Archive for July, 2015

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Jupiter and Venus dance, June 29th 2015, 5D Mark II with Tamron 500mm f8

It is indeed summertime, at least in the Northern Hemisphere that is 😉 Photography is a year round endeavor but summertime leaves few excuses for a lack of effort in imaging. We have had some interesting opportunities of late including the exciting alignment of Jupiter and Venus last month. Summertime translates to vacation time for many people. What a great time for cameras!

I recently took a visit up to North Cascades National Park in Washington State nuzzled up along the Canadian Border. Unfortunately there was a wild-fire just north of the border that caused some smoky haze; none-the-less the scenery was breathtaking and the crowds were nil. To be in a National Park in July that lies less than 3 hours from a major city (Seattle) and have virtually no crowds was awesome on a biblical scale.

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Diablo Lake, taken with my Samsung S4 in panorama mode :0

I did not take my 5D Mk II for this adventure and chose rather to take the handy little EOS-M. In one tiny bag I had 5 lenses covering ranges from 11mm to 200mm. (Read about mirroless M and other cameras here.) This was just a simple getaway to hang out with my two boys before the youngest shipped out to the US Army and the Eldest prepares for an internship in Scotland. Dad and the boys hanging out in the spectacular glory of creation.

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Awesome Spires, from just off the shoulder of the North Cascades Hwy. EOS-M with 11-22mm at 11mm

I can really get excited about North Cascades because it provides several things that the more well-known parks such as Yosemite in California generally do not. Light crowds even in the peak season and amazing scenery that is not a clichĂ©. With no offense intended whatsoever to the majesty that is Yosemite, the park is excessively crowded in the summer months. I have been there more than once, and it should be on anyone’s bucket list. The great natural wonders of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and El Capitan are awe-inspiring, but they have been done to death. North Cascades offers an amazing spectacle of natural beauty with out the immediate recognition of the locale.

This park is huge! It is in fact part of a National Park Complex that is roughly as large as the aforementioned Yosemite. There is however few paved roads other than the fantastic North Cascades Hwy. This park can offer the seriously hardcore backpackers a paradise or hell depending on perspective, unlike any they have likely seen before. It is a virtually desolate alpine wilderness that is so epically snowy that the highway is closed from November through April. The pass is only at 5400 feet but the snow comes down by the truck-load. The North Cascades receive more snowfall than just about anywhere on Earth. In fact back in 1998 Mount Baker measured the most snowfall in a single season ever recorded on this planet. 1140 inches of snow by the way. That is 95 feet or 29 meters for our international readers. Mount Baker Ski Area at an elevation of just 4200 feet averages 645 inches a year! Mount Baker is part of the North Cascades but lies outside the actual National Park Boundary.

For guys like me whose hardcore hiking days are small on the horizon of life’s rear view mirror, this park offered some undeniably delicious views of nature’s grandeur right off the roadway or a very short hike away from a parking area. My youngest son Kyle, called it “Skyrim” If you ever wondered where the scenery came from in that game, I’m pretty sure this was the inspiration.

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Washington Pass Overlook Area

For you youngsters or the young at heart, the back country in this national park is hard to beat. The North Cascades are widely considered to be the most rugged mountain range in the contiguous United States. Whether you want to stay on the pavement or trek through the wilderness North Cascades can offer another amazing feature that the whole State of Washington is well-known for: waterfalls. According to the World Waterfall Database, there are 6 waterfalls in North Cascades National Park with 2000 plus foot heights. The tallest of these is also the second highest in North America, Colonial Falls has a total drop of 2568 feet. Only British Columbia’s James Bruce falls is higher. Of course the islands of Hawaii hold three even taller falls.

The North cascades are highly recommended and bring your good camera gear 🙂 Below are few shots from the Park.

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