A Weighted Effort

I don’t like hiking for it’s own sake.  Hiking is just walking, just not on a uniform surface. On the occasions that I get asked to go hiking in the Bay Area of California, I usually say, “No thanks.”  I find it boring.   But if there is something interesting, new, or strange to see on the hike, like in Yosemite, Zion, or Yellowstone, I could spend days hiking.

Disclaimer: I’ve never spent more than a day hiking, but I think I could.

I’m not in particularly fantastic shape either.  Frequently when we go hiking, people constantly pass us seemingly taking 2 steps for everyone of mine.  In my defense though, now a days I am also carrying a lot of weight with me because of all my camera equipment.  In my effort to make sure I can take the best quality shots, I don’t leave too many things behind.  I always have at least 2 bodies, carry up to 6 different lenses, and have my tripod and other glass filters that I use.  It’s about an extra 30 lbs of photo gear.  Now I don’t necessarily use all that gear, but I carry it because I don’t know what I will encounter or what I will need.   I don’t mind having the extra weight if it means I have my pick of equipment to do the work.

Location: Upper Yosemite Falls
Sensor: Sony A7R
Glass: Zeiss 21mm Distagon


Hiking on flat land or moderate elevation changes is not an issue.  I could carry a lot more equipment during these hikes.   It seems though that the worthwhile hikes are the ones with dramatic elevation changes.  Bhutan, Scotland, Nagano, Switzerland are some of the recent places we have been where we’ve trekked up mountains.  This where weight does become an issue.

This past Spring we decided to take a hike to Upper Yosemite Falls to take advantage of a long weekend and to physically prepare for a series of much longer hikes we are going to take later on in the year.  I wanted to be able take some longer exposures of the water fall with Half Dome in the background.  I could of just carried a portable tripod, zoom lens, and a single ND filter for minimal weight.  But my objective was to take the best possible shot.  So was the resulting shot worth it for me to take 30lbs of gear with me?   The quality vs effort is on a logarithmic scale.  For 10% better quality, I need to put in twice as much effort.

Not many people are willing do that.  But to me, that’s largely what good photography is all about.  Wandering around the park I run into bus loads of  photographers with full photography gear worth in excess of $10K , but it’s largely within steps of their car.  Hiking up Yosemite Falls, I ran into only one other person carrying a tripod with them – much less any photography equipment other than their DSLR.

Location: Upper Yosemite Falls
Sensor: Sony A7R
Glass: Zeiss 35mm Distagon


Doing a search on Yosemite Falls will turn up many similar and higher quality photos of the last photo shown.   However you won’t find as may of the first.

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