Monday, June 29, 2015

To Lug or Not to Lug (a big honking lens)

I just came back from a five-day backpacking trip in the Sierra Mountains, cruising along a few miles of the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail. I made the unfortunate mistake of weighing my pack before I left and it came to exactly 50 pounds. I seriously considered ejecting some of my camera gear and I was especially eyeballing the brick-like weight of my 70-300mm lens. I originally packed it for the off chance that we might run across a black bear, something I haven't really gotten a decent picture of . . . ever. So, I had to decide how disappointed I would be if I came across said ursus and only had my standard 24-70mm to capture it. Unless I was practically face-to-face with the bear (something I didn't really want), it would probably only occupy a few pixels worth of space in the picture. And I'd go home thinking, "If I had only brought my long lens!"

So, in a moment of disregard for my body's comfort, I stuck with the lens and the heavy pack. Glad I did. We didn't cross paths with any bears, but more than halfway through the trip, I was finally able to use the lens and get some nice shots of other fauna occupying the mountains, including more shots of fish than I've ever attempted before. I'm not sure if this is the lesson or not, but I at least confirmed that some times it's worth it to break my back if that means getting some nice photos.

A rainbow trout in Sallie Keyes Lake about to gulp down a plump bug of some sort. If you look closely, the fish has a fly it could have gone for as well, but it zeroed in on the bigger meal.

A wild turkey (?) I happened to notice off to the side of the trail. I hid behind a tree, took off my pack, slapped on the long lens and went hunting. It was clear the bird had a personal space issue and as soon as I got too close, it moved away.
A bald eagle winging off from its nest.
We crossed the South Fork, San Joaquin River and then camped on the shores where I came across these fish apparently trying to jump past some falls so they could (again, I'm guessing) continue going upstream to spawn. This clearly is not something you see every day and would have been just a memory if I hadn't brought my long lens.

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