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The Olympic Peninsula hold much rugged majesty for anyone interested in landscape to observe. I first visited in spring 2015 and had resolved to return one day. On that trip, unlike Yosemite the year before, I did not opt to take my Bronica. It had fallen somewhat out of favour and the heft it added to to my luggage certainly influenced my decision. Fast forward four years and I find myself increasingly drawn to using 120 film in 6x6 format to make the images I enjoy most; this time the heft did not phase my and my Bronica with every lens I own accompanied me (40mm, 50mm, 80mm, 150mm and 250mm).

Such a great volume of gear may seem extreme and in hindsight probably was. I tended towards using the wide lenses and the two telephotos to either compress or accentuate my perspective; in the past couple of years I havent found myself using the 80mm much. Its too bad that 95mm filters required are for the 40mm and will probably result in me opting for the 50mm in the future as all of my filters are 77mm.

For film I had some Ilford HP5 in my freezer that wanted using so I took this rather than buying in some new TMax 400 which would've been my preference. Colour I dug out my last Velvia 50 and a roll of Ektar. Wow I'd forgotten just how good Ektar is when well exposed.

The peninsula can easily be seen from the city of Seattle on a clear day but how long it takes to get there depends on wait times for a ferry or traffic around Tacoma. As it was a holiday weekend we took the latter and suffered traffic that I'm sure was to at its worst. We stayed at an holiday rental on the north coast down a private road with access to a restricted bay. The views to Canada's Victoria island were superb.

Day 2 saw us drive back to Port Angeles and up the road to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. As you can see from the map the main attractions in the National Park are accessible via sparse inroads into the wilderness, leaving the majority only accessible with multi-day backpacking trips. The ridge itself has a large car park and a visitor centre. There are some short hikes around the meadows opposite, but carry on through the car park and you will go down a narrow winding road for a mile or so to another car park. This is the trailhead for the Hurricane Hill trail an accessible ~3 mile hike with outstanding views of the inner mountains and north to Canada. As we reached the top of the hill mist rolled in making for some great mysterious photographic conditions.

Hurricane Ridge ViewsBronica SQA + 250mm f5.6 + Red Filter + Ilford HP5. Washington USA (2019)
Hurricane HillBronica SQA + 250mm f5.6 + Ilford HP5. Washington USA (2019)

Sul Duc falls is another very popular short accessible hike in the park. I had done this on my previous trip and continued on to Deer Lake but today with kids we would only go as far as the falls today. To our surprise we were greeted at the trailhead by emergency services out in force; turns out someone had been standing on rocks on top of the falls, slipped and fallen down the falls. It's incredible the risks people take with their safety and I hope it was not driven by the quest for a photo. The trail had reopened but we were warned there would be the emergency services returning and we did pass the injured being brought back on a gurney. At the falls I got a few long exposures of the falls.

The far west side of the peninsula is a wild rugged coastline with deadwood washed up to line sand and stony beaches. There are large stacks left in the sea where the mainland had receded away leaving towering monoliths that conveniently make for attractive photographic subjects. There are many beaches, Ruby and Rialto being two of the most popular but unfortunately due to time we could only visit the latter. Next time I would base myself at the town of Forks to explore more of this coastline. We arrived at Rialto beach whilst it was thick in morning fog. Proceeding down the beach it was easy to lose track of distance and time with the view impaired to only metres in front of your feet. Before reaching the stacks it suddenly cleared leading me to regret not capturing some frames of the tree lined shore in the fog on my walk out there. I realised I'd been so set on getting to the stacks I'd missed some good potential of the treeline diminished by the fog. The images at the top of this post are from here and are some of my favourite from the trip.

The final image above is from the private access to Freshwater Bay from the holiday rental. Nearby is a public access point to the coastline called Salt Creek that has some good potential for photography. Whilst I captured some images sunset was not the optimal time. Sunrise would be better, as would not mistaking the film back with Velvia 50 for my HP5.