Archive for July 2013

The Theme is Simplicity!   15 comments

Standing camel thorn snags mark a former watercourse in the Namib Desert.

Standing camel thorn snags mark a former watercourse in the Namib Desert.

This is another themed post.  It’s not that I don’t have ideas of my own to post, it’s just that Ailsa seems to come up with awfully good ideas for travel themes.  Check out the other entries at Where’s My Backpack.

Enjoy the pictures.  If you’re interested in any of the images just click on it to be taken to purchase options for the high-res. version.  These are copyrighted and not available for free download without my permission, sorry.  Go ahead and contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks!

Droplets of dew decorate a branch.

Droplets of dew decorate a branch.

Glinting

Glinting

Chilies dry on the Windowsill in Khumjung, Nepal.

Chilies dry on the Windowsill in Khumjung, Nepal.

Ice Drops along the ski trail in the forest of Oregon.

Ice Drops along the ski trail in the forest of Oregon.

a strange desert ornament, Baja Peninsula, Mexico.

a strange desert ornament, Baja Peninsula, Mexico.

Tiny fairy bells, coastal forest of Oregon.

Tiny fairy bells, coastal forest of Oregon.

Spring-fed sandy wash in the desert, southern Utah.

Spring-fed sandy wash in the desert, southern Utah.

The iconic bloom of the Pacific Northwest's Cascade Mountains is bear grass.  Here it is spotlighted by a beam of light in the forests of Mount Hood, Oregon.

Bear Grass is blooming now in the forests and subalpine meadows of the Cascade Mountains.

Macro and close-up subjects are probably easiest to create simple compositions from, but in nature’s bounty it’s not as easy as it seems even among the small.  In larger views, deserts and seascapes can offer simple compositions, and so can the great plains and steppes of the world.  But here again, simplicity must be sought out.  Happy shooting!

Cape Mendocino, California: A lighthouse designed for a cliff that is already tall can be stubby and simple.

Cape Mendocino, California: A lighthouse designed for a cliff that is already tall can be stubby and simple.

Single-Image Sunday: Sun-Star   9 comments

A big sun-star is featured in a recent sunset over the Columbia River in Oregon.

A big sun-star is featured in a recent sunset over the Columbia River in Oregon.

 

What can I say, I dig sun stars.  Maybe to the point of shooting them too often.  Especially when I have a clear sky at sunset (a little boring to be honest), I will try to go for an unusual take on sunset.  So I put the trees between me and the water and maximized the sun-star effect.

Actually on this recent evening along the Columbia River in the Gorge, I was really just killing time before the main event, which was dusk and the crescent moon.  I already posted on that, but I thought I’d show the prologue here.  What really attracted me to the shot was the golden light over the opposite shore.  Hope your weekend is finishing up nicely!

Friday Foto Talk: Travel Photography Tips, Part II   3 comments

A misty view of some of the major temples at Tikal, the huge ancient Mayan city in Guatemala.

A misty view of some of the major temples at Tikal, the huge ancient Mayan city in Guatemala.

This is the second of three parts on travel photography.  Check out Part I, which covered gear & packing issues.  Given the time of year, this subject may be “right in your wheelhouse” , as they say.  So here are tips for when you hit the ground running (or jetlagged?).  Exciting stuff that first day on a long trip!  But how to go about getting your best shots?  Read on…

ON TOUR

      • Be ready:  While traveling, always be on the lookout for interesting photos.  This sounds obvious I realize, but many people seem to think their camera comes out only when they reach their destination.  As it is often said, it’s about the journey, and so should your photos be.  Many people get this of course, and I don’t want to preach.  Just keep your camera handy and ready to shoot from the time you leave home; that is my advice.
A common bird along Africa's waterways, the darter, is also known as the "snake bird" because of its sinuous neck.  I took a boat on the Chobe River to get this shot.

A common bird along Africa’s waterways, the darter, is also known as the “snake bird” because of its sinuous neck. I took a boat on the Chobe River to get this shot.

      • Start Slow:  If you fly a long ways, this is more important.  You will be jetlagged and/or adjusting to a completely different environment.  This is not a good time to be lugging all your photo gear around trying to imitate a crack photojournalist or Nat. Geo. stud.  In fact, this is a good excuse for pocketing your little point and shoot (which I recommend taking if you’re a DSLR person) and just wandering around shooting only when you see something you like.  Colorful murals, sculptures, you know, the easy stuff!  Beware:  that first day or so is by far the most likely time for you to be ripped off, or at least persuaded to buy something way too expensive.  You’re tired, naive and trusting.  It can be a good thing, just be careful.
Colorful murals like this one in Guatemala are an easy target for your camera while traveling.

Colorful murals like this one in Guatemala are an easy target for your camera while traveling.

      • Light is still important:  Get out early and be out late.  I see so many travel photos taken in horribly harsh light, even by people who usually shoot in great light near home.  The rules for good light, good photography, they don’t change because you are on the opposite side of the world.  Just because you are in front of a gorgeous and iconic sight like the Grand Canyon doesn’t mean your photo will turn out great if it is taken in bad light.  That said, when confronted with an amazing subject or event, shoot away, to heck with the light!
A young Mayan lady high up in the Guatemalan highlands, in the village of Todos Santos, one of 3 friends I met & had a barrel of laughs with.

A young Mayan lady high up in the Guatemalan highlands, in the village of Todos Santos, one of 3 friends I met & had a barrel of laughs with.

      • Wander:  There is nothing more exciting about travel than to head out with not much of a plan and an open attitude.  Seems obvious; that’s why you travel, right?  If I’m driving, I head down random side-roads.  In other countries, I will get off the bus if I like what I’m seeing and catch a later one.  Wandering the streets of a new town, especially in the early morning hours, gives you a different take on the place from those tourists who are sleeping in or doing the pool scene at the hotel.
Chili Peppers dry on a windowsill in the Himalayan village of Khumjung, Nepal.

Chili Peppers dry on a windowsill in the Himalayan village of Khumjung, Nepal.

      • Experiment:  You are traveling and in a strange place.  This is the time to take chances with your photography.  Try panning in colorful cities.  Look for unusual and gritty subjects.  Just take care to not exploit the locals, no matter their economic circumstance.  Another way to look at this is experimenting with your point of view.  Try new things!  It will get you into places from which you can take photos from a perspective that will definitely liven up your collection.  You might also meet interesting people you might never have run into had you not stretched your boundaries.
Experimental sunset, shot from a speeding boat in Sian Kaan lagoon in the Yucatan, Mexico.

Experimental sunset, shot from a speeding boat in Sian Kaan lagoon in the Yucatan, Mexico.

I climbed higher than I've ever done before while in Nepal - 6200 meters (20,350 feet).  Seemed like the thing to do.

I climbed higher than I’ve ever done before while in Nepal – 6200 meters (20,350 feet). Seemed like the thing to do.

      • Attend Local Events:  Related to the above point, be on the lookout for special festivals and events.  When the locals party, you can be sure there will be great pictures to be had.  If you have a little lead time, you can even chat up people you meet and offer to take pictures of them during the event.  You can even trade copies of the pictures for model releases.  I did this in Nicaragua for the family I was staying with, and oh boy what a party it was (see image below)!  I even ended up having my photography pay for my lodging and food too.
A wild and wooly Nicaraguan rodeo on the island of Omotepe was a riot of parades, parties and drunken bull-mania!

A wild and wooly Nicaraguan rodeo on the island of Omotepe was a riot of parades, parties and drunken bull-mania!

      • Variety is the spice with travel, so mix it up!  Get up close for detail shots, find expansive viewpoints, seek out very colorful abstracts (street murals are a gimme) and find good subjects for black and white.  Don’t eschew the over-photographed classics, just try to get a different take on them.  The goal is to not have any two or three pictures look very much alike.  Take a lot of pictures, yes, but make sure they aren’t all the same.
When on road trips, take pictures of the road!  But make it an interesting point of view.  This shot I got by climbing up well above this tunnel in Zion National Park, Utah.

When on road trips, take pictures of the road! But make it an interesting point of view. This shot I got by climbing up well above this tunnel in Zion National Park, Utah.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned next Friday Foto Talk for the final segment, Part III.  If you’re interested in any of these images, just click on them to get pricing options for the high-resolution versions.  They are copyrighted and not available for download without my permission, sorry.  Questions?  Just contact me.  Thanks for reading!

A beautiful summer evening in Cape Town, and an illuminated Table Mountain looms over the city.  View from Signal Hill.

A beautiful summer evening in Cape Town, and an illuminated Table Mountain looms over the city. View from Signal Hill.

Quest for the Crescent   5 comments

A beautiful sunrise over the Columbia River Gorge, with Beacon Rock just visible through the mist.

A beautiful sunrise over the Columbia River Gorge, with Beacon Rock just visible through the mist.

I’ve been sort of fixated on photographing the crescent moon lately.  I wanted to capture it at sunrise (i.e. when it rises just before the sun on the day or two before new moon), but clouds interfered.  Instead I got a pretty nice sunrise shot (see image above).  Then I set my sights on the setting crescent after new moon.  Coincidentally, this moon when it is first sighted marks the beginning of Ramadan, the month of daily fasting & prayer for muslims worldwide.

On the day after the new moon, the crescent was exceedingly thin, only 5% illuminated.  Further complicating matters, it was due to set less than half an  hour after the sun.  These factors make it very difficult to sight.  You can make it easier by getting up in elevation with a clear view of the western horizon, and scanning with binoculars.  I almost went this route, but I wanted a different sort of picture of it.  I wanted some interesting foreground that included water.  So I set up at river-level in the Columbia Gorge near home.  While sharp-eyed muslims sighted this moon and Ramadan began, I failed.

A photo captured at dusk but with something missing - the crescent moon.

A photo captured at dusk but with something missing – the crescent moon.

I was disappointed but not beaten.  The next evening I knew the crescent would be easier to sight and probably make a more beautiful picture.  I went back to the same spot in the Gorge, Rooster Rock State Park.  The image at bottom was the result.  Hope you enjoy it.

If you’re interested in any of these images, just click on them.  They are not available for free download without my permission, sorry.  Go ahead and contact me if you have any questions.  By the way, I wrote a post on capturing the crescent moon (with a photo not a lasso!).  Check it out.  Thanks for the visit!

Success!  A peaceful crescent moon sets at dusk over a small inlet of the Columbia River, Oregon.

Success! A peaceful crescent moon sets at dusk over a small inlet of the Columbia River, Oregon.

Wordless Wednesday: Back-Streets of Granada   2 comments

Two residents of Granada, Nicaragua slow down on one of the city's back streets as the day does the same.

Granada, Nicaragua

Travel Theme: Motion   17 comments

Occasionally I like to take part in these themed postathons, and Ailsa’s are always great.  This time the theme is motion, and you can find many more over at her blog post on Where’s My Backpack.

Enjoy the photos.  If you’re interested in any, just click on them to be taken to pricing options on the high-res. versions.  They’re copyrighted and not available for free download without my permission, sorry.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks!

Big waves pound the tilted layers of an ancient delta at Cape Arago on the central Oregon Coast.

Big waves pound the tilted layers of an ancient delta at Cape Arago on the central Oregon Coast.

 

The spring melt-off at Bryce National Park in Utah brings a slow-moving but inexorable slurry plowing through the snow.

The spring melt-off at Bryce National Park in Utah brings a slow-moving but inexorable slurry plowing through the snow.

 

Cambodians and their bicycles!  Here they commute through one of Angkor Wat's more out-of-the-way gates.

Cambodians and their bicycles! Commuting through one of Angkor Wat’s more out-of-the-way gates.

 

I think you can feel this stream in Oregon rolling through the mossy forest.

I think you can feel this stream in Oregon rolling through the mossy forest.

 

This was a very windy day in the dunes at Death Valley.  You can see the sand moving over the foreground.  Lens changes were not a good idea!

This was a very windy day in the dunes at Death Valley. You can see the sand moving over the foreground. Lens changes were not a good idea!

 

This American dipper is constantly on the move up and down streams, on the hunt for food.  Here one dips for lunch on the Snake River in Grand Teton N.P.

This American dipper is constantly on the move up and down streams, on the hunt for food. Here one dips for lunch on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.

 

This was her first ride on my horse, believe it or not.  And boy did she get a ride!

This was her first ride on my horse, believe it or not. And boy did she get a ride!

 

A swirling eddy on a creek in Utah.

A swirling eddy on a creek in Utah.

 

You can see the water spraying up as this young bull in the Okavango Delta begins his charge - a false one lucky for us.

You can see the water spraying up as this young bull in the Okavango Delta begins his charge – a false one lucky for us.

 

The Gallatin River flows from Yellowstone north into a beautiful valley in Montana.

The Gallatin River flows from Yellowstone north into a beautiful valley in Montana.

 

Gold Dancer feeling frisky.

Gold Dancer feeling frisky.

 

Fast-moving clouds streak the sky over moonlit Little Ruin Canyon at Hovenweep, Utah.

Fast-moving clouds streak the sky over moonlit Little Ruin Canyon at Hovenweep, Utah.

 

A body in motion stays in motion - the creed for a group of exercise enthusiasts from a nearby fitness spa in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.

A body in motion stays in motion – the creed for a group of exercise enthusiasts from a nearby fitness spa in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.

Getting very close to a full Panther Creek Falls in southwest Washington was a wet experience!

Getting very close to a full Panther Creek Falls in southwest Washington was a wet experience!

 

Horses in motion are my favorite.  Here my girl Khallie is faster than her mom!

Horses in motion are my favorite. Here my girl Khallie is faster than her mom!

 

A lone wildebeast stands against an oncoming storm in the Mbabe Depression of Botswana.  You can see the wind in the tree  he's standing under.

A lone wildebeast stands against an oncoming storm in the Mbabe Depression of Botswana. You can see the wind in the tree he’s standing under.

 

Sometimes I don't blur waterfalls because I think stopping the motion gives a better sense of the power.  That was the case here at Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

Sometimes I don’t blur waterfalls because I think stopping the motion gives a better sense of the power. That was the case here at Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

 

Surf in motion at Cape Kiwanda in Oregon.

Surf in motion at Cape Kiwanda in Oregon.

 

A boat motors down the Willamette in Portland, Oregon at sunset.

A boat motors down the Willamette in Portland, Oregon at sunset.

 

A small peaceful cove on the northern California coast features an active little stream plus abalone shells!

A small peaceful cove on the northern California coast features an active little stream plus abalone shells!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single Image Sunday: Panther Creek Bridge   7 comments

A bridge over Panther Creek in Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest almost fades into a misty rainy dusk evening.

A bridge over Panther Creek in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest almost fades into a misty rainy dusk evening.

I haven’t posted a black and white image in awhile.  This was quite a productive trip last time we had real weather.  Stood right in the middle of the creek for this one.  Click the image to access price information on a variety of print and download options for the high-res. version.  Thanks for taking a look!

A Rare Saturday Post: My Bike!   7 comments

A pause at a sunny meadow while on a short tour in the Oregon Cascade Range.

Pausing at a sunny meadow while on a short tour in the Oregon Cascade Range.

Thought I’d post a few pictures on a Saturday for once!  This is my motorcycle, which I’ve had since late 2008.  It’s the first and only bike I’ve owned, so I’m pretty darn proud of it.  It gets me around town in a hurry and since it gets great mileage (it’s a single cylinder), it’s pretty cheap to run.  I haven’t had it off-road much, but with the right tires it could easily live up to its dual-sport designation.  I’ve taken a few road trips on it, but not enough really.  I’m thinking of one right now!

One of the best places for riding in Oregon is the northern Coast Range.

One of the best places for riding in Oregon is the northern Coast Range.

When necessary I can even take my best friend along, reason #9 why small dogs are better.

When necessary I can even take my best friend along, reason #9 why small dogs are better.  He only looks sad because he knows this is no position from which to get treats!

The sun is out and so is Mount Hood on a ride through the Clackamas River Valley near Portland.

The sun is out and so is Mount Hood on a ride through the Clackamas River Valley near Portland.

 

 

 

Posted July 6, 2013 by MJF Images in Photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Friday Foto Talk: Tips for Travel Photography, Part I   22 comments

Early morning in Glacier National Park is a good time to spot wildlife such as this moose enjoying the solitude at Two Medicine Lake.

Early morning in Glacier National Park is a good time to spot wildlife such as this moose enjoying the solitude at Two Medicine Lake.  Canon 70-200 mm.lens at 140 mm, 1/100 sec. @ f/11.

Travel is a subject near and dear to my heart.  Years ago I abhorred the idea of traveling to other countries.  Too much hassle, too much waiting around for connections, being at the mercy of other (bad!) drivers.  Besides I had an entire continent to explore here at home.  I was young and impatient.  But now I love to travel, and it goes so well with my love for photography.  I like both road-tripping here in North America and going overseas.  Both are equally enjoyable in their own way.

When traveling it's good to seek out compositions that include locals plus the iconic sights you're visiting, such as here at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

When traveling seek out compositions that include locals plus the iconic sights you’re visiting, such as here at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  Canon 17-40 mm. lens at 17 mm., 1/5 sec. @ f/22, tripod.

It’s the July 4th holiday, our birthday here in the U.S. of A.  It’s a time when people either camp out or stay at home celebrating with good food cooked on the outdoor grill.  Fireworks are booming in my ears right now.  This holiday means that summer vacation time is upon us.  Travel is a part of the plans of many people this time of year.  For me, autumn is my favorite time to travel, though anytime will really do.

So now is a great time to post on travel photography.  This first part will focus on gear and related issues.  The second part (next Friday) will focus on some of the other things I’ve learned about taking pictures while traveling.  I would love if you add in the comments below any tips you have learned during your own travels.

Travel photos are good when they include slice of life images such as this one in Mexico of honey sellers passing the time playing cards.

When traveling try to include slice of life images.  On a Mexico street honey sellers pass the time playing cards.  Canon 24-105 mm. lens at 28 mm., 1/80 sec. @ f/5.6.

GEAR

      • Keep it simple:  Take as much gear to keep you covered for most (but not all) of the situations you might face.  For example, if you’re visiting Paris, Istanbul or other interesting cities, make sure to take a mid-range zoom.  This means something like a 24-70 mm. for a full-frame camera or 17-55 mm. for a crop-frame camera.  If you are going to be traveling to a wildlife haven like Yellowstone or Africa, you will want the longest lens you can get your hands on.  Keep the accessories to a minimum.
      • Lenses:  So once you have the mid-range covered, which is where you will take most of your photos, other lenses depend on what you will be doing.  You need a wide-angle if you are planning landscapes (or tight interiors).  You need a longer zoom or telephoto zoom for wildlife and some other landscapes.  That is 3 lenses.  But consider taking just one (or two – see below) instead.  You can take a wide-range zoom (like the Canon or Nikon 18-200 mm.) to cover nearly any situation you might encounter.  For the high-quality crowd, Canon makes a 28-300 mm. L-class lens, but it does not come cheap.
Architecture is a hard subject to avoid when traveling, so it's key to try creative angles, such as this one taken from inside a colonial building at Xela, Guatemala.

Architecture is a hard subject to avoid when traveling, so try creative angles, such as this one from inside a colonial building at Xela, Guatemala.  Canon 24-105 mm. lens at 67 mm., 1/40 sec. @ f/16

      • Lenses II:  If you will be checking out a lot of cathedrals, museums, etc., take a fast 50 mm. lens.  If your mid-range is fast (f/2.8 or faster) then this might not be necessary.  But if you’re taking a wide-range zoom as mentioned above, a lens that tends to be slow (smaller maximum aperture), a 50 mm. f/1.8 or f/1.4 will really pay off for not much added weight and space.  This will allow you to take pictures in low-light conditions.

What do I do?  I usually take four lenses: a mid-range zoom (24-105), a wide-angle zoom (16-28), a tele-zoom (70-200), and a fast 50 mm.  If shooting wildlife I substitute a longer telephoto lens for either the wide angle or the 50.  I also take a 1.4x tele-extender plus a screw-on close-up lens, flash, filters, tripod…oh and either an extra camera body or a point and shoot.  As you can see I go fairly heavy, but I’m always planning to go lighter next time!

An old wagon at Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, CA.

An old wagon at Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, California.  Canon EF-S 17-55 mm. lens at 17 mm. 1/200 sec. @ f/11, from a lying position.

      • Which camera?  Decide how serious a photographer you are.  If you’re fairly casual take a fixed-lens point and shoot camera, perhaps a super-zoom.  Today’s superzooms go well past 1000 mm.!  You might also consider a mirrorless camera for travel.  These are sort of mid-way between a point and shoot and a DSLR in terms of quality and size.  Although Panasonic and Olympus pioneered this style of camera (which like DSLRs use interchangeable lenses), the other manufacturers have since begun selling their own.  These compact cameras do amazing quality for their size.  They even capture great video too.  They fall a bit short on handling noise, but you can mitigate that by taking pictures in good light!  I take a DSLR, which is the heaviest option.
      • To Tripod or not:  I would take a tripod, but get a travel model that is just stable enough to handle your gear yet is compact.  Lightweight is not as crucial as compactness.  If you are a serious wildlife photographer or are very serious about your landscapes and low-light photography, a bigger, more solid tripod is necessary.  But for great sunsets and long-exposures of waterfalls, the stars, etc., even a compact tripod will greatly improve your pictures.  If you’re going to be doing mostly city and people shots, a tripod is probably not necessary.
Proof that it's better to be lucky than good: Too cheap to hire a guide, just before sunset I ran into this herd of cape buffalo in Zambia.

Proof that it’s better to be lucky than good: Too cheap to hire a guide, I ran into this herd of cape buffalo in Zambia just before the sun set.  Canon 100-400 mm. lens at 360 mm.  1/50 sec. @ f/5.6, hand-held.

      • Camera Bag:  Take a camera backpack or shoulder bag that is really comfortable.  Test it out.  Don’t get something you heard was great and then use it for the first time on the way to your gate.  Make sure it’s the right size and usable.  Don’t get something so small that it will be stuffed to the gills once it’s loaded.  Best to have a little extra room; it’s easier to use that way.  See below for carry-on size considerations.
      • Integrating with other Luggage:  You can get a camera bag with rollers, a godsend if you have heavy gear.  But if your main luggage case has rollers, it could get awkward.  I like to be able to handle all my bags myself without a cart.  So I go with a rolling backpack for my main luggage and wear my camera pack on my back.  You could do the reverse of course.  I use a little sling bag for my mini-laptop, guidebook, water bottle, snacks, etc.  I like having the backpack option for my main luggage in case I need to schlep everything all at once over rough ground.  I can wear my main luggage on my back while the camera backpack goes on my front  and the sling bag strangles me!  A real beast of burden situation but it works.
While visiting the Redwoods in California, I found it a little hard to get pictures that didn't just look like a bunch of trees.  So I started experimenting with point of view, here placing the camera very low over a huge down log.

While visiting the Redwoods, I found it hard to get shots that didn’t look like just a bunch of trees. So I started experimenting with point of view, here placing the camera very low over a huge down log.  Canon 15 mm. fisheye lens, 1.0 sec. @ f/11.

      • Carry-on Size:  Realize that most of the time, airlines will give you the benefit of the doubt on the size of your carry-on if it doesn’t look big.  (By the way, your camera gear should always always go with you as a carry-on.)  Feel free, if necessary, to buy a bag right up to the limit for carry-on size.  And if it’s under the limit in one dimension, it can generally be a little over in another dimension.  My experience with airlines is they don’t like a big boxy carry-on.  If you get a bag that is relatively slim and/or narrow, it can be several inches longer than their maximum length.
      • Security:  While it is rare, unfortunately your gear is vulnerable to being stolen by those who have gone to the dark side.  Try your best to keep it on your person at all times.  If you must leave it in your room, use either a safe  (if it’s small enough) or get a Pacsafe locking net bag.  These enclose your camera bag and then lock to something permanent with a padlock.  You can get these steel-cored net bags in several sizes.  If your room has a cabinet, put your locked camera bag in there and lock the cabinet with a small travel padlock.  I’ve often left my gear secured in the office, but I always chat up and befriend (i.e. tip) the proprietors first.
It's fun when traveling to visit places from favorite novels, such as here at Cannery Row in Monterey, California.  Hello John Steinbeck!

It’s fun when traveling to visit places from favorite novels, such as here at Cannery Row in Monterey, California. Hello John Steinbeck!  Zeiss 50 mm. f/1.4 lens, 1/200 sec. @ f/11.

      • Security II:  I tend to have more trust in some countries than in others, and it varies a lot within each country.  I trust places with a lot of other tourists the least, since your fellow travelers are definitely potential thieves plus local thieves will target those areas.  I trust Latin America much less than I trust the Buddhist countries of south Asia.  (Not that I think Catholics are more prone to thievery!)  In the U.S., I don’t trust cities as much as rural areas.  It all comes down to common sense of course.  The upshot is theft can happen whether you take precautions or not.  Home-owner’s or renter’s insurance that covers your gear when traveling can be a lifesaver.  I had a policy that paid me $16,000, the value of all my stuff when it was stolen in Nicaragua.

That’s it for this first part.  It gets more fun when we move to actual travel in Part II next Friday.  If you’re interested in any of these images just click on them for pricing options on the high-res. versions.  They are copyrighted and not available for download without my permission.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks for tuning in to Friday Foto Talk!

The sun goes down on the idyllic island of Roatan in Honduras.

The sun goes down on the idyllic island of Roatan in Honduras.  Canon 70-200 mm. lens at 160 mm., 1/30 sec. @ f/11, hand-held.

The Cascades II: Mount Adams   3 comments

Mount Adams viewed from Hood River Valley in Oregon.

Mount Adams viewed from Hood River Valley in Oregon.

This is part of a series I’m doing on the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest.  Part I, which is an overview of the geology of the Cascade Range, is worth checking out, especially if you’re something of a geo-nerd like me.  I was going to start the tour with Mount Hood, the closest one to my home.  But this past weekend I summited Mt. Adams in Washington.  So I’ll start there.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Mount Adams, at 12,281 feet (3743 meters), was named for America’s second president.  It is one of the larger volcanoes in the Cascades.  If Mt. Rainier was not close by, Adams would get more attention.  As it is, the second-highest mountain in Washington is a popular climbing & hiking destination.

The way this mountain was named is an interesting story.  Native Americans named it Pahto, brother of Wy East (Mt Hood).  The legend is that in the competition for the beautiful La wa la Clough (sometimes also called Loowit – St. Helens), Pahto won.  Wy East grew angry and pounded Pahto over the head, accounting for the flat stubby summit of the mountain.  Wy East’s anger also caused the landslide that led to the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River.

The east side of Mount Adams is rugged and gouged by glaciers.

The east side of Mount Adams is rugged and gouged by glaciers.

First sighted by Lewis and Clark (and misidentified as St. Helens), Adams has always been one of the more remote Cascade peaks.  For a time it appeared as if the Cascades might be renamed the President’s Range, and many of the individual peaks are named after U.S. presidents.  In the case of Adams, named for the second president, it was to be Hood that received the name.  But a mistake by a mapmaker put the name Adams quite a distance to the north and east.  Instead of the error being discovered and fixed, it happened that the location was occupied by a little-known but large mountain, and it was retained.  Now THAT’S a coincidence!

Mount St. Helens lies to the west as viewed from the summit of Mount Adams.

Mount St. Helens lies to the west as viewed from the summit of Mount Adams.

 

SURROUNDING AREA

Although Rainier has more extensive glaciers and subalpine meadow areas, Mount Adams has arguably a more beautiful surrounding area.  To the south, the only paved access route to the mountain traverses a gorgeous valley.  The White Salmon River, which runs down the valley, is a fantastic whitewater rafting or kayaking trip.  Apple orchards and scattered forest populate the valley.  The tiny town of Trout Lake greets you as you draw closer to the mountain.  It is a bulky mountain too, totally unlike the spire of Mount Hood across the Columbia River to the south.

The Klickitat River drains the east side of Adams, and proceeds through a beautiful forested area, ending on the drier east side of the Columbia River Gorge.  You can drive this route from Hwy. 14 on the Columbia up to Trout Lake.  It is a wonderful route, very scenic.  The Klickitat River is a fantastic whitewater trip.  In fact, doing both the White Salmon and the Klickitat (both one-day trips) is a great way to spend a long whitewater weekend.

Looking down the spine of the Cascade Range from high up on Mount Adams in Washington.

Looking down the spine of the Cascade Range from high up on Mount Adams in Washington.

The east side of Adams is covered by the Yakima American Indian reservation.  It’s worth obtaining a permit to hike through the beautiful Bird Creek Meadows on this side.  This is one of the finest flower meadows in the Cascades.  A recent forest fire has impacted both the south and east side though.  You can camp in this area at either Bench Lake or Bird Lake.  I think this area along with Adams Meadows on the north side are the finest subalpine meadows at Mt Adams.

A fantastic rugged backpacking trip can be had by traveling north from Bird Creek Meadows.  You will travel off-trail and cross an icefield.  There are some potentially serious stream crossings too.  But your reward is camping in pristine meadows, likely seeing no other person.  In Avalanche Valley, there is a spring that is amazing.  Its flow is so great that a river pops into existence and begins flowing across a lovely meadow.

Viewed from the summit of Mt Adams, the Klickitat River winds its way down through the forest.

Viewed from the summit of Mt Adams, the Klickitat River winds its way down through the forest.

GEOLOGY

Adams is like other Cascade strato-volcanoes a young cone with most of the eruptions occurring in the Pleistocene.  The volcano is characterized by long periods of dormancy.  In fact, the last eruption was some 1400 years ago.  It is not extinct though.  As mentioned, it is a bulky mountain.  It’s second in volume only to Shasta in California.  Several overlapping cones cover the summit and account for its flat nature.  Though it is no Rainier, the mountain does have its share of glaciers.  In fact, Adams Glacier on the NW side is the second largest glacier in the Cascades (Carbon Glacier on Rainier is the largest).

It is the only volcano in the Cascades whose summit has been subjected to mining activity.  In 1929 Wade Dean filed claims, built a mule trail to the summit, and conducted small-scale drilling for sulfur.  There was not enough ore found to make it economic, and that was that.

Mount St. Helens looms to the east of Adams.

Mount St. Helens looms to the east of Adams.

CLIMBING ADAMS

Mount Adams is a fairly straightforward climb, at least on the south side.  The South Spur trail starts from Cold Springs, trail #183.  You need to stop at the ranger station in Trout Lake for information and a $15 climbing permit.  The mountain attracts great amounts of snow, so unless you want a long approach, you’d do well to wait until June at the earliest.  You can climb it with ice axe and crampons, but might not need them.  No rope is needed.  Although it can be done in one long day, we opted to camp at the so-called Lunch Counter.  This is a flattish area at about 9000 feet (2743 meters), popular for camping and yes, lunch.

Descending from the summit of Mt Adams with Mount Hood, Oregon in the background.

Descending from the summit of Mount Adams with Mount Hood, Oregon in the background.

It was a beautiful evening.  Next morning, since I had skis and the snow had frozen hard overnight, I slept in to 6 a.m.  My companions started ahead of me.  The climb from the Lunch Counter ascends steeply to the False Summit (aka Piker’s Peak) at 11,700 feet (3566 meters).  From here it is a slight drop then on up to the summit.  I was on top before noon.  What a view!  I skied over to the east side of the summit crater and peaked down the steep east-side route.  The descent was perfect!  I haven’t skied for a long time (because of the broken ribs), so was tentative on those first few steep turns.  The snow was firm yet forgiving, and soon I was carving telemark turns down the mountain.  My friends had a great time glissading down from the False Summit.  Glissading is sliding on your butt.

Night falls on the eve of summit day at the Lunch Counter on Mount Adams, Washington.

Night falls on the eve of summit day at the Lunch Counter on Mount Adams, Washington.

Mount Adams is a great volcano which offers hiking, camping and flower photography, not to mention horse-back riding, whitewater rafting & kayaking.  In the winter, it makes an excellent, uncrowded cross-country skiing destination.  Climbing Adams is a great physical challenge.  It’s perfect for novice climbers who want some safe practice with crampons and ice axe.  But realize that altitude can be a factor, depending on your body’s particular reaction to it.  Since it is high up, weather can change rapidly and violently.  Storms and lightning are very real hazards, and people have died on this mountain.

Stay tuned for more on this series.  If you’re interested in any of these images, just click on them.  If you end up in a gallery and are having trouble finding the image, simply contact me.  They are copyrighted and not available for download without my permission, sorry.  Thanks for your interest and thanks for reading!

Sunset from the flat Lunch Counter on Mount Adams.

Sunset from the flat Lunch Counter on Mount Adams.

 

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