Posts Tagged ‘mount shuksan’

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)

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   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)

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   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)

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   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)

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   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)

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   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…

North Cascades Sunset from Chain Lakes Trail

   An early fall sunset in Washington State’s North Cascades featuring Mount Shuksan.

sunset in washingtons north cascades mountains with mount shuksan

Sunset in Washington State’s North Cascades Range Featuring Mount Shuksan (Purchase)

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   Mount Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains in Washington State’s North Cascades Range. The majority of these photographs are likely made at the iconic Picture Lake view due to the great scenery and easy access (100 feet from your parked car). I have photographed that view quite a few times, and it is still one I love to look at. I went to the Mount Baker Wilderness last week and did stop at that iconic location, but I didn’t get my camera out of the bag even though the conditions were good – I simply took in the sights there while eating my soup for dinner. Shuksan is one of my favourite mountains, but I am looking to expand my library of more interesting photographs, not pad my already too large collection of pretty but creatively boring iconic images from Picture Lake.

   I had previously hiked the Chain Lakes Trail up to Herman Saddle on the north side of its loop but this time decided to try the south side as time permitted from the Artist Point parking lot. As was the case last year, I spent far more time than I’d anticipated photographing in the Heather Meadows and Bagley Lakes area and didn’t get as far on the Chain Lakes Trail as I had anticipated. Heather Meadows and a long lens seem to be a combination that unlocks a lot of compositions for me – which you will likely seen a post coming soon.

   Despite my slow pace at Heather Meadows I did time my walk up the Chain Lakes Trail from Artist Point correctly. I was in a good position to photograph the sunset light on the mountain, and was even lucky enough to get some decent colour in the sky behind Mount Shuksan. I enjoy the light in the evenings, but mostly the light itself, not the sunset. I prefer the colours found in the east at sunset than the west, though perhaps this is also because they are much less frequent and harder to find. Getting a good exposure is also a bit easier as the dynamic range of such scenes is much lower than a western direction during sunset.

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

Mount Shuksan Tarn Reflection

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

reflection of mount shuksan in a north cascades tarn

Tarn Reflection of Mount Shuksan at Huntoon Point

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   Last fall I published a number of posts from a trip to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as I traveled up Highway 542 to Artist Point. When you walk SE from the Artist Point parking lot along Kulshan Ridge to Huntoon Point, you may reach this small tarn that can show great reflections of Mount Shuksan. This is not an unpopular photography location, though it is certainly much less photographed than a reflection from Picture Lake. This was my first time at this tarn, and I was treated to very still waters in the tarn that yielded a near perfect reflection of Mount Shuksan.

For Prints, Licenses and more photography from this location visit my Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest Gallery.

Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack River

Mount Shuksan towers over the confluence of Swamp Creek and the North Fork of the Nooksack River in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State, USA

mount shuksan and the nooksack river

Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack River (Purchase)

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   This is another one of my lunch spots in the North Cascades of Washington State. The North Fork of the Nooksack River runs next to the Mount Baker Highway at many points, this one being just below the point where the highway starts climbing in elevation towards the Mt. Baker ski area. A short drive east up a gravel road and you are presented with this view where Swamp Creek runs into the Nooksack. I only wish the deciduous trees that lined the river at this point were Vine or Bigleaf Maples, as these Red Alder never develop much fall colours.

See more of my photography from this area in my North Cascades Gallery.

Picture Lake and Mount Shuksan Sunset

Mount Shuksan’s reflection during Fall in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington State, USA

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake

Mount Shuksan Sunset (Purchase)

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   This is one of my newly processed photos from Picture Lake in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – featuring the iconic Mount Shuksan. In October 2011 I again photographed this location and now that I have my website gallery organized I have finished off the processing of images from that trip. This photo (and the horizontal version) has a bit of a different look to it than the others I processed from the same evening.

   More photos of Mount Shuksan and the surrounding area can be found in my Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Gallery.

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My Top 10 Photos of 2012

   I always find it difficult to narrow down a years worth of photographs into one list of the “best”. It is a good exercise, however, to really sit down and go through your work and determine what images best fit your current vision for your photography. I did this back in 2010 and 2011 as a part of Jim Goldstein’s project and I am please to enter my images again for this years version.

   All of these photographs are available as Fine Art Prints.

   So in no particular order these are the “top” (probably better termed as favourite) photos I have made in 2012.

kalamalka lake provincial park panorama
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park Spring Panorama

(Coldstream, British Columbia)

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Subapline Lupines and Mount Shuksan

Subalpine Lupines (Lupinus arcticus ssp. subalpinus) on Kulshan Ridge with Mount Shuksan in the background – Mount Baker Wilderness, Washington State, USA.

subalpine lupines on kulshan ridge with mount shuksan washington

Subalpine Lupines (Lupinus arcticus ssp. subalpinus) on Kulshan Ridge (Purchase)

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   This is an older image from 2010 that I recently reprocessed. I have always liked this photo of Subalpine Lupines (Lupinus arcticus) flowering along Kulshan Ridge with Mount Shuksan in the background. The older version had that were just not that clear. There was a good breeze coming through there that evening and getting a still shot of the flowers was not easy. In fact, I had thought I had failed that mission, and published one on my blog and website that didn’t have the clearest Lupines. This is a different exposure, though a slightly different composition. It occasionally pays to keep some of my old files around!

   This evening was my first outing with my first Graduated Neutral Density filter. I had never used one, but read a lot about them and a bit on how to use it. My photos from this evening were a big eye opener as to what was possible, and this beautiful location was certainly a big help. I also learned what they can do to trees that are on the horizon line but hopefully that is not too distracting in this photo.

   The Artist Point area on Kulshan Ridge gets a ton of foot traffic as the parking lot is nearby. As a consequence, a lot of the vegetation gets trampled and destroyed. With the amount of snow that falls here each winter, there is a very very short growing season for these plants, so growing back after a repeated tourist trampling is not easy. Unfortunately I could not get my old tripod into a good position to photograph these so I had to convert myself into a pretzel to get low enough to look through the viewfinder. My old camera had no live view which would have helped immensely. One foot on a rock, a hand on another rock, and one hand on the camera… I only hit the mosses and other plants once with one of my hands. So I was successful in not damaging nature to get my nature photograph, but I did manage to pull a muscle in my leg which didn’t feel right for a week. I think the results make that completely worth it!

My 10 Best Photos of 2011

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake
Mount Shuksan Alpenglow

   It is always tough to narrow down a years worth of images into a list of the “best”. I did this last year and I think it is a valuable exercise. Jim Goldstein of JMG Galleries creates a list of everyone’s top 10 images each year. I made my first top 10 last year. This years list has fewer landscape and more wildlife photos. This is partly due to my not getting out to shoot as many landscapes as last year, and partly due to my backlog in image editing.

   You can click on each of the following images to go to the blog post that may tell a bit more about the location and how I made the photograph.

In no particular order my “Best of 2011″…

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