Olympic National Park, Part 2

So… hopefully you’ve had a chance to look at the first part of this blog series about my photography expedition to Olympic National Park. If not, please visit the link so you can catch up on the story. 🙂

So given that I had gotten some pretty good shots of the sunset and night of the day before and the sunrise of the morning, I decided to head to the Hoh rainforest. Normally, I would reserve shooting at scenic locations for sunrise and sunset, when the sky acts like a huge softbox and doesn’t create hard to manage, dynamically lit scenes. However, the Hoh is a pretty dense forest that blocks out much of the harsh rays. Plus, the weather had called for some rain mists which would really help to control light and create a feeling of depth.

Getting to the Hoh is rather easy, but is time consuming. I wanted to get to the rainforest, shoot for an hour or so, then make the journey back to catch the sunset at Shi Shi (a sunset in the Hoh would not be nearly as photogenic given how little you can see the sky from there). Given that I had so many nights at Olympic National Park, I wanted to give the weather enough opportunities to create something special on the coasts — which were were I planned to take most of the photos on this trip.

So, I left my camping gear back at Shi Shi, and trekked back through the mud for about an hour and a half, our to the place I parked. Then, I was off on the 2 hour drive down to the rainforest.

The other photographer warned me of the difficulty of shooting the Hoh, but I had to experience it for myself to see what he was talking about. The forest has no order to it, which is beautiful in its own regard. However, it also makes composing a shot especially difficult. As a photographer, you look for patterns, leading lines, angles, and contrasts. But when everything seems to be growing from everywhere, it really throws you a loop!

The mist I hoped for never arrived, but the light was soft enough for some shooting. After a little time, I did find some interesting angles and frames that make an image. Here is the first, which shows a ray of sun bursting through a clearing in the forest, and leading to the ferns on the floor:

[fancy_images height=”900″ width=”600″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/hoh-rainforest/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/hoh_rainforest.jpg[/fancy_images]


I continued walking around and exploring the rainforest. It was really quite a peaceful and cathartic experience; maybe some of that has to do with the fresh and fragrant air that the rainforest provides. When I inspected the moss, which is omnipresent in the rainforest, I saw a single drop of water that stayed suspended in on the moss tip. Because of the absorbent texture of the moss, the drop was held completely still, save for its bottom spinning in a circle from gravity:

[fancy_images height=”900″ width=”720″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/stillwater/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/hoh_rainforest_moss.jpg[/fancy_images]


As I walked further, I saw a small path in the ground. The path led through a line of mossy trees and gave a bit of organization to a section of the forest:

[fancy_images height=”900″ width=”600″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/hoh-rainforest-trees/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/hoh_rainforest_trees.jpg[/fancy_images]


Then, I started inspecting the grounds where moss and other shrubs were slowly building over trees. This next one was interesting to me as is contrasted a shrub (with a point on its leaves that resembles a worm) common to the rainforest with a piece of fallen wood:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/hoh-rainforest-moss-wood/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/hoh_rainforest_moss_wood.jpg[/fancy_images]


After I took that shot, it was already time to head back to Shi Shi for the sunset. So, I made the long drive back, hiked through the mud and marshes for another couple hours and ran back to Shi Shi to see what colors were in store for me.

It turned out to be another bluish/gray type of evening. While I didn’t have explosions of vibrant light like the morning, I was captivated by the somber hues.

This first shot shows more interesting shapes from the Shi Shi coast (including another angle of the hole through the sea stack I shot here), and offers a glimpse of Point of the Arches way in the distance. I used a long exposure to mist the waters against the other rocks:

[fancy_images height=”300″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/point-of-arches-from-shi-shi/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/point_of_arches_from_shi_shi.jpg[/fancy_images]


I took that shot from the left side of the “King” sea stack that dominates the Shi Shi scene. I then I decided to scale all of rocks from the side I was on and get on the other side of the beach. This wasn’t easy, but was pretty exciting. Over the course of days when I was shooting this beach, I had been scaling rocks, walking over beds of mussels (for traction), jumping over large and small tide pools, dodging (or getting smacked by) waves — all to position myself for a good composition. When I scaled the left side of the beach to the right side of it, it included doing all of those things I described, but to a larger scale. I had to literally scale up a mountain to get over a wide swath of seawater, then jump down to a mussel covered rock to get into the right position. I felt pretty comfortable shooting from where I was, except that I had to remember that the tide was slowly rising and soon I may not have a path back to shore.

All that adventure was for this next shot. It shows the King from different angles than I have shown so far — and he again looks very different (and especially foreboding). I used a relatively slow shutter speed of a half second to show the water crashing up against and swirling around the rocks. In the distance, I placed the setting super full moon in a “V” shape of the rocks near the King. The size of the moon should give you an idea of how grand the King looked from this angle:

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After that shot, I decided to call it a night and rise in the morning for one last try at Shi Shi. Cloud cover came over the park at night so photography was less of an option.

The next morning, I shifted compositions to try to catch something new. I’ve mentioned a few times about the low tide providing access to the shore at Shi Shi beach and its sea stacks. But low tides also give a glimpse into tide pools and the array of life in them. This next shot shows a view into the busy worlds beneath and above the water. I particularly like how the green sea anemones form a inverse column from the King sea stack. I used the pinks and greens of the kelp and sea bush to frame the anemones, and the cloud passing in the distance to frame the sea stack. This is another one of my favorites from the trip:

[fancy_images height=”900″ width=”600″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/two-worlds/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/shi_shi_beach_tide_pool_sea_anemones.jpg[/fancy_images]


Here’s a close up of a sea anemone, with shadows cast on it from the sun through sea grass.

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My last shot at Shi Shi Beach was taken when I shifted my attention away from the compelling sea stacks and towards the land and forest. In a previous shot far away from the north end of the beach, I noticed a dramatic cliff far in the distance. Up close, this cliff is much more fantastic, with its trees starkly contrasted with the  mountains in the distance. The cloud passing by add a bit of balance and framing of the image:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/all-or-nothing/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/shi_shi_beach_cliff_mountains.jpg[/fancy_images]


After I was done shooting… I bid Shi Shi goodbye and hiked back through the trail back to my car. My next destination was Second Beach, another venue on the coast with differing sea stacks and tide pools. That area was near the town of Forks, famous for its Twilight series of vampire movies. In case you ever forgot that, just visit Forks and you’ll be reminded :).

On the way there, I passed over several bridges and small rivers. This next scene was particularly interesting to me, as a rainforest tree seemed to dip into the emerald-colored mountain water:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=””]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/hoh_rainforest_river.jpg[/fancy_images]


It took me a while to get out of Shi Shi and over to Forks. I had hoped to catch the sunset at Second Beach, but time was running out. I decided to head straight to my motel. Then, right as I was checking in, I looked outside and saw an incredible magenta and orange sunset! You can imagine how mad I was that I was not on the beach for this:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=””]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/forks_wa.jpg[/fancy_images]


I grit my teeth and decided that it was OK… I had many more chances to get conditions like that sunset and was going to start early in the morning.

When I got into my motel room, I finally stopped to look at myself. After 3 days and 2 nights of trekking in the mud, running on the beach, ducking past the waves, and scaling up mountains, I was DIRTY and WORN. The best part was my shoes and gaiters, which were caked in mud:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=””]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/Olympic National Park 392.jpg[/fancy_images]


The next morning, I headed straight for Second Beach. The hike to the beach was about 10 minutes, but that seemed like a cakewalk after my days at Shi Shi. The real challenge to getting to the beach is the heap of logs that you have to scale to get to the sand. These are trees, that over the course of time, died, fell into the water, and were washed ashore by the powerful ocean. It’s quite amazing to think about.

Once I got onto the sand, I immediately realized why photographers love that beach. During low tide, the sand usually under the water is transformed into a large, flat field. Water frequently scales far inland from the waves and slowly sweeps back into the sea. When after the water sweeps back into the ocean, the wetness creates a sheen cover on the sand that reflects the sky. These phenomena provide great opportunities for dramatic shots.

In this first shot, I captured the sweep of the water back into the sea. Pockets of foam created a “grate” shape that I find intriguing:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/streaking-water-at-second-beach/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/second_beach_beach_wave.jpg[/fancy_images]


This next one is a view of another sea stack, with the water receding back into the ocean. However, the water moved more calmly and produced less foam, allowing it to reflect the sea stack on the sand. The the curve of the water on the beach and from the wave in the distance give the image a bit more intrigue:

[fancy_images height=”640″ width=”800″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/sweeping-into-the-sea/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/second_beach_beach_wave_reflection.jpg[/fancy_images]


After I got some images of the vista, I walked closer to the water and noticed a single rock getting slammed every few moments by the waves. During smaller waves, water simply rushed around the rock. As I got closer to the rock, I noticed a family of star fish gathered closely. I set my tripod up to shoot a long exposure of this scene, but kept getting blurred images. That was not only because the waves were crashing against the tripod, but that the sand that it stood on was sinking from my weight. Though it took quite a while and several instances of me running from the water with a camera & tripod in a vice grip, but I finally got this image of the water misting up to the family of starfish:

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/starfish-family-at-second-beach/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/second_beach_starfish_ocean_mist.jpg[/fancy_images]


A bit more exploring up on the shore led me to more starfish families and my last image on this second of three blog posts on Olympic National Park. I was really intrigued by the intricate texture and pattern of the starfish. I was so fascinated that I kind of petted one — which felt like bumpy leather :). I took this shot to bring attention to the pattern and texture of the starfish, and their variance in color. This is a macro of four starfish grouped together; if you look closely you can see grains of sand in the ridges of the starfish that are laced with water (which is blue, reflecting the color of the sky):

[fancy_images height=”600″ width=”900″ alt=”” title=”” link=”http://navinsarmaphotography.com/portfolio/second-beach-starfish-macro/”]http://navinsarmaphotography.com/wp-content/gallery/places/northamerica/pacnw/second_beach_starfish_macro.jpg[/fancy_images]


I hope you enjoyed part 2 on this series on Olympic National Park. Remember, if you haven’t read the first entry, please check it out here. I’ll be wrapping up this series with the third and final post within the next few days.

Thanks for looking!

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