Olympic National Park
After Pacific Storm
There is no doubt that certain events have a tremendous impact on how we perceive the world and make our decision later in life. My first sight of the Pacific Ocean on the shore of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park was one of those events. Back then I was at the beginning of my landscape photography journey, and, although I learned something already, many things had, probably, escaped from me. But I remember that level of excitement and the emotional harmony that is still driving me when I search for my landscape photographs out in nature.
I've got to Rialto Beach late in the night. Low clouds blocked all the light from the sky, and I saw nothing beyond the reach of my flashlight. In the darkness ears were my only guide at the unknown location. The roar of crashing waves was enough for me to stay away from the beach and do not venture beyond the pavement of the parking area. But this sound was eclipsed by a different, deep and powerful rumble, the nature of which was not known to me. Puzzled, I retreated to the nearby campground. With the first light, I was back, ready to explore. Discovering the origin of the mysterious rumble was as easy as astounding: large trunks of Sitka Spruce trees were scattered everywhere on the beach. Powerful winds of the Pacific rip them off from the sea stacks: the tall vertical cliffs away from the shore. These rocky islands, the result of millions of year of weathering, host communities of conifers, isolated from the big land. Visited by nobody, but flying creatures, the trees grow to an astounding size, until eventually find their end in the water below. For Pacific storms, these trunks are tchotchkes. Powerful waves toss them on the shore and produce a deep rumble when the logs clash into each other. I found my way to the shoreline between the bodies of these fallen giants and started my walk to the North. Eventually, I reached an area almost free from driftwood. I spotted a few pieces, but one attracted my attention. The odds of nature made it not just washed ashore, but also picked upright, and firmly driven into pebbles. The composition was simple, yet, powerful. After all, how often you can see such a dead three, which is Still Standing?
On the way to Hoh Rainforest, I stopped to stretch my legs near a little business called "Peak 6 Tours & Gift Shop". I stepped from the car and paused looking at the view that unfolded in front of me. Low clouds were touching the tops of the mountains, and a peaceful valley at the foothill was quiet and still. I set my camera and made a few exposures. One composition looked very compelling to my eyes. This photograph was sitting in my archive for several years, and I made several attempts to process the raw data of the capture. But lack of skills resulted in failures. I was not able to achieve the desired result. So the file went back to the archive, and I continued to develop my skills. Finally, after four years, I managed to bring to life an image that truly reflects my memory and emotions of being there, at Hoh Valley.
The Hoh River
My stop by Hoh River was brief. I had only one day to see the best of the Olympic National Park and had no plans for this location. But, while driving to the rainforest, I could not resist and spent some time on the rocks of this magnificent, quiet place. I parked in the right spot, where the river makes a curve that pleasantly fitted into my composition. The captured file was perfect, but it still took me a few years, before I gained enough skill to develop the raw data into what I remember from that day.
Under Canopy of Rain Forest
Hoh Rain Forest is an extraordinary place. Huge Sitka Spruces and Western Hemlocks, covered with thick layers of mosses, patches of ferns, soft moisture in the air, and the unusual silence create a magical atmosphere. I spent several hours walking along the Hall of Mosses Trail, studying an ancient community of plants, that form this rare ecosystem. The age of trees here ranges from two hundred to one thousand years. Many of them as high as two hundred feet, and some can grow up to three hundred. After an old tree dies and falls its body nourishes new life: the soil here is tough for seeds and they better spring from partially decomposed trunks. Over centuries these nourishing logs create lines of trees growing close to each other, tightly entangling their roots. Mosses on trees are neither parasites nor symbionts. They collect their food from the air, saturated with moisture and nutrients carried from the Pacific Ocean. The sheer volume of these colonies breaks down winds, absorbs sounds, and mutes echo.
I took this photograph at the end of my one-day trip to Olympic National Park. I spent the morning on the coast of Pacific Ocean, the afternoon - in a tempered rainforest, and by the end of the day, I drove above clouds to Hurricane Ridge, where stayed until the sunset to be rewarded with magnificent views of the wild mountains of this land.
View From Hurricane Ridge
From my childhood I remember a book about Soviet Georgia. It was a big, heavy book, with a hard cover, finished with fine fabric and embossed title. It was sort of a guide or virtual excursion around the republic: People, cities, nature, interesting places. I remember a lot of beautiful pictures from that book. But my favorites ones were with mountains. Tall peaks with snow caps, magnificent colors and incredible beauty were captivating. I think that I felt in love with mountains because of those pictures. Now, looking at this picture I realize that I was able to capture the same mood and impression that I got from that book. Maybe the quality of my work is not the same, maybe colors in the book were different, maybe these mountains are on another side of the planet, but the photo still clearly conveys what I felt back then, when I was a little boy, browsing glossy pages of a book about places I had never seen yet.