Saturday, February 28, 2009

Photo Technique - Graduated Neutral Density Filter

© Paul K. Anderson
Here is a tip for quickly improving your photographs of the landscape.

More than with any other tool, (except perhaps my tripod) my photographs improved significantly and dramatically when I acquired my first graduated neutral density filter!

I'm not talking about the kind that "screws" onto the end of your lens like your round skylight or polarizing filter, but rather a rectangular piece of "glass" that slides into a holder that "screws" to the end of your lens.

By being rectangular it can slide up and down in the holder so you can adjust where the darkest/lightest part of the filter is located relative to the horizon or other features in your image.

Why?  Well, the camera/film/chip can handle only so much of a range in light values.  To keep it simple, that means usually one part of the image is either too light and the other too dark or vice-versa in difficult light situations! 

The graduated neutral density filter "compresses" the extremes of light to what the camera/film/chip can handle and more closely approximates what your eyes and mind see.  

Depending on which filter you buy, the "top" end of the filter is one, two or three "stops" darker than the clear, untinted  "bottom". The darker portion transitions gradually to clear glass.

In my photograph, the sky was almost totally white when I correctly exposed for the boat, dock and lake.  By adding a two stop GND filter, the sky darkened enough that the true  or more realistic texture and color of the dawn clouds emerged.

The modern digital camera has a solution but you want to use a tripod. 

You take a photo exposing for the darker areas and another for the brighter areas.  Then, when you process the images in your computer, you take the best image from both exposures and seamlessly meld them together using the proper photo software.

It's an effective way of accomplishing the same thing.

But I prefer using the graduated neutral density filter. That's just me.

Here is a link to one type I use:  Singh-Ray Filters.

Stress Free Zone

© Paul K. Anderson

Young Dylan, a cup of cocoa at his side, is working hard (LOL) to get rid of all his stress after spending the morning fishing with a good friend on Ross Lake - amidst the high alpine peaks, fresh air, forested slopes, and glaciers of North Cascades National Park.

Years ago I lived on an island in the salt marshes of southeastern Georgia. I was playing a round of golf by myself one morning and was going to tee off on one of the holes.

I saw another golfer standing near a pond up the fairway watching a young boy fishing with a long cane pole.  I approached the man to ask if I could play through or join him for the round and we started talking.

It turns out I recognized him, he was an owner of an eastern NFL team and one of the richest men in America.  He had probably everything that money could buy, but at that moment all he thought about was how much fun and how stress free a life that young boy was living. He told me he would give anything to be as stress free as the young fisherman.

And that is the power and allure that fishing has for many of us.  It brings back memories of time well spent with family and good friends, dads, uncles, cousins and favorite mentors. It brings back memories of adventures and special locations.

It helps remind us of what is important.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Log Boom

© Paul K. Anderson

Besides protecting the resort the log booms can serve another important purpose..........

Exploration routes!

Old Friends

© Paul K. Anderson

This past fall waiting down on the boat dock I ran into a couple of old friends.  That's Rick on the left and Dennis on the right.

I first met them back in the early to mid 80's at a company where we all worked.  It turns out that Dennis and I had several mutual friends from back in the mid 70's, when he was a ski instructor at Keystone Resort and I was a certifiable ski bum drifting around the mountains of Summit County, Colorado.

Tom Barnett the resorts owner went to Meadowdale High with both of them, and Dennis worked at the resort the first year Tom took it over.  

So these friends have been coming to the resort with groups of other friends for close to 35 years now.

Time For Yourself

© Paul K. Anderson

© Paul K. Anderson

If you don't feel like fishing and want to get out and about there are many hikes to go on and many coves and inlets to explore around the lake.

Kathy, Nancy and Colleen are headed up the Ruby Arm to the creek for a picnic lunch and break from the kids and guys.

Just around the corner from where Ruby Creek enters the lake, many of our guests create cairns or temporary rock art from the numerous rocks and boulders that are exposed after the spring runoff subsides.


Carol is an artist.  She arranges all of the pots, barrels, and planters that you see along the docks and in front of the cabins.  

From spring until late fall something, somewhere is in bloom around the resort.

And you know what?  We don't typically drag hoses around to water the plants!

We don't have to.

We have a bucket to scoop water directly from the lake.

Keeping The Home Fires Burning

Because we are a floating resort, we have a unique delivery system for most of the daily tasks that you would find at any resort.  Basically - everything is delivered by boat!

Back in the cove, beyond the bunkhouses, is our heavy work area. We have a floating sawmill and we have floats for chopping and splitting the wood that you find stacked near your cabin.

During late autumn and through the winter, fierce storms can hit the area. Trees most exposed on the shoreline sometimes topple over and into the lake.

Each spring when the runoff is at its peak from the surrounding mountains and glaciers, the creeks and streams flood. Trees are swept into Ross Lake and drift down lake towards the dam.

In front of the resort and the dam you notice a series of log booms.  These booms serve an important purpose.  They protect the dam (and also the resort) from wave damage and from trees and logs that come down the lake.

With the approval from the National Park and from Seattle City Light, Ross Lake Resort will remove these threats from the water and use them for firewood. Throughout the year staff will be chopping, splitting, stacking, curing and delivering wood to the cabins.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In Memory of....

© Paul Anderson

On the wall of one of the buildings heading to the office from the cabins are memorials to friends, families, fishing buddies who have come to Ross Lake to "fish these waters."

What a Great Group of Rangers

© Paul Anderson
For all of us that love the outdoors, is there a better group of dedicated people than the National Park Rangers?

They provide the first official response to any problem we encounter in the National Parks -hiking, mountain climbing, boating, fishing, kayaking.

They protect the natural resources of the most spectacular areas in the United States for all of us!

They help educate millions of people each year to the wonders of America!

If you see one of our Rangers out on the trail or lake don't forget to wave hello!

And don't forget to visit the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center just down the road in Newhalem. They have excellent displays, movies and book store loaded with informative readings for your visit here in the North Cascades.

Mom and Son Returning from Fishing Near Cougar Island

If you want to photograph your friends, family or group, one location I highly recommend is the waters around Cougar Island shortly after the sun comes over the mountains to the east.  Depending on the direction you are shooting you can have mountains front lit, side lit, or flylines backlit like those shots of Doug Horton and his red line.

Photograph the Light

© Paul K. Anderson

© Paul K. Anderson

© Paul Anderson  

When you want to capture the mood or emotion of the landscape it is important to capture the light at it's most interesting or dramatic. That typically means in the morning from a little before dawn until several hours after, and from just after sunset to several hours before.

You also can capture dramatic landscapes on the edge of weather changes.

Mid-day is best for getting in closer with people action shots.  You would also want to use fill flash if you have it, to balance out shadows in the bright sunlight.

I admit I can't resist shooting the mountains on the return trip from Ruby Arm in the early afternoon, but I am usually diasappointed with the flat, washed out look to the scenery and especially the sky.

If the light is fading try using your tripod to ensure crisp images.

Try photographing early and late and during changing weather patterns to evoke the true mood of the North Cascades and Ross Lake.

Morning Fishing below Jack Mountain

© Paul Anderson

Whether you are fishing, exploring, kayaking, canoeing, hiking or just relaxing the scenery from so many parts of the lake is inspirational.

Departure Day!

Tom Barnett stops by the cabin to pick up the guests and their luggage for the start of the trip home.

It is a melancholy time for our family and the kids always say on the truck ride out "I can't wait to get back here next year!"

You have the choice of leaving on the morning boat and truck or in the afternoon - depending on your schedule.

Sometimes guests do arrive on the morning boat, but the cabin availability is subject to when the previous guests leave and to housekeeping's schedule. You would have to check with the office before you arrive.

If you are dying to head out fishing and/or exploring in one of our rental boats, canoes or kayaks, we can store your luggage and drop it at your cabin after it is prepared for you!

Morning Coffee

© Paul Anderson

Colleen and Allyson relax while the kids are off dinking around.