P271H – Sunset – Mount Rainier in Fog, Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Early in August, I decided to take the lesser known west entrance into Mt. Rainier National Park heading up towards Mowich Lake. We were in one of those rare clear dry spells for several days, which isn’t necessarily the best time to take photographs, but when “the mountain” is out, you kind of have to take advantage of it. Often, even on clear days, Mt. Rainier can attract clouds in the afternoon so you just never know.

After a few miles of hiking up to the ridge that overlooks Mt. Rainier, I could tell that clouds were probably not going to be in the picture that day. Regardless, I scouted for interesting views and found this section of wildflowers, containing primarily lupine and indian paint brush. Although the mountain was experiencing fierce winds, which you could see snow blowing from the top, the flowers in this meadow were protected from wind.

Over the course of several hours, the sun was beginning to set and the mountain was becoming increasingly more golden from the late afternoon sun. I decided to setup for a photo even though the conditions were not ideal, but I did find the blowing snow from the top of the mountain interesting…. and how could you not like a foreground of wildflowers.

Just around the time the sun was about to set from my elevation, a fog bank decided to make a presence from the right. It became increasingly foggy, to the point where you couldn’t even see the mountain any longer. After a few minutes, a section of the fog cleared to the point where I suddenly saw this glowing orange mountain. Oh my goodness!! Being that I was ready to take a photo, I quickly took several using my graduated neutral density filter to increase the light in the foreground but to not affect the glowing light on Mt. Rainier. I shot through an entire roll within a minute (of course a roll of film for my camera is only four photographs). Although the exposure time was around 15 seconds, luckily there was no wind in the meadow to blur the flowers. The wind continued to blow snow from the top of the mountain however, which glowed nicely given the late afternoon light.

This is one of those photographs which you have to see in person (and preferably large) to really appreciate. I think it’s my favorite Mt. Rainier photograph.

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