Over the last year, I’ve been on more hikes than I can remember. The Olympics have turned into my weekly retreat away from work, obligations and stress. Gothic Peak, Ruby Beach, and Hurricane Hill have all transformed me into a more relaxed and open person. My goal today is to capture the beauty and magnificence of the Northwest that revitalizes my soul.
Today is the day
It’s 4:45 AM and my alarm’s green glow lightly illuminates my otherwise dark room. Fifteen minutes before the noisy alarm is set to toll, and I’m already awake. I can see the shadowy outline of my camera bag packed and waiting to be carried across some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. I’ve been waiting for this day for months and the anticipation has kept me from sleeping for more than a couple hours at a time. Today is the day I’m dedicating myself to capturing fall color in the Northwest.
Transformed by nature’s rejuvenation, I’ve become more interested in the idea of capturing my favorite parts of nature and bringing them back with me as pictures and video to share. What started with just my phone has grown into a more serious pursuit with prosumer cameras and camera rails.
An unplanned stop
Before I even get out of bed, I open my phone, scroll past Instagram and Facebook and jump straight to my weather app. The forecast shows absolutely perfect conditions for capturing colorful memories - no rain, foggy morning, partly cloudy afternoon. With eager urgency, I climb out of bed and make it out of my house in only a few minutes. Driving down the desolate highway, every light pole glows dramatically encircled with fog. Filled with the prospect of capturing the moody atmosphere at day break, I decide to visit a famous Northwest Driveway at Rockwood Farm.
After an hour of driving and only a few minutes from my destination, I am completely mesmerized by an old barn and fence just a few feet off the road. Instead of going to the park for sunrise, I pull over and decide to capture the barn in heavy fog. To my delight, just a few fence posts down, a spider left me a captivating composition drenched in dew. I pull out my slider and get a great shot of the intricate weavings.
With a great set of images from the fence, I pack up and head back towards my original destination, Rockwood Farm. After seeing some of my favorite Instagram friends post enchanting pictures from Rockwood Farm, I knew I had to include it in my day of Northwest color pursuit. As I pull up to the gate, the scene is even more majestic than I imagined. The long, colorful driveway stretched back farther than I could even follow. The tall, towering trees radiate their autumn bounty in a symmetric, hypnotizing fold that takes my eyes to the horizon and then back up and over my head again. Like long colorful arms, the branches stretch to lock hands across the road creating the most beautiful tunnel for me to walk through.
With such a perfect scene, I have no trouble dropping to my knees to find the most perfect angle. Happy with my still images, I resort to my slider to create a captivating video that will help give the scene depth.
It takes me almost ninety minutes, but I’m finally satisfied with the images I captured at Rockwood Farms. With my memory card full of great fall color and interesting morning fog, I want to capture a different kind of scene iconic to the Northwest. I decide a visit to Franklin Falls will allow me a great opportunity to get right under a powerful portrait of the Northwest.
What I learned
- I will never leave home without a neutral density filter. Not only did the neutral density lens create silky smooth waterfall shots, it helped me shoot at a wide open aperture even during the middle of the day to achieve the look I love.
- Sliders are easy. When I think of setting up sliders, I think of lots of batteries, wires and frustration. After taking my slider out of its bag a couple times, setup was a breeze and well worth the time. I had a friend time me setting up my slider and making a move. I finished right around two minutes!
- Flying a drone near a waterfall is risky. This is probably the hardest lesson of the day! While flying my drone at Franklin Falls, I got too close to the wall and ended up crashing it. The most difficult aspect of flying near a waterfall are the dramatic gusts caused by the falling water. Near the splash zone, gusts can be strong enough to send a drone flying off-course.
At the end of my trip, I had accumulated nearly 500 photos and videos. Going through the material was just as enjoyable as capturing it. With a couple Pyramid Hefeweizens, I plunged into the collection of media and put together a story about the Northwest. Although I'm happy with how my story looks, I can't help but feel sorry for the people who only experience nature through consuming online images and videos. Stepping out into nature and creating your own story will always surpass vicariously experiencing it online. I hope my images and video of the Northwest will encourage you to plan your own day of experiencing and capturing raw nature.