Lone Star Trail

Back in April of this year, a friend (James S.) and I hiked a portion of the Lone Star Trail in Sam Houston National Forest. We made a one-way 11.25 mile hike.

Before the hike, I decided to keep things as simple as possible and take only one camera body, one lens, and no tripod. We didn’t have a lot of time for the hike which meant that I didn’t have too much time for quality photography. Covering 11+ miles takes a while, especially when it’s hot and humid. At least the trail was fairly level!

I took my versatile, beater lens – the Canon 28-105mm f/3.5 – 4.5 USM II. I’ve blogged about the merits of this lens before – it’s a great all-purpose, lightweight, and relatively small lens that provides pretty good results (especially at f/8). I wish it was just a tad wider (24mm would be perfect) but I really like the zoom range, close focusing distance, and having just over 100mm at the long end.

click for slightly larger pic

Canon 5D, 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM II
f/8, 28mm, 1/25 sec., ISO 800

James took me to a special spot to visit a mighty oak that spanned a creek. We spent some time exploring and photographing the old tree. At this point of our hike, I really wished that I’d brought my tripod.

This photo was taken hand-held with me squatting down and bracing the camera with my legs. I fired several bursts – a technique that’s good for this situation. Usually, in a burst of 4 or 5 shots, the second, third, or fourth shot will be sharpest. (the act of pressing and the releasing the shutter button on the first and last shots often adds a little extra camera movement and blurring of the photo) It worked out fairly well, and I got a reasonably sharp image. I did have to shoot at ISO 800, but the 5D produces acceptable noise levels provided the image is well exposed. Shooting at f/8 was necessary to get the depth-of-field I wanted. I had brought a polarizer, but took it off for this shot to get the fastest shutter speed I could, and that was a compromise.

click for slightly larger pic

Canon 5D, 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM II
f/8, 28mm, 1/25 sec., ISO 800

This shot was taken a little later in the hike, just after we crossed the East Fork of the San Jacinto River. I used the same technique as described above, except this shot was taken with me holding the camera atop my hiking stick. I usually take a 4-foot long wood dowel that serves as an impromptu monopod when needed.

I wished I could have used my polarizer (and also a lower ISO). The filter would have helped to cut the white glare off the surface of the leaves and really show the beautiful green glow that the forest canopy generates. Next time I’ll definitely bring the tripod.

hike info
Double Lake Recreation Area and Big Creek Scenic Area are located just south of Coldspring, Texas inside the Sam Houston National Forest. I made a custom map (1 MB) of our route and plotted GPS waypoints. The GPS data was made before the hike using software, i.e. they’re not real points taken in the field. However, during the hike, I found that those pre-plotted points were accurate.

One thought on “Lone Star Trail

  1. Love that oak. I am inspired to take a walk down the trail to see if I can find it. I want to do a pencil drawing of it.

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