The Olympic Peninsula, So Far

by ajamess on 13.Aug.10

in Photos,Travel

Stack at Sunset, Rialto


I've been to the Olympic Peninsula and National Park only 4 times now, but I know now that even 400 times would not be enough to experience everything it has to offer.  It's like this: do you remember that time as a kid you went to the amusement park and bawled the moment your parents hinted at going home?  Do you remember having such a wonderful experience that you never wanted to leave?  Being so fixated on the fun you were having that nothing could tear you away?  Smarmy as it may be, that's how I feel about the Olympics.  If there was ever somewhere to make one want to drop everything and become a modern day Jerimiah Johnson, this is it.  Not only does it fill you with awe a-la the Tetons with its painfully beautiful sunsets and scenery, but it also holds such a varied amount of interesting fine detail that you can't walk but 5 feet without stumbling upon something photogenic.  In fact, I would argue that there are so many damn things to investigate on the ground and in the trees, that you could stand in one spot pointing a camera at various things, and you'd fill a memory card before you'd run out of beautiful compositions.


Olympics 2010 Day 2 (25 of 63)

Canon EOS 7D 70-200mm 130 mm 1/4000 sec f/4.0 ISO 100
Sand DollarMap
We were careful to only collect those long dead.


Not only that, but there are eagles, too.  I'm really not that much of a patriot, and I don't really give much care for Eagles as a symbol of our "values" or our "freedom."  But I must say: watching these birds fly, listening to them talk to one another, feeling the downdraft of their wings as they swoop low over you, all these things make you respect and cherish the fact that they even exist.  Now, shooting them is hard, and I frankly suck at action photography, but the moment I look at the photos after watching one of their aerobatic stunts, I giggle like a little schoolgirl.  I guess part of it is the satisfaction of capturing such an infintesimally small moment in time with any sort of clarity, but most of it is due to the general bad-assery of the subject.  Major props to all the wildlife photographers out there – it's incredibly challenging work.




Going up.

Canon EOS 7D 70-200mm 200 mm 0.003 sec (1/400) f/5.6 ISO 100
Going up.Map
Amazing how long they can glide, even that low to the water. Heavy crop – 3.8 MP out of 18 MP.


Sadly, my 70-200 is dying.  The action of taking these shots was punctuated with assorted curses and growls as I struggled to focus manually on a fast-moving object several hundred feet away.  For some reason, my aperture gets stuck and the AF stops working at the exact same time.  This results in rather comically over-exposed and out of focus images.  I suppose it's all a plan to get me to buy the new Canon offering.


Taking off.

Canon EOS 7D 70-200mm 200 mm 0.001 sec (1/1250) f/5.6 ISO 100
Taking off.Map
Shortly after leaving the roost to look for food.


Inland, there are the most astounding temperate rainforests on the face of the planet.  Walking the trails is like entering a time machine.  You half expect velociraptors to jump out and make your warm innards their afternoon snack.  Good thing I come prepared


Cthulhu Tree

Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 16 mm 0.067 sec (1/15) f/8.0 ISO 200
Cthulhu TreeMap
…stares into your soul. 3 shot pano, horizontal (stiched upwards)


The Watchers

Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 16 mm 0.125 sec (1/8) f/8.0 ISO 200
The WatchersMap
I came around a bend and saw these HUGE trees just towering over this little glade. I call them "the watchers". 10 shot pano, vertical.



Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 23 mm 0.167 sec (1/6) f/8.0 ISO 200
Pretty sure these were growing around a nurse log.


Last I hiked there, it was wet, cold, and absolutely awesome.  Just in case you were wondering, the 7D is, in fact, completely waterproof (haters).  All of the shots below were taken in heavy rain, and the camera was absolutely soaked.  I did nothing to protect it from the rain, and it worked absolutely flawlessly, even after several hours of non-stop rainfall.  I have no qualms about doing the same in the future.



Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 16 mm 0.04 sec (1/25) f/8.0 ISO 200
Almost impossible to keep water off the lens. If you believe it, I had JUST wiped the lens off 10 seconds before taking this, and still got a fat drop.


End of a legend (1)

Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 30 mm 0.1 sec (1/10) f/8.0 ISO 200
End of a legend (1)Map
Lots of patience went into this shot. I think this is the best of the set I took.



Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 35 mm 0.04 sec (1/25) f/8.0 ISO 200
Hard to strike the right shutter speed for good rain drops on water, IMO.


Oh, it's you!

Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 16 mm 0.033 sec (1/30) f/5.6 ISO 200
Oh, it's you!Map
This was when I jammed the lens 3 feet from her face.


Hi, Mom!




When people think about the North West coast, they invariable conjure up some image of sea stacks in the mist with waves crashing on an untrodden shore.  Well, it's pretty much just like that, except you're typically going to find quite a few people milling about on the beaches.  The key is to hike down at dusk and stay late into the night.  That way, you are heading down to the beach as most of the people are leaving.  Haley and I did just that on two occasions, once hiking down the length of Rialto beach to Hole in the Wall, and again hiking down to Third beach.  While on Third beach taking photos, a young guy my age came by and was making small talk with me.  He was from Tacoma and had nothing but matches, a flashlight, and a hammock with him to spend the night on the beach.  Sounds wonderful :).  Haley and I opted for s'mores and a midnight hike through the forest back to our campground near La Push.


The Wave

Canon EOS 30D 70.0-200.0 mm 200 mm 0.001 sec (1/1250) f/5.6 ISO 100
The WaveMap
I have a huge respect for surf photographers, who can react in a moment's notice to the hugely changing conditions of the surf. 2 shot pano, handheld.


Seawash, Rialto

Canon EOS 7D EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM 55 mm 0.008 sec (1/125) f/8.0 ISO 100
Seawash, RialtoMap
On my way to Hole in the Wall to watch the sunset and (fancy this) the moonrise.


Waves and Stacks, Rialto

Canon EOS 7D EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM 40 mm 0.005 sec (1/200) f/11.0 ISO 100
Waves and Stacks, RialtoMap
Walking around Rialto a couple hours before sunset.


Sunset and Sea Stacks


Pacific Moon, Third Beach

 f/2.8 ISO 100
Pacific Moon, Third BeachMap
20 1 minute exposures at 2.8 with the 16-35 to form a 360 degree view of Third Beach. Look at the far right of the frame and you can see Haley with our fire.


Moonrise over Water, Third Beach (1 of 2)

Canon EOS 7D EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM 70 mm 30 sec f/8.0 ISO 100
Moonrise over Water, Third Beach (1 of 2)Map
Favorite night of the trip. Haley and I hiked a mile and a half to the beach, I took lots of pictures while she made a fire and s'mores. We hiked back in pitch darkness, it was awesome.


The campgrounds are extremely nice, as well.  So far, we've only checked out Mora campground, but as far as I'm concerned, Mora is about as good as it gets.  No showers, but potable water and simply astounding views straight outside of your campsite.  Imagine camping under 400 year old spruces that hold several dozen species of birds and furry critters, all while the slightest bit of sunshine causes god-rays to beam down in every direction, filling your site with beautiful dappled light.  It's pretty awesome – and only 1.5 miles from Rialto Beach.


Trees and Pond, Mora Campground (1 of 2)

Canon EOS 7D EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM 24 mm 0.2 sec (1/5) f/8.0 ISO 100
Trees and Pond, Mora Campground (1 of 2)Map
Seen while hiking to Rialto from our campground. 6 shot stitch.


Mora Spruces

Canon EOS 7D EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM 16 mm 0.067 sec (1/15) f/8.0 ISO 100
Mora SprucesMap
My first attempt at HDR. I have a love/hate relationship with HDR. Some people go WAY over the top, and this is my attempt at keeping it realistic. I let the highlights blow out because not doing so really makes the HDR treatment obvious. 10 images on a tripod, remote release.


Haley and I are probably going back in a week or so.  I can't wait.

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