The sky was almost as blue as the sea last Tuesday when I walked onto the ferry that was docked in Victoria harbor. Ninety minutes later I arrived in Port Angeles. After waiting for border control, I walked ten minutes to the post office where I found my box half-full of nothing of interest. I stuffed the mail in my pack, walked back to the ferry, then returned to Victoria.
I spent the ninety-minute ride in each direction standing on the ferry's upper deck, camera in hand. Today I had my telephoto, a 70-300vr, as the strait crossing calls for a long focal length to photograph the vessels sharing the sea with us: the Clipper catamaran, container ships, military and fishing boats, a Westcoast Air sea plane taking off to the mainland, and many kayaks hugging the shore. The 70-300vr isn't fast, but in good light and kept below 300 it is sharp and the vr helps keep it stable.
I used the short trip to test two recent purchases: an REI Overnighter backpack and a Nikon D800E. I bought the pack at the REI in Seattle and the D800E in Victoria. The D800E purchase was the product of a long period of rationalization as I am long past the point of being over-camera-ed.
In the bright, harsh light I focused on color. I'm happy with the D800e’s performance but these aren’t technically demanding shots. A steady hand is all that is needed. I shot them at a larger aperture (smaller F-stop) than what I'd typically use on a bright sunlit day because of recommendations to keep the Nikon's aperture below 11 to minimize diffraction This will require further testing as I need small apertures for times when I want depth of field.
The backpack purchase was another in a seemingly- endless quest for the perfect pack. My dream is Tardis-like in size, light of weight, and stylishly unassuming. The REI pack comes close: it is light and unassuming, with looks that are more luggage than back pack. The Overnighter drew me in with padding that reinforces an easy-to-fill rectangular shape. When zipped open, the pack's carrying capacity is easily visualized, unlike a typical load-from-the-top backpack. The pack will play double duty: carry-on and day pack. Cargo will be a DSLR, a few primes (10, 20, 35, 85), and accessories such as charger, storage, a 62mm polarizer, blower, and wipes. In the space left I'll stash toiletries (when flying) or jacket and lunch (for walking around town).