New Moon, July 2020

The New Moon is marked on all my calendars, year-round. This is when there is NO moon in the sky. Dark skies are what you need to capture clear images of the Milky Way. The sunlight reflected by the moon washes out the stars… You also need clear skies, and a location away from the lights of civilization.

Last month the new moon was July 20th, the skies were clear and Comet NEOWISE paid us a visit.

These first 4 images are from Baker Lake, at the boat launch. Mt Baker is close by and Mt Shuksan not far off to the north. As the night progressed the comet rose in the sky and then the Aurora Borealis showed up!

Encouraged by these images I went next up the Mt Baker Highway. It took a bit to find a good vantage point, but managed to get the comet as well as several other interesting night sky phenomena!

Next I decided to try the Samish Overlook and try for more NEOWISE images. I was never able to find a good vantage for the comet, but to my surprise the Milky Way was visible from there. The lights from the valley wash out the stars, especially close to the horizon, but it was clearly visible to the naked eye!

Picture Lake, on the Mt Baker Highway is a fantastic spot for Milky Way images, high elevation, dark skies and what a reflection! Notice how clear the stars are, especially close to the horizon at Picture Lake and Mt Rainier compared to the Samish Overlook…

My final destination for July Night Sky was Mt Rainier! The Sunrise area of Mt Rainier Nat Park is famous for its night sky views. The glaciers seem to emanate light of their own at night and the mountain glows…

The August New Moon is on the 18th! I am excited to go find new vistas!

Night Sky Photo Tours are available on a limited basis! Here is a link with more info. 

Prints are for sale at several locations! The Sedro-Woolley Chamber currently has a display of more then 15 large canvas prints, some are in a floating frame!  You can also see and purchase new prints at Peace Health Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, I have a large display of my prints for sale in the lobby.

Prints of all kinds and sizes are also available anytime on my web site.  Find a gallery and look for the perfect image…

IF you find something you love, use the Coupon Code: SUMMER for 50% OFF ANY purchase.

Skagit River and Mount Baker

Not long ago I saw an image of Skagit River with Mt Baker looming above. It was a gorgeous image and started me on a hunt.

I have been here in Skagit Valley for 15 years now and have never encountered a vista that encompassed both the Mountain and the River. Skagit River runs east to west through the valley and Baker sits about 10 miles to the north.

A short study of the map revealed that there are several spots where the Skagit turns back on itself so that you can look “down the river” and right at Mt Baker. I started my search along the Concrete Sauk Valley Road, looking to visit the confluence of the Sauk and Skagit Rivers. It was a lot of fun tooling about, on both sides of the river, scouting for views, vistas, and access trails down to the gravel bars along the river.

Here are a few pics from my endeavors:

After a bit of search I finally found a spot along the Concrete-Sauk Valley Road where you can scramble down to the gravel bar and out to this view: Looking north to Mt Baker, from the Skagit River

 

Three visits to Park Butte Lookout

Three visits to Park Butte Lookout

In 2015 I had the good fortune to make three visits to Park Butte Lookout.  Its always good fortune when you visit such a place, I have spent more than 20 nights in, on or near the lookout. Stormy or clear, with others or alone, each visit unique.

The last several years I have passed up chances to do Park Butte in July, thinking I’d have plenty of opportunity in August, only to have my plans dashed by wildfires. That’s not to say that the local forest burned, but rather smoke from fires in Canada and Eastern Washington filled the valleys. Photographically the images of mountain landscapes are utterly ruined by the smoke.

So, here I sit, looking at these three trips in June, July and August, 2015.

And its helping, I am feeling better already!

June

There was a high alert for sun activity making the Northern Lights visible, so I made my way up to the lookout. The only stellar shots I got were before sunset.

July

I spent the night alone at the Lookout, and the sky was sublime. The Sisters, across the valley and the Middle Fork stretching towards the sun, it was quite a show.

August

This trip was a busy one! I brought 2 clients up to stay the night, but the Lookout was taken, so we camped in tents just below. The sunset was unbelievable.

Park Butte Lookout and Mount Baker Panorama

and the next morning was one of those magical moments that wouldn’t end. The snow-melt tarns are perfect for reflections and the low angle light sumptuous in its tone…

Hopefully the smoke clears soon and I’ll be back for the 2018 versions of the Lookout!

 

Cypress Island Sunset and Sunrise

I camped on the island for one night. It was magical.

Panorama of Mount Baker and Park Butte Lookout

Sunset at Park Butte Lookout

Sunset at Park Butte Lookout

The Park Butte Lookout is located on the south side of Mount Baker, in the Mt. Baker, Snoqualmie National Fores, in the NW corner of Washington State. The lookout was “retired” from use as a fire lookout many years ago and was then adopted by the Skagit Alpine Club, who maintain the lookout for public use.