This blog is filled with images that I’ve taken, so this page is a bit about the photos — and the photographer! My two great passions in nature are waterfalls and Mount Hood. Can’t get enough of either, and I am happiest when I’m out there trying to capture what I see and feel with photography. I especially like finding new (or slightly used) waterfalls that have never been mapped, or have simply been forgotten by the cartographers. It’s good therapy for the mind, and an essential counterpart to the more stressful parts of my life.
I caught the photo bug in the early 1980s with my old Olympus OM-1 (still works!) and Kodachrome 25 slide film. I’m strictly a weekend warrior, and use consumer Digital SLRs these days. My current camera setup is an Olympus E-620 DSLR for setup shots and an Olympus SP-550UZ all-in-one that I keep on my pack belt for informal shots or potential Sasquatch sightings. I like Olympus cameras for their affordability, optic quality, history of innovation and especially in creating compact cameras tailored to the outdoors.
For the Olympus E-620, I carry three lenses: an 11-22mm wide angle, a 14-54mm general purpose zoom and the telephoto 40-150mm kit lens that comes with the camera. I also carry a multiplier, seldom used. For filters, I simply keep a polarizer on each lens almost all the time. It’s true that I lose a couple stops, but it’s also rare that I don’t have need for a polarizer in a given scene. I sometimes carry a set of Cokin graduated neutral density filters for use in mountain photography. They’re a pain to use, but worthwhile in some instances — though I’m increasingly blending bracketed exposures, instead.
For accessories, I use a couple of different Slik tripod models: the classic, tank-like Slik U212 DX (that is nearly indestructable, though I’ve had three) and the lightweight Slik Sprint Pro for longer trips into the backcountry. Both are the right mix of quality and affordability. I’ve also got two packs tailored for camera gear: the Mountainsmith Odyssey backpack for the winter months, and the Mountainsmith Lumbar series daypack for most of the year. The latter isn’t designed to be a camera pack, but is roomy and well-suited to camera gear.
On the processing end, I work on a Mac and use the Adobe Creative Suite to process images.
Okay, now that I’ve trudged through all of the technical details, I’d be remiss not to point out my anti-establishment philosophy on photo equipment: save your money! Buy affordable, quality equipment that will help you enjoy the outdoors, but not get in the way of it. I’ve seen many amateur photographers out there with high-end Nikon or Canon kits, and they spend a lot of time fiddling with their equipment, and not much time actually seeing the landscape.
Happily, some of the best photos I’ve seen come from humble cameras that anyone can use. In the end, a photo is only as good as the eye of the photographer who took it! That part just takes time and practice – something I’m still working on, every chance I get.
Tom Kloster | Mount Hood National Park Campaign