Nooksack River and Mount Shuksan

Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack River in the North Cascades, Washington State, USA

mount shuksan and nooksack river washington

Mount Shuksan and the Nooksack River (Purchase)

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   One of the downsides of having a lot of backlog in my photo editing is that I tend to forget what I have. I purposefully wait a while in order to process my images, just so that I am somewhat subjective in terms of images that deserve scrutiny and those that don’t. I often have initial expectations that were not met when I review the images too soon, and sometimes that clouds what is really there. At least for me. I do occasionally go back over images that did not leap out at me during a first pass – sometimes I find something I really like. Sometimes this is due to my perception of the image changing and sometimes I have learned some new post processing skills that open the photo to new potential.

   This photo is another example of this phenomenon. I initially passed over it but this weekend viewed it again, and knew how I wanted to process it. I have many photos of Mount Shuksan, but this one is a bit different. This was not taken from Picture Lake, Artist Point or any of my usual places. This is along the North Fork of the Nooksack River (which later flows over Nooksack Falls) at the bottom of the hill near the Shuksan Campground.

Mount Shuksan Reflections

Sunset on Mount Shuksan at Picture Lake in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington State, USA

reflections of mount shuksan in picture lake sunset baker

Sunset at Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake (Purchase)

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   A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of doing some hiking and photography in the Heather Meadows area of the Mount Baker Wilderness with Alan Majchrowicz. We hiked to the top of Herman Saddle along the Chain Lakes Trail which had a fantastic view. Clearly I had been riding my office chair for too long because my lungs didn’t quite handle the hike as well as I had hoped. Most of my familiarity was with the Picture Lake and Artist Point areas so to see a few of the other sights was an eye opener. I know a few hikes I want to do next summer!

   Back at our vehicles we were talking a bit about how the “good” light can come and go rather quickly. I know I’ve seen the light turn to something fantastic as I am in my car driving away from my recent shooting location. I have also seen it disappear as I am trying to reach a viewpoint. I have learned through some recent experiences that staying until the light is definitely gone is always a good idea. You never know what might develop after you leave! So it was not without a touch of irony that this conversation ended quickly as we noticed great light appearing on the mountains. A quick drive and a hurried jog up the boardwalk later and I made these images of Mount Shuksan.

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake
Mount Shuksan Alpenglow
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   Photography for me is usually a very relaxing endeavor, which is part of my enjoyment of it I think, but sometimes when you know the light will go at any moment this can be accompanied by some adrenaline. Years ago when this would happen I would rush and make a lot of mistakes because of the urgency, which does not happen now. I still feel the excitement though! I have been at this location many times, but I have not seen good light on the mountain while it had this backdrop of a subtle purple/mauve cloud coloration. It was colorful enough to give a nice contrast with the snow and ice of the mountain, unlike a simple grey cloud background (which I have seen many times).

   I am often a bit torn at this location between trying to get foreground detail or just creating a silhouette of the foreground trees. I think this silhouette version was quite successful but I also like the other version. Which do you prefer?

EDIT (November 2013) – Having had 2 years to think about it I now much prefer the first image over the silhouette. I may even prefer a variation on that image ( Mount Shuksan ) over the version posted here.

Picture Lake Fall Color

mt shuksan reflected in picture lake

Another angle from the shots I took at Picture Lake taken during my last fall trip. I have taken many shots of this (and similar) spots but haven’t quite settled on being “done” with the area. Regardless, its close to home and I always have a good time shooting up there. Even more so during the few months of the year that Artist Point is open.

Mt. Shuksan from Artist Point

Mt. Shuksan in late evening light from Artist Point.

mt shuksan in late evening light from artist point

This place is likely one of the most scenic areas close to my home. I am fortunate to live within an hour (with an easy border crossing experience) of Artist Point. This image was taken a few weeks ago on the same day as my earlier Picture Lake post.

Mt. Shuksan Reflected in Picture Lake

Mt. Shuksan reflected in Picture Lake.

mt shuksan reflected in picture lake

   I have previously photographed Mt. Shuksan and Picture Lake but last Wednesday I was fortunate enough to have a near perfect reflection in the lake. No wind, no breeze, no monsoon. I knew that Mt. Shuksan was one of the most photographed mountains in the world, but even still I did not anticipate a lineup for various favoured viewing spots. Lots of photographers to talk to is nice though, ignoring the one guy who was pointing out to all the Canon users that he shot Nikon and was therefore in some manner superior.

Panoramas from Baker Lake

1. 8 exposures stitched, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM

Panoramas of the forest and mountains around Baker Lake. Mt. Baker from the east near Baker Lake.

mt. baker baker lake

1. 8 exposures stitched, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM

Mt. Shuksan from the south (usually photographing it from the west) near Baker Lake.

mt. shuksan baker lake

Mt. Shuksan & Mt. Baker Artist Point 360° Panorama

EDIT: I have since cropped and reprocessed this panorama to include just the portion with Mount Baker:

(click on the thumbnail for the larger version)
mt baker from artist point

1. 31 exposures stitched, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM @ 20mm

Major mountains I can ID in this photo: American Border Peak, Mt. Larrabee, Winchester Mountain, Goat Mountain, Mt. Sefrit, Mt. Shuksan, Shuksan Arm, Mt. Baker, Tabletop Mountain

Click for larger version… (may take a bit to load – this one is big)
mt baker from artist point

2. Another version of the same panorama. This one is cropped to 1) include less of the “superfluous” scenery and 2) to preserve the potential idea that I hiked my ass off to get up there by cropping out the parking lot!

mt baker from artist point