[/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] I was fortunate to drive along this one-way road that I noticed while driving along the main highway south of the mountain. You will be pretty well focused towards the opposite side of the turn off, so you need to really look for the one-way turn off. There are a couple of areas that you can stop to photograph the mountain with the amazing deep canyon and valley below. As you drive around the one-way road you can stop to photograph the Tatoosh Mountains since they are so close that you can almost touch them. Unfortunately, there is about a 2,000 foot canyon below preventing you from getting any closer. I took this shot just as I turned on the one-way road. I noticed that there were several patches of wild flowers crowding along the steep canyon’s edge and decided that this would be a great opportunity. You can see how the main road cuts straight across the park with several creeks descending towards the valley below. This spot really gives you a great vantage point to view the mountain, especially if you are here when the sun is causing some shadow along the higher portions of the glaciers as well as in the forest below. 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 had the ISO at 100 and the white balance adjusted to -2 and because I had the camera mode in Program/Normal the aperture was at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. This photo was taken at about 5:40pm and you can see that the sun was almost at 90 degrees so the color was pretty nice.
[/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] The month of August is one of the best months to visit Oregon’s wine country. This is especially true in the Willamette Valley. The warm dry air mixed with the incredible rolling hills that blanket the area is proof enough that Oregon is truly wine country. I find that the wineries around Forest Grove, Dundee and McMinnville offer some of the best views of the vineyards as well as some of the Cascade mountains in the far distance. There are also more wineries within a short distance from one another which makes it easier to photograph the landscape. August doesn’t offer you the opportunities of photographing the grapes but the vines are a very lush green and make for spectacular photos. I chose this particular photo since it shows the vineyard perched along a rolling hill facing due south as well as the vastness of the vineyards. The oak tree with the tire swing as well as the clear blue sky and lush forest also adds to the beauty of the setting. To get this shot I made sure to stand in the shade since the sun was still pretty bright since there were no clouds in the sky and it was about 4:30pm. However, you can see the shadow from the oak tree in the foreground which helped create a lot of character in the shot. Since I was wondering all over the winery I wasn’t using a tripod so I made sure to keep a steady hand every time I took a shot. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter due to the harshness of the sun and the glare in the sky. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.7 which caused the aperture to be set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal. I set the focal length at 70mm since I was standing near the tasting room and the vineyard was rather far away. I wanted to maximize the telephoto so I could frame the vineyard along with the oak tree, forest and blue sky.
[/caption] A great place to visit while visiting San Juan island is the small but awesome Lavender farm, which is found in the interior part of the island. It’s free and you can walk along the many rows of lavender. However, if you’re allergic or afraid of bees I wouldn’t recommend getting too close to them. Just like most busy bees I was able to walk among the rows and had no problem with any angry bees. There is also a nice gift shop that has, I believe, over 200 products that are made from lavender. There is also a nice picnic area to relax and look over the lavender fields. To get this shot I made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter due to the fact that the sun was very harsh since it was a very sunny day and I was taking my photos around 4:00pm. Luckily the sun was at a 90 degree angle on my right side. I didn’t use my tripod since it was too difficult to get in close to the lavender without bumping them which was really upsetting the bees. However, I was able to get really close with my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens as I crouched around them. However, this shot was taken with my Sigma 17-70mm lens at 23mm focal length. I wanted to get the most panoramic photo of the lavenders without having any distractions in the photo so I made sure to have the correct focal length as well as stand in the best spot within the acres of flowers. I had the camera in Normal/Program mode and I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 so the the aperture was at F5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/100 second. I would recommend visiting the lavender farm since it’s an easy place to get to and offers something a little different.
[/caption] A crazy cloud formation appeared just before sunset in the San Juan Islands, WA. The sun was completely shrouded behind several cloud banks as more and more clouds swept across the scene. The sun was scheduled to set around 8:45pm and I took this photo at 8:20pm. The clouds just above Vancouver Island are a deep orange since the sun was lighting up the only part of the sky that it could. The clouds in the upper part of the sky were moving at a very high speed and almost looks as though I had set the camera mode to shutter priority. However, the camera mode was in Program/Normal and the shutter speed was only at 1/320 second. The aperture was automatically set at 9.1 since I had the ISO set at 100, the white balance at -0.7 and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I set the focal length to 55mm in order frame the clouds in the photo without showing too much blue sky. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens but with the lens at 17mm there was too much blue sky in the upper atmosphere and the orange hue was most dramatic where the sun was.
[/caption] This is a photo taken from a rock outcropping at American Camp which is about a 10 minute drive from Friday Harbor. This photographic spot drew my attention since the neighborhood and the landscape looked a lot like a setting you might find in Iceland or Greenland. From this vantage spot I had the opportunity to photograph a large pod of Killer Whales cruising past me that were about 100 yards from where I was standing. There were dozens of boats following another pod of whales that were pretty much moving in the same direction. I couldn’t believe that within 5 minutes from arriving at this spot we noticed the pod swimming right towards us. You can also see directly over the Haro Strait and see the most incredible view of the Olympic mountains as well as Vancouver Island. You can also see Mt. Rainier in the far distance as well as some of the other taller Cascade mountains. It was about 2:30pm when I took this photo and I was afraid that the quality would really be hampered since the sun was directly overhead and the glare from the water was relentless. Luckily I brought my tripod and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter to limit the glare and overexposure. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length to 17mm in order to get the most panoramic view in order to showcase the incredible view from the spot I was standing at. Since I had the camera in Program/Normal mode the aperture was at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0 in order to limit the glare. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any blur. I also angled the camera at a slight angle in order to avoid some of the glare which was directly overhead.
[/caption] Again, the San Juan Islands in Washington State offer some of the most amazing sunset opportunities that I have ever witnessed. There always seems to be something different each time I photograph the sunset from the island. I visited the San Juan County park and had the opportunity to take advantage of two nights of spectacular sunsets. I was also pleasantly surprised to find our entire 3 day trip with some of the most awesome weather. This photo was taken at about 8:57pm just as the sun was setting below Vancouver Island in Canada. I set the camera in Normal/Program mode so the aperture was at F-5.6 and the shutter speed at 1/160 second. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to saturate the landscape and warm the explosion of orange colors above the mountains and in the foreground of the water. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1 and made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur.