[/caption] Beautiful sunset over Vancouver Island taken from the edge of San Juan Island in Washington State. It’s almost time to start packing for a spring trip to the San Juan Islands. Spring offers some pretty unpredictable weather but the scenery is hard to match during Springtime. The Olympic mountains and the Cascades are still ripe with loads of snow throughout the entire region and the flowers are running amok all over the island. You have a great chance of catching killer whales dotting the sea scape and the vegetation is glowing in it’s neon green. The sunsets can also be at their best since the clouds can create an awesome color scheme. You will want to pack every lens that you own and make sure to bring a tripod and don’t forget your rain gear.
[/caption] Beautiful view from San Juan Island, looking across Haro Straight with the mainland in the background. The small white dot in the upper middle part of this photo is Cattle Point lighthouse. It’s located on the southernmost part of the island and looks due east with Mt. Baker clearly visible. Haro Straight can be seen just above the lighthouse and the mainland of Washington State visible in the distant background. Cattle Point lighthouse is located at San Juan Island Historical Park or better known as American Camp. The lighthouse was built in 1935 and is one of two lighthouses located on the island. There are breathtaking views with Eagle Cove offering you a great chance of watching Orcas swim by. You can see the Olympic mountains as well as Mt. Rainier and of course Mt. Baker. There are miles of beach access available as well as some great hiking trails that allow you to venture in the forest that’s dotted along the area.
[/caption] One of the best places to get a panoramic view of the Olympic mountains is while you’re visiting the San Juan Islands, WA. It seems like you’re a long distance from the mainland of Washington state but you have the opportunity to get an unbelievable panoramic view of the entire area. You are also able to see Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker in the east and south. The Olympic mountains are about 30 miles from the island but at least you have the ability to see the entire length of the mountain chain as well as view the water. This photo was taken near Eagle Cove, which is near the southern tip of San Juan island. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had my 55-250mm telephoto but decided to use my 17-70mm and set the focal length at 70mm so I would be able to get a better quality photo. If you do visit the islands, plan on bringing your entire arsenal of lenses since there are so many photographic opportunities available.
[/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] The photo was taken at Cattle Point which is located on South Beach and is part of American Camp. The name of the lighthouse is Cattle Point lighthouse. You can see Lopez island and the mainland of Washington State in the far distance. I took this shot last summer on 8/24/10 at about 11:10am and the sun was high overhead and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle which helped limit overexposing the photo due to the harsh light. There were no clouds in the sky which really made the light very harsh and difficult to work with. However, you don’t get too many warm sunny days in the islands so I was pretty content with what I had to work with. You can watch dozens of sailboats and yachts cruse by the lighthouse as they leave Griffin Bay and head out into Haro Strait. Because the sun was so bright and harsh I made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to help saturate the sky and bring out the warming tones of the warn fence and grass. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I had the focal length at 36mm so parts of the horizon are somewhat out of focus due to the shorter field of view. The camera mode was in Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-8 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I set the ISO at 100 in order to limit the sensitivity of the lens to the harsh light. I also had to reduce the white balance to -2 so the photo wouldn’t be overexposed. This shot was taken at one of the absolute worst times of the day along with one of the hardest scenes possible due to the lack of cloud cover or shadows, but I utilized the angle of the sun and the settings on the camera to get this shot. However, I did utilize photoshop to enhance the saturation of the sky and the foreground.
[/caption] The sun had just set when I noticed that the lights shinning from the homes in the far right were glowing in the darkening sky. I decided that this would be a good photo opportunity and I wanted to try and get some light glare from the small cluster of porch lights. You can just make out the cluster of homes dotting the edge of the bay. I was wanting to open my shutter as long as possible in order to get a frothy look from the slow moving tide entering the bay but the light was still too bright and the clouds were moving at a pretty good speed. I ended up setting the shutter to 16 seconds and lowered the ISO setting to 100 as well as the white balance to -1. Since the camera was in Shutter priority the aperture was automatically set at F-8, which allowed just the right amount of light. I was using my Canon EOS T1i as well as my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I was also using my warming and CIR-PL filter. I set the focal length to 21mm so I could show as much of the mountains way out on Vancouver Island as I could. The fast moving clouds were also posing a bit of a problem since I had set the shutter speed to 16 seconds and they were moving rather fast. I was using a tripod, bubble level and remote switch so there was no camera shake but the clouds did cause some blurring effect in the upper right of the photo. I would probably just print an 8×24 or 10×36 panoramic print and have parts of the clouds cropped out. I think this is now my fourth sunset shot I’ve posted on my blog that was taken from this particular weekend, when I was visiting the San Juan Islands, but I have yet to experience such a beautiful and magical place to get these types of photos.
[/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.
[/caption] As I patiently wait for the snow to continue to fall in the Oregon Cascades I began to ponder my experience while visiting San Juan Island last summer. I remembered that I had taken a photo that I really liked and forgot to post on my blog. However, I did add it to my website since it is one of my more favorite photos taken just after sunset. The bay was so still that I was able to make it look as though it was made of colored glass and the sky was so amazing that it also looks like an exact replica of the water. All of the colors on this night were absolutely amazing. To get this shot I was using my Canon Rebel T1I and my Canon 18-55mm lens. In order to set the shutter speed to 25 seconds I kept my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter attached since the glare was still pretty intense and I wouldn’t have been able to get the smooth warming effect of the water or sky. I had to take several photos since I was having problems with water spots appearing in the photo. I knew that I needed to have my sensor cleaned but this was the first time it was so evident. A lot of it had to due with the colors in the photo. As you can see, the colors in this photo are pretty dramatic and pretty unusual. You can see Vancouver Island in the distance. I had the camera in Program mode so the F stop was at F-11. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7. Since I took this photo at 8:55 pm, which was just as the sun set over the Island, the colors were really exploding over the water and the sky. I had to take several photos while adjusting my settings but I was pretty satisfied with most of the photos. But again, I was very disappointed with how dirty my sensor was. I took this shot at San Juan County Park, on the northwest side of the island. As I stated in my previous article, I would highly recommend visiting this tiny island since it offers everything that a photographer and outdoor adventurer could ever ask for.
[/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.