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regnaD kciN

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Maple Valley, Washington
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 25,730

Journal Archives

2018 - A Look Back

Those who have been around for some time here know that I make a point of posting an annual retrospective. I set myself two constraints on the photos I choose:

- Only one photo per month. (I'm making a single exception to this one here, but for good reason, as you shall see.)
- None of the included photos can have been posted to DU before.

In January, I took several photo trips to Snoqualmie Pass for winter shooting, as documented in other posts here. Among all the standard snow-covered-forest images, I took the time to record the bright yellow of a parked snowplow in the middle of a blizzard.

February took me to the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park, where I captured this image of forest textures.

In March, I took a break from daffodil shooting in the Skagit Flats to visit Rosario Beach for sunset.

Of course, I was back to Skagit in April for tulips.

Continuing the flower theme, May brought us the bloom of the rhododendron, our official state flower.

For June, I chose a quiet scene along Jenkens Creek.

Although I had yet more flower shots for July, I opted for something a little different. Just south of us, in Enumclaw, there's an abandoned, crumbling gas station along the main highway. For some reason, every election year, every Republican candidate in the area elects to post a massive campaign sign on or around this station. I will grant that it is seen by thousands of commuters daily, but do the Republicans really want to associate their candidates with a neglected, collapsing empty old building about to be swallowed up by the undergrowth? It was impossible to resist adding to the sense of decay by going with black and white. (As a footnote, I should add that each and every one of the candidates advertising at that site went down to ignominious defeat in November.)

August took me to Oregon, for Mount Hood as seen from the plateau above the Columbia Gorge.

In September, I visited Mount Rainier again for some early-autumn foliage, including these huckleberries.

The east side of the Cascades is a great place for fall color in October. I visited this bend in Nason Creek back in 2008 (if you go back far enough in DU2, you can find the shot I took from practically this same position), and decided to return on the tenth anniversary (to the day) to capture it once again.

The maples were still turning bright shades of yellows and oranges in November in western Washington; here's an image taken at a park not too far from home. (Some may notice that this is the same tree from my entry in the Autumn Contest, here taken head-on instead of backlit and in close-up.)

Finally, in December, conditions were frankly too lousy to get out. So, if I can't shoot trees outdoors, why not rely on the (artificial) one indoors? (As a bonus, you get an unavoidable self-portrait of the photographer, thanks to mirror-finish ornaments.)

Now, as you may have noticed, I mentioned an exception to the "one shot per month" rule, just for this year. You see, I took a lot of images in October, and was planning on writing some journal posts for DU, but never found the time to do them. (I did do a video of that month's shoots, which I'll link below.) While I did think the Nason Creek shot above was the best summation image for October, that would mean leaving out one of my favorite photographs. So I decided to included it as a "top pick of the year" in addition to my monthly choices. This was taken on a quick trip to nearby Lake Wilderness; since the edges of the bowl enclosing the lake are packed with McMansions, there really isn't any autumn composition possible of the trees themselves. However, if you just shoot the reflection of the foliage in the lake's waters, varying the shutter speed and counting on natural disturbances in the lake caused by breezes and waterfowl can yield some fantastic abstracts. I was sorely tempted to title this one "Show Me The Monet!!!"...but finally opted for the more-serious "Autumn Impressions."

Link to my autumn video:

Autumn on "The Mountain"

In the popular imagination, Mount Rainier is commonly thought of as a summer photography location, and understandably so. We've all seen dozens of great images of "The Mountain towering over a field carpeted in paintbrush, lupine, and asters. But Rainier is also a great place for photography in the early autumn, when the wildflowers are replaced by huckleberries, vine maple, and other ground cover in vibrant shades of yellows and oranges.

I didn't make it to Mount Rainier this summer, despite it being only a short drive away. The thick blanket of smoke covering the region from historically-bad wildfires (thank you, climate change) didn't help, nor did reports of an unusually-poor wildflower season. But I certainly wasn't going to stay away for autumn, and made my way to the south side of the park in late September. The autumn color was just peaking at Reflection Lakes, and the huckleberries seemed to have almost been painted in primary colors.

Only the cloudless sky was a bit of a disappointment, and required careful framing to cut out expanses of monotonous blue. But, then, coming down Stevens Canyon on the way back out of the park, I came around a hairpin turn to find a few clouds, probably part of the mountain's own weather system, had added an extra touch of interest, just in time to capture a fine vertical composition, and a wonderful end to the day's shoot.

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!

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