I hiked up to the Coleman Glacier on Mount Baker several times over the past month hoping to fly my remote controlled hexacopter. Earlier this week, all the conditions that I had hoped for finally aligned. The clouds suddenly and dramatically parted just as the sun set on the western horizon and there was almost no wind. I only had a few minutes to get in the air above the glacier and photograph this dramatic perspective.
On Tuesday, the weather was overcast, but potentially clearing in the late afternoon, so I took a chance and drove up to Mount Baker for the third time in a month. It is a 12+ hour round trip from my house, so it is a big commitment requiring a lot of optimism. I hiked up to Heliotrope Ridge to look down onto the Coleman Glacier and was surprised to still find wildflowers blooming. This group of fireweed seemed particularly nice for early September. I set up my camera and crossed my fingers that the clouds would lift in time for sunset. Just as I had hoped, the clouds parted 15 minutes before sunset and the scene was flooded with golden light.
Picture Lake is one of the most iconic, and thus photographed, locations in my home state of Washington. The reflection of Mt Shuksan from the lake on a clear day is postcard perfect. In September, I returned to Picture Lake for the first time in a several years while instructing 2 private photography tour clients from Mexico. They had never been here before, so they were giddy with the perfect shooting conditions. Over the years, I have sold my original medium format film image of this scene numerous times, but I prefer this updated digital photo to the original. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 35mm f2 ZE lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filters on a tripod with minimal processing in Aperture 3. As always, the secret ingredient of this image was lots of patience waiting for hikers to walk out of the scene and a perfect reflection when the breeze stopped blowing.
Last week, I helped 2 photography clients from Mexico City experience and shoot Washington’s fall colors. With all of my travels out of state, I no longer have as much time to shoot when I am home, so it was nice to do some photography in my old stomping grounds in the Cascades. For some reason, every time that I have been out shooting in the last month, I have experienced clear blue skies which has made dramatic light conditions very difficult to find.Of course, there are worse things than driving around in the mountains on sunny days. On the first day of our time together, precipitation clung to the North Cascades as I drove up I-5 to Picture Lake. I thought that our timing would be ideal for photographing fall colors and was not disappointed. As the clouds swirled and briefly parted late in the afternoon, my clients and I were able to photograph Mt Shuksan’s perfect reflection. The sun sets behind a mountain ridge at about 4:30, causing the foreground and trees on the opposite side of the lake to usually become too dark, but on this afternoon the lifting fog helped to soften the harsh shadows. I used my Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer slightly backed off from full polarization along with my Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter placed above the foreground foliage to balance the exposure. I also chose to photograph this scene with my Carl Zeiss 35mm f2 ZE lens in order to keep Mt Shuksan from becoming too small in the overall composition while still being able to have enough depth of field at f16 to include the foliage along the shore in the foreground.