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regnaD kciN

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Maple Valley, Washington
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 19,886

Journal Archives

A Northwest Weekend (including a bit of Water Falling Over Things 2018: The First Installment)

As I have written before, August is peak photography season in the Pacific Northwest, with potential locations everywhere from the mountains to the ocean. If you're really intent (and don't mind driving around 16 hours in a 48-hour period), you can try to hit them all!

On Saturday, I followed the promise of potentially interesting sunset light to Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park.

Despite some near-disasters, which included dropping both my vlogging camera and an expensive glass filter in the wet sand (amazingly, both emerged unscathed) and a few encounters with rogue waves on the way back to the parking lot, I was indeed able to get some good sunset shots.

After way too little sleep Saturday night, I set out on Sunday for the Lavender Valley farm near Mount Hood, where I hoped to capture a shot of the mountain and rows of lavender in golden-hour light. Unfortunately, by the time I found my way to the farm, it was closed for the day. (I later found out that they offer sunrise and sunset photography sessions there by special appointment...and for $100/hour.) Anyway, with lavender out of the question, I opted for the Rumsfeld Doctrine ("Shoot the farm you have, not the farm you wish you had" ) and found this composition of the mountain and wildflowers across the road.

Finally, with that location out of the question, I raced back to the Columbia Gorge in hopes of finding a parking space at newly-reopened Multnomah Falls. Sunday was the first time I'd driven through the Gorge since last year's devastating fire. To say it was shocking was an understatement; while much of the Gorge had sustained an environmentally-favorable "mosaic burn," with blocks of scorched trunks adjoining areas with no damage whatsoever, the most hard-hit area, a two-mile stretch between Ainsworth State Park and McCord Creek, was practically all black and barren along and above the Gorge hills. Most of the area, including the iconic Historic Columbia Gorge Highway with its myriad of waterfall viewpoints, remains closed and is, in my opinion, unlikely to reopen for at least another year. Only Multnomah can still be viewed, accessed from a rest area off the freeway.

I found Multnomah a fascinating example of the capricious ways in which fire can devastate or spare a forest. The falls sit in a recessed cliff "amphitheater"; along the main cliff, the fire burned down the left side of the entrance all the way to the Historic Highway. However, the amphitheater itself emerged practically unscathed. At the main viewpoint, only a couple of burned trees to the right of the pool testify to how close the entire area came to going up in flames. But, in most respects. it's just another summer at Multnomah, with the falls looking much as they did for decades before.

As usual, I vlogged my trips this weekend. Check it out.

A few tulips...

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven't been able to do much shooting over the past two months, but did make my annual trip to Roozengaarde at the end of April. Here are a few tulip shots from there.

As usual, here's a video which provides a few more images, plus the backstory to my apparent silence.

Return to the "Pocket Rainforest"

As I have noted before, while most people are familiar with the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, the state of Washington also boasts a second, much-smaller biome in the form of the Carbon River Rainforest in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park. I've already posted the results of a couple of visits there over the years, but I returned in mid-April for a photo hike that, although cut short by unfavorable bright sunlight, still yielded a number of nice images.

As I have been doing this year, I vlogged this trip on my YouTube channel. Check it out!

(And, yes, it has taken far too long to get this published. Unfortunately, I was in a traffic accident in late April which, although it left me completely uninjured, spelled the end for my car...when you have a vehicle that's nineteen years old, even a shopping cart running into it in a grocery parking lot would be enough for the insurance company to declare it a write-off. Unfortunately, the process of procuring a replacement took up much of the past few weeks, pushing all matters of photography onto the back burner for a bit.)

First Flower of Spring

As March marks the usual beginning of "photography season" here in the Pacific Northwest, I made my annual trip up to the Skagit flats for the daffodil fields (the tulips, for which the area is most famous, won't bloom until April). When I first arrived, it was solid overcast and not conducive to photography but, eventually, the clouds cleared enough to give us a great sky to go with the yellow carpets.

After which, it was off to Rosario Beach for (eventual) sunset light.

As usual, I produced a YouTube video of my shoot. After several vlogs that were really more practice than anything, this is the first time I produced a video that gives a fair example of what I hope to accomplish with my channel. Check it out!

Rainier Morning

A few days ago, I was returning home after dropping my wife off at the bus stop for Seattle, when I noticed the sky starting to light up in the east. In the chance that it might do so to the south (in the direction of Mount Rainier) as well, I quickly grabbed my camera gear and drove to the nearest viewpoint on the mountain (one from which I've taken many images posted here). As it turned out, I got there just in time...

No accompanying video for this image, as a) I didn't have time to grab my video gear, b) I certainly didn't have time to set up additional video shots and narrate the action (the display faded almost as soon as I'd gotten off a handful of shots), and c) a photo vlog covering a drive of a mile or so through suburban streets, followed by one quick photo setup and a drive back home, would probably be one of the shortest and least-interesting videos ever posted to YouTube.

Northeast of Rainier

As late winter turned to early spring, I took a trip along the northeast side of Rainier, hoping to photograph Federation Forest State Park, only to find out that, despite earlier assurances to the contrary, the park itself was closed and barricaded until April. Forced to scramble for a "Plan B," I wound up further south, at the Skookum Falls viewpoint. The falls themselves were barely running, but views along the White River and close-up shots of the granite cliff walls proved more worthwhile.

After finishing with "Plan B," it was on to "Plan C" -- on the drive up, I had noticed an attractive river (which turned out to be West Twin Creek) crossing under the highway. I was able to find a parking space on the narrow shoulder of the road and get this image, along with a few other forest shots, before a representative of the State Patrol showed up to inform me I wasn't allowed to park (or photograph) there. Oh, well...it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, I guess.

As is my recent custom, here's the video of the shoot. Check it out!

SNAFU at Snoqualmie?

After my previous visit to Snoqualmie Pass, I was eager to get back when I had better winter gear. Since a warm, rainy period was in the forecast, I jumped at the chance to head back up there on the last day of January. However, while I was careful to make sure I had my parka, hat, gloves, snow boots, and other such winterwear, once I got up there, I discovered I left one item at home...my tripod!

Fortunately, my Sony has in-body stabilization, and hand-holds well, particularly in the bright environment of a snowy landscape.

As usual, here is my vlog on the shoot. Hope you enjoy it!

Sometimes, you need a Plan B...

...like when you spend several hours driving to Point Wilson, on the other side of Puget Sound, for some predicted great sunset light over the Sound and Mount Baker with the iconic Point Wilson lighthouse in the foreground. and, just as you get there, an unforecasted bank of fog in the Strait between the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island brings a very quick and unspectacular end to the setting sunlight just as you're setting up for your first shot.

Fortunately, while the fog ruined that composition, the fog bank only affected the Strait itself. Turning south, the Peninsula blocked any fog buildup, and allowed me a nice view of sunset over the Marine Sciences Building at the Point, with Mount Rainier in the background. This was my first attempt at using Lightroom's built-in panorama creation tool, using a set of nine vertical images, and I must say I'm pleased with the result.

As I did with my last couple of submissions here, I vlogged this shoot.

NOTE: This will be the last filmed-on-an-iPhone-6 vlog, as I am upgrading my equipment to provide a more-professional look before the "photography season" up here begins in earnest by mid-March. Since I am hoping to make this a regular series at that time, if you would like to check it out and provide me with constructive criticism (here, rather than in the YouTube comments section), I would appreciate it. Also, if you do enjoy the video, please "like" it and consider subscribing...when, as I said before, I (hopefully) start posting more of these in spring, how viewers respond to my previous vlogs helps determine whether or not YouTube will make them more visible to the general public. Thanks!

Snow at Snoqualmie Pass

This was originally going to be a scouting trip in preparation for a major snowfall predicted for the next day...but, when I arrived and found the snow already falling (and the next day's storm bringing a winter storm warning and likely pass closures), I had no choice but to get out in my decidedly-not-ready-for-winter-weather clothing and grab some shots while I had the chance.

As I did with last month's sunset with lenticular clouds over Mount Rainier, I vlogged this shoot.

NOTE: I am hoping to make this a regular series over the next year, so, if you would like to check it out and provide me with constructive criticism (here, rather than in the YouTube comments section), I would appreciate it. For reference, NON-constructive criticism would include "get better equipment than your smartphone" (I intend to), "slow down and speak more clearly" (I already realize I need to), and "get someone other than that ugly fat old guy to host it" (sorry, but there's really not much I can do about that). And also, as I believe you are now legally-required to say on YouTube, "if you enjoyed it, be sure to 'like' and 'subscribe'!"

2017: A Look Back

Time for my (almost) annual photo retrospective. For those of you who haven't seen one of these before, I always have two rules in building this collection:

1) One photo per month.
2) None of which has been shown on DU before.

The last point used to be difficult; this year, it's been simple, since I see I only posted to this group five times this past year (one of which was last year's belated retrospective).

It's safe to say that 2017 has been an odd and disquieting year. As the 2016 holiday season came to an end, with Inauguration Day looming on the horizon, I think it's obvious that I fell into a pretty deep depression, one which only intensified as news got worse and worse throughout the year. It clearly effected my photography was well. Ironically, it took yet another tragedy to snap me out of this pit.

January, as usual, is a pretty mediocre month for photography in the Pacific Northwest. In my case, the best I could find was this shot of high clouds on the edge of a storm.

February had me looking up again; this time, at a rare contrail from a rare A380 "superjumbo" as it passed over our house on the way from California to the Far East.

In March, I was at Pioneer Square when I took this shot of the bust of Chief Sealth.

April, as always, is the month for tulips in the Pacific Northwest...

...as is May for rhododendrons.

My image for June was a close-up "texture" study of ferns.

July, as always, found me at Lake Wilderness for the fireworks.

Now, I think anyone familiar with my work in previous years, looking at the choices up to this point, would conclude that something was awry. Virtually everything here was either a plant or flower close-up (at least one of which came from my own yard), or a snapshot that could have come from a camera phone. Indeed, between the horrors that were afflicting this country, plus my own advancing age, increasing sense of mortality, and decrease in activity level and capacity for physical exertion, I began to wonder if it was about time to hang it up. As it happens, the event which was to turn this around was fast approaching, but not for another month or so.

August was the month of the only total solar eclipse in my lifetime to cross the west coast. My son and I left home shortly after midnight, in a mad dash to beat the expected crowds on the freeway, and made it to Salem, Oregon, directly under the path of totality, just before dawn. (We then wound up surviving the very real crowds on the freeway leaving the site, in a trip back to Seattle that took over eight hours.) I very consciously chose to NOT bring my camera equipment, as I didn't want the pressure associated with manipulating gear and trying to capture the "perfect shot" to detract from the actual experience that might well be once-in-a-lifetime. Accordingly, when the moment of totality struck, I had only my smartphone, and it is a very-heavily-postprocessed iPhone shot which is my image for this month.

Less than two weeks after that trip, the incident that was to become a turning-point for me occurred: an arson-caused fire that destroyed much of the Columbia Gorge, one of my favorite places on earth. To say that I was devastated would be an understatement; for the first few days, I spent almost all my waking hours on social media, checking news stories and reports from friends in the area, trying to determine which, if any, well-loved locations might have survived, and fearing that the relentless advance of the flames might wipe those places away as well. I was in mourning for most of the month; however, as September drew to a close, I found that my depression was replaced by determination: if a place that I so treasured could be wiped out due to a teenager's recklessness and stupidity, I owed it to myself to not put off visiting other beautiful locales, either familiar or yet-unvisited, lest I find it too late for them as well. Plus, as I noted at the time, the best cure for the loss of a favorite beautiful place was to spend time at another, still-existing one.

The first fruits of this new resolve was my late September day-trip to Mount Rainier's Carbon River rainforest.

In October, the floodgates opened, as I spent every opportunity I could "on the road" to favorite autumn locales (and even discovering a new one close to home). If I wasn't keeping to the one-photo-per-month rule, I could probably include ten or more images here. However, I'll stick to this shot of Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake, taken a few hundred feet to the right of the viewpoint familiar from dozens of postcards and calendars, where an inlet provided a nice leading line to the mountain.

Of course, almost as soon as my enthusiasm was rekindled, November arrived, and with it the beginning of the long, gray, rainy northwest winter. Still, I was able to catch the last traces of autumn, most notably with this image of fallen leaves from ornamental maples in a rainstorm (titled Autumn's End).

December is usually the time for little more than shots of Christmas lights. However, mid-month, the Skyfire app I use predicted impressive sunset light on Mount Rainier. As seen in my first, admittedly-primitive attempt at photo-vlogging*, I wound up, not with sunset light, but with something even more unusual: a series of stacked lenticular clouds.

So, it's been a long, strange trip this year. With resolve renewed, onward to 2018!

*(Moved down here because I can't figure how to post a link to a YouTube page without getting a thumbnail instead)

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