Hiking Oyster Dome

One of the reasons that I got a dog in the first place was to have a loyal adventure companion. I think it's safe to say that you'll see a lot of pictures of Denali, the most handsome border collie on the planet, throughout my photography and this blog. He's a wonderful model and a it's a fun challenge to get him to hold a good stay. Hiking Oyster Dome north of Seattle was no exception.

I'm on a Sony a6500 using a Sigma MC-11 adapter to use Canon glass that I already own, or what I was able to acquire for a fraction of the cost of what a new Sony lens would be. For this hike, I brought a Sigma 30mm f1.4 (pre contemporary/art series), a Rokinon 12mm f2 E-mount, and the beastly Canon 70-200 f2.8l USM zoom. 


I was accompanied by my photo-pal, college roommate, and architect extraordinaire Andrew, who also brought his 7 year old border collie mix, Sadie, who is hilarious. Every time we stopped moving, for even a second, she cried. Andrew came up with this idea that she's so stressed because "it" is coming, and only she can protect us, and WE HAVE TO KEEP MOVING.

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When I have the Sigma opened to 1.4, I can pretty much approach Denali, call his name, and use the a6500's 11fps burst like a machine gun on a low ISO and fast (somewhat) shutter. I was lucky enough to get a good and in-focus look given how quickly he changes positions and loses focus with no treat. I think, though, that the real miracle is I have BOTH dogs looking at me.

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To me, this is a coming-together of so many perfect things. The light at this time of day, in this forest, at that spot was mindblowing. It just FELT good. Denali, the maniac he is, is running around in a frenzy like he's being prodded with a firestick. He sits down for these couple of moments to chew on things he shouldn't. I let it slide knowing the photo that can come out of it. I've got the Sigma on, and he gives me the extra second I need for that adapted lens to focus. BOOM. I had to bring things up a bit in Lightroom, but I think it stayed sharp. I MIGHT be at 1000 ISO, but it's not too noticeable. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but I imagine Denali lept up and sprinted past us.

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So we're walking along the trail, minding out own businessae, and Andrew, Sadie, Denali and I hear what sounds like a bird, and kind of like a dilophosaurus to be entirely honest. Quickly enough though, we realize it's a squirrel and I HAPPEN to have the 70-200 on. Ready, aim, shoot. That little squirrel gave me a solid 20 seconds of posing on different branches, which was more than enough time to get a couple of good takes in there. I'm incredibly happy with what came out.

So I don't have many great takes from the view at the top of the trail, which was a bitch to get to considering A) the ice we had to avoid slipping on, and B) not having spikes for our shoes. The reason I don't have good takes is because I switch lenses a lot, which causes my mirrorless sensor to get dirty FAST. I was shooting on the 70-200 at f32 to try and get every detail in focus, which ended up including a thousand specs of dirt on my sensor. If anyone has suggestions on how to avoid this or clean quickly, PLEASE COMMENT.

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What I do have though is an epic, candid shot of Andrew while he's in between shots. Now that's one rugged sum'bitch.

It was an awesome day, which ended with a stop to a small town bakery where we got soup and muffins, followed by some damn good sushi in West Seattle.

Instagram: @blarentastic @thedenalilama