The City of Sequim is home to the historic Railroad Bridge Park. This bridge was once part of a bustling railway that ran from Port Townsend to Port Angeles, and then west to connect with many logging railroads. The first train ran across this bridge in July, 1915, and was built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Paul Railway, later called the Milwaukee Road. Most of the cargo that went across this bridge was timber from the Olympic Peninsula, but railway passenger cars also used the bridge until the 1930’s. In 1980, the Milwaukee Road sold the line to the Seattle and North Coast Railroad and in 1985 the line was abandoned. The last train crossed this bridge in March, 1985. However, in 1992, volunteers turned the bridge into a bike and pedestrian trail and in 1995 the property surrounding the bridge was purchased by the Washington State Audubon Society who created the Dungeness River Center and park, called Railroad Bridge Park. The bridge (approx. 150 feet) and trestle (approx. 600 feet) span the Dungeness River and are also part of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). (The ODT will cross 130 miles from Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean at LaPush when finished.)
Unfortunately, this past February, the nearly 100 year old trestle sustained damage during a heavy rainstorm from the rising water and falling trees. The trestle and bridge are now closed until repairs can be made. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, owners of the trestle, hope to rebuild the collapsed section but do not have a timeline as of yet. So, until then, the ODT can be accessed by an alternate route
The Railroad Bridge Park is one of my favorite places to go for walks and to take photos. Earlier this year the Sequim City Arts Advisory Commission put out a “Call to Artist”. They were looking for wall art depicting “What Sequim Means to Me”. My image (above) of the bridge and trestle, titled “A Walk In The Park”, was excepted into the juried exhibit and will be on display at the new Sequim Civic Center from May (or as soon as construction is completed) through December, 2015. (The image is printed on a 20×30 sheet of aluminum metal.) If you’re passing through Sequim, stop by the new Civic Center to see this and other images/works from local artist.
This image was taken in October of 2014, just a few months before the February rainstorm.
My family and I go to Scottsdale, AZ every year in March for Spring Training. If you’re not familiar with Spring Training, it’s preseason for the Major League Baseball teams. Half the league goes to Florida, (Grapefruit League) and the other half goes to Arizona (Cactus League). Anyway, enough about baseball. This year I wanted to head out and take some pictures of the red rocks in Sedona. It’s about a two hour drive from Scottsdale, which made it an easy day trip. I did some homework as to what I might want to photograph and Cathedral Rock caught my eye. Yes, probably because it’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the southwest, but also because I wanted to see what I could capture for myself. While driving through Sedona I stopped at one of the many spots that advertised “Visitor’s Information” for directions to Cathedral Rock. I was given directions to the Crescent Moon Picnic Area, which is a popular park with great views of the “Rock”.
I made my way to the park, (about a 20 minute drive from downtown Sedona, if you don’t get lost), paid the fee to enter, parked the car and proceeded to the river for the view I was expecting. While walking along the river trail I kept thinking about where I needed to be to get the photo I wanted. Every spot along the river didn’t quite work. I couldn’t get the right angle of the river with the “Rock” in view, and the park was filling with people. I asked someone who looked like a frequent visitor if there was a spot where I could get a good view of the “Rock” with the river in the foreground. He wasn’t sure and told me that most of the photos with that type of composition were probably taken before all the trees along the river grew tall enough to block the view.
Not willing to give up, I soon realized that I needed to be on the other side of the river. Not only for a chance of a better composition, but because the park closed a dusk and I knew I wanted to be there for the sunset. I could see people on the other side but wasn’t sure the best way to get there. I was able to call out and ask someone how to access that side of the river. With the rushing water and a crowd of people nearby it was hard to hear but I was able to get the basic instructions. I mentioned that I was tempted to walk across the river and was advised of the slippery rocks. I immediately pictured me and my camera gear floating down the river.
So…, back in the car, 45 minute drive around to the other side, paid to park again, and found the trailhead back to the river. As soon as I reached the river I knew I had made the right decision. After a few hours of hiking up and down the river, taking a few pictures along the way, I found the compositions I was looking for. Right next to a family of four who were playing in the river. (Mom, Dad, two kids maybe 8 and 10) I sat up my camera gear while the family gathered their belongings. I assumed they parked on the same side, but no…, they proceeded to walk across the river with no problem at all. Feeling a little foolish that I didn’t just walk across the river, I reminded myself that I wouldn’t have to worry about my car being locked behind the park gate if I stayed too long. Feeling much better about my decision the sunset didn’t disappoint. As the sun went down Cathedral Rock became more saturated with color and the reflection in the river was amazing.
The Quinault Rain Forest is located in the Southwest portion of the Olympic National Park and is home to Lake Quinault. I had the pleasure of staying at the historic Lake Quinault Lodge for a few nights last month. During my stay I was able to drive around the lake, which isn’t always possible in the winter, and hiked a few of the many trails to see some of the waterfalls in the area. To my surprise, even though we haven’t had the usual rain fall this year, the waterfalls had enough water to allow me to capture some nice images. This is
Bunch Creek Falls, and below that is Merriman Creek Falls.
(click on images to see a larger view)
These two waterfalls are right off the side of the road. Absolutely no hiking is required. You don’t even have to get out of your car.
There are many waterfalls close to the Lodge that can be accessed by a short hike. This is Gatton Creek Falls, which is about .6 miles from the designated parking area.
And, this is Falls Creek Waterfall that is also .6 miles from its trailhead, which is located across the street from the Lodge. You can literally walk out of your room and be on the trail in less than 5 minutes.
Besides the many trails and waterfalls, this area is home to the world’s largest Western Red Cedar (174′ tall), Douglas Fir (302′ tall), Sitka Spruce (at 191′ tall), and Mountain Hemlock (152′ tall) trees. There is also the largest Yellow Cedar (129′ tall) and Western Hemlock (172′ tall) in the United States. With an average rainfall of over 140 inches in the lowlands and over 200 inches in the higher mountain elevations, it’s easy to see why these trees do so well. Yep, they don’t call it a rain forest for nothing.
I had a great time and plan to visit this area again soon.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to take photos of my nephew (Jake) surfing. I don’t think you can tell from the photos, but I was shooting in the rain. Actually, to say it was raining is an understatement. It was pouring. I had the camera and lens covered with a rainsleeve (www.optechusa.com) and my camera bag inside a garbage bag. Thankfully everything stayed nice and dry. This was a great opportunity for me to practice taking photos of a moving object. Being mostly a landscape photographer I do not get this opportunity very often. At first it was challenging. I had to figure out a composition that would work so I wasn’t running up and down the beach, but also be in the right place to catch Jake surfing. Oh, and I also had to keep an eye on the tide as it was coming in rapidly. And yes, I was able to keep myself and my gear out of the water. In my book that’s a very successful adventure. I’m sure Jake would have preferred bigger waves, but for my first time shooting a surfer I think I was fortunate the surf wasn’t very big. I had enough going on trying to keep track of all the moving parts between the rain, the tide coming in, Jake surfing, and the waves. I had a blast. The orange sky was created by a slash burn that was happening a few miles away. Up here in the Pacific Northwest, a slash burn is done after an area has been logged. With the sun going down, and the limited amount of light in the sky, I figured out quickly that I needed to use auto ISO and select a shutter speed that captured Jake’s movement without too much blur. I also used a constant depth of field of f5.6 and for most of the shots my ISO ended up being maxed out at 6400. I hope I get another chance to shoot him surfing. I had a lot of fun. It was another great day in the Pacific Northwest.
(Click on image to go to website.)
Liberty Bell Mountain is located in the North Cascades off of Hwy 20 in northern Washington. This was taken from a great little rest stop that had lots of parking, restrooms, and hiking trails. I really liked how the clouds were coming in from behind the mountain and the view of the Highway below added a nice perspective.
I was the lucky recipient of two tickets for a whale watching tour out of my hometown of Port Townsend. This was an all day trip with the Puget Sound Express leaving at 9:00am, stopping in Friday Harbor for lunch, and returning around 5:00pm. I wasn’t sure about the weather that morning as it was quite grey, but it turned out to be a great overcast day with a few sun breaks. No wind to speak of and the waters were calm. I couldn’t have asked for more except to see some orcas, or most people know them as Killer Whales.
We were in luck. As the first boat on the water, we were able to locate the orcas and have about an hour with them until other whale watching tours gathers around us. The orcas in this area are known as the J Clan, (about 80 orcas), and is the only clan that consists of three pods. The J, K, and L pods. This just happened to be the first day of the year that all three pods came together.
These pods are the smallest of four resident communities in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. They are also the only killer whale population listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. They are commonly referred to as the “orcas of the Salish Sea” or the southern resident killer whales (SRKW).
According to the crew we first came upon the J pod. This pod of orcas is most famous because it has the oldest known orca called Granny or J2. The average lifespan of a female orca in the wild is 60 to 80 years. It is believed that Granny was born in 1911, making her 103. (Think about that for a moment. She was born before World War I and before the Titanic sank.)
The SRKW is the most studied population of orcas in the world. Many of them were captured in the 1960s and 1970 for sea parks and others were killed by hunters. Granny was captured with most of her pod in 1967 but was released because she was too old for a marine mammal park. She was also the focal point of environmental efforts that resulted in the Endangered Species Act protecting orcas. Because of pollutants and toxins in the waters and in the fish she eats, it is estimated that Granny may have a PCB level of up to 100 parts per million. Her descendant’s reproductive systems may have also been damaged by exposure to pollution.
The oldest orca in captivity is at the Miami Seaquarium and her name is Lolita. The average lifespan for a captured orca is 20 to 30 years. At age 50, Lolita is an orca originally from the SRKW, specifically the L pod. On January 24, 2014, NOAA Fisheries proposed a rule to grant Lolita equal status with her family as a member of an endangered population. Final ruling is scheduled for January 2015. If approved, this would bring Lolita home. You can follow “Lolita’s retirement plan” if you are interested.
As you can see I had a great time. I came back with some great shots and a wealth of information.
Spring has definitely sprung! The tulips were in full bloom during my visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This festival happens every year during the month of April and is located between the towns of Mount Vernon and La Connor. (About an hour drive north of Seattle.) Each year hundreds of thousands of people come from all over the world to visit this area.
With that being said, if you would like to visit during the Tulip Festival, the best time of the week is Monday – Friday. The weekends are crazy busy with thousands of people either driving, biking, or being bussed in to see the annual event.
There are two growers who put on the festival; Tulip Town-Skagit Valley Bulb Farm and RoozenGaarde Flowers and Bulbs. They are located pretty close in proximity and each charge $5 to enter during the festival. I arrived as soon as they opened and left a few hours after to avoid the crowds.
There are lots of fields that are accessible alone the way. Some even have parking lots to help visitors get off the road. I spent most of my time in the RoozenGaarde fields where they plant nearly 1,000 acres of tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs.
All images were taken courtesy of RoozenGaarde Flowers and Bulbs (Tulips.com). You can click on each image to see a larger view.
After my trip to Victoria I flew down to California and drove to Arizona with some of my family. It was time for Spring Training. We have been going to Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona for the past 15 years. This is where half of the Major League Baseball teams go before the regular season starts. We try to see the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and the San Diego Padres. The ball parks and crowds are small so getting around is pretty easy, and the players usually sign autographs before and after the games.
On one of our non-game days, I took a short hike into the Cave Creek Regional Park for some sunset photos. My goal was to scout out the area for future photo ops and to capture a few images of the sunset while I was there.
Once the sun had set over the horizon it got dark very quickly. (Up here in the Pacific Northwest I’m used to being able to continue shooting after the sun goes down.) In this image you can see the Scottsdale City lights glowing in the background.
We had a great time and I’m looking forward to next year.
In late February, I took a trip to Victoria for a few day thanks to two very good friends. Victoria is on the beautiful Vancouver Island and is just a quick ferry ride from Port Angeles, WA. If you have not been to Victoria it is a great little city with lots to do. Besides the world famous Butchart Gardens there is also the Royal BC Museum, Butterfly Gardens, Canada’s oldest Chinatown, afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress, lots of hiking and biking, and the Parliament Buildings all lit up with lights. During the day it’s fun to watch the boats and seaplanes come and go from the inner harbor.
During my stay, I wanted to capture Victoria at night because of all the city lights and its reflection on the water. This panorama is six different HDR (High Dynamic Range) images. Each image was taken using five different exposures. I used the Photomatix Pro software to process the different exposures and stitched them together in Photoshop. So I guess you could say this image was created by 30 different images. I like how the final image turned out with the lights reflecting off the water and the dark blue sky.
(Click on images to see a larger view)