Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Photos of 2011

So I figured it would be fun to post what I consider my best shots of the year (and one taken of me). It was hard to narrow them down, as I had many photos which I liked for a multitude of reasons, everything from composition to ones that brought back memories or just made me laugh. In the end I tried to narrow it down to just 10, but could only get down to the following 12 -- hey, one for each month, right?!

One a side note please feel free to comment or criticize, it's all in good fun and will hopefully make me a better shooter. Also, if you saw a photo in one of my posts that you thought should have made the list, let me know. Okay, without further ado, and in no particular order:


#1 - Chris Arnold on Punchbowl Falls (Eagle Creek, OR):
This photo was produced using three different shots and stitched with Paint.net (free program, here) during post-processing. Since I didn't use a tripod, the process took much longer than it needed to. Also making this shot difficult was the fact that I had just gotten the wind knocked out of me from running the same drop a few minutes earlier. The impact actually blew my skirt and ripped the paddle from my hands, which can be witnessed toward the end of the video, here.


1/250 sec @ f/8, ISO 800 (@55mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens



#2 - Shawn Haggin running Snakebite (Christy Creek, OR) :
After a 6 hour, bushwhacking scout mission the week before, we ventured into Christy Creek to enjoy the fruits of our labor. This creek had been run multiple times some years back, but after reports of wood in one of the best, and essentially mandatory drops (Balls Falls), it was all but forgotten. A trip report of our run down can be found here, as well as the scouting mission here.


1/800 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 1600 (@53mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#3 - Nate Pfeifer (me) on a lap down Sweet Creek, OR :
Sweet Creek is one of my favorite local runs (people seem to love it or hate it). It's only an hour from my house, runs often in the winter, and serves up a healthy dose of adrenaline. The run is only ~1/4 mile long, but has 8 drops packed into it. It also has a hiking path that runs along river right which can be used for running multiple laps. For my write-up on the AW site, go here. One of my favorite things about this photo is the moss covered wall, through the mist.


1/320 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 800 (@51mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens
(photo by Joe Bushyhead)




#4 - Andy Carmicheal running Big Kahuna (Canyon Creek, WA) :
Canyon Creek Washington is one of the most popular creeks in the PNW, and so is this angle for shooting Big Kahuna. However, I'd been wanting to take this shot with a wide-angle lens, which works well when shooting down on someone going over a drop -- it does a good job of making it look nice and big. For this shot I used my 16mm with a .75 wide angle converter, making it a 12mm. My write-up of the run can be found here.


1/800 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 400 (@12mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-5N
Lens: 16mm (E-Mount) + VCL-ECU1




#5 - Shawn Haggin buried in Laura's Thighs (Brice Creek, OR) :
A run down Lower Brice Creek never feels complete without a trip through Laura's Thighs. This drop was actually a waterfall some years back, but a flood event blew out a massive rock that was wedged in the crack (right where Shawn is currently at) giving it its current form. This picture captures a pretty common scene at this location, all your buddies rubbernecking while you roll the dice going through the slot. My write-up of the run can be found here.


1/1600 sec @ f/8, ISO 3200 (@18mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#6 - Eric finishing up Technical Difficulties (Quartzville Creek, OR)
Quartzville Creek might just be the best class IV/IV+ creek in Oregon, with quality whitewater from start to finish. The problem is that it's hard to get on since it's snowed in for most of the winter boating season. That said, when springtime comes and the snow starts to melt, it's on the top of my list. In this shot, the sun was behind me and beaming on Eric as he boofed the bottom ledge of Technical Difficulties, basically optimal lighting for whitewater photography. Having this lighting in Oregon is rare, so take advantage if it's given to you. My write-up of the run can be found here.


1/4000 sec @ f/10, ISO 800 (@18mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#7 - Cowboy TV (Deer Creek, CA)
Probably my favorite type of kayaking is multi-day self-support. One of my favorite parts of that is sitting around the fire at night talking about the day's events and what we have to look forward to the following day. This is one of those shots that brings back the memories of a great adventure with my buddies. This shot is also a fairly difficult one due to lighting -- luckily, the Sony Nex series of cameras have a anti-motion blur setting that quickly snaps 3 photos and combines them into one, which is how this one was produced. My write-up of the run can be found here.

.5 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 1600 (@18mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#8 - Chris Arnold airing out Big Brother (White Salmon, WA):
Probably my single favorite drop in the PNW is Big Brother, on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon. I still, vividly, remember my first trip over this 25'er, which I probably shouldn't have been running at the time. I have dropped off it many times since and it still retains its ability to excite, especially if you boof it out in proper form, as Chris does here. For my trip report of the run, go here.


1/640 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 400 (@18mm; cropped)
Camera: Sony NEX-5N
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#9 - Emily and Mount Currie (Pemberton, BC)
With all the kayaking photos you'd think I'd never have time to mountain bike, which Emily (my wife) might agree with. However, one trip I probably look forward to more than any other is our yearly anniversary trip up to BC for 9 days of MTB. This year happened to be our 10th anniversary, and was the best BC trip yet. We'd always concentrated our riding in the Squamish/Whistler areas, but this time we ventured out, including Pemberton where this next photo was taken. As I reached this granite pitch my eye caught the perfectly framed sight with Emily taking in the view of Mt Currie. For a my ride report, go here.


1/1250 sec @ f/7.1, ISO 400 (@16mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 16mm (E-Mount)



#10 - Shasta Boyz at Skyscraper (South Silver, CA)
Almost as soon as I started kayaking I dreamed of one day visiting the granite playground that is the California High Sierras, and South Silver was near the top of the list. It's hard to imagine anything on earth being more perfectly sculpted for class V boating than this. This year my dream would be realized as I finally made the solo trip from Oregon, meeting up with friends from Cali. This photo was taken during our scout prior to putting on, where the Shasta Boyz show the proper way to setup and run Skyscraper, the single largest drop of the 1.5 mile run. If you look closely you can see that the safety crew are actually anchored into the granite slab. For my trip report of the run, go here.


1/800 sec @ f/8, ISO 400 (@55mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#11 - Somewhere on Fordyce with Bill and Brian (Fordyce Creek, CA)
On the same trip I made for South Silver I also got on Fordyce, another High Sierra run that was on the top of the list. This one ended up being quite the adventure. We drove to the put-in and found out the road was blocked with a 6' wall of snow, and we still had 4 miles to go. Not to be deterred, we continued on foot, realizing that there was a good chance that we'd be camping out (without camping gear) since daylight was probably going to be an issue. Even with this setback, as well as a broken boat, we made it to the lake at around 9pm, where the lights went out. We still had some miles to paddle across the lake, but with the moon and stars it just added to the overall experience that I won't soon forget. For my trip report of the run, go here.


1/400 sec @ f/8, ISO 800 (@18mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-3
Lens: 18-55mm kit lens




#12 - Sahalie Falls during an Upper Upper Mac scouting mission (McKenzie River, OR)
Just a couple of weeks ago I was up scouting the headwaters of the McKenzie River, which has been run plenty of times before, but not by me or the crew I paddle with. By no means was I planning to run this beast or Koosah (another ~80'er just downstream), but was interested in seeing what the in-between stuff looked like. Basically I came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth the effort, but did come away with quite a few photos of the area. The lighting was pretty bad and so were the unprocessed photos. I decided, what the heck, let's see what we can do for them in Lightroom and Color Efex (e.g. tonal contrast, saturation, etc.). The following is one of the better outputs, where I feel a highly processed photo actually worked.


1/500 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 800 (@18mm)
Camera: Sony NEX-5N
Lens: 18-200mm (E-Mount)


Well, there ya have it, and now the best POV footage from 2011: