Spring Hikes & Photo-ops in the Inland NW

It’s that time of year again, Spring is trying to take hold and dethrone Winter’s icy grip on the inland northwest. The weather may be  unpredictable, but it is worth braving to get out to take in some of the local outdoor recreation areas that are in their prime early in the year.

These area include the desert lakes and seasonal streams west of  Spokane such at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Hog Lake and the seasonal Hog Falls,  and many others.

The native flowers are in bloom and the animals are waking up for their winter sleep and the babies abound.

Here are a few tips for taking better photos while exploring this Spring:

For better landscape photos shoot when the sun is lower in the sky, some of the best light is seen in the hour after sunrise and in the hour before sunset.  This is called the “Golden Hour” for an obvious reason.  When the sun is directly overhead colors are flat, there are no shadows to show depth and nothing looks dynamic.

 

Palouse Falls at Sunrise

Palouse Falls at Sunrise

 

To increase your chances of getting a good shot of an animal in its natural environment you should set your camera to continuous auto-focus (usually the ‘sport’ setting on lower end cameras) and plan on turning the camera onto continuous shooting mode. Taking several shots increases the chances of getting something spectacular. The beauty of the digital age is that you can just delete the photos that you don’t like, there’s no extra cost! Another great tip for shooting smaller animals (think turtles or ducks or marmots) is to get down low on to their eye level, it’s far more aesthetically pleasing to see an animals eyes than to shoot them from above.

 

Heron

Heron

 

One last popular Spring subject is flowers. Wildflowers, garden flowers, flowers in the pots around your windows;  they are all colorful and attractive and bring about hope that maybe Winter is ending and Spring will finally take hold.  Anyone can take a picture of a flower but making the picture as beautiful as the flower itself can be difficult. When you see the flower in person you gather so much extra information without realizing it. You see it from different angles, smell the sweet scent, see the bees buzzing and the buds gently swaying in the wind. To capture all of this in a photo is impossible, but you can come closer to preserving the image you are actually seeing.  Get in close and get low. Being on the same level as the subject helps. Also don’t be afraid to play with the focus or depth of field. Make sure that the subject is obvious but you don’t have to center and just shoot a flower. Let it tell a story and don’t be afraid to take a creative risk. Anyone can shoot a flower, but it takes an artist to make it appealing.

 

Lupine

Silky Lupine at Hog Falls

Most important of all, just get out there and enjoy Spring before it is gone. We’ve only got a small window of opportunity in the Northwest to enjoy the bountiful wildflowers, seasonal creeks and streams and active wildlife.

Additional info on outdoor opportunities for the region can be found on my adventure blog at LaDuke Adventures.