Skagit Valley, Washington, USA by Patricia Thomas

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Picture Story

Every year in the early spring the daffodils push their way up through the Pacific Northwest mud of Skagit Valley. All week I anticipate heading up to the fields for the weekend. It is often like a treasure hunt, not knowing what I will find or what the weather will hold but the anticipation pushes me on. This morning the sky was cold and dark and I wasn't sure if the sky would light up with color but at the horizon I saw a small slit between the clouds and sky. Knowing this could allow for early light to filter through and engage the clouds I waited. About 20 minutes before sunrise the sky started to explode with color as the rising sun was heading over the Cascade Mountains.

I have taken many pictures of rows of flowers pointing to the rising sun, but this morning the muddy roads caught my attention and the mud and pink reflection became my focus. The mud in these fields is slick and can often suck a boot right off a person’s foot but as the roads dry out they start to form strong lines and cracks giving the landscape a more turbulent feel. I had to under expose my image then bring back in light in the foreground in post processing in order to retain the drama in the sky. I set my tripod low to the ground and brought the mud into focus. The wind was not an issue this morning so I was able to keep my ISO low. Minutes after the light started to flood the sky it peaked and quickly began to fade. Often hours of travel, driving, planning, and waiting are over in 10 minutes once the sun makes its entrance.

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