My previous two posts focused on autumn color on the Olympic Peninsula, but it’s a diverse and beautiful area, and I made many photographs that didn’t involve fall color. The forests are quite photogenic even without fall leaves, plus some of my favorite images from the trip were made along the coast. And one of the highlights of our trip was photographing a barred owl.
We found this owl while driving along a back road early one morning. The owl took off from a log next to the road and flew into a nearby tree. I didn’t have my camera out, so we backed up to where the owl couldn’t see us. Then I stepped out of the car, grabbed my camera and 100-400mm lens, climbed into the passenger seat (the owl was on the right), and got everything set.
We knew the bird would be more tolerant of a car than a person on foot, so Claudia drove toward the owl, slowly, and stopped at a spot with a good view. I snapped off a few frames, but I wasn’t wild about the background, as there were spots of bright sky behind the bird. So I asked Claudia to back up about 20 feet. That was better; I could position the owl against a tree-covered hillside, without those bright spots. The lichen hanging from the branches surrounding the owl was softly, beautifully backlit. I snapped more frames as the bird looked at me. The owl seemed relatively unfazed by our presence, but eventually flew deeper into the forest and disappeared.
Later that morning I explored a foggy riverside meadow, where I found lots of elk tracks and scat – and tracks from two mountain lions (probably a mother and nearly-grown cub). A little later the sun broke through the fog, spreading spectacular sunbeams above the trees bordering the meadow.
We also had a great time photographing the rocks and sea stacks along this stretch of coastline – including a wonderful sunset during the Visionary Wild workshop. But this coast also has miles and miles and miles of wide, sandy, beaches, without any rocks or sea stacks. At first I thought these beaches were rather featureless and uninteresting. But then I kept finding great foregrounds. During a receding tide those wide, flat areas stayed wet, with wonderful reflections and often-interesting patterns in the sand. Add some clouds to the sky, reflecting their sunset glow onto the wet sand, and a seemingly ordinary beach could be be quite beautiful.
So here’s another selection of photographs from our time on the Olympic Peninsula. This group is an eclectic mix – forests, coastal scenes, and random other stuff. It’s all fun for me.
— Michael Frye
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.