If I was told that I could only photograph Mt. Rainier, I don’t think I’d ever run out of compositions…as long as I remained inspired. The mountain is so gorgeous and so very different from each side. The glaciers that have chiseled it for thousands of years are in themselves weathered and full of character, like aged and beautiful faces.
During this excursion we were poking around the Sunrise side of the mountain (north-eastern section of the park) when I became aware of the dappled light on the massive glaciers created by slowly floating clouds. Look at the furrowed crevasses, how much character they add. I can just get lost in the details.
There wasn’t much color in this scene, just a little blue here and there, so I made the decision to make it into black and white. I thought that it would make the image’s complexities simpler, allowing the viewer to focus on the rawness of this ancient landscape.
Glacial fields on Mt. Rainier | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
It has been beautiful and warm in the Puget Sound with clear skies despite all the fires raging east of the mountains. I love summers here. If we had more days like these it would be an ideal place to stay forever.
As it gets too hot at times I begin to think about other seasons, particularly autumn. As my favorite season nears, the days become shorter and soon enough we’ll see a cooling trend in the air. I’m in no hurry, but I’m reflecting on past autumns.
Particularly I’m taken back to the year 2000. Early that year I abandoned the 35mm film camera system and with much excitement switched to a medium format Pentax 67II and four lenses. I was full of anticipation and energy to explore with a system much more capable of my vision. For a few years I had the thought of going to Colorado’s San Juan Mountains during autumn’s glory. I booked a budget flight for a quick four-day “vacation” to Albuquerque. From there I would drive to Durango and begin my fairly quick loop drive around the San Juans.
Having never experienced aspen trees in autumn’s splendor, my eyes were feasting on the magnificent trees and mountain landscapes sprinkled with them. I was simply blown away by God’s perfect artistry and to this day feel very blessed to have witnessed the San Juans even for such a brief time.
Quite a few memories from this trip are still vibrant after all these years, and some have become sepia tinted. I made many compositions but one of my favorites to this day is the one I’m sharing here. I was driving down a dirt road toward viewpoints of grand peaks when I noticed this arrangement, particularly the four trunks growing together. And the mystery of what’s down the hill beyond this scene has kept me wondering to this day. I wish I took a glimpse.
I wonder if this scene is still splendid or if the many winters have changed its face beyond recognition….
Aspen trees in autumn’s splendor | San Juan Mountains, CO
This was quite a morning. We arrived around midnight, enjoyed the mountain for a spell under millions of stars of the Milky Way before we crawled in the back of the truck and slept a few hours until the alarm rang around 5 am. Looking out I was a bit disappointed that the whole landscape was in thick fog, and I thought that there was little chance of any dramatic light happening. Nevertheless, I decided to look for an interesting foreground, just in case. It was warm, very quiet, and the aroma of the tiny lupine was simply deliciously intoxicating.
As soon as I set up, the fog lifted and exposed this magnificent landscape…enough time to make one composition. Just as quickly as it dissolved, the fog returned and once again the landscape was plunged into silence.
Soon after the silence was broken by a spectacular and chilling song of a pack of coyotes that must have been roaming within a couple hundred feet. I felt extremely blessed. It is one of those memories that I will always cherish.
Mount St. Helens rising from morning fog | Mount St. Helens National Monument, WA
After a couple more hours of sleep, a beautiful warm blue sky day greeted us. We cooked up breakfast with this glorious view of the mountain and later descended a bit south into the forests to roam about Lewis River. But that’s another story….
There are always new discoveries to be made, even if we know a place by heart. I don’t remember much else from this particular trip to Mt. Rainier National Park except walking a narrow and overgrown path through a forest of subalpine firs to find a beautiful setting. A quiet landscape of a forest pond surrounded by firs and its shores sprinkled by gorgeous blooming lupine.
Soft sunlight filtered through the trees to add a bit of a sparkle to the scene. The air was still and filled with aromas of summer forest and flowers, sweetened by the sunshine.
I have returned to this spot many times over the years, like visiting an old friend, but it has never been quite as glorious as this time. But I have missed the last couple of years…could it have been so breathtaking then? Perhaps this year God will paint it even more beautiful….
Quiet forest pond graced by lupine and sunshine | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
It is no secret that western Washington is not lacking in grandeur and it is also no secret that the skies are often gray. I love light, glorious and dramatic light! Throughout the years I have been photographing, cloudy skies have been great for many of the scenes I focus on but when a stunning light show takes place in the heavens it is much reason to celebrate.
One particular December, a few days before the new year, we made an excursion to San Juan Island for an extended weekend. For the first couple days we were blessed with tremendous weather…cold, dramatic skies and fantastic light…sunlight. And in December seeing the sun is sort of like winning the lottery around here.
Here, a magnificent sunset lights the Strait of Juan de Fuca with distant Olympic Mountains gracing the horizon.
Strait of Juan de Fuca Sunset | San Juan Island, WA
We stood in amazement watching the light, a bit chilled, but nevertheless in awe. The next day we were once again graced with beautiful light and that was definitely more than we had hoped for! My words just can’t describe it well enough.
“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 11:7 (ESV)
Gorgeous sunset as viewed from Lime Kiln Point | San Juan Island, WA
The last day returned to wind and downpours and grayness but we were living by grand memories. Perfect to stay in and relax by the fireplace….