Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hike 2014.015 -- Sturtevant Falls, Angeles National Forest

Well, it's been over two weeks since this hike, though it actually seems like it's been much longer. And, interestingly enough, it's still not the earliest of my hikes that still need to be blogged.

This was basically my first after-work hike of the year, with sunset finally late enough that I could make it up to the foothills after work and still have enough time for a short hike. I thought I'd get more of these in, but being limited to only Monday or Friday after-work times (having other jobs on the other nights) limits my flexibility. Also, Friday afternoons often have really horrible traffic, as the folks in the LA area head out of town for the weekend.

I've hiked this short one many, many times, so no details to add. Just head up to the end of Santa Anita Avenue and park. It's about 4 miles roundtrip from Chantry Flats to Sturtevant Falls.'

My main motivation here was to try out what were then some recently-arrived lenses, and to make up for the fact I had hiked here a few weeks previous, but forgot my camera. So most of my shots on this trip were with my 70-300 Tamron zoom. It's got image stabilization, and I have to say I am quite impressed with the result. Although I braced myself pretty well, the waterfall shots were in the 1/3rd to 1/4 of a second range.

Meanwhile, the wider view is taken with my 18-55mm Nikon zoom. That one also has image stabilization, and produced a very good result.

The only thing I don't like about the 18-55 is that it's a slow lens (f4 - f5.6, depending on the focal length you're zoomed to), so it needs a high ISO, which costs some sharpness. My 35mm and 50mm prime (fixed focal length) Nikons are definitely sharper, and the speed will come in handy when I next try to photograph the sky.

Incidentally, when I get around to blogging my hike previous to this one (to Mt. Lee), I've got some very sharp hand-held shots I took just standing up, down to 1/8th of a second and zoomed in somewhat from 70mm. They also came out super-sharp, so, again, I am very impressed by this new addition to my photo arsenal.

The one thing I have not been able to try this lens much on is birds in flight. If did a fine job on horses at Santa Anita (won't be posting those shots here, but, trust me, it's very sharp). But birds are always tough, because they're small relative to the sky and clouds behind them, and auto-focus lenses often have trouble keeping those guys in focus.

Of course, the nice thing about being able to take long exposures on waterfalls is you get that nice, soft, lacy look to the water.

Longer lenses also tend to give shallow depth of field (the part of image that is in focus). That helps the things you're photographing stand out better, so I do like how my Spanish broom shots came out on this hike, too.

Meanwhile, I switched out to my 18-55mm Nikon zoom for shots like this one. As noted above, the 18-55 is also a sharp lens. Not so the 55-200mm Nikon zoom, which I also bought as part of a kit with my camera. That's the whole rationale for the 70-300 I wound up buying.

Easily finished the hike, with time to spare. As I made my way back, unfortunately, I came to the disgusted realization that I forgot to hang my Adventure Pass on my rear view mirror.

I now regretted having stopped to take so many pictures, fearing my delays might end up costing me a ticket.

Fortunately, the when I finally got back to my car, there was no ticket on my windshield.

Now that I'm older, I don't mind paying for access to a trailhead. Well, OK, yes, if I still look for deals. And, for me, hiking as much as I do, the Adventure Pass is a deal. But I hate paying for something twice, or paying for something, then still getting a parking ticket. My empty windshield thus raised my spirits and made the day close enough to perfect that I felt invigorated going home.

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