It seems that years of hard-work and dedication are paying off. My 10 year anniversary of being a full-time photographer is coming up this June, and I have experienced a lot of editorial success lately, including my new hiking and backpacking photography article in the May 2011 issue of Popular Photography. In the article, I share my secrets for creating dramatic images away from parking lot viewpoints. Most readers are never going to travel to the ends of the Earth and spend weeks camped out like I do, but hopefully my article will motivate more photographers to get more exercise, enjoy nature, and find their own unique images rather than settle for the same-old viewpoints. I created the double-page opening image of Forbidden Peak at sunset while backpacking in North Cascades National Park. It was a long hike up to Sahale Arm where I camped for several nights with some friends. If you are motivated, I highly recommend this backpacking trip high into the North Cascades. The views are some of the best that can be found in Washington. I created this image with my Pentax 67II medium format camera, Pentax 90mm f2.8 lens, Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer, tripod, and Fuji Velvia 50 film. I scanned it on my Imacon Photo scanner and adjusted the masterfile in whatever version of Photoshop I was using at the time. Readers will also note that I included a photo of my Fstopgear Tilopa BC packed with all my equipment spilled out that I currently use to create landscape photos.
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.
The new issue of Backpacker is out, and I am pleased to announce that I have the cover image! One funny note, though, after they chose this image for the cover they asked me if they could change the yellow fall colored larch trees back to green since this would be a summer issue. If a publisher is going to pay me, I really do not mind what they need to do to my photos to make it work. Next time I might offer to make the color change for them, as I think they just grabbed the Yellow Saturation slider and moved the overall Hue towards Green. How does it compare to my original image to you?
I just found out that I will have the June cover of Backpacker! The image is of Prusik Peak reflected in Gnome Tarn during the fall when the larches turn a golden yellow. I created this image in September 2005, after my 3rd hike up into the Enchantments to capture the reflection. It is not an easy hike to get up there, but when I have gone I prefer the “shorter” route over Asgard Pass from Colchuck Lake. I don’t mind the elevation gain as much as I do the elevation loss hiking back down the Snow Creek trail. Ouch on my knees! I used my Pentax 67II, 55mm lens, Singh-Ray 3-stop Soft GND filter, Fuji Velvia 50 film, and a tripod.
I just took a repeat client on a week long backpacking photography workshop into the North Cascades. Nick really wanted to do a long backpacking trip with a spectacular photography location at the end. I decided to take him to Tapto Lakes above Whatcom Pass deep in the North Cascades. It is almost 20 miles one-way in to the lakes. We took a few days to hike in with incredibly large packs including 2 cameras each and a weeks supply of food. Last Sunday, we got a break in the weather and the wind stopped blowing long enough to shoot a pretty nice reflection image of Whatcom Peak in the late afternoon light. The next day, we decided to try and do the entire hike out in 1 day. We succeeded in doing all 19 miles in just over 11 hours, but we were exhausted and unable to walk the next day! My future backpacking photography workshops will not involve quite as much hiking. Please visit more of my North Cascades National Park Photography.
I spent an afternoon at Wallace Falls last week. It is a nice hike, that is best done during the week when nobody else is there. This is the time of year to start looking for those beautiful mossy green rainforest images on a cloudy day. This is the image that I got for my effort. Also, if you are a regular visitor to my site, you might have noticed that I have been updating it and adding some new pages. I hope that you enjoy the new work. Please visit my Central Cascades Photography page to see more of my images from Washington’s Cascade mountain range.
Landscape Category – Honorable Mention (2nd Place) – I am proud to announce that 5 of my images have been selected to be part of the 2007 EPI. This image of the fog parting over the Sauk River with crepuscular rays was taken from a Cesna 172 with the window open in October 2006. I could see this scene unfolding as the sun came up, and by the time that the pilot had gotten the plane into position, the fog was evaporating quickly. I got this shot on the first pass, and by the time we came around for a second run, all the fog had disappeared. It was a spectacular moment.