Olympic Peninsula Paradise

Pacific Northwest 2010 798-Edit-1

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is known for its glacier-capped peaks, dense rainforests, pristine coastline, and… rain. Lots of it!

With over 140 inches of rain annually, it can be hard to find the right lighting conditions in this often untraveled corner of the country. Storms can roll in quickly and you’ll find yourself in the rain and clouds for what seem to be an eternity. Don’t give up. This park is one of my favorites due to it’s varying terrain and ecosystems. Imagine staring at the craggy, 7,980 ft., snow-capped Mt. Olympus while hiking above treeline, then meandering through the rainforest, and finally wrapping up the day by watching the sunset over the rugged Pacific Northwest coast. You can easily see why the Roosevelts fought to protect it. (Teddy as a National Monument in 1909 and FDR as a National Park in 1938.)

You can capture this shot by waiting until dusk and making sure to underexpose the composition (meaning to make the picture darker than you might initially expect). By underexposing the shot, you will capture the detail in the distant coastline. Also, make sure to set up the foreground as well. Adding the small coastal stream through the lower right portion of the shot draws your eye through the composition rather than just staring at the massive evergreen-covered sea stack in the center. (Tip: Finding foreground subjects is not hard with all the driftwood laying around.)

To avoid the 140 inches of rain and constant cloud cover, I recommend visiting in late summer (but don’t tell too many people, we don’t want it to get too crowded). And lastly, waiting until right after the sun sets below the horizon is a good way to get an empty beach since most people walk back to their cars after the sun drops out of view (but bring a flashlight). Enjoy!

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