[/caption] While visiting Mt. Rainier National Park for the second time in about a month, I was pleasantly surprised to see this mother deer and its fawn hiking near the Paradise parking lot. I was absolutely amazed to be able to get this shot with Mt. Rainier directly behind them. The deer were pretty tame since I was able to get several shots as well as ensure that my settings were good as well as ensure that Mt. Rainier was perfectly aligned in the photo. You can also see some of the wildflowers in the foreground. In fact, this was by far one of my best photography days ever! Not only did I get these shots of the deer with Mt. Rainier in the background but I also saw a black bear while hiking on the Bench/Snow lake trail. I actually saw it twice but the first time it scampered off before I could get a shot. I also photographed a vibrant Marmot as well as a Ptarmigan. I also stumbled upon a family of frogs. I saw my second black bear of the day when a bear cub was running across the road as I was driving. The wildflowers are absolutely amazing. In fact, the smells are so intense that you can almost taste them. The lupine are so fragrant that I found myself kneeling down and thrusting my nose in them in order to inhale the scent. If there was a best time to visit the park, now is the time. The crowds are gone and there is a dusting of snow lingering on the otherwise bare parts of the mountain. This makes for spectacular photo opportunities. This photo was taken from the beginning of the Alta Vista Trail. I was actually standing in the Paradise parking lot when I noticed them foraging in the wildflowers. I even managed to set up my tripod and bubble level since they didn’t seem to mind a few of us hikers gawking at them. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had my CIR-PL and warming filter attached. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3. The aperture was automatically set at F-5.6 and 1/128 second since the camera mode was in Program/Normal mode. I had the focal length at 46mm in order to frame Mt. Rainier in the background while ensuring a large field of view so the entire photo would be in focus. It was about 8:50am when I took this photo so the lighting was awesome and the sun was directly behind me. If you like mountain peaks, waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, creeks, alpine lakes, glaciers, forests, historical buildings or streams then this is the place for you.
[/caption] The weather in Central Oregon is summertime at its best. I was amazed at how much water was still in the Central Oregon high desert. The abundant snow and rain fall has caused every single lake, creek and river to swell well over its banks. Almost all of the hiking trails are still covered in snow and I have never seen so many pine trees flooded near the banks of the alpine lakes and rivers. I took this shot while driving on Century drive/Cascade Lakes Highway while returning from Green Lakes. It was about 7:20pm when we noticed these 4 bucks and a single doe grazing in the meadow. The doe was mostly laying in the grass as the 4 bucks crowded around her. I wanted to have Broken Top in the background along with the meadow and the dear in the entire frame so I attached my Sigma 17-70 mm lens and set the focal length at 57mm. Since I was sitting in the backseat I wasn’t able to set up my tripod so I had to try and be as still as possible without blurring the camera. This was especially difficult since it was getting late, the sun was low and I was using my CIR-PL and warming filter. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2 in order to saturate the landscape. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/128 second.
[/caption] Here is a shot that I took last July while hiking in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I had visited the Park from the east, which is a long drive that takes you through Cougar and then north up the 131. The drive from Portland is very long and twisty but you are more likely to see herds of elk than people. This was my first trip along the east part of the mountain and I have to say that its one of the most scenic and peaceful parts of the wilderness. The Park reminded me of a National Park but minus the thousands of visitors and campsites. You can make it a day trip from Portland, during the longer days of summer, but I highly recommend you leave before sunrise and pack a lot of food since there are no places to eat. I took this shot with my Canon EOS T1i and my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter to bring out the colors and tame to intensity of the glaring sun. I took this shot looking south at about 6:35pm and the sun was just to the right. I had to set my ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the glare. The focal length was at 15mm and the shutter speed was 1/100 second. I was standing directly in the path of the explosion that destroyed all of the timber in its path. There were several pumice fields directly below where I was standing and you can see that some of the vegetation was just beginning to come back. I was amazed at the amount of pumice that littered the entire north side of the park. It was like walking through time and you could physically see the destruction from the wrath of the volcano. You can hike to Spirit lake and view the thousands of trees littering the lake and photograph dozens of species of wild flowers that grow among the pumice fields. I highly recommend visiting the park from the north east side. There are dozens of trails to hike and the park is very well kept and there are numerous areas to picnic. You are also guaranteed to see some wildlife. I startled a herd of elk while hiking on one of the trails and watched as they scurried up the mountain. This was truly an epic day.
[/caption] My first trip to the San Juan Islands in Washington State was an awesome experience. The weather was stellar and the sights were an amazement of incredible views. San Juan Island is one of the largest of the islands and it’s about 55.3 square miles and about 6,950 residents. However, I’m not sure if that’s full time or part time residents. Friday Harbor is the only town on the island and also where the ferry drops visitors off. We caught the ferry at Anacortes and it was about a 45 minute trip. However, make sure to get there early and plan on waiting for a while before boarding the ferry. It’s pretty expensive on the island so I would recommend bringing as much food as possible and make sure you fill up your gas tank in Anacortes. When driving through the island, it looks more like an agricultural area more than an island. It reminded me a lot of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. However, the rocky shores were teaming with viewpoints that included Mt. Baker to the east, the Olympic mountains to the south and Vancouver Island, Canada to the west. There are also two lighthouses on the southern part of the island, several densely forested areas as well as numerous fresh water lakes dotted along the island. There are plenty of historic places to visit and the interior has several rolling hills that offer some of the best road bike riding I’ve ever seen. We saw several deer as well as several sea otters in Mitchell Bay. There are several places that you can view orcas from the island, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. There is a small winery and an alpaca farm. Several cattle, horses and sheep are raised here as well as wheat and grass. There are several old barns and houses to photograph and with the Olympics always close by, you can sometimes get the mountains in most of your pictures when visiting the southern side. There are two harbors and dozens of coves and bays throughout the island. I was amazed with the amount of kayaks on the island. Most visitors coming off the ferry had either a bike or a kayak strapped to their vehicles. Sometimes they had both. I was able to get a lot of photos with kayaks in the picture, which made for some great sunset photos. I was able to kayak where I was staying, which was at Mitchell Bay on the north side of the island. You could see Vancouver Island, Canada and I paddled near several sea lions, kayaked through a kelp garden, saw several jelly fish and watched as some very expensive sail boats and power boats steamed by. There is also a 1 mile hike up Young Hill, which is about an 800 foot elevation gain. It provides a fantastic panoramic view of the Olympics, the many harbors and Vancouver Island. One of my favorite spots to photograph and visit along the shore was at tiny Reuben Tarte County Park, which is on the north east tip of the island. You have an incredible 180 degree view with several islands in the distance. You can see the mountains on Vancouver Island and photograph the ferries heading to Sidney Harbor as well as the many sailboats and power boats in the San Juan Channel. Since I was limited on time I visited San Juan County Park to get my sunset shots. It was only about a 10 minute drive from Mitchell Bay and there were several areas to set up my tripod. To get this photo, I was using my 55-250 telephoto lens and had the focal length at 79mm. I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV filter as well as my tripod and remote release. The sun had just set so I was able to get the orange glow exploding over Vancouver Island and Andrews Bay. You can also see several homes near Victoria, Canada. Since the glare was fairly bright, I wasn’t able to set my camera mode to Shutter. I kept it at Program mode and the F stop was F 4.5. I set the ISO to 100 which caused the shutter to release at 1/15 second. I have several photos where I had set the shutter to 30 seconds but this photo really shows the colors of the sunset. I would highly recommend visiting the San Juan Islands if you want to really experience an epic journey. There are several other islands that the ferries can take you to, but I was very impressed with what this island had to offer.
[/caption] While taking photos at a local park, I had come across a killdeer and it’s four eggs. Since there were so many people gawking at the bird and it’s eggs, mom was having a hard time luring away the many strange faces staring at her nest. It was interesting to see how many times she tried to lure people away with her fake broken wing. I decided to post this photo since it was one of the few times that she was standing still right above her nest. I was standing about 5 feet away and used my 55-250mm telephoto lens at 250mm focal length. I removed my CIR-PL but kept my UV filter and warming filter to bring out the warmth of the brown colors. The F stop was at 5.6 and I set the ISO to 100. I used Auto exposure and I didn’t use a tripod. If you look close you will see that she has four eggs. I normally don’t take pictures of wildlife but this was a great opportunity and I couldn’t resist from taking these shots. I’ve seen several killdeer and even stumbled across one with it’s eggs but I’ve never been able to get this close with my camera in hand.