[/caption] Another spectacular view of Mt. Rainier can be found at Bench lake which is only a short 1 mile hike. You have the opportunity to visit Snow lake which is an additional 1 mile hike as well as get the opportunity to see some black bears and hike along the Tatoosh mountain range. The hike may be short but it is a very scenic and spectacular place to travel since you get a chance to see the mountain is all its splendor with little to no crowds. However, I would recommend hiking during the off season and during the weekday. I took this photo at about 1:15pm, the sun was well behind me and there were absolutely no clouds. I was fortunate to avoid any sun glare and the brightness was limited since I was standing just in front of a barrage of trees. The trail also ends just as you get to the lake so your limited with your ability to move around the lake. You are pretty much only able to take photos along the beach due to the heavy vegetation. However, the beach is sandy and you cat set up your tripod at the very edge of the water. I had attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter. This helped saturate the sky and bring out the warm tones of the trees and mountain. I actually took this photo with the lens at focal length 21mm but many of the photos were taken with the lens at its most panoramic focal length. However, I liked the color and saturation is this particular shot. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 and since the camera was in Program/Normal mode the aperture was automatically set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/166 second. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. There are several creeks and wildflowers that dominate the entire hike.
[/caption] Some of the most spectacular views while visiting Mt. Rainier National Park is actually not of Mt. Rainier at all. In fact, the views of the Tatoosh Range from the lower elevations of Mt. Rainier offer some of the most spectacular views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and of course the numerous jagged mountains that make up the Tatoosh Range. If you start hiking from the Paradise Inn parking lot you will begin to get a better view of the Tatoosh Range. They resemble what you might think you would find in Colorado or the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. There are also a few trails that take you into the heart of the range that offer great views of Mt. Rainier and to some amazing alpine lakes. I actually hiked upon a black bear foraging for berries while hiking the bench/snow lake trail which travels right in to the heart of the Tatoosh range. This photo was taken at the Alta Vista viewpoint which is at about 7,000 feet on the south side of Mt. Rainier. It was about 10:25am so the sun glare was pretty bright but this particular photo shows just how wide and massive the Tatoosh range is. You can see Mt. Adams in the background and Mt. St. Helens can barely be seen in the far right of the photo. You can also see Mt. Hood in the far distance but if the glare is really bad you have a hard time noticing it. You would need a fish-eye lens in order to get the entire range in the photo. And even then you probably wouldn’t get all of the mountains in the shot. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible. I made sure to use my tripod and bubble level since it was somewhat windy. The camera mode was at Program/Normal and since I had the CIR-PL and warming filter attached the aperture was set at F-7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/197 second. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 since the sun glare was bright and I didn’t have any shade to block the sun.
[/caption] You can see several of Mt. Rainier’s alpine glaciers while driving on the south side of the National Park. You can pretty much take out the National Park map that you will get when you enter the park and map out each of the alpine glaciers that you can see while staring towards the mountain. It’s hard to imagine that there are even more of it’s glaciers on the northern part of Mt. Rainier as well as in the east and west. This photo was taken near an area called “The Bench”. A part of the road takes a very steep and twisty turn where you can choose between several turn outs that allow you to get some spectacular shots of the mountain. I had my Sigma 17-70mm lens attached as well as my CIR-PL and warming filter. Since I also had the camera mode in Program/Normal the aperture was set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second due to the fact that I also had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to ensure that there wouldn’t be any camera shake since the sun was starting to go behind the higher elevations behind me.
[/caption] Mt. Rainier National Park is an amazing place if you want to witness one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest. The snow was still on parts of the trails which means that most of the trails are probably still impassable. The lakes are completely swollen as well as the many streams and rivers. Don’t expect to enjoy the park on a short day trip since there is over a week of exploring available at the park. Unfortunately, I was only able to spend about 4 hours at the park since my wife and I had started the morning by visiting the Mt. St. Helen’s National Monument and then driving north through Randle, WA and then heading towards the Stevens Canyon Entrance which is in the South East corner of the park. By the time we were done we had clocked over 200 miles and didn’t get home until about 11:00pm. However, I would recommend this road trip to anyone that is interested in one of the most scenic areas around. We didn’t even reach the Park entrance until about 2:00pm so I knew that I had to hurry many of my photographs. Luckily we were driving on the south side of the park with Mt. Rainier in the north. This way the sun was behind me and I didn’t have to worry about too much glare. It was also later in the afternoon so the timing worked out well. We ended up driving from the SE Entrance and exiting via the Nisqually Entrance which is in the SW corner. There are so many places to view the mountain while driving on the main park road that you can really hammer out some great photos. I lost count of the amount of streams and creeks that we saw as well as the many waterfalls cascading over the rocks. Reflections Lake and Louise Lake are two great places to stop and take some great photos. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to drive up to Paradise Park, which I’m sure would have added another hour to our trip. I hope to make a camping trip to the Park early next month and hope to photograph the entire NE and South part of the park. The Park is literally overwhelming and I could probably spend an entire month here. It truly is an outdoor enthusiasts dream and well as a photographers candy store. This particular shot was taken at Reflections Lake. When I first arrived at this spot Mt. Rainier wasn’t showing its reflection so I would think that you need to wait until later in the day for the sun to move further west. I took the photo at about 6:10pm and the sun was behind me and to the left since that was true west. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle which made for the perfect photo opportunity. I walked down from the road and set up my tripod at the waters edge. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -2 which caused the aperture to be set at F-4.6 and the shutter speed at 1/83 second since the camera made was in Program/Normal.
[/caption] Some of the best views of the Olympic mountains is from almost any of the piers lining downtown Seattle. Depending on the weather and time of day you can get some really spectacular photos looking across Elliot Bay. Due to Seattle’s weather you are most likely going to get some fantastic clouds swirling around the mountains as well as some pretty sic clouds in the upper parts of the atmosphere. You are also able to include several different types of boats in the foreground if you want to fill the photo with additional subjects. This photo has the Victoria Clipper returning from Canada but I took several other photos that have sailboats and a tanker. You can also wait for one of the numerous ferries to steam across the landscape. If you are lucky enough to be here during a cloudless sunset you are sure to get some unbelievable photos. However, on this trip the clouds dominated the evenings. I took this photo at about 8:15pm and the sun was pretty much hidden behind the clouds. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to 0 in order to get the best exposure. Since I had the camera mode in Normal/Program the aperture was automatically set at F-4. I was surprised at the F stop setting since I had attached my CIR-PL and warming filter and figured that the F stop would have been around F-10. However, since the clouds and water was still creating some glare the shutter speed was at 1/40 second. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 58mm. Since Seattle is pretty far from the Olympic mountains its hard to see the mountains unless you have the focal length between 40 and 60mm. However, since the mountains are so broad you would have to have your focal length at around 25mm if you want to include all of the snow capped mountains. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to ensure that there would be no camera shake or blur.
[/caption] Hiking inside the Columbia River Gorge offers some of the most spectacular views you will ever experience. You will never be let down no matter which hike you decide to take. You will most likely encounter several waterfalls, steep canyon walls, creeks, brooks, steep drop offs and plenty of wildflowers. I took this photo using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I was using my warming filter and CIR-PL along with my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. This shot was taken around November so the forest was lush and green due to the recent rains. I had the focal length at 34mm in order to narrow the field of view and frame the trail and forest in the shot. The camera mode was in Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-4.5 and the shutter speed at 1/3 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the late morning glare from the sun high above. There was a huge drop off behind the trees in the foreground and the sun was shinning just behind them. I have never been disappointed when visiting the Gorge no matter what the month is or the season. However, Spring is probably my favorite with Fall a close second.
[/caption] One of the most majestic and massive waterfalls that I’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t nearly as tall as Multnomah Falls but this 3-tiered cascade starts with a hidden 50-foot falls, spreads across a 70-foot fan and finally drops 80 feet into a huge rock punchbowl. However, the last part of the waterfall isn’t within view due to the trees and the sheer drop next to the falls. The waterfall is so wide towards the top that you could park a semi from end to end and still not block the falls. The trail starts at about 15 miles north of Carson, WA at a primitive and quiet parking area. The last few miles are on a gravel/dirt road with some potholes. The best part of this hike isn’t just to the waterfall. If you backtrack about 1/2 mile there is another trail that takes you to the top of the falls. This puts you at 2370′ and right on top of the falls. There are several viewing areas at this elevation and the panoramic views are incredible. The forest is also especially beautiful and quiet. If you’re a fan on my business facebook page at PNW Photography LLC, you can see several more pictures from this hike. There is also another great little creek that flows down just before the main falls that a bridge crosses. I’m pretty sure that it’s a natural spring since the upper trail never crosses this same creek and it doesn’t seem like it forks from Falls Creek. This photo was taken at about 4:00 in the afternoon. I returned to the falls for a second time in order to avoid most of the glare from earlier in the morning. To get this shot I used my 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length at 16mm. I had my warming filter and CIR-PL attached to the lens. I set the ISO at 100 and the F-stop was at 16. I set the Exposure Program to Shutter Priority and set it at .5 seconds. I used my tripod in order to avoid camera shake. Again, a lot of the vegetation still wasn’t out which made for some of my shots to seem like there was some brown vegetation. Many of the wildflowers were starting to come out but I would give it another week or so before the rest of the neon greens break out. I’ll be returning once all of the colors are out.
[/caption] I finally made a trip to Mt. St. Helens while the sun was out. When I left Portland, the entire Valley was covered in heavy fog, which made me nervous about the conditions of the Cascades. However, once I drove past the first view point, the sun started showing itself. Mt. Adams and the rest of the Cascade foothills kept the storm clouds at bay. However, Mt. St. Helens was engulfed by the sun. This gave me the opportunity to hike from Coldwater lake to the Johnston Ridge Observatory view point. I hiked along the Hummocks loop and then connected to the Johnston Ridge loop . I brought my snow-shoes thinking that there would be plenty of snow but the trail was almost entirely bare. I only had to scale about 1/4 of a mile through the snow. Most of the Johnston Ridge was void of snow. However, the view from across the blast zone was awesome. It felt more like early spring than winter. The snow level was high but at least it made my hiking trip easier. Mt. Adams rarely made itself visible. I was able to capture several sunset shots and the moon also made an entrance. I’ll be going back as soon as the snow re-appears.