Explorations in Washington & the Columbia Gorge

Hey gang! This past week has been jam-packed with photography, and as a result, this post is going to be very photo-rich. In fact, I’m going to make this more of a “photologue” type of update. Here goes:

In the beginning of the week, we moved on from Seattle and headed toward North Cascades National Park. Now that I’ve knocked off all the 50 states, I’m trying to visit all the national parks as well. North Cascades is just south of the Canadian border and is full of snow-capped mountains. There is one main road that goes right through the park so we took that and made various stops. I’ve got to say, even though the drive was gorgeous, the area didn’t “sing to me” photographically. Now, that’s just me. It could be completely different for you.

I took the above pano from the Washington Pass overlook on the east side of the park. I still have to fine-tune it. We parked the bus a few miles outside the park entrance in a tiny town called Marblemount. From there, we would go exploring. We also attempted to enter the park on a more primitive road, but the washboard bumps ended up being too much for the Mini. It wasn’t a failed journey, though, because we found this nice waterfall on the way (shown below) and we ended up spending a while shooting it.

In the shot below, Karen demonstrates how to shoot a roadside waterfall when it’s cold out. She parked the car next to the falls and is sitting on the heated seats! Her tripod is set up on the ground next to the car.

The next stop in our travels was Ellensburg, WA. I wanted to photograph a vintage gas station there, and we ended up over-nighting in that area as well. The town is really nice. There are lots of old buildings with character that are also well-maintained.  The station I photographed was part of the Red Horse Diner and you can see me shooting there in the photo below.

The Teapot Dome Service Station is another building that’s been on my shooting list for a while, and it’s located in the town of Zillah, WA, which is about an hour south of Ellensburg. When we arrived in Zillah, we literally had to track the building down. When we arrived at the first address, we saw this:

It was as if the darn thing got up and walked away! We later learned that it didn’t actually walk away… it was rolled away, and moved to a new location closer to downtown. We finally found it and spent about an hour shooting this little gem. Karen shot the image below, and she captioned it “Where is Ben?” Can you find me in the shot?

I shot the image below with my new fisheye zoom lens.

We continued south to the border between Washington and Oregon and then spent a few days exploring the Columbia Gorge area. There is lots to shoot in this area and it’s one of those places we’ll probably revisit again and again. During this visit, we focused on waterfalls. Both of the falls we shot were located inside John B. Yeon State Park, which is on the Oregon side of the gorge.

The first of the waterfalls was Wahclella Falls, and it was about a mile hike to get there. The whole area is beautiful, with vibrant foliage and moss-covered trees. Karen shot the pano below of me shooting the falls. Because of her angle, it’s hard to tell how big the waterfall actually is.

In the shot below, I have Karen in the frame to show the scale of the waterfall. In this one, you CAN tell how big it is!

The second waterfall we photographed was Elowah Falls, and it was a .8 mile hike to get there. This one was much taller and narrower, with nice moss-covered rocks to use as a foreground. The fisheye shot below is of Elowah Falls. (As is the header of this blog post)

Finally, we spent a bit of time exploring the towns along the gorge. There are lots of nice little restaurants, wineries and breweries. It was great to wrap up a day of hiking and shooting with a wine tasting or a local beer! Our next stop will be the Portland area, but we’ll most likely be making day trips back to the gorge area to hit some waterfalls we missed, including the spectacular Multnomah Falls. More to come…


Soaking up Seattle

This past week, Karen and I have been hanging out in the Seattle area. Karen had never been to Seattle before, so she wanted to get a good taste of the city. As luck would have it (and “luck” seems to always be on our side), our friends from Lake Havasu, AZ were visiting Seattle the same time as us. We met up with them at the famous Pike Place Market and started exploring together. Since it was a “first time” experience for most of the folks in our group, we decided to have lunch at Pike Place Chowder. Chowder is a must in Seattle. Karen and Lisa were also excited to find that they had a vegan chowder!

After exploring the market a bit (and I pretty much had to pry Karen out of there) we hit up the space needle, and then the Chiluly glass museum located at the base of the needle. If you’ve never seen Chihuly’s stuff before, you should DEFINITELY check this place out. It’s kind of like walking into a Dr. Seuss book… only made of glass. Our group had dinner that night at a funky Italian place called Bizarro. Yes, it sounds bizarre, but it’s one of the few Italian places that I would actually recommend. The dishes were unique and the place had tons of character.

From left, John, Clint, Wayne, Andrew, Lisa, Me and Karen. We were so excited with this group in Seattle!

Karen got this shot of me at the Chiluly exhibit. I was shooting with the Lensbaby Sweet 35 lens… super nice!

Since we were in Seattle, I couldn’t help but visit Adobe’s local office. Adobe’s Patty Wilson invited us to watch in on a game of “Adobe Wiffle Ball.” Her team was in the company finals… and, well, it was quite the event for them. Their headquarters is also located within walking distance of the funky Freemont Troll, a giant concrete troll figure located under a bridge. Karen and I walked there after visiting Adobe. We didn’t take a lot of photos because some jerk spray painted the thing up in bright pink paint.

Me in front of Adobe’s Seattle headquarters.

Karen and I made a return visit to Pike Place Market one night. Karen wanted to shoot some more there, and take in more of Seattle’s local flavor. She bought this amazing flower bouquet (that was literally half her size) for $10! Crazy! We also drove around in search of places to shoot panoramas. We both wanted to shoot the Seattle skyline, but we wanted both sunset and twilight, and we also wanted an angle that included both the city buildings AND the space needle. We found a couple great places and did a lot of shooting. You can see some of the results below.

Karen with her monster bouquet at Pike Place Market.


I shot this panorama from Kerry park in Seattle at sunset. After merging, it turned out to be 27 feet wide! Check out the video below to see details on it.

Here’s a detail shot from the above panorama. Click to enlarge it and you’ll get a 100% view.

Here’s another panorama from a different locale in Seattle. The detail shot is a 100% view of the above panorama.

I created a little video that gives a better perspective on one of the panoramas. And, if you happen to be interested in shooting fun panoramas as well, I recently created a video that includes my favorite tips and techniques for shooting panorama images. You can find that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0j8WH4IbEw&feature=relmfu

Karen and I plan on spending a few more days in the Seattle area and then moving on. To where, we’re not quite sure yet! That’s the beauty about living on the road! More to come…