Numbered Beaches, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA Monday, Mar 19 2012 

As I mentioned before, in August 2011 I visited my friend and photographer Tyler in Seattle. He was kind enough to provide me with a tour of nearby National Parks, which he documented quite well over the last few years since he moved into the area.

One day, I’ll tell you a sad story about a very nice sunrise at Mount Rainier, but this story, far less sad, begins later that same day.

After breakfast at Rainier, we broke camp and took a few hours drive west to a quaint little town of Forks, WA, made famous by some teenage vampire novels you may have heard of. We stopped at a few places along the way and took some photos, but the main goal was to get to the Second Beach, a secluded place on the western side of the Olympic peninsula, in time for the sunset.

Third Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Third Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

And we did, or so we thought. The First, Second and Third beaches are adjacent lagoons, each with its own trail leading back to the main road to La Push, WA. But, since it was an afternoon of a long day when we drove by, we didn’t realize we took the trail for the Third beach until we hit the sand, a mile or so later.

Twilight-themed signs at a restaurant in Forks, WA

Twilight-themed signs at a restaurant in Forks, WA

Which was just as well, because it was a perfectly lovely place, and the dying light of the day provided great back lighting to the distant sea stacks. I started a new roll of Fuji Velvia film with two sunset shots, of which I prefer this one, with more dramatic clouds and nice reflection in the water. I wish I had a longer lens than the normal 80mm on my Mamiya 7 medium format camera, or that I were closer to the distant sea stacks, but it still ended up being a very nice photo.

We went back among the werewolves and vampires (see phone camera photo), regrouped and tried again in the morning to find the Second beach. When we got there, I saw why Tyler wanted us to go there in the first place. Massive sea stacks dominated the landscape, and an extremely low tide revealed many of the smaller rocks, and billions of muscle shells clinging on to the rock.

Second Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Second Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Spoiling the fun were the Pacific Northwest clouds which obscured the rising sun. We still tried to make the best of it and trotted around the beach and among the rocks, and made a few photos along the way. I changed films from the high-contrast Fuji Velvia to the lower contrast Ilford Delta 100. The overcast sky and the lingering fog gave the scene a moody feeling, which I ended up enjoying.

Although remote, Olympic National Park is well worth the trip – in this post, I didn’t even mention the central part of the park with rainforests, river valleys and dramatic waterfalls, like the Sol Duc Falls. By the time we got back to civilization, the weather cleared up very nicely. As a bonus from the visit, during our stop at a Starbucks I ended up picking up Hugh Laurie’s excellent CD “Let Them Talk“, which I like almost as much as these photos.

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City Postcards: Seattle Monday, Nov 21 2011 

A few months ago, my friend and photographer Tyler invited me to spend a few days in the Pacific Northwest. Although our main target were the National Parks in the area (photos from Mt. Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are coming shortly), I wanted to get a good look at the city of Seattle. So, here’s a selection of best shots that I created with my new Mamiya 7 camera; all photos were made on Ilford Delta 100 black and white film.

We’ll start this post with a view of Seattle’s most famous building.

Space Needle

Space Needle

I’ve been on top of a few famous buildings, so I didn’t want to spend time and money climbing on top of Space Needle. I’m sure the view is great, but I had limited time to spend downtown, and the ticket was slightly over priced. Nevertheless, it’s still a very cool, sleek structure, in the middle of the city, surrounded by parks and businesses of all kinds. We’ll come back to it in a moment.

Pike Street Market

Pike Street Market

Almost as famous as the Space Needle is the Pike Street Market. It’s blocks and blocks of shops and vendors, centered around the intersection of Pike Street and First Avenue. You may have seen the whole fish-throwing act; that’s right here. According to the clock, it was around 3:30 P.M. when this was taken. It was Thursday and it was lively; people having lunch, running errands, tourists with cameras around their necks, UPS truck deliveries… It’s a city center in many ways.

Coffee House, Seattle

Coffee House, Seattle

Rewind a few hours, and go back about a mile, and this is the scene in a more quiet part of Pike Street, further up on the hill. One other thing that Seattle is famous for is coffee, and the coffee houses are everywhere. This one caught my eye because it was particularly colorful, with its teal paint job and a gold window frames. And yet, as I often do, I preferred this b/w film shot to my color digital. Maybe it’s the old-school font in the name of the business that gave the whole scene a more serene, relaxed look.

Downtown Seattle, from Gasworks Park

Downtown Seattle, from Gasworks Park

The August days were surprisingly sunny, but this Monday started like a traditional Seattle day – gloomy, overcast, with a bit of a drizzle. I explored the neighborhood of Fremont and moved along the shoreline until I got to Gas Works Park. Tyler has made some fantastic images there, and I was excited to see the old machinery that still resides there, but the park is also a nice overlook to downtown Seattle on the other side of Lake Union. There’s Space Needle again on the right edge of the photo.

Machinery, Gasworks Park

Machinery, Gasworks Park

An interesting note about the machinery photo above is that I heavily corrected the vertical perspective in PhotoShop. In the original image, the chimneys were converging toward the middle axis of the photo. Because of the correction, the chimney on the left looks unusually large, but I’m satisfied with the overall result.

And, finally, here is my favorite photo. With only a few hours before I had to head back to Seattle-Tacoma International airport, I took a bus toward Volunteer park and then walked over to Lake View Cemetery. I wanted to visit one of the most visited grave sites in the US, the final resting place of Bruce Lee, my childhood hero and one of the coolest icons of the world of film. The cemetery office was across the street from the gate, so I stopped by to sign the guest book and pick up directions to find Bruce and his son Brandon.

How cool was Bruce Lee? Well, consider this: Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris were among the pall bearers at his funeral. Rest in peace, master.

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