Andrew here. Last month, my brother and I took a trip to Mt. Rainier, Washington. This is a favorite destination of ours when out West, and this year we got to spend a couple of nights on the mountain. This also meant we got a couple of sunrises and, since my brother is himself an excellent photographer, it wasn’t too hard to convince him to get up at dawn and visit the famous Reflection Lakes.
We got up before sunrise, as landscape photographers are cursed to do, and were in place when the sun hit the mountain. We had uncharacteristically clear skies both mornings, which meant almost no clouds to catch the morning light and color. While we did get some good reflection shots, I took a more important lesson away from this opportunity: Even if you know what you’re there to shoot, keep your eyes open.
This shot of the treeline and rising sun reflected in the lake is the result of looking to my right, away from the mountain, and realizing this was the shot that really made the most of the atmosphere and light at that moment. I did take shots of Mt. Rainier reflected in the still waters of the lake, but the fact that you’re seeing this shot first should tell you something — the famous scene you went there to shoot isn’t always going to be your favorite shot of the visit, so keep your eyes peeled for what else is around you. You might be surprised.
Sarah here. I took this picture while walking along Alki Beach (Seattle) on Father’s Day, and it’s been rattling around in my head since then. I finally worked on it this weekend. The moment between these two was so sweet; I’m glad I caught it.
I showed the picture to my mom this morning, and she said, “I bet the two in this picture would love to have it.” Of course, I don’t have any idea who they are. If anyone sees this post and knows them, or if you think you know someone who might know them, please pass it along. The picture was taken on 16 June 2013, on Alki Beach in Seattle, Washington State.
(And if it does make its way to them, please tell me!)
The thing I love about compositing is that it gives me an excuse to take pictures of just about anything, anywhere. I’m not a landscape or nature photographer (I leave that to Andrew), but you never know when you might want a particular scene as a background. Thus when we went on vacation to the Olympic Peninsula last year, I found plenty to keep me busy while Andrew and his brother were shooting waterfalls and epic forest scenes.
Alas, the rainforest was not as cool and lush and rainy as we’d hoped… in fact, it was hot and dry. We were also hoping for overcast skies, but we got sun with hardly a cloud in sight. Most of our photographs were taken in the middle of the day, since we had more places we wanted to visit during our brief stay than we had golden hours (and it was a vacation, so I admit, we were often lazy in the mornings).
In summary, we had hoped to capture magical green rainforests, but we ended up with a lot of brown and some very harsh light. It was still lovely, but it wasn’t quite what we’d been dreaming of. Below is one of my better straight-out-of-camera shots… I spent a lot of time at this bend in the path because that mossy lump next to the trail looked like some kind of beastie, and I knew I’d want to play with it later.
The out-of-camera background looks pretty flat, but it has good bones. With a lovely and interesting subject, some Orton glow, color toning, and a little straight-up magic, it turned into something that makes me smile to look at. Goes to show that saving pictures comes in handy sometimes, even you don’t quite know what to do with them at the time.
“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir
The dense evergreen forests on the slopes of Mt. Rainier come alive when it rains. The immersiveness of a forest rainstorm leaves me with a feeling as if I have traveled back in time. The rain seems to separate you from the outside world and you realize that this forest is as it was millennia ago, and will be millennia from now, if we protect it. This is the Earth as it really is; and out here, you’re just another part of it, not the master of it.
This shot was taken along the Lower Lakes Trail in Paradise Valley on Mt. Rainier, Washington. We hiked up from Paradise Lodge along the Skyline Trail, followed the Mazama Ridge trail down the south side of Rainier, and decided to cut back in the general direction of Paradise Inn when a storm rolled in, taking the High Lakes Trail back West. It was hard to resist shooting scenes like this along the way, as the streams swelled from the rainfall and the forest took on an otherworldly feel with the clouds settled in the trees.