This post picks up from the last part of my three part series on my photography expedition to Olympic National Park, Washington. Check out the first and second part if you haven’t already.
At this point in my trip, I concentrated my sunrise and sunset shots at Second Beach, a sea stack and tide pool rich shore near Forks, Washington. During the daytime, I spent time touring the interior of the park, and visiting areas that were accessible during the winter month of March. While some spectacular vistas like Hurricane Ridge were closed, there were other alpine areas that were accessible by road that I was to visit. Over this last post, you’ll see images from both the coast at Second Beach and within some of the interior areas.
This first shot is one of the many amazing tide pools that are revealed during low tides. This particular tide pool was reflecting the image of a large rock and two vibrantly colored starfish. The tide pool also reflected a brilliant blue sky, with a few nicely placed white clouds, and the trees of a nearby towering sea stack:
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As the sun continued to rise, clouds continued to separate and give way to the sky. This next shot shows that sky, which again was reflected in a nearby tide pool. This is one of my favorite shots from the trip, because of the contrasting angles between the sky and the sea stack on the right, the balance in subjects throughout the frame, and the lines that lead out through the bottom left hand corner:
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To this point in the beach shots at Shi Shi and Second Beach, you’ve probably noticed how violent the water is. As I looked back to the south end of the beach, I noticed that the crashing waves created a mist that was rising back into the air. That mist was nicely contained in an opening between the coast and sea stack and in front of a wooded hill. The leaning tree from the coast adds a bit more interest to the scene:
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As the sun started to take hold of the day, I started looking for varied subjects other than the tide pools and sea stacks. As I looked closer into the sand, I noticed fine textures that seemed to follow no clear pattern. Winding in loops and circles, these textures were the trails of wandering sea snails. This shot was taken with a macro lens and the original (not web version you see here) has some extreme detail down to individual grains of sand:
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There were other interesting items on the beach, including several small rocks that carved out paths for water to dig through the sand as it receded to the sea. The angle of the carvings in the sand contrasted with the angle of the clouds in the sky brings some interest. Also, notice the snail trails from the previous image that cover nearly the entire beach:
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After I took those last shots, I decided to tour the nearby areas of the park by car. On the way out from Second Beach, though, I saw a sight that was too familiar to me during my time at Olympic National Park:
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Yes, that’s a chopped down tree. While I like the image, with the brilliant red-colored tree and its spilled guts framed by varied greenery in the foreground and the bokeh background, the real-life ramification is sobering. I was actually quite shocked at how many cleared forests populated the “Olympic Wilderness” as it is called. At first, I didn’t quite know what I was looking at, until I saw lumber truck after lumber truck and noticed several lumber mills. While I was out camping, I confirmed the sad state of things with a few of the locals, who recognized the forest-chopping almost with shame.
Here’s another image that put it all in perspective for me. This is a cleared forest near a road sign pointing to the Hoh, Forks and inland. In the near distance, you can see one of the culprits: a yellow bulldozer near a series of sanijohns. Then in the foreground and on far in the distance, you can see stump after stump of the remains of trees:
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This sight is repeated over and over during the drives in Olympic National Park… a sad thing to report back to you. Until I stop buying myself wood tables, I’ll count myself as one person to blame for the state of things.
While there were vast areas of cleared trees, there also were more areas of still thriving forestry. This next one is of an alpine forest. This was beautiful to me for several reasons. The sun broke out through the clouds to illuminate a set of trees on the bottom part of the image, and illuminate the couple of trees near the top of the mountain. That couple of trees was made more prominent by a mist that whispered behind it. It was quite a serene moment:
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As I traveled deeper into the park and up its mountains, I saw a different scene, but one that continued with the alpine forest. Much of the park was still under snowfall during the time I visited. In this shot, you can see how the weather changes as altitude declines. As your eye climbs up the mountain, you will notice layers and that snow slowly increases where the sunlight begins to shine, and has fully covered the trees and ground on the peak. If you look closely, you can also see exposed rock and boulders at the summit of the mountain. I framed the image on the left and bottom with other low-altitude trees:
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While I didn’t have access to many of the lakes during the trip, I did get this one shot that was beautiful to me. It highlights the difference in color and texture of the trees of Olympic National Park, with the reds in the foreground, the greens bearing over them, and the blueish green of the forest in the distance. This scene is reflected in the water, and is framed by the gray sky and the ripples in the water:
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My time wandering the roads of Olympic National Park was coming to a close. Before I made it back to my hotel to prepare for one last morning on Second Beach, I noticed again the variations between trees, especially as they peered over the winding pavement:
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The next few pictures are the last of my trip. This sunrise, I hoped to get a few more compelling shots of Second Beach before I headed to the airport. God had to comply, though, and provide some intrigue by way of weather. She did not disappoint.
As the sun rose, the radiance of light began to highlight menacing clouds that were forming over the coast. The clouds seemed to be gathering quickly into rain, so I knew I had to work quickly before all of the vibrant light diminished. Using the long, flat coastline of Second Beach, the water left a thin film of moisture to create a perfect mirror of the intense sky. As the sun pushed forward, it also illuminated in orange a shower out at sea:
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Of course, up to this time in my tenure at Shi Shi and Second Beaches, I had been employing long exposure techniques to paint movement of the dynamic tides. This last morning, I continued a bit of that but varied it with some fast shutter images as well. This next shot is similar to the last, but trades the reflection of the sky for a misty sweep of water from a wave:
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After those shots, I decided to hone in on the intricacies of Second Beach as I had for Shi Shi Beach. As the storm that was brewing in the distance finally arrived over my head, rain droplets led to a faster exposure opportunity. In this next shot, I framed the varied textures of Second Beach to show layers leading up to the land, with raindrops falling into a tide pool, to the ridges of sand against water, to the rocks leading up to the sea stacks. This was another one of my favorite images from the trip:
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Framing the subject a bit higher on the horizon, this next shot shows the gathering of several rocks leading up to the sea stacks at the shore of Second Beach. It also reminds of the violent nature of the tides, as splashes from a crashing wave fly over rocks in the distance:
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As the rain dissipated a bit, I decided to capture my last two shots at longer exposure with an ND filter. In this first one, I was drawn to the vibrant color that arrived in the clouds and the green vat of still water at the base of the sea stack. Also, I was drawn to the partially hidden orange starfish and framing of the sea stacks in the distance:
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In this last image, I used the ND filter to bring a bit more of the pink color of the sunrise and passing storm to the image. The long exposure settled the movement of water against the rocks so that it almost looks like a serene lake surrounding these giant sea stacks:
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That marks the end of my images from Olympic National Park! I hope you enjoyed looking through the photos. Remember, most of these images are available for sale in the highest quality, professional grade prints. Look for a Facebook contest within the next couple days where you may just WIN one..!
I love hearing your comments, so please keep them coming. Thanks!