The following is a prelude to Episode 4 Video of 14 Days of Wonderland. If you want to watch the video click here or read and click the link at the bottom of this chapter.
Video Synopsis: Mushrooms and Lake Swimming continuing into day two at Forest Lake and a trek along Huckleberry Creek looking for fungi as well as a refreshing swim in Forest Lake. Runtime 7:28
Bob and Wendy arrived at Forest Lake ahead of the rest of us. They had met up with a man who had commandeered our already reserved camp spot complete with personal outdoor toilet, bear pole and fresh-running Huckleberry Creek for our water source.
He was compliant about picking up and leaving and did not know that you needed a permit to stay at all backcountry camps in Mt. Rainier. There was some discussion later with some friends of mine who said you used to be able to camp any where, no permit at least 1/4 mile off trail. I’m still uncertain about that one because there is quite the process to get permits and it is an extremely protected area. In an emergency, I read if that is the case and only the case.
Regardless, Bob and Wendy are a delightful, fun couple. Bob an avid cyclist and bicycle attorney and I hit it off quickly. I bike pretty much all summer every where. Wendy, a former high school art teacher and I also hit it off quickly. I am a retired elementary teacher. Both Bob and Wendy spent two nights with us at Forest Lake.
As we learn more about each other and had said our good-byes to Sheli at Sunrise, I find Wendy absolutely loves shelf fungi and really any mushroom or fungi for that matter. Wendy takes photo ops with fungi any time she can. With that being said, Forest Lake was just the ticket for her.
On day two we rise, get our breakfast, hang our extra items on the bear pole, and head down Huckleberry Creek Trail. We learn from Shannon at the end of the creek and at the park boundary may have been one of the original entrances to Mt. Rainier National Park.
After 4-5 or so miles we break to have lunch and decide to head back. The trail becomes very overgrown and with many blown branches and logs to cross. Which could be one of the reasons it was a less desirable area for the park to try to maintain.
With all the snapped off trees, this is where the lovely shelf fungus loves to grow and some of those had even blown down and were the size of our hands and as big as our heads.
After returning to camp, we take a much needed swim in Forest Lake, dunk our heads, cool our feet and then are treated to the most delicious coconut cream desert Shannon makes.
Shannon and Lisa walk Carrie back to Sunrise for a glorious sunset as we say our sad good-byes to Carrie.
If finding Deer Creek Camp was like a needle in a haystack, White River Camp was like finding Woodstock.
After our Summerland day excursion, we end back at Frying Pan Creek. The Wonderland Trail continues north a short mile or so jaunt along the highway and crosses the muddy White River. This junction is where we split from Shannon and Sheli so they can get to camp and set-up and so Carrie and I can dance with the cars as we strategically place them at various trailheads.
Earlier in the month however, the footbridge over the White River was completely underwater and the hazard had become so concerning to the park, they placed a detour back to the highway, over the vehicle bridge and then meet back at the White River Campground.
If there ever is awards for Rock Start of Backpacking Sheli has my nomination. It’s a given, backpacking takes mental will and physical endurance but it also takes a lot of problem solving. Like I said earlier, Sheli is the one who had found the sign for Deer Creek that saved us from spending the night off trail. She also gets A+ for tent skills. Her tent could hold up in a hurricane if necessary. Also, she has eagle eyes, so we gave her the spotter badge along with a keen sense of hearing. On a different trip Sheli woke me around 4:30 am with a whisper “Lisa, did you hear that?”, when an early riser porcupine squeezed itself between our tents and scrapped its bristley quills along the walls.
Sheli is also intrepid and unfathomable. Rather quiet at the right times, for example when I’m being stubborn in wet clothes, she was also a perfect person to have along on our adventure.
Late in the day is never a time to cross a river and especially this one but Sheli was the first one out. Footbridges around Rainier are no joke. Many people loose their lives crossing them each year. People use poor judgement, they get thrown off balance, they try to ford rivers that they shouldn’t have forded. My preferred method when there are no handrails is the “butt scoot” where you literally ride the log like a horse and bump yourself up and down using your hands and arms like a pommel horse.
The rule is to always unbuckle your backpack before making a river crossing so if you or when you fall in your bag doesn’t prevent you from saving yourself.
I should have asked the ranger last week the question, why are we in the group camp at White River? It explained try finding a spot or the group camp. As our car and driver fetches any caches at the ranger station, Carrie and I then drive in circles through the haze of campfires, people in shorts, some shirtless.
When we are finally going to make our third trip around the campground, Shannon spots us and flags us over to the “group site” she has made because there isn’t one. Another fine example of the type of problem solving you must take while backpacking.
As the day draws to an end, I head back home to resupply with my newly shipped rain cover and waterproof gaiters. Another fine example of problem solving in the woods, have someone at home place an order at REI and go pick it up.
Tomorrow I will meet my group at Sunrise for lunch, find Bob and Wendy, say good-bye to Sheli for this trip.
The trip from White River up Glacier Basin around Burroughs is beautiful but a nice elevation gain in the heat. The three find themselves taking frequent stops to gather their courage and strength but the views are worth it.
Episode 2 Video The following is a prelude to 14 Days of Wonderland video is on the very popular Summerland Trail on the Wonderland system. You can skip to the video by clicking Episode 2 here or read and click at the bottom of this page.
Video Synopsis: Still boasting the ziplock plastic bags in her shoes, Lisa contemplates returning them to Carrie. Upon summiting at Summerland camp it is found the camp had recently been ransacked by a bear. Runtime 6:40
We wake up to gorgeous weather at Tamanos Camp and decide on taking a popular trail on the Wonderland for a day hike. Earlier during our planning Summerland Camp and Indian Bar Camps were both full and we could not make arrangements to backpack through both of these beautiful areas. A recent sign, posted, boot prints and a single track of something being dragged across the ground is all that remains of evidence to a scary day to campers who had camped there a few days prior.
The story from the other campers was, campsite #2 was occupied at Summerland. During lunch a bear walked into campsite two, snatched a backpack out of the possession of a camper and dragged it and commandeering the bag and contents.
After crossing Frying Pan Creek, having lunch on the rocks and taking a brief moment to catch a few golden rays of sunshine, we were met with a spectacle of wildflowers. Everything from Lupine, Columbia Tiger Lily, Columbine, Magenta and Orange Indian Paint Brush, Pearly Everlasting blooming all at once. In the background the lovely scents were married with the mountain as if standing so proud of her work.
The trail up to Summerland is a sought after day hiking spot, especially on a weekend in summer. It starts from lush, green forests, on a wide forgiving pine needle filled path that is easy on the knees. Later it switches back and forth as Frying Pan Creek cascades and falls over the rocky face of the hill. From it’s crossing you catch a glimpse of Rainier, here and there along with wildflowers that forever fill the hillside all summer.
When we a arrived to take a walk through camp, we found a posh pit toilet, and high end, solidly constructed rock walled group site. I’ve been here many times with the chipmunks and marmots looking for a handout. I spotted one lazy marmot hiding from the heat under a tree.
Which is probably how the bear came to be.
In essence I feel sorry for the bear. People feed the chipmunks, they are aggressive when you sit for a split nano second. They jump all over your bag, and hop inside if you walk away to peak over the hill. The marmots take their share too.
So why not the bear?
Just there for his share of take-out.
Most, if not all of Rainier’s backcountry camps, have bear poles. We never leave any of our food unattended. Ever.
It goes without saying Rainier’s bears are generally mild and do not aggressively take food away from humans but this bear decided it would go about his business differently. That’s when the rangers started putting up signs, checking in with hikers, and doing what they call mitigation to scare it away.
We didn’t ask for details what mitigation was, air horn, rocks, yelling, we were just more concerned there was still that particular bear there.
After filtering some water for the trip down, we take in a snack on a nice warm rock.
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The following is a prelude to 14 Days of Wonderland video on finding camp on the Eastside of Rainier. You can skip to the video by clicking Episode 1 here or read and click at the bottom of this page.
Episode 1 Video synopsis: A search for a lost camp known as Deer Creek as well as a rainy first day through gorgeous wildflower meadows. Lisa ends up wet from head to toe but with the help of her friends, ends up wearing gallon zip lock bags in her shoes and Carrie’s clothes for a climb up Tamanos Mountain. Runtime 9:31
Out in the middle of no where, our first day didn’t go quite as planned. To begin, Shannon’s car experiences a low tire alarm which keeps her driving at a snails pace in order to not cause any damage to her vehicle.
From past experience, Mowich Lake road is pot-holed, chuck-holed, dusty and busy. Hiker’s and their vehicles hoping to get a parking spot at least a mile within a trailhead on a weekend in summer, get antsy and sometimes plain old crazy. They pass each other, drive erratically, and in more than one case, as the scattered evidence proves, loose pieces of their vehicles to the belly of the washboard gravel road.
Shannon arrives safe and unharmed but her sweet car may never be the same.
From here on out is easy enough!
Our first day out was mostly trips to cache and plant vehicles at various locations and luckily we have all day.
If all goes according to plan, we will make it to camp at Deer Creek for a relaxing JetBoil dinner, filter water for the morning, get plenty of rest and settle in to the sights of the evening forest and sounds of babbling Deer Creek.
Shannon and I plan to meet at Mowich Lake on the north side of Rainier around 10 am. We plan to leave Shannon’s parked car, then proceed to drive together, masked up, in my car to Sunrise, pick-up Sheli where she will be leaving her vehicle. Then we all three will head to White River Campground to drop our cache location behind the ranger station. Finally, we will arrive at the Deer Creek Trailhead on the Southside to Owyhigh Lakes.
Raspberries make everything better from Shannon’s garden as we ditch Shannon’s car in a somewhat safe and cozy spot we were lucky to get. After jockeying our backpacks, we head down the mountain once again to the other side, a 1 1/2 hr drive away.
Chewing dust couldn’t taste more sweet as we head toward our rendezvous with Sheli.
We arrive at Sunrise around 2 pm. Sheli has encountered a bit of traffic leaving her home in Seattle as Shannon and I enjoy the sights and scenes of Sunrise. The wildflowers are blooming, the summer breezes felt lovely even in a COVID mask and bandana. Luckily we have pad our day with time and aren’t rushed because we know the backcountry camp at Deer Creek is right off the highway with best part being downhill. We could just roll down it if we had to.
We find a good spot for Sheli at the overnight parking area just as she pulls up, stretch our legs, jockey our gear once again in the back of the Jeep and are on our way!
The journey from Sunrise is a short 20 minutes as we pass the image of the mountain in our mirror and through our window as we weave in and out the hills and forest of the dryer side of the mountain. Finally, descending deep into Steven’s Canyon, I remember my comment how the hike tomorrow will be somewhat the same going back up with full backpacks. I am confident mentally we will be ready and prepared for whatever this mountain gives us over the next two weeks, the good the bad and the ugly if there will ever be one given the beauty of what our first evening will hold in our memories.
When I spoke with the ranger the week prior, she gave me specifics on where Deer Creek camp was located. Since I had never been to that particular trailhead, I needed a bit more information on where to park or some interesting landmark that might help me if we had a later start and it got dark in the canyon. The ranger assured me it was right off the highway within 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile on the Owyhigh trail, just past the bridge over Deer Creek.
Shannon as well looked Deer Creek up on several websites, Washington Trails Association and AllTrails. She comes prepared with a printed copy of a recent trip report that gave directions supporting our start location.
With the beep of the Jeep, we set off for our first night at lovely Deer Creek.
Passing by Deer Falls, a popular tourist stop, we come upon just a few families who are making their way back up the steep hill. The smell of the forest and the falling waters create a peaceful Zen and worthwhile stopping point for travelers heading west to east in the summer. As soon as we find camp, our first night will be a celebration complete with a bottle of Summit wine and an evening of relaxation.
As soon as we find camp.
We come to the Eastside junction, of four corners. To the west Owyhigh Lakes, to the North Eastside Trail, to the South Eastside Trail, to the East, where we came from the highway. No sign said Deer Creek.
We continue west on the Owyhigh Lakes Trail as Shannon pulls out her trail report. We read, it can be hard to find and “Good Luck”.
We walk, and walk some more, then start heading uphill. Things are going to get sweaty now.
We walk, and walk some more. Lisa in a cautious yet hopeful tone says, “Shannon, in your mind did you envision this being this far off the highway?”
We walk, and walk some more. Shannon, in her cool as a cucumber voice speaks positively, “Hmm, maybe not.”
Lisa then says, “Let’s turn around. It is getting late.” realizing I know where my car is but not the camp.
We return to the four corners and talk.
We talk and talk and decide which direction to take, between North Eastside and South Eastside.
Sheli with confidence pointing a trekking pole and says, “That way!” and then points to the tiny etched arrow and scratched in words of Deer Creek.
We are home after a short what was known as our pre-tour of tomorrow.
Sheli earns her badge as trailblazer, wild animal spotter and she also gets an A+ in pitching a tent.
According to Wikipedia, Sam Hill is a euphemism for the devil.
Episode 1 contains a search for a lost camp known as Deer Creek as well as a rainy first day through gorgeous wildflower meadows. Lisa ends up wet from head to toe but with the help of her friends, ends up wearing gallon zip lock bags in her shoes and Carrie’s clothes for a climb up Tamanos Mountain. Runtime 9:31
Day Two on the Wonderland Trail of fourteen had me calling it quits in the rain. We slogged up the trail in mud and crossed lovely Deer Creek spirits high for the start of our next day’s adventure. Strapping on our backpacks trusty rain covers, we were set for our first full day.
Washington has a way with words and numerous ways of describing rain. There is drizzle, downpours, washouts, spitting rain, rain that hits puddles and rains up, icy rain, summer rain, fog, mist, overcast, and showers. Most of us do not use or can even find an umbrella on a regular basis and we can spot a tourist or newcomer when they pull their’s out. I would say we are a hardy lot when it comes to the rain and actually many of us, really love the smell a light drizzle conjures from the ground. Many times on the westside of the state we do not see the sun for weeks and one summer I counted 41 continual days of rain.
In the mountains it can be dangerous. The rain can also suck the life out of you even in August. It did just that on day two. The beautiful scenery in the fog and drizzle had me a bit euphoric at first. Or, it could have been that celebratory bottle of wine I had to run the empty back up to the car before setting out. In my skort with exposed legs, I actually felt pretty comfortable in just a long sleeve shirt layer and an old pair of ankle gaitors. Especially when carrying a heavy pack that weighed between 32-45 pounds, it actually felt quite refreshing.
By the time lunchtime rolled around my body was completely drenched and I simply hightailed it to camp to change while the others in my party stayed at gorgeous Owyhigh (OH-Y-HIGH) Lakes for their lunch.
When Carrie showed up from the other direction, my friends Shannon and Sheli were attempting to push as much hot liquid and tea down me as they could and I was wrapped in an emergency I blanket and poncho. I wanted to go home. Carrie was like a happy angel that had been sent with a magic bag. She kept pulling out clothes andI kept putting them on. She rubbed my hands together, gave me her gloves, hand warmers, toe warmers and by the time I had changed, had all my wet items hanging on the trees to dry.
Later on that evening, with ziplocks in my soaked boots, I clambered up to Tamanos Mountain for a Fireball happy hour. I would like to say at the top we had a gorgeous view of Rainier but what the heck, more rain.
Tomorrow is a new day and we settled in for the night, two bugs snug in a rug.
Episode 2– 14 Days of Wonderland video is on the very popular Summerland Trail on the Wonderland system.
Still boasting the ziplock plastic bags in her shoes, Lisa contemplates returning them to Carrie. Upon summiting to camp it is found the camp had recently been ransacked by a bear. Runtime 6:46
At this time Mt. Rainier is dormant but lies waiting for its turn in the explosive shadows of another more popular one of recent times, Mt. St. Helens.
I always have been both eerily scared and intrigued by the beauty and stature of mountains. It began when I was a young girl and my grandmother lived at Mt. Rainier with her family. It continued as my cousin, David Crockett filmed the historic footage of the explosion of Mt. St. Helens when he worked for local news station KOMO 4 here in Seattle.
This year I turned 63 and decided it was time for me to spend more time wandering the backcountry and learn to live day and night in Rainier’s glacial arms and backcountry camps. Knowing I would be met with challenges along the way and knowing I would want to give up more than a few times, in the end mental and physical demands didn’t prepare me enough. I soon learned I must depend on the trust of my friends and people that would help me along the way in order to hike this classic cascade volcano.
Deciding early on I would document my 14 days through film in order to help me recount the experience more fully, my friend Shannon Hughes, who had completed the Wonderland Trail several years ago went with me ten out of the fourteen days. Shannon has a lot of hidden talents. She is a much better cook, dehydrates all her trail food. She is a writer and her cool as a cucumber nature and happy personality offset my drive and stubbornness.
I first met Shannon by a shear stoke of luck earlier 2020 when I had snowshoed with my friend Carrie up to a trail hut to hut ski system Mt. Tahoma Trails Association. Shannon and her partial Wondercrew, Susan and Catherine had a reservation along with our shared evening at High Hut. We ended up all exchanging numbers and I was told later Carrie and I were added to the Wondercrew.
At the onset of COVID-19 that ushered in a new way of life, our state shutdown all wilderness areas. The National Park did not know whether it was going to be open and the backcountry permit system was put on an indefinite hold. What we did know in June was we did not get a permit approved through the lottery and we were unsure there would be any chance of walk-up permits that were typically issued from the wilderness information system at Mt. Rainier National Park. The park generally allows a portion of permits through the lottery and the remainder are walk-up in park permits.
As time went by, the park finally pulled the bear out of the den by offering a real-time backcountry campsite availability online permit system. This was the miracle we needed to get any slim pickings of a permit for this year. The one caveat was you could only apply between 7 and 30 days in advance and are also limited to 14 days total.
Six Weeks Prior Mid-July
Shannon and I got to work creating all sorts of scenarios and managed to build a creative chain of backcountry campsites around Rainier. We also had to consider transportation and shuttling cars since we would not be able to through hike.
The most coveted time on Rainier being August and with both our schedules we soon noticed the lack of availability. All the blue Xs are not available sites. All the red stars were available. All the green stars were side trips we hadn’t taken before and could add them as excursions, optional of course. Some days would be shorter hikes, some days would be gruelingly long. As it became clear during our actual trek, the park was holding at about 50% capacity at all campsites both drive-in and backcountry. We noticed many backcountry sites were almost empty each evening as a result and we probably could have stayed anywhere in theory.
The photo below is the best we could do even with waking up at 12:01 am 30 days in advance after weeks of watching the weekly availability updates the park would post.
Our first day we started at Deer Creek Camp which is neatly tucked away along side Hwy 123 between White Pass and Naches Pass.
Episode 1 video contains a search for a lost camp known as Deer Creek as well as a rainy first day through gorgeous wildflower meadows. Lisa ends up wet from head to toe but with the help of her friends, ends up wearing gallon zip lock bags in her shoes and Carrie’s clothes for a climb up Tamanos Mountain. Runtime 9:31
I just entered the Seattle Film Festival with the urging from my hiking friend Shannon. The trailer for it is below.
This is my synopsis. “I’ve lived my entire life in the Pacific Northwest and spent my career within the four walls of a classroom as an elementary school teacher. With retirement and my newly found freedom, I became involved as an ambassador with the non-profit, Washington Trails Association. Washington Trails Association has a strong commitment to diversity and a belief that trails are for everyone to enjoy and use, regardless of race or socio-economic status.
Bringing equity to less advantaged, Washington Trails Association was in the process of finalizing and advancing their outreach of a hiking equipment lending outpost at the Boys and Girls Club in Tacoma. The first goal and target was for at risk youth to become invested in the outdoors and nature by bringing them to the trails and building a relationship to become lifelong stewards.
When COVID shut our state down and with the project on hold, instead of retreating indoors, I decided to bring nature to the screen. My goal was to walk around Mt. Rainier in 14 days. It started with explaining my role with Washington Trails Association then asking a few friends who were willing to take a chance to explore the beauty of Mt Rainier National Park to come along. Their experiences varied from novice to experienced backpackers.
The hike into the backcountry of Mt. Rainier included over 150 miles of trails of protected wilderness within Mt. Rainier National Park. It also included a grueling 30,000′ vertical feet of elevation gain and over 30,000′ vertical feet of elevation loss which reduces its accessibility. A portion of my trip also touched on the famous Wonderland Trail. Iconic in scenery and blessed with natural protected beauty, Mt. Rainier National Park was named the fifth national park in the United States of America.
My hope for 2020 is to show how beautiful and fun backcountry hiking can be, build stewardship that lasts a lifetime, encourage protection for the environment, and bring this incredible footage to one of the largest growing audiences, the outdoor hiking enthusiast.”
Known as one of the most pristine areas in Washington State, The Enchantments are conveniently tucked in the cascade range near the touristy Bavarian town of Leavenworth. I was lucky enough to be invited with a friend who has applied and was drawn through the lottery system through the USFS with applications beginning in February for the coming season.
The Enchantments have five zones when you apply. It is written, last year 2019, over 18,000 people applied for The Core permit with only 350 or so permits approved. My friend had applied for Eightmile / Caroline Lake, set on the far west side with only 300 permits applied for with most all approved.
3 Days of Enchantments
Destination: Eightmile Lake 3.3 miles/1,300 elevation gain
Our first day was carrying our packs and trekking to set-up camp. We parked at the trailhead and set off around 11 am. It was already in the 80’s and mostly exposed. The water from the last of spring run off was plentiful along the way.
Arriving around 3 pm we had enough daylight to set up our tents, hang our cache away from the critters and have a swim in Eightmile. Dangling on the line, the wind was cool and comforting and dried our dusty clothes from the day.
That evening, I quickly learned my appetite was 1/2 of a Mountain House so for my next trip I will need to divide the package into two servings so there isn’t so much trash carried out.
My cozy little tent rippled in the wind during the evening as well as a few little pitter patters of raindrops fell at night.
Destination: Caroline Lake 4.18 miles/ 2,000 elevation gain (8.5 miles round trip)
My friend Candace and me got up early to a beautiful blue sky. We decided quickly to pack our bags for the day and headed out to Caroline Lake, an additional 2,000 ft elevation gain to 6,200 ft.
Caroline Lake involves backtracking to Little Eightmile and taking a trail with signage that says Trout Cr. Following Trout Creek, you start uphill.
The Enchantment mountains of the Stuart range appeared to grow into the background as we continued to climb. It was hard not to just stop and stare at the beauty as we took our time to catch our breath.
The wildflowers were beautiful against the burn-out of pine trees as their little heads waved in the strong wind. Due to a recent fire, the soils were rich and fertile and the amount of wildflowers was more than I have ever seen in my lifetime and all at once up a 2,000 foot hillside. I took a lot of video with my GoPro this day because of the wide-angle lens, it was the right choice to take along. VIDEO LINK
We returned around 3 pm so the hike to Caroline Lake was a full day for us. Candace’s daughter was starting to get a bit concerned so make sure you let your party know it is so breathtaking you will want to take your time getting there.
We both felt so complete that this trip and portion of the zones that is most often overlooked, could just very well be just a well hidden secret as we had the hill almost completely to ourselves this day.
This night was still and calm, as we battened down the hatches, donned our repellent and bug nets and started in for the fight of our lives against hoards of mosquitos eager to get their fair share of any bit of bare skin their could find.
We finally retreated to our own tents and just hunkered down for an early evening.
Morning at Eightmile Lake
This was an amazing morning. We got up before anyone else at camp. I had my coffee and little bit to eat and we headed to the lakeshore for some reflection photos. I also shot some video of the lake which is nestled between two steep mountains.
If you are thinking about going to Eightmile Lake and The Enchantments, don’t miss this lovely section. You can view my full video here: FULL VIDEO LINK
Authors Note: Upon returning to my car, I discovered it had been broken into. LEAVE NOTHING OF VALUE in your car. Thieves know of every hiding place in your vehicle. They even knew about the secret hiding spot under my tailgate of my Jeep and the place where the carpet can easily be lifted to hide valuables. If you can leave your vehicle unlocked that is my suggestion. Luckily, the only valuable I had left was a few lug nuts and my registration and garage door opener. I made it out quick enough to call the neighbors and my husband also quickly changed our codes. Trailhead thefts are very common so remember, leave no trace and plan to leave valuables home.
I don’t know about you but, just about everyone I hike with has a trail name.
One year we decided to go with names from the American Gladiators. For those of you too young to know about this TV show. You can get up to speed on Wikipedia.
American Gladiators aired from September 1989 to May 1996. It matched gladiators against one another and other amateur athletes.
Our house went full-tilt testosterone when all my boys got a bit over-excited about watching them duel it out.
With my kids hands all over each other, I learned hearing the theme song, evoked the motion in the room to increase. In this way I know there has to be a similar parallel to a trail names.
My boss trail name became Turbo at that time with my friends, Blaze, Lace, and Red still owning their names like a boss as I write.
Recently, I decided Turbo needed a bit of a boost and thought Xena Warrior Princess was more fitting for me.
Xena has stuck for awhile.
I’ve always thought she was better at just simply being strong and beautiful then could muster up hidden strength when necessary from the gods. I’d kind of forgotten about her.
This week I decided Xena needed to be called up again. I always work out better when I have this mindful and playful attitude about kicking ass. To prove my point Xena did some serious ass kicking this past week.
Double workouts in a day. Bike rides, long runs, charging hill sprints and backpacks loaded down with 20 pounds of cat litter on neighborhood hill hikes.
I was on fire!
Because I frequently hike around the neighborhood with a 20 pound bag of cat litter stuffed inside, at some point I was jokingly saying each time, ” I am taking my cat litter on a walk.”
Since we’ve been up-close and personal, like my new best friend this past month, I decided on a name for my backpack. It’s better than taking your cat litter on a walk.
That’s where Jonny Cache was created. Jonny Cat to Jonny Cache.
Have you pondered how photographers get those great macro shots.
Take a look at the simple dandelion. As we have come to terms with their endless spreading and have learned to appreciate and understand them better, we now know they serve an important role in the environment and to our dwindling bee population.
Kids also get excited about macro photography. With their natural curiosity, it may lead to them discovering and wanting to explore the fractal world of many other plants and lead eventually to becoming good stewards of the environment.
Here are a few tips on how to get started and take a great macro shot.
Macro photography can be accomplished with with either a cell phone or an expensive digital camera. These two types of cameras operate comparatively the same for the beginner. When set in auto mode you just point and shoot. Automatic settings take the guess work out of photography and many times you get an amazing picture.
The first thing you will need with either device is time, an abundance of subject material and the willingness to get to know your camera a bit better. That’s why we chose our friendly dandelion as the subject.
Here are the other materials you will need:
Camera tripod if available, various colorful kitchen background materials, dishes, dishcloths, a spray bottle with water, a paintbrush for droplets water on the subjects, short stubby glassware, clips, tweezers.
Taking macro photos does not require any expensive outlay of cash. All the backgrounds seen in the above photos are from the items on the left. The photo on the right shows my set-up. I use the glassware as a ball and socket I can swing the subject around and push and pull back and forth. In this way I simply experiment around with camera settings and use what I have available to start and go from there.
Once you gather a few materials, time to start experimenting.
10 Tips for the Digital SLR
Choose simple and easily available subjects
Experiment with Manual settings and your camera’s built-in light meter
Take multiple shots using a variety of shutter and aperture settings
Keep the camera in a stationary place if possible. Tripod set-up is best but a tall counter also works.
Use the camera for an initial auto-focus then set on manual focus.
Fine tune your subject’s focus, depth of field and focal plane by moving it with your hand either away from the camera or towards you while you look inside the view finder. (This is why a tripod is very handy to have) In general if you focus on the closest area there are a few degrees that will fall into focus behind it.
Keep your laptop handy for quick downloads in order to adjust your outcome. I move back and forth between shooting and checking my shots on the laptop
Bracket exposures length and shutter speeds a few clicks at a time
Be patient, experiment with a variety of backgrounds placed in the distance, drop a some droplet of water for the effect of dew.
Avoid cropping. It does not yield good results try to use good composition of your subject and background before defaulting to cropping
True macro photography garners a multiplication ratio of 1:1 ratio or higher
General tips for those new to manual operation. Shutter should not go below 30 on your built in meter unless you are using a tripod. The tripod also frees up your hands to adjust your subjects focus, look in the view finder and press the shutter release all at the same time.
10 Tips for Cell Phone Macros
Choose simple and easily available subjects
See if your cell phone has a macro setting
Use an aperture if available of 4.5 or less up to 1.4 if camera allows you