The Mountain and the Desert

“There’s gold in them hills. So don’t lose heart, give the day a chance to start.”
– Ron Sexsmith

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The Steens Mountain from the Alvord Desert, Oregon, October 2018. A 10 shot panorama, taken with the Nikon D800, stitched with Lightroom.

After a 7 hour drive from Portland, I got to the desert just after sundown. With no real visible light, I parked my car on the dry lake bed and pitched my tent. The sky was overcast but there was no wind, so I didn’t even bother trying to stake down my tent into the sun-baked ground (although, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to if I tried).

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My tent

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The sun-baked desert

Unfortunately, it didn’t stay wind free. At about 5am the winds began lifting the edge of my tent up and would’ve been blown across the desert like a giant tumbleweed if I wasn’t frantically sprawled out to hold my tent down. But it wasn’t all bad… It got me up in time to see this slice of light falling on the nearby hillsides as I was packing up my tent.

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The Steens Mountain, as seen from the Alvord Desert.

My car and the steens mountain

All packed up…

Alvord Desert showers

Desert showers

Alvord Desert in the morning light

Cracking the desert up with my dry sense of humor

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Wigglegram: Milky Way over Kalaloch Beach

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Taken back in October 2015, when I camped near Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park in Washington State on my Nikon D700, f/2.8 at 14mm.

There’s a lot of things I love about gifs, but one of the things is that it allows you to capture a passage of time that you just can’t with a static image. This is 5 shots, each 20 seconds, of the Milky Way as it moves through the sky over the pacific ocean, over about a period of 2 minutes.

I don’t know if I can say enough about the night sky. People often ask whether or not it actually looked like this. And it’s hard to say “well, not quite”. Sure with it being a long exposure, it captures the milky way a little more brilliantly than may be seen with the naked eye, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not actually the way it looks. There is so much of this scene that can’t be captured by just our eyes, or even captured by a photo.

Sometimes we just assume that only the things the rods and cones can detect are what is real, but there are parts of the spectrum that aren’t visible to us but are there nonetheless.

Anyway, I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, except, yes, these photos are real, and they’re spectacular.

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Ohanapecosh Campground, Mt Rainier

Just steps from my campsite at Ohanapecosh Campground in Mt. Rainier National Park, you can find the Ohanapecosh river.

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Taken at dusk, back in October of 2015, using a polarizing filer. Really makes a difference to cut some reflections in the water to get that clarity for long exposure shots. Just thinking about it, and looking at this photo makes me want to get back out into the wilderness, and hear the soothing sounds of running water.

As a bonus, here’s a short timelapse of me setting up camp:

 

Where was one of your favorite places you’ve camped?

Glacier National Park

Somedays, it is hard to believe there is this much beauty in the world.

This past fall, I took my dog, Obie, with me on a roadtrip to the west coast. I had just been laid off from my job, and I had also just adopted Obie, so I figured that was as good a time as any to take a roadtrip, and hit some National Parks I hadn’t made it to yet. Here are some nice photos I took while I was in Glacier National Park.

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Obie tests the waters of Swiftcurrent Lake

 

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She says, “The water’s nice. Come on in.”

 

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Dog-gone-wild.

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Sunlight pushes past Mt. Grinnell

 

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A Closer Look: Autumn Colors

 

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I had previously shared this photo, but it was so good I had to post it again. I also have an alternate photo, shot simultaneously with my D700, which also happened to catch the same shooting star.

 

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This is the alternate shot; with the 24mm f/1.4, you can see it has captured more details in the peaks rather than just the silhouette of the peaks.

 

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A couple nights after the supermoon, but even without the full moon, it was bright enough to light up the scenery and obscure the Milky Way.

 

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The next morning was a struggle to get up and moving. But when you have scenes like this, you can’t just sleep in. Long exposure shot with a 10 stop ND filter and a polarizing filter.

It was a lot colder than I anticipated in late September, and so I camping meant I had to sleep in my tent with multiple layers on in my sleeping bag. I camped at the Many Glaciers side of the park, and although the campsite was busy, I was able to find a spot even though I had showed up late that evening. There was a lot more of the park I missed, even though I ended up driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the way out, but I made relatively few stops there as I made my way further west.

Landscape photography can be hard in that way. If you don’t already have an idea of where to photograph, you might spend a lot of time trying to find the perfect spot, or you might waste a lot of time thinking there is a better spot somewhere else. In the end, you just have to work with what you have. Sometimes, you just aren’t spending enough time in a place to be too picky, and there are only certain windows of time which will allow you the photo you envisioned. And sometimes, you just get lucky with the right conditions and get to take home some nice photos.

It’s been a while… Cape Perpetua & The Milky Way

Hi all, thanks for waiting patiently by your computer, tablets or mobile devices for me to update my blog. I promise I am going to do right by you, and I will start posting more. And doing so regularly. (My doctor says that being regular is good.) Sometimes I feel like the words I write are just filler, but I like to think of it as fiber, which will help you digest each of the photos I post.

Just about all the photos I post are in JPEG format. It’s a lossy compressed image format, and is short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, who set the standard for this format first in 1992. In all that time, the format and compression have improved, but sometimes, when I want to share a photo, a JPEG just isn’t gonna cut it. It’s just lacking something. Sometimes, you don’t want a still photo to be so… still. Here enters the GIF.

GIFs have been around since the mid-80’s, and they haven’t always been very good quality, but it’s beautiful what you can do with them these days. I took two photos, and aligned them in photoshop to make this lil animation. One is a nice silhouette (a word which I still need to use spell checker for) of the hillside and an awesome road sign, while the other image captures the glow from a car passing by on the road above.

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This is Cape Perpetua in Oregon. From my roadtrip in October. Oregon has so many beautiful oceanside campsites, it’s unfair. The reason I love these oceanside campsites are because 1) you can hear the waves as you drift off to sleep in your tent, b) you have an unobstructed view of the sunset and the milky way (when the weather is cooperative) and 3) you’re usually far away from light pollution.

 

Alright, thus ends this post. So, hopefully it’s not too long before my next post, but I appreciate you all waiting anyway!