I have this great fondness for Mount Rainier. It is the landscape that I grew up with and the view of it southeast of Seattle inspires me to this day. It is hard to miss—an unbelievable landscape rising abruptly from sea level to 14,000 feet. This shining, white mountain has always loomed above and beyond Seattle, both unsettling in its latent volcanic power and awesome in its beauty.
It was the allure of the mountain that got me to Mount Rainier early in my life. I’ve climbed the mountain several times over the years, but I visit at least a couple times a year to photograph its magnificence and get grounded. I’m motivated to inspire people—to uplift people—and I find mountain imagery does that. I also love to turn people on to things that have excited me in the past; with Mount Rainier it is very easy to do.
From any different angle Mount Rainier presents a perfect and amazing landscape. I love that fact that it is often shrouded in mist, and as the day changes the mountain just comes out of nowhere. The mists themselves are great subjects as moisture and light and hidden forests give rise to clearing skies. It is a subject that is never boring and often entertaining.
In mid-August monkey flowers are flourishing along the small streams that come down from the snow fields above. There’s western anemone, lupine, beautiful paintbrush, and asters. As you are fully engaged photographing the details of the landscapes you’re likely to see animals pop up as it is an environment that is rich for wildlife. There are foxes that live up in there as well as black bears; mountain goats often come off the barren slopes and cross the mountain valleys. Martens, marmots, jays, squirrels, chipmunks and pikas are all up there waiting to be discovered.
Down in the old growth forests a whole new range of subjects reveal themselves—from the beautiful details of the old growth trees to the fungus that start to come out in the early fall to the beautiful oak ferns, oxalis and hellebore. If we are lucky we may see some forest animals as well. Ptarmigan and grouse make that zone home, but deer pass through the forests as well as spotted owls, barred owls, and calliope hummingbirds. It’s all part of the experience of photographing in what is a rich, accessible environment.
I always look forward to returning to Mount Rainier, and I definitely love to share it with people who have never been.
Art Wolfe Rainier Workshop
August 22-24, 2014
Click HERE for all the information or to register