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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Great outdoor photography hints at what’s out there

HIKING -- Spokane pastor/photographer Craig Goodwin wouldn't have emerged as a popular outdoor image maker if he were bound to normal eating times for breakfast or dinner, or if headed for bed when most people go to sleep.

His photography of northern lights, the Milky Way and fiery lighting over the Spokane River and other natural attractions -- much of it featured in The Spokesman-Review -- comes at the price of discomfort and a sleep deficit that rivals the national debt.

Photographers see things the way we all wish we could because they sacrifice to find the right timing and light. 

They give hikers something to shoot for, although we're usually in transit or at the trailhead rather than on the trail for the picture-perfect moment.

Goodwin's sunset photo of the Spokane River in the Bowl and Pitcher area of Riverside State Park (posted above)  ranks among the best trail scenery in the state in the annual Northwest Exposure photo contest sponsored by the Washington Trails Association.

The trail Goodwin featured is No. 25, accessed from the Bowl and Pitcher day-use area and over the Spokane River footbridge. This route is featured in Hike 81 of Day Hiking Eastern Washington.

This is a great place to explore on foot during winter, too.

In Hike 16 of 100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest, I have a black and white photo (also posted above) showing roughly the same portion of the river from a higher vantage in a season of higher flows. It's a perspective I sought to highlight the area's attraction to hiking. 

However, while hiking I strive to see the river the way Goodwin's photographic eye sees it, although I often fail.  His prize-winning photographic perspective coincides with peak mosquito activity, prime time to be casting a fly to rising trout and the moment my body is craving a burger and a beer.

I've walked that riverside trail from the footbridge with a day pack or a fly rod for 40 years. I've seen many of the river's memorable moods along with the sounds and wildlife interactions a photo cannot capture.

But I'm not sure that I've ever seen the river be quite as stunning as it looks in Goodwin's image. So I'll keep trying.

Goodwin describes how he made his prize-winning image:

This photo shows the Bowl and Pitcher area of Riverside State Park in Spokane and the iconic swinging bridge that spans the river in the distance.
I am always looking for new areas to explore and this was one local place I hadn't photographed. I also didn't see many pictures that others had taken of the area so I thought there might be some unexplored compositions, which I always find interesting. I found this composition three days earlier and really liked the look of it, but the sky was lacking any color or interest. So I went back three days in a row to this same spot hoping for the elements to come together.
By the third day I knew exactly what I wanted and was thrilled by the soft tones and colors that lit up the sky and water. It's also fun to have the crescent moon peaking through the haze in the sky.
I used several techniques to get this image. I used a .9 Neutral Density filter to allow for a long, 5 second exposure. I also used a panorama technique to bring in the distant features while allowing me to include the details in the foreground. I tried this composition with my 14mm lens, but it distorted the rock formations on either side, and made the bridge tiny in the distance. Instead I used my 24 mm lens, and took 5 images with a portrait orientation, from right to left. I then merged the images into a panorama. The result was a normal 2x3 aspect ratio, but with no distortion in the rocks, and a closer view of the bridge.
And I did it all while tiptoeing on two half submerged rocks in the rushing waters. It was fun.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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