Hiking Horseshoe Trail & Nooksack Falls near Mt. Baker


Just a quick post with a couple of photos from a hike with my girlfriend Heidi we went on a few days ago.

It was along Horseshoe Bend Trail near Mount Baker east of Glacier, Wash., on Highway 542. A simple easy hike.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

A flower spot lit by the afternoon sun along the trail.

We hiked about 1/2 a mile along the river. The foliage was a vivid green and the canopy created by the trees and moss dappled the forest floor with spots. It was a good lesson in light.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Leaves and moss grow from a bending tree limb.

With just spots being lit by direct sun, the in-camera meter was fooled by all the dark. I liked how dramatic the lighting was on the forest floor.

But rather than take a bunch of photos, I used my old standby the “Sunny 16” rule to begin my exposure. It’s a good tool to keep in mind when dealing with difficult lighting situation. Here’s a quick primer: Sunny 16: An old Rule for a New Age.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Young fern with blue stems. I wish the blue would show better.

The dappling effect of the light accentuated a lot of the foliage. It also created drama.

So I looked around and used the spot lighting to shoot photos. I also composed the photos so that I can take advantage of the dark background and make some nice images.

After that we went to Nooksack Falls on the North Fork Nooksack River to have lunch and just enjoy a day together in the woods.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Nooksack Falls on the North Fork Nooksack River in eastern Whatcom County, Wash. Using my ND64 filter allowed me to get a slow enough shutter speed in bright sunlight to make the water appear silky.

But I also used it as a time to shoot a photo I wanted to shoot the last time I was here but did not have the right equipment. I shot the falls, but due to the limitations of equipment, I wasn’t able to slow down the shutter enough to capture the smooth flow I wanted. Rather, I got a choppy look to it.

Comparing the Two:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

These two photos are about a month apart. Left: f/22 at 1/60th. Right: f/22 at 2 secs. Notice how the water is smoother, more silky, on the right. Both with Nikon D300s set at ISO 200 and 17-35 f/2.8 lens. Daylight white balance, manual mode.

This time, I had my tripod, polarizing filter, and a ND64 (6 stop loss) filter to drop my shutter speed down to create the flowing water.

With water, you can use faster shutter speeds to capture the intensity, or use very slow shutter speeds to create silky smooth, flowing water.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Nooksack Falls on the North Fork Nooksack River near Mt. Baker.

To get slower shutter speeds, you need to stop down (close) the aperture, use a lower ISO (50 or less), or add filters. Unfortunately, the lower limit of my camera’s ISO is 200. Combine that with bright sunlight and the slowest I could feasibly go was 1/60th. But this speed blew out the highlights of the water, so my slowest shutter speed was about 1/100th.

Not slow enough to make the water look smooth. But I took some photos of it anyway. I wasn’t really happy with the results, so I vowed to go shoot it again.

One slight effect you will notice when using ND filters is that the image will lose contrast and the colors become less saturated. The stronger the ND filter, the greater the effect. These are easily fixed in post production.

Use the raw file when post processing. That way, you’ll have control over the saturation and contrast.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.

Paul Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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