Archive for the Photography Category

Snow trip with HMG tarp

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2014 by William Hooks

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At 7400 ft in the San Gabriel mountains, I finally got a chance to experience snow with this new shelter and it was all too brief, but great fun.

Used the ULA Catalyst pack, snow anchors instead of regular stakes, and 20 deg F Western Mtg Alpinlite 850 down sleeping bag/Vapor jacket.

Stayed on a torso length TR Neo Air pad atop Gossamer Gear groundsheet. This pack seems to be the winter ticket for my use- enough carrying capacity for what I usually use, and very light, well built. Setup was very easy, for both the shelter and the packup.

Light winds, clear with patchy clouds, about 30 deg air temperature…. sweet. If I didn’t have to work this evening……and I ‘ll be sure to bring bright wands to mark the location of this tarp in winter, since it blends with snow environments.

I’m finding that using trees at one or both ridgeline points as anchors yields very strong, versatile attachments for a wide variety of tarp rigs (especially more complex setups also using poles) and sticks easily exceed the heights of my trekking poles where I want to pitch a flying diamond, for example.DSCN1715

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Newest images from 8000 ft with HMG flat tarp

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Reviews, Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2014 by William Hooks

A significant storm is predicted to head this way tomorrow evening. If we had 2,356 more storms like this we ‘d be caught up for water…..

Here are some shots I did with the Hyperlight Mountain Gear square tarp this afternoon above Wrightwood, CA:DSCN1666

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Had some hot food in low 40 deg F temps and explored the area before returning to ‘civilization’. Saw no ostensible Republicans.

Initial review: Hyperlight Mountain Gear 8.5 ft Square Cuben Fiber Tarp

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2014 by William Hooks

IMG_0747storm mode_front viewstorm mode_entry view

sm file_storm mode_rear view

sm file_detail view_ line onto trek pole

sm file_detail view_ hitches on line

sm file_ storm mode_ entry view

sm file_ shoes and poles in tarp

sm file_ interior view with sl bag

sm file_ HMG logo

sm file_ FD mode_ side view

sm file_ FD mode_ rear view

sm file_ FD mode_ oblique view

sm file_ FD mode_ front view

sm file_ detail of flying diamond peak line to tree

sm file_ detail int hang loop

sm file_ detail corner attachment

Specifications: area=72 sq ft; weight with all guylines=c 10 oz incl 10 pre-cut 3mm lines and 50 ft of added 2.75mm Sterling Glo-Cord; shelter for 1-2 persons;2 internal, metal ring-hang loops; 16 dedicated perimeter guypoints; minimal fabric stretch; 100% waterproof and windproof

I’ve shown 2 of the 3 main rigging setups I plan to use: the ‘storm ‘ mode and ‘flying diamond’ mode. The other usual setup would be standard, ‘A frame’ mode.

Updates to my equipment list for 3 season UL backpacking

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2014 by William Hooks

I’m finding that rather than super UL (SUL) style, I seem to gravitate toward UL setups.

My most recent estimate of base carried pack weight is approximately 8 pounds, including the new addition of a Hyperlight Mountain Gear 8.5 oz  8.5×8.5 ft square cuben fiber tarp. I plan to post a comprehensive review of this shelter later this month.

Given this foundation, I ‘m usually taking about 12-13 pounds total weight including fuel, food and water.

In 2015, I may begin to explore packrafting to exploit river and lake travel as well as cooking over open fires. That way, no fuel to take…. but need to be very cautious in California about fire control and regulations these days. The same caution is justified regarding alcohol fuels in my opinion.

Happy holiday season, and here’s to many more.

First thoughts about the ULA Catalyst pack

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , on November 13, 2014 by William Hooks

This is the largest offering from the Logan, UT cottage firm, Ultralight Adventures and I plan to use it mainly for winter backpacking, glacier travel, carrying video and audio gear, and when food loads exceed what I can put into my Hyperlight Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 (ie, probably over 3 days out).

It easily allows use of a large bear canister, my Western Mountaineering +5F Antelope down bag in transverse position, and provides some capability which I plan to enjoy: removable swing-type bilateral hand loops and water bottle carriers on the shoulder straps, S-curve shoulder strap option, excellent ooverall water carrying capacity with option of hydration system,and what appears so far to be unusually good fit and weight transfer. The belt pockets are large enough to carry my Nikon Coolpix and I ‘ve already modified them by attaching grab loops.ULA Catalyst pack DSCN1506 - Copy DSCN1505

Not certain yet as to how much I will use the 2 interior, removable pockets.

This pack will allow me to cut almost 5 pounds from my longer/ winter trips ,DSCN1514compared with a traditional expedition pack.

Just posted recently updated gear list for 3 1/2 season backpacking on a new page

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by William Hooks

I hope that this information will be of help to those who ‘d like to get in the ultralight backpacking game, and even stimulate discussion of other’s experiences and lists.

I didn’t include detailed discussion of options such as UL canister stoves from Soto and Snowpeak which I use as substitutes for alcohol stoves whe n they are prohibited by regulations (as is happening in some CA locales due to extreme drought conditions), and some other alternative gear I use at times. I didn’t include equipment for more comprehensive video in the backcountry, as much of that is mentioned incidentally in my separate gear list for alpine mountaineering.

Have fun out there- and vote anything but Republican (I mean, stay safe)!

The Hyperlight Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 cuben fiber pack

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by William Hooks

This 1 pound, 10 oz friend has become my default carrier for many wilderness trips. The total weight of my setup for a 3 day outing as shown, including solo BearVault canister with Nikon Coolpix camera, food and  c 1.5L water is approx 18 pounds.Windrider 2400 w bear canister (1) Windrider 2400 w bear canister (2) Windrider 2400 w bear canister (3)I find that the belt pockets are not the easiest to open while hiking, and are smaller in capacity than I like- my clear preference is those on my Golite Jam 70- but this is a completely different category of pack.

It has 2 real, aluminum stays which are removable, but weighs about the same as the Jam 70 making it a great choice for using a bear canister—> wonderful for destinations such as the Sierra Nevada, CA where these are often mandatory. The canister can go inside or atop the pack, I really like the Y- yoke at the top which gives good stability. I find that this system is the most comfortable way I have ever seen, so far, for transporting my gear in the backcountry. The side pockets allow replacement of the Smartwater bottle without removing the pack. There is provision for both a mesh hydration reservoir holder and a covered hose port on one side.

Use of cuben fiber makes the pack very usable without a rain cover in many scenarios, especially if using good stuff sacks for internal down items.The price I paid at Nomad Ventures, Temecula, CA was $265. That’s nothing compared to a dialysis machine….

Point Fermin/ San Pedro, CA- Bug Hut under an E-Wing

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Travel with tags , , , , , , on October 24, 2014 by William Hooks

DSCN1424 E-Wing_Bug Hut_Pt Fermin  CA (1) E-Wing_Bug Hut_Pt Fermin  CA (2) E-Wing_Bug Hut_Pt Fermin  CA (3) E-Wing_Bug Hut_Pt Fermin  CA (6) HMG Windrider 2400 Upon arriving here, I recalled the words of William Clark as he and Meriweather Lewis’ 1805 expedition encountered the western terminus of their journey:

Ocean in view

Oh! the joy!

We are in view of the ocean

That great Pacific Ocean which we have so long been anxious to see

And the sound of the waves breaking on the rocky shores

Can be heard distinctly-

I wondered what the other William might say to me if he were here today…….my guess is that he’d wonder what kind of thing I was carrying on my back (Hyperlight Mountain Gear Windrider 2400, made of cuben fiber)

Returned from start of winter in the Sierra Nevada on backpacking trip

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Travel, Video with tags , on September 29, 2014 by William Hooks

We camped initially at 4000′ in Ancient Bristlecone Campground (jct of 168 and 395) and 2 Belgian tourists had an auto accident directly in front of the site that evening. We attempted to help them on this very windy night, including trying to set up their huge dome tent which blew down… we were fine in my MSR E-Wing tarp.

Yesterday, we got into our second camp at 11,600′ near Paiute Lake in the Sierra. It snowed almost all day and night. We returned to the car at mid-day today, enjoyed Bishop, CA and returned to the LA area this evening.

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Variations on a theme- a way to do both ENG and basic EFP on a monopod

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2014 by William Hooks

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This setup allows use of 4×4″ Tiffen ND filters, I have a 3-stop and a 4-stop which fit into the matte box for preserving wide lens apertures. That way, shallow DOF is covered for EFP and occasional ENG applications.Of course, all the other benefits of the matte box apply such as making lens changes fast and easy, and virtually eliminating flare.

The configuration is compact, secure, and very adjustable along the medium-length carbon fiber rails. Critical focus in bright light is achieved with the Hoodman Custom Finder.

As an option, I can add the Manfrotto DSLR remote controller for rack focus and faster ergonomics in starting and ending clips.

The Benro components are much better suited to this kind of arrangement on a monopod than my RedRock Micro components, especially the baseplate assembly. The RRM lacks screw threads for connection to the QR fo the monopod.

Functionally, it’s a little imbalanced from frontloading and the tilt is not as smooth as the pan, but overall I feel that the versatility of the rig more than compensates for these considerations.

It also travels relatively well, because the matte box can be broken down further for packing.

This is not going to yield the degree of camera movement possible with a shoulder rig, but I find it much better for longer ENG recordings since the monopod, and not my arms, support the system. It’s also easy to combine both, if a multicam shoot is desired.