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Frog Lake Hiking

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Last weekend I was doing some exploration hiking around Mt. Hood in the Pacific Northwest. I have been looking for a good spot to try and get a winter night sky shot come late January/Early February, assuming that I can get weather conditions to play nicely. As it was the holiday season and many people were still off work and school, it was fairly busy at the location. This would be fine though, as when I come back for the night photography there should be far fewer people around.

Even though I was here for scouting, I was still going to see if I could get some good landscape shots during the day with the weather conditions that I had. Unfortunately, the conditions and location only had okay shots. So I focused on trying my newer 70-200mm lens out to generate a higher resolution photo using the method that I outlined in my blog post on creating higher resolution photos with a lower resolution camera. Suffice to say that in this trial run with the new lens, things did not go quite as my blog post indicates. But we will get into that in a minute. Once I arrived at the snow-covered lake, I was greeted by a rather large group of small birds that did not seem to be that bothered by my presence.

Canadian Jay on the branch above me: 1/100 sec at f/4.0, ISO 400, 200mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)


As I am not a bird person, I do not know much about the wild birds that I run into while on my adventures. So, I asked Instagram for some assistance and one of the more common responses that I got back was for it being a Canadian Jay bird. Upon comparing with Google images, this appears to be at least remarkably like the bird that I encountered at the lake, so I will go with that for now!

The Canadian Jay was a very friendly bird, as I said earlier it seemed to not fear the presence of humans at all. Instead flying around me, and voluntarily getting rather close. This is how I was able to get a hold of these excellent images without a longer reaching lens, or without cropping the photos. I am going to assume that casual hikers in the area feed these birds as it was a fairly busy trail head. This would explain why the birds were hovering around me while I was taking landscape photography. I did not mind the company; however, they were rather cool looking birds.

Canadian Jay between two trees: 1/100 sec at f/4.0, ISO 400, 200mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)


The photos that I took handheld with the 70-200mm lens are a testament to the Nikon Z series lens/body built in VR and sensor stabilization, however. These photos turned out nice and sharp at 200mm, but only 1/100th of a second for exposure speed while shooting handheld. The typical rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed equal to the focal length to help eliminate motion blur while shooting handheld. So, in this case following that rule I should have needed to use around a 1/200 second shutter speed (and a higher ISO) to get the same photo.

Canadian Jay on the branch above me: 1/100 sec at f/4.0, ISO 400, 200mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)


Now that the good pictures that came from the scouting hiking trip have been shown off, let’s talk about the photo merging picture that I ended up with. For comparison, I took the series of photos needed to make higher resolution, merged photo work, and then I took a single photo at 90mm to show here in the blog. Please note that the I spent some time getting the colors of the merged photo and the single shot photo to match but decided it unnecessary to be perfect as the comparison photo is only for the purposes of this blog post. With this said, you will probably notice a slight color difference between the two photos compared below.

42 Merged photos in Photoshop, unedited raw data: 1/160 sec at f/4.0, ISO 160, 200mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)


Also, it is important to note that I went a little overboard with the photos taken for the merged photo. I took a total of 55 photos to cover the scene with a focal length of 200mm. In Lightroom I eliminated a total of 13 of these photos due to focus of blurring issues. Some of this probably arose from taking these photos handheld and capturing the scene in rapid succession to try and avoid odd artifacts later in post-production with the clouds over the mountain side. Due to this, Lightroom's panorama feature that I illustrated in my blog post for creating higher resolution photos could not merge these photos. Instead, I had to load them into Photoshop to combine them, which takes a bit more effort. I will probably do another blog post at some point showing how to do this if your photo or panorama overwhelms the Lightroom algorithms.

As you can see the finished photo is not particularly symmetrical and is in more of a 3:1 aspect ratio as opposed to the standard full frame aspect ratio of 3:2. This is okay, as I was able to do a quick 3:2 crop of the photo and get something that essentially covers the same scene as the 90mm shot. Although, the actual scene shown cropped here is probably closer to a single 70mm shot showing a bit more sky, forest, and snow-covered lake.

For reference, the photo on the left is the single shot image coming in at a total of 6048x4024 pixels while the merged photo on the right is 15000x10000 pixels in total. This is generating a 150-megapixel image from a 24-megapixel camera sensor. Suffice to say, this is an excellent way to allow for some larger format printing of your work even if you cannot afford a super high-resolution camera. I have a couple images shot like this now and will try to start offering some prints in a larger format in my store. Stay tuned for information upcoming about that in the future.

Left image: 1/20 sec at f/9.0, ISO 100, 90mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)

Right image: 42 shots at 1/160 sec at f/4.0, ISO 160, 200mm (NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S)


After hanging out with the Canadian Jay's for a little while and getting the photos set up for this experiment, I started the couple mile hike back to my car in the snow. As this was a busy area, I came across a small friendly snowman along the trail. I took a quick snap to immortalize the snow art, artist unknown. It was an enjoyable sight regardless on the hike back.

Anyways, I hope that my followers have all had an excellent holiday season and were able to spend time with family safely. Cheers to the new year and what 2021 will bring for us all. Until next time, have a good one!

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