Seattle, WA

[/caption] Most people say that the view from Kerry Park is hands down the best place to view the city. It’s pretty hard to argue that statement especially when you can see Mt. Rainier in the background as well as the Space Needle in the foreground. It’s the only place that I was able to include the mountain with the city. You can also see all the way across Elliot Bay and view parts of the Olympic mountains as well as watch the boats enter the harbor. However, I can’t really decide if this is truly the best place to view the city. It is by far one of the best places but I don’t know if I agree it’s the best. As a photographer, there are several parks to get some amazing panoramic photos and unfortunately Kerry Park is on the north side of the city which limits your view of how massive and long the city really is. There are also a lot of tall trees that obscures the views as you can see in this photo. However, Gas Works park and West Seattle allows you a much better panoramic view of the city. I had to use my 12-24mm lens to have the Space Needle and Quest field in the same frame when I took my photo from West Seattle. You can also see that photo that I took and posted on my blog on 8/1910. I also wrote a very extensive article when I first returned from my photography trip last summer. Gas Works park offers some great views as seen from the east part of the city. I will admit that Kerry Park is the most well kept and tranquil park that I have visited so far in Seattle but I don’t think it offers the best panoramic views of the city. My vote for the best place to view Seattle is in West Seattle. But then again that’s just my opinion. To get this shot I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my 18-55mm lens. I was using my CIR-PL and my warming filter. There was a huge wildfire that started in the Olympic mountains a few days earlier which caused the orange haze as seen in the background. The 90 degree weather and stale air didn’t help either. However, it did create a really nice hue around mt. Rainier. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch since we visited the park to get some nice sunset shots. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F5 and the shutter speed was at 1/20 second. Due to the glare from the haze I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1.3. This photo was taken at 8:17pm so the sun hadn’t set yet. I believe the sun set around 8:50pm. Unfortunately many of my sunset photos didn’t come out as planned since the forest fire had created a strong glare and each time I took a photo after sunset the glare from the lights made the photo look blurry. However, I was able to get a few keepers and I will be posting them on my blog soon.

Rose Garden in Portland, OR

[/caption] Macro photography is best when able to get really close to flowers so you can show the intricate parts of the subject. Normally I will spray a flower with water in order to focus on a water droplet so it really brings out the character and color of the flower. However, whenever I am lucky enough to photograph a flower with an insect near it I try to focus on the insect rather than a water droplet. This is especially true since you usually can’t spray the flower without scaring off the insect or angering the bee. I wanted to try and have both the rose and the bee in focus when I took this shot so I decided not to use my 50mm marcro/prime lens and instead use my 18-55mm lens. I tried to get as close as I could without distorting the picture so I changed the camera menu to Program/Normal as opposed to close-up. I stood about 8 inches from the rose and increased the focal length to 55mm. I made sure that I had removed the warming filter and CIR-PL so I could eliminate the possibility of any camera shake/blur. Due to the shadow and low light the shutter speed was pretty slow at 1/83 second and the aperture was at F 6.4. Since the bee was about to fly away I wasn’t able to adjust the ISO or white balance. The ISO was at 100 and the white balance was at -0.3. I was somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t able to get more light from within the flower in order to enhance the bees body. But because I was facing the sun and there was some shadows blocking any direct light, I tried to use this to my advantage by eliminating any glare. This photo was taken at the Portland International Rose Test Garden just above downtown Portland. I have visited this park numerous times and I can spend hours photographing the thousands of roses dotting the isles. During springtime, before the roses bloom, you can photograph dozens of other types of flowers as well. The hills within the park are teaming with possibilities and I have found myself enveloped in the scenery.

Portland, OR

[/caption] One of the most interesting and impressive buildings doesn’t include any of Portland’s high rise buildings. This is a photo of a very old building with a mural that gives the illusion that you’re looking at a flat apartment wall. However, you can see the windows in the middle that show that it really bows in where the windows are but you can never tell without really studying it. The rest of the windows shown are just a facade. I never get tired of admiring the artwork on this historical building. I have seen several photos from other photographers but I’ve never really been impressed. Either they are taken from a bad angle or they include other buildings or vegetation in their shot. I believe the best way to photograph this building is by standing directly in front of it. However, I do have to admit that I could have included more in the left part of the photo in order to include more of the people. To get this shot I stood about 50 feet from the wall and crouched down so I could angle my camera so I could include as much in the frame without having any distraction in the photo. It’s surprisingly difficult to do this since the building is much taller than it is wide. The building also has a tight angle on one side and a very large tree on the other side. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. The FL was at 37mm. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/64 second. Since I took this photo in February the light was low but the glare was pretty intense and it was early in the afternoon. Therefore, I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1. I also attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL in order to bring out the colors of the building and filter out some of the afternoon glare.

San Juan Islands, WA

[/caption] This is a photo of some people kayaking along the San Juan Straight with Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the background. This is now my third post on my blog of photos from the San Juan Islands that I that I took last August. You can read about my trip in depth from my blog that I posted on August 27th. I was able to get so many awesome photos that I want to post as many as I can on my blog so I can share them more. The day that I took this photo was an absolute epic sunset opportunity. The sky’s were clear, the ocean was calm and the air was very still. Like many of my sunset shots taken on the island I took this photo at the San Juan County Park. I noticed that there were several kayakers paddling along the bay so I decided to try to capture some of them in my photos. The sun had already set so I knew that it wouldn’t be easy photographing moving objects while the sky’s were already darkened. They were pretty far from where I was standing so I had to change to my 55-250mm telephoto lens in order to zoom in as much as possible. I changed from shutter mode to Normal/Program mode so I could eliminate as much blur as possible. The aperture was at F5.7 and the shutter speed was at 1/13 second. Even though the light was dim I had to set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -.1 in order to maximize the orange hue in the background. There were several different ways that I could have tackled this shot but I decided that this was the best way to get the best picture. I did however remove my warming and CIR-PL filter since the sun had already set and I wasn’t using shutter mode. I made sure to have my camera on a tripod as well as a bubble level and remote switch. In order to get this photo I chose the best way was to set my camera at a designated spot and wait for the kayakers to come in to view. However, you can see some blur on the paddles due to this. I could have tried panning but I felt that the entire photo would be blurry due to the low light and movement of the camera. You can also see some seagulls bobbing in the water near the kayakers. I can’t wait to get back to the islands next summer. This is truly a place that you need to visit when the weather is nice.

Painted Hills, OR

[/caption] I have a previous photo that I posted right after I took this picture last July in 2010. I wrote quite a bit about its history, geology and location. If interested, you can look up that photo and read more detail. This photo was one of my last shots of the day. We were starting to leave the park when I decided to get a few more shots before making the very long journey back home. I walked as far as I could but then had to settle at the edge of a barb wire fence. As I was taking several zoomed in shots of the hills I noticed that these crazy looking clouds were moving right across and over the hills. I quickly changed out my telephoto lens and attached my 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length to 24mm so I could zoom in as much as possible. I was using my Canon EOS T1i and I was using my warming and CIR-PL filter. This photo is another great example of why you should have these two filters. The warming filter brings out the mauve colors of the hills and the CIR-PL tames the bright sky and the glaring white clouds. This photo would have looked a lot different If I wasn’t using both of these lenses. The camera mode was at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F9 and 1/160 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 due to the harsh light. The sun was behind the hills but since it was late June and the time was 2:40pm, you can imagine how intense the glare can be in Central Oregon during peak summer.

Mt. St. Helens, WA

[/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.

Herman Creek in the Columbia Gorge, OR

[/caption] The trail that follows along Herman Creek that cuts through the cliff walls along the Columbia River Gorge displays some of the most awesome scenic views in the Gorge. There are also several additional trails that you can choose from that offer difficult hikes. The Gorton Creek trail will take you directly over the Gorge 2700 feet above the Columbia River or you can also hook up with the Pacific Crest Trail within just a few miles on a different trail. However, the Herman Creek trail is my favorite since you follow through the steep walls of the Gorge and takes you along many viewing areas of the forest along with spectacular views of the creek. During spring and early summer you can photograph some of the most beautiful flowers that dot the trail. I took this shot on 6/3/10 at 10:48am during a fairly overcast day and when the water levels were extremely high. I was standing on a bridge that is just just .4 miles off the main Herman Creek trail. I like this shot because I am standing directly over the creek which allows me to encompass the water and the vegetation that looks as though the river is bubbling right out of the forest. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. Since I wanted to get the flowing motion of the river along with a long shutter speed I had to use my ND8 filter along with my UV and warming filter. Normally I only use my ND4 but the glare was still pretty intense due to the amount of water and the fact that it was traveling at such a high speed. A slower moving river or waterfall is much easier to photograph than one that is moving much faster. In fact, I was only able to set the shutter speed to 4 seconds. I had the camera mode set at shutter priority and the aperture was at F22. The F stop was at F22 since I had the ND8 filter on the lens which only allowed a small amount of light through the lens. I also set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 due to the glare of the water. Taking photographs of fast moving rivers and waterfalls really requires you to master the art of utilizing and understanding light and your subject. I can spend hours changing my filters and settings in order to take the perfect shot. However, I am rarely disappointed when visiting the Columbia River Gorge. The photo opportunities are endless. I normally avoid the Gorge when the water levels are low and if the vegetation is still sparse or too dry due to the time of year. Late summer and winter isn’t the best time to get the best shots.

Ecola State Park along the Oregon Coast

[/caption] This photo joins the many photos taken at Ecola State Park along the Oregon Coast. It’s considered one of the most photographed areas in the United States. However, I am not always impressed with many if not most of the photos that I’ve reviewed on the internet or magazines. I know that this isn’t the best photo taken from here but I wanted to share just how dynamic this area really is. On this day the tide was extremely high and the swells were absolutely massive. Probably the biggest I had ever seen and I’ve been visiting the Oregon for four decades now. On this day the temperatures were pretty warm and the air was exceptionally warm. the tide and the onshore air was stirring the thin clouds up against the coast line which created this interesting scene shown in this photo. I darkened the rocks in order to create a kind of silhouette against the ocean. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I again attached my warming and CIR-PL filter due to the harshness of the sun and the glare created by the water and low thin clouds. I spent most of the day scouring around the park to try and capture the wrath of the swells hammering against the coastline and rocky beaches. This was truly one of my best days along the coast. I had my camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-6.3 and the shutter at 1/80 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -0.7 in order to combat the harsh light created by the glaring ocean and clouds. I I set the focal length at 33mm in order to eliminate parts of the beach that I didn’t want in the shot.

Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] One of my favorite hikes near Mt. Hood has got to be one of many trials that face the west part of the mountain. the views are spectacular and there is a lot of peace and solitude. There aren’t any paved roads, only narrow and windy gravel roads that take you to around 4000 feet elevation gain. One of the most scenic trails is the Timberline trail which takes you around Bald Mountain. At this part of the trail you can get some of the most spectacular photos of the mountain. The Mt. Hood national forest surrounds the mountain in the foreground and the birth of the Sandy River is directly below, along with the dozens of amazing waterfalls pouring out from the glaciers clinging along the mountains flanks. The photo shown here was taken just below McNeil point and you can see one of the waterfalls that helps form the Sandy river on the upper left. Muddy fork travels directly below which becomes part of the Sandy river. At this particular spot you are in the middle of two relentless creeks on both sides. You are basically on an island that only allows you to go straight up if you are trying to avoid the water. However, I did have to jump across the muddy creek, which can be very dangerous if the water level is high. I usually spend a few minutes looking for the safest spot to jump since I don’t want to break any of my equipment. You can also see another waterfall on the far right of the photo. I took this shot when I noticed how picturesque this photo looked with this Foxglove in the foreground of Mt. Hood. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. On this day the haze was particularly bad and the glare from the sun was pretty intense. I made sure to attach my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters in order to soften the sky and bring out the colors of the vegetation. I set the camera to Program/Normal mode which put the aperture at F7 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1 step due to the brightness of the sun. I was trying to get as much in the frame as possible so I had the focal length at 20mm. I didn’t want to have any blur in the corners of the photo so I ended up having to crop each of the corners. Since I was looking up for so many of my shots, several parts of the photo looked somewhat blurred. This was mostly due to a combination of things…. The field of view was huge, there were several subject in the photo and each subject was either close or farther away. It was like trying to take a 3D photo. Hiking in this part of the Mt. Hood national forest is best during late Spring or Summer. You will still find some snow and the flowers are amazing.


[/caption] who is ready for some spring flowers? Over the past week I have been taking my 6 month old Australian Cattle Dog on some long hikes in Forest Park, which is within the city limits of Portland. The rain has been so relentless that my puppy is muddy from chest to paws. But as I hike along the muddy trails I can’t help but think about how many spring flowers must grow along these trails in Spring. This started me thinking about the many festivals that take place all around the Pacific Northwest. The photo shown here was taken at the Woodburn Tulip festival last April. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens. The only filter I was using was the UV filter. Since I don’t use a tripod when using my macro lens, I don’t want to have any camera shake while using a CIR-PL. A PL lens eliminates the amount of light that enters the lens, so this will cause a very shaky photo unless you’re using a tripod. Since I try to include as much light as possible when using my macro lens, I am able to get within only a few cm from my subject and avoid any camera shake. It also eliminates the need for a tripod. This also makes it more enjoyable to crouch around the flowers as well as speeding up the process. Since a macro lens focuses on only parts of the subject and then blurs the rest of the subjects in the photo, I try to find the most interesting area to take the picture. I usually try to focus near the middle of the photo as well. In this instance I focused on the orange tulip, which caused parts of the photo to be in focus but the rest to be out of focus. I was trying to keep most of the tulips in focus while blurring the background. I was about 3 inches from the nearest tulip when I took this shot. I set the camera to its close-up mode and set the manual setting on the lens at Full. The F stop was at F 5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/200 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0.3 due to the brightness of the sky and the fact that I wasn’t using the CIR-PL. One of my favorite parts of photography is taking photos of flowers. The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful flowers in the world along with some of the most diverse species ever seen. However, visiting some of the many festivals gives you the opportunity to take photos of an endless supply of flowers.