Goblin Gates, Olympic NP, Washington

Goblin Gates, Olympic NP, Washington

I'm going to take a quick break from all my photos of the southwest to return to Olympic National Park here in Washington. I made my first trip to the park with my wife just last month and opted to hike the inexplicably named "Geyser Valley" trails along the Elwha River, just past Mills Lake. The hike was a lovely introduction to my 7th National Park (I'm very drawn to the National Park system these days) - not as lush as the coastal rain forests, but lovely dense forest in its own right. The trail descends down the valley until eventually approaching the shores of the Elwha River.

Knowing almost nothing about the park, or even this particular trail despite being there hiking it, we could pass on checking out "Goblin Gates" on a little side trail just off our main route. What we found was probably my personal favorite spot in the park, and it's what you see here. The gates are an abrupt narrowing of the Elwha River (which looks as though it could be quite a massive flow at its peak) through a rocky passage leading eventually to Mills Lake. It takes on quite a distinct look compared to the rest of the river, trees, and hillside surrounding it, due to both it course rocky texture, and blue-gray color of the rock. The water also appeared to have that amazing glacial blue color that I personally associate with Banff, in Alberta. On top of that the turbulent water carries massive fallen trees and stacks them improbably over one another at the mouth of the gates - it's really a wonderful spot to take in.

The colors of the water and rock ended up surprisingly similar, and I suspected that a short exposure time wouldn't render the scene very well, with a flat color palette. I thought that the contrast of textures - the course rocks and the smooth appearance of flowing water in a long exposure - would better capture the scene. Unfortunately I didn't take any long exposures with my Nikon to be able to quickly share, but I did take this on my Large Format camera (which often adds a long lead time before I can share the shots here). With no white-balance correcting filters and a bluish scene lit only in dim shadow (inherently bluer light) the whole scene rendered very blue on Fuji Provia, but I quite like the look, and the scan shown here fairly accurately reflects what captured on film.

In a rare move for me, I did 'shop' something out of this photo (and always I feel compelled to confess it). There were two twigs sticking up in the bottom of the frame, and they were too small for me to notice on the ground glass when I was focusing the scene. I took the liberty of essentially cloning them out, because I thought they were distracting, and I'd have likely re-framed it if I'd noticed at the time.

Tachihara 4x5 | Caltar 210mm f/6.1 | f/45 | 4s | Fuji Provia 100F | Tripod

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