Wildflowers surround Edith Creek just above Myrtle Falls in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA
Mount Rainier Wildflowers and Edith Creek (Purchase)
-click to enlarge-
Last week I was photographing in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA. Having worked my way down the Golden Gate Trail I was running out of good light options for the wildflowers, Tatoosh Range and Mount Rainier itself. There was a big cloud in the sky near Rainier that was lit up bright purple but I wasn’t able to find a composition that worked with it. I jogged (causing some tourist curiosity) down to Edith Creek just above Myrtle Falls to see if I could get this interesting light reflected in the small waterfall there. The photograph above is the result. This 25 second exposure was one of only two that I made (second one was vertical) before the lights were shut off and it was over for the night. Sometimes it does pay to hurry!
About a month ago I was at Upper Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park during sunset. My main focus there was the great display of wildflowers, as the mountain itself was being a bit shy with the clouds. I was lucky enough that while making this photo the silhouette of Rainier showed through the top of the clouds along with a nice bit of sunset light. A lack of a breeze to mar the nice reflection was nice too!
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.
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.
About a month ago I was on the seawall in Stanley Park taking some shots of downtown Vancouver at night. Last time I attempted this my relatively cheap tripod was not up to the task of holding my camera steady (in portrait position) for 30 seconds at a time. The result was some decent shots, but others had a 30 second long vertical light streak through them due to tripod malfunction. Did I mention how much I like my Gitzo tripod?
I had not expected that I was to be stalking any sort of birds at night. Thankfully though it was a Great Blue Heron ((Ardea herodias) which luckily tend to stand still for lengthy periods of time (or until you trigger the shutter). I guess this lulls the prey into a sense of complacency, at least temporarily. This is probably one of the few species that I would be able to find at night and that would stand still long enough for me to get a clear shot with shutter speeds of 1-2 seconds. That being said, this is one of the few clear shots of the 40 that I took. I like it – not my usual sort of photograph.
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.