Portraits of a Northwest Icon

A selection of photographs from my recent trip to Mount Rainier National Park. Click on an individual photo to enlarge it.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Shots from a hike up Burroughs Mountain in Mount Rainier National Park. Photographed by Jillian Raymundo.

There is something magical about getting away from industrialized areas of civilization. Immersing oneself in the environment is incredibly liberating. No cell service or other distractions to muddle the grand and beautiful natural world that we are all a part of. This is so easily forgotten in metropolitan areas where there are almost no traces of the natural world. For the first time in history the majority of the planet's human inhabitants live in these developed areas. What this means for our connection and appreciation for the earth and nature remains to be seen.

As deep black skies speckled with countless stars give way to glowing domes of light from our cities, are we losing contact with our world? Hopefully, as we pack ourselves closer and closer together in an effort to sustain our ever increasing population growth, we can also reinvigorate our appreciation and understanding of our deep connection to this planet that we call home. With any luck we will recognize that we are part of it, no matter where or how we live. Whether we live in metropolitan areas or rural areas people all around the world are part of one large interconnected system of which we are just one small (but increasingly influential) part.

While city life shrouds this connection in a deep fog, the natural world continues to operate within the confines of the laws of nature. If we continue on our current path, what will that mean for our future? How will our lives change, and will it be by choice or necessity? What will the world of tomorrow look like, and will the increasing rift between humanity and the natural world continue to widen? There is something to be said for the few remaining areas where the drone of a freeway or the sound of city life are unable to reach. As our species moves into cities at an increasing pace, some areas are given a brief respite and can begin to regenerate. However, fallow land is nothing but potential profit to some, and once reborn this land will end up as it was if not worse. In the United States, we are lucky to have a park system that protects some of our most treasured lands. Around the world this is a practice that is seldom utilized. Also, the few parks that exist in the U.S. do not make up for the amount of land that has been lost. Still, I fear as the trend toward city life continues we will end up losing something even more important.

Children growing up will never see a starry sky or a beautiful moonlit landscape. They will never escape the deluge of sights and sounds from the city. They will never take a breath of crisp clean mountain air. These children will never be able to gaze in amazement at a sweeping vista or seascape. Open plains and amber fields will be but images on screens struggling for airtime against reality television and the nightly news. It is troubling to think what will happen once generations come of age without experiencing or appreciating the natural world that we rely upon. Through no fault of their own they will be deprived of some of the most beautiful and inspirational experiences that have inspired some of the greatest individuals throughout history. Nature's ability to astound and inspire is unprecedented on any level.

This is where photography comes in. Though I always hope to craft a beautiful image, I also hope to inspire people to want to see what I have seen, and to go where I have gone. I hope to make people lust for these natural places and thereby reinvigorate the reverence and appreciation for our planet. In a time where digital media is so accessible and prevalent, a photograph can do so much. A beautiful image takes us to a different place and reminds us of what is out there. We are not confined to just our city or town, there is an entire world out there to explore. I hope in some small way, through one image at a time, I can help foster a mindset of appreciation and preservation toward our natural world.

Up high on Si

Mount Si is located near the city of North Bend in Washington state. It is one of the most popular hiking destinations during the summer months. If you choose to go, embarking on weekdays and mornings will allow you to avoid most of the crowds.

The landscape and views are incredible, especially considering its proximity to Seattle and other cities. The hike is relatively strenuous and rises several thousand feet over the course of 4 miles, but the climb is well worth it. On clear days Rainier and other mountains are visible in the distance as well as full views of the lowlands all around the mountain. The forests are rich and vibrant and feel mystical and enchanted.

It is wonderful getting up the trail a ways as the drone of the freeways and city life all drop away leaving you in a wonderfully quiet and serene setting. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

Here are a few shots from my last trip:

Forest on Mount Si near North Bend, WA. 

Trail near the top of Mount Si. 

Nearing the top of Mount Si near North Bend, WA. 

Mountain Goat with a kid on Mount Si.

Looking out across the lowlands from Mount Si in Washington. 

Andy at the top of Mount Si. 

Wild flowers and plants on Mount Si. 

View from the top of Mount Si. 

Descending off of Mount Si. 

Down the trail on Mount Si.

Eerily Empty

Though it is quite often very crowded, if you find yourself spending any time in San Francisco, Alcatraz Island is a must visit location. The stories, location, views and mystery surrounding the island are too good to pass up. Here are a few shots from my visit last year.

On the boat heading out from Alcatraz Island. The view out behind the boat looked like a scene out of a movie.  

View up the stairs that lead to the prison hospital at Alcatraz. 

This is the New Industries Building on Alcatraz Island. This area once housed a sewing room and several other services where inmates could work for money. It was constructed in 1939.

This is a window through one of the guard residences. Itt must have been hard to sleep with some of the most notorious criminals nearby while waves crash and wind pounds on the windows.

View up through the skylights in the cell block. I can't imagine looking up at this scene every day for year after year.  

A cell in the Alcatraz prison. 

A Hike Toward Serenity

For those who enjoy hiking, this is a must if you are in the western Washington area at some point. The few times I have been up here it has been gorgeous and clear, but I hope someday to do this hike on a foggy day and get some shots out over the lowlands covered in fog while the mountains rise above it. The trail has in my opinion some of the most beautiful scenery in Washington and is a wonderfully enjoyable 8-10 mile hike.

Check out more information here:   http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-serene  

Some photos of the most recent visit: 

Stream alongside the Lake Serene trail on Mount Index, WA. 

View from Mount Index on the way up to Lake Serene in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. 

Lake Serene lies underneath the cliffs of the summit of Mount Index in Washington state. 

Nature in its unadulterated simplicity and beauty. 

View along the trail heading back from Lake Serene.

One Small Step

A comparatively small but significant step on our journey into the cosmos the moon represents one of the greatest milestones in the Earth's history. A time when life from our planet stood on another world and looked back at our tiny planet in an ocean of eternity.

The journey into the cosmos is not felt by one people or one nation, but by all people. The exploration of space brings us all closer together as we learn more about how minute we are in  comparison with the vastness of the cosmos. This more than anything else shows that we are one people, one planet regardless of superficial differences. We are earth, a tiny blue planet orbiting one of billions upon billions of stars in the universe.

The moon taken with a 400mm F/5.6L on a Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod.  

The moon taken with a 400mm F/5.6L on a Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod.