Into the Wild pt. 3

The previous day I had moved my tent further up the valley in order to be closer to a mountain I had planned on reaching the summit of. I woke up on the third day after a pretty chilly night. By the time that I had eaten my breakfast the sky had cleared up even more and the sun started to peek through every now and then.

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Something that would become a rather obvious topic of discussion with myself during this day would be my battery grip. It’s heavy. Heavy but also very useful for one thing. That is being able to shoot photos in vertical position much more comfortably and especially so with a heavy lens like the 16-35 f4.

The thing that really makes it extra heavy is using it with AA-batteries. I had also just bought an extra regular EN-EL 15 battery, but that was mainly just to have an extra battery with me. I will use that in the grip from now on as it is clearly is so much lighter and also quicker and easier to recharge. AA-batteries are otherwise only really needed when I want to push for that 6 fps in dx mode. This is possibly something that will interest me more when I finally get my hands on a nice telephoto lens and want to try shoot some wildlife or even sports. Other than that, 4 or 5 fps will suffice.

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Out there among the mountains and especially all of the snow, I was having some issues with my exposures. I would regularly forget to change the exposure compensation depending on the shooting conditions. Massive snow fields needed approximately +1.0 in exposure compensation, whereas I prefer to almost underexpose the normal snow-free landscapes in order to be sure that the highlights in the sky are not clipped. This means I will use somewhere between -0.3 and -0.7 in negative exposure compensation. Obviously the difference here is quite big, meaning I would end up with vastly over- as well as underexposed shots when I forgot to switch this around depending on the situation. Chimping (looking at the screen) really isn’t always possible in as bright conditions, however good the LCD on the D800 is. So it could take a while before I would notice this unless I was paying attention.

Now, I digress. Let’s get back to where I was again. I had by now reached a middle ground where I could finally gasp for some air, have some energy back into my system and a sip (well, more like half a liter) of ice cold water. The views were mesmerizing but I still had quite a significant bit of elevation left to climb.

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After a little bit of a break I would continue on, slowly pushing through the snow. I was sweating profusely and stopping every now and then to gasp some air and enjoy the view. The sun was shining seemingly stronger and stronger for each hour that passed. Once again the durability of the D800 in combination with the grip and the lens became obvious. I would occasionally actually drop them in the snow by mistake and I didn’t really have to care, knowing they are all heavily weather sealed. It’s a very comfortable and reliable feeling to have such workhorses as equipment in conditions like these.

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After something like five or six hours of intense elevation I was finally reaching the summit, revealing a vast and impressive view of the surroundings. I could probably see up to 50 kilometers away in each direction.

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It was also nice to have the “long” end of the 16-35 zoom here, enabling me to crop in a little bit more on the view I was having. I did have a 50 mm with me but I never ended up using it. The difference in focal length just didn’t quite seem to justify the lens change.  I would love to have a proper 70-200 zoom and really be able to crop in on those spectacular views and find those frames in the mountains to capture. That’s definitely very high up on my to-buy list as of now.

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Overall it had been a good day. A very good day. It also let me think a little on trying to find a balance as for why I was out here. On one hand this is my vacation and I was enjoying myself in the ways I could see fit for the moment. While I did want to push myself to get those shots I otherwise wouldn’t, it felt important to remember that I was doing this for my own fun and nothing else. It’s not my job, nor do I wish it to be. But sometimes it’s good to let that whip fly and actually get around to take those shots I otherwise wouldn’t; to get that camera out of my backpack and actually give myself the time and opportunity to take some images that I would later be happy with.

/Martin

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