Crystal Mountain

July 23, 2014

Over the 4th of July we did a big tour of the Cascades, starting in Winthrop and winding our way down to White Pass and to Crystal Mountain. After getting a great view from the top of the gondola and having lunch, we decided to hike down to the base area.

The hike was actually pretty pleasant - it isn't every day that you don't have to do any uphill on a hike! A bit of routefinding was required, as an avalanche had wiped out part of the trail near the entrance to Bear Pits from Lucky Shot (if you've skied there you'll know the area). There were also a couple of blowdowns and washouts down low. All in all, we didn't do too much bushwhacking, and had lots of flowers to see and beautiful weather to enjoy.

Here are a few pictures.

Lift

Lift
Crystal Mountain, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 105mm. f/5 and 1/100 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Rainier Express

Rainier Express
Crystal Mountain, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 93mm. f/4 and 1/800 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Backlight

Backlight
Crystal Mountain, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 105mm. f/5 and 1/125 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Purple in Paradise

Purple in Paradise
Crystal Mountain, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 105mm. f/4 and 1/800 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Chair 92

Chair 92
Crystal Mountain, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 65mm. f/7.1 and 1/100 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

The trip was definitely worth it - lots of fun, and a nice change of pace from other hikes in the area. I'd like to go up sometime on a clear night for some star shots too. :)


Three Volcano Day

July 22, 2014

On our Fourth of July trip (more pictures here and here), we found ourselves at White Pass after seeking out better weather than we were getting in Winthrop. White Pass has a great ski lodge that's actually open year round, with reasonable hotel rates, so we took advantage of a hot shower after a day or so of camping.

The next morning, we decided to swing by Crystal Mountain on the way back. I've skied there many times, but had never ridden the gondola up, so we opted to ride the gondola up, have lunch, and walk down. I've got a bunch of pictures from that day to still go through, but I did want to share a panorama I took when we got to the top.

Three Volcano Day

Three Volcano Day
Crystal Mountain, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 24mm. f/16. 15 exposure panorama. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

In the shot, you can see three volcanoes visible on this clear day from the summit house at Crystal Mountain. This was stitched from about 15 shots in Photoshop, and I did some minor corrections to color and contrast, and then finally some cropping. I actually shot this much wider than the final version, but I like the cropped version a bit better.

Rainier is the obvious mountain shrouded in clouds. To its left is Mt. St. Helens, visible between the "notch" created by the large foreground hill and the background ridge. Mt. Adams is visible at far left, between the two high points left of the large foreground hill. Other fun things you can see in this picture if you look closely enough - the Sunrise Visitor Center, the top house of the High Campbell chairlift, and a person hiking.


The Air Up There

July 21, 2014

One of the highlights of our recent visit to Hart's Pass was hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail towards Windy Pass. The views from here are pretty spectacular, in nearly all directions from different vantage points. The predominant views are to the west, of the Cascade crest, which is where this photo comes from.

The Air Up There

The Air Up There
Hart's Pass Area, North Cascades, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 32mm. f/16. Multiple exposure blend. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

On our way back to the car, I noticed the clouds moving, and so I thought it would be a fun occasion to bring out the Big Stopper. I took a couple of photos of the scene, some with and without the stopper. I mainly aimed to expose for the sky with the Big Stopper, and then expose for the foreground without, with the intent of blending these later.

To actually put this image together took a lot of hours and cursing. I'm not totally happy with the result, but I learned a lot in the process, and will hopefully do better next time. The biggest trick was getting the luminosity masking correct to blend in the foreground - I had to try several times to get it right. After some reading and research I managed to get something I was mostly happy with.

My biggest complaint about this photo is that the backlighting really washed the image out. I had to play quite a bit to remove some unwanted color cast with a bunch of curves layers, and even wound up doing some dodging to get some shadows boosted. Next time I will try to remember to take a bunch more exposures to give myself more to work with, and aim to avoid the backlighting a bit more. :)


Hart's Pass

July 20, 2014

For the 4th of July, Lauren and I headed out of town to the Winthrop area. Thankfully for us the fires had not yet started, so we were able to enjoy the area a bit. Our plan was to head up to the Hart's Pass area, then out to the Tiffany Mountain Area, with the intent of doing some hikes, camping, and trying to get a few star pictures in there.

Neither of us had actually ever been to Hart's Pass before, so it was fun to go explore somewhere new. The road was mostly a non-issue, although bumpy at times. We later ran into the caretakers for the guard station up there and chatted with them for a while, and evidently they have to help drivers through the narrow section several times a month. Apparently people panic, freeze up, and won't go up or down, so they go down and drive their cars out for them. Kind of a funny visual to think about a couple of Forest Service volunteers having to deal with that!

After making camp at Meadows, we drove up to the trailhead for Windy Pass and started hiking out a bit. Sadly there was a bit too much snow for our tastes about a mile or so in. We probably could have continued, but neither of us felt like exerting too much effort, and instead we turned back and roasted marshmallows. I grabbed a few pictures though.

Clump

Clump
Hart's Pass Area, North Cascades, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 105mm. f/8 and 1/50 sec. ISO 100. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

The flowers were really out in force while we were up there, with lots of varieties on display. I haven't been able to identify this group in my flower guide, unfortunately, but I like the clumpy nature of the flower, with the central flower surrounded by smaller ones. Do you know what species this is? Let me know!

Twins

Twins
Hart's Pass Area, North Cascades, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 105mm. f/6.3 and 1/100 sec. ISO 100. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

More flower closeups, this one from a pair of very pretty white flowers near the trailhead. I can't identify these two either, as they have that neat green collar below the actual flower that isn't in any of my guides. As before, if you know what species this is, please let me know!

Summer

Summer
Hart's Pass Area, North Cascades, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 95mm. f/4 and 1/2000 sec. ISO 2500. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

As we were heading back to the car, Lauren decided to try to blow some of the seed pods from some dandelions, and I tried to photograph it. It was actually quite tough, and we had to try several times, for two reasons. First, some of the seeds were really stuck on there, so she had to blow quite hard several times to get them to disperse, which made it really unpredictable. Second, getting the timing exactly right on the camera was a bugger. I eventually settled on a high ISO and fast shutter speed after some experimentation, to get the pods somewhere between crisp and in-motion. I'm pretty pleased with the result, although I wish there were a few more pods.

What I'm not pleased (yet) with is another set of shots I took for a long exposure. I'm still working on getting those processed to the standard I prefer, and will share them soon.


Flow

July 7, 2014

A couple of weekends ago Lauren and I decided to end a Sunday by heading down to Discovery Park for a picnic. Armed with my camera and recently-acquired Big Stopper, we headed down super early. Discovery (or "Disco" as we often call it) has a great trail that takes you from the upper parking lot down to the beach, where there's a lighthouse and plenty of spots to sit and enjoy the view.

Disco is always a bit of fun in the summer, mainly because there is always interesting people watching. This evening was no exception - there were two separate weddings being shot, besides the usual batch of tourists. One such wedding party was quite loud, although they made for interesting people watching.

We patiently waited for the clouds to clear and sunset to happen, and I was able to grab this:

Flow

Flow
Discovery Park, Seattle, WA
Canon 6d, 24-105 at 24mm. f/13 and 123 sec. ISO 100. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

This is a single shot, at 123 seconds, with the Big Stopper. I shot quite a few sequences around this point, and managed to get this one at "peak pink" in the clouds. Of course, the Big Stopper smooths out the water and causes a great motion effect in the clouds, which adds a lot to the scene I think.

I'm still getting used to the Big Stopper. It's a great tool but has a bit of a learning curve. I'm looking forward to using it a lot more in the next few weeks - now that the weather has improved I have a ton of places on the list to visit!


Sir Mix-a-Lot at the Rock and Roll Marathon

June 30, 2014

A few weeks back Lauren participated in the Rock and Roll Seattle marathon, which is a fun full and half marathon through Seattle that features bands at regular intervals on the course. In addition to shooting her and her team (shots are forthcoming), I also had an opportunity to get some shots of Sir Mix-a-Lot in concert at the finish line.

It was rather perfect, really. I had rented the 70-200 for the marathon, which was key to getting those shots. When Mix started, we headed over to watch, and I was in a perfect position to get some great shots from the crowd! It was a ton of fun, and Mix is great live, both musically and with his stage presence. Not a bad introduction to concert photography!

Here are my favorite shots:

Dick's is that way

Dick's is that way
Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon
Canon 6d, 70-200 at 200mm. f/3.2 and 1/1600 sec. ISO 500. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Get your hands up

Get your hands up
Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon
Canon 6d, 70-200 at 200mm. f/2.8 and 1/1600 sec. ISO 1000. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Hey you!

Hey you!
Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon
Canon 6d, 70-200 at 130mm. f/3.2 and 1/1600 sec. ISO 800. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Not a one hit wonder

Not a one hit wonder
Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon
Canon 6d, 70-200 at 170mm. f/2.8 and 1/1600 sec. ISO 1000. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Hats off to you, Mix

Hats off to you, Mix
Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon
Canon 6d, 70-200 at 168mm. f/2.8 and 1/1600 sec. ISO 1000. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Sir Mix-a-Lot sings the blues

Sir Mix-a-Lot sings the blues
Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon
Canon 6d, 70-200 at 182mm. f/2.8 and 1/1600 sec. ISO 1600. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

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