Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting for a Window

Seastacks and Arches at Dawn, Olympic Peninsula

Sometimes, pictures take planning. I have been wanting to 
photograph this location at dawn for over a year, but conditions 
have never come together…until today.  Access requires a 
minus tide at dawn, which only happens a few days a month 
if at all, as well as clear skies, which happens almost never…
Typically, when high pressure moves in to the Pacific coast, 
so does the fog.  So for weeks I have been consulting tide 
charts and NOAA weather maps, looking for the right 
combination, passing up several opportunities when, although 
the tide was right, the weather was not.
This week looked promising enough: a window of opportunity. 
The tides and timing were right, but I had to move quickly 
before the building high pressure brought the inevitable 
fogbanks. I also had to do my own weather research. The 
forecast for the coast was for mist and drizzle, but a quick look 
at the satellite pictures – and a couple of coastal webcams 
online – told a different story. The sun was shining!
Getting up at 4 am, and hiking out in the dark, I arrived before 
the first light. As it was, the fog hung just offshore, giving me 
only a few minutes of dawn before the warm light vanished in
the gloom. Still, I got some pictures I’m pleased with, and I’ll try 
again tomorrow.
My point is simply that there are dozens of tools on the internet 
that can help with planning a shoot: tide tables, weather maps, 
webcams, road condition reports. However, it is also possible to 
sit at home, staring at the computer and find reasons not to go; 
in the end, there is no substitute for simply being there.

Nikon D3, 17-35mm lens

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life in the Rubble

Bitterroot Flowers, Cascade Mountains, WA
There is a barren ridge top about an hour east of my home where, every year, these handsome Bitterroot flowers emerge out of the rocky slope for a few brief weeks. It is one of my favorite flowers, and one of my favorite places to go.  With the heavy snows we had this past winter, most alpine flowers are peaking at least 2-3 weeks later than normal, so I delayed my visit accordingly.  Yesterday, most of the flowers had still not emerged yet, but this small cluster caught my eye, framed by the broken rubble of the talus : an astonishing expression of the tenacity of life in a hostile environment.

Nikon D3, 60mm macro lens