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Mt Rainier National Park is only about a two hour drive from Seattle, Washington but a world away. The mountain is a dominating presence and especially photogenic from the west and south sides. Among its many attractions are the vast meadows of wildflowers, with blooms starting in July and peaking in early to mid August. Among US national parks, it is one of the best, if not the best, for wildflower photography. The meadows below the mountain are covered in lupines, Avalanche lilies, paintbrush, asters, daisies, cinquefoil and fireweed. One of the prime places to see and photograph them is Paradise Park (park being the local term for meadow). It’s easily accessible from the lodge and visitor center at Paradise. Besides being a great backdrop to the wildflowers, Mt Rainier makes its own weather. You will often see lenticular clouds over it.
I like to start early so that I can set up my tripod low to the ground on the trail or path and not impede hikers or trample the flowers. Wind is often minimal early, which helps reduce flower movement. Since I needed a small aperture to maximize depth of field, I raised the ISO a bit. I used my 24mm tilt-shift lens to keep the camera level without clipping the top of the mountain.
I recommend staying at the lodge at Paradise as many of the photographic points of interests are close by. There are also a number of campgrounds in the park. Another great time to visit is late September when the park is covered in red and gold shrubbery with the added bonus of far fewer visitors.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor