flickr

    Our guide was an excellent hiker, and he was able to breeze through sections that took the remainder of the group a long time. One of the requirements for this trail was to have rope, so the guide made a judgement call when we got to slippery sections. Occasionally, he would tie a rope up for us to use with our harness.

    39133822214_cdca28b031_z. Setting up by Wade, on Flickr

    When standing at the top and ready to climb down, I was pretty nervous. I’m not used to ice hiking, so even with crampons on my shoes, I gripped the rope and my ice axe a little too hard. When someone made it to the bottom, you could usually hear a sign of relief. The guide was able to pretty much walk down these steps, but everyone in the group, myself included, took them one step at a time, which was ok with me.

    39133826004_b972bc7532_z. Descent by Wade, on Flickr

    Most of the time was spent hiking, rather than setting up tripods and taking pictures. If one was at the front of the group, they were lucky enough to get the most time at the bottom of the waterfall taking pictures. This was one of the smaller falls, but they were all really beautiful.

    We also had to race against the sun. While we met at 9 AM, we didn’t start hiking until 10:30 AM or so. The bottom of the first waterfall didn’t happen until around 12 PM. You can easily see how time got sucked into hiking. While sad, the ice hiking experience was exhilarating and fun.

    39133826824_02d2365b43_z. Long Exposure by Wade, on Flickr

    One of the neatest things about this hike was being able to see the blue ice. And the extremely large icicles. Take note in this next image, there is a trail left by previous hikers (not from our group) to the center of the ice here. They walked over ice to get here, which was probably not the smartest thing to do.

    24973247047_d1b3294932_z. More Icicles by Wade, on Flickr

    It was gorgeous all around. It seemed like everywhere you looked, there was a photo opportunity. The hardest decision was deciding whether to set up the tripod and take a picture, or just take a quick snapshot handheld and enjoy the sites. While I wanted it to be a photo hike, I found myself enjoying being out in nature far too much.

    24973248307_097f771bd5_z. Frozen Falls by Wade, on Flickr

    Another neat feature that I don’t see too often in person was seeing the ice and stream weave together, especially around riffles. In some places, I desperately wanted to set up my tripod, but we simply didn’t have time. Olympus IBIS was an absolute dream. I was able to handhold some of these longer shots.

    25970368738_853f1c340b_z. Boo by Wade, on Flickr
     
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  2. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    And in other places, it seemed like no matter where you looked, there was ice from the frozen stream.

    24973242837_9199c7e1d5_z. Waterfalls Everywhere by Wade, on Flickr

    Because it was difficult to know where one was stepping (that is, whether you were stepping on an ice shelf and ready to plunge into the stream or whether you were stepping on solid ground), getting the composition of the shots set up in a safe and timely manner was difficult for me.

    If I saw leading lines, I tried to incorporate them into the shot.

    24973242477_70c5eed230_z. Leading Rock 2 by Wade, on Flickr

    Another set of leading lines.. well, leading waterfalls..

    25970368488_2186c2e5b4_z. Leading by Wade, on Flickr

    Sometimes, it was the small features, rather than the large waterfalls, that caught my eye. These little details of nature are very beautiful.

    24973241647_68a4fc1c14_z. More Riffles by Wade, on Flickr

    And other times, it was seeing everything coming together in a single shot that created that picturesque view of the trail.

    24973242247_a7636a8b20_z. Picturesque by Wade, on Flickr

    Thanks for viewing. I’ve learned a lot: about myself, ice hiking, landscape photography, and even post processing of landscape pictures.

    Something that I realized almost immediately with post processing is that I need to have a completely different processing style for landscapes than my usual photography. If anyone has any tips on these images (how to process them differently, tips on composition, etc), I would be much obliged. I found myself increasing shadows quite a bit, which is something I usually don’t do. I wasn’t sure if that was a function of shooting in the snow, or if that was something wrong with my settings.
     
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  3. hias

    hias Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Dec 6, 2016
    Bavaria
    Hias
    Nice, sounds like you had fun.

    Leading Rock 2 (second post, second image) is probably my favourite out of the shots. I probably would've edited it darker, especially the rocks, and the water lighter to make it stand out more, but that's probably a personal preference. Or just the harsh/plain light in the middle of the day?
     
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  4. Nice work, it looks like a great hike if you are properly prepared.
     
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  5. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Thanks, it was great fun.

    On this image, it looked a little darker on my monitor, but now that I look at it again, it does look bright. I'll have to do some local edits to darken the rocks and make the water stand out. And, some of the other images seem like they could use more contrast.

    Hmm. It must be time to calibrate my monitor again.

    Thanks! Agreed. The company we hiked with provided all of the required equipment. We just had to have the photo equipment and clothing/food.
     
  6. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 Top Veteran

    969
    Aug 2, 2013
    Colorado
    Looks like a blast, thanks for sharing. I especially like the mix of frozen and flowing water, and the long exposure shot.
     
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  7. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Thank you!
     
  8. Jeffcs

    Jeffcs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    534
    Jan 20, 2017
    Toms River NJ
    Jeffrey Swank
    @waday@waday nice work looks like your efforts payed off you had some really good suggestions from our Mu-43 brotherhood the love the work/art you produced
    BTW when seriously shooting I use the OMDem1mk2 and the PenF stays in the bag as a backup body, also the PenF stays with me most of the time as a walk-around camera
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
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  9. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Thank you! Yes, I had great suggestions from everyone here!

    The thing that frustrates me with Olympus is that I want to buy all of their equipment. :p  The Pen-F is high on my wish list, but with a baby around, probably won't happen for a while.
     
  10. Jeffcs

    Jeffcs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    534
    Jan 20, 2017
    Toms River NJ
    Jeffrey Swank
    Even when my 2 were little I always found ways to afford camera stuff maybe a bit longer than I would have liked but I feel art was And still is a huge driving factor remember just because your feeding another mouth doesn’t mean you’re life stops! And besides you need to shoot photos and pleanty of them, seems like just yesterday they were toddlers
     
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  11. Snow is very bright compared to everything else (especially in the sun), so tends to tip the meter into under-exposing. It's the opposite of the black cat challenge. Even if the snow is exposed brightly, everything else is still quite a bit darker in comparison.

    Landscapes in general are quite often high in dynamic range, from very brightly illuminated clouds and snow to dark forests and shadows. Our eyes and brain can adjust as we scan the scene but the camera has a hard job, even if it can capture the dynamic range it requires some PP to even out the dynamic range enough to simulate what we experience with our own eyes.
     
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  12. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Art is a major driving factor in my life, as well. Unfortunately, that wasn't something that I found out until a few years ago. I was always intrigued by engineering and science, and now that I'm in that field, there's nothing that I want more than to have more art in my life. It's funny how they're both so intertwined.

    It's true, I don't ever want our lives to stop just because we're parents. I'll have to see how far I can get with: "oh, but I need this lens for better pictures of the baby." :D 

    Ah, that makes sense, thanks for the tip. Landscape shooting is foreign to me, so I'm very thankful for any and all advice. If I get some spare time, I want to go back through the photos and see if I can make some additional local adjustments on some specific photos.
     
  13. Santa

    Santa Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    284
    Oct 13, 2016
    Tennessee
    Tom Staggs
    Very nice set of pictures. Glad it’s you and not me out in the cold. Sitting here in a warm house enjoying your pictures!
     
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  14. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Thank you! We had some lucky “warm” weather—high 30’s F. :) 
     
  15. Santa

    Santa Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    284
    Oct 13, 2016
    Tennessee
    Tom Staggs
    That is great on a nice Sunny day with no wind. I have been out hunting, ice skating, ski mobiling in South Dakota under 30 degrees but that was 50 years ago. I will take warmer weather photographs but I really enjoyed yours!
     
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  16. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Kiillarney, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Hi

    excellent stuff

    this if of course impossible ... we are designed to love it
     
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  17. Sam0912

    Sam0912 Mu-43 Veteran

    222
    Mar 1, 2012
    Fantastic shots, hiking like that is exactly the reason I changed to m43 for a light weight kit. Rare I see much snow these days though unless we venture as far nieth as Scotland :) 
     
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  18. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Thank you!

    Thank you! It's the reason I chose m43, as well. Bought the EM1.1 for a trip to Ecuador to replace my aging Canon Rebel XSi. Very glad I did.

    Snow is fun, but this winter has felt very long.. I'm ready for summer weather! :) 
     
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