a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Hiking in the Rain With Glass

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hiking in the Rain With Glass

SUMMARY: Sierra Vista sunrise hike with spectacles and telephoto lens.
The Santa Clara County Open Space District planned this nifty event--on February 29, just because it's an unusual date, do an unusual thing by allowing a limited number of people to drive up and park in Sierra Vista Park (normally you can only get there by hiking up 1500 feet from Alum Rock park), watch the sunrise, and go for an early hike. We've had such great weather all winter--even spring-like lately--and so I signed up.

Of course, last night a big storm blew in. They sent email asking whether anyone wanted to cancel. Apparently a bunch did, but not me, and not an intrepid dozen others.

Here's how it worked out:

Sunrise over San Jose: Ha ha! Just kidding! That's the glow of the city lights through my rainy windshield at 5:30 in the morning.

OK, the *real* sunrise over San Jose. In other words--it merely got a little lighter and the blasting wind and rain let up a bit.

We did actually hike after the sun theoretically rose. Here are those of us who decided to keep on going for a mile or so before the weight of the mud on our boots and the total soakage of our clothing made us think better of doing more (I'm on the right in, yes, bluejeans).

Even with a hat and a hood, I looked like this at the end of the hike. The brim on my hat did nothing to keep my glasses dry.

And despite a plastic cover for my camera (and a sunguard on the lens) and my attempts to baby it, the lens repeatedly became covered with water droplets, and so almost all the photos are blurred like you're looking through water. Because, ha ha, you are.

This was my first attempt at shooting in the rain, on the go, with a plastic cover, using a tripod. I learned some things but the results were less than stellar.  With that caveat, you can see my very few other photos that weren't completely terrible: http://elf1.smugmug.com/Hiking/Sierra-Vista-Sunrise-Rain-Hike/21696926_r6XLQq


  1. I liked photo #8 because it was quite ethereal and cool. It did seem very dark and Oregon-like. I now know to bump the ISO up -- it was a great thing I learned from one of my fall photo classes. You probably don't have to put up with as many gray days as I do.

  2. It wasn't so much the ISO this time around as that I was having trouble manipulating the camera through the plastic cover and so I got lazy about trying to meter and get the right exposure. For example, #10 and #11 were taken just a couple of minutes apart but the former I got the exposure wrong and the latter I got it right. Both were at ISO 400. Bumping the ISO would've given me the same bad & good exposures but just more grainy--I hate going much higher than 400 because I start to notice the increased graininess. I try to reserve higher ISO for when there really is not sufficient light at lower numbers to capture it with a sufficiently high speed.

    1. I totally understand where you're coming from. I could notice graininess on film with higher ASA's, especially when I pushed the film back in the olden days when I was a high school newspaper photographer shooting black and white Tri-X 400 film [wow - how did that bit of trivia pop into my brain after 35 years??]. But most digital cameras are pretty good going higher. I did some experiments and I couldn't see too much digital noise unless I went really high or unless I wanted big prints. I need to push the ISO higher with the birds or else I don't have a fast enough shutter speed to catch them, or else my depth of field is incredibly small. Most of the time they don't hang out long in one spot. Even then, I toss lots of shots, but not as many as before. I admit it -- I am a pusher. But there is no defense against wind-driven rain on the lens.....

    2. I agree on the settings for those dang birds!

  3. Oh--and that's why most of them are too dark. The reason most of them are blurry is because my lens was covered with water most of the time. I wiped it off repeatedly (amazing how well a sopping wet microfiber lens cloth actually dried it off!) but the wind made it impossible to keep it that way.

  4. I think you are crazy. In a good way.