Skagit Valley Tulips and Daffodils- 2017

Daffodils at sunrise 2Last weeks snow was short lived, the last few days temps have been inching up towards a balmy 50 degrees. Today I did a bit of reconnoitering in the tulip zone.

The daffodils fields have sprouted, the green little shoots about 2 to 3 inches high…

How long until we see flowers? My experience is that on sunny warm day (sunny and temps in the 50’s or 60’s) the flowers speed up by a factor of 5 over a regular day (temps in the 40’s and cloudy).

So, if we get a solid 4 or 5 days of warm, it wont be too long. If the cool temps hang around, maybe we’ll see Daffodils at the end of Feb. That’s what I am betting on.

The La Conner Daffodil Festival web site has a link to the current Bloom Map, and you can see where the various types of dazzling flowers will pop up amongst the tapestry of fields.

The last 4 years have seen the bloom dates get earlier. Last two years have seen the tulip fields getting topped before mid-April!

So, stay informed, as the blooming can change fast, but generally plan for the last week of March or first week of April, latest, to pay a visit!

The Official Site of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival holds the key to all you need for a fantastic visit for Tulip Festival.Skagit_Valley_Tulip_Festival 2015_1

 

If you don’t love lots of traffic, try to avoid Saturday and Sundays between 10am and 5pm. Pretty much any other time will find you a lot more space!

I tend to head over for sunrises, any day for sunrise is good. Even on the weekends there are very few people for sunrises. And the weekdays are wonderful for sunset shooting.

Tulip Festival Photo Tours

I provide Tulip Photo Tours for anyone interested. These half day Photo Tours are a blast, we’ll visit as many of the best fields as we can, and along the way I will offer any advice (if wanted!) about exposure and composition. Here is the link to find out more.

 

Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake, North Cascades

Mount Shuksan is reported to be the most photographed mountain in North America. One possible reason for this is that Picture Lake and this vantage point are just a few feet from where you park along the Mount Baker Highway.
Mount Shuksan
You can see faintly a SUV there, on the left that I forgot to photoshop out…

This image is from a September visit, nice red color from the huckleberry bushes.

This spot is about a 60 mile / 90 minute drive from my house, in Sedro Woolley. The last 10 miles gain 4,000 feet and its quite twisty!
I have visited many times at night, hoping to capture the great arc of the Milky Way Galaxy above Picture Lake and Mount Shuksan. This image is from a visit in June.
mount-shuksan-and-the-milky-way-jan
To get a good image of the Milky Way you need a wide angle lens. This allows you to have a longer exposure, capturing more light. But the wide angle lens also makes everything look farther away!

If you would like to learn how to go about capturing night sky images like these you may be interested in a North Cascades Night Sky Photo Tour. This is where we meet some near Sedro-Woolley and I give a guided tour to a great location for night sky imaging (like Picture Lake!) and then assist you to capture your own images.  Here is the link to learn more. There are drive-in tours, where we return home late after our photo shoot, and also Overnight Tours here we will backpack into a cool location for night sky imaging, like her at the Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout.

winchester-lookout-10

 

Diablo Overlook Winter Night Sky

On Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 I made my way to the Diablo Overlook on the North Cascades Highway.

The plan was to see about a few sunset pics and then wait for the stars.

Here are the results!

diablo-winter-panoranaThis is 4 images, photo merged into a panorama.

And a few more. The 2017 dates for the North Cascades Night Sky Photo Tours are set. Here is the link to find out more, and if you’re interested, register for this years tours.

Images of 2016

The year has come to an end.

2017 and the future beckon. Like it or not, here they come!

But today is a day for reflection. To look back and see what was accomplished, to revisit the beauty and wonder I commiserated with and to merrily contemplate new sights to see and places to go.

First Beach, Olympic Coast

First Beach 3  These two images were captured at the fishing village of La Push, on the Olympic Coast. The image on the right is backlit by lights at the marina.

The image on the right features Orion as well as Em and Amber!

2017 Calendars are still available here!

 

One evening on the spring I had a premonition of a fiery sky, I headed over to Bow and found these images.

The Tulip Festival started in February again…well, the daffodils did anyway… Trying to find that perfect match with the flowers and the sky…what a fun problem to have!

My first serious backpack for the year ended up getting rained and stormed out midway, but I did find a few flowers along the way, in the Pasayten Wilderness.

My night sky images for the year took me to Diablo Overlook, Washington Pass Overlook and Winchester Mountain Lookout several times each.

The opportunity opened to return to Spider Meadows, and climb up and over the pass at Spider Gap. What a fantastically exhilarating feeling to crest the top and look down to Lyman Basin below…

If you haven’t spent the night in a Fire Lookout, make sure to put it on your list…choose a evening when there are mostly clear, partly cloudy skies forecast and get ready for a color show! These images are from Winchester Lookout, above Twin Lakes.

Fall is a wonderful time for hiking, no bugs and great colors…these images are from Washington Pass and Blue Lake.

I led a Night Sky Photo Tour Eastern Washington to capture images of the old Govan School House… if you’re interested in learning Night Sky  Imaging, you may like to come out on a Night Sky Photo Tour

And lastly, visited my favorite camping spot in Washington, Sahale Glacier Camp! Here are some details if you’d like to go out on a North Cascades Photo Tour this coming summer!

I wish you excitement and adventure in 2017, anything but a boring life! I look forward to hearing of and seeing images of the places you go and the things you do! Have fun and hope to see you on the trail,

Andy

Winter along the Cascade Loop Highway

Last week I had an opportunity to drive over the mountains on the Cascade Loop Highway, to Eastern Washington for a 3 day winter photo safari. The plan was to escape and explore on the east side of the mountains where they have a REAL winter with snow and that sort of thing.

I had intended to do some hiking and out door adventures but my plans were derailed by the two wonderfully sumptuous resorts I stayed in along the way.

My trip took me over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth, where I stayed at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Leavenworth is a heaven for all winter activities, and the weather was perfect: It snowed the night before I arrived, was clear during the day and snowed again late at night, making for perfect conditions.

The drive over Stevens Pass was uneventful, at a bit over 4,000 feet the top of the pass was crusted with snow, but traction was good and all went perfectly.

The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort was such a treat. Everything about the place is wonderful, the rooms, food, hospitality and location, in fact it was too nice! I found myself so pampered that I didn’t make it very far afield out side, but rather luxuriated in the spa, hot tub and wonderfully warm room…

Here are a few images from my stay.

The next day took me further east along the Cascade Loop Highway to Twisp and another way too incredible lodging opportunity at the Twisp River Suites.

I rarely stay in resorts, or even hotels for that matter, I am happy with my Thermarest and sleeping bag. I am slightly embarrassed to report that I made little effort to brave the elements outdoors, but rather opted for the living the life of luxury at the Twisp River Suites. The room was amazing, everything perfect, even the couch was captivating, it enveloped me completely!

But, I did manage to get a few pics and here they are!

Merry Christmas, everyone!