Henry Coe State Park

A backpacker is dwarfed by a large oak tree growing over the trail, Henry Coe State Park, California

I recently went on a weekend backpacking trip with my friend Steve. We had wanted to get up into the Sierra, but because of the VERY late snow melt, we had to do something at low elevation. Being quite large and close to the bay area, Henry Coe State Park was a good fit. This park features miles of back country, huge oak trees, and fire roads steeper than I though were possible to build.

Coyote Creek winds through green canyons filled with oak, Henry Coe State Park, California

We overnighted at Mississippi Lake, about 11 miles from park head quarters. Our trail out to the lake featured many climbs and descents (no trail is flat in the park), and a slog through a creek canyon. We soon gave up trying to stay dry – it was much easier to wade through the creek, as the trail crossed it at least 10 times. Once we got to the lake, we were happily surprised to see not only a bathroom, but a garbage can, picnic table, and even a pergola built over the table. It may not sound like a lot, but given we were backpacking and expecting nothing, this felt like living in luxury. We had the entire northern end of the lake to ourselves.

Wildflowers adorn a grassy canyon, Henry Coe State Park, California

The wild flowers were coming to their end, but given the amount of rain we’ve had this winter, the grass was very green, and very overgrown. On the second day, the trail out of the lake lead through a seldom-used canyon filled with oak trees. In places, the trail was hard to find due to the spring growth and lack of use.

A trail cuts through grass and wildflowers, Henry Coe State Park, California

After the canyon, we climbed to a ridge and followed it in true Henry Coe ups and downs. Finally we dropped down to a creek which flowed into the canyon we came up on the first day. This time we counted over 25 creek crossings. Once again, we ignored the trail in places and waded down the center of the creek (which in its high flow had completely consumed the trail). Overall we hiked over 10 miles in wet boots that day.

The gnarled branches of an oak frame a smaller oak neighbor, Henry Coe State Park, California

Wildlife was abundant in the park. We saw 2 rattle snakes (one of them was huge and gave us a little shake of its rattle), a turtle, several wild turkey, a female wood duck with chicks, many deer, very loud killdeer, and quite a few red-winged blackbirds.

A giant oak tree dwarfs the fire road running next to it, Henry Coe State Park, California

Over the two day trip we hiked about 26 miles. The weather wasn’t too hot, and green still dominated the park. It was a great warm-up trip as we anxiously anticipate the High Sierra opening up.

  • EdDSJr

    First off just wanted to let you know I’m a HUGE fan of your work. Your shots always seem to capture a unique and inspiring perspective of a scene.

    I’m a photography novice and have a question on a challenge I’m having with respect to shooting my son’s indoor sports (indoor soccer and basketball). I have an EOS Rebel XSi and typically use a Cannon Lens EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and the shots I take end up blurry. I had a similar problem (although the blurriness was not as bad) when I switched to EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. I’ve had great results using this set up to shoot outdoor sports (soccer and baseball) but can’t seem to dial things in for indoor sports. Any insight or recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks Hank!

  • Thanks Ed – I appreciate the compliment!

    The problem you are facing is a common one. The simple answer of why this set up works outdoors but not indoors is that you are getting a lot more light outdoors than in. Your camera is automatically giving you longer shutter speeds indoors, causing the photos to turn out blurry.

    The first thing to do is set your camera in aperture priority mode (if its not already). Then make sure your aperture is wide open (5.6 @ 300 mm, 4 @ 70 mm). This will ensure you're getting the fastest shutter speed with the available light. If your shots are still blurry, start increasing the ISO. The Rebel XSi does very well with high ISO, so you should be able to go as high as 1600 without getting TOO much digital noise in your shots. In general, the higher ISO you use, the more post processing noise reduction is required, so try to keep it as low as possible, while still achieving reasonable shutter speeds.

    For sports photography, you should try to go no slower than 1/200 second – but since you lens is image stabilized, you might be able to go slower. Another alternative to reduce camera shake is to use a tripod or (more commonly for sports) a monopod. However, you'll have to weigh photo quality against embarrassing your son! 🙂

  • EdDSJr

    Thanks Hank. I’ll make some of these adjustments and let you know how it goes. As for embarrassing my son, since he’s entering the “my Dad’s a dork” phase of his life I’m not sure much can be done to avoid it. He’ll get over it…and heck one day may even thank me for taking cool pictures of his glory days. 🙂

  • EdDSJr

    First off just wanted to let you know I’m a HUGE fan of your work. Your shots always seem to capture a unique and inspiring perspective of a scene.

    I’m a photography novice and have a question on a challenge I’m having with respect to shooting my son’s indoor sports (indoor soccer and basketball). I have an EOS Rebel XSi and typically use a Cannon Lens EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and the shots I take end up blurry. I had a similar problem (although the blurriness was not as bad) when I switched to EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. I’ve had great results using this set up to shoot outdoor sports (soccer and baseball) but can’t seem to dial things in for indoor sports. Any insight or recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks Hank!

  • Thanks Ed – I appreciate the compliment!

    The problem you are facing is a common one. The simple answer of why this set up works outdoors but not indoors is that you are getting a lot more light outdoors than in. As you probably know, this means your camera is automatically giving you longer shutter speeds indoors, causing the photos to turn out blurry.

    The first thing to do is set your camera in aperture priority mode (if its not already). Then make sure your aperture is wide open (5.6 @ 300 mm, 4 @ 70 mm). This will ensure you're getting the fastest shutter speed with the available light. If your shots are still blurry, start increasing the ISO. The Rebel XSi does very well with high ISO, so you should be able to go as high as 1600 without getting TOO much digital noise in your shots. In general, the higher ISO you use, the more post processing noise reduction is required, so try to keep it as low as possible, while still achieving reasonable shutter speeds.

    For sports photography, you should try to go no slower than 1/200 second – but since your lens is image stabilized, you might be able to go slower. Another alternative to reduce camera shake is to use a tripod or (more commonly for sports) a monopod. However, you'll have to weigh photo quality against embarrassing your son! 🙂

  • EdDSJr

    Thanks Hank. I’ll make some of these adjustments and let you know how it goes. As for embarrassing my son, since he’s entering the “my Dad’s a dork” phase of his life I’m not sure much can be done to avoid it. He’ll get over it…and heck one day may even thank me for taking cool pictures of his glory days. 🙂

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