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    Mount Rainier National Park Photography

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Mount Rainier National Park Photography

The view from Highway 1 in Mount Rainier National Park, looking out over Reflection Lake, is one of the classic photo opportunities within the park. Upper Tipsoo Lake and Lower Tipsoo Lake provide excellent views and photo opportunities on the eastern side of the park. Interestingly, the lake across the street (Little Tipsoo Lake) is even prettier and much less crowded. Located right off the main road, the lake offers a scenic look at Mt Rainier and an unspoiled lake with a nice, mirror-like reflection.

On the southern side of Mount Rainier National Park, there is the opportunity to capture a reflection of Mount Rainer at Tissoo Lake, with a few red blooming plants in the foreground. You can shoot Mount Rainer high up on the ridge or from the lower one with it reflecting into the lake. Mazama Ridge is accessible from the Paradise Meadows parking lot by the Skyline Trail or from below by the Reflection Lakes. The Reflection Lakes area is slightly less well-known, so you may not see as many images of that spot as Reflection Lakes.

The area is ideal for sunrise shots, but you could also spend another 45 minutes there and get some more images. There are more options here than in the Reflection Lakes, as you can park at multiple locations, and each parking lot offers a different perspective (and interpretation) on the scene. These classic locations are just a half-mile away at Paradise Parking Area off Skyline Trail. If you park your car at the visitors center, there are plenty of trails branching out of the visitors center if you are into hikes.

The trails leading to Mt Rainer from Paradise Visitor Center are not too steep, and summer wildflowers provide an incredible backdrop. Just beyond the bridge, continuing on the hills, you will find meadows to shoot in and views of the Tatoosh range if you are looking at Mt Rainier from the opposite direction. Sourdough Ridge is located over the visitors center, so you can get away from the parking lot lights and get a clear, unobstructed view of Mount Rainier. Silverfort Trail winds around the sides of Sunrise District, taking you through forests and over exposed views, providing viewpoints of Rainier, White River, the Emmons Morraine Glacier, and the entire valley below.

Rainier National Park wedding photography is mainly known for Paradise Lodge. Still, I am completely open to exploring Sunrise or the rest of Rainier National Park, but we arrived in winter with dense fog up the mountain. If you love to capture sunrises, sunsets, and stars at national parks, then Sunrise Area in Mt. Rainier National Park is undoubtedly one location to check out and shoot that should go on your bucket list. You most likely will get luckier than we did with the weather.

Mount Rainier National Park Photography – We came into the park on Route 706 East. This great little town on the way in has some spots you will want to stop and photograph. You can see the little church, The Mount Rainer Scenic Railroad, and just a few cool things around the small town.  It’s a good time to stop here for food at the Mount Rainer Railroad Dining Co. Be sure to get some food and or snacks. There is only one more stop for food along the way and again at the top of the mountain, and it’s costly.

There are a few spots not to miss along the way for photography and the family. Ex Nihilo Sculpture Park, along the way to Mt. Rainier National Park, is the brainchild of Washington artist Daniel Klennert. This is a must-stop spot, especially if you are an artist at heart. If you are traveling with family, they can stay busy while you have time to take some pictures.

Right past there, on the way to the park, stop here and pick up some goodies. It’s all one road, so you can’t get lost.

Click on the first image below and scroll through the images of the park. It’s one road in and one road out so you are sure to pass all of the places you see in our slideshow. ENJOY!! If you would like to consider going on a tour in another part of the USA or Canada be sure to visit: www.extraeyesphototours.com

Christine Falls – One of many waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park Photography

Mount Rainier National Park – You can’t miss this spot right along the road on the way up the mountain. There is not much parking along the road, but we got lucky. It was a Saturday in June, and there were only two other people besides us.  We photographed this spot for about an hour. It was one of our favorite places on the journey. As you can see, it was very cloudy/foggy and rainy this day.

We had to find the exact place to see the falls without the tree limbs our way.  This first picture was shot at 4 sec. f/22, ISO 100.  f/22 and ISO 100 is standard for your waterfall photography, and you must be on a tripod to do a long exposure. Your shutter speed will vary depending on your filter.  We like the Tiffen 1.2, which we used here. It only gives a slight color cast and is easily correctable.  It was enough on a cloudy/rainy day to easily allow a 4-second exposure.  See Neutral Density Filters and learn about them here if you are not yet familiar with them. Have some lens clothes handy when shooting in the rain, and don’t forget your lens hood and camera raincoat.


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Mount Rainier National Park Photography – One night, we stayed at the top of the Mountain at The Paradise Inn. It was raining and getting dark. If we were to continue or turn around, it would be an hour’s drive down the winding mountain back to the nearest lodging, so we stayed, and we enjoyed it.  The food was fantastic. Everything was good. The service was excellent, the presentation very friendly, and overall, we would rate it an 8 out of 10. The prices were not too insane, being in the middle of nowhere and the only food source. The atmosphere is out of this world! If I died and went to heaven, this rustic cabin atmosphere is where I would end up. It’s like a ski lodge environment with giant fireplaces and but no skiers.

The room was excellent, but there was no TV or internet. Boy, we were lost. We went to the library area in this substantial rustic log-cabin-style country-type place, and we chatted with some fellow non-tv watchers. We survived. Our only complaint was where we were; the walls were paper thin. One of the staff roared, “Isn’t it nice that I can hear every word of your conversation as if I were in your room.” The hint was not taken.  We were in the smaller rooms for $117.00 with no bathroom. I have to wonder if the $ 267.00-night rooms were any better. (2015)

Mount Rainier National Park Photography
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More Food and Hotels Inside Mount Rainier National Park  :

Be careful. You sometimes have too long of a way to go before getting to the food locations. Be sure to bring snacks and water.

The National Park Inn at Longmire includes a restaurant usually open year-round, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is the only in-park dining facility that is open all year.

Adjacent to the National Park Inn, the Longmire General Store offers a limited selection of groceries, camping supplies, gifts, and souvenirs.

The Paradise Inn includes a restaurant and a small cafe. Like the Inn, both the restaurant and the cafe are open only from May to early October. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. The cafe offers hot drinks, grab-and-go meals, and other quick food items.

The Paradise Camp Deli, a cafeteria in the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, is usually open on weekends and holidays in the winter and daily from May through early October.

The Sunrise Day Lodge includes a snack bar. Sunrise Day Lodge is usually open from July through September.

How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography Mount Rainier National Park

What you will need:

Light pollution map light pollution map

Camera – You will need a camera to manually control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

Lens – A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you will have to increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain that will appear in your photos. Nikon’s 28mm f/1.8G or Canon’s 28mm f/1.8 are good choices if you go lens shopping for your night photography trip.

Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one, and we never know what Mother Nature will bring us while we are out there. Remember when you buy one to go in your suitcase if you are going on a plane. It should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your bag.

Sky Map – Sky Guide is available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).   Android Version? Sky Guide is not currently available as an Android app. The closest thing I can suggest is SkySafari ($2.99).

Flashlight –  Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you can zoom in and out on the amount of light emitting from the flashlight. I like a small stream of light, not a wide amount of light. That way, you can specify what you want to paint with light. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the  HP7 if you can.

Light Pollution and Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon, and you want to be in the darkest area possible.

Remote Shutter Release – When painting with light over a 30-second exposure, you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. When exposing your pictures in general, you can use the remote release not to use your hand to press the shutter button and make the camera move even a little bit. Also, use your 2-second timer built into the camera to avoid camera shake.

Milky Way Photography Mount Rainier National Park

Use a Tripod – You must be on a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is necessary if it is windy. If the tripod moves, your picture will blur.

Focus – Use live view. When you use live view, your mirror locks up and does not drop, so avoid any movement inside the camera.

To focus in the dark, use your camera’s live view and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to see accuracy. It can be off a little on some lenses. We like to get our subject in focus with the flashlight, not the stars.

ISO – Start with ISO 3200. This is a common starting point, and you will adjust from here.

Shutter Speed – Remember the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long, you will see star trails that will not make for a crisp image. You can make star trails specifically, but that’s not what we are going for here since we are starting with milky way photography. We want crisp non-star trail images when doing this. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera, first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, and Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length, then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.

Aperture – Depth of field isn’t critical on these shots, but letting the light into the camera is, so you should shoot wide open. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go too high. (wide open = the lowest aperture your camera will allow, ex. 2.8).

Those are all essential starting points for doing your milky way shots. You will want to find some exciting foregrounds to make your image dynamic. Doing plain old milky way shots will not win you any awards.

White Balance – Always shoot your night photography raw so you can edit it to retain the most detail. You can change your white balance settings when in live view mode and see what it will look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud as a standard-setting and adjust things later.

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