Mt. Baker and Park Butte

August 26, 2014

Long time no post! We've been busy traveling in Banff for the past week or two, and besides just enjoying the place I've been spending lots of time shooting new stuff. I've got a mountain (pun intended) of stuff go to through, so expect some of that in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I've got some pictures from a hike to Park Butte during the last supermoon that I'm just now getting around to posting. A big part of the delay was perpetually slow internet from Canada, but I also had to finish post-processing.

Both of us really enjoyed Park Butte, although I think we both liked the approach to the lookout better than the actual lookout itself. We decided to make it an evening hike and planned for dinner overlooking the mountain and a hike out in the dark. The trail isn't too steep, and once you break out of the trees the meadows and views of Baker grab your attention. We decided to take a short detour about a 1/4 mile up the Railroad Grade trail, and that was worthwhile and recommended. Also recommended is exploration of the meadows below the actual lookout with a couple of tarns - great views from here, and a great place to stop for dinner.

Anyhow, enjoy the photos!

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

There were quite a few spiders on the trail - I decided to try to get a macro shot of this one, handheld. Harder than it seems!

Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

The views of Baker from the trail are pretty spectacular, and it makes for a great chance to get a "portrait" of the mountain. The Railroad Grade trail is visible in this shot on the moraine in front of the mountain.

Sticks, Flowers, and Mountains

Sticks, Flowers, and Mountains
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

Baker as seen from the plateau below the lookout. The sun had gone down below the horizon, leaving only the mountain in bright light.

Room with a View

Room with a View
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

The lookout itself is quite small, and you're able to stay there on a first-come basis. The couple that was staying there had a great view of the sunset, seen here from below.

Sundown

Sundown
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

All the haze we've had lately has made for some pretty cool sunsets. This one is from a spot just below the lookout. The haze makes for some great colors and also some interesting perspective on the hills.

Hard Man Country

Hard Man Country
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

A view of the Picket Range in the North Cascades, just after sunset. This is real hard man country, requiring long approaches, epic bushwhacking, or both. I haven't been but it's high on my list.

Last Light on Baker

Last Light on Baker
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

Interesting light patterns on Baker as the sun goes down. This was the very last bit of light, and I really liked the warm glow from the hazy sunset.

Supermoon Rising

Supermoon Rising
Park Butte/Mt. Baker, WA

The Supermoon rising over the North Cascades, just after we finished dinner and started to head down in the dark. I was actually surprised at how dark it was on the way out, given that the moon was so bright.

We've got a very busy month ahead. Besides sharing new pictures from Banff, we'll be in the North Cascades at least once, at Rainier for a couple of days, and probably some more star shoots soon too. Lots to come!


Boulder River

August 10, 2014

Lately, Lauren and I have been doing after-work hikes, both as a way to stay fit and also to just get out during the week. She's training for another half marathon in the fall, and hiking is a lot more interesting than walking around Green Lake or something. A few weeks back, she and I took another friend of ours up to Boulder River for a quick after-work walk.

Boulder River makes for a great after-work leg stretcher since it's so gentle. The grade is never very steep, and it's usually not too hot as you are never far from the river. We happened to arrive right as the sun was setting, which made for a couple of cool golden hour photos. Here are a couple of favorites.

Evening Glow

Evening Glow
Boulder River Wilderness, WA

I couldn't resist getting a few shots of the sun setting through the trees. This one is my favorite of the bunch. Amazingly enough I was able to get it handheld.

Boulder Falls

Boulder Falls
Boulder River Wilderness, WA

This is the first large waterfall you come upon as you head up the trail. I'm not sure if it's actually called Boulder Falls, but at any rate it's quite pretty. It's very tall, and you're quite close, so without an ultra wide lens you have to go close up, which I prefer anyways. Lots of interesting details as the falls horsetails down in several different directions.

Boulder Falls II

Boulder Falls II
Boulder River Wilderness, WA

Different section, same waterfall. Lots of interesting things in the river too. It was a pretty hot day and so the natural AC from the river was much appreciated!

I'm now almost entirely caught up on photos from the past few weeks. Next up will be an evening trip up to Park Butte, and then we're off to Banff. More to come!


Vancouver, BC

August 7, 2014

A couple of weeks back Lauren and I took her brother and his wife up to Vancouver for a weekend. We wound up getting a pretty good deal at the Fairmont downtown (bling bling) and eating our way through the city. I didn't take a ton of pictures as that wasn't the focus, but did get a few nice ones, shown below.

Macaroons

Macaroons
Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver, BC

Granville Island is always fun to wander around and try things. I managed to get a couple of fun macro shots of the food on display. We ate a lot of course...

Rainier Cherries

Rainier Cherries
Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver, BC

It was cherry season!

Lily Pad

Lily Pad
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC

The Chinese garden is quite a neat place, and one that's a bit unexpected in such a busy city. We visited on a relatively overcast day, during the middle of the day, but I kind of wish they opened at sunrise. Lots of opportunities then I imagine.

Contemplation

Macaroons
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC

Adrienne posed for me long enough to get a couple of nice shots, but I like this one the best.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver, BC

Lauren posed for me through the bamboo.


Bean Creek Basin

August 4, 2014

The Bean Creek Basin is one of my favorite places in the Cascades. It's a beautiful sub-alpine basin with stellar wildflowers, dark skies, and lots of fun side-trips with awesome views. I've been every year for about the past 10 years, and I always look forward to going every year.

This year, Jon, Brent, and I planned a three day trip in mid-July, usually primetime for flowers for the basin. Unfortunately, we erred in planning in three ways. First, the flowers were a bit late, due to the early snow melt this year. Second, the moon was full, and the supermoon at that, so the night sky was quite washed out. Finally, it was hot as hell. Despite that, we still had a nice time.

I took lots of pictures but here are a few of my favorites.

Rise Above

Rise Above
Bean Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

The paintbrush was probably the most intense of the flowers in bloom. I like this arrangement where the one rises above the rest.

Super Moon

Super Moon
Bean Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Brent brought a 70-300L, which was pretty fun to play with. We all got a couple of good shots of the moon.

Paradise Under the Stars

Paradise Under the Stars
Bean Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

The Super Moon made for a tough time getting star shots because it washed out the sky so much. I had to do quite a bit of work to coax them out here, but I liked the scene. This is from the good campsite in the basin.

Sunrise on Fire

Sunrise on Fire
Bean Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

I shot quite a few versions of this scene. For this particular one, I decided to use a shallow depth of field to emphasize the flowers in the foreground. It was a little breezy and getting it sharp edge-to-edge was tough, so I decided to embrace it this way instead. This is a multi-exposure blend, since the camera couldn't get the full dynamic range in one shot.

Christmas in July

Christmas in July
Bean Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

The Ponderosas are "blooming" and I liked the pink/green contrast, especially close up. Such pretty trees I think... I wish we had them on the west side.

Whoosh

Whoosh
Bean Peak, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Looking north from the summit of Bean Peak. I like the way the ridge forms a spiral shape as it leads down to the basin. This was shot on the 14mm to get that wide feel. The meadow looks really small from here, partially because it's far below, but also because the 14mm distorts a bit. Mt. Adams is in the background on the horizon's right side.

The King

The King
Fourth Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Mount Stuart as seen from the trail descending into the Fourth Creek Basin from the saddle between Bean Peak and Volcanic Neck. Stuart is my favorite mountain in the state - I think it's really photogenic!

Snow Wall

Snow Wall
Fourth Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Close-up of a cornice on the ridge north of Bean Peak. I like the texture on it quite a bit.

Last Light

Last Light
Fourth Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

The sun sets on Mt. Stuart. Sadly the sunset wasn't super good because of the lack of clouds and the direction of the sun, but I like the yellow hazy look in this picture. I processed it a bit on the dark side to emphasize the shape of the mountain and the color in the sky.

Stuart at Night

Stuart at Night
Fourth Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

Believe it or not, this picture was taken around midnight. The moon was so bright I had to stop down the ISO to keep from over-exposing. As with the other star shot in this post, I had to do a lot of coaxing to get the stars out. I like the view, but wish it had been a bit darker (but that's my bad).

Super Sunrise

Super Sunrise
Fourth Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

The Super Moon at sunrise, with a lone tree in the foreground. This was my view from my sleeping bag if I rolled over at sunrise (although I was not in my bag when I took this, lol). Pretty hard to beat.

Super Moon, Super Mountain

Super Moon, Super Mountain
Fourth Creek Basin, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

The Super Moon and Mt. Rainier at sunrise. I love the pink color on Mt. Rainier. Even at this distance (~100 miles away), it's so much higher than everything else and picks up the glint of the sun first, and gets that great pink glow.

As always, I hope to go back next year, but hopefully with less heat, less moon, and more flowers!


Milky Way at Mt. Rainier

August 2, 2014

After an insanely busy week, I finally managed to finish my shots from Mt. Rainier last weekend. If you missed the first post earlier in the week, you can check it out here, and I have a few more to share with you now.

Milky Way over Mt. Rainier

Milky Way over Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Canon 6d, Rokinon 24mm. f/1.4 and 20 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

This one has grown to be my favorite of the set. Initially I wasn't sure about it since I felt like the 24mm lens cropped out too much of the Milky Way, and I felt like the Milky Way was out of position, but it's really grown on me. I like the close-up feel of it, and I like that Little Tahoma is silhouetted by the Milky Way. The Mountain and the Milky Way really fill out the frame nicely. Plus I decided to say effit and really push the processing on it, and I'm glad I did. I don't think I'd like it quite as much if I'd gone a bit more subtle.

One interesting thing about this photo is how much more popular it was on 500px than the others. Part of that is probably the different nature of the composition (lots of Milky Way shots this time of year), but also I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's landscape instead of portrait. Landscape orientation seems to do better than portrait on 500px, probably because of the way their software displays everything.

Twilight Zone

Twilight Zone
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Canon 6d, Rokinon 24mm. f/1.4 and 20 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

I shot this one much earlier in the evening, right as the stars were starting to come out. I was aiming for something a bit more subdued, but I'm wishing I had one of those "star point" filters that makes the stars pop a bit. I still think it's pretty though, and I like the meteor that snuck in frame.

Rainbow in the Dark

Rainbow in the Dark
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Canon 6d, Rokinon 14mm. f/2.8 and 30 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

I couldn't resist going for the Dio reference with this one since it looks like a rainbow with the airglow. :) This one is with the 14mm Rokinon (the one I actually own), whereas all the rest are with the 24mm. The 14 is a bit wider so you can see the top of the good part of the Milky Way and the core in one shot. The top is actually almost overhead, since the field of view on this thing is ridiculous. I do think I prefer the tighter perspective that the 24mm offers, especially for this spot, but this is a fun shot nonetheless. Next time I go I think I'll play around more with the perspective distortion capabilities of the 14mm and see if I can find a big rock or something in the foreground for some contrast.


The Core

July 29, 2014

Last weekend was the full moon, so I did the thing that I do and headed down to Mt. Rainier to take advantage of it for some Milky Way photography. Planning ahead a bit, I grabbed a Rokinon 24/1.4 from BorrowLenses ahead of time, so I was armed with that lens, Rokinon 14/2.8, and of course my 6d.

I arrived at Sunrise around 8 or so to a mostly empty parking lot, although there were quite a few folks milling about, including a guy with a huge telescope by Sunrise Point that I'm not really sure how he actually got into his car. Anyways, I packed up and hiked up to First Burroughs, which is around 2 miles from the visitor center. I passed a bunch of people heading out, many of which gave me a funny look, presumably because it was getting dark fast.

The top of First Burroughs is pretty great because it's essentially a big plateau with views in all directions. From here, you can see part of the megacity of Puget Sound, and damn near the entire night sky. The only significant obstruction is Mt. Rainier itself. I waited for a while until it was nice and dark, and then let the Milky Way get into position for this shot.

The Core

The Core
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Canon 6d, Rokinon 24mm. f/1.4 and 20 sec. Lightroom 5, Photoshop, and Nik.

Of course, that's the core of the Milky Way as seen above Mt. Rainier. The lights on the face of mountain are climbers ascending the Emmons-Winthrop route. If you look carefully you can also see some climbers on the DC route on the ridge just below the center of the Milky Way. There's also actually a faint fireball trail above Liberty Cap.

I'm super pleased with how this turned out. Light pollution was a complete non-issue and I was free to shoot without worry there. I like to bracket shots like this with different ISOs (1600, 3200, 6400, and 12800 in this case) as it gives me a bit of flexibility with post-processing, and I wound up taking the ISO 6400 shot and had to actually pull down highlights.

The 6d + the Rokinon 24 at 1.4 is ridiculous. Fast, bright, and sharp too. Very pleased with this lens, and I'm sad I have to give it back. All of the ISOs I shot at were no problem for the 6d and my noise reduction software, so I'm very happy in that regard.

I have a few more shots to process from that evening, but I wanted to get this one out there sooner. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more!


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