A day trip to Dolly Sods, West Virginia

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Dolly Sods, West Virginia : Red Creek Trail

It’s not a photo tips video, but here’s a video of our trip.

Last weekend my family and I took a day trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in West Virginia to hike. We started out at the bottom of Red Creek Trail and headed north. We veered off, found a nice area to play, got lost and hiked some more. We hiked for 6 hours and we were tired, but all in all it was a great trip.

Some thoughts regarding photography from the trip

1. Being a dad with a camera and trying to document family life is enjoyable but tough.
2. The tough part about being a dad with a camera and trying to document family life is gear. I don’t think there’s a camera that meets all my “wants” yet, but I strongly felt the need for a compact pocket size device that could take high quality video and photos with a selfie mode flip-out screen to frame videos better. It would be even better if it were rugged and waterproof, or at least weather resistant. The closest cameras currently on the market that meet some of my “wants” are the Canon G7X II or the Sony RX100 IV. Let me know if you have other suggestions.
3. Maybe I was trying to do too much, but my wife was carrying our youngest daughter, and I wore a hiking backpack with food, drinks and diapers on my front chest, a second backpack with my DSLR camera and a tripod on my back, while documenting video with a waterproof Nikon Coolpix point & shoot camera and taking some iPhone photos. The Nikon p&s takes horrible photos, but the video quality is acceptable. My iPhone storage is too limited for videos, so I mostly use it for photos. The DSLR camera was in my backpack, and it’s too clunky to carry it or stop to take it out during the hike.
4. I learned that a family trip and a proper photography trip should be separate. Though I got to spend about 20 minutes to take some photos of the landscape and water flowing, I rushed through them and that was not enough time to look around and set up for proper landscape photos. This trip wasn’t a photography trip to begin with so I’m glad I got to mainly enjoy family time, document the trip and take a few photos.

Here are some photos I took with my Canon 5D Mark III, along with some tips. Proof that I’m applying the tips I shared in my “3 tips for taking photos in the bright sun”.

dolly sods west virginia red creek trail

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek

Above photo: ISO 100, aperture f/5.6, shutter speed 1/640. It was around lunch time, so the sun was straight above and bright. In these first two photos, the sun is behind me shining on my kids. I exposed for the kids and as you can see the colors are vibrant on the kids, the trees and you can see the blue sky. The photo below has the same setting except it was ISO 200. I was about to take photos facing the opposite side so I screwed on a circular polarizer on my lens, but decided to snap another photo of the whole family. The circular polarizer reduced the amount of light coming into the sensor, so I increased the ISO.

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek Trail

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek

Camera settings: ISO 100, f/22, 1/15 with a tripod. The photo above is facing the opposite direction of the first two photos. The sun is high above in front of me, slightly toward the right of the camera. It was my first time using a circular polarizer, and it reduced the glare on the water and helped darken the sky a bit while evening out the light in the whole scene a bit. As you can see when shooting into the sun’s direction, you don’t get the bright blue sky. I’m thinking a neutral density filter would have helped me more than a circular polarizer in this case.

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek Trail

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek

Camera settings: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/400. I believe the filter is off the lens at this point. The sun is in front of me, behind my subject. I exposed for the kids who are my subject.

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek Trail

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek

These next three photos are taken later in the day when the sun was behind the mountain, which made the light even. I wanted to capture the water flow through slow shutter so I slightly varied the shutter speed from 1/8, 1/6 and 0.3 using a tripod. Using a tripod or placing your camera on a steady surface is a must when using a slow shutter speed. The other settings are the same in all three photos: ISO 100, f/22 with no filters on.

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek Trail

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek

dolly sods west virginia red creek trail

Dolly Sods, West Virginia Red Creek

 

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