Backcountry Camping at Crater Lake National Park

Backcountry camping affords the flexibility, freedom and solitude that is often lacking with car camping or just camping at a designated campsite. This weekend, I got to enjoy backcountry camping with a friend at Crater Lake National Park.

First, you get your backcountry permit from the Visitor Center. Some guides tell you you can do this at the Rim Village. This is no longer true. After that you can camp anywhere that is a mile away from the nearest paved road, and out of sight of any trails. A popular route is hiking, or in our case, snow shoeing to Discovery Point.

Crater Lake at Sunset from Discovery Point
Crater Lake from Discovery Point, April 2016

The snowpack is its deepest (approx. 117 inches average) in March, and can last into July. Personally, I feel March and April are the best times to go because the southern approach is open unless there’s a snowstorm.

Setting up camp is encouraged close by trees where you can be protected from the wind, snow and/or rain. You cannot camp at the rim of the crater. Also, make sure you are prepared for the cold nights that can go to below freezing. After you’ve set up camp, you can enjoy the stars.

Milky Way from Crater Lake

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How to Get Lots Done in Life and Photography: Vincent Trinh

I interviewed Vincent Trinh, the director of photography for Hyphen magazine. He also works with the Asian American Donor Program which helps find donors for patients in need.

Season 1, Episode 3, Vincent Trinh gets lots done.

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Converting a 55 degree sleeping bag to a 35 degree bag

When I went to Yosemite this winter, I got to use a variety of gear. The experiment that made me the happiest was when I converted a 55 degree sleeping bag to a 35 degree bag. I did this by using 3 items.

The Alpine Bivy from Outdoor Research is a Goretex bivy that keeps you dry even if you were sleeping in a stream. I never got to test that part out, but because you are sealed in versus a regular tent, it added a layer of warmth.

Alpine Bivy

The Sea to Summit Extreme Thermolite Liner claims to add 25 degrees to your sleeping bag. I have tested in 35 degree weather in Yosemite and was comfortable, but when I was in Joshua Tree with 40 degree weather without the Sol Escape Bivvy, I struggled to stay warm through out the night. I think it only adds 10 degrees thus turning my 55 degree bag to a 45 degree bag.

The Sol Escape Bivvy by itself seems to be the equivalent of a 45 degree bag. When used in combination with the Alpine Bivy, and Thermolite Liner, you now have equipment that will keep you very comfortable at 35 degrees. I definitely want to test it to lower temperatures. Have you tried a liner with a bivy to keep warmer?

Here is the rest of the combo below.

The Combo

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Staying Warm in Below Freezing Weather

I camped in Yosemite overnight for New Year’s Eve in below freezing weather. In this podcast, I share tips and tricks for overcoming the freezing cold.

Season 01, Episode 02, Dressing for the Cold

I mention these great clothing companies:

  • Marmot, especially their ROM (Range of Motion) Jacket as being the perfect PNW (Pacific Northwest Jacket);
  • ExOfficio, which has great quick drying clothing; and
  • Northface, which has a great thermoball jacket to keep you warm down into the 20s (Fahrenheit), at least in my experience.
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Controlling Appetite and Hiking Lots for Photography

In this podcast, I share tips and tricks for controlling your appetite so you can shoot all day.

Season 01, Episode 01

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Instagram Hubs Are Bad & Are Just Link Farms

You open up Instagram. You see that someone has posted a photo you took. They say stuff like, “Congratulations, you have been featured!”

Are they featuring you out of the goodness of their heart?

While I was running the @IgersSF account, I would notice that featuring photos more often benefitted the @IgersSF account than the folks I featured in terms of likes and follows.

How can you tell the difference between a hub and a real Instagram community?

  • Hubs never asked your permission to post your photograph. More in depth details on this at DIYPhotography.
  • Hubs hardly if ever communicate back after they featured you.
  • Hubs have owners that are elusive and are rarely seen in the real world. They might even be bots coded to auto-feature *cough* steal photos, and grow an account.
  • Hubs never give back to the community.

What’s the solution to hubs? Google came up with a solution a long time ago for link farms, and it’s about time that Instagram implement it.

“Search engines countered the link farm movement by identifying specific attributes associated with link farm pages and filtering those pages from indexing and search results.” (from the Wikipedia article on Link farms)

A similar thing can be done for Instagram hubs using a Bayesian filter.

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42 Answers to the Meaning of Life

Here are 42 answers to the *question* of the meaning of life.

1. To ascend the ladder of desire to see the beauty of the forms. (Plato)
2. To skillfully and willfully achieve happiness in accordance with excellence through virtue. (Aristotle)
3. To crush my enemies, to see them flee before me in a field of battle and to hear the lamentations. (Conan, the Barbarian)
4. The meaning of life? That’s simple. Try to be happy, try not to hurt other people, and hope to fall in love. (Mallory Keaton, Family Ties)
5. You take the red pill… (The Matrix)
6. There are finite games and there are infinite games. Life is an infinite game. (James P. Carse)
7. In Tao the only motion is returning.
The only useful quality, weakness.
For though all creatures under heaven are the products of Being,
Being itself is the product of Not-being. ” Tao te Ching (chap. 40, tr. Waley)
8. There is suffering.
Desire is the source of suffering.
It is within my power to remove suffering.
The removal of suffering is the cessation of desire. (4 Truths of Buddhism)
9. Be fruitful and multiply. (Book of Genesis)
10. Just do it. (Nike)
11. You have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy. (Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter)
12. The greatest good for the greatest number. (Utilitarianism)
13. Survival of the fittest. (Social Darwinism)
14. History moving towards the communism of workers. (Marx)
15. All are created equal and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (US Declaration of Independence)
16. To end not just that fight, but all future fights with the bully… (Ender’s Game)
17. You shall love. (Jesus)
18. I don’t think we’re for anything. We’re just the products of evolution. (James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA)
19. To achieve singularity. (Vernor Vinge)
20. To return to nature. (Neo-transcendentalism, The Cynicism of Diogenes, Landscape photographers like the author of this piece.)
21. To pursue pleasure. (Epicureans, hedonists)

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22. To endure. (Stoicism)
23. Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. (Kant’s Categorical Imperative)
24. Free at last… (Martin Luther King)
25. Nature wanted to see so badly that the very first eyes were light sensitive crystals and minerals. Why did nature want to see so badly? (Questions asked at CIIS)
26. To care for and look after nature. (Naturalistic Pantheism)
27. Keep my commandments. (The God of the Old Testament)
28. Be obedient (to Allah). (Qur’an 51:56)
29. The Lord dwells in every heart, and every heart has its own way to reach Him. (Sikhism)
30. Money
31. Optimism
32. Pessimism
33. Sex
34. Therapy
35. Well, it’s nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations. (Monty Python)
36. The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo. (Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook)
37. One always returns to one’s first love. (D.H. Lawrence)
38. Lean In (Sheryl Sandberg)
39. Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch. (Eric S. Raymund)
40. The laws of nature are much like the laws of man. (Ulbricht, founder of Silk Road)
41. We shouldn’t delay forever until every possible feature is done. There’s always going to be one more thing to do. (Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin)
42. 42, the answer to the question of the meaning of life. But what is the answer? 7 x 5. But 7 x 5 is 35, right? Yes, I guess there is something fundamentally wrong with the universe. (Douglas Adams, Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

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Traveling Light

I’ve been using my Langly Alpha-Pro bag to travel light. They say that the top compartment is good for a day hike. This is true, but I found a way to make it a great 3 day weekend bag, or for an extended week trip where you’re okay with limited clothing options.

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Part of traveling light has involved using clothes that dry in 4 to 8 hours.

My clothing packed into my top compartment consists of:

Not packed into my bag but what I’m already wearing is

  • shoes,
  • jeans,
  • socks,
  • undies,
  • shirt and
  • jacket.

This is ideal for traveling in places that are 50 degrees Fahrenheit and up.

For winter, I just layer on a winter jacket with inner and outer shell, gloves, long underwear, and substitute boots for shoes, but this is a pain to travel with.

I bring two 35mm film canisters worth of laundry detergent for a week and pack them in two ziplock bags.

I wash one pair of underwear each night, and the shirt and smart wool socks after 3 uses.

To dry them, I ring them out, wrap them in a hotel towel and stomp out the moisture. I then hang them wherever it is convenient.

The briefs can dry in 4 hours when it is dry and warm. The socks and shirt take 8 hours but you might have to attach them to the outside of a backpack if it is humid or not that warm out.

For the jacket and jeans, I’ve just relied on Febreeze to deodorize them. I’ve been looking into quick dry jackets and pants, but haven’t researched that yet.

With the clothing setup above you will be able to do a week of travel. You might be able to stretch it out to two weeks if you can find a laundrymat to take of the jeans and jacket.

I hope this helps.

How do you travel light?

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World Wide Instameet 10 in Berkeley

On Sunday I went to one of the World Wide Instameets happening at Berkeley. The hosts were Cory Maryott (Cal class of 2014), and Instagram denizen, Milkstachio. I personally brought some dahlias and sunflowers as part of a hashtag project I’m working on. More on that later. I felt the photo walk was well-timed for catching the sunset and getting dinner later. Also, there were some spots with great light that were part of the walk.

Cory Maryott

The co-host volunteered to pose for my hashtag project, #dudesholdingflowers. But honestly, everybody gets flowers. See below.

Danielle McGuiness

I asked Danielle McGuinness to pretend to have a conversation with the flower.

Queena Li

The refection of the flower in Queena Li’s shades was too hard to resist.

Adventures on a Ledge

Some adventurous folk went out on a ledge.

For dinner, the group with to Pieology, a pizza place that only makes personal sized 10″ pizzas made to order. The conversations that interested me were from a guy who shoots great landscapes that recently moved here or one of the pro-photographers that showed up. “Can I be your second shooter (for a wedding)?” “How do you get a social media job?” “Where’s a good place to shoot in SF?” or questions about the iPhone 6 were bandied about.

After dinner, the group split up. Most of us went to Berkeley BART. One of the younger guys was eagerly taking street photos on the lamp-lit street of Telegraph Avenue. Of that, someone said, “That’s a real photographer.”

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How To Do A Free For All

I’m two years too late on doing a free for all on Instagram.

A free for all is when you give out for free a set of photos. By free, I mean without copyright using perhaps at most an attribution license.

Here are the steps:

1) Create an image announcing the Free For All. Make sure the age has the hashtag of your event on it.

2) Recruit Ambassadors to promote your free for all using the image you created in step 1. Be sure to give them copy that states where they can find the free images, and that they need to use the hashtag to participate.

3) Be sure the ambassadors have a clear post date, start date & end date for the free for all.

4) Put your free images publicly linked and accessible on Dropbox or a similar service.

5) Announce the free for all along with your ambassadors.

6) During the free for try to give a shout out each day to edits you liked from your collection of free photos.

7) At the end choose a winner and runners up if you want.

I really messed up on recruiting ambassadors for my free for all. If I had gotten 20 ambassadors I would’ve gotten more followers. I had only a handful and so ended up with 134 new followers in a week when I usually only get 10.

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