with Wayde Carroll
Snowshoeing in Chugach State Park
Last week my son, Jack, and I spent the day snowshoeing in the Chugach mountains. We entered Chugach State Park via the Eagle River Nature Center. This is just a stunning, and easily accessible, area to get out and explore the nations third largest state park.
The eagle River Nature Center is a not for profit organization that keeps trails groomed and hosts many outdoor programs as well as providing a great "base" to launch from. It's nice to peruse their collection of natural artifacts while sipping a hot coffee after several hours out in the cold!
Snowshoes are wonderful because they allow you to explore wherever your eyes take you. They work fine on trails and when you want to veer off they keep you from sinking too far into the deeper, unpacked, snow accumulation.
Jack and I had a great time getting off the trails and making our own. I was thrilled with the photo opportunities and my son had a ball carrying a stick and whacking snow off of everything. (He did also manage to admire the beauty of the place as well!). More importantly, I got to spend time with my son clowning around and getting exercise.
I made sure to have an extra camera battery tucked in my pocket, next to my body, in case the cold sucked the power out of the one in my camera. (Even though my "battery low" indicator was flashing for quite a while in the 10 degree F temps, it did last the four hours we were out.)
Below are some of my favorite images from the day. I shot everything in daylight balance in RAW. When shooting daylight balance shady areas have a deep blue cast. Some of the images I preferred that way. For the rest I later warmed up the color temperature in Adobe Camera RAW to have a more natural looking color. It's a personal judgement call and one of the reasons I always shoot in RAW. To change color temperature in a TIFF or JPEG image is much more time consuming. If you haven't experimented with RAW and all the variable control the format gives you I highly suggest you give it a try.
Because of the extreme contrast range between the brightly lit peaks and the lower shady areas it was important to keep an eye on my histogram. The camera's meter exposed for the larger shadow area. I had to underexpose to keep the highlight detail.
Using a wide open aperture gave me a shallow range of focus and helped isolate this tree from the background.
I'm a sucker for the texture of cottonwood bark!
I used an off-camera flash for this. I set the background exposure manually and used a manual setting to dial in the flash power. ETTL work well most of the time but any variation in composition can change the flash output. Manual keeps it consistent.
You can see the effect of daylight white balance well here. The area hit by the flash, which is also daylight balanced, has natural color. The shady background holds the blueish cast mentioned earlier.