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Infinity | by Zeb Andrews
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So where did I leave off? Oh yeah, tromping and traipsing around the forest in the middle of the night.


That was a good stop in that grove of trees, but my real goal was to see Mt. Hood. So I packed up my gear and got to climbing again. The climb up above Mirror Lake was pretty awesome after dark. I could see the glow of Portland on the horizon, backlighting other ridges in the Mt. Hood Forest. And whenever there was a break in the trees I could see countless stars twinkling overhead.


And suddenly I came out on top of the ridge. I knew I was there because... well this was the view. I had to just stand there for a few moments without even touching my cameras to soak it in. I imagine this view is impressive during the day, but at night it is magical. I knew I was going to do a longer star trail image so I figured I would get some digital star field photos out of the way first.


Begin minor rant: What is it with modern lenses that they now focus beyond infinity? I know there must be a decent reason, but from my end of things, a photographer at night trying to get stars in focus, it is ridiculous. If you are going to make something that will not work automatically in every situation, it seems a good idea to at least make it decently easy to use manually, and having the focus throw go beyond infinity certainly does not make focusing there in the dark easy. At all. So I was pulling 15 second exposures. Checking the back of the camera. Out of focus. Rotate focus a hair and another 15 second exposure. Still out of focus. Rotate, expose, check. Still a dud. Good thing it was just "digital". Took me about five minutes of this game to get infinity. I can sort of understand this with a zoom lens.... sort of. But this was a prime 50mm f1.4. Inexcusable if you ask me. Especially considering I pulled out the Hasselblad, clipped it into the tripod and rotated that Zeiss lens to the end of its throw, and you know what? Infinity. First try. A fifty year old lens showing up that Canon lens. Kind of sad. Also there seems to be a big loss of sharpness with this lens at 1.4. Granted, I expected that, but my Nikkor 50mm f1.4 is so much sharper than this wide open, and it is also 20 years old. I am not saying older is better. I am just wondering why lens manufacturers have seemed to have forgotten how to build lenses properly. Don't even ask about the chromatic aberration. :-p End minor rant.


Nevertheless, I overcame my technical ummm limitations and got a few sharp star fields that I was pleased with and then set up the Hasselblad to let an hour long exposure rip. I also had to put on a fleece as the constant wind was chilling me in my sweat soaked t-shirt. Then I pulled out my sleeping bag, set up my overnight pack against the rocks to give me something to lean up against and tented the sleeping bag over me and just stared at the stars and listened to the winds incessant stories of old mountains and longer spans of time. I also told myself I was NOT going to fall asleep. How could I? The stars were amazing. I could see the Milky Way with my bare eyes. The rocks were pokey, and the wind chilled me where ever it crept around the sleeping bag. So imagine my surprise when what felt like 15 minutes later my one hour alarm went off. I was tempted to stay up there the rest of the night, with just my cameras and the stars, until sunrise. But the sky was clear and sunrise was not promising a whole lot. That and I wanted to save something for another trip. ;-)


The hike down went pretty quick. That mountain lion came back to stalk me no fewer than three times... or so I told myself. But I made it to the trailhead without incident, and back to Portland (stuck once again in road construction) by 5 or so.


Phew. In summary, I can think of few better ways to miss a good night's sleep.


I turn in the roll tomorrow that has the star trail on it, so perhaps that image will be making an appearance soon too.

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Taken on July 28, 2011