Tag Archives: Mt. Rainier

Adding Panoramic Compositions to Your Photography

While out on your adventures, you will come across impressive landscapes, that you simply cannot capture the full composition that you want in one shot.

This is where the Lightroom panoramic feature comes in nicely.

I will now cover this feature, and how I had created some of my favorite photos this way.

NOTE: Its important to use a tripod while shooting a panoramic, to keep your images consistent.

This example was from an awesome backpacking adventure in the South Cascades. The sunrise was great at our campsite, but I also wanted to capture all 3 volcanic peaks in the distance, in my final photo. I knew that I needed to take mutltiple exposures to capture the full composition that I wanted.

This is how I will capture 4 exposures of the scene, and when I get home, I will then use Lightroom to blend them together as a panoramic.

I took my first exposure of the sunrise, using my aperture technique to capture the rays that were coming out from the rising sun (keep in mind, these photos are NOT the final edit!).

I then swiveled my camera on the tripod, to capture the 2nd exposure, as you can see above.

Please note, you must be overlapping at least 1/3 of the previous shot. This process is necessary, for Lightroom to able to properly line up and “stitch” these photos together to make the final panoramic photo.

I also use my digital leveler on my LCD screen, between each shot, to make sure my camera is staying level throughout all of the exposures.

Here is my 3rd photo for this composition:

I could have stopped shooting here, since I had captured all 3 peaks, but I didn’t want Mt. St. Helens to be this close to the edge of the composition. Knowing that it was important to overlap the previous compositions, as mentioned, I decided I will take a 4th photo to capture more of the composition near this volcano.

And here is the 4th and last photo. These will be the 4 photos I will use to eventually stitch together a seamless composition in Lightroom.

Back at my computer, once all my photos are imported into Lightroom, I will do my basic edits first, to make sure all the exposures are matched in tone to my usual preference.

The next step, as shown below, is to select all 4 photos that I want to stitch together.

Also, if you use the Lens Corrections feature, as show below, it is important to make sure the corrections are processed on all photos BEFORE stitching, to make sure your final panoramic is consistent throughout.

After the 4 photos are selected, right clicking will bring up this menu, shown below, which will allow you to select Panorama, to begin the process.

A preview will now come up, with various settings you can manage prior to merging.

Spherical, Cylindrical, and Perspective are 3 different methods of projecting them into a panorama. There is no right or wrong answer….just click through each one, and choose the one you like the best.

Boundary Warp will actually warp the photo, to give you more or less upper and lower “boundaries” of the photo. I recommend experimenting with this slider also, since the preview will display your changes. I try to keep this at 0, but you should set it at what looks the best to you.

Once you hit Merge, Lightroom will do the work and you will get a stitched photo to do your final edits with.

Here is the stitched shot, after final editing. I still captured the sunrays as I saw them, but was also able to capture the volcanoes I wanted, to show the scale of the amazing viewpoint we had at our campsite.

I hope this tutorial was helpful, please let me know in the comments!

Happy Shooting!


Why Snowshoeing is a Perfect Wintertime Adventure

We all love our spring, summer, and fall hikes, but winter weather doesn’t always need to keep us indoors.

While it’s raining, foggy, and dreary in the lowlands, we can still experience some great weather when we head up to hike in higher elevations.

The combination of fresh powder, great weather effects, and the groomed access to amazing vistas make this a prime hobby for photographers as well.

What gear do I need?

Well, obviously, snowshoes! But If you already hike in the other seasons, you probably own the majority of the gear you will need, more on that later.

Most recreation retailers will rent out snowshoes, I recommend trying this first before investing in snowshoes. Snowshoeing is much different than hiking in the other seasons, and it may actually not be for everyone. Giving it a try with a minimal investment may be a good idea.

I had gained experience with different features of snowshoes, and the following features are ones that I prefer not to do without.

Solid traction – some shoes, such as MSR’s Lightning models, have better teeth on the bottom for traction, compared to just a tubular frame found on other models. I had learned that these gripping teeth are a must for me, since sometimes I will encounter solid ice.

Elevation bars – these are incredibly beneficial when encountering hills, which you will. These bars help raise your heels a couple of inches while walking uphill, taking any strain off your ankles, and actually making the process of climbing much easier. These bars are simply folded down when not in use.

Also, be prepared that walking in snowshoes will be much more work (although worth it!)

Great weather effects out at Lake Lena, in the Olympic Mountains.

Dressing in Layers

It’s obvious that we need to dress warmer, but since hiking in snowshoes is much more work, you will warm up very quickly.

So I recommend to start with a great base layer, I use a medium weight merino wool shirt and pants. These will keep you a bit warmer while it wicks away any sweat, and will prevent you from getting too hot.

Now, this is where gear from the other hiking seasons come into play, as I had mentioned above.

Over your base layer, this is where your favorite hiking shirt and pants from the other seasons will work perfect, the lighter the better. This will be your middle layer.

For your next layer, which will be your outer layer, a warm coat or sweater (wool, NOT cotton), will serve you will for this. For your lower body, a good breathable pair of rain pants will keep you dry, without retaining too much heat.

The outer layer is meant to keep you warm for most of your trip, but can easily be removed when you begin to feel warm.

The sun was reflecting through the trees, during this great snowshoe hike at Hurricane Ridge, in January 2016.

Your regular hiking boots, as long as they are waterproof, should work great for snowshoeing. They should attach just fine to your snowshoes with the bindings that are included with them.

And don’t forget your wool hat and gloves! While the generation of body heat while winter hiking may lead you to believe you will be fine without these, you will really appreciate them at the trail parking lot and during snack breaks.

Additional Considerations

While your 10 essentials are the things that will be with you year round, there some additional considerations while snowshoeing.

Navigation may not be as obvious, due to the trails all mostly snow covered, with footprints being the only indicator of where to go. Just remember that not all footprints will lead you in the right direction, so ensure you have planned your route well, and have a great, waterproof map. I carry a GPS on every adventure, especially on winter routes.

I also recommend start with short hikes (less than 1.5 miles to the destination) with minimal elevation gain until you have gone a few times and understand your pacing and energy level with wearing snowshoes.

In addition to your usual food requirements, keep in mind that a stove and a warm meal and/or beverage may hit the spot while out in the tundra.

Lastly, take into consideration that the days in the winter months are much shorter….and plan accordingly. The best night hikes are the ones that are planned that way.

The stars were just coming out during this night hike at High Rock Fire Lookout, in November 2015.

NOTE: While not all winter hikes require snowshoes, keep in mind that you should not venture out in the winter months without the gear I had mentioned, and I never head out on winter hikes without at least micro spikes in my pack.

Have fun out there, and enjoy! I hope the guidelines above will help you prepare, if you plan to take on this great new adventure!

Here’s What I’m Learning During my Social Media Detox

Recently, I had taken a break from posting photos and hikes social media, for many reasons.

As a hiker and photographer, a lot of my processes involved getting my hiking trip reports and pictures up on social media. This had been part of my process from the beginning, and while I really enjoyed it initially, it had began to feel tedious after a while.

This process also added stress, since I was in a rush to post my photos and trip reports, and would slowly get concerned if no one liked it or commented on it enough.

Over time, I realized this had begun to add anxiety, and even stress to my routine.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good qualities about social media, but for me, the negative attributes far outweighed the good.

To me, social media had a caused a “superficial” appreciation for the outdoors…..and I felt myself losing the sincere appreciation of living for the moment. I would get concerned that I was not capturing enough “wow” photos that would fill up my notification screen. I also found myself competing with other posts, and actually having a fear of missing out when I saw posts of others going on hiking adventures while I was at home working in my yard (which really needed to be done).

This year, I had begun working on a goal of creating a better balance in my life. After reading “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work”, both by Cal Newport, I had taken the author’s suggestion to minimize social media. Both of these books are amazing, and they give the numerous how this change could improve your focus and passion in your craft.

Deciding I would leave the social media sites for a while has moved me tremendously toward my goal of balance, and life is already much better.

While I am out and enjoying the outdoors and finding photography compositions, I am also enjoying living in the moment. I am being more selective in my photos, which results in less work when I get home of processing and posting on social media.

I am no longer stressed or concerned with how many “likes” I am getting, or trying to keep up with comments about my hikes or my photos. I am no longer striving to be popular, since this was leading me to post unnecessarily, and sometimes excessively.

I do have friends that really like to see photography in their feed, and had commented they miss seeing my work since I had quit posting. But for the most part, I do not have any repercussions of taking a break from social media. Also, even though I had decided not to do a typical “exit speech” while beginning my social media detox, some friends have realized it and now text me about barbecues, hikes and backpacking trips that I thought I would miss out on while being offline.

This was also a big motivator for starting this blog. I still love to share my ideas, my photos, and my passion in this format, specifically for those who seek this type of information. Rather than using this method strictly for attention, it is a great outlet for creativity, and still allows me to share my work, through a more meaningful channel. I also like spending time on my tutorials, since it also works as a database from what I am learning on

Curious if others feel this same way I do……I would really like to hear about your experiences also!