Monday, September 28, 2009

WTA Northwest Exposure Photo Contest

The Washington Trails Association's 7th annual Northwest Exposure photo contest is underway now, with a deadline of October 16th, 2009. If you have an interest in photography and the outdoors, I highly recommend you consider it; it's a lot of fun!

I first became involved in the contest in 2006 when I entered this image of Prusik Peak at sunrise. The image won 1st Place in the Wilderness Landscape category, paving the way for several other honors and opportunities for the image and its use.

Since then, I have been asked to return to serve as a contest judge for the event, and have been honored to do so. The honor will continue for this year's 2009 contest.

Check out the Contest Rules and submit your best images for the five listed categories. If you place, your image will appear on the pages of the January/February 2010 issue of Washington Trails magazine.

About the Image: The image of Prusik Peak was taken very near camp at Sprite Lake in the Enchantment Lakes. It had rained all night. We awoke to find ourselves in clouds, with not much hope for a sunrise. Still I set up for this shot and watched the sky. Soon, hope emerged as the suns rays began to penetrate the low clouds and highlight the granitic peak. Then the larches began to turn a brilliant orange as the sun's rays penetrated further and cast magic upon the foreground. It was a celebration!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rewards from Glacier National Park

My recent backcountry trip in Glacier National Park was an incredible experience and a trip that, for many reasons, I will remember for a long time. The flowers, the sunsets, the wildlife, the adventure, the companionship - it was all there.

The trip was a return to one of my favorite national parks, and the completion of a classic trek that I have been trying to do for several years. Add a cross-country variation involving a climb over the shoulder of Mt. Kipp and the descent of a glacier to a beautiful lake in a deep cirque unaccessible by trail, and you have the makings of a most spectacular experience!

So it was to my utmost delight to learn that a couple of images from that trip have already been selected to accompany an article in an up-coming issue of a popular magazine. The layout will include my first double-page spread!

Glacier NP is not only a beautiful place to visit, but is rich with history as well. When making your vacation plans for next year, I highly recommend considering it as your destination of choice.

If planning a trip for flowers, I would aim for the last week of July or first week of August. I chose the first week of August and you can see the results! However, flowers were past their prime in many areas that we visited, and I think my preference would be a week sooner.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shell Rock - Oregon Coast

Along the Cape Arago Highway outside of Charleston is one of the best spots on the Oregon coast to view sea lions - Simpson Reef and Shell Rock. Hundreds of sea lions and otters use this place as a haul-out and can be viewed year-round. The pull-out is located within Cape Arago State Park, about a mile from Shore Acres State Park.

Stellar and California sea lions can be seen here, as well as northern elephant seals and harbor seals. The numbers are quite impressive.

We missed the sea lions at Strawberry Hill and Sea Lion Caves by a couple of weeks, so seeing them here was a real treat. Oh, and we didn't have to endure dark, damp caves and less than pleasent odors!

From a photography perpective, this isn't the best place to photograph the sea lions as they are pretty far away. These images were taken with a 70-200mm lens and 2x teleconverter, to give you an idea. But they sure are fun to watch! I would recommend bringing binoculars for the best viewing.

As a write this, I recall taking images to stitch a panoramic of the area. I'll try to dig that up and post it soon.

Edit: Here is the pano added. Not as nice as hoped, but it may help with perspective. Unfortunately, it cuts off many of the sea lions at the bottom due to the way it crops.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2011 Calendar

I thought I would share some images that will be appearing in an upcoming 2011 calendar. Both images are from special trips.

The image to the left was taken last year on a backpack to High Divide with my good friend David Crowe. We camped very near this spot and enjoyed views of flowers and peaks from near and far, plus the occasional bear. It was a fun trip that included visits to Seven Lakes Basin and Bogachiel Peak.

The image was taken after sunset, in a flower meadow, laying on the ground, with my camera only inches off the ground. A breeze was present and it took great patience to wait for opportunity - something photographers know all too much about.
The second image was from a special backpack I did with my dad in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The image was taken from Norway Pass during our exit - totally unplanned. The image represents the chaos that is Mt. St. Helens. Though it isn't my favorite image from the trip, I think it works well. Apparently the publisher does too. It's a re-use, having appeared in their 2009 calendar.

Next up: More Oregon Coast!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cape Perpetua - Tillicum Beach

We continued our journey south from Canon Beach to our next destination - Tillicum Beach. Clouds prevented much photography while visiting lighthouses at Cape Mears and Yaquina Head, but they were fun visits nonetheless.

At Tillicum Beach the late afternoon skies began to show hints that the clouds might burn off, so we ventured off towards Yachats and Cape Perpetua.

Cape Perpetua might be the most scenic stretch of Highway 101 along the Oregon Coast. The views are simply amazing as the road hugs this rugged coastline. After exploring up and down the highway, I settled on the area around Spouting Horn to enjoy sunset. After being in clouds and fog all day, watching the sunset was quite enjoyable and uplifting.

Rain was forecast for the next day, so I was surprised to wake up to mostly clear skies. Through the trees I could see a rainbow beginning to appear to the west in a cloud bank. I grabbed my camera and hastily made my way towards the beach. Witnessing a rainbow over the ocean and at sunrise were both firsts for me. I knew the rainbow signified moisture in the clouds. Little did I know just how much!

The rainbow lasted for a considerable length of time and captivated the interests of more and more people as they awoke and became aware of it.

Eventually all good things must come to an end and this rainbow proved to be no exception. I ventured back to camp where we packed up our belongings and set out on the road again towards Bandon.

The first rain drops began to hit our windshield as we left the campground. Soon we were driving thru a steady rain that would last for the next 5 hours.

We did hike to the Haceta Lighthouse in the rain. Of course, it wasn't open yet so there was no escape from the wind and rain.

A stop at the Sea Lion Caves found the sea lions to be feeding out at sea, having left the cave two weeks prior.

We did manage a tour of Umpqua Lighthouse amid the rain drops, followed by lunch at the wet picnic area before continuing south.

Oh, to see some sun again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Canon Beach - Ecola State Park

Canon Beach is a nice getaway spot on the Oregon Coast that offers a little something for everybody. There are numerous lodging opportunities including hotels, resorts, cottages, bed and breakfasts - well, you get the picture. The restaurants are numerous, unique and offer excellent food. There is plenty of shopping to be done around town. Oh, and it happens to offer fantastic scenery!

We stayed at The Hallmark Resort, which I highly recommend. It is located immediately above the beach overlooking Haystack Rock and offers excellent family accommodations. Dogs are welcome!

If having the beach at your doorstep isn't enough, a quick 10 minute drive thru town brings you to this viewpoint of Crescent Beach from Ecola Point in Ecola State Park. It's a fantastic place to spend a late afternoon watching the surf crash against the rocks below.

If you like rugged sea stacks, another excellent visit within the park is Indian Beach. The sea stacks are numerous and quite scenic. There is also a short 1.5 mile trail takes you to Tillamook Head. However, I didn't have time to investigate this trail.

I elected to spend the afternoon photographing from Ecola Point, where there are numerous vantages along the short, paved trail. Composition possibilities are numerous.

As evening approached, a layer of fog began to roll in. This can be seen in the horizontal image above, though it became much thicker as evening wore on. Typical August conditions as I've been told.

Shortly before sunset, I retreated back to Canon Beach. I grew somewhat concerned at hearing the fog had overtaken the beach and blocked the sun from view. I arrived to find this to be true. However, the sun refused to be denied and soon returned.

As I walked along the beach to catch up with family and find my composition for sunset, I was taken by this scene of a young girl playing on the beach. Canon Beach offers a lot of opportunities to photograph people doing various activities. Throw in a sunset and it becomes that much more interesting!

Speaking of interesting, what had been a blue sky all day now had enough clouds to catch the sun's final light and provide some attractive colors.

I made my way south along the beach past Haystack Rock to a point where the sun would set between it and some complimenting sea stacks. I then looked around for interesting things to place in the foreground - rocks, driftwood, patterns in the sand, reflection possibilities, etc.

This is when everything started to go wrong. First was the discovery that my filter pouch was unaccounted for (see prior post). Next was that my camera started operating erratically, or often not operating at all. It stopped allowing me to adjust settings, despite confirming I was still in manual mode. Upon turning it off and then back on, the shutter would release on its own. It would not allow me to depress the shutter. I changed the battery - no difference. I changed the memory card - no difference. I detached and re-attached the lens - no difference. Meanwhile, the sun was setting nicely!

As I came to the realization that something had gone terribly wrong and that my camera would need servicing - and how sunset on the first day of an extended photography trip was incredibly bad timing - I frustratingly began to pack up my gear in defeat.

This is when embarrassment set in.

While lifting my camera body off the tripod I felt a tug below my foot. In the dark of sunset, my remote had become buried upside down in the sand and I was partially standing on it. This was overriding everything I was trying to do on the camera and explained the auto shutter release at start up. I quickly disconnected the remote cable and discovered I had regained control of my camera - just in time for sunset!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oregon Coast

I just returned from an enjoyable trip to the Oregon Coast. We had a fantastic time, though weather posed some photography challenges. Hey, but who's to complain?

The famous view of Crescent Beach (near) and Canon Beach (far) from a view point in Ecola State Park is pictured here. This was a great place to hang out on a late afternoon and was only 10 minutes from our hotel room in Canon Beach.

Unfortunately it was an expensive visit as I lost a pouch of filters here as well. I realized this, of course, while shooting sunset back at Canon Beach. The good news is that, due to my bad habit of not putting my filters away properly while immersed in shooting a scene, my two most critical filters never made it back into the pouch and were still with me. Ah, trip saved!

I am still working on editing images, which I hope to share soon. Stay tuned!