Finally! A Real Hike!

Hike date: March 4, 2021

Back in January 2020 we decided we needed to step up our travel game. For years we had travelled to Chicago at least twice a year to visit my son, our daughter-in-law, and our grandsons. Then in 2019 they moved near us. Now, not only could we see them every day if we wanted, we could spend our travel money and energy on bigger adventures. We’ve done so many road trips that we wanted something new and different. A hiking trip – organized by Road Scholar – to the Alps in France, Italy, and Switzerland filled the ticket. Looking at the itinerary we realized we had some high altitude walking and hiking in our future. In January and February (2020) we started walking further and included more hills. We planned to start adding some real hikes in the mountains when the weather improved.

Then the pandemic hit. I have a couple of underlying health conditions that I manage well; but I didn’t want to be out in public more than necessary. In addition, many of the state and national parks were closed – including the bathrooms. So, we couldn’t really go anywhere exciting that was farther than a bathroom break away. The first of our plans to fall apart was an early summer trip up to the Washington State Cascade mountain range where we planned to take a few days around Mt. Rainier. Then our late summer Europe trip was cancelled and we transferred our deposit to a trip to Normandy, France which also included a lot of walking. Then that was cancelled. The whole thing fell apart. I sound like I’m complaining. I’m not. I understand how unbelievably fortunate I am to have only my recreation disrupted when so many people lost their loved ones, their lives, and their jobs. My point is for a year, we walked the same roads and local park hiking trails – daily.

This year, Carla and I received our first COVID-19 vaccinations in late February and we felt as though we could start to venture out. Thursday March 4 was cool but sunny so we took a one and half hour trip down to Silver Falls State Park. We hadn’t been there since our boys were in middle school and high school. We opted for the South Falls and Maple Ridge Trail which is about 3½ miles with some elevation changes. Just want we wanted. This trail goes along the river and behind two waterfalls. First we took a detour to go to the popular South Falls.

South Fall (1/40sec)

A quick trip up and we came to the top.

Top of South Falls (1/15sec)

We headed back down and took the trail behind the waterfall. This would be fantastic on a hot summer day.

South Falls (1/10sec)

After crossing behind we took the trail down river for a bit to look back at the fall from another angle. In 2019 I purchased a Sony A6600 APS-C camera. I wanted something that would help me get some nice images on our trip without the weight of my Sony A7R3 with the accompanying full frame lenses. One of the main selling points of the A6600 is the 5-axis in-body image stabilization that results in a 5-step shutter speed advantage. This means I should be able to take hand-held pictures at a slow shutter speed without getting blurred images. Waterfalls is what this camera is made for. I took a series of pictures at different shutter speeds to see which gives the best image of flowing water without much blur. I was anxious to try it out. So I set my camera to shutter priority and started snapping.

The first shot is at a relatively fast 1/40sec.

South Falls @ 1/40sec f/10, ISO 640

Next I slowed the shutter by 4 times – 1/10sec

South Falls @ 1/10sec, f/9.0, ISO 100

To quote Chubby Checker in his song the Limbo Rock, “how low can you go?” How about ¼ of a second?

South Fall @ ¼sec, f/13, ISO100

Wow, I was impressed. I got nice flow to the water while the other objects are not real blurry. Click on the images to get bigger images for pixel peeping.

We followed the trail down the other side of the river – including some steep steps down – until we reached the Lower South Fall. I went through the same exercise of adjusting shutter speed here.

First a fast 1/50 second. A standard speed for this type of lighting.

Lower South Falls. 1/50sec @ f/10, ISO 640

Then slower to 1/13 of a second.

Lower South Falls. 1/13sec @ f/10, ISO 100

All the way down to 1/5 of a second.

Slower? Sure! Nice water!

Lower South Falls. 1/5sec @ f/11, ISO 100

Let’s try one more stop. Even silkier water.

Lower South Falls. ¼ sec @ f/14, ISO 100

On the other side took one last shot before the trail left the river heading up to the parking lot

Lower South Falls. 1/30 sec @ f/10, ISO 640

What a great day. The hike was just what we wanted: out in the forest looking at something besides the streets around our house. I don’t see myself hiking around with a tripod stopping and setting up every 25 yards so having a camera that can handle slow shutter speeds in important. This camera matches my approach. I’m delighted with the performance; it did all I hoped for and more.

For the cherry on top, we stopped in at the Keizer, Oregon In-N-Out burger joint; we ordered from the drive-through and ate our burgers and fries in the parking lot. We used to have to wait for a trip to California for our In-N-Out fix; now it’s just an hour away.

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