Upper East Canyon Creek, Washington

Upper East Canyon Creek, Washington

The one thing I have learned from the practice of landscape photography is that of flexibility. You can start the day with a plan, but the weather or circumstances may dictate something else.

On a day between my work shifts (my full-time job is a firefighter), I intended to once again visit the alpine areas of Mt. Rainier National Park. As I left work that morning, I saw that the “mountain was out” (a Pacific Northwest term for when you can see Mt. Rainier from the lowlands). As the morning progressed and the closer I got to the mountain, the haze increased. The smoke from the wildland fires burning east of Cayuse Pass created poor visibility conditions. So bad that Mt. Rainier was almost invisible. Not ideal for landscape photography, nor my lungs had I gone for a hike at altitude. 

For clearer skies, my best choice was to head south to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

After an afternoon of exploring and stopping for the occasional photo, I ended up driving down Forest Road 2322. When I crossed the bridge over East Canyon Creek, I saw this scene before me. I had to stop and make a photograph.

Below the bridge was a small waterfall cascading down about 10-feet into a narrow slot canyon. After that, it opened up into a slow-moving pool of water surrounded by vertical rocky walls.

My focus for this photograph was on the scene upstream from the bridge. The areas within the rocky canyon were in darkness, even in the late afternoon. Upstream, the canyon opened up. Sunlight shined upon the forest, creating a bright focal point of beautiful Pacific Northwest greens.

To get into the position for this composition, I had to climb down a small rock face a short distance to the water level. Because of late August’s low water flow, I was able to position myself at stream level. I composed this intimate landscape photograph by standing on the slippery rocks in the middle of the creek.

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