Sunday, March 29, 2009

After 7: Yosemite in March

Steve Latif made arrangements to stay at a friends cabin in Yosemite West. Road trip and first climbing outing of the year! Took off Friday at 7pm, mexican in Los Banos and rolled in to Y. West a little after midnight. This is a great way to camp!

It was too easy to cook up a nice breakfast and sort gear in the cabin so we got a sort-of late start hiking to Manure Pile Buttress from El Cap meadows as the road on that side of the Valley is still closed from Camp 4.

Gear up at the base of After 7 and off we go. This was to be Steve's lead all the way. John's first multi-pitch route ever.

Pitch 1 is the crux - 5.8 hand/finger crack with a funny thin face traverse right 2/3rds of the way up. Steve fires it, John is nervous but fires it too! I last climbed this pitch in 1978. Weirdly enough this was 31 years AND 31 lbs ago.

Steve on Pitch 2 - little 5.7 face/crack

The views as you climb up Manure Pile are great. The little waterfall on El Cap (Horsetail I think) was getting blown up now and then. Middle Rock is across the valley and the Sentinel across and up valley.

Pitch 3 was an unexpectedly wide crack. Turned out to be possible to climb the face on the left, then stem across the crack for a pretty airy little pitch.

Couple more nice pitches with a mix of easy climbing and more challenging sections including another wide crack or two.

The last pitch was nice - up a little corner, few 5.6 moves to get right then only one more wide section that could be laybacked.

The way we did it, there were 6 pitches. Little John did great. Got to the top at sunset and the lighting in the Valley was incredible. My camera battery died before I got any shots. Could have been the cold! By he end of the day it was cold and very windy. Got down just as it was getting dark enough to break out the headlamps for the hike back to the van. One stop in Mariposa for pizza, Bucks in Merced for caffeine and home at 1:42am.

Ropegun Man

I was there.

New Camera: Nikon D90

I got a new camera, a Nikon D90. Didn't need one as my Nikon D40 is an outstanding camera in terms of image quality. The D40 has a 6.1M CCD and with those large pixels, the noise characteristics are great. I really like the compactness and low weight of the D40. The D90 is bigger and heavier for sure. It also has a 12.1Mpixel CMOS detector and even with the higher pixel density has the same noise per area in the focal plane of the camera (electronics magic) so there is a little more resolution and ability to crop images. Still I would not have "upgraded" except the D90 was a present. So, I've got it now what do I think?

I do like the 11-point focus scheme which is faster and better than the D40.

I'm looking at a bunch of lenses for the D90 that don't autofocus on the D40. First new lens might be a Tokina 11-16 f/2.8.

The D90 is really quick at firing off images -- much quicker than the D40 and I like that capability to reel off 4 frames/sec.

I'll put up some comparison photos soon, but I can tell easily that the D90 images are less noisy that the D40 at iso800 and above.

The cats are cropped to about 1/3 of the original frame. Then downsized to to 1024 pixels in the largest dimension jpgs.

D90 + Sigma 30mm
f2.0, 1/60sec, iso200

I have a bunch of point and shoot digitals. The first one was the Canon A50 (leftmost in the top shot below). 1 Mpixel and so slow that sometimes you pushed the shutter down, and put the camera in your pocket before the picture was actually taken. But, it was incredible to be able to take very good images, get immediate feedback and shoot as much as you wanted without worrying about wasting film and the cost of developing.

All told, I think there are 11 P&S digital cameras in drawers and cabinets around the house. The best of the point and shoots is my Canon G3 - has a great f/2.0 lense and fully manual options (on the right with the wide-angle lens). The Canon S2 (on the left in the lower image) is one of those 12x zoom cameras that are pretty nice. Vibration control and 640x480 30fps movie mode is great. But, when I first got the Nikon D40 SLR it was an amazing jump in response and low-noise imaging with the much larger CCD compared to any of the compact digital cameras.

The P&S cameras I carry around now are an SD880 IS and that little SD200. What I like about the SD880 it is that the wide end of the zoom is the equivalent of 28mm with a 35mm camera. In good light, it takes great photos. It also has a dedicated iso button for quick adjustments. The little SD200 is very compact, weightless, takes pretty good shots. I take it flyfishing and climbing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You don't turn 80 every day

My mother turned 80 this year. Seemed like a good reason to get all the kids together for a celebration! So, I flew up and John came up with Anne and we had a surprise party.

The lady of the day

The Party

The Party Animals

Looked at the plans for remodeling the Corvalis house (note the fabulous walnut coffee table built by John senior)

The Coupeville dock was still there

Physics homework got worked

We went looking for snow geese in some reallllly brisk weather

Becky got a new camera for her Florida trip

These photos were all taken with a Canon SD880 IS