An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the icon of Washington state and the entire Pacific Northwest. The national park is a favorite destination of mine and I’ll never tire of shooting there. At sunrise the peak was initially obscured in fog; as the sun came up it broke, giving me a misty, moody reflection that only adds to the already dramatic vista.
Save 20% on any Misty Rainier print purchased this month! They are printed on EPSON Premium Photo Luster paper using archival EPSON Ultrachrome inks, and I hand sign them with a silver acid-free pen.
Since I had a rare free day at home in Washington, my friend Bill and I decided to head to Mount Rainier National Park. What began as a five minute stroll out of Paradise became an eight hour marathon. We were in such a hurry to get out there, we forgot to bring snacks which was OK—there were subjects around every corner, so we didn’t even notice our hunger. We looped around Paradise Ridge where I frequently teach workshops in the summer meadows. Hiking to Panorama Point we found large groups of white-tailed ptarmigan as well as blue grouse.
With the very dry year and the September rains I think it is making for a very early fall season, at least three weeks earlier than usual. The night before our hike an ice storm moved through covering the sub-alpine firs and creating a stark contrast against the deep ochre of the fall foliage. On this day the mountain was obscured by clouds, which was perfectly fine because it allowed the other subjects shine forth.
Mount Rainier is my backyard and I have been going there since my youth. There is nothing better that rediscovering it with new people. The wildflowers were in full bloom and the clear night sky revealed the Milky Way in all its cosmic glory.
Missed this year’s workshop? I have planned another for 2015!
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
Celebrate and give back to your parks with the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Service for National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 29. National Public Lands Day provides us the chance to give back to special places in our own backyard like Mount Rainier National Park. Join hundreds of other park supporters and help repair park trails, clean up campgrounds and picnic areas, and plant native vegetation.
National Public Lands Day is a great opportunity to help Mount Rainier and spend the rest of the day recreating or relaxing in the park. With free admission, feel free to bring a friend or make it a family outing, and enjoy the experience together.
RSVP: Please RSVP to Sean Smith so we can plan projects accordingly.
OTHER INFO: There will be free admission at the park that day. Parking will be available at the White River Campground. Please bring warm clothes and be prepared for weather changes as this work day will take place rain or shine! Sturdy work shoes are also needed, as well as gloves, lunch, and water. Sunscreen and a hat are also recommended. Please note that pets are not permitted on park trails.
Please join us!
Sincerely, Sean Smith
Yesterday I was feeling more stressed than usual so I decided to take a day & go and shoot in my backyard—literally and figuratively. I took off before dawn and headed toward Mt. Rainier. The mountain (volcano) was haloed in lenticular clouds at sunrise, then the light quickly flattened out into a snow sky. I then concentrated my efforts on the Carbon River, the outflow from the Carbon Glacier on Rainier. There has been a cycle of freezing and thawing this winter due to the La Nina weather pattern. The icicles are particularly interesting with their nearly iridescent grooved patterns—not unlike a shining blade of a samurai sword.
Back at home in the late afternoon, I photographed a bonsai tree in my backyard at sunset. It was a good day.