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Posts tagged “sunset

Rainier Moon Success

Rainier Moon

Rainier MoonAfter trying for about a year, I finally captured the shot of the full moon (or almost full moon) rising over Mount Rainier. I’ve discussed my various attempts at capturing this shot in several previous posts, including this one from August 2019 and this one from earlier this year. Using the Photographers Ephemeris, I calculated what days the nearly full moon will rise behind Mount Rainier from spots near to Tacoma. This happens every year in June, July, and August.

I say almost full moon because I wanted to capture the moon just before sunset, and on day of the actual full moon, it ususally rises after sunset. The shots here were taken two days before the official full moon. My other attempts, described below, were the day before the full moon.

Last August, I went to the Fox Island Bridge along with several friends to capture the rising moon. We did see the moon rise behind Rainier, but the clouds partially obscured the moon and the light on the mountain itself was not optimal. I went again last June and had similar results. In July, I again met two friends, this time at Dune Park in Tacoma. However, the mountain and the rising moon were not visible due to clouds (though I did get some other worthwhile shots).

Finally, last month I had success, as you can see from the shot above and those below. Once again I journeyed to Dune Park, and all the necessary elements for a successful shot fell into place. I had the added bonus of seeing a dolphin frolicking off the park’s shores – the first time I’ve ever seen a dolphin there. Were the shots worth waiting and planning over an entire year? You be the judge.

Moon Topper

Rainier Moon 2

Rainier Moon 3

Dolphin Play


Photography in the Land of Covid-19

As you may know, the Seattle area is a hot spot for Covid-19 in the United States, though it is spreading fast elsewhere as well. Two days ago, our State’s Governor announced a moratorium on gatherings of more than 250 people the three counties forming the Seattle metropolitan area. Major League Baseball is postponing the start of the season – it’s just as well, the Mariners had already announced they were moving the home opener (which I attend every year) out of town. I got a call from the theater about a cancelled show Tanya and I have tickets to later this month.

On Tuesday, Tanya and I went up to Seattle to visit our daughter, Janelle, and her partner, Matt. We ate at a restaurant we have been to several times before. It has always been packed, and reservations are usually necessary, even on Tuesday nights. We walked in at 7 pm and besides two people at  the bar, we were the only customers in the place. That’s one of the “nice” things about this virus outbreak, it’s easy to find a table at a restaurant, at least until the restaurant’s close due to lack of business. Another bonus was the lack of traffic on the freeway.

In addition to the moratorium on crowds, the health department recommends keeping a separation of at least 4 to 6 feet from other people. Public life around here is pretty much at a standstill.

What is one to do? How about going out and shooting some photography? Luckily, photography is one activity that is easy to do while keeping that separation from other people. Besides, if you like to shoot the type of photography I do, crowds are a pain and something to avoid. So if Covid-19 has got you down, take your camera out and do some photography!

That’s exactly what I did a few days ago when I headed over to Dune Park.The official name for the park is Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park. I guess we could call it DPPDP, but it is easier to call it Dune Park.

It is the newest park in Tacoma, opening last July. As its official name suggests, the park is located on a small peninsula. The peninsula is not a natural feature, but instead consists of a pile of slag from the old Asarco smelter that formerly existed near the park location. Apparently, they dumped the slag in Puget Sound to create a boat basin for the Tacoma Yacht Club, which also occupies a portion of the peninsula – the park on the outside of the peninsula facing Puget Sound and the yacht club on the inside, facing the boat basin. The park is a remediated portion of the Asarco superfund site. By the way, the park is named after Frank Herbert’s novel Dune; pretty cool in my opinion. Herbert was a Tacoma native. The shoreline trail through the park is named the Frank Herbert Trail.

I’ve made several trips to Dune Park over the past several months to shoot the view of Mount Rainer.The view of Rainier from the park is magnificent, perhaps the best in the City of Tacoma. With a telephoto lens, the Mountain towers over the city and Commencement Bay. But it also looks great with a wider view incorporating the curving shoreline. The view is good for sunset year round and for sunrise portions of the year – at least when the Mountain is out. The blue hour can also provide excellent images.

My trip to the park Monday evening was my third trip trying to capture a decent sunset. The alpenglow on the mountain has been good two of the three times I’ve gone, but I’ve yet to get some good sunset clouds. Monday there was a little cloud cap on the top of the mountain, but it was so small it is almost not visible in the images. Still better than nothing and no need to get within 6 feet of anyone else! The featured shot above is from Monday, as is the wider-angle shot below. The final shot is from December, in the blue hour after sunset.

The park is less than 2 miles from my house, so I’ll keep trying for the great sunset. In the meantime, enjoy these shots, wash your hands frequently, and stay healthy!

 


Rainier Moon

It has been a while since I posted. I wish I could tell you that it is because I’ve been so busy going out doing photography, but that is not the case. House projects seem to be taking up my whole summer. But I did get out last Tuesday night with some friends to photograph the full moon rising over Mount Rainier. After seeing on the Photographer’s Ephemeris that the full moon would rise behind Rainier as seen from the Fox Island Bridge, I’d planned this shot for a month. As the day progressed, I occasionally checked the weather, and it looked good. That is, until close to sunset, when high clouds started coming in. And unfortunately, just as the sun was setting and the moon rising, there were high clouds immediately above the mountain.  The moon was obscured almost as soon as it rose.

The photo above is about as good as it got, and this image took some Photoshop work to bring out the top of the moon. Not bad, but not what I had imagined I would get. No matter how long you plan, Mother Nature’s plans sometimes trumps yours.


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.


Rookie Mistakes

Gorge MoonsetI hope you are having a great summer (or winter for my friends down south). I’m not sure where the time has gone this summer. It seems like I’ve been busy, but have little to show for it. I know my time has not been taken up by photography. I sort my image in my Lightroom catalog by date, and the catalog for July only has two dates in it. Same with August – and those two were from consecutive days of a non-photography trip where the camera barely left the bag. The purpose of the trip earlier this month was a family reunion. Us Beckers gather every year the first weekend in August.

This year, the get-together was at my sister’s house in Lyle, Washington. For those of you that don’t know where Lyle is, it is a small town in the Columbia River Gorge, on the Washington side of the river, ten miles or so east of Hood River, Oregon. My sister actually lives north of town another 10 miles or so in a house with a fantastic view of Mount Adams. However, I didn’t take any shots of Mount Adams when I was there, the air was quite hazy.

Tanya and I stayed right in the town of Lyle in an Airbnb house with a view of the Columbia River. The only photograph I planned to take that weekend was the image above. I knew by checking the Photographer Ephemeris that the crescent moon would be setting directly down the gorge from Lyle. In fact, I didn’t have to travel far to get the shot. The image above was taken from the deck of our rental.

So why is this post called “Rookie Mistakes?” Because I made a mess of my photo shoot. For those of you that have been to the Columbia River Gorge, you probably know the wind blows there a lot, and the night I shot this image was no exception. So, one would think that I, being somewhat of a professional photographer, would take precautions against camera shake. Well, I thought I did. I used my sturdiest tripod, I bumped up the ISO to 800 and used wide apertures to make for shorter shutter speeds. I shot some 30 images. All of them had camera shake to a certain extent. The one above, the last image I shot that night, was the best of the lot. I used Photoshop’s shake reduction filter, and that helped, but I could have done more. I should have used a weight on the tripod. I should have left the stabilizer on my lens, which I normally turn off when shooting from a tripod, turned on. Bad mistakes. I’m lucky I had even one halfway decent shot.

Mistake number two – the moon (and the planet above it in this image, Jupiter, I think) moves fast. My shutter speeds were between 2.5 and 30 seconds. When shooting stars at night, a 30-second exposure is typically not long enough to have star trails show when using a very wide-angle lens. However, I was not using a very wide-angle lens; I was using a telephoto lens. In everything I shot with a shutter speed over 2.5 seconds, the moon was horribly blurred due to the earth’s rotation. The image above is actually a composite, the moon and Jupiter are a 2.5 second exposure, the rest is a 10 second exposure.

All I can say is that when I downloaded these images to my computer, I was very disappointed. I let the excitement of the photo shoot overwhelm good technique. That’s why it is important to get out and practice your craft as much as possible. Keep working on your technique until it becomes second nature. I guess I’m not there yet. Here I encountered two different, unrelated phenomenon that, had I been thinking properly, should have made me use a fast shutter speed. Neither did. I failed and am lucky to have anything to show. But, I learned a lesson and, hopefully, will not make these mistakes again.


A Fine Spring Evening

Point RustonNot only have I not posted in awhile, I haven’t had time to get the camera out either and it was starting to make me antsy. So yesterday evening, I grabbed the camera and drove down the hill to take a few shots of Mount Rainier and the sunset from Ruston Way here in Tacoma. These shots were taken from a spot about a mile from my house. I still want to get out for a full day with camera in hand, but for a short while, the hour I spent last night scratched my photography itch. Do you have a special, go-to spot when you just have to get out there an click a shutter button for awhile?

Mount Rainier just at sunset

Mount Rainier just at sunset

Looking northwesterly toward the Olympic Mountains

Looking northwesterly toward the Olympic Mountains

Mount Rainier about 20 minutes after the sun set (in the blue hour)

Mount Rainier about 20 minutes after the sun set (in the blue hour)


Moon Madness

Gig Harbor MoonI must be obsessed with the moon lately writing two posts in a row about the moon. Yesterday I joined others from the Tacoma Mountaineers photo group in shooting the full moon from Gig Harbor. Actually, yesterday was the day before the full moon, or what some call the Photographers Moon, since it looks full and rises before the sun sets. As viewed from Gig Harbor yesterday, the moon rose north of Mount Rainier, and by sunset was near the mountain. Unfortunately, the clouds did not cooperate, and the late afternoon sunshine was blocked by high clouds in the west. The beautiful sunset light on the harbor and mountain did not materialize. The golden hour turned pale.

The featured image above was taken shortly before sunset. Not a bad image overall, but a pale imitation of what it could have been. Imagine what it would have looked like if clouds in the west had not been blocking the sun. Imagine Rainier lit with a warm glow and the clouds burning with pink. Yesterday, it was not to be.

I’ve been thinking of this shot for several years, and last night just didn’t cut it for me. In looking ahead, the Photographers Moon next month (on June 11) and in July (also on the 11th) will rise closer to the mountain than yesterday. I think I will go back and try again. Anyone want to join me in my moon madness?

Moon RisingGig Harbor Moon2


More from Harts Pass

Harts Pass Sunset1In my last post, I focused on the forest burned in a 2003 wildfire near Harts Pass. Today I’d like to show more shots from the Harts Pass area, focusing on images taken near sunset. These shots were captured near the Pacific Crest Trail trailhead on the western slope of Slate Peak, about 1.5 miles from Harts Pass. As I mentioned in my last post, this is a spectacular area. It is well worth a stop if visiting north-central Washington.

The featured image (above) was actually the last image I took, taken approximately 40 minutes after sunset. I really like the color the sky takes during the “blue hour” (the twilight period following sunset, or before sunrise, before complete darkness. I discussed photography during this period in my recent post “After Sunset? Don’t be Blue, Keep Shooting.”) As was the case with many sunset, some of the best color comes long after the sun goes down.

Most of these images were shot with a split neutral density filter. All are RAW images processed in Lightroom.

Harts Pass

This image looks down on Harts Pass, in the middle right background where the “Silver Forest” is located.

Setting Sun

Setting sun over the North Cascades

Harts Sunset1

Sunset clouds, looking south during sunset.

Harts Sunset2

More sunlit clouds, looking southwesterly.

Harts Pass Sunset2

Wide-angle view looking over the North Cascades. I like the texture in the clouds at the top of this image.

Harts Pass Sunset3

One last sunset shot. In this one, I like the repetition of the mountains and ridges.


Quick Shot – Cannon Beach

 

Sunset at Northern Cannon BeachTanya, Carson and I attended our annual Becker family gathering last weekend. This year it was at Cannon Beach, Oregon. We camped, as did several of my brothers and sisters. Other family members slept in hotel rooms (I have four sisters and two brothers; all but one attended the weekend, as did my Dad, stepmom, and various nieces and nephews). However, most the visiting was in the campground. We arrived Friday evening, and I didn’t even make it to the beach until Saturday night. I considered not even taking the camera out for the whole weekend, instead just enjoying being with the family. However, I couldn’t resist the call of the camera, and I planned a shot for Saturday sunset. Using the Photographers Ephemeris, I planned a shot with the sun setting behind some small islands just off shore. Most images of Cannon Beach show Haystack Rock (don’t believe me, do a Google Image search of Cannon Beach). I wanted to do something a bit different; to show a different part of the beach, and this is the result. It wasn’t the best sunset in the world, but I was happy with the result.


Quick Shot – Titlow Beach

Tacoma Narrows SunsetI’ve been very busy lately and haven’t had much chance to take any new photos. However, I did go out with the Mountaineers last night for a quick trip to Titlow Beach here in Tacoma. Titlow is on the Tacoma Narrows, just south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridges. Titlow was the former ferry landing before the first Narrows bridge was built. Today, there is no ferry, but lots of pilings left, some shown here in the featured photo. It’s usually a good place for sunsets. Last night’s sunset was only fair, not great; but it does make a pretty picture.

So, what have I been working on other than photos? I’ve been busy digging up my front yard to replace the side sewer – a necessary job (at least if Tanya and I still want inside plumbing), but not very fun. The other shot here (taken with my cell phone) shows my buddy, Mike, working on the digging up the old sewer line. Unfortunately, we had to dig perhaps half the hole by hand. Oh, and by the way, the yellow line running the length of the trench is the natural gas line to the house. Nice placement, isn’t it? And the project isn’t done. Later this month, we will be digging up the concrete basement floor to replace the drain line connected to the sewer (more non-fun).

But I wanted to post something, so here’s a quick shot from Titlow Beach (and one from the big dig in my yard).

Digging the side sewer


How to Stop the Wind

Tatoosh Range and Wildflowers

Tatoosh Range and WildflowersWind is often the bane of nature photographers. We are often photographing in fairly low light conditions at sunrise or sunset, and often want a wide depth of field, so end up using small f-stops. Most of us know that using high ISOs leads to objectionable digital noise. These conditions all combine to require a slow shutter speed. So what do you do if there is a breeze moving your foreground around. Not a problem with rocks as a foreground, but what about wildflowers?

The above photo of the Tatoosh Range was taken at Paradise on the Golden Gate trail last month shortly before sunset. To get both the flowers and the mountains in acceptable focus, I took one shot with the aperture at set f/16 and the ISO at 100. This resulted in a shutter speed  of 4 seconds (I also used a split neutral density filter). There was a breeze and  it was impossible to get a frame without some movement in the flowers.

I then shot another image with the aperture at f/11 and the ISO set to 1250. This allowed the shutter speed to be 1/8 seconds. This was enough to stop most of the flower movement; but as you might imagine, the noise was unacceptable.

To get the above image, I processed both photos in Lightroom and imported them into Photoshop. I used the low ISO image as the background layer, then added the high ISO image in a new layer and added a layer mask filled with black (making none of the high ISO image visible). Then, using a soft brush, I painted white on the mask wherever the flowers were soft due to movement from the breeze. The end result is the image above. Below are close two closeups that show the before and after effects of painting the high ISO image onto the low ISO one.

This technique to stop the wind doesn’t always work, but when it does, it can save a shot.

Low ISO

Closeup of the flowers in the low ISO image taken with a shutter speed of 4 seconds. Note the movement captured for some of the flowers.

Blended image

Closeup on the final combined image, where flower movement was covered up by painting out the movement with a image taken with a high ISO and a shutter speed of 1/8 seconds.

 


Why They Call It Paradise

Rainier from Deadhorse Creek TrailEarlier this week, Tanya,, Carson and I went camping for three days at La Wis Wis near White Pass. I took the opportunity to drive up to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park for one sunset and one sunrise. Though it looked like they were slightly past their prime, the wildflowers were incredible at Paradise. If you want to see them this year, you best get up there fast.

For my sunset shots, I hiked from the visitor center eastward on the Skyline Trail then partly up the Golden Gate Trail. The flowers were great on the Golden Gate Trail, but the view of Rainier is partially obstructed by a ridge. Luckily for me, the view of the Tatoosh Range to the south put on a good alpenglow show.

The next morning, after arriving at Paradise at 5:45 a.m. (no trouble finding parking at that time!), I headed north on the Skyline Trail to Glacier Vista, then back to the visitor center via the Deadhorse Creek and Waterfall Trails. Again, great flowers, but also more unobstructed views of Rainier (the featured photo above is of Rainier from the Deadhorse Creek Trail). Unfortunately, there wasn’t much color in the sunrise. However, low-lying clouds below Paradise made for some good shots.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a few photos from the trip to show you why they call it Paradise!

Tatoosh Range

Tatoosh Range from the Golden Gate Trail

Golden Gate Flowers

Mount Rainier from the Golden Gate Trail

Sunset and Crescent Moon

A crescent moon mixing it up with the sunset

Clouds Below Paradise

Clouds covering the lowlands below Paradise in the morning

Rainier from Glacier Vista

View of Rainier at sunrise from Glacier Vista

Tatoosh Range

Morning clouds below the Tatoosh Range

Carson Enjoying Camping

Bonus Photo: Carson enjoying camping at La Wis Wis (taken with my cell phone)


Twisp Time Lapse

A month or so ago, I purchased a Vello Wireless Shutterboss for project and then ended up not using it. This device allows remote control of a camera, including the ability to shoot a series of photos at regular intervals. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to play with the Shutterboss, and finally found that opportunity last weekend. Tanya and I spent the weekend in Twisp, Washington with friends at their cabin. Saturday night I set up the camera to do a time-lapse sequence of the sun setting over the hills across the valley.

This was my first attempt at time-lapse photography. I set the Shutterboss to record 75 images, 2 minutes apart starting just after 7 p.m. in the evening. I processed the images and made the video in Adobe Lightroom 4.

You can see the result above, though it looks better if you click the link and watch it on the Vimeo site. What do you think? I rate myself with a solid C+ effort. In hindsight, I should have set up the camera for more frequent shots, perhaps every minute or even half minute to make the transitions a bit smoother and the video longer. But overall, not bad for a first try.


On the Coast (part 2)

Cannon Beach from EcolaThe second half of our long weekend on the Oregon coast started with Mother’s Day. Since it was also the first great weather weekend of the spring, the beaches were crowded. We stopped at Hug Point State Park and barely found a parking spot. People were everywhere, and I didn’t take any photos there. We then went to Ecola State Park at the northern end of Cannon Beach. It was also crowded (we had to wait for a parking spot at Indian Beach, and the Ecola parking lot was only had a few spots available), and I mainly scouted for views I’d come back for later. After scouting, we drove back to our camp for an early dinner.

I drove back to Ecola about 2 hours before sunset, going first to Indian Beach, than up to Ecola Point; it was much less crowded. While shooting at Ecola Point (taking the classic shot south to Cannon Beach), a couple named Sean and Lisa shared the viewpoint with me. After a short while, Sean got down on his knee and proposed to Lisa. Very romantic (except for the photographer trying his best to to interfere). They asked if I took “people pictures” (which I do) and asked if I’d take a few photos of them during this special moment. I shot off a few dozen shots and we traded contact information. A bit later, we both enjoyed the sunset, Sean and Lisa holding each other, me shooting away at the sun sinking into the Pacific.

The featured image above is a 3-shot panorama of the classic shot of Cannon Beach from Ecola Point. All the images below were taken in Ecola State Park, except the one of Carson, which I took on the beach near our campground in Nehalem Bay State Park.

Indian Beach

Three-shot panorama of Indian Beach.

Ecola Point

Ecola Point as seen from the northern end of Indian Beach.

Sean and Lisa

The happy couple; oh I forgot to mention above; she said yes!

Sunset into the Pacific

The sun setting into the Pacific near Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.

Cannon Beach after Sunset

The sunset lit up some clouds over Cannon Beach.

Carson at the Beach

I had to add a shot of Carson and his new summer hair cut. He had a great time at the beach as you can see from the sand incrusted slobber (for comparison, check out this image of Carson, from an earlier post, taken in April before his haircut).


On the Coast (part 1)

Oceanside SunsetEarlier this month, Tanya and I packed up Carson and the camping gear and headed south to the Oregon coast for a 4-day weekend. Being a Washington native, I suppose it is sacrilegious to admit I like the Oregon coast better than the Washington coast. Most of the easily accessible ocean beach in Washington consists of broad sandy beaches like those at Ocean Shores, which I posted about recently. I prefer a few rocky headlands to provide variety, tide pools, and wave action, like is found along much of the Oregon coast. Additionally, because of longshore drift bringing sediment north from the Columbia River, the water in Washington is silty and usually has a brown tint. Without any large rivers flowing into Oregon’s coast (south of the Columbia), the water is much cleaner.

Not wanting to drive too long, we chose to camp at Nehalem Bay State Park, about a 3 to 4 hour drive from Tacoma. This site gave me fairly quick access to the Cannon Beach and Three Capes areas. The weather couldn’t have been better (well, that’s not true, a photographer is never satisfied with the weather, there could have been a few more clouds to help create interest in the sky). The main problem was that the trip was over Mother’s Day weekend, which when combined with the nice weather, really brought out the crowds to the beach. As a result, most of the images I took were in the golden hours of early morning and late evenings, which not only had less people about, but better light than mid-day.

The photos featured here are from the Friday and Saturday portions of the trip. I’ll show images from the 2nd half of the trip in my next post.

West Mooring Basin

Boats in the West Mooring Basin at Astoria. The Astoria Bridge over the Columbia River in the background.

Nehalem Sunset

The sunset wasn’t great our first night in Oregon, but it sure was nice being on the beach. Here’s the sunset at Nehalem Bay State Park.

Haystack Rock

Morning light on Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

Forest Floor

Forest floor at Oswald West State Park.

Cape Meares Light

Late afternoon sun at Cape Meares Lighthouse.

Oceanside Beach

The beach north of Oceanside, south of Cape Meares.

Waves at Sunset

This shot, as well as the featured one above, are of the sunset the 2nd night of our trip – much better than the first night. Both were taken at the beach past the tunnel, looking toward the Three Arch Rocks, at Oceanside.


Moonrise on Seattle

Seattle Moonrise

Seattle MoonriseIf you’ve followed my posts lately, you know I recently took a day trip to Seattle. The earlier portions of the trip were described in my Cherries of the Dawgs and More from Seattleposts.

Space Needle

Space Needle about 30 minutes after sunset, but before moonrise. Note you can't tell if the horizon is clear or not.

One of the main goals of the trip was to photograph the full moon rising over the city. Using the program, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, I planned where I should shoot the moon as it rose. I calculated that the moon would rise close to the Space Needle if photographed from Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in the Magnolia area, just west of the Magnolia bridge. Early in the day I drove by this park to scout out where I should shoot from. I picked a spot by the parking lot that looked like it had the perfect view of the Space Needle.

As I photographed throughout Seattle that day, I worried whether the clouds would obscure the view of the rising moon. The eastern horizon never did look very clear. When the sun got low over the Olympic Mountains west of Puget Sound, I left the downtown waterfront, where I had been working, and headed back toward Magnolia.

I had selected the Parkmont Place viewpoint for a sunset shot. This long, narrow park along the Magnolia bluff top offers a number of viewpoints looking west over Puget Sound toward the Olympic Mountains. As I crossed the Magnolia Bridge heading toward Parkmont Place, I drove by the Ursula Judkins Viewpoint I had scouted earlier. There was one photographer there; he had a tripod set up in the exact spot I had earlier picked out.

The sunset was okay, not great; but I did get some nice shots of the ferry MV Wenatchee as it steamed from Bainbridge to Seattle and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as it cruised northward on the Sound. The sun set around 7:45 p.m. A little before 8:00, I drove back to Ursula Judkins for  the moonrise at 8:18 p.m. The drive took about 3 minutes and the eastern sky was mostly cloudy. I couldn’t tell if it was clear on the horizon.

When I arrived at the viewpoint, the one other photographer had morphed into about 30 photographers! I was lucky to get the last parking spot in the park. The spot I had earlier picked out was now crowded with about 15 tripods. I set up at the car and then walked over there with my tripod. I had my small tripod with me, and it was not tall enough to get a clear view without other tripods and photographers in the way. I moved, and ended up back near my car, where with my 70-200 zoom lens I could isolate the Space Needle well.

I snapped a few frames of the Space Needle as darkness descended, still unsure if the moon would show through the clouds. Then an orange glow appeared in back of the Cascade Mountains. Soon, the moon was an orange ball shining through thin clouds immediately over the mountains. Minutes later, it rose further and was hidden by clouds. It made one more partial appearance, but then was again obscured. Most of the other photographers were still there when I left, hoping the moon would again show before it got too high in the sky. But I left, with the drive back to Tacoma in mind. I’m happy with the moonrise shot I did capture; I hope you agree.

MV Wenatchee

The ferry Wenatchee steaming toward Seattle on Puget Sound.

Carrier at Sunset

The USS John C Stennis sailing north on Puget Sound at sunset. The Olympic Mountains are in the background.


Happy Holidays!

Rainier SunsetI wish you all the best this holiday season with this natural light show from Mount Rainier National Park last Saturday. If I have time in the next several days, I’ll post some more shots from that trip. Meanwhile, it’s my holiday wish that peace fills your heart, joy fills your days, and life gives you a chance to experience the incredible in the new year.


Mountain Blues

Mountain blues? Well, lots blue sky maybe. In fact, the only thing to be blue about was the lack of clouds (ever notice how photographers are never happy with the weather – believe me, Tanya has noticed [and has told me so]). So I saw lots of blue. But how about purples, yellows and reds? I saw them too during the three days I spent on Blue Mountain in Olympic National Park over last weekend.

The trip was an official Mountaineers photography outing, lead by my friend and most excellent photographer John Woods. We camped at campground at Deer Park and had great views of the Olympic Mountains without leaving our picnic table. But we did leave the picnic table, to travel the short distance the rest the way up Blue Mountain for sunset and sunrise shots.

Blue Mountain is 6,007 feet high, which may not sound like much, but because its summit is only less than 12 miles from sea level, it seems like it is way up there. It is one of the highest places you can drive to in Washington State (the parking lot is about 170 feet below the summit). The view is incredible – look to the north and see the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands,  the Canadian Cascades, Port Angeles, Sequim, and Victoria, British Columbia; look to the east and see Whidbey Island, Puget Sound, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, and the North Cascades; and look to the south and west see the Olympic Mountains.

But there was much more to photograph than the view from Blue Mountain. There were lots of wildflowers and animal life (they don’t call it Deer Park for nothing). And there were hikes to take. It was a great weekend – definitely nothing to be blue about.

Sunset over the Olympic Mountains

Early morning fog in the low lands and over Puget Sound

Morning light on the Olympics

A hawk came to visit our camp

Colorful thistle were abundant in the Deer Park area

A view from very near our campsite

Wildflowers and Mount Olympus

Another view from near our campsite

Indian paintbrush


The Lost Sunset

Olympic Sunset

My "lost sunset" taken at the Skokomish River delta along Hood Canal.

Last week Tanya, Carson (our Newfoundland), and I circumnavigated Hood Canal. (For those not familiar with Washington State geography, Hood Canal is not a canal. It is a natural saltwater channel, essentially a fiord – long and narrow- that runs along the east side of the Olympic Mountains.)  I was hunting for good photographs. Tanya and Carson went along for the ride. We first stopped at Shine Tidelands State Park, on the west side of the Hood Canal Bridge. The tide was very low, and we saw some interesting sea life. Carson took a swim, or more like a wade (he seems to be the only Newfoundland in the world that doesn’t like going in water deeper than where he can touch the bottom). Not much photographically, but fun nonetheless.

Moon snail

Moon snail at Shine Tidelands State Park. The shell on these snails about about 4 inches across.

We continued west and then south, through Quilcene to Mount Walker. I was hoping to get some forest shots of wild rhododendrons. The road to the top of Mount Walker is lined with them. Unfortunately, we only saw one bud just starting to open. That’s it. We probably saw 2,500 rhodies, but no blooms. To make matters worse, it was raining on the top of Mount Walker. There are two viewpoints up there. At the northern viewpoint, we could only see a couple dozen yards. At the southern one, there was a hole in the clouds, so I did trip the shutter a few times (in the rain) looking down on a sunny Hood Canal and Puget Sound. Nothing too special, but it gave me a chance to use my rain sleeve.

After driving back down to the highway, and a quick-lunch stop, we continued on to Brinnon. There we stopped at Whitney Gardens and Nursery. Whitney Gardens includes over 7 acres of rhododendrons and azaleas, seemingly in peak bloom, as well as other plants and trees. It was not crowded, most people were staying in the nursery portion of the grounds. I had the garden to myself. With the sun in and out of the clouds, I was watching out for too much contrast. So I  looked for compositions mostly in the shade or when the sun was behind the clouds. After about an hour and a half, I’d had my fill of rhodies.

Rhodie

Rhododendron at Whitney Gardens in Brinnon, Washington

We then drove up the Dosewallips River Road to look for river and forest scenes. We pasted a herd of elk on the way out of Brinnon, as I didn’t have the big glass (big for me anyway) on the camera. I decided to shoot the elk on the way back. We stopped a Rocky Brook Falls and it had a good flow. The sun was fully out now, and the contrast was too much for any decent waterfall shots. But back at the car, we found it wouldn’t start! We had the starter replaced about a week earlier, but since it was “fixed”, it sometimes wouldn’t start when the engine is hot. So we had to wait, but that just gave me more time at Rocky Brook. By now the clouds had come back some and the contrast had dropped considerably. I was able to capture a decent shot of the creek and a better one of the falls.

Elk

My typical shot of the elk when they saw my camera!

On the next try, the car started right up, and we drove to the end of the road. On the way back, I took a few shots of the Dosewallips River and put on the 70-200mm lens with a teleconvertor to shoot the elk when we got back toward town. The elk were still there, now on both sides of the road. They apparently didn’t like the looks of me, because they sure turned their backsides toward the camera whenever I stuck it out the window!

Back on the highway, we continued south. At the Hamma Hamma River, we again drove in toward the Olympic Mountains. I took a few shots of the river, but not much else caught my eye, so it was back to the highway. But a short ways down the highway, at the mouth of the Hamma Hamma, there was a good view over Hood Canal. The tide was now high, and the Hamma Hamma delta was flooded. I liked the flooded grasses in the delta with big towering clouds on the other side of the canal.

Rocky Brook Falls

Rocky Brook Falls near Brinnon, Washington

We skipped the drive up to Staircase and stopped at the Tacoma Power park at Potlatch for a picnic dinner, though it was a bit cold to eat outside the car. After dinner, Carson took another “swim” off the boat ramp. Then it was on to the far side of Hood Canal near Union to find a good spot for sunset shots. Earlier in the day I would have bet we would not have seen a sunset, it was that cloudy. But now, there was the chance for a colorful one. We drove up and down the highway south of Union, and I finally decided on a spot overlooking the Skokomish delta, with Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains in the background. The mountains were mostly covered with clouds, but the sunset wasn’t bad. Based on the featured photo on this blog, you be the judge.

I spent about an hour at the spot, first waiting for the sun to set, than shooting about 180 frames. I had used most of an 8 GB card earlier in the day, so for these sunset shots, I put in a new 4 GB card. I was pretty happy with the results and we headed home.

By this time, you might be wondering why this blog entry is titled “The Lost Sunset.” Well, the next day I downloaded the 8 GB card with no problem. I was using an external hard drive with a card reader attached with a USB cable to my computer, downloading directly to Lightroom and backing up at the same time. When I stuck the card in with the sunset shots, it went in a little funny. Lightroom showed the first two shots and the very last shot, all the rest were nothing but white frames with lots of color noise. I pulled the card out and saw one of the pins on the card reader bent flat. I put the card back into the camera, and the camera failed to recognize it. The card was corrupt and my sunset shots were lost. I felt slightly sick.

Hood Canal at the Hamma Hamma delta.

Hood Canal at the Hamma Hamma delta.

At the time I didn’t own any file recovery software. The following day I did some research on the internet, and downloaded a couple of free programs. Both these succeeded in pulling some old photographs off the corrupt memory card – photos left over from an old shoot, shots that had been erased when I reformatted the card prior to the card at Hood Canal. Neither was able to same the sunset shots. I had heard that PhotoRescue was good program, so I downloaded it. Though it costs about $30, it allows you to try before you buy by showing thumbnail images of the files it can recovery. It seemed to work, and $30 later, I had my lost sunset shots.

I guess the morale of the story is don’t force your compact flash memory cards into a card reader. If they don’t go in smoothly, try lining it up again. And if all else fails, try PhotoRescue. It rescued me.

Rhododendron macro

Macro of the rhodie at Whitney Gardens

Dosewallips River

Dosewallips River

Skokomish delta sunset

Another from the lost sunset set.


Notes from the TPN Seattle Convention

Pike Place Pig

Pike Place Market is known for its bronze pig.

This blog finishes up re-publishing articles I wrote for the Travel Photographers Network. Where do travel photographers go when in Seattle? To find out, read this articl eabout the August 2007 meeting of the Travel Photographers Network.

Not sure what to expect, I rolled out of bed at 5:30 to try and get to Seattle before 7:00. Sure I had met these people on-line at TPN, and we comment on each other’s images in the forums, but I’m apprehensive. Meeting someone in person is totally different than on line. Tom Guffey suggested meeting for breakfast at Lowell’s restaurant in the Pike Place Market, so after finding a rare parking spot on the street, I walked into Lowell’s at 7:00 on the nose and didn’t see a soul with a camera. Lowell’s is a fairly small place, but it does cover three floors (a description that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but trust me on this one), and going to the top floor I finally spy someone with a camera. We kind of looked at each other and ventured, “Are you with the travel photographers?”

Market Flowers

Cut flowers for sale at Pike Place Market in Seattle

 It was Dan Parker, up from Colorado. Then looking down the stairs there were more cameras. A few quick introductions later and I had met Tim Goodspeed, from Portland, Oregon, and the master of the show himself, Jim White. We and grabbed a big, round table on the top floor with a view of Elliot Bay. Soon, Tom Guffey showed up and, finally, Sheril Foust. A small turnout perhaps, but a group overflowing with photographic talent (not to mention, as I was to find out later, a lot of BS as well).

 The “convention” actually started the night before (Friday), when several of the attendees met for liquid refreshments in the Marriott lounge. Saturday’s session started with eggs, bacon, hash browns, orange juice, and coffee (one must have coffee in Seattle, where there are usually more than four coffee shops within any city block).  Over breakfast, Jim asked people’s opinions concerning the TPN site: what we liked or disliked, what improvements could be made, or how the site could be changed for the better, ideas for attracting and keeping a larger membership. Every convention must have some “housekeeping” work to do, and I guess this was it for this one.

 Then talk turned to what to photograph. Tom played local host, at least for Saturday. He distributed Seattle maps, indexed with 30 great photographic locations.  A second sheet gave a description of each location along with the type of photos that might be taken there. A thumbnail photograph taken from the location also accompanied each description. We talked about where to go, but the first choice was easy. We were sitting in one of the premier travel photography locations in the city: Pike Place Market, or number 6 on the Guffey List.

American Pig

Pig statue and American flag at Pike Place Market in Seattle

 We ventured back downstairs, and the marketplace that had been relatively empty at 7:00 a.m. was now bustling. Cameras were pulled out and image making begun. Pike Place Market is more than a farmer’s market in the heart of the city; it’s a mélange of everything Seattle. It has fish, fruit, flowers and forest; wine, water, beer and coffee; there are men in business suits, men in fishing overalls, and homeless men; tourists and locals; shoppers and protesters; and above all, a lot of photographic subjects. As it turned out, the 100th anniversary of the market was the week we were there, so the market was extra crowded and extra crazy. We fanned out and shot like crazy.

 Somehow, we all found each other again, near a street performer playing an erhu (a two-stringed Chinese violin; I can’t report that he was making much money), taking pictures of a man with a parrot. Jim started asking about pub’s (turns out Jim White is almost always asking about pubs), so we ventured over to an Irish pub (Kells) located in the Post Alley portion of the market. There, we drank liquid refreshments while Jim regaled us with stories of Israeli Mossad  agents and old Swiss women (believe me, you had to be there to understand). After more discussions about where what and when to shoot, we headed off to the Center for Wooden Boats & the Maritime Heritage Museum, also known as number 11 on the Guffey List.

Small Steam Powered Boat

Small steam powered boat on Lake Union at the Center for Wooden Boats and Maritime Hertitage Museum

The Center for Wooden Boats is on the southern shore of Lake Union, at the northern end of downtown Seattle; a brief car ride from the market. The center has more than 100 restored, historic wooden boats and is adjacent to the Maritime Heritage Museum. The weekend of the TPN convention, it was hosting an event featuring steam-powered boats. We wandered the docks, photographing boats, steam engines, and reflections.

 Tired and hungry, the crew decided to head back down to the waterfront to recharge batteries (in the hotel) and stomachs at a seafood restaurant. We chose Anthony’s Pier 66 across the street from the recharging batteries (at the Marriott). This was also a choice location because next to the restaurant is a pier-top view of the waterfront, also known as number 3 on the GuffeyList.

Street Light Dragon

_ Dragon on street light pole in the International District

 After crashing a wedding reception that had reserved said pier-top view (well actually, we only crashed the party set up, but they did lock the gate after us), we headed over to the Marriott lounge for some liquid refreshment while waiting for the golden hours near sunset.

 The golden hours didn’t appear, clouds did. But one doesn’t have the chance to photograph Seattle everyday (or at least for four of the six of us); so clouds or not, we drove around the bay to West Seattle and found a great spot along Alki Beach with a view of downtown, also known as number 1 on the Guffey List. Daylight faded, and we captured the evening blues and downtown lights. Day one was over, and with it the skies were threatening rain. Tom Guffey begged off on day two; and I drove home not if I would return the next day or not. The company was great, but I can shoot Seattle in the rain anytime.

 Sunday morning didn’t bring rain, but there wasn’t much sun either. I stayed home and dug a ditch (somewhat telling as to the conditions that I would stay home to dig a ditch rather than go shooting). But as I dug, the clouds parted, and it started to look like a halfway decent day. I traded the shovel for my camera and headed back.

 Meanwhile, after a disappointing sunrise, Tim Goodspeed headed home to Portland. Dan was staying up on Whidbey Island and, like me, was slow in getting back to the city. So Jim and Sheril walked down the waterfront to see the Seattle Aquarium, also known as number 4 on the Guffey List. Around noon, both Dan and I appeared at the Marriott and now, with the group down to four, we again ventured out. We walked down the waterfront, which was crowded with tourists and seagulls, over to the Pioneer Square district, also known as number 7 on the Guffey List.

 Pioneer Square, at the southern end of downtown, is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. It is a National Historic District and contains a portion of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park (the other portion is in Skagway, Alaska). We indeed found historic buildings, squares, statues, and totems. We even found a waterfall (in the Waterfall Garden, a small park that marks the birthplace of the United Parcel Service). Jim led us down a dark back alley to see some of the underside of the city. This spot was not on the Guffey List, so we labeled it number 31.

 We continued our walking tour, soon encountering dragons on the street lights: a sign we were entering the International District, also known as number 8 on the Guffey List. This district houses many Asian restaurants and shops. However, it seemed the favorite subject in the International District was a huge flock of pigeons, easily numbering over one thousand. Also not on the Guffey List, we labeled this spot number 32.

Details of buildings in Pioneer Square, Seattle

Details of buildings in Pioneer Square

 Back through Pioneer Square, taking time to photograph Pioneer Square Park and Pergola (which dates from 1905), we walked back to the waterfront, stopping again at number 3 for more shots from the top of Pier 66 (sans wedding reception). Then back over to the Marriott for liquid refreshment and relaxation.

 Hunger called, so with our final photographic destination in mind, we piled in my car and headed to the base of Queen Anne Hill. There, we found another more liquid refreshments in yet another Irish pub and enjoyed a meal of buffalo wings (which Jim reports are not commonly found in England) and salad (okay, it was only celery sticks that came with the wings). The evening promised better light than the day before, and as the sunset approached, we drove up to Kerry Park, also known as number 10 on the Guffey List.

 Kerry Park is halfway up Queen Anne Hill, just north of downtown Seattle. It has a fantastic view of the city, Elliott Bay, and Mount Rainier. The mountain was not visible that evening, but the sunset wasn’t bad, and as the lights of the city came on, we clicked away.

 With that, and of course some more liquid refreshment at the Marriott lounge after the Kerry Park shoot, the TPN convention was over. I started the weekend apprehensive about meeting people I only knew from on-line. I ended with more good memories than pictures (that’s saying something considering number of compact flash cards I filled!).

Protest at the Market

Pike Place Market, home to produce and protests

Alki Point at Sunset

Sunset over West Seattle and Puget Sound

King Street Station

King Street Station - the train station in downtown Seattle

Wooden Boat Details

Details of a boat at the Wooden Boat Center