Scenic photography on Fidalgo Island        

Last week was my second article about my trip to the coast. I wrote that there were three very different photographic opportunities that I took advantage of on my four-day stay, the street photography during the festival, the architectural photography on a quiet Sunday morning and the scenic photography.

Jo and I wandered the beaches early in the morning. Walked along wooded paths during the day. Climbed the rock-covered breakwater beside a deteriorating wreck in the afternoon, and stood on a darkened pier at night.

We trudged to each location carrying equipment filled backpacks with tripods on our shoulders talking about, and making decisions concerning the photographs we would take.

As I sat down in the sand that first afternoon I thought about how hard it is for most people to do photography with me. Jumping out of the car, running to a view point, taking a picture, then jumping back in the car and driving to the next view is not my style.

I have to think, ponder and sit for a while. I am never in a hurry when it comes to scenic photographs. I have a need to experience the place. And, of course, I like to use a tripod.

On this trip we had my new 14-24mm and 28-300mm lenses to try out.

I have never been a fan of really wide photos, so using the 14mm was quite an experience. I purchased a 150mm polarizing filter and filter holder for that wide lens, and although that seemed to be a good setup the protruding front lens glass is vignetted by the filter holder resulting in a disappointing 19mm view.

The 28-300mm was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to like it after trying it in a dimly lighted studio. In the studio it had a hard time finding focus. However, I think the problem might be the lack of contrast in the studio because in that bright coastal light I was stopping birds in flight and getting sharp, colourful pictures.

I’ll hang on to both lenses. Like cameras, they are just tools and not every tool fits every job.

I had visited most of the places we photographed many time before. But all I have to do to make them different from past years is to place my tripod in a new location, crop my view and change the center of interest.

Even after all the years going there I still don’t have a favourite place, Although there are locations that I like to stop at depending on the time of day.

I always choose Cap Sante Park with its high lookout over Anacortes when I first arrive. During the day there are several rocky beaches that are waiting to be re-explored and photographed, and I always make time to walk out on the high Deception Park Bridge for a photo of the Deception Pass as it connects with the sea.

The evenings usually find me in Washington Park photographing both the leaning tree (it was still alive when I started visiting in the mid 1990s) that hangs out over the sea, and the island filled ocean from a high lookout as we complete the parks winding ring road on the way back to the city center.

The best place to stand a tripod after dark is the beachside Seafarers Park for a long exposure night photograph across Fidalgo bay of the Marathon refinery’s lights.

I do enjoy my yearly excursions to Anacortes and plan on many more. I was having dinner with several people this past week and was asked about my trip to the coast. And as with many times before I talked about what I did, but I didn’t have any photographs to make clear as to why I return there year after year.

The famous American scenic photographer, Ansel Adams, explained it best when he said, “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

Photography on a quiet Sunday morning     

 

Saturday’s Shipwreck festival in the seaside town of Anacortes was a hive of activity.

I won’t begin to guess how many people there were, but I didn’t have much of a chance to include the architecture of that coastal town in the midst of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. I understand the population in that area may be over 16,000 and if one of the many store-keeps I met had said, “everyone’s here” I probably would have believed them.

From what I have read, a railroad surveyor named Amos Bowman moved his family to the northern tip of Fidalgo Island in 1877 and promoted the area as a terminus for the Northern Pacific Railway that was being built to the Pacific ocean. The name “Anacortes” is an adaptation his wife’s name, Anne Curtis Bowman.

Jo and I had chosen to spend another day. And as we sat on the beach watching the sun slowly sink into the ocean after the busy festival we decided that an early morning stroll through the town would be fun.

Sunday mornings at 8:30AM in most towns and cities allow photographers ample opportunity to stand almost anywhere to take pictures. Traffic is usually sparse and slow moving so standing in or walking across the street is pretty safe.

The day had clear blue skies and strong shadows that made for some creative architectural photography.

Jo was using a 14-24mm lens and I had my 24-70mm. Both our cameras are full frame so we could capture some very wide photos as we wandered back and forth totally intent on the buildings around us.

I noticed a couple walk out of a street side coffee shop and just before the woman got in the car she stopped to hold her cell phone at arm’s length to take a picture of the big arch over the street that said, “Thanks for visiting Downtown Anacortes”. I thought good for her and stepped into the street and made one of the few wide town photos I took that day. Most of my shots were closer and cropped tightly on the buildings I was photographing.

It’s fun looking at the designs and different types of construction that buildings have. I don’t know the history of how Anacortes grew, but there are all kinds of styles. Some, I have no doubt, are turn of the century.

I like the photographic opportunities that costal town offers me, the street photography during the festival, the architectural photography, the scenic photography of the wooded areas close to ocean and, yep, the beautiful beaches.

We spent four days having a great time pointing our cameras at anything and every thing. I will say that I was a bit worried last year that Jo would get bored when she asked me if she could come with me on my annual Shipwreck Festival pilgrimage, but she didn’t and there was no way under the sun that she was getting left behind this year, so there we were having the best of times on the coast of Washington for a second year. Its now only three weeks past and we are already talking about next year.

What is better than fresh seafood, a giant street market filled with treasures, sitting on the beach watching the sun sink into the ocean and, of course, four days of unrestricted photography. Hmmm…not much that I can think of.