I have been wanting to capture this beautiful image for over seven years. First I had to find it, because most people want to keep it kind of a secret. It’s off the trail, not on any map, and sometimes, as I found out from a few trips up there, doesn’t even exist. Several times it was just a big mud hole. Something spoke to me early Tuesday morning. I think it was the tv weather man telling us the rain was coming back. Even though I had a busy day planned with many errands, I decided I would go for it.

My sister joined me on the climb, and we reached my mystery tarn about 4:30pm, a perfect time to capture Rainier in the afternoon sun. It was so peaceful. I got my picture. Cross another one off the shot list. We hung around the tarn for nearly three hours, and when Rainier lost its light, we started back down. I didn’t put my camera away. My intuition said  something was going to happen.

We rounded the corner and saw this:

The scene took our breath away. The rocks were on fire in the alpenglow. It reminded my sister of the red rocks in Sedona. I happily shot away, thankful for the gift that was laid out before my eyes. I hadn’t planned this, but it was spectacular. More spectacular than my alpine tarn. My gift with purchase. The above image is my favorite composition from the series. I love how Pinnacle Peak is taking center stage, pushing Rainier into the unaccustomed background of the image.

My friend Beate Dalbec recently wrote in her blog about not putting the camera away too soon, and waiting it out. My sister and I had to hike down in the dark, but I’m so glad I did not miss this rare opportunity.

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The weather

in the Pacific Northwest of late has been, well, sucky. Grey and drizzly, we have not seen the sun very often in the last few weeks. Definitely not what you might think of as pre-summer weather. Weather people have used terms like “June-gloom” and Jun-uary.” It was with great jubilation that the sun made an appearance on Tuesday this week. People squealed and ran into their yards, staring at the glowing orb in the sky in disbelief. Problem was that I had made plans to get out into the forest and photograph waterfalls, a situation that benefits from overcast skies. I still wanted to get out of town, so we loaded the camera stuff into the car and headed towards Sol Duc in the Olympic National Park.

As we made the turn onto the park road two hours later, the celestial ball was still blazing and I thought at least it had been a beautiful drive. The foliage was every color of green you could imagine, one of the perks

of having such a cool and damp spring. There was moss everywhere, hanging from trees, frosting the rocks, draping like curtains from outstretched limbs as we made our way up the road. This is why I had come. I’d make the most of it.

The trailhead was a bit busy, but not too bad since it was mid-week. I loaded the pack onto my back and we started down the path. It didn’t take long to find this beautiful cornus canadensis next to the trail. I blocked the sun with my body. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

Fifteen minutes later we reached my favorite little creek with several cascades of water. And then the camera gods smiled. Just as we arrived, a cloud moved in and the area was shrouded in dark shadow. Just what I needed! I hopped around from stone to stone like one of those excited water dipper birds. Even the slightest adjustment or move would render a totally different image. I worked on my composition. I practiced using the mirror lock-up and cable release. I experimented with different shutter speeds and aperature settings. Fun fun fun. And all the time, over one hour, the clouds covered the sun for me.

I photographed below the footbridge for the first time, then I was done. As I climbed back up to the path, I looked up the creek to the cascades, and the sun was back, starting to play in the pools. Timing was perfect. We hiked back to the car, and on the drive back down the road I was able to utilize the sun’s glow and photograph the backlit moss in the trees. It was a beautiful day.

I’ve been working on some prints to take over to the condo next week. We are in the process of updating our decor, and the group liked the idea of my photographs of Maui going up around the condo. It’s been a good learning process for me. I poured through about six years of photos, and carefully chose the images that would transfer well into the sepia medium. They had to be very strong compositionally. I couldn’t rely on the brilliant tropical colors of the foliage or blossoms or even the beautiful purple-pink of the sunset to carry the image. It’s made my eye keener, and I’m looking forward to visiting some of my favorite sights to reshoot some flowers and plants purely for their design and form.

An artist who inspired me in this process is Kenn Briner. I met him a few years ago at the Grand Wailea where he was vending some of his images. Check out his link over there on the left.

We leave for a short jaunt to the condo in Kihei on February 12th. I am taking the new 5D mk II for its first trip to the islands. With only four days to “relax” in Maui, I will be a very busy shooter. I already have filled the days with trips to my favorite locations to photograph in gorgeous 21 MP quality. I post this shot taken about 14 months ago with my 5MP PowerShot. LightRoom helped clean it up for me. I cannot wait to see what my new camera can do in one of the most beautiful places in                                                                 the world