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Snowstorm in the Hoover Wilderness (with Zeiss Batis, Sony 28/2)

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Spring conditions the day prior gave way to one of the most gently beautiful snowstorms I’ve experienced (and as a lad in Wisconsin I have seen a few). It resulted in the best images of the day, perhaps of the trip; I love shooting in non-traditional weather; I hope this shows in the images.

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 has a deep enough lens hood that with a little care the front lens surface will stay free of rain or snow (and it is weather resistant). Shoot the scene, then carry with the lens angled down to avoid ingress of rain/snow. I had given up any hope of using the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 because the big wet flakes would instantly speckle the front surface, its lens hood being much less protective as with any wide angle in that range.

Near white-out conditions were thrilling as the clouds moved in (about 11,500' elevation here). Small flakes, then hail-like popcorn snow (4mm soft round pellets), then big puffy flakes. All with mountain-fresh air and hardly a breath of wind. It was a rare and intensely enjoyable sensual treat to be see/smell/feel the storm. To see the clouds rush in and obliterate the view, all while being completely and entirely alone miles from “home” (the only car remaining at the trailhead, mine). An excitement at the sheer beauty, yet with an undercurrent of tension, knowing that no mistakes can be made (any disabling slip or fall).

Most of these images all taken with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 on the Sony A7R. The Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a razor sharp performer with superb bokeh, and in fast-changing conditions its autofocus was a huge plus; I could not have shot so fast and reliably with a manual focus lens (e.g., Zeiss Otus), and I’m darn glad it wasn’t monochrome—the subdued colors make the shots in my view. The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a must-have for any Sony shooter (about $1199).

This first image with the Sony/Zeiss 28mm f/2; it has considerable distortion and vignetting wide open, but looks good in such a scene nonetheless.

Leading edge of spring nowstorm in Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f2 @ 1/1250 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 13:49:42
Sony A7R + Sony FE 28mm F2

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Stand of pines on granit outcrop in snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f5.6 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 14:41:17
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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Snow on vernal pond, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f1.8 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 15:25:00
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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White granite in white-out conditions, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f5.6 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 14:43:24
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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Solo pine wet from snow, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f4 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 15:33:22
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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Striped gneiss erratic closeup in snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 15:47:29
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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Pines in ground-level clouds, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f5.6 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 14:36:35
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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Snowbank, vernal pond and landscape, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f2.8 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 14:14:24
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

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It all went swimmingly until the polarizer fogged (using it for front element protection)—and with big wet flakes dumping like crazy, I did not attempt to remove it and shoot filter-less.

Having begun hiking back but still being ~4 miles into the wilderness from a parking lot entirely abandoned but for my lonely vehicle, a just prior slip-and-fall on an innocuous wet rock reminded me that execution errors could be very serious. Also, I was not fully prepared for the winter-like conditions (but the Western Mountaineering Flash XR jacket shrugged off the wet snow for 3+ hours—very impressive for a down jacket). And my shoes and wool pants were getting wet. So with some regret, I packed up the camera and humped it back.

Heavy wet snow on pines, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
f5.6 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 80; 2015-06-04 16:01:21
Sony A7R + Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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