Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park

In March I gave a slide show presentation at the Olympic National Park Visitors' Center in Port Angeles. It offered a great excuse to extend my visit and enjoy some of the park!

The forecast was for mostly cloudy skies, so I decided to take advantage (yes, you read that right) of the conditions and head to the Hoh Rain Forest.

Of course, I woke up to mostly sunny skies and immediately sought an updated forecast before committing to the drive out to the coast. Fortunately, the forecast remained the same.

As I neared the Sol Duc entrance, rains began to materialize and a smile appeared on my face. But as I reached Forks the sun came out again! The Hoh brought dark clouds and a heavy rain at times. But as I neared the TH, the sun parted the clouds. Such went the day. Don't like the conditions? Wait five minutes!

The best time to photograph foliage is under cloud cover. Why? It evens the light and gets rid of the high contrast shadows present under the harsh light of the sun. The colors are much truer. Add a polarizer to cut the glare and the greens will really pop! Those polarized sun glasses you wear? Same effect.

Add some water droplets to the foliage for some added brilliance and the scene really takes off! Some photographers actually carry spray bottles of water for this purpose. Of course, I had Mother Nature on my side.

March (when I took these images) typically is a little early for the Hoh as many of the plants are still in winter mode and awaiting the warmer temperatures of spring. I've found late April and May to be a great time to catch the vibrant new growth of the forest. So if you're looking for a place to visit in the next few weeks, I recommend the experience of the Hoh Rain Forest. You can walk the Hall of Moss trail, the nature loop trail, or even explore up the first few miles of the Hoh River trail. Lots to see!

Caution: Be careful of the resident elk in the area. Keep a respectful distance from them. Getting gored by one of the large bucks would not be a fun experience.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lower Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park

The Firehole River provides some excellent photographic opportunities from various locations between Madison and Upper Geyser Basin. This sunrise was caught not far from the Madison Campground near a bridge crossing. A short meadow stroll lead me to this composition.

There were many other opportunities to capture the snaking Firehole River as well, including having the bonus of early morning fog hovering just above it.

Fountain Flat offers another opportunity for morning and evening photography. Here, still morning waters hold the reflection of clouds above.

Further along the road a herd of bison can be carefully watched and photographed from the road. Definitely have awareness of your surroundings here. While I photographed a couple of bison from the safety of the opposite side of my truck, I caught the approach of two large bison coming up behind me - much too close for my comfort level - and quickly moved to my trucks opposite side!

Further south is Lower Geyser Basin, punctuated by more geysers and of course, the Fountain Paint Pots. The Paint Pots are an active pool of errupting mud, and are very pretty in color. Late afternoon light brings out the color and texture of the mud, making it the ideal time to photograph them. Unfortunately, I had cloudy skies during my visit, subduing the colors.

The Paint Pots are the most accessible and colorful example of such a thermal example withing the park. Mud pots differ from hot springs in that they have a very limited supply of ground water available. Also, they do not overflow, but rather errupt in the form of steam bubbles. Iron oxides give the mud at Fountain Paint Pots their pink and red shades of color.

The Paint Pots are fun to watch and even more fun to photograph. Trying to time the burst of the mud bubbles is challenging indeed and will test your reaction time! A good telephoto lens will be needed to test this skill.

A wider lens will allow you to include the interesting mounds of mud along the edges. Lots of opportunities await the imaginitive photographer!

Futher along the boardwalk are a group of small geysers, highlighted by Clepsydra Geyser. Clepsydra is best photographed in late morning, not late afternoon when I photographed it! Here I tried to backlight it against a sky filled with looming storm clouds.

This is the last of a series of posts from a trip to Yellowstone National Park last June. I hope you have enjoyed them and found some of my information useful for your own planning.

I just returned from an extended trip to Death Valley, and hope to have posts from this wonderful trip soon! Of course, I have many other projects taxing my time, including the launching of a brand new web site. I will do my best to get them up soon!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2011 Mountains of Washington Calendar

Upon returning from Olympic National Park, I discovered my samples of Smith-Western's 2011 Mountains of Washington calendar had arrived at my doorstep. It was a nice treat to come home to!

I have two images in this calendar. The first one is for the month of March and includes an image I took a couple years ago on a trip up to High Divide with my good friend David Crowe. It was a great trip and included one of the latest flower shows I've witnessed in the mountains. It was early September and the huckleberry plants were already turning red right along side the lupine, paintbrush and asters!

The second image appears the month of May. What mountain is synonymous with the month of May? Mount St. Helens of course!

This image is from a fantastic backpack I did with my dad a few years ago. It's actually a repeat image for the calendar, having appeared previously in their 2009 calendar. In fact, it also served as a cover image for the calendar, along with an image of mine of Mount Rainier!

These calendars will be available in most stores in Washington this fall for those interested in checking it out.

Changing the subject, I just finished packing and am heading to Death Valley in the morning. I'll be gone 1-1/2 weeks and hope to come back with some nice images to share.

Also, I haven't forgotten about my Yellowstone posts! I have at least two more to share and will do so upon my return. I promise!