Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hurricane ridge, Olympic Peninsula

Deer at Hurrican ridge

Equipment: Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 100-400mm

Image details: 200mm, f/8, 1/500sec, ISO 400
Hurricane ridge is my favorite place in the Olympic Peninsula. The top of the ridge at about 5200' offers spectacular views of Mount Olympus and the Lillian Ridge. The surrounding fields are usually full of wildflowers taking advantage of the brief growing season.The view is different in every season - winter, spring and summer. Wildlife is abundant around the ridge - black tail deer, mule deer, marmots can be found in the meadows around the ridge.

Hurricane ridge is about an hours drive from Port Angeles. There is a visitor center at the bottom on the ridge and also at the top of the ridge. The visitor center at the bottom of the ridge is larger and also has a naturalist display that is very interesting. The winding road to hurricane ridge has numerous vista points where you can pull off the road and enjoy spectacular views of the Strait of Juan De Fuca. On a clear day you can see Mt Baker and the Dungeness spit lighthouse.

Spring is one of the best times to shoot at the ridge - its wildflower season and the Lupines and Avalanche lilies are in full bloom. There is a the short hike to hurricane hill from the parking lot. All along the trail you will be treated to sweeping panoramic views of the Olympic mountains. I like to use the lupines as foreground to compose some shots of the Olympic mountains. In summer the best time to shoot is before 8 am or after 8 pm. In early morning sometimes a fog drifts in which can make for some interesting compositions. For more information about the trails around hurricane ridge refer to the following website.

Lupine, Hurricane ridge

Equipment: Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 100-400mm

Image details: 400mm, f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 400
Sunset is traditionally hard to shoot from the ridge because the valley gets into shadow when the peaks are well lit. The best time to shoot is a little before sunset when the valley is not completely in shadow. There are usually deer hanging out in the meadow - I like to use them in my composition. A neutral density filter is very useful here since the peaks are usually 2-3 stops brighter than the valley. If I don't have moving wildlife in my shot I tend to not use the neutral density filter but shoot at different exposures which I can HDR later.

A wide to medium zoom is very useful for this shot - I most commonly use my Canon 24-70 at this spot. I like to use a longer lens like the Canon 100-400 to isolate the deer against the ridge. The ridge is usually windy at the best of times, I always carry a windbreaker and a cap.

The obstruction point road starts from the top of hurricane ridge. This is a narrow single lane dirt road with a steep drop off on the side. This is not for the light of heart! I have heard from friends that there is a Marmot colony at the end of the road but not been there myself.

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