Yesterday Erna and I joined our good friends Dave and Laurie Lynn Brookwell (owners of Illusions Photographic) on a hike to Helen Lake. Why this lake is named after this Helen person is a good question. Maybe someone can illuminate us.
The day started off with a 7am pickup of the Brookwells followed by a 2.5 hour drive. Getting to the parking lot to begin the hike was the easy part, just go west on the Number One, turn north onto the 93 at Lake Louise and continue on for 32kms.
Upon entering the parking lot I was a bit disheartened to see so many cars. I can remember the days when I would be hiking the back country by Lake Louise and might see two people all day. Given the number of cars I estimated there had to be at least 100 people on the trail. Since there were reports of bears in the area I guess having company on the trail might be a good thing. Especially those doofus’s that insist on wearing those bear dinner bells.
The hike is 12kms taking you on an elevation gain of 1800 feet. Within mere steps from the beginning the trail pitch was rather steep. Between gasps for the ever thinning air, views across the valley to Crowfoot Glacier were spectacular. Now I have to admit I’m not in the best shape these days. Hey I’ve been trying, going to the gym when I can, passing up ice cream once in awhile and thinking real hard about jogging. Well, it’s a start. This said I figured that on this hike I better not take the 4×5. Not even the D700 or the Leica. No it will be the Canon Powershot A640 that gets called up.
I’ve always like the A640. When it was the latest and greatest I recommended it to my photography students if a solid P&S was what they were looking for. Funny thing was I never got around to buying one myself. This situation was remedied when I spotted one in a pawn shop for $98. I eventually walked out of there with the camera for $50. It certainly had seen some miles in it’s short life but everything worked. The optics are great, the 10M byte images sharp and clean. All this in a very small and light package. Perfect for this hike.
During this hike we were treated to bright sunny warm conditions, blustery cold winds, and to finish the day off, snow. Fortunately all the good weather was during the assent. Below you will find some of the images I came away with using the A640. Not bad for an out of date, bruised, battered last years technology picture maker. Oh ya the camera did fine too.
These web images do not do the A640 justice. I could easily make tack sharp 11×14 prints from the JPG files the camera generates. Now I will let you in on a little secret. Canon doesn’t want you to know this but you can get 12M byte RAW files from the A640. Yes RAW files. There is a lot this little camera will do but you will never know unless you download a little firmware package called CHDK. Do a quick google search and you will find it. You can not only upgrade your camera to give you RAW files but you can now see histograms and a very useful battery strength indicator. Why doesn’t Canon build this functionality into the Powershot right from the factory?