the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Third Time’s a Charm

As I mentioned in my last post, Tanya and I recently spent several days camping east of Chinook Pass, during which I drove up to the pass for sunrise each morning. Chinook Pass is a great sunrise location, as it sits almost directly east of Mount Rainier and the view of the mountain is fantastic there with two alpine lakes – Tipsoo and Upper Tipsoo. Because of how the two lakes are situated, it is easy to get a reflection of Mount Rainier in upper Tipsoo Lake right from the shoreline, so it is the preferred lake for most photographers who know about it (Upper Tipsoo is not visible from the road, so unless you have prior knowledge or a map, you may not know it is there).

This is a great sunrise location because the rising sun imparts a beautiful alpenglow  on the mountain when it is visible. That’s the tricky part, when it is visible. I tried three consecutive mornings for the shot. The first morning was cloudy; the second morning was foggy at the pass (but clear elsewhere). It wasn’t until the third morning (the day we packed up camp), I was able to capture the sunrise in all its glory.

Another feature of Mount Rainier favored by photographers is that the mountain often forms lenticular clouds. Such clouds can dramatically add to a sunrise (or sunset) shot, particularly if there are no other clouds around to break up a totally blue sky. Such was the case that third morning. In fact, there were two separate lenitcular clouds over Rainier that morning, delighting myself and the, perhaps, 10 or 12 other photographers there.

As you can attest by the photo above and below, I think it was worth getting up a 5 am to drive to the pass by sunrise at 5:30 am to capture this scene.

Sunset shots at Chinook Pass are a more iffy proposition. Because the mountain is west of the pass, you are not guaranteed a good showing of alpenglow. Instead, much depends on the clouds and how they light up. I did try for one sunset shot at Chinook Pass on the trip; the result is below. This shot was taken from above Tipsoo Lake, right next to the highway. Though the sunset was lackluster, luckily there was a lenticular cloud present that gave a bit of color. I captured this image the evening before the sunrise shots above.

12 responses

  1. Beautiful! The reflection is almost too perfect to be real <3. I was in Seattle this past weekend and it was the first time that I could see Mount Rainier from the city. Now I wish I drove there for some photos.

    August 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

    • Thanks for commenting. Driving up to Rainier from Seattle is typically a full day commitment, as it is a several hours drive. Perhaps you can do so next time you are in town. Just remember, to get shots like these, you need to be there at sunrise, which comes very early if driving up from Seattle!

      August 28, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      • Thanks for the info 🙂

        August 29, 2017 at 10:56 am

  2. Heide

    The first image especially is how I imagine heaven, Joe. Such perfect serenity! Beautiful work, sir.

    August 17, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    • Heaven? Perhaps, if you include standing in the mud and cold to take these images (but well worth it to see a sunrise like this I think).

      August 28, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      • Heide

        If there’s cold and mud involved, I supposed it’s more like a photographic purgatory than heaven. 🙂 But still … yes, well worth it!

        August 30, 2017 at 4:10 am

  3. Excellent information and images Joe, can’t thank you enough! My first time up to Tipsoo I wasted a lot of time trying to find the reflection spot on the wrong lake as you mentioned. From that area it is not too far of a drive up to Sunrise as well. Thanks again!

    August 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    • Thanks Ernie. I did drive up to Sunrise as well, the day before I took these (when it was foggy at Tipsoo). Previously, I’ve gotten some nice shots with the larger lake in the foreground as well, but just not with a reflection.

      August 28, 2017 at 12:39 pm

  4. Amazing and very beautiful!

    August 20, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    • Thank you for your kind comment!

      August 28, 2017 at 12:40 pm

  5. Seattle Park Lover

    I love the various forms lenticular clouds take on. Beautiful shots!

    August 27, 2017 at 10:05 am

    • Thank you. I’m always looking out for the lenticular clouds over the Mountain; they are so dramatic.

      August 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm

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