Saturday, March 29, 2008
Due to the variety of photography equipment and the diversity of interests in photographers, it is difficult to present good photography and equipment tips when you come to Mt. Rainier National Park, but I can give you general guidelines on equipment from my experience and my knowledge researching other photographers working in the National Park. Some photography field tips are given in the area Web pages in addition to hiking tips. If you're not familar with photographing a landscape like Mt. Rainier, I would recommend National Geographic Society Photography Field Guide.
To begin with I'll focus on 35mm camera systems, and those with non-fullframe digital, medium format, and large format cameras can make adjustments for the focal lengths for their lens systems. In addition, zoom lenses can make your photography in the Park easier, especially if you have a close focusing one. I have focused on my photography using fixed focal length lenses, commonly termed "prime" lenses, which are described here.
As a general practice you'll get a wide range of photographs using a set of lenses, or comparable zoom lenses, namely, a wide angle lens, 28mm to 40mm range, a normal lens, 45mm to 60mm, a short telephoto lens, 85mm to 135mm, and a macro or close focusing lens. Generally there is very little need for a lens longer than about 135mm because of the forest environment in most of the Park and the summit being so close above timberline. A 200 to 300mm lens is handy for wildlife photographs, at viewpoints for distant glaciers and other features, or on the way to or from the Park. A lens shorter than about 28mm isn't usually useful unless you're interested in extreme wide angle images.
A camera with fill flash or a small external flash helps in situations where you want fill-in light for photograph of friends or family, of flowers in shady areas, or on overcast days. You will need a good tripod and head. Depending upon your camera system, you can use the full range of tripods, from small portable one to high-end ones. My preference is for Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripods. A good ballhead provides good flexibility for most situations in the field. After that, the need is filters, an ultraviolet, haze or sky filter and a polarizing filter, along with other filters depending on your needs, such as neutral density filters and filters for black and white photography.
In most situations you can get good results using a film or digital setting in the ASA 50-100 range for sunny conditions and ASA 200-400 for shade or forest conditions. Film preference varies with your interest from color balanced film, such as Kodak's Elite Chrome and Fuji Provia, to saturated films, such as Fuji Velvia. You should be familar with films or your digital settings before you come to get the best results. You can get excellent black and white photographs using the full range of black and white film in the ASA 25-200 range.
Before you plan your photo locations in Mt. Rainier NP, there are a number of excellent photography books along with photographers' Web sites in photography guide Web page on Mt. Rainier NP to get ideas of places and photographs. Most good bookstores should have these.
"Mount Rainier National Park", Pat O'Hara and Tim McNulty
"Wasington's Mount Rainier National Park, Centennial Celebration", O'Hara and McNulty
"Color Hiking Guide to Mount Rainier", Alan Kearney
"Mount Rainier National Park, Impressions", Charles Gurche
"Mount Rainier, Views and Adventures", James Martin and John Harlin III
You can find links to more information and resources for Mt. Rainier NP.