Posts Tagged ‘north cascades national park’

Mount Redoubt in Black and White

Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak in North Cascades National Park in Washington State (photographed from British Columbia’s Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park).

snow blowing off of mount redoubt in the north cascades national park

Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak in the North Cascades

-click to enlarge-

   In early December I was at Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park looking for some good sunset light on Mount Redoubt. The colour materialized, but not for a long period of time and in a different way than I was expecting. I had previously photographed this mountain in January and February, and at a time when the good light would simultaneously hit Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak (the peak on the right). This being December, I suspect the difference in the sun’s position is the reason the light was not on Nodoubt Peak at the same time as the main peak of Redoubt. I made some panorama exposures before sunset and thought this would be a good opportunity to convert some of my photographs to black and white.

   The first image above (best viewed large) was made almost 20 minutes before the one below. I did not include Nodoubt Peak in the lower photograph as all the light had gone, and it just doesn’t have the same impact that way. This second photo is one that works in colour too I think, as there was nice light on the main peak of Mount Redoubt (click the link for the colour version). The first image has light on both peaks, but it was without the colours you see in the photo linked above.

snow blowing off of mount redoubt in the north cascades national park

Mount Redoubt in North Cascades National Park

-click to enlarge-

    I think my favourite feature of the top photograph, and to a lesser extent the lower one, is the snow blowing off of the peaks. This is called spindrift which was a new term to me.

Chilliwack Lake Winter Panorama

panorama of chilliwack lake in winter
Winter at Chilliwack Lake (click for larger version)

   Wide angle shot from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park back in January. Glad I had a few shots I like from this trip as I nearly froze my toes off! I have posted a few shots previously of this location concentrating more on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peaks.

Focus on the Details

the chilliwack river in winter
The Chilliwack River in Winter

   When I first started getting serious with a “real” film camera I had a 28-90mm kit lens. Eventually I wished to move on from just taking random snapshots and actually gain more skills and take better photos. I read a bit on the internet about lenses and bought a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. The “nifty fifty”. It was at this point that I realized the difference lens quality can make. I couldn’t believe how sharp and clear the shots with the 50mm were.

   A few years after buying the 50mm I upgraded to a DSLR – A Canon 30D. Wow not only could I take 100’s of shots at one time, I was not paying for film and developing so I could actually afford to experiment and try new things. The 28-90mm kit lens was a bit better on the DSLR (cropped out some of the edge anomalies) but still had nothing on the 50mm. On the APS-C sensor of the 30D (1.6x) the 50mm was more like an 80mm lens. I really wanted to go wider so that I could get more into a shot. I saved up and bought a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5. Good quality and really wide compared to the 50mm. I shot with the 10-22mm and the 50mm (the kit lens now relegated to a drawer for bad behaviour) for quite a while. I wanted to determine what I was missing the most before I went in that direction with a new lens.

nodoubt peak - part of Mount Redoubt - alpenglow
Alpenglow on Nodoubt Peak in North Cascades National Park

   A year or so after I bought the 10-22mm I filled in the gap between my lenses with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. At that point I had opted for crop sensors over full frame (largely due to price of both long lenses and the FF cameras) so the 17-40mm was not on my list. From there I went to a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM to get a bit more reach for wildlife. What I had not really anticipated is that I would be using this lens so often for landscapes.

the chilliwack river in winter
Abstract Chilliwack River

   Often as a beginning photographer I read about wide angle lenses as the be all and end all of landscape photography. Walking in to a camera shop and being asked what I like to shoot – the answer of landscapes would push wide angle lenses in my direction. I was rather surprised to learn what I had been missing in a longer telephoto lens for landscapes. In some scenes I have found it difficult to use the wider focal lengths in that they actually get too much into the frame. Ironic considering this is why I earlier had thought I needed a wide lens. The details of the scene are there, but are drowned out by distracting elements that take the viewer’s eye away from what is important. So my initial impression that I would always want to be at a wide angle all the time has actually changed to looking at the details and what is more essential.

eureka falls in spring
Eureka Falls

   I never would have predicted this sort of outcome when I started. I see many posts and articles devoted to gear and purchasing wide lenses for landscapes. I wonder how many of the beginners reading these thing will eventually start to favour longer lenses for their landscape photography? Would they be better off getting a telephoto lens before a really wide angle one? Maybe this is just a normal evolution for a photographer. Regardless, I am happy I have moved away from all wide angle all the time – the variety of shots possible at longer focal lengths is liberating.

Image Post-Procesing Objectivity

panorama of mount redoubt and nodoubt peak from chilliwack lake provincial park

Alpenglow on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
(click for larger version)
6 exposures stitched, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM @ 144mm

   When I spend time shooting I will normally take a quick overview of the days results immediately. There are often a few shots that will stand out – and those are often processed and sometimes show up here on the blog right away. I have learned that taking a long step back from a series of new photos can be beneficial to me in terms of my objectivity in culling the weaker shots. If I were to go through all the shots immediately I still carry my mental image of what I had planned for a photo. Not everything I try works out of course, and sometimes my initial expectations turn out to be too high. Sorting and processing images a month or two later gives me a lot better perspective of what is a “good” shot or a bad one – as many of my initial expectations have settled down. This has generally worked out so far – and I think I am better at choosing strong images than I used to be in part because of it.

However…

   I recently had an experience where the month+ delay in processing a panorama didn’t really seem to help. I processed and stitched this panorama 3-4 times – never quite happy with the colour of the sky. Things got to the point where I was no long able to view the photo at all objectively.

   For this particular panorama I stood in the snow next to Chilliwack Lake for over an hour, freezing, taking the odd shot but waiting for the right light. When it came – I shot about 3 panoramas (and many single shots) with a few different compositions. I like the composition of this one the best. The colour of the sky seemed quite purple compared to what my brain was telling me looked “natural”. This could be a case of over analysis – but I try to process images such that they are faithful to what I saw at the time. So I processed the 6 shots that make up this image again in Camera Raw with some PS adjustments to account for the colour. Then I did this again. Still not happy I put the image away for a few more weeks. I should note the purple color is present in the raw file – not as a result of some other colour processing I have done.

   Now that I have picked up this panorama again, I am still not sure if this looks natural. I like the colour on the mountain peaks, this is how it looked when I was there – but the sky still bothers me. I have stared at it so long I no longer remember what it looked like in person – perhaps that is the downside in waiting to do post processing? Maybe I just have to drop an image for longer or toss it entirely? I again processed an alternate panorama – taken about 7 minutes before the one posted above – and the sky looks bland and the clouds undefined – the whole image is uninspiring.

So what is the good thing about all this?

   During this process I learned a few more Photoshop techniques that I otherwise would not have. Tweaking sky colours using Selective Color in Photoshop, for example. Next time I have a sky colour problem as a result of changing colour temperature etc – I know how to fix it. I have also learned that sometimes I might need to move on from processing an image that just isn’t right – or leave it behind entirely.

Nodoubt Peak Alpenglow

nodoubt peak - part of Mount Redoubt - alpenglow

   Recently the mountains of the Fraser Valley had a good snowfall so I headed out there to see what I could photograph. I parked myself next to the Chilliwack River for an hour or so and having failed to entirely freeze at that location I moved once again on towards Chilliwack Lake.

   I had to park outside of the gates again as Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park is closed this time of year. The walk in was much uglier than last time – no tire treads to walk in on. I followed some tracks left by a (much smarter and prepared) person with snowshoes. As I took each uneven, slippery step I vowed to never do this again wearing only trail running shoes and jeans in a cold -10°C (14°F) with a windchill estimated at about -20°C (-4°F). A good parka and toque don’t really make up for freezing the lower half of ones body. So despite freezing and stumbling I did manage to get there in time to catch some of the last light on Mount Redoubt/Nodoubt Peak. A more interesting shot than last time – with clouds swirling around the peaks and a great alpenglow.

Mount Redoubt & Chilliwack Lake

mount edgar, mount redoubt and nodoubt peak from chilliwack lake provincial park

  A few days ago I drove out to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park to see if I could get a view of Mount Redoubt in the not so distant North Cascades National Park. Last time I was there it was fall and there was little snow on the peaks. This time I had a bit more than I bargained for as the park gate was closed and we had to hike in from the road. There was also about 8 inches of snow on the ground which I was not expecting. I shot about 200 exposures, a lot of panoramas of Mt. Redoubt, and some wider shots like the one above.

  On the far left we have Mount Edgar. In the middle: Mount Redoubt (left peak) and Nodoubt Peak (right peak). Mt. Redoubt and Nodoubt Peak are actually in North Cascades National Park in Washington State while Chilliwack Lake is in British Columbia.

  Still not sure about how I feel about this particular shot. I really like some of the panoramas, which I will post soon, but my post processing skills and the colour of the sky in some of them are still locked in a battle of wills.

My Best Photos of 2010

arctic lupine and mt shuksan

I have seen many photographers make a “Best of 2010” list recently, many of them stating how difficult it was to choose between their images. Sorting through my own list was also more difficult than I had imagined. I don’t know if these are my “Best” as that can be rather subjective, but these are my favourites taken in the past year.

What I do notice is that these photos are from only 3 locations, Mount Rainier National Park, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (though Mount Shuksan itself is in North Cascades National Park) and Silver Lake Provincial Park. May 2011 bring more variety!

In no particular order my “Best of 2010″…

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Diablo Lake Mountain Views

diablo lake and davis peak in north cascades national park jack mountain north cascades national park diablo lake and colonial peak in north cascades national park