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Beach, Forks, Washington

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Someone suggested that the slideshow links from my trip aren't really easy to find so...


It's funny because this is Marcus's least favorite of the 3 slideshows, and it's my favorite. I had a really hard time narrowing down the photos from the beach so it is a bit repetitive, and there aren't any cute animals. The beaches were really gorgeous though.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

Our first night in Forks, we took the short hike through the woods to Second Beach for sunset. The beach is sandy with a really unique arch. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so sunset wasn't as colorful as I'd hoped. Other than a few others taking pictures, the beach was empty, and the walk back to the car through the dark forest was a little creepy - especially when the bats started swooping all around our heads.
Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

We visited Ruby Beach in the middle of the afternoon which is usually my least favorite time of day for photos. It had more rocks than Second Beach and was very crowded, but it's easily accessible down a wide, steep path from the parking and is probably beautiful at sunset.
Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

Rialto beach was my favorite, but that may have something to do with the fact that we had a clear sunset while visiting. It is covered with little pebbles and had large waves. You can park just a few feet from the beach, and there's a public bathroom. The beach was crowded, but we walked down the beach and away from most of the people. The only thing that I didn't like was that the beach pretty much disappears at high tide. I was afraid that we would be have to walk back through the twisted stack of tree trunks that lines the beach (a VERY difficult task even in daylight), but we didn't.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

We did visit several places on our trip and feel like we had a good overview of the area. For a really romantic, relaxing vacation, you may want to go somewhere that involves a little less traveling around. However, if you're like me and have a hard time sitting in one spot, I think this is a great little trip. I don't really feel like we missed anything major, and we didn't feel too rushed either.

My least favorite part was probably Vancouver, but Victoria and the whale watching are fun. The alternative is to just take the ferry over to Victoria and back from Port Angeles which doesn't seem as productive.

Here's our itinerary:

Day 1 - arrive in Seattle

Day 2 - tour Seattle (Pike Place Market, Museum of Flight, Space Needle)

Day 3 - Boeing factory tour, drive to Vancouver (Stanley Park)

Day 3 - Grouse Mountain, ferry to Victoria

Day 4 - whale watching, ferry to Port Angeles

Day 5 - Hurricane Ridge, drive to Forks by way of Crescent Lake, (can visit Sol Duc here but we took a nap instead), sunset at Second Beach

Day 6 - Hoh Rainforest, Ruby Beach, Sol Duc, sunset at Rialto

Day 7 - return to Seattle (chance to do anything you missed out on before)

Day 8 - Fly home

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Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

By the time we got through customs, ate dinner, and checked into our hotel in Port Angeles, it was time for bed. I will say that the hotel choices in Port Angeles are limited so you may want to look into the B&B options. Although he only had a couple of hours sleep, Marcus got up early with me (thanks, Honey!). I really wanted to be on Hurricane Ridge closer to sunrise, but the sun was coming up SUPER early. It's a 17 mile drive into Olympic National Park from Port Angeles, and I think we got up to the visitor center around 7. After taking one of the shorter walks close to the visitor center, we drove to the end of the road and started the trek to the top of the hill.
Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

The trip to the top of Hurricane Hill is an absolute must-see and one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. The trail climbs about 650 feet from the parking and can be steep, but it's worth the trouble. At that time of morning, there were very few people on the trail, and we could really enjoy the wildlife and stupendous views. When you get to the top, you can enjoy the views in every direction, looking down to Port Angeles and the Strait of Juan de Fuca or inland across the tops of the Olympic Mountains. The juxtaposition of colorful wildflowers and melting snow is spectacular, and we saw several marmots. Do remember to take water, sunscreen, and a sun hat as the trail is mostly exposed. We got sunburned on our whale watching trip and spent the rest of the trip peeling.

Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

After leaving Hurricane Ridge, we drove west past the beautifully blue Lake Crescent and checked into our room in Forks for two nights. Forks has a few choices for lodging and food (try Pacific Pizza) and is an easy drive to the places we wanted to visit. One of those places was the Hoh Rainforest where we took one of the easy walks near the visitor center. The moss-covered trees are HUGE, and we had a run-in with a spunky squirrel and elk right on the trail. One of the rangers eventually had to chase the elk off so that the visitors could use the trail. We also hiked out to the waterfall at Sol Duc Hot Springs.

Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

The Olympic National Park isn't huge (at least not the parts that are easily accessible), and you can hit most of the highlights in just a few days or stay longer and revel in the beauty of nature. Enjoy the show!


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Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I decided it would be easiest to share the photos from our trip to the Pacific Northwest if I split it up into 3 posts, each with its own slideshow so that you can really see the beauty of the area.

Just in case anyone else wants to take the same trip, I'm going to make it a little easier by sharing the details. For those who'd rather just see some pictures, you can skip the commentary and watch the flash slideshow (notice: music will play automatically but can be turned off and slideshow will loop)

First we flew into Seattle where we rented a car and spent a couple of days exploring the city. I got a great rate on priceline for the the Hyatt Regency Bellevue which acted as our home base. Bellevue is an upscale area with lots of food and shopping nearby. Although we saved $ on the room, we did have the added expense of commuting downtown and parking. The hotel was very nice, but if I did it again then I may go for a hotel right downtown.
Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 1/3

In Seattle, we visited the famous Pike Place Market (which was entirely too crowded to even enjoy) and had some great clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder. We also visited the Seattle Museum of Flight and took the obligatory trip to the top of the Space Needle just after sunset for some beautiful views of the city. We had excellent weather for our entire trip, but the sky was unfortunately too overcast to see Mt Rainier on our first days in Seattle (the picture above was taken on our last day when we returned to Seattle to fly home). Some of the best views of the mountain were from the plane. I saw it poking up through the clouds on my flight into the city and had even more majestic views of it on our flight out so you may want to book a window seat.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 1/3Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 1/3

We left Seattle one morning and drove north to the Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center where we took a fascinating tour of the huge factory where they assemble the Boeing jets (no cameras allowed). Then we drove over the border and ended the day in Vancouver.  All of the hotels in Vancouver are expensive, but I would recommend finding one on the waterfront near the convention center. Burrard Street is another good option as it is a major artery for food and shopping.

In Vancouver, we ate at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown and took a trip to Grouse Mountain overlooking the city.  There was a black bear sighting the day we visited, but we also saw grizzlies playing inside an enclosure. We were only in the city one day (and are both afraid of heights) so we skipped the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but we did take a drive through the city's famous Stanley Park.  In the evening, we boarded our ferry for the trip over to Victoria on Vancouver Island. I booked the ride that ended just at sunset, and the views from the boat were breathtaking.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 1/3

In Victoria, we took a morning trip with Eagle Wing Tours to see the Orcas. I highly recommend this tour outfit. Although it was a sunny and warm day in Victoria, we definitely needed the heavy coats that they provided, and I was especially happy with our choice of tour providers after seeing some of the other little boats being taken out by other companies. Although there was a huge fog bank, we had plenty of sightings and were lucky enough to even see a whale breach (although I couldn't catch a picture) and some sunbathing harbor seals.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 1/3

After two days in British Columbia, we boarded another ferry for the sunset cruise back to Washington. Although we were comfortable in jeans and t-shirts for most of the trip, you definitely need several warm layers and a hat or hoodie for those windy ferry rides! We arrived in Port Angeles just as the sun set, and near the end of the slideshow you can see photos of the Olympic Mountains taken from the ferry as we approached the mainland.

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Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, July 3, 2008
A girl's gotta have a summer break! I will be out of the office July 3-12. All emails and voicemails will be answered after I return to work on the 13th.
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Concord, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Categories: ,
I always try to schedule outdoor portrait sessions or wedding photos within a few hours of sunrise or sunset because afternoon sun is just not fun. If you luck out and have clouds then it can be great, but on sunny days it is better to just wait until the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. The light gets warmer (more golden), and you don't get the horrible shadows and squinting that you have in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, wedding schedules aren't always as flexible as we'd like so you have to learn to work with the sun.

On one recent sunny (and ridiculously hot) day, I shot some photos at the park with sisters S&L. We got some keepers, but I also took the opportunity to snap a few shots that show exactly why afternoon sun is not ideal for outdoor photos.

This shot of the ducklings is a good example of one of the problems we face on sunny days. Even when you can find shade, it is often broken up with patches of bright sunlight. While our eyes are able to accurately view a scene like this, the camera can't expose for both the dark shadows and bright highlights. I actually combined two different exposures to get this one that isn't completely over or under exposed.
Fun in the Sun... or not

You can do some cool shots with full sun, but it is really the worst lighting in my opinion for formal portraits. The three shots below are straight from the camera. The first shot is in full sun. If you don't have any shade and have to shoot in these conditions then you would need to use flash to fill in the shadows on the face. Unfortunately, she was wearing white which, as you can see, is way overexposed in the sunlight. Trying to get an even exposure is tricky enough without having to worry about bright white clothing.

The second shot is of her standing in the uneven shade of a tree (notice one patch of sunlight hit her shoulder). I exposed for her which resulted in a blown-out background. She obviously looks the best in this photo, but you lose the beautiful scenery.

I took the third shot exposing for the background, but this obviously leaves our subject in the dark shade. To fix this, I would need to light her with flash or reflector. That scenario would give the most even lighting, and the white shirt wouldn't be as much of a problem.

Fun in the Sun... or not

Flash can help a lot with photos in the sun, but it will have to work very hard and can overheat on a day that's already super hot. To avoid some of those problems on this day, I just tried to shoot with both the girls and the background in the shade. I also used a reflector to help light some of the shadows. We ended up with some nice shots, but if you want to really take advantage of your surroundings and get some great wide shots then it's best to just schedule your outdoor photos for the morning or evening.

Fun in the Sun... or not

Fun in the Sun... or not

L wore a little brown dress that belonged to her grandmother when she was a little girl. I photographed S wearing it when she was 7 as well.

Fun in the Sun... or not

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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