Night Sky Images at Winchester Lookout

The Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout is located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, along the Mount Baker Highway. This is one of the few remaining lookouts in Washington. Most of them were removed, but several are now maintained by local alpine clubs. The Mt Baker Club does a fantastic job of caring for and maintaining the Winchester lookout, you can donate to their efforts here.

During the summer the lookout is open to the public, you can day hike up and spend the day there, or if you’re inclined, you can spend the night. There are no reservations, its first come, you got it for the night. If you hike up and the lookout of already claimed for the night there is plenty of flat space nearby where you can pitch a tent.

I have hiked up and spent the night atop Winchester Mountain 5 times, three of those trips I slept in the lookout, and 2 times I camped in my tent. Basically, if you want to sleep in the lookout, go on the weekdays and go very early. And bring a tent or a bivvy sack just in case! Oh yes, and bring all your water, there is none there, nor along the hike.

The view from the lookout is unbelievable.

As you can imagine the night sky views are fantastic. To the south and east the darkness is almost complete. The western horizon is aglow in the direction of Vancouver to the north, Bellingham to the west and Skagit Valley south.

These 4 images were taken during the same evening. Check out the green aurora glow!

During the same night, a view of Mount Larrabee from Winchester.

Here is one more for good measure. Good luck and happy shooting! I may see yo there.

If you’re interested, Night Sky Photo Tours are available, you can find out more here. 

Winchester Mountain

I visited Winchester Mountain Lookout this last August, on the New Moon, hoping for some nice night sky images.

I was with two clients who had signed up for a Hike-In Night Sky Photo Tour.

We arrived early at the trail head so as to get to the Lookout early and so “reserve”it for the night.

The hike in is beautiful, less that 2 miles. We arrived and just lazed about until the sky got dark.

My first comp was this shot of the lookout with the Milky Way above…how awesome!

I got this image and mostly thought I was done, but figured, what the heck, I am out here anyway, might as well shoot some more. I went to the other side of the lookout to shoot, now facing north…and was shocked to see the green glow of the aurora borealis along the horizon!

I decided to do a time lapse image, I used a 20 minute exposure at 100 ISO and here is the result.

And here is one more shot, of Mount Larrabee.

Washington Journey Magazine

Some months ago I was referred to a local travel author for tips on capturing awesome landscape images. I shared my ideas and sent it off with some images. I was a bit surprised to get a call later from a “fact checker” to verify what I had said!

Months past and I assumed the article was scrapped, but behold, here it is in the Fall issue of Washington Journey Magazine.

Departures  — Journeys Issue: September/October 2017

Scroll down a bit for the article “Picture Perfect”.

The next Night Sky Class at the North Cascades Institute is scheduled for Sat. Sept. 16th. This class is through NCI, I am the instructor. We will visit Artist Point.

I will also be doing Night Sky Tours on Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday,Oct. 21 Here is the Link. 

Classes in Burlington and Marysville start again September.

 

Star Trails

Here are my first two efforts at star trails.

This image is from Friday night, at the Diablo Overlook, along Highway 20 in the North Cascades National Park

and this image was captured on Sunday night, along the Baker River in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.

The next new moon is June 23rd…I will be teaching a class on Night Sky Photography through the North Cascades Institute on Friday, June 23rd, details here.

OR if you’d like to go on a Night Sky Photo Tour, have a look here.

Govan Schoolhouse, Wilbur, Washington

The Govan Schoolhouse is an abandoned 2-story school located near Wilbur Wa.

All of its windows are long gone and the roof is mostly just some slats. I brought along several lanterns to use inside the school to illuminate it, to make it glow a bit.

The orientation of the building to the Milky Way was not perfect, but I made the best of it.

This image is a photomerge of two shots, then edited as a HDR image, with Photomatix, then edited a bit more in Camera Raw, and then Photoshop.

 

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