I have had many photographs over the years that I really like. Some a lot more than others. Some of them I look at and don’t understand why I can’t be in the mind frame to take shots like that all the time. My favourites are probably not the most conventional, or properly composed ones I have ever taken, but they strike a cord with me.
In the Olympic forests of Washington there are plenty of quiet places to get away and take your time composing. I think this is what makes those shots some of my favs. It’s more about the place, and how it makes you feel that produces great photos. Even if nobody likes them, or you never sell a print. Or like me, you don’t even hang them on your walls. They mean something, and over time you look at them, and are transported back to where you feel good. And isn’t that the whole point in the first place?
For this one I wanted to focus on the massive structure of these great trees. They are so old, covered in fantastic moss, even the wood is so saturated with water that it is soft. And they just goes on forever.
I treated this like I do with most of my landscape shots. It’s an HDR, with a couple of soft tricks you can do in Ps, or Lr. It is a cool little trick known as the Orton Effect. This is where you use a Gaussian blur, and push it really far, so that the image is so blurry it looks like it’s underwater. Then start pulling back the opacity till it’s around 15% or so. And you will start to see the image as it was, with this amazing glow about it. As if it were shrouded in fog or mist. Really amazing for forest shots like this.
Most place I like to go to, I research a little before I leave. Look at maps and really try and get a feel for the place before I go. In Olympic National Park I thought I had done this to the best of my ability. But even Google maps doesn’t represent the size of this park in it’s true form. I had planned to get to the Hoh National Forest, with enough time to set up some kind of camp, get something to eat, and explore a bit. Sure enough I ended up making way into the campground around 11 at night… So there’s that I guess. This is the benefit to travelling by yourself. Nobody is put out but you 🙂
So as rainforests go, this is the total West Coast version. Hanging vines, mist that lasts all day… rain. It has it all! Not your typical tropical stuff, but so green and lush everywhere. It’s amazing. Everywhere you look there are trees that have fallen down, and have three or four other trees sprouting from their dead bodies. It looks like something out of the Jurassic period.
The one problem here is trying to get a good shot when it never stops raining. I mean it never stopped the whole time I was there! I should have been miserable with the cold wet, but it was actually okay. I just couldn’t imagine that a place like this exists right outside of a city like Seattle. And no offence to Seattle, I love that city, but it’s dirty. Really dirty! This is like a dirty forest. Not clean cut like most, but falling over itself with death and decay, but with a sweet smell of new growth. And so full of Elk. I saw packs of thirty or so on the road the next morning. And these guys don’t move for anyone.
When I drove into the Columbia River Gorge area from Portland it was quite late at night. I could still see the immensity of the gorge even though it was so dark. Instead of taking the freeway, you still have the choice to take the historic highway that runs along the side of the steep cliffs that start the mountain range.
Along the road there are a number of pull outs that have great majestic waterfalls running down and under the road. Almost like they were put there on purpose.
I rolled up and grabbed one of the last remaining campsites near Multnomah Falls. Probably the most recognizable one of them all!
In the morning I started at the crack of dawn and hiked up the trail. I know I say it a lot, but I’m used to flat ground. This is anything but. The trail heads straight up with no place to rest really until you reach the top of the falls. And there’s always that one guy in the morning running the whole thing. Makes you feel so crappy about yourself ;(
Along the trail, which is long and very winding, there are so many other amazing waterfalls. Each with their own dynamics. Very cool to walk under a bunch of them. Not to mention the greenest place I have ever been.
My goal that day was to reach the triple falls on the way up to Larch mountain. Unfortunately some kids got there before me, presumably from the other side, and would not get off the top. So I knew I was going to have to wait to get a good pic. So I went further down the trail and found this amazing little bend in the river. It was so quiet and amazing, with fallen logs and moss growing everywhere. So I stopped and got out all my equipment and started to set things up when I heard a “Hello” come from behind a huge boulder behind me.
I guess I didn’t get up as early as I thought. Because behind me there were two couples in about their 70’s set up for a picnic! With a table cloth and everything! It was like a mad tea party in the middle of the forest. Very cool, and super strange at the same time.
So I had a little chat with them, as every time you take a picture in the middle of nowhere, people always want to know what your doing. Not my favourite thing, but in a place like that, and no rush, it can be fun. Plus they had beer 😉