Archive for the ‘North Cascades’ Category

Iconic Locations and Iconic Misbehavior

Sunset light on Mount Shuksan reflected in the tarn at Huntoon Point in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest, Washington State, USA.

tarn reflection mount shuksan evening sunset huntoon point

Reflection of Mount Shuksan in a Huntoon Point Tarn (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I’ve written and posted about this iconic location many times, as it is one of my favourites to visit in the early fall – the Mount Shuksan/Mount Baker area in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest of Washington State. The location in this first photograph is often photographed, but not nearly to the extent of the Picture Lake area nearby. There isn’t really a lot of things I can say about my trip here in the fall of 2017. I had good conditions, great light, and was planning on going back 4 days later. Unfortunately, there was about 30cm of new snow 4 days later, and the road to Artist Point was closed, so those ideas will have to wait until later in 2018. I am happy with my photos from the one day I had, but they don’t lend themselves to discussion as well as some of the bad photographer behaviour I witnessed while up there. So lets get into some of that – I feel I need to purge these stories from my brain from time to time for my own health. I’m sure these won’t surprise you much, especially if you’ve photographed at popular, iconic locations before.

mount shuksan evening sunset huntoon point

Evening view of Mount Shuksan (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Most photographers reading this have probably seen others behave poorly while photographing the same locations. A few of these, I’m sure, are just awful people no matter what activity they are doing. I suspect others are just putting way too much pressure on themselves to copy exactly what they saw online or in a magazine. Generally I’ve seen most of the bad behaviour at an “iconic” location, or near one. Most of these locations can deliver a wide variety of weather conditions, seasonal changes and other variable that can making matching that magazine photo you have in your pocket… difficult. If that trophy is all you are there for, then you are probably going to have far less fun that I would. Some of the people having a bad time of it feel generous enough to make sure everyone around them feels the same way.

   One example of poor behaviour I witnessed was at the location of the first photograph here – the tarn at Huntoon Point. This is a relatively common spot to photograph, though I’ve never seen lineups here like I have at Picture Lake. When I was here a few years ago, there was a man standing further up on the hill occasionally tossing pebbles into the tarn in order to ruin the reflection for others. He seemed much more pleased about this than the other’s photographing there at the time. I can only guess he had his photo and was thinking that his work would some how be more unique if nobody else could shoot there the rest of the evening. If I’d been trying to actually get a shot there I’d just have wandered away rather than engage with him verbally. This is a location with great 360° views, so it isn’t as though there is a shortage of subjects in the area. Actually, to avoid a photographer like that I might have wandered to a nearby spot and shot the second photograph in this post – a view of Mount Shuksan with some great sunset clouds above it, and hints of fall foliage below. Last fall I photographed both of these scenes within 5 minutes of each other, and without a pebble tosser to move me on.

sunset shuksan arm mount sefrit mountains north cascades

Sunset over Shuksan Arm and Mount Sefrit (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Anyone who has been to Artist Point and looked towards Mount Shuksan from there has likely seen the tarn just to the east of the parking lot. The trail along the ridge runs right past it. Last fall this was the scene of one of the worst bad photographer behaviour spectacles I’ve ever seen – mostly because it went on for over an hour. Initially I didn’t know a photographer was involved. There was a family walking through (and playing in) the tarn near Artist Point with loud music blaring from a stereo. Beach balls and other props (I presume) were floating around in the tarn. A number of people stopped, jaws open, and stared at these people. Most did not say anything, but some went over and there were raised voices and wild pointing at the various transgressions. None of this made any difference. Then it became clear that the individual who was addressing the concerns of passing hikers was a photographer, there to do some sort of family photo shoot.

mount shuksan evening sunset huntoon point

Evening view of Mount Shuksan (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   When she started shooting she got the family into one spot, then was yelling at the top of her lungs things like “wow this is the worlds most photogenic family”, “that is just adorbs”, “yeah baby!” and other antics that would have embarrassed even Austin Powers. I suspect some of the over the top vocalizations were to mock those who had dared suggest this was bad behaviour, or at least that is the only “excuse” I can see for it. After this debacle really ramped up a few more people then went over and asked her to turn the music off, as well as get back on a trail (I’d have been fine with them just sticking to the rocks). One old man, who looked like he wasn’t one to swear yelled, in apparent exasperation – “What the **** are you doing!?” loudly at her. People were stopped in groups and clearly talking about them. None of this changed the behaviour. The family itself didn’t seem to act like anything weird was going on. One woman I talked to said she was going to say something (I hadn’t, having witnessed the futility of others who had tried). I suggested she go and get a business card under the guise of wanting portraits of her family. This was an idea I couldn’t easily pull off with a backpack and tripod of my own. Not sure if she did that, but I almost wish I’d tried so I could mention her here, possibly. All that aside, I went further up the trail and had a wonderful time once I was out of earshot.

reflections of mount shuksan in picture lake sunset baker

Sunset at Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   The above photo is the iconic spot where Mount Shuksan can give a great reflection in Picture Lake. I have stopped photographing here for the most part, but always stop and take a look, as it is a very nice view. I also enjoy the occasional shock and surprise when asked why I’m not taking my gear out of the bag. One of the reasons I don’t linger in this location tends to be the behaviour of other people, though most of those seem to be photographers. The tourists walk on the boardwalk, enjoy the view, and don’t seem to do much inappropriate for the most part. If you look at the photo above you can see on the far left the road is right next to the lake. Remember that the next time someone describes the arduous hike to this location!

The crappy behaviour I’ve seen at Picture Lake includes:

• Yelling at people parking along the roadside I mentioned above. One photographer abandoned his equipment entirely and ran towards some tourists screaming about where they had parked. The poor tourists got back in their car and fled the area. Yes, cars can kind of get in the way here, but it is also easy to change the composition slightly so they aren’t an issue.

• Photographers standing in a clearly marked “meadow under repair” off the boardwalk area – harassing others because they shoot the wrong brand of camera. “That’s how I know your photos are going to be garbage”. Like an internet conversation but in person, which is much, much worse. I wouldn’t say I appreciate this kind of “Gear Preaching” when I see it online, but at least I have something worse to compare it to now.

• In a different people and a different year entirely – but the pebble tossers have visited at this location too. Photographers throwing rocks periodically into the water in order to keep the reflection messed up, which is a pretty messed up thing to do.

• Photographer holding up a magazine with a photo of Shuksan and Picture Lake trying to match the shot. Again, in the closed “don’t step here” area.

• This last one was someone who was trying to be nice, but it is still a silly thing to do. I guess they thought I didn’t know what I was doing so they tried to stop me from shooting in a vertical orientation. “Oh no no wait… (comes jogging over to me)… this is a horizontal shot”. Had I been in a more surly mood I probably wouldn’t have just pointed out that I always tend to shoot both orientations. The vertical shot from that day is only one of two photos of Picture Lake I have ever sold. It didn’t work nearly as well in a wider format, actually.

Glad I got all that off my chest. We now continue our regular programming…

Mount Baker from Huntoon Point

Sunset light in the clouds above Mount Baker – photographed from Huntoon Point, Washington State.

mount baker fall foliage sunset from huntoon point washington

Mount Baker and Fall Foliage at Huntoon Point (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   As I have indicated in other posts, fall is the time of year I usually visit the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State. I usually photograph Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, and the other North Cascade peaks and ranges in the area. Sometimes I am there along with some great fall foliage as well, though it has a much different look than near sea level. Where I live this leaf color is usually dominated by Bigleaf Maples, Vine Maples, and a few other species. Up in the mountains near Mount Baker, much of the color comes from smaller trees and shrubs such as the Vaccinium species (Blueberries / Huckleberries etc) and Sitka Mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis) as shown in the first photograph here. There is always a lot to photograph in the area between Picture Lake, the Chain Lakes, and Huntoon Point on Kulshan Ridge, even if there isn’t a nice sunset. One of my favourite spots and I always find new compositions when I am there.

mount baker sunset from huntoon point washington

Sunset at Mount Baker (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   When there is a nice sunset sometimes it can be difficult to photograph Mount Baker in that light. From this area you are looking southwest towards Mt. Baker. This can be problematic if the clouds aren’t cooperating in lessening the bright to dark one finds in looking from west to east across that view. Luckily there was some thin cloud cover in most of the sky, but not far to the west where the sun was free to shine through. These were near perfect conditions for sunset there, which I have not seen before myself. There was even some great light over the mountains to the north (the Border Peaks, for example) as well as above Mount Shuksan to the east.

mount baker after sunset from huntoon point washington

Mount Baker after the sunset (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

Visit my Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest gallery for more photographs from this evening as well as the surrounding area.

Bagley Lakes and Trails Through Heather Meadows

Two hikers make their way up the Chain Lakes Trail to the Heather Meadows parking lot in the Bagley Lakes/Heather Meadows area of Washington State, USA.

two hikers on the chain lakes trail at bagley lakes heather meadows

Two Hikers on the Chain Lakes Trail by Bagley Lakes (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Almost every year I make a trip to the Mount Baker area to photograph during the fall season. At this time of year almost all of the snow has melted, the summer heat is gone as have the bugs that often come with it. Heather Meadows is one of the areas I always walk through and photograph. I stop and look at the wonderful view from Picture Lake, but I rarely photograph there. In recent years the behaviour of other photographers has helped me move on quickly

   The first photograph above shows two hikers heading up to the parking lot on the Chain Lakes Trail. The section of the Chain Lakes Trail by Bagley Lakes is one of the trails I frequent with many great views of the lakes and surrounding mountains. One of the difficulties of completing the Chain Lakes Trail in its entirety is where to park your vehicle. If you part at Artist Point, when you get the the area photographed here you still have a 250 meter (820 feet) elevation climb to the parking lot. If you park here at Heather Meadows, you start with that climb. Wishing to avoid that, many park at Artist Point but ask for a ride from those visiting the lower parking lot. I gave the first gentleman in this photograph a ride to his truck so he could drive back down and pick up his hiking companion at Heather Meadows. There was a small lineup of families and individual hikers wanting the same. I’m sure some were out of luck and had to make the climb back to the car.

mount herman and bagley lakes at heather meadows

Mount Herman and Bagley Lakes (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   The second photo was made from the Fire and Ice Trail which has a nice lookout over Bagley Lakes. This was the spot I made one of my favourite panorama photographs and this time made a few photographs of the colour in the water, fall foliage on the side of Mount Herman, and the peak near Herman Saddle. I’ve made the hike to the saddle before, and hope to do it again in the coming years when I have time. The view from up there is pretty awesome!

blooming subalpine aster eurybia merita at heather meadows

Late blooming Subalpine Aster (Eurybia merita) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   One of the things I was not expecting along the various trails were some late blooming Subalpine Aster (Eurybia merita) flowers. This was fairly late in the fall season (at this elevation) and I had figured that any wildflowers would have been long gone. Perhaps this spot had much more snow to melt during the summer and consequently the flowers here were a bit behind the others in the area. I had planned on heading back to Artist Point and Heather Meadows the next week. Seasons change quickly in the mountains and this area had so much snow just a few days after my visit they closed to road to Artist point. I’m lucky I made it up there when I did, but I guess other opportunities for hiking there will have to wait until next July/August at the earliest.

For more of my photography from Heather Meadows visit my Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Gallery.

Peace Arch Provincial Park Monument and Gardens

The Peace Arch as photographed from Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington State, USA looking towards Peace Arch Provincial Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

peace arch border crossing - state park looking towards canada

Peace Arch Border Crossing Looking Towards Canada (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   One of the first outings I made with my new camera was to the White Rock Pier but earlier that day I visited Peace Arch Provincial Park and Peace Arch State Park in British Columbia and Washington State. Parking in the provincial park lot, I walked across the road to photograph the Peace Arch monument and gardens. I’d tried this before a few years ago but there was so much of that orange snow fencing everywhere (lawn was under repair) that working around it for good photographs was not something I ended up attempting. Now there is a perfect lawn and no fencing in sight so it was a great time to revisit this location.

peace aprovincial park looking towards the united states

Peace Arch Provincial Park Looking Towards USA (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   The Peace Arch is a monument completed in 1921 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent. This treaty ended the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. The Canadian and American flags fly on top, with the Canadian side (second photo above ) reading “Brethren Dwelling Together In Unity” and the American side (first photo above) reading “Children Of A Common Mother”. When walking through the arch you can read the words “1814 Open One Hundred Years 1914” and “May These Gates Never Be Closed” on the interior sides. The monument straddles the United States and Canadian border which feels a bit strange as you can just walk all around it. I tend to take my passport with me here, but apparently that isn’t really necessary. Both Peace Arch Provincial Park and Peace Arch State Park are situated between their respective border checkpoints, so you haven’t really crossed the border in an official sense by entering the parks.

gardens at peace arch provincial park

Gardens at Peace Arch Provincial Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Both parks have some gardens planted for visitors, though I’ve found much of the time some of these are empty of plants for some reason. The photograph above shows the pond and gazebo (made from many different species of BC wood) on the Canadian side in Peace Arch Provincial Park.

   The last photograph here is from last year when I made a trip down the Washington coast towards Anacortes. On the way I stopped at Blaine Marine Park in Blaine to see the view of White Rock and photographed the arch from that perspective. You can see the Canadian border crossing (officially the Douglas Border Crossing) beyond the arch.

gardens at peace arch provincial park

Peace Arch Border Crossing from Blaine (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

For more photographs of this park visit my Peace Arch Provincial Park Gallery.

Mt. Erie Park Moonrise Over the North Cascades

The moon rises over North Cascades mountain peaks just after sunset. Photographed from the top of Mt. Erie Park in Anacortes, Washington State, USA.

panorama of moonrise over the north cascades range from mt erie park

Moonrise over the North Cascades from Mt. Erie Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   In September I went on a day trip across the border into Blaine, Washington and eventually ended up at Mt. Erie Park in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. The plan had been to follow the coast and hit a lot of different spots on the way to Fidalgo Island and Anacortes with Mt. Erie Park being the last destination. It turned out this was a bit overly ambitions so when I arrived in Anacortes it was already early evening. I’ve learned from experience that when time gets short to have a plan for the final destination in place, and so after visiting Anacortes I drove up the narrow road to the top of Mt. Erie. This was a park that seemed like it had a decent chance at good views – and they turned out to be great views. This first panorama photograph here shows several peaks I photographed from the park – mainly (from L to R) Round Mountain, Mount Higgins, Glacier Peak, White Chuck Mountain, Whitehorse Mountain Three Fingers, and Liberty Mountain.

moonrise over the north cascades range from mt erie

Moonrise over the North Cascades and Similk Bay from Mt. Erie (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I’d like to say I had planned my timing with this moon rise perfectly, but it was just a pleasant surprise. Many photographers determine sunrise and sunset paths before photographing an area but I don’t often do this – especially on a relatively unplanned day such as this one. There are plenty of great views from the top of Mount Erie – from Mount Baker and a number of other notable peaks in the North Cascades to the view south towards Whidbey Island, The Olympic Mountains and the Straight of Juan de Fuca. The three photos here show the view to the east and southeast of the North Cascades, and the farmland on the mainland.

moonrise over the north cascades range in black and white

Moonrise over the North Cascades in B&W (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I thought I’d try this last photograph in Black and White, and I think it works (more so with the enlarged view compared to this thumbnail). You can view the colour version for comparison. The peaks in this photograph include (L to R) Round Mountain, Mount Higgins, Skadulgwas Peak, White Chuck Mountain, Glacier Peak, Disappointment Peak and Whitehorse Mountain.

For more photographs from the North Cascades visit my North Cascades Gallery.

My Top 10 Photos of 2016

   Once again it is time to post my 10 favourite photographs from the past year. I do this yearly as it is a worthwhile exercise, and to take part in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to view photographs and find some new photographers to follow.

   I hope you enjoy my selections here and am curious to hear if you have a favourite. If you click on each photograph you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. Many of these photographs have corresponding blog posts that I’ve linked to underneath the thumbnails here. These aren’t in any specific order, but I did place the photograph “Rainbow over Hatzic Lake” at the beginning as I think this is the first time I’ve photographed a rainbow (successfully at least) outside of my backyard. I was also shielding the camera from a rainstorm with my body, so the photo deserves extra points for that. 😉

Here are my top 10 photos of 2016:

rainbow over hatzic lake in the fall
Rainbow over Hatzic Lake

(Mission, British Columbia)
Blog post: Rainbow over Hatzic Lake

top 10 photos - sailboat in the salish sea in british columbia
Sailboat in the Salish Sea

(Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver, British Columbia)
Blog post: Sunset at Juniper Point in Lighthouse Park
(more…)

2017 Nature Calendar Now Available!

cover for 2017 nature calendar - hatzic lake rainbow

2017 Calendar Cover – Rainbow over Hatzic Lake and Hatzic Island

-click to enlarge-

   My 2017 Nature Calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia and Washington State. Most of these photographs were made in 2016, though a few are from earlier years but previously unpublished in my calendars.

30% OFF! Use the code 10THDAY20 (case sensitive) for 30% OFF at checkout through Dec 16, 2016.

You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the button below:

Liberty Bell Mountain from Blue Lake

Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires at Blue Lake in the North Cascades of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State, USA.

liberty bell mountain from blue lake in the north cascades

Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires at Blue Lake in the North Cascades (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   A few years ago I hiked up to Blue Lake in the Washington Pass area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest – an area I had always thought of as part of North Cascades National Park. While Washington Pass is very close to the National Park, and some of area is in part maintained by the National Parks Service (especially the Washington Pass Overlook), it is part of the National Forest not the National Park. The parking lot and trail head can be found along Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) 1.26km/4128 feet west of the Washington Pass Overlook turnoff. The short hike to Blue Lake is only 3.2km/2 mile and gains 350m/1050 feet of elevation to a total of 1906m/6254 feet. This photo is made a few hundred feet higher than that, along (and up) a trail to the west of the lake.

   As you can see from the above photograph, Blue Lake is aptly named. I was fortunate on this trip to arrive when the Subalpine Larch (Larix lyallii) were turning colour. Subalpine and other species of Larch are one of the few conifer species that are deciduous – they lose their needles each fall. This can be a beautiful display but is only found in higher elevations in this part of the world. Blue Lake is situated immediately below the iconic Liberty Bell Mountain. Liberty Bell is the spire on the left hand side of this photograph next to Concord Tower, Lexington Tower, and the Early Either Spires (North and South). Another view of Liberty Bell can be seen in my older post with some photographs from Washington Pass.

For more photographs from the Washington Pass area of the North Cascades visit my Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Gallery in the Image Library.