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I brought my nephew out on on a little photo expedition a few weeks back. The weather was nothing exceptional so we figured to head towards the Sound where the weather is usually a bit nicer than inland. We ended dropping into Ballard, had a sidewalk lunch at the home of Seattle's best sandwiches, Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, and then did a tour of the University of Washington campus. The weather did lighten up as the day went on and allowed for pretty pleasant strolling around town.
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A quick rise in the water level of the Snohomish River was reason enough to take the bike out for a late-night spin. Add the starry night, broken clouds, and the fact that my wife needed some things from the grocery store and it all added up to the perfect evening and excuse to get out and take some pics. It was a little eerie cruising along Rivershore Road with the deep, cold, relentless river water flowing by just feet below the top of the bank. The water is usually a good 10-15' lower than it was that night. I found myself starting to imagine the water suddenly surging up and over the bank and had to cut those thoughts short so as to not spin around and head out before getting started.
Because I took my bike and I haven't yet rigged up a solution for hauling along my tripod - keep that a secret between you and I - I was only able to get a couple decent shots. The rest ended up blurry because, unfortunately, I'm not Steady Eddy when it comes to my hands. Probably too much coffee. Luckily, there were a couple spots where the levee was recently repaired so there was no grass or brush which allowed for a clean shot on a natural rest. Although even with resting my camera on the levee some of the photos still picked up enough vibrations to render a blur. I set my camera on aperture-priority, 800 ISO, 30-second exposure, and used the self-timer in order to reduce camera movement from pressing the shutter. Focusing at night is always a challenge. There was just enough contrast in the trees against the sky across the river that I was able to use auto-focus to set my focus and then switch it to manual to keep it from adjusting. At first, a train went by and I caught it streaking by. After that, it was quiet. And peaceful. Occasionally, a small ripple or surge of the river could be heard. A reminder of its power. It was nice to just lay on the levee and watch the river flow by and I lingered for awhile after taking my pictures. It's moments like these that I seek and that I hope to share when I pick up my camera.
Pass me the horn, I want to give a toot for Washington. You don't need to travel far here to view some world-class scenery. For a guy with such an affinity for taking pictures - such as me - it sure is a great place to call home. I'm a lucky guy.
Even though I've lived in Washington my entire life and have spent a lot of time exploring it, I still find out about things and places I never knew about. Picnic Point was almost just such a place. I'd seen it before, but had never been there. Let me explain. Many years ago I rode the Sounder commuter train from Everett to Seattle. A ride I recommend, by the way, especially at sunrise. It is prime! Anyway, the route follows the east shore of the sound and you pass some beaches along the way. Mukilteo and Golden Gardens are a couple of them. I'd already known about Mukilteo. The others I didn't know about. I later searched out Golden Gardens. I didn't search out Picnic Point and until just recently, when some friends invited us to a BBQ at Picnic Point, I had only a name-less and place-less memory of it as just one of the beaches I enjoyed viewing from comfort of the train. Now, I'll have to go explore the others. I'm sure they're also worth the trip.
Picnic Point is, as the name suggests, a great place to have a picnic. Or a BBQ. From the parking lot, you cross the railroad tracks, fenced on both sides, via a footbridge and come out on the grass. The grassy area is a nice and is supplied with picnic tables, grills, and a view of the Olympic Mountains across the sound. Trains occasionally pass by and you get to see, hear, and feel them as they roar along. Walking out onto the rocky beach gives you a view up and down the Sound. Although I didn't go in the water, it appeared to be a pretty shallow and safe slope. However, don't take my word for it. All in all, it was a great place to finally go.