[/caption] One of the best views from Smith Rock State Park is from the top of the Park which is about 3,250 feet. You have a 360 degree view and can see as far north as Mt. Hood and as far south as Paulina Peak. You also can see the Crooked River as it winds its way around the park which offers great spots to cool off from the desert heat. The summit of the park also offers several hiking trails that allow you to move about the entire top part of the park including the ability to look down at the rock climbers working their way towards the summit. You can also practically touch Monkey Face but I wouldn’t advise it since the fall would surely hurt. The great thing about this photo is that I was able to frame the photo with the rocks all around and then focus on the Three Sisters in the background. It also shows just how magnificent and diverse the Central Oregon topography is. To get this shot I wedged myself under a small area inside the rocks and made sure to include the climbing hooks in the bottom right in order to show the unbelievable climbing available at the park. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure that I had attached my CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to saturate the sky and the red rocks without having any overexposure. Since I was hiking with my 1 year old and extremely hyper Australian Cattle dog I decided that I wouldn’t bring my tripod. Unfortunately, this meant that most of my photos were taken while only using my right hand and spending most of my time keeping an eye on my dog. However, sine the sun was extremely bright I didn’t have to worry about too much shade to cause underexposure along with camera shake. This shot was taken at about 3:00pm and the sun was bright, hot and creating a strong glare. I just made sure to point my camera in the opposite direction as we hiked around the park in order to avoid too much glare. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.3 and had the camera mode in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/197 second. Since I wanted to create the most panoramic scene I set the focal length at 17mm.
[/caption] The cold and damp spring weather made it very difficult for the roses at the Portland International Rose garden this year. However, since only the most hardy roses survived the cold and wet spring weather they became even more vibrant and magnificent than I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t surprised to see that there were less roses this summer but I was really surprised at the quality of the roses. The ones that survived really did seem way more robust and much larger. I guess the strong do survive when it comes to flowers. I visited the rose garden in the later part of the morning in order to avoid some of the tourist crowds but once the early afternoon came it was busy as usual. I was lucky enough to take some photos of the roses just before their pedals opened up and then was able to photograph them as they opened all the way up. There were also a large number of bees congregating around the flowers which allowed me to take my favorite photos of all….A bee in a rose. I never get tired of photographing bees as they pollinate the roses. It’s amazing to watch them at a macro level as they literally gorge themselves as well as crawl throughout the entire belly of the flower. I’m also amazed that they don’t even mind a massive camera lens as well as a 6 foot person only centimeters from them. I guess they’re too busy working to care about any infractions. I took this photo while using my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens. I made sure to remove my CIR-PL and only attach my warming filter since I wasn’t using a tripod. It’s almost impossible to have a CIR-PL when not using a tripod on macro photography. You run the risk of camera shake and blur due to the little amount of light from using a polarized lens. Since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal mode the aperture was set at F-9.1 and the shutter speed at 1/500 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1.3 in order to avoid any over exposure. It was about 11:30am and the sun was directly overhead so I was lucky enough to take this photo while standing on the western side of the garden which prevented any shadow from appearing. Since the rows of flowers are grown on a south/north angle you have to make sure that you approach each flower at the correct angle in order to avoid any shadow that will be created by your camera or yourself. However, sometimes you may be looking for a photo with a shadow effect.
[/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] I was amazed to have the opportunity to photograph the Seattle skyline with the moon looming over the city. Too make things even better is that the clouds were amazing and Mt. Rainier looked spectacular. I couldn’t have picked a better day to photograph the sunset at Kerry Park. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to soften the scene and saturate the sky. I took this picture just minutes before sunset and set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0 in order to create the best possible exposure. Since I had the camera in Normal/Program mode the aperture was automatically set at F-4 and the shutter speed at 1/60 second. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had the focal length at 23mm in order to create a large landscape but didn’t want to make the city look too far away. I lost count of the amount of tripods and cameras crowded along tiny Kerry Park. I also believe there were two wedding photo shoots going on as well as several modeling photo shoots. Even though its a very popular place to photograph the city it’s hardly difficult to see why.
[/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] Summertime along the Oregon coast is one of the best times to enjoy the beaches and tide pools. Though the weather can be unpredictable, when you have the opportunity to experience the beaches when the weather is nice you are sure to be impressed. The summer usually guarantees a descent to perfect sunset and the same goes for most sunrises. Because the sun sets after 9:00pm you are more likely to have the opportunity to photograph the rocks surrounding the beaches without having to rush your shots. Low tide normally offers the best opportunities since you can walk along the tide pools and include the smaller rocks that would otherwise be submerged beneath the water during high tide. I took this shot using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 19mm in order to maximize the field of view in order to ensure that the entire photo was in focus. I also wanted to highlight the rocks as they move towards the horizon. I had attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to avoid too much overexposure due to the brightness of the sun. In fact, I was standing behind Haystack rock in order to block out the sun since it was about 15 minutes before sunset and the sun was blinding. I had the camera in shutter priority and set the shutter speed to 4 seconds. The aperture was automatically set at 19mm since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake or blur. I was hoping to find some bright starfish clinging to some of the rocks but the only starfish I saw was in the sand just below the photo.
[/caption] Some of the most spectacular views available in Seattle are near the many piers that dot the city. Sometimes all you need is some clouds or a subject. In this case I was able to include several subjects in order to get this photo. I was standing near pier 58 when I decided to take a picture of Mt. Rainier. I was surprised to have the opportunity to take this photo with so many subjects as well as the spectacular clouds looming over the mountain. The only thing missing in the shot is a boat. I took this shot using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch as well as attaching my CIR-PL and warming filter. I took this photo at about 5:00pm so the glare was still pretty extreme so I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. Since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal the aperture was set at F-6. Due to the high glare the shutter speed was at 1/197 second.
[/caption] This week I spent three days scouring the best vantage spots of the Seattle skyline and after visiting some new spots as well as returning to the already popular spots that I’ve been to before I’ve decided that West Seattle provides the absolute best view of the city. This is especially true for sunset and sunrise photos. Keller park may provide a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier but there are several obstacles like trees and houses. There is no other place that offers a view like the one I’ve provided in this post. You can see the entire city with the space needle to the left and the stadiums and industrial harbor to the right. An ultra wide angle lens or even a fish eye lens would allow you to see even more of the city but this photo includes the most important features. Having Elliot Bay in the foreground and including the sky provides the most awesome photographic opportunity. This is also the only spot in the city that allows you to get every single high rise from north to south. You can really see just how massive Seattle really is by counting all of the buildings. You can also photograph the numerous ships, boats and ferries that navigate the bay. I never get tired nor have I ever taken this vantage spot for granted especially since each sunrise and sunset offers the best opportunities. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the cobalt blue sky and water as well as warm the lights emitting from the city. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I always like to open the shutter as long as I can since I like to smooth out the water in Elliot Bay as well as blur some of the clouds. This can sometimes be frustrating since several planes fly directly over the city and dozens of boats cruise the bay which is directly in front of the city. It ends up becoming a cat and mouse game as you try to time your shot. In fact, I had set the shutter priority to 30 seconds in order to really create a dynamic shot but since the shutter was open for 30 seconds I had to make sure that there were no ferries or planes in the vicinity since 30 seconds is a lot longer than it seems. This is especially true since Seattle’s Elliot Bay is one of the busiest ports as well as having one of the busiest sky’s. I took this photo on 7/11/11 at about 9:50pm and the sun set at about 9:10pm. This is go time for me since the cobalt blue sky and water is one of the best times to take a flawless shot as well as create a warm blue scene with the bright lights and silhouette of the buildings. Since the camera mode was in Shutter Priority and I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.7 the aperture was automatically set at F-8. If you wait until about 10:00pm the sun will be completely gone and the bright lights will create a orange hue along the water and the sky. You have to watch out for a grainy look since the sky and water are completely black but you can get a spectacular shot if you set the shutter speed and aperture correctly and change out your lenses.
[/caption] I was stunned to find out that the city of Seattle had built a new dock for the cruise ships since I visited last summer. I only stumbled on it while strolling along the waterfront while trying to find the best vantage points on the many piers that jut out from the main road. This is probably one of the best places to photograph the city since you can see Mt. Rainier to the south as well as the entire bay with the Olympic mountains in the west. They even built two sky walks that take you over Alaskan way street. This is especially awesome since you can stand on the sky walk and photograph in either direction since the top level is completely open. There are even some perfect platforms where you can set up your tripod to take your best shots. I was tempted to stay here for some great night photos but settled on the early evening when the sky was at its best. You can see that the highrises and sky scrapers are so close that you can almost touch them as well as the marina below. I would recommend this spot for the best photos along the waterfront. The huge white roof in the lower part of the photo is the new seafood restaurant that looks like a giant ship. There is plenty of room on either levels to take in the views or sit on one of the many benches dotting the pier. I took this shot on 7/10/11 at about 5:00pm and the sun and clouds had created this amazing glow above the city. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I was using my tripod and remote switch in order to avoid any blur due to the glare being created by the building, sun and water. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the sky and tone down the overexposure of the sky scrappers. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.7 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3. I was so happy with this photographic spot that I returned the next day and had several photos that I kept. However, this photo includes so many subjects that you can see why I was so impressed with this spot. You can also clearly see the Space Needle looking towards the north as well as the many condos.
[/caption] I was finally able to pick the perfect day to visit Punchbowl falls. The day was overcast and there was a light sprinkle as I photographed the waterfall. The neon green vegetation was at its peak as I was able to gently wade out to the middle of the creek so I could get in to the best possible position as I photographed the waterfall. The creek wasn’t as full or nearly as cold from the last time I visited this same spot. I even made sure to bring my pair of Teva sandals so I could have an easier time navigating the rocks below as well as the swift current. This was by far one of the most epic times to visit the falls since there was no other hikers and I was able to move almost anywhere along the creek before setting up my tripod. With the water level still very high and the amount of water thundering over the falls you probably haven’t seen this much water going over Punch bowl falls in a while. The water was absolutely piercing as it raged over the falls. I was also surprised that I was able to pretty much set up my tripod anywhere along the creek without the fast moving water causing my tripod to move as I set the shutter priority to 4 seconds at a time. My 11 month old Australian Cattle dog puppy was having a good time chasing small sticks and drinking in the creek as I took photos. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to get the correct blur effect without having too much overexposure. I had the camera mode in shutter priority so the aperture was set at F-11 since I also had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1. Since it was sprinkling the whole time I was forced to wipe my lens after every shot since I was setting the shutter priority at 4 seconds each time I took a photo. I took this particular photo at about 11:10am and the sun was pretty much non existent due to the cloudy skies. The waterfalls does create a strong glare in the foreground so you have to watch how you place your camera. I had the focal length at 28mm and I was standing about 50 yards from the waterfall.