Getting Down (Part 1)

If I told you I went to a place with epic views that people travel thousands of miles to see, but chose to ignore those views, would you think I was nuts?

Ok, so maybe you think I’m a tad nuts anyway, but seriously, this is the Colombia Gorge we’re talking about.   Dramatic views, towering cliffs, waterfalls hundreds of feet high, hiking trails to die for – this not the sort of place where you consider the views and go, “meh.”

_72D6816-1200And to sweeten the pot, it was the first chance we had to hike the place since the disastrous fires of Sept 2017.  We were eager to get back to our old playground, to stretch our legs with an old friend, to see how much damage there really was from the fires.  The trail we would hike had been closed for over a year – we were apprehensive.

But it wasn’t from horror that I averted my eyes from the grand views.  The fire damage wasn’t that extensive on the trail, although we did see patches of burned-out tree stands and the occasional blackened, ashy stump.

No, it was something else that caused me to bow my head, casting my gaze downward.

I could argue it was humility, feeling awe at the power and extent of nature, and wonder at the new growth already present after the fires.  But that wasn’t it.

You might think it was shame, from some sin I had committed against my fellow hikers, overwhelming even the grandeur surrounding me.

Nope.

And I wasn’t feeling particularly introverted that day.  (Besides, there’s no truth to the rumor that introverts recognize each other by their shoes.)

The reason for my downward gaze was more prosaic. I had a new toy.

This hike occurred early last December.  I had just gifted myself an early Christmas present, a used 105mm telephoto with macro focus capability, when a hiking/photography friend hit me up with the option of hiking a newly opened gorge trail along with our wives. It was a no-brainer. Check out the trail, try out the lens.

Some of you may recall a post back in May called “Getting Close.”  In it, I introduced my interest in the smaller world, the world of beauty hidden in my backyard, the world of macro photography.  For pictures in that post, I used extension tubes and a cheap light source to get up close and personal.  But I didn’t enjoy getting that close; the lens was only an inch or two from the subject, and it’s something of a one-note song.

I opted to upgrade.  The 105 gives me a nice telephoto (150mm full-frame equivalent), and the chance to get anything from what you might see with 3x binoculars to in-your-face and inspect the eyelashes close.

Enough blather.  Let’s cut to the chase. Getting down, taking the small view in epic view countryside.

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I forgot to mention, it surprised us to discover the gorge had a light coating of snow beginning about 100 vertical feet above the trailhead.  This background gave the trail a whole different feel than what we’ve enjoyed on our more typical summer outings.

I’ll just shut up for a while and let you hike along in peace…

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Ahem.  Pardon the interruption.  I have a rule of thumb that suggests I don’t post more than 10-12 pictures at a time. And although I have more shots from this hike, we’ll just have to save them for another post. Hope you don’t mind waiting…

37 thoughts on “Getting Down (Part 1)

      1. The depth of field in full macro is so miniscule that breathing too hard can throw you off. If there’s wind, forget it. One trick I learned: if you have a camera that can do rapid exposures or burst mode, get in the ballpark on focus, then move ever so slightly forward or back while shooting a burst. Chances are, one of them will be in focus. Of course, you end up deleting a bunch of them that way.

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  1. In 2012 my wie and I traveled through the Columbia Gorge and visited a museum on the way to the Oregon Coast. I was fascinated by the landscape. Your first photo brought back some very fond memories. Thank you!

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  2. I’m often hiking in woods that totally lack any epic views, vistas, cliffs, etc., and the only drama is when we run out of granola bars, and discuss who’ll be the first one eaten, if we get lost – – and the best and most interesting stuff I see is at ankle height. These are excellent, I love this miniature scenery.

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    1. In truth, most of the trail was out of the views, so it wasn’t too hard to focus on the small stuff. Glad you like the miniature scenery, that’s about all I have in the foreseeable queue. Lots of it. Paging Gulliver…

      I need to get out of the backyard more.

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  3. Beautiful! I’m glad you joined the macro crowd, there’s much unexpected beauty to be seen looking down but away from the shoes. I often take my macro lens and clumsy DIY difusor when picking up Gabriel from daycare. On our way back, he rides the swings and I hunch over flowers and bugs.

    – Verne

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    1. I’ve been taking pictures of flowers for years, but I finally got equipped for true macro. I’ve been having fun with the new lens this year – but it makes it too easy to just go in the back yard instead of going on an excursion somewhere. Lots of flowers pictures coming…

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  4. I love macro photography, and remember your backyards post well. These shots are a delight to behold. I think I need to get a macro lens…but then I’d have yet one for thing to take my focus away from writing.

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    1. It’s good that you like this sort of thing. There’s no more recent excursions in my collection, but quite a bit of background macro. Guess what I’ll be featuring for a while?

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  5. I’d like to learn to do this better also, but I don’t want to buy another lens … so I’ll just enjoy yours. The flowers are the showy stars, but it’s the leaves that keep me looking longer!

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  6. Pingback: Getting Down (Part 2) – Plying Through Life

  7. Pingback: Getting Down (Part 2) – Plying Through Life

  8. Excellent post! Having a macro lens in your bag comes in handy when the conditions might not be right for landscapes, even in an epic location. it has certainly served you well here and you were able to get totally unique shots. And, I like the idea of editing to limit the number of images in a post. I get a bit overwhelmed when there are too many.

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  9. Your rule of thumb about posting to many photos is a good one, one I so far haven’t been able to get myself to follow. These are really, really nice. I can see your enchantment. 🙂 And it’s fun because I recognize most of the players (the plants). The burnt wood at the end is appropriate. Let’s hope we have a better year this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Knock on unburnt wood the fire season isn’t too bad this year.

      I find for me 10-12 shots usually works pretty well, but sometimes there’s so much goodness it’s hard to pick. Maybe you just have more goodness…

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