Creating Fine Art Photos of Olympic National Park
Where are some of the best places to take photos in Washington? Certainly, the Olympic National Park would be on your top ten photo list as it is a dream destination for landscape photographers due to the different photography opportunities its landscape provides.
You may be wondering “What is the Olympic National Park known for?” Olympic National Park is known for the diversity of its ecosystems --- it has a rugged pacific coastline, a rainforest as well as an old-growth forest, and glacier glad-mountain peaks. It was originally established as a national monument in 1909 and 1938, Olympic National Park was established as a means to preserve some of Washington's quickly disappearing primeval forests.
As noted above, Olympic National Park is known for its rainforests. I have mentioned in my Tree Photography Gallery, trees are one of the most intriguing landscape “subjects” because the options are varied and thus, spending time photographing trees never becomes dull.
For example, taking photographs of the trees in the Hoh Rainforest or the Quinault Rainforest is never boring and certainly one of the most difficult things I have tried to attempt as a landscape photographer. The forest is chaotic with very little open space and is lacking in the simplicity is found in many fine art tree photographs (link to Sunrise Oak). Taking photos in the Hoh Rainforest is also challenging as everything is green – and wet – so finding contrast can be a challenge.
My photography trip to Olympic National Park also included visiting and taking photographs of the Sul Duc Falls. The lush greenery in the Pacific Northwest rainforests make for truly fine art photography as the more you study the photograph, the more you see the different layers of green and are swept into the rainforest photo…. you are there in spirit…not just merely looking at the picture.
Last but not least, some of the best photographs of the Olympic Park Area would include photographing the coastal area of Ruby Beach as there are no more exciting places to take pictures than on the Washington coast. The empty backgrounds of the sea meeting sky allow for photographs of sea stacks on Ruby Beach to stand out in a dramatic way.
My fine art photographs of Olympic National Park capture the diversity of the area as well as the uniqueness of the landscape. Please take some time to view these Olympic National Park fine art prints and see which pictures capture your imagination as you wander visually through the lush rainforests and Washington coastline.
Visiting and Photographing Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park, in the northwest corner of Washington State, is off the beaten path compared to many of the other National Parks. It is also not as well known as parks like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. I think this is why I was delayed in my exploration and photography of this park.
The Park is spread over several different areas and ecosystems. This is great for both visitors and photographers. There is a wide variety of settings, activities, and things to do.
Before my first trip there, I did all the research that I could of locations, photos, sun angles, and tides. It was helpful, but it certainly doesn’t take the place of being there. Like anywhere I go for the first time, I tried to cover as much ground as I could on the first couple of days.
To work the rainforests and coastal areas, Forks, Washington is a good place to stay. This gives you access to both the Hoh and Quinault rainforests, along with all the coastal areas. It’s a little too far from the Hurricane Ridge area, and it’s best to stay in Port Angeles to visit that area of the Park.
Like any rainforest, the Hoh Rainforest is captivating. At the same time, I found it extremely difficult to photograph. I prefer to photograph medium to large scenes. While my eyes loved everything I saw around me, any attempt to shoot something other than a small, intimate scene came out looking very busy and confusing. This was not something I was used to.
The Hoh River Trail does have quite a few possibilities for intimate scenes in the forest. There are three different trails there, but the main trail, the Hoh River Trail, seems to be the best. Go early or late to avoid bright sunspots on the trees.
Although not in the Park, to the far northwest, the Cape Loop Road will take you to Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. The views of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse are pretty impressive.
The coastal part of the Park begins with Shi Shi Beach at the far north end. It is a serious and slow scramble down a steep bank to get to the beach. Any real photography here would require camping overnight.
West of Forks, is La Push, Washington where you can find Rialto Beach. Unfortunately, one of the popular sea stacks that was here collapsed in 2017. Just south from there is Second Beach, which may be the most photographed beach of the Park. If it’s the right time of the year, you can capture the sun setting through a distant arch.
Further south is Ruby Beach. It’s an easy walk down from the parking lot. Although it doesn’t have some of the possibilities that Second Beach has, it is much easier to get to. It takes a little while to get there, but the Quinault Rainforest is worth a trip if you have the time. It is a different feel from the Hoh Rainforest.
Perhaps my favorite place in the Park is the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, which leads to Sol Duc Falls. The Sol Duc River has a variety of cascades to check out. Sol Duc Falls is a perfect example of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest waterfalls surrounded by lush greenery.
Also on the north side of the Park, there is Lake Crescent and the entrance to the Park that goes to Hurricane Ridge and Obstruction Point. This is a great place for mountain views and wildflowers in the early summer.
Olympic National Park is just one small part of what there is to see and do in Washington State. I hope my photographs will give you some ideas for your own photography.
Fun Facts About Olympic National Park
With nearly a million acres to explore, there’s more than enough to keep you busy at Olympic National Park. It was the 23rd to be designated a National Park in 1938 by Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt.
The temperate rainforests are packed with magnificent Sitka spruce, western hemlocks, and Douglas fir trees. I can’t say I can personally tell them apart, but there is something very peaceful about walking through the lush, green forests.
Second Beach, Ruby Beach, and Rialto Beach are great places to hang out. In addition to watching or photographing the sunset, there is some colorful sea life in the many tidepools.
In addition to the mountain views at Hurricane Ridge, you can spot the local wildlife, which includes bears, mountain goats, elk, deer, marmots, and various birds. Also at the mountain, there are wintertime activities of snowshoeing, tubing, and snowboarding.
I always stay in the town of Forks, Washington, used by author Stephanie Meyer from which to base her Twilight novels. The Twilight theme is everywhere in Forks. Logging is always going to be a part of the Pacific Northwest, and Forks is home to the Forks Timber Museum.
Throw in some fishing, backpacking, camping, boating, and even some whale watching, and there is plenty to keep you busy. It is an amazing National Park.