scenic photography

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Mt. Shuksan in Alpenglow

***Before my computer hard drive failed, I began writing this post. Now that it’s up and running, I’ll be catching up on a few entries***

Late last week, I headed up Highway 542 in western Whatcom County east of Bellingham, Wash., to photograph Mt. Shuksan to bathed in alpenglow. Being typical Northwest weather, I wanted to head up while it was sunny and nice.

After a few stops including Horseshoe Bend Trail and Nooksack Falls, I arrived at Picture Lake in the Mount Baker Ski Area at the base of Mount Baker. Hopefully, I thought, the lake would be somewhat melted. However, as expected, it was still covered by deep, hard packed snow.

Using One Flash:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

No worries. I drove around a bit to find a good angle and wasn’t seeing any “sweeping vista” that excited me. So I got out of my car and just walked around the loop shooting generic “I was Here” photos. Nothing spectacular.

The light was somewhat late afternoon super bright sun. Taking a break, I noticed to trees growing by themselves and I visualized Mt. Shuksan between them. In summer, the trees would be on the shore of Picture Lake.

Using Two Speedlights:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

To get to the trees, I’d have to walk across a snowfield which covered part of the marshy area of the lake. Rather than chance postholing my way to the trees and possibly falling through the snow pack, I opted to find another angle.

But even after another half an hour of seeking, I couldn’t find something visually interesting. Time was running out so I just grabbed my ski/trekking poles, put on my ski jacket and walked down to the two trees.

I must mention, I lived in the Colorado high country for many years before moving up to the Pacific Northwest. Walking across snowfields is somewhat second nature. Caution is the operative word when doing so.

As the Pacific Northwest gets heavier snow, and ofttimes more, than Colorado, I found the traverse rather easy. I still took caution by using my poles to test the snow pack in front of me. I did not want to fall through.With ease, I made it to the base of the trees and saw my composition. Nothing super fantastic, but definitely something different. One caveat to work with: Lighting the trees with portable strobes/speedlights as they were in full shadow as the Sun was below the ridge behind me.

A few weeks ago I bought a set of radio slaves. One transmitter and two receivers. I’ve used them a few times before this, so setting up my speedlights wouldn’t be an issue.

Carefully I hiked back to my car to get my tripod, camera, lens, filters (Polarizing and ND64), radio slaves and speedlight. Upon returning, set up my tripod with camera and adjusted my composition. I then waked about 15 feet to the left to set up a speedlight with radio slave.

I had to move fast as the light was beginning to change fairly quick. As I took a few test exposures to get the light on the mountain balanced with the speedlight, I noticed I needed another. One speedlight wasn’t enough even in manual mode at full power. So I went back to my car to get a second speedlight.

I placed the second speedlight next to the first effectively doubling my light on the trees. I made sure neither had the diffuser and both were set to telephoto to narrow the light, therefore effectively increasing the output. Then I tested various aperture settings and shutter speeds. I found the one exposure that worked well.

REMEMBER:  When using an off camera speedlights, this basic rule applies: Aperture controls both the total image exposure and the flash exposure. Shutter speed controls the exposure of your ambient light. Read more on these earlier blog postings: Intro to Creative Flash Part 1: Shutter Synch, Intro to Creative Flash Part 2: Aperture, and Intro to Creative Flash Part 3: Using Speedlights as a Portable Studio.

With the above exposure “rule” in mind, I set my aperture to get correct exposure for the trees, and set my shutter speed to get a good exposure on the mountain.

I started figuring my exposure by using the “Sunny 16 Rule.” At 1/250th for my shutter speed, I began at f/16 on my aperture. The trees were underlit. So I opened my aperture 2 stops to f/8 and the exposure were a little under, but I liked them as they weren’t overly dominate.

Here’s a quick primer on the “Sunny 16 Rule:” Sunny 16: An old Rule for a New Age.

As I knew the light would wane dramatically as the Sun set, I stayed at that exposure. As the light waned, I just used longer shutter speeds to compensate for the loss. However, the exposure of /250th at f/8 seemed to balance the light the best.

The Final Result:
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

As the Sun set behind me, the color began to change from a very light pink to red. It was very peaceful watching as Mt. Shuksan changed color. I noticed an odd noise that went “whum whum whum whum” every minute or so. It was low pitched and echoed. I half expected a bear to come investigate.

When the light faded on Mt. Shuksan, I packed up everything and headed back. I did fail to photograph my impromptu lighting setup. Didn’t think of it until I was back at the car.

When I was finished packing everything back up, I looked up to see my tracks to the two trees and noticed the pink afterglow in the sky and how it lit the mountain. So I took a few more shots.

My Tracks and Pink Glow:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

Camera info:  Nikon D300s w/MB-D10, Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8, SB800 & SB80DX Speedlights, radio slaves & trigger.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography The Twin Sisters over Bellingham, Wash., as the setting Sun ignites them and is reflected off windows.

Setting Sun Ignites Windows and Snow Capped Peaks

Happy Easter Everyone!!

I don’t have a photo of a bunny or easter eggs, but here’s a really recent shot of the Twin Sisters over Bellingham, Wash., during sunset as the light reflects off windows in town and bathes the snow-capped peaks of the Northern Cascade Mountains.

You neve know what you’re going to get when you go out to shoot sunset, but you should always be prepared.
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The setting Sun glints off windows and street signs in Bellingham, Wash., as it bathes the snow capped peaks of The Twin Sisters of the Cascade Mountain range in its last rays.

It was one of the first clear days we’ve had here in the Pacific Northwest in awhile. So I head out west of Bellingham, Wash., to Lummi Shore Drive to attempt to capture the alpenglow on Mt. Baker.

But as the sun began to set, the clouds rolled in and obscured Mt. Baker. During the sunset, the clouds west parted enough to let the light shine upon the Twin Sisters Peaks east of Bellingham.

While doing so, there was enough of a gap in the clouds to let the sunlight through to Bellingham. The sun reflected off the windows of homes and businesses, as well as stop signs on the streets.

I did not expect this photo. But it is quite the pleasant surprise.

For ordering and pricing information, visit my Fine Art Prints and Pricing  page at http://www.pabloconradphotography.com/NatureAndCityScenes/FineArtPrintsPricing/24071488_bfRsh2

Have a great day everyone!!!

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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