Backcountry Photo Essentials: Wide-Angle Lens

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Wide-Angle Lens
Glacier Peak

It’s a chore to carry a full-frame DSLR on a long backpacking trip. I have one standard lens, a 24-105mm lens, which I have been using for some time and have been very happy with. Together, I would guess that these two items add about 4 pounds to my backpack.

Because of this, I resisted the idea of getting a second lens— the added bulk and weight as well as having to change the lens often deterred me.

What changed my mind and got me to add a second lens was nighttime imaging. Simply put, the shorter the focal length of a lens, the longer you can set the shutter speed when capturing milky way images. I purchased a Rokinon 14mm Ultra wide-angle lens and got some sweet shots.

Now I find myself using the 14mm lens very often, not just for nighttime imaging. I am amazed at the depth of field and clarity of focus I am able to get.

Wide-Angle Lens 2
Spider Meadows

Colors are sharp and bright. And even though I don’t have a polarizer for the lens, clouds and sky look wonderful.

Wide-Angle Lens
Lake Ann from Maple Pass

Composing images when I have near and far elements is a lot of fun.

Wide-Angle Lens
Happy Hikers at Maple Pass

I know backpackers a never excited to add even a few ounces of weight, but for me the 14mm has now become a regular part of what goes in my pack for every trip.

For me, photography and outdoor travel have always been linked. In 1976, I planned my first trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. Two of my friends accompanied me - we hitchhiked from Eastern Pennsylvania to the Cascade Locks in Oregon and hiked south through most of Oregon on the trail. I borrowed a friends Nikkormat for the trip and tried hard to capture the look and feel of what I saw. Since that first trip on the PCT I have traveled broadly (50 states, 50 countries), yet no matter where I was living - in the US or overseas - I always felt a tug back to the Pacific Northwest. Finally settled in NW Washington, I am at home and have an abundance of outdoor photographic subjects. My favorite places are the North Cascades and the Olympic Coast. I'm currently offering photography classes in Bellingham, Burlington and Marysville as well as doing photo tours.

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