One of the benefits of living in Washington State is the variety of ecological zones, from the ocean to the mountains. This provides an autumn season that can range from mid-September to early November! Careful planning is essential if one is eager to capture fall color in a wide variety of locations.
One area in the North Cascades I had been planning on visiting to capture larches in their full color just didn't appeal to me with the hoards of 'leaf-peepers' present. Fortunately, I had a second plan: to visit the Mt Baker Recreational Area. This area lacks showy, colorful trees in the fall, so the crowds were quite tolerable.
My photographic intention was to capture some small scenes displaying colorful ash and huckleberries. A storm system was breaking up as I made my way up the Mt Baker area, which I was hoping would allow for decent soft light. When I was near my destination, I noticed the clouds swirling around Mt Shuksan, which is immediately east of the more famous volcano, Mt Baker.
As I approached a vista point called Picture Lake, the clouds separated, revealing the newly snow-covered peaks of Mt Shuksan. Often, Mt Skuksan can be shrouded in clouds for days, so I just couldn't miss this opportunity to photograph this emerging scene. I am fairly sure I set an all-time record for running from my vehicle to setting up my camera! And a good thing, as I only had taken a few frames before clouds once again enveloped the high peaks of Mt. Shuksan.
Even though this particular area is one of the more photographed spots in Washington, changing seasons and light always provide a fresh perspective. I did not intend to photograph any grand landscapes this particular day, but luck was on my side. Besides the gorgeous light, I really concentrated on the composition. The way the mountain reflection fits within the foreground grasses was an important factor in this composition. Additionally, the separation of clouds in the middle of the frame mimics the mountain's pyramid. That was obviously total luck, but nonetheless, I added another compelling element to the final image. Oh, and yes, the rest of my day in the mountains was also spectacular!
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor