spider gap x vsco film 04

Before I began editing the photos from backpacking the Spider Gap-Buck Creek Pass Loop, my plan was to write about why it wasn’t worth the effort to haul the 5 lbs. of Canon camera gear up and down 35+ miles of alpine trails.  These photos completely changed my mind.  The alpine beauty of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest was so unbelievable, I didn’t think it was going to be possible to convey the greatness of what I saw in a way that was going to be satisfying to me.  But I’m extremely happy with the way these images turned out, and with the way that I was able to use VSCO Film 04 to bring the flat digital images to life.

This is the first time that I’ve published photos that I’ve edited with VSCO Film 04 (if you’d like to know what VSCO Film is, please see the short explanation below*).  For this album, I chose to use Fuji Provia 100F for the images that more prominently featured people and Fuji Velvia 100 for the images that primarily featured the landscape.  Velvia slide film was made for landscape photography, and it shows in the richness of the photos that were edited with the Velvia Presets.  To get the maximum viewing experience of these photos, check out the full-screen slideshow on the Flickr Set (click the play button in the upper right-hand corner).

For anyone interested in doing photography out on the trail, here’s the gear I brought with me:

  • Canon 5D
  • Canon 24-105mm f/4L (a versatile zoom lens since I only had room for one lens)
  • 3 batteries
  • 1 8GB memory card (probably should’ve brought one more card as a backup)
  • Gorillapod
  • Think Tank Digital Holster 20 V2.0
  • RF Remote Shutter Trigger (for low-light long exposures)

You really need to go out and experience for yourself the glory of the Cascade Mountains.  But I hope these photos convey at least a little bit the awe and beauty of God’s creation here in the Pacific Northwest.  I’m deeply grateful that I had the chance to experience these mountains…and extremely grateful for the guys who helped carry my stuff so that I could live to hike another day.

^This last shot is a photo of me taken by Ashley Wilson.

*VSCO Film, as Shera has mentioned before, is a product developed by the Visual Supply Company that allows some of the unique beauty of film photography to be reproduced in modern digital photography.  VSCO analyzes the way different types of film record and convey images – the tones, hues, and grains that are unique to each type of film – and translates these analyses into algorithms (or Presets) that are plugged into photo editing software like Aperture or Adobe Lightroom.  When a Preset is applied to an image, the qualities of the resulting image very closely resembles the type of film that the Preset was designed to imitate.  I’ve chosen to use presets because it allows me to make the kinds of edits that I want, but in a fraction of the time.  And in particular, I’ve chosen Film 04 (the slide film pack) over the other VSCO Film Packs for a couple of reasons: the contrast and tonal style of this film closely matches what I already try to achieve when editing, and slide film is incredibly beautiful but extremely expensive to both purchase and develop.



  1. What time of year did you do this hike? There’s a lot of snow on many of the peaks in your photos (but not at Spider Meadow)…

    The photography is gorgeous!

    • kyle

      Thanks! We hiked this stretch over Labor Day Weekend. It was pretty hot down in the meadow…probably in the upper 80’s-lower 90’s.

      • Thanks! I was afraid you’d say you did it in June… Mountains look their best with snowy peaks, and your photos convinced me I need to do this or a very similar hike. But it’s a relief to know I won’t have to carry an ice axe and crampons to make that happen.

        A couple others that have made my list recently are: Lucerne to Stehekin through Spider Meadow & Gap, and the North Picketts traverse, from Hannegan Pass to Ross Lake.

      • kyle

        Cool! I haven’t done either of those, but I did read that the backside of Spider Gap can get very treacherous with ice, since it faces away from the sun. If you’re going to hike earlier in the year or during a relatively cool summer, you might need the ice ax and crampons. Thankfully for us, the snow field had receded enough that we were able to spend most of the time descending via a dirt footpath. Although there was still enough snow to do a bit of bumpy glissading.

  2. Pingback: unMonday: wildlife | PHOTO HERE PHOTO THERE

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