A Northeast Vision Of The Pacific Northwest – Part 1
Artistic vision is an interesting thing. It’s like your personality, no matter where you go, you take it with you. This became obvious when we headed to the State of Washington recently to check out the great Pacific Northwest. Being comfortable with your vision can help you help adapt to a landscape like the one at Mount Rainier National Park which was different from what we expected.
I’m a Northeast landscape photographer. Some of my inspiration comes from the artists of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. When we got to Washington State, I couldn’t help feeling some similarities between the light and texture of this landscape and what those artists painted along the Hudson River in the 19th century, especially so at Mount Rainier National Park.
The weather in the mountains is usually unpredictable. On this trip along with the typical rain and fog, we were plagued with a persistent haze from the smoke of a large number of forest fires in the region. Needless to say it created some challenging conditions to shoot in. Fortunately, we planned this trip to be flexible in order to take advantage of conditions when they were right for photography. So with a plan in place and our camera gear, we headed out to photograph Mount Rainier National Park. By the way, I’ll talk more about that plan some more in my next blog post.
Mount Rainier has the distinction of being a lone 14er. (14,000 foot high mountain) which makes it visible from far away Seattle on a clear day. Up close, the mountain is a beautiful, yet somewhat imposing feature of the landscape.
The first day we were at Mount Rainier National Park the big mountain was socked in by clouds so completely that we couldn’t see it even when we hiked up to its base. Finally at sunset, the clouds vanished. From our vantage point the mountain was so overwhelming that I created the image below with a telephoto lens to show the effect of its massive presence on the forest below it.
The Tatoosh Range
One of the mountain ranges in Mount Rainier National Park is the Tatoosh Range. We made several visits to Inspiration Point which overlooks these beautiful mountains and the valleys below.
Inspiration Point is an apt name because from here I really noticed the similarities between this landscape and the work of the Hudson River School artists. You can see that in the Thomas Cole painting on the right compared to the photographs below.
The first three photographs here are a progression from the clearing of a mid-afternoon storm to sunset and twilight. The last image is from another day. On that day, the quality of early morning light on the landscape looked like something the great black and white landscape photographer Ansel Adams would have loved.
Mount Rainier Beyond The Mountains
Mount Rainier National Park is more than just an imposing mountain. We found that the lakes, rivers and old growth forests had their own beautiful and mystical charm.
This trip to Washington was an example of changing your expectations and opening yourself up to the landscape facing you. Due to weather and wildfires the landscape we saw at Mount Rainier was very different from what we expected. If we were working from a list of must have photographs to get, we may have been disappointed. Instead, we responded to the beauty that nature revealed to us, and it was enlightening. Standing at the base of the big mountain or exploring the valleys below it you see how the wild and unpredictable beauty of the wilderness has inspired artists throughout time. Feeling comfortable in my own artistic vision made that the constant that anchored the unpredictable and changing landscape unfolding around us.
Stay tuned for my next post on Olympic National Park.