Pilgrimage

Moss-covered Spruces, Olympic National Park

I can see the Olympic Peninsula from my house. To get there, however, especially to the misty west-side rainforest valleys, is a 5-hour trip.  Yet every spring I make the journey, a pilgrimage to one of the most beautiful, if soggy, corners of the world. And when I say soggy, I mean it. The Hoh valley gets 150 inches of rain a year - that's over 12 feet. I'd say about an inch of that fell yesterday when I was there. It is a challenge to keep everything dry, but this really is my favorite weather: the wet green leaves seem to glow, and there are none of the harsh shadows that sunlight creates.

Other than the rain, the photography is pretty straightforward : a tripod (generally half-second exposures inside the forest) and a polarizing filter to cut the reflected light and let the green shine through.

No, there are no beautiful sunsets here, no eye-popping reds, no beams of transcendent light to gladden the heart of a landscape photographer - just a universe of green. I've got no problem with that.

Bracken Ferns and Sitka Spruces

Nikon D3, 24-70mm lens, polarizing filter

4 Comments

    Kevin,

    Beautiful images and the greens are fantastic. Being from another often wet state, Ohio, I miss the greens that are so vivid in the rainy parts of the US since moving to Colorado in 1976. I also can commiserate with you on the drive distances. Although gorgeous scenic areas are but a few miles from my house as the crow flies, it takes a long time to drive around the mountains to get there.

    James,

    Thanks for the comments. There are beautiful things to see and photograph in every state of the country. I feel lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest for all the beautiful places we have – but also love seeing other parts of the country. You’re right, Colorado has some spectacular corners…!

    Hi Gregory,
    No brilliant tips for when it really gets wet; in a pouring rain you might just as well sit it out until it eases a bit. (Having said that, getting a picture of the rainforest in the rain is a real challenge – I’ve never really seen it done…) I do employ plastic bags, umbrellas – and even just a shirt draped over the lens to keep water off – for a while. Keeping water off the front of the lens is crucial – even with a lens hood, drops on the glass can ruin a picture. Thanks for commenting.

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