Tag Archives: Pentax 645D

At the Edge of the Sea

It poured all night, large raindrops clanking on the metal roof. It was soothing, at times frustrating when I couldn’t fall asleep. The next day started gloomy but there was a freshness in the air, even Charlie the dog was excited with the new smells in the forest.

We walked the road, poking our heads here and there to check on hidden corners along the water’s edge. A few words were exchanged but we were mostly happy to be there. The place renewed us…if temporarily, but still….

At water's edge, Washington Park, Anacortes | WA

At water’s edge, Washington Park, Anacortes | WA

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2015 in Review: Mt. Rainier Dreams

Slowly but surely I keep revisiting places of 2015.  Mt. Rainier National Park is a special destination for me and has been since I moved to Washington State over 20 years ago.  A place that always provides much inspiration.  This time around I was heading out to meet up with my good friend Ross (have a look at his work here) visiting from Florida.  Over the years we’ve enjoyed many great photographic excursions, and this was no different.

Due to extreme heat, at least for our area, and lack of adequate precipitation the previous winter and spring, flowers came and went early.  Despite this, the landscape remains glorious.  To get “warmed up” we spent some time in Paradise Valley, enjoying the glowing firs and meadow.  I particularly enjoyed working this scene with the mountain ash berries in the foreground.

Paradise Valley Meadow, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Paradise Valley Meadow, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

One can find various gems throughout the park, some hidden in plain sight, others truly off the beaten path.  Following a good start at Paradise Valley, we spent quite a bit of time photographing Paradise River rapids before seriously focusing on Ruby Falls.  With its many strands of falling water, various rock surfaces and dappled light, this can be a magnificent place to enjoy for a while.

Ruby Falls, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Ruby Falls, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Feeling quite pleased with the day’s work, we decided to take a quick spin up to Reflection Lakes.  No matter how many times one views the Mountain from here, the landscape is simply glorious.  We had the place to ourselves, and that is a big bonus at this spot.  And we were even treated to stunning sunset light.

Mt. Rainier Sunset | Washington

Mt. Rainier Sunset | Washington

Returning to camp, we stirred up some grub, good drink, and good conversation.  It was a grand time with a great friend in a magnificent location.

 

2015 in Review: Paradise River, Dusk

Mt. Rainier National Park is a place close to my heart. I always love spending time exploring the hidden places as well as taking in the vistas available to all visitors. This day happened to fall on Mother’s Day. Heather’s mom was visiting from Ohio and we were blessed to see the Mountain on this fine day…a grand present to us all, but especially to Arlene. And for the first time, Stan got to join us on this adventure since we were not doing any hiking – most national parks don’t like to see dogs on trails, but I’m sure if they met Stan they’d make an exception as he was definitely more than that! Anyways, it was simply a beautiful time for all of us.

Oh, and the following day at Paradise we encountered two foxes, still in their gorgeous winter attire, just lounging in the gently falling drizzle. Stan focused his attention on them while sitting comfortably in the back seat, and exchanged a few words with the foxes. They didn’t really seem to even notice but we had a great time watching them and listening to what Stanny had to say!

By the way, this is a 30 second exposure at the edge of day. I loved the blue and preserved it in my final image. Sure, this will make a great black and white as well, but the blue is what I remember….

Paradise River, Dusk, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Paradise River, Dusk, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Mt. Rainier in the Rain

Most of the year I had moments during which I told myself it was time to go to Mt. Rainier.  I’d get excited but then something would take that spark away and I wouldn’t go.  Spring went by, the wildflowers of summer, and the brief brilliance of autumn.  Mind you I’m no stranger to the park.  I used to go there 10-15 times per year for a good 15 years.  Then I stopped.  A lot changed for me, around me and in me.

And so for three years I didn’t make a single visit.  At times I missed being there and at times I felt helplessly indifferent.  But that desire to travel came back and I actually grabbed my camera, some extra clothing, got into my vehicle and drove south to the park.  It wasn’t particularly a nice day; heavy overcast with passing rain storms.  It looked worse at my destination.  But I was ready to go.  The closer I was getting the higher my excitement grew.  And yeah, I was excited about my excitement!

Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

At the entrance gate I knew I messed up for not coming here for so long.  I got the annual pass.  As I entered the park the drizzle was still coming down, but it was really trying to stop…or so I told myself.  I have passed by the above scene a 100 times or more.  I looked but didn’t see.  This time it took my breath away.  It was wet, lush, gorgeous, so much so I had a few tears of absolute joy.  I looked for a while before setting up my camera, simply absorbing the scene, while big drips of rain from the branches above fell on me and all around…just perfect.

As I continued through the park, via Longmire, climbing in elevation, the landscape looked so new yet I had witnessed it on so many occasions over the years that it was recognizable.  I guess it is like aromas that are familiar to us from childhood, forgotten for years, and once inhaled again feel as new as yesterday.

Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington

Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington

With the climbing elevation the rain increased to downpour strength.  I wasn’t going to see the mountain up close today but that’s just fine, I love the forests for all the various trees, the shrubs, the lakes, the valleys.  Heavy rain and fog in Paradise.  I was bummed that the park closed the Paradise Valley Road even though the snow had not come and some remnants of autumn still adorned the landscape.  I was overjoyed to see some remaining color despite the fact I was here nearly a month past the usual peak.

I stopped at Reflection Lake and set up a couple compositions in a sideways downpour.  Maybe not the most romantic thing to be setting up a large camera with one hand and holding an umbrella with the other.  But when you love the craft, such things don’t really matter.

Arriving at the western edge of Stevens Canyon the fog thickened and the rain really did stop.  In the above photo I loved the shrubby vine maples (among my favorite “trees”) with autumn color and the layers of silent conifers.  I filled my lungs with deep and sweet breaths of wet mountain air….

Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

The fog began to lift and break up revealing secrets of the gorgeous Stevens Canyon.  I was thrilled to make another composition.  I was able to take in the sight for a few more minutes before the vail of fog returned thicker than ever hiding the glorious landscape…rain began pelting the landscape once again.

The rest of my journey was in the rain.  I was filled with peace, however, knowing I had been blessed by God.  There was much to be thankful for and much to contemplate.

 

Brilliant Autumn Cottonwood

This tree is like an old friend I like to visit each year or every couple years. The conditions were simply perfect, a heavy drizzle, swirling fog and sublime colors.

I first discovered this spot many years ago with a good friend of mine, Chris, while we were out scouting new locations in search of stunning autumn colors.  That was during the days of film when both of us were using Fuji Velvia.  We were quite thrilled when we came upon this sublime spot….

This time I was here with my wife Heather and our dog Stan.  Heather and Stan enjoyed walking around in the drizzle while I worked under an umbrella as the drizzle was turning heavier by the minute.

The air was cold and rich with moist autumn aromas.  The fog moved like a ghost along the face of the vertical wall and the gentle rain fell on the leaves as the creek swiftly flowed out of sight.

Brilliant autumn cottonwood growing along the edge of Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

Brilliant autumn cottonwood growing along the edge of Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

 

River Solitude

A few days ago was one of those times when I felt quite spent and needed to take a walk in creation.  One of the nearest places that I greatly enjoy is the southern section of the Mountain Loop Highway, along the Stillaguamish River.  Being in a very mellow mood, I didn’t know if I would see anything to photograph but I knew it would be just purely wonderful being there.

People were camping, the ranger station was closed for the day, the road was deserted.  I pulled into the Hemple Creek area and found it all to myself.  Perfect.  It was warm and the forest along the river was filled with aromas of summer.  The sun was breaking through the clouds and illuminating the magnificent trees.  The Stillaguamish was flowing clear and much lower than when I stopped here a few weeks ago.

It was good to be here again, to hear the birds and the water, to inhale the delicious air.  I thanked God for his grace.

I walked and observed and a calmness began to take over.  I began to see.  The boulders, submerged much of the year, were in full form.  My eyes began to focus on the play of river rapids around the boulders.  A particular rock caught my attention; I didn’t remember ever seeing it before even though I’m sure it has been in the same spot a long time.  It was dark and stood out from among the other mostly light boulders.

I put my gear down and jumped from one submerged rock to another to get closer and see if a composition would work.  The river was warm and I was glad to be here.  The boulder was being embraced by the waters and I felt very embraced at that moment as well.

I made three variations of this composition and settled on this one as my favorite.

Black boulder in the Stillaguamish River | Mountain Loop Highway, WA

Black boulder in the Stillaguamish River | Mountain Loop Highway, WA

I took my time and watched the river as it flowed downstream, hugging all the boulders in its path, and disappearing around the bend, on its eventual way to the ocean.

As I kept walking along the river I enjoyed a few ripe thimbleberries and salmonberries.  These are always welcome and delicious, especially the salmonberries.

I really liked this giant boulder field, and just focused and studied it for a while.  It reminds me of life flowing with all its obstacles, eventually reaching the open sea.

Stillaguamish boulder field | Mountain Loop Highway, WA

Stillaguamish boulder field | Mountain Loop Highway, WA

About an hour before sunset I went further down the river, just around that bend I watched earlier, as I had an idea or two to explore there.  I have photographed this scene before, during different moods of the river, and found it once more very intriguing.  The sky was mostly overcast again and casting a soft glow on the scene.  I set up my tripod and camera on a huge boulder, put on a polarizer and made a series of compositions.  I liked the texture of the water in my 4 second exposures but wanted to try something much longer.

I reached into my bag and pulled out a neutral density filter which gave me a 30 second exposure.  Wow, the water took on a very different feel.  Studying the two exposures on the camera LCD screen I was leaning just a bit more toward the shorter exposures because of the texture of the water.  But once I looked at the much larger version on the computer the 30 second exposure was clearly the one that captivated my imagination.  The scene has this quietness to it, a lot like what I was feeling in my heart at this point.

Quiet waters of the Stillaguamish River | Mountain Loop Highway, WA

Quiet waters of the Stillaguamish River | Mountain Loop Highway, WA

After packing up, I enjoyed my dinner sandwich while being calmed by the beauty of this scene.  I thanked God again for his grace this day.  I arrived in an exhausted state but left fully refreshed by grace gifted to me….

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 42:11 (ESV)

Basalt Landscape

We were returning from a great few days in Idaho via the Palouse lands, looking for compositions.  I wasn’t optimistic for much photographic work on the return journey due to temperatures hovering around 100F and the sky being completely clear.  If there were gorgeous cumulous or cirrus clouds gracing the sky it would have been a different story.

As we crossed the Columbia River, with about two hours till sunset, it was time to stretch our legs, feed Stan, and just enjoy some views in the cooler temperatures (94F)!  And I wanted to also wait a bit for the sun to get lower so I could have a look at  an ancient basalt landscape I photographed many years earlier on my Pentax 67 film camera.  With no diffusion of the sun from particulates or thin clouds I figured having direct sunlight would be too harsh.

After enjoying our quiet break we piled back into the car and took off to look for this spot.  Memory and time shrink distances and it turned out the place was a bit farther than we remembered.  But there it was and I was happy to see it again. I didn’t know if I would see anything new to photograph but I was just excited to glimpse the place again.  As soon as we found the location I immediately saw it completely differently than years ago.  The composition formed in my mind and I was very pleased.

In the past I saw the huge columns, an impressive 6-8 feet in diameter, and focused on them.  Today was about a more relaxed landscape, giving a glimpse of the surrounding environment.  It was a blessing indeed to see the place in new light.

As the crickets and birds chirped I mounted the camera on the tripod and put on a wide-angle lens and with joy of a kid got to work.  I made three variations of the scene and this one, the last, moved me the most.  I would like to return here again…there is another idea I have but it will depend on the light.  As we left, the sense of quiet joy was overwhelming….

Basalt Landscape | Central Washington

Basalt Landscape | Central Washington