The National Parks Traveler has published my January photography article. Click on the photo to check it out.
The National Parks Traveler has just published my latest “Photography In The National Parks” article. Click on the photo to go to my story.
Hi everybody! This morning, I woke up to find that the website to which I contribute articles and photos published a compilation of all of the 2013 articles written by myself and the other contributing photographer. There are photos and links to our complete articles for various photo tips, if you want to add to your existing knowledge base of photographic know-how.
Just click on the photo and you will be taken to the article.
And stay tuned for my Year in Review post with photos that I will publish this weekend.
Let me begin by saying I love staying in historic lodges within national parks. Usually, the lodges are constructed of log , wood plank and glass which more or less blends in with the natural surroundings. Historic lodges always have interesting histories to go with the architecture, and publications may be found in local book stores, or online.
My aim was to arrive at the park via the Paradise entrance, drive up to the Paradise area, and stay a couple of nights at the Paradise Inn.
Paradise Inn is located just a parking lot away from the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center. The Inn is a lovely 2-story creation (which now has a large annex of rooms attached to the main lodge). I wanted to stay in the main lodge and the reservationist obliged me. FYI, if you plan on visiting this area, then make your room reservations here early; I made my reservations about 4-6 months ahead of time as the place fills up quickly. In the photo above, my room was the 4th from the far left of the photo, on the upper level.
I chose a room with no bathroom. There was a sink, but the toilets and showers were down the hall, in separate rooms. That was OK, but if I ever stay at the Inn again (and I definitely want to do so), then I will try and reserve a room with the toilet/shower in the same room.
Paradise Inn is not the Hyatt Regency nor the Hilton Hotel; it’s not 5-star with all the amenities. It’s a beautiful, rustic piece of architecture with history and charm. As with most other park lodgings, it’s all about location, location, location. My room was clean and basic, which is all I ever ask of any lodging; I’m spending the majority of my day outside anyway, so my main requirement is a bed. I don’t need radio, television, or internet. The room came with a desk upon which I could place my laptop, portable hard drive, and memory card reader.
The main lobby, as well as the upper level right over the lobby, are the most picturesque portions.
The upper level during the day:
The upper level at night:
As you can see from the photos, the furnishings are beautifully rustic.
There’s a large restaurant at one end of the Inn; my room was situated over the restaurant and I could hear the clinking of crockery below – a comforting sound to me, rather than an intrusive sound. There’s also a small “deli” at the other end of the main lodge serving ice cream, bottled drinks, and quick foods like sandwiches, soup, and chili. Of course there is a gift shop, and even a little mailbox into which you may drop your postcards purchased from said gift shop. There is no lounge (aka bar aka saloon aka tavern), so if you want a beer or a glass of wine (not accompanied by your meal), you will need to purchase a six-pack or bottle of vino prior to your arrival at the Inn and save it for when you get back to your room.
Paradise Inn is a stone’s throw away from trails of varying lengths, paved and unpaved, all of which afford the visitor stunning views of Nisqually Glacier and The Mountain itself .
You can see all sorts of things in addition to The Mountain.
One of my goals was to photograph the Inn all lit up at night.
Oh yeah, I also made it a goal to get a photo of myself with the Paradise Inn (to prove I was there and….ok…..to use for bragging)
If you get a chance to stay at the Paradise Inn, you won’t be sorry.
Happy Birthday To Me!
I can’t think of a better place to celebrate my birthday than on vacation in Mt. Rainier National Park, WA. I’m not a huge party person (although my 50th birthday party was a lot of fun), so spending the day on my own was right up my alley.
As part of my 10-day vacation, I stayed a couple of nights in the park, at the National Park Inn, near the Longmire entrance. It’s a lovely old inn, very basic (no TV, cell service, internet, in-room fridge) serving as the winter and spring gateway into the higher elevations of the park. If you want to get to Paradise, you’ve got to go through Longmire.
That morning, I hopped in my little rental Fiat and drove the dry, plowed road up to the Paradise area to capture some great photos of The Mountain.
The sky was blue, the sun was out, there was a gorgeous lenticular cloud surrounding the summit, and (luckily) the snow was just mushy enough for me to get a good foothold without snow shoes (I knew I should have used my Stay and Play coupon for a free pair from the Inn).
As you can see, the snow pack was pretty high. I stayed in this lodge back in 2010 on the second floor (identified by those triangular-shaped little garrets in this photo). I can’t remember which, but one of those garrets was my room!
After spending a couple of hours along the packed-snow trail, I realized I’d forgotten my water back in the car (along with my Clif Bar). By now, the day was quite warm and the snow even mushier, so I carefully re-traced my route back down to the car, avoiding the chunks of snow spewing forth from the snow blower and arcing over the side and onto the path in front of me.
Munching on my energy bar, I watched with interest the snow blower spewing recently-plowed snow onto the already-high snow bank. A few intrepid snow shoers also watched before heading up those very same snow banks for their day on The Mountain.
Later that afternoon, I took on a .7 mile hike around Longmire Meadow, called the Trail of The Shadows.
I had completed this relaxing little walk the day before, but didn’t have the right lens to capture that silky water effect on a little waterfalls alongside the trail. This second time around the trail, I had tripod and graduated ND filter with me.
The interesting thing about this particular hike is the fact that there are all sorts of bubbling mineral seeps and springs in the meadow around which the trail circles. A reminder that Mt. Rainier is a “napping” volcano, subject to burps, snores, and other exhalations.
This red spring below is called “Iron Mike”. James Longmire touted the medicinal properties of these natural springs, indicating they could cure whatever it was that ailed a person. Nowadays, there are signs next to these pools of colored water warning people not to drink the stuff.
The bubbling spring and algae seen at Travertine Mound:
Bubbling waters in Longmire Meadow. Hot water heated by Mt. Rainier runs down to the lower elevations (the meadow), where it bubbles up through the cooler soil, releasing the trapped carbon dioxide and other minerals in solution.
This view was a source of inspiration for James Longmire.
Just a few hundred yards from trail’s end, I thought about stepping off of the path, onto the snow-covered bank, and thence onto the road since the Inn was right across the highway. After my first step sank up to my calf in the snow, I decided it would be in my best interest to remain on the path.
It’s the little karmic / kismet-y things that create for that noun called “serendipity”, which favored me on my birthday.
At trail’s end, I looked up and across the highway to see this beautiful little creature eyeing me. Looking both ways, she carefully crossed the highway, padded right past me, and quietly went on about her foray. I noticed a wide collar around her neck to which a tracking device was attached. Somebody was keeping tabs on her comings and goings.
Had I stepped onto the road instead of following the path, I would have missed seeing the little fox, and that would have definitely been my loss.
It was a very good day, and I can’t think of a better place to have celebrated my birthday.
Sometimes, you need to listen to that little voice inside your head. Usually, I don’t, but today, I did. And I’m glad.
Day 3 of my Washington State vacation saw me heading toward the Longmire entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. I had a reservation for two nights at the National Park Inn. I love staying in historic park lodges. No, they aren’t 5-star hotels – they are very basic with no bells or whistles and usually no television or phone and definitely no internet service. But, they are always rich with park history.
April means The Mountain still has quite a bit of snow, making access to many places difficult to well nigh impossible. I’d already stayed at the Paradise Lodge, so I figured staying someplace a little lower in elevation would allow me to hike around without having to resort to cross-country skis (back in the day, I loved downhill skiing, but was a terrible alpine skier).
Naturally, I arrived at the National Park Inn way too early for check-in, having left my Seattle hotel around 7AM that morning (it only takes 2 hours to get to the Longmire entrance). So, I figured I’d try to drive up to the Paradise area to see how it looked covered with snow; I’d visited during the fall, when the huckleberry bushes were brilliant oranges and reds, and the sky was a deep, dark blue.
The best adjective I have to describe the day is: “bleak”. The sky was a hazy white. The cloud cover was high enough in altitude to not hide Mt. Rainer and surrounding mountains, but basically, the scenery was white on white, with a little bit of dark from the treeline and the rocks sticking out of the snow.
I realized I was fighting an uphill battle when my attempt to hike to Narada Falls was a total bust before even leaving the parking lot. The snow level reached above my head and I had no snow shoes (perhaps I should invest in a pair, although I do live in southeast Texas where snow shoes do nothing but make for an interesting wall decoration). Then, I heard a little voice inside my head telling me to head back down in elevation, away from the hues of white, and toward the multitudinous hues of green deep within the shadowy forest.
So, I did.
I parked, pulled out my tripod and cameras, set things up, then just stood there.
The forest is still and silent, yet alive with the sounds of nature: birdsong, wind blowing through the trees, the creak of the trees as they bend in the wind, the drip of moisture from the leaves to the ground, the flow of water from countless meltwater springs and rivulets.
I captured images I would not have thought to photograph had I not listened to that little inner voice telling me to leave the white-on-white.
Do yourself a favor – listen occasionally to that little voice inside your head because it may well lead you to the best images of the day.
Looking forward to my April (2012) vacation, that is. Hopefully nothing unforeseen will occur to prevent this trip. My first vacation of the year, and by then, I am going to need some time off or else I might end up going postal at work (just kidding, really I am, but by then I really will need a break from the 4AM – 4PM daily grind).
Anyway, this is not a lesson-type post or a detailed travelogue-type post, but rather a just-because-I-want-to-post-some-photos post. So, here are a few photos taken between 2005 and 2010 showing you some of the places I plan on heading this April, if all goes according to plan: Seattle, Skagit Valley to see the tulip fields, Mt. Rainier, and my sister and brother-in-law’s home to celebrate both my birthday and my bro-in-law’s.
On a side note, a number of these photos were taken with my then-trusty Nikon D70 (my very first digital SLR). I loved that camera! And, although I am now a pleased and proud Canon full-frame owner, I will readily tell people that I think Nikon made the best first digital SLRs. Canon sucked in the beginning. In addition to my D70, I bought the Canon digital Rebel (6mp), which was touted as the first reasonably-priced digital SLR (and it was, compared to Nikon’s digital SLRs). However, in a side-by-side comparison, the D70 bested the Canon, both in camera body and kit lens. So I ended up selling the Canon and bought a Nikon lens. Although that was just 5 years ago, I have gone through a series of digital cameras, including the Nikon D40, Nikon D40X, Canon 5D, and my current Canon 5D Mark II bodies.
And yes, for those of you thinking it, I’m digging through archives yet again. I’ve shown most of my more recent photos and haven’t gotten out very much for any new photography (although Feb 10-12, I will drive down to Port Aransas to visit some friends and do a little bird photography). I think my archived photos are awfully nice, and there’s nothing like going back through the Raw files for a fresh re-edit.
Sea-Tac Aiport – one of my favorite airports (admittedly, I haven’t been through too very many airports, but still, I like this one). This is a part of the huge long, wide, floor-to-ceiling window in the main portion of the terminal, where all the food/shopping is located. Note the little airplane flying away.
Puget Sound, a Washington State ferry, and the Olympic Mountains
Washington state ferry “Tacoma” heading toward Bainbridge Island
View from the Seattle waterfront looking out toward Bainbridge Island
Harbor Island, Elliott Bay, and the Public Market at sunset – photo taken from the patio of the Inn At The Market
Inside Pike Place Market
When I lived in Seattle, I shopped at the fruit and veggie stalls in Pike Place Market alot – I loved cooking with chanterelles
There is nothing like fresh salmon – I won’t order it in Texas, though, because they just don’t know how to cook it like they do in Seattle (IMO)
Ristras in the Market
I used to buy fresh flowers from the Market quite often, because I worked downtown and it was easy to stop off, buy a bouquet, and take it with me on the bus home
Seattle has all sorts of public art
The funky structures at Gasworks Park, on the north shore of Lake Union (which is where I took that top photo looking toward the Seattle skyline)
Skagit Valley tulips early on an April morning
Heading toward the Sunrise entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park
On the path to The Mountain
The view near Emmons Vista
Looking back down from whence I came – to the distance on the left is Mt. Adams, and on the right is Mt. St. Helens. Far down below is the Paradise Inn.
Up, up, up the path
Lone viewer looking over Nisqually Glacier
A room with a view
Waterfall and river of ice
Mt. Rainier and Nisqually Glacier (at the Paradise area of the park)
Sunrise at Paradise (sunrise in Paradise)
Becky and The Mountain