5/27/14

Time flies. Cannot believe it has been almost a year since I posted anything on here. The good news was that I hadn't taken a single picture since my last post, so you really didn't miss out on anything. More good news is that I bought a D600 and 14-24 in February of this year; although I didn't use it until mid April when I went on a rowdy southwest trip with two good buddies. Pictures from there will be posted soon on here. 

Usually I don't copy and paste my words from one media site to the others, but I had a slight accident yesterday (that will be posted here as well soon!), and the meds are kicking in right now. Writer's block I guess :). 

For those that have been following my work, or that know me personally, know that I don't indulge on my adventures. Also, I don't really have a lot of dialog that goes with my photos. 99% of the time I am ho-hum about it. 

Well my friends, this falls deserves the deets. I know the word "remote" gets thrown around for street cred, but this place is no fuckin joke. Wassen Creek is the most remote place on the Oregon Coast, and possibly Oregon (that has a destination like this worthwhile visiting). For years, it was endangered of getting logged, much like Opal Creek was. In November of 2013, it passed protection from voters. It will remain wild! There has been no wildfire in here for I bet 150 years. Undergrowth is ridiculous. 

The "main" route to this place calls for a minimum of 8 hours. However, my good buddy 
Brian and I tried another way. Wrong idea. We planned on camping one night. We left the dip in point at 2:45pm and by 8:30pm, we had only gotten half way to the falls - maybe 1.5 miles in. The next day we broke down camp and left at 8am and didn't reach the falls until a little after 10am. The lighting wasn't the best, and the water was maybe 2 feet higher than any of the photos I had seen of this place, but was still magical nonetheless. Visiting a place that maybe less than 15 people a year see is really an experience.

We left the falls a little after noon and a few bad calls later, we were camping again on a creek. It is disheartening to go 3 hours and gain 700 feet of elevation in trail less forest to reach acres and acres of huckleberries, rotten trees, and a ton of rhodys out of the blue - to the point we were crawling on all fours for 100 yards. With a 40lb Gregory Baltoro 75 litre bag. Yes I need to re-evaluate my gear :) We made a decision at 7pm to head back down the 700 hard ass feet in elevation we had worked for hours to gain, to get water (which we were super low on), and to try to get sleep. 

We reached the creek in which it took us 2.5 hours to reach the first day. We actually were super lucky to find the location we camped at, as flat ground is non existent in this area, literally. I had to use my emergency blanket, and I had a Marmot down vest, pants and a 30 degree down bag. It was 39 degrees, but I was set up on the only level ground, 6 inches from the creek. We both were. Photos will be posted on my blog. 

Now before I left, we were smart and let people know where we were going. We left on a Sunday and I worked on Tuesday at 8am. I have to say that REI is the BEST place to work - not just saying that because of the discounts. They were in contact with the sherifs office all day, and a special thanks to my wonderful wife, who started the whole "chain reaction". I told her if I wasn't back by midnight on Monday, to call it in. Same thing I told several people at work. 

So when we left camp at 8am, I knew it was bad. The problem with this place is that the GPS only works maybe 50% of the time. Creek level, you are better off finding a money tree than getting a satellite feed. When we reached an "opening" in the tree line, it would "update" our track. So while we were checking where we needed to go, it would suddenly move our position. Yes, I had a topo map as well. 

After 5 hours of super hard conditions, we came up maybe 10 feet from the truck! We were both super exhausted, low on water bu
t high on spirits! We did hear a heli fly over maybe 40 minutes before we reached the summit. 

Would I visit this falls again? I actually would. This area is super amazing, and I would love to visit in fall. In total, it took us 21 hours of action to reach this spot, and I would guess 2900 feet of brutal elevation gain to reach this place - all with 30-40 lbs on gear on our backs each. 

I present to you the Devil's Staircase.

10/15/13

Posted by dustin gent |
So a lot has happened in the last 4 plus months. I made two trips up to Rainier and a trip to the Olympics. Doesn't sound like much, but they were extended trips - and I came away with some images.

Having never been to the Olympics (I know..my bad), I didn't know what to expect. This National Park is unlike anything I have ever experienced. With that, I mean the diversity of the landscape, and also that it is really spread out. I didn't think I saw an "entrance", like you would see at Yosemite or Rainier, etc, etc.

We also went at probably the driest time of the year, so the Hoh, while still impressive, was dry and not gleaming green. Up here in the PNW, we had quite the dry summer - and many "boring" clear skies and sunsets.

Mt. Rainier treated us to some nice color, although during the 8 days/nights I was up here this summer, there was a nice sunset maybe 2 times. The rest was either fogged in (2 times) or clear (5). Oh well, I have some nice shots from there.

A few weeks after I got back from Rainier in August, I sold my camera to pay some bills off finally. It seems the D610 is being released in less than a week (19th of October), so prices on the D600 will drop a ton, which I will pick up most likely. So I will be on the lookout for a new camera in the coming weeks/months.

In late February, I am hoping to get out to Iceland for several weeks. Also, I have calendars available for sale - and magnetic bottle openers as well. You can contact me via email, or through my website.

This shot was taken after a 6+ mile haul into the backcountry of Mt. Rainier. Brutal hike and the mosquitoes were relentless...


6/23/13

Been a while since I posted anything - so here is something new. Seriously, I will try to keep this updated regularly. Been busy with work and such.

This particular shot was taken at sunrise, down in Bandon, Oregon. One doesn't think of sunrise as the ideal time along the Pacific Coast - much like how people along the Atlantic Coast of the US do not think of shooting at sunset.

The light this morning was quite amazing and lingered quite a long time. Only good light we got down there, and I have spent 6 days now down there. My white whale

4/12/13

A buddy of mine, who is a professional photographer, flew into Oregon a few weeks ago. We embarked on a 5 day journey throughout the state - but before we left, I showed him a waterfall that I have always liked. This falls is becoming more and more popular; and for good reason.

I have to credit him for finding this comp, but I suppose if I hadn't said "I am going to cross the creek to check out the other side", this shot wouldn't have been made :). I am pretty happy with the shot.

A new website will be coming soon. I cannot disclose exactly when that will be, but within several weeks for sure. I have several trips planned, so time will be limited for a while.

Don't fret though. I will still be posting on here, among some other blogs I have (Wordpress and Tumblr).


2/27/13

Well, I am back from Yosemite. It really is amazing how this place emerges from out of nowhere. We drove the 140 from Merced into the West end of the park, and the landscape leading up to the park ABSOLUTELY RESEMBLES NOTHING like what is in the valley floor. Blows my mind. A lot of the National Parks have a "seamless" transition in the landscape leading up to the Park (or whatever destination), but the only other place I can think of that comes close is Smith Rock State Park, here in Oregon.

If you came to this blog via a link on my Facebook page, you will remember that I have mixed feelings about this place. Let me explain why I typed that. Now remember, it is "winter" in Yosemite, so most of the good places are in-accessible by vehicle - such as Glacier Point, Tioga Pass, and all the great spots out there. Getting to Mono Lake and Mammoth take 6 times as long to reach - but I knew this going in.

Yosemite is unique in that most of the classic spots that Ansel Adams so famously shot, are super easy to get to. This is great as far as a National Park goes, because you don't need to be in super good shape witness this amazing place. It also means it is so super crowded - not so much when I was here, but the lodge just outside the park was booked up, and by the looks of it, the Ahwahnee was as well. I can only imagine what this place is like in summer.

Don't get me wrong, waking up at 3 or 4am and a 20 minute drive and a 2 minute walk to shoot a location is nice sometimes, but it kind of cheapens the total experience. I cannot tell you how many times i have left Portland at 10pm to get to a trailhead by 3:30am, and then hike 4 miles in to shoot a sunrise. Thins out the crowds for sure.

With this said, the photographers I ran into were actually pretty nice. After the Peter Lorber "Hasselblad" workshop in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks last March, I try to avoid shooting in crowded areas as much as possible. But here, people moved their tripods to allow others to shoot - and people were talkative. So that was a very nice plus.

Another thing that blew my mind was the lack of photographers at night! Once the sun went down, the park was empty. I saw cars driving around, but no photographers. I shot every night i was there, for some star trails (it was a full moon, so didn't turn out as well) and some long exposures with the full moon. I am no expert on Yosemite, but how often is there snow on the ground with a full moon and clear skies? Perhaps other photographers didn't realize that? I ran into no one on Friday night, a dude Saturday night and three on Sunday night. So basically I had free range of the whole park after 9pm. I am not complaining, however!

When I go back in summer, I most likely won't spend much time in the Valley Floor - but rather do a bit of backpacking to some of the high country lakes.

2/20/13

Posted by dustin gent | File under : , , ,
A few days from now, I will be in Yosemite for the first time - and I am stoked! I haven't been out shooting really since Thanksgiving. Crazy, I know. I have upgraded cameras twice since May, and have been out shooting maybe 7 times. This year I will be out shooting a bit more than last year.

The weather forecast for Yosemite took a huge turn in the last few days. Last week, it was sunny and mid to high 50s all week. Kinda boring - well, really boring! Star trails and shooting "fire falls" are the only things I would want clear days for. Now it is snowing in Yosemite, and is supposed to until Sunday, where there it is calling for partly cloudy.

So most likely I won't be able to shoot Horsetail Falls lit up - but I am ok with that. From what I have heard this year, there are 100s of "photographers" lined up, trying their hand at shooting that. I am not a huge fan of crowds - especially shooting the same thing. I would have scouted out a different look anyways. I am hoping many of those photographers are fair weather shooters - I mean who doesn't want Yosemite to themselves? Especially in the snow!

Another thing I wanted to do was shoot star trails - however there is a full moon this weekend, so that will make things interesting. Breaks in the clouds, long exposures, snow - man, these are going to be the longest 48 hours, lol.

Zenfolio emailed me stating that my website will be taken offline in 21 days if they don't receive payment - they have this awesome "automatic renewal" that obviously is set by default, and the card they have on file (the one I used to pay for the subscription) is no longer valid - thus the "reminder" on the payment info. This is good news though. I get three more weeks of Zenfolio, which buys me time (no pun intended) to get my new one up - which ironically will cost a little more than I am paying for a Zen subscription.

Also, I am thinking of remodeling this blog. I spent a TON of time going through the code and modifying a theme to my liking. I realized AFTER I changed it, that white text on black background is not the easiest on the eyes. So I will be making a change in the next week or so. If you haven't noticed, I like change. Nothing is permanent, right?

One last thing I forgot to mention before I sign off. I picked up a Nikon 24-85mm NON VR lens to use in Yosemite. I think it is a stellar lens, and I hope to prove this. I haven't had more than a few lenses in years - and changing lenses is not my favorite thing to do :)

2/11/13

One of the reasons I bought a Nikon D700 was due to its' legendary low light performance. I am sure you have noticed more and more night shots with the Milky Way and star trails and such. This is due to better sensor technology - which makes it sooo much easier to execute more dynamic shots.

Sure this could be done in the film days or even during the "toddler" stage of digital, but it was harder. One of the they very few times I wished I had newer gear. A camera with a high ISO limit and fast glass (2.8 or faster) are a recipe for good results - neither of which I had until last week; as I just picked up the 14mm 2.8 prime.

This particular photo was taken at Pacific City with my Canon 1DS and Tokina 17mm 3.5 RMC that I just sold several weeks ago. ISO on this was 800, which my D700 absolutely scoffs at. To put this into perspective, I can get a shot at 6400 at night, handholding the camera - and the shot turn out. Of course newer flagship cameras (Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4, respectively) can shoot 25,600 and be usable - though you pay for this privilege ($5000+). The exposure was 782 seconds, so roughly 13 minutes.

I ran the file through Niks' AMAZING Define 2.0 software, which rids images of noise, and this image has plenty. Happened to go through files in Aperture, cleaning up and deleting images I have no reason why I keep, and came across this shoot - I totally forgot about them.