Terra Galleria Photography

San Juan Islands: Lopez Island

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This post made possible by Secure Data Recovery, scroll to bottom to read how.

Although the closest from the mainland by ferry, Lopez Island, the third-largest of the San Juan Islands, is the most rural and laid back of the three major islands. In a place where coastal access is limited by property rights, Lopez Island has quite a few public easement hikes (directions).

Shark Reef Sanctuary

The rocky coastline at Shark Reef Sanctuary is west facing, making it an excellent place to watch the sunset. The trail through the thick forest carpeted in salal leads to the coast (0.25 mile) and ends (0.5 mile) at a rocky and grassy bluff framed by windblown shore pines.

Iceberg Point

Iceberg Point is the second largest of the many discontinuous tracks of land that make up San Juan Islands National Monument. The most direct route to Iceberg Point is 3 miles RT, but longer loops are possible, as there is a network of trails. Starting in the late afternoon, the first part of the trail, in a tunnel of trees, was in the shade. I crossed path with a group of hikers, and for the rest of the day didn’t see another person. Near Iceberg Point, the sun streamed into the forest, creating a different atmosphere.

Iceberg Point juts out on the west, offering a 270-degree panoramic view over water. From the same spot, within minutes, I photographed in two opposite directions. Towards the setting sun, I looked for silhouette elements in the high contrast image, and I found a rock rib in the water whose curve echoed the distant mountain. I augmented it by framing the image with a small portion of the foreground coastline that added another repetition of that motif. Pointing the camera in the opposite direction, I looked for texture in the softer image, which I found in the rocks catching the last rays of sun and the water with floating seaweed.

The night was near full moon. At the beginning of the evening, towards the east, I could include it in the landscape while there was still enough light for an exposure short enough not to overexpose it. As it rose up, the moon became bright enough to enjoy hiking by night. A long exposure made the scene look almost like daylight, with the twist that the western sky still displayed residual colors from the sunset.

Watmough Bay and Point Colville

Watmough Bay is a beautiful pebble beach in a cove next to a high cliff, only a third of a mile flat stroll from the parking lot. Low tide uncovers the beach, which is mostly submerged at high tide. Mt Baker is normally visible from there, and the Photopills app indicated that sunrise would be a good time, as the sun would rise above the bay in the gap between the two headlands. However, the morning was foggy and I looked for monochromatic compositions emphasizing shape.

Shortly before reaching the beach, there is a user trail on the right (south) that leads to a headland via a forest, eventually ending at a private property. 470-feet Chadwick Hill on the north side of the bay is said to offer a fantastic view, but on the morning I was there, the summit was engulfed in fog. I concentrated on smaller scenes, as they work well with soft light.

Not far from there, an easy 2-mile loop trail through a lush forest lead to Point Colville. In clear weather, the headland features a panoramic view extending from Mt Baker to the Olympics, but with the marine layer present, I used instead an islet called Castle Island as a focal point for the picture. Although the peak of the wildflower season occurs in May on the island, a few clumps of summer flowers added a color accent to an otherwise subdued color palette. The area including Watmough Bay, Chadwick Hill, and Point Colville forms the largest tract of land in San Juan Islands National Monument, and althought it was summer, for the entire morning I hardly saw anybody.

Thank you to Secure Data Recovery for making this series of posts possible. If you remember, I lost a week of photos from memory card failure. After that post appeared last fall, a representative from Secure Data Recovery contacted me to offer pro-bono recovery. I sent in my failed card and a new card for data transfer. My technologist friend was skeptical that they would succeed. However, they did, and this winter I got back all my files on the new card, with not a single one missing or corrupted. Well done and thanks!

One Comment

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