With summer coming to a close our family decided to go on a hike. We chose the Naches Peak Trail Loop for the hike. It’s a fairly straightforward hike even if you don’t hike regularly. It’s a reasonable incline, and there’s some amazing scenery. This time of year we were especially fortunate because almost all the snow was gone from the area and the flowers in the region were in full bloom. This time I decided to leave my big camera at home. I really didn’t know what I was in store for, having never taken the hike and didn’t want to lug a tripod, camera and bag for 5 miles if the conditions would have made the 5 mile hike feel more like fifteen.
So why I’m I writing a blog about the hike? On a photography blog no less?
My mentor Gary Friedman from The Friedman Archives said to me once; “Any camera you have is infinitely better than the camera you don’t”. And it turned out that while I was out on my hike I did still have a camera with me, my IPhone 6s Plus. And I have to say I was really impressed with how well the little camera worked. Was it as good as my Sony? Good is subjective, but overall I was pleased.
To get to Naches Peak Loop you take the Washington SR410 East from Enumclaw into the Mt Rainier National Forest. About 45 miles and about 1 hour after leaving Enumclaw and a few switchbacks you’ll find yourself at the Tipsoo Lake parking lot. From there.. you get to start taking in the sights. Sometimes even Mt. Rainier will be out to greet you.
The trip shows 3.4 miles according to the map but my GPS when I was done showed I had hiked just under 5 miles. I probably double a couple of detours along the way..
Part of the Naches Peak loop overlaps the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is a trail that runs from the Canadian border to Mexico. It’s heavily trafficked during the summer months with hikers following the trail from Canada all the way to as far as Mexico. We met these two fellows, Bruce and Torre, on our hike too. You can follow their adventures on the PCT on their Facebook page “Bruce and Torre’s Excellent Adventure”.
Out and about with my iPhone
I tried to keep everything as simple as possible when I took pictures. I used the stock Camera app in my iPhone 6s. When I got home I did a bit of cropping and tone map adjustment in Adobe Lightroom CC 2015 to make the colors of the day pop a bit more. I was impressed with the results. The iPhone 6s sensor packs a lot of punch for its size. I was able to do some pretty impressive landscapes and the beds of flowers and the colors were breathtaking. What you see here was every bit as lovely as what I saw on the hike.
Macro Photography with the iPhone
One challenge with the iPhone camera is that the aperture is fixed at a very wide open f/2.2. This means you since you can’t change the aperture you can’t control depth of field with the camera. The iPhone camera still shines in Macro Photography. If you can’t use the camera hardware to control depth of field then you change your position to adjust for the depth of field if possible. Move in close, have a steady hand, little-to-no breeze around the subject and use ‘burst mode’ in the Camera app to help ensure sure you capture a the photo the way you want. Activate burst mode by tapping and holding the shutter button when using the camera app. As you hold down the shutter button the Camera app will take multiple photos in rapid succession. The more photos you take of your subject the more likely you’ll get exactly the result you’re looking for. But what if you can’t get in focus for that really up close shot that shows every detail of flower or butterfly?
Next I did cropping and adjusting of the phones in Lightroom (you could use GIMP or RawTherapee) for two of the photos I took and I found the “shot within the shot”. I used cropping to get a more profound macro effect. I’ve included both before and after shots so you can see the difference for yourself. What impressed me most was that there was so much detail in the original photo that, even after cropping, I still had a fantastic result that I could share, print or use for a wallpaper on my computer.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest and you haven’t visited the Mt Rainier national forest, then go and visit the Mt. Rainier National Forest. You’re missing out on one of the best playgrounds in the world and it’s practically out your back door. There’s nothing else quite like it and you discover something new every time you go.