We are only a few short days away until the rains in the valley and the snow in the Cascades will subside and the warm weather will return to the Pacific Northwest. This means only one thing and that is that you should head out the the great city of Seattle, Washington and get your photos on! Don’t hold back and what I mean is that you should pack all of your gear and expect to use every piece of equipment that you own. They don’t call Seattle one of the most photogenic cities for nothing! You can literally expect to change out your wide angle and your telephoto zoom lens as you capture the landscape. One would also be advised to study the best locations and best times of the day to visit. This means that you will want to have a car and plan on driving all over the city as you try to capture the best shots as you try to get a handle on the best colors presented by the sun. This photo was taken from one of the many piers and I tried to capture as much of the buildings as I could without having any of the traffic from the road below. I normally just crop out what I don’t like and then just photoshop when needed. The clouds were really cool as they were swirling above and the color of the sky was perfect since there wasn’t too much glare. If you are visiting from out of town I would recommend staying at least two full days since you never know what the weather will be like and you will need at least two full days to feel like you had enough time to visit each of the photos spots once or more.
Mt. Rainier is located in Washington state and is the main attraction at Mt. Rainier National Park. The park was established in 1899 and includes over 369 square miles of wilderness. The elevation of the mountain is 14,410 feet and is the tallest volcanic mountain in the Cascade mountain chain. It is also the most glaciated mountain in the lower 48 states. Carbon Glacier is the largest glacier by volume in the continental United States and Emmons Glacier is the largest glacier by area. The park also contains over 91,000 acres of old growth forests. Over 1.8 million visitors visit the park every year and the winter months all but reduce the visits to almost zero due to the enormous snow that it receives. Probably 99% of the 1.8 million visitors are just during the summers months. If you do plan on visiting the park I would recommend that you try to get there as early as possible and plan on visiting during the mid week. The crowds are just too big during the weekends in the summertime. However, most of the visitors are gone by 6:00 pm, which means that the highest majority of the visitors are pretty much only making a road trip and rarely even get out of their cars. Most of the tourists end up only walking through the visitor centers and maybe taking a very leisurely stroll on one of the paved trails. There are two lodges and several campsites but it’s only a fraction of the visitors that are only driving through. This actually makes it for a great day trip. I’ve been to the park 3 times over the past few years and I have had the chance to hike throughout the southern part of the park and was pleasantly surprised to rarely see too many people. Again, most of the visitors don’t hike the trails. However, since it’s such a long drive from Portland, I would recommend that you get an early start and plan on getting home very late in the evening. However, if you are camping or staying at one of the lodges or nearby hotels then there isn’t any hurry. If you do end up arriving at the park during the afternoon you will want to plan on sitting in a long line of cars at the parks entrance and plan on driving around looking for a parking spot when you get to the park. If you get there early enough, you won’t have any wait to get in the park or finding a parking spot and since you will want to pick a hike, you will find that most of the crowds will have come and gone before you get back to your car. Last time I was there, I brought my camping stove and I never saw a single car at the parking lot just below the main lodge. In fact, I only counted two or three cars even driving by while I was almost within touching distance from the mountain. Because I drive from Portland and I have only been able to make day trips, I haven’t been able to make it to the north or north east side of the park but I do hope to get there this summer. It’s hard to imagine spending all of your time driving around when the mountain is beckoning you to explore its many adventures that are too many to list.
June Lake is located on the south side of Mt. St. Helen’s, Washington and to get there it’s an easy 1.5 mile hike. However, the drive to the trail head is about a half day of driving if you’re coming from Portland, Oregon. You would be advised to bring lots of food and just plan on barbecuing your dinner at the small park located at the trail head. If you’re interested in an amazing hiking trip you will want to continue past June Lake and hike along the razor sharp lava covered trail. There are actually dozens of trails that you can choose from so you will want to bring a trail book or study the hiking maps located along the trail. You can even hike to the swift glacier and hike as far as you can until you get too tired to continue any further. The south side of the mountain looks much different from the north side. There are no signs on the south side of Mt. St. Helen’s that it ever even erupted but you will truly be amazed by the beauty and endless amounts of options available. Most people that choose to summit the mountain, in winter, start from near the June Lake trail head. However, even in summer you can hike towards the summit and pass several places of interest along the way. There are several additional water falls, lava flows, canyons, lava tunnels and beautiful alpine flowers that dot the landscape. Because the lava rocks are so sharp, I would think twice about bringing your dog with you on this trip. A dog’s pads could end up getting cut to shreds almost anywhere along this part of the trail. I would even recommend bringing a small first aid kit with lots of band aids since it’s pretty easy to brush up against the lava rocks and end up with a pretty deep cut. However, there are other hiking trails near by that don’t pass through the lava fields if you want to hike with your best friend. You will just want to study the trail maps before you head out. I’ve visited several times to snow shoe during winter and that can even be a better time to visit. Once you get to a high enough elevation you will have an awesome view of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.
[/caption] Summer weather in Seattle, Washington offers some of the best sunny and warm weather in the Nation! If you’re looking for the best city to visit during the month of August, you may be surprised that Seattle, Washington offers some of the most amazing weather in the country. You will find the days long, sunny, warm and especially nice and breezy. Plan on bringing some comfortable walking shoes because you will find yourself spending each day walking along some of the best trails around as well as experiencing some of the best city walks in the country. If you plan on bringing a camera I would recommend bringing a wide angle lens as well as a semi telephoto lens. I would also pack your CIR-PL, warming filter and a ND filter. Sunsets are amazing and the city is so huge that you will need a wide angle lens in order to capture the entire city in a panoramic shot.
[/caption] You know that you picked a good day to visit Seattle, Washington when there isn’t a cloud in sight, the temperature is 81 degrees and the moon is directly over the city. I took this photo from the top level of Bell Street pier 66. It is by far the best place to get epic photos of the sky scrapers, adjoining piers, and of Elliot Bay and the Olympic mountains. I could pretty much set up my tripod and spend an entire 24 hours shooting from this pier. You can also get some great shots of Mt. Rainier with the massive cranes in the foreground. However, if you have a descent telephoto, you can zoom in and almost see the mountain climbers heading towards the summit.
[/caption] The Great Wheel is located in Seattle, Washington and is located on pier 57 and reaches a height of 175 feet.
[/caption] The perfect end to a perfect day in Seattle, Washington with the silhouettes of the Olympic mountains standing in the distance of Elliot Bay and a ferry boat. If anyone is wondering what the weather is mostly like during the summer months might want to study this photo since as you can see it’s picture perfect and absolutely not a single flaw on this day. I took this photo while standing along pier 54 and Elliot Bay.
[/caption] A picture perfect view of Seattle, Washington with all of the necessary subjects that make Seattle one of the most photogenic cities in the world….Mt. Rainier, Elliot Bay, Space Needle, towering sky scrapers and the industrial cranes that keep Seattle one of the top industrialized cities on the planet. This photo was obviously taken from Kerry Park and I made sure to set up during the later part of the afternoon in order to take advantage of the flawless blue skies. I made sure to use my tripod and bubble level and attach my CIR-PL and warming filter on my 17-77mm lens. I set the camera at normal and had the aperture set at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I set the ISO at 100 and increased the white balance to +0.3 in order to avoid too much glare from the sun but also wanted to be sure and avoid any under exposed photos due to the filters and setting that I was using.
[/caption] Several trails along the Columbia River Gorge traverse high above the waterfalls and allow hikers some pretty spectacular views of the Columbia River far below. I took this photo from a vantage point just above Yeon Park. A part of the trail meanders along the basalt rock with a long stretch of iron railing protecting hikers from a 300 foot fall below. The trail might be a little scary for hikers that are afraid of heights or if you’re afraid of narrow paths that were scraped from the rocks and allow no protection from the elements. However, the view is amazing, with Washington State standing behind the Columbia River with an island standing in the middle of the river. The hiking trail actually ends just a few hundred feet from where I took this photo with Upper McCord Creek Falls your ultimate destination and turning back point. I actually took this shot without my tripod or CIR-PL due to the overcast skies. There was absolutely no sun and it was raining most of the time, which made it hard to hike along parts of the trail that were open to the elements. On a clear and sunny day Mt. Adams would be just to the right of this photo with more views of the foothills of the Washington Cascades.
[/caption] The views from Mt. Rainier National Park are pretty awesome but having a view like this with the moon high above makes it even more spectacular. The photo was taken from just above Paradise Ridge and only a few hundred feet from were the bare trail meets snow. The Tatoosh Range is in the foreground with the rest of the Washington Cascades far in the background. You also have great views of Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Adams as well. To get this shot I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 50mm in order to eliminate too much of the trees from appearing in the photo. The aperture is at F7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/200 second. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3 since the sun was directly in front of me but at least high above. I took this shot on 7/26/12 at about 5:00 pm and the wildflowers were awesome.