Memorial Day 2019 at Shenandoah National Park

We went to Shenandoah National Park over Memorial Day weekend this year. Unlike in the past where we’d enter at Thornton Gap and just stick around the central district, this time we entered at the north end of the park in Front Royal, and made our way almost all the way down to the south end of the park at Mile 80. Our kids are all a bit older now at 10 and 12, so they’re capable of a lot more than they were even a few years ago, and our dog has proven to be quite the hiker as well, so our trip to SNP was a lot of new adventures for us in an old place.

My photography lineup for the trip was my new Canon EOS RP full-frame mirrorless camera. I was going to keep it simple and just bring the Canon 35mm f/1.4L prime lens, but it just felt wrong for some reason, so i went ahead and stuffed my bag with the 17-40mm f/4L ultra-wide and 70-200mm f/4L telephoto zoom lenses as well, along with my newly acquired used Canon 320EX flash.

I have to say, I really liked hiking with the 35mm f/1.4L lens. I think what I’d really want is the EF 24mm f/1.4L II which I could pickup cheaply used, but I’m in a bit of a wait and see mode right now with the new Canon RF mount, seeing what new native RF mount lenses they end up releasing for it, and their prices. While hiking in the wood, you run out of light pretty quickly, and can also have distracting backgrounds, so I really loved the ability of the 35L lens to get some nice mid-hike photos.

Hiking Portraits with the Canon 35mm f/1.4L

The best part of these photos besides the thin depth of field is that you still end up at a very low ISO. A slow lens and especially an f/5.6 would have needed ISO 1600 to 3200 or more for many of these.

The last two photos of William and Katie were at 1/500s and ISO 3200 and 1000 respectively. I’m not sure you’d want to go slower than 1/500s while grabbing mid-hike candid portraits, so the extra optical horsepower of the fast glass really pays off when you’re deep in the woods.

A Great Change of Scenery

Shenandoah National Park was beautiful, as always. There’s never a bad time to go.

I’m a big fan of actually using a flash when needed, but I hate big flashes unless I absolutely must. They’re heavy and take up a ton of space that could otherwise be used for a lens, and just annoying and clunky to use, so I’ve always been a fan of the mini flashes.

I used to have a Canon 270EX, which had a handy head that would flip up for bounce flash and also had two zoom settings, but with only 2-AA batteries it took way too long to recycle at full power, and overall just didn’t have enough power and sold it. I picked up a used Canon 220EX flash which takes 4-AA batteries and definitely recycled more quickly at full power, but fixed 28mm angle and no bounce flash. it definitely worked better than the 270EX, but I found it lacking for larger groups of people where you need some fill flash during daylight. So yet another flash! I recently picked up a Canon 320EX used from, and I’m pretty pleased with this one. It has 4-AA batteries again and a handy LED light if you’re doing video or want steady illumination for the all important food photos, but it also has a manually zooming head with 28 and 50mm settings, and now it finally has proper fill power for people that might be further away. I didn’t use the flash all that much on this trip, but I was pretty pleased with it. It did as good of a job here as my big Canon 580EX would have done at only half the size and weight, and that’s what you want when you’re out hiking - just enough to get the job done without any extra weight.

Nice even illumination on faces despite the mixed lighting thanks to the Canon 320EX flash!

Nice even illumination on faces despite the mixed lighting thanks to the Canon 320EX flash!

We always love the change of scenery up in the mountains. Sorry for the lack of more annotations on WHERE exactly each photos was taken at and settings. No time and really just wanted to get a nice photo blog up, but if you’re really curious, hit my CONTACT link and I’m happy to chat photography or what to see and do in Shenandoah National Park with anybody. :)

Overall, we had a great trip, and the weather was perfect for us with only a few very brief rain showers that we didn’t get caught in. The Canon RP is an awesome camera, although i’m definitely looking forward to getting some native RF mount lenses to drop a bit of size and weight. I’ve always loved the look of full-frame photography more, but not the size and weight of all of the gear. The mirrorless camera body itself is significantly smaller than something like a 5D or 6D full-frame body so helps a ton by itself, so once more full-frame mirrorless lenses are available, it will really start to mature as a new camera system. Can’t wait to blow more money!

You can see the full photo album at the link below.