From a Bellingham Beach to Orcas Island: Images From the Weekend

This weekend was fun. A ferry trip out to Orcas Island, the beaches of Bellingham Bay, and the tail end of the Tulip Festival in Skagit County.

Saturday was supposed to be bright and sunny, but like the typical Pacific Northwest, it rained. Not a lot, just a drizzle.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

The extreme low tide offered me a chance to photograph this ripple sand bar at Squalicum Beach. Having the camera on a tripod, with the center column reversed, allowed me to get super close thereby accentuating the dunes.

That didn’t stop me. I went out to the farmer’s market in Bellingham but was uninspired and disappointed. It was grey and dark. There seemed to be no life. So I went to Squalicum Beach on the shores of Bellingham Bay to shoot.

The tide was super low and the exposed sand had cool ripples. My first impression was to take some long lens shots around. But those ripples kept taunting me.

So I slapped my camera and wide-angle onto my tripod and tried a few shot. No luck. I felt that the camera was too high as I couldn’t get close to accentuate the cool ripples.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Old pylons along Locust Beach in Bellingham Bay.

With a bit of bravery, I turned the center column upside down so I could get the camera several inches above the wet sand.

Using the “live view” and “artificial horizon” tools built into the camera, I composed my shot, metered, and took a few frames. I then looked for a different set of ripples and shot some more.

CAUTION: One thing to be aware of when shooting like this: the formation of small water droplets on the front of the lens from both the drizzle and splashes. AND be super careful not to dip your camera into the saltwater.

It can be instant death to your gear.

After a quick foray into the danger zone, I packed up and went to a beach clean-up scheduled a little further north at Locust Beach.

But what I found more interesting was a cool set of rotting pylons from an old dock. They go well with a theme I’ve been working on: Remnants of the Puget Sound’s Nautical History.

With the low tide, the pylons jutted out of the mirror like surface of the pooled water like a rocket ship at Cape Canaveral. Or something like that.

As the exposed rocks were covered in moss and slime. I had to step delicately and carefully. I didn’t want to deep six my camera gear.

What turned out to be a quick shot, turned into a 30 minute session. I shot both horizontals and verticals.

My girlfriend Heidi helped me edit and she picked this photo, which I also like best, because the reflections are nearly perfect and you can barely see the horizon line. Thank you Heidi.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Visitors pass potted tulips at a roadside farmers market.

There was no tripod used for the shot, although one would’ve helped. Instead, I held the camera vertically and rested it on an exposed rock. A bit risky.

But if you’re not taking risks with your photography,  you’re not extending your creativity.

Sunday was fun. Heidi has never taken a ride on a ferry.

©Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

A distant Mount Baker in northwest Washington on a rare clear day as seen from the Sna Juan Islands..

So we planned a short trip from Anacortes to Orcas Islands. The ferry sails through the San Juan Islands in the north end of the Puget Sound.

It was an extraordinarily clear day. You could see Mount Baker in the distance, clear as a bell. Beautiful.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Couples watch the passing scenery as the ferry sails through the San Juan Islands towards Anacortes.

As Heidi watched for whales, I shot photos. Of the passengers and passing scenery, I found the combination fun to watch.

As we steamed towards our destination, I put the cameras away to enjoy the scenery. This helps keep my eyes fresh, but the big bonus is I can enjoy the views with Heidi.

Passengers aboard the ferry as we sailed from Anacortes to Orcas Island. I liked the reflections in the window and I waited for the man to be more silhouette.

As we were sailing, I kept tabs on potential images. For one, I noticed all the work being done at the Anacortes Terminal.

I liked the leading lines, the freshly painted iron, the tunnel-like feeling created by the plastic, but it was missing one thing: people.

So I kept an image in the back of my head of this with a group of passengers as they went through. A shot to try as we returned from the trip. The result is below.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Passengers disembark from the ferry after arriving in Anacortes.

You have to keep pushing yourself to capture wonderful images, you have to keep pushing yourself to improve and extend your creativity. Only you can stop you.

Just remember when photographing: Wide, Medium, & Tight, Then Stretch.

Using this technique will help you cover all your angles and help you get a better image.

There were some other photos I shot which I’ve not posted. One of an almost empty car deck with a hatch reading “Emergency Escape Hatch: Keep Clear.” Made me fell like I was back on my old ship or aboard a starship.

Others included flowers from the side of the road, more from the market and the ferry.

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Keep shooting.

Paul Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography


  1. it was such a great day !!! thank you for the wonderful trip full of great memories .. !! p.s. the shots from our Sunday outings are just getting better and better !! whats next .. a day in Concrete maybe ???


  2. Pablo,

    I love the shots of the beach and pilings!! I’ve never tried reversing the tripod…I’ll have to try that. Live View sure beats standing on your head.



    1. Thanks Bronson,

      Most tripod center columns can’t be reversed. You have to check your individually. I was sorta lucky that mine is “broke” in that it’s missing the rubber stop which prevents it from being pulled out. So its easy to reverse it.

      So of the better Manfrotto/Bogens have this reversible feature. Here’s another shot which required me to reverse the column:

      Thanks again Bronson.

      But when you do this, please be extra careful. Especially around Salt Water.


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