Heading to Mt. Rainier To Teach a Landscape Photography Class

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Hey everyone. It’s been a light week on the blog so I thought I’d give you a quick update. First, why I haven’t had much time to blog… well, on Sunday I have a big trip (more on that in a minute, because I need your help). So this week I wanted to knock out a couple of classes that I’ve been itching to do.

First, I’ve wanted to redo my Tack Sharp class for KelbyOne. I did one a long time ago but it was mostly on sharpening techniques in Photoshop. Well, over the years, sharpening in Lightroom and Photoshop has gotten much easier. So much so, that there’s not really an entire class on it. But getting sharp photos is still one of the topics I get asked about the most when I’m out shooting so I took this class in a different direction. It’s more about capturing the sharpest of sharp photos. The gear, settings, myths, techniques, etc… So I went in to the studio and tackled this one earlier in the week. It should be up live within a couple of months, but I’ll make sure to mention it here.

I also finally did most of my Photographing Cityscapes class that I wrote about a while ago. I’m going to finish it up next week with some “in the field” training as well and I’m really happy to finally get this one done.

Okay, on to the big trip. On Sunday, two (very awesome) video guys and I are heading to Washington state and Mt. Rainier National Park. I’ve been itching to get back to Rainier after my trip there last summer (when the featured photo above was taken). All the lakes were still iced over (even in mid June!). This time of year is perfect for wildflowers, reflective lakes, waterfalls, and lots of other great shots. So I’m taking a small crew out there and we’re going to record an online training class for KelbyOne on shooting landscapes. The nice part about this location is that you may not have mountains near you, you may not have waterfalls, you may not have wildflowers, and you may not have lakes… but chances are you’ve got one of those things somewhat near you and I’m hoping that no matter what we shoot you’ll be able to get something out of it.

Now, here’s where I need your help. I’ve got a good outline for the class already. But I want to make sure I’m not missing any of your questions so fire away in the comments below. There’s only one thing (well, maybe two) I’m going to tell you I probably won’t cover.
1) Hyperfocal Distance – once you see my Tack Sharp class you’ll find out that I don’t use it.

2) How to take great landscape photos in not-so-great places – last time I asked for help, this question came up a few times. Here’s the thing – part of making great landscape photos is putting yourself in places to make great photos. That’s why Mt. Rainier is such a good place for this class – it’s got everything. You may not have a huge mountain to reflect in the lake near you, but chances are you do have a lake and we can make something from that. But we can’t make much of the retention pond that’s behind the Walmart in your home town 🙂

3) I know I said two, but if you know of any killer spots at Mt. Rainer (I have some of the well known places on the list already), please let me know.

Thanks so much ahead of time. I’m going to try to document the trip while I’m there on Twitter and Facebook as well, so make sure you’re following me there if you want to keep up. Have a great weekend!


  1. Rick

    Last year we took a cruise to Alaska. We were in Seattle for a day before the cruise but couldn’t see Ranier. As the ship headed out on the cruise Ranier came into view. The sight of it over the skyline was quite nice and makes a worthwhile photo if you can catch it from the water or somewhere out of town.

  2. Lynne Bergbreiter

    You are right. I live in Central Texas. The only item we have on your shoot list is wildflowers. I feel comfortable taking a picture of a single bloom but I’m unsuccessful with the big fields of flowers. Can you provide hints on what focal lengths might be useful? Where to focus? What angle to use? I’d also like help on how to embrace the wind when it blows. What makes the difference between a good picture and a messy picture?

    I look forward to all the classes you mention above. A class doesn’t have to last two hours to be meaningful.


  3. John

    Hey Matt – a few things I’d be interested to see:
    1- How you research which locations to shoot, and then scout the locations when you get there
    2- How to fix a lens flare or problem on a detailed object (maybe by using the same area from a bracketed exposure?)
    3- Shooting both wide angle and detail shots
    4- What you look to shoot beyond the golden hours

    Hope all is well, and thanks! I still owe you a beer 🙂

  4. Jerry

    The only question I have about landscape photography is how to eliminate the blue haze that hides the details of the mountains in the distance. I took some wonderful shots of the Great Smokey Mountains, but the blue haze is in every shot.

    1. Author
      Matt Kloskowski

      Hey Jerry – Sadly, there’s not much you can do about that. I’ve been to the Smokies before and there always tends to be a haze on the distant mountains. You could add some Clarity to them in post, but other than shooting them when they’re not hazy, there’s not much else you can do.

  5. Andy

    Hi Matt.

    I’ve just got back from a great road trip into Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. What I’d like to know is how to get the best out of your landscape photos (shooting and post processing) if you are not taking them at the ideal time of day. Traveling with the family means I can’t really go off on my own for long periods of time either early or late in the day. Classic example I was at Mount St. Helens bang in the middle of the day, the photos look OK but could have been better if I had left it earlier or later. However, whilst camping on the Oregon coast I was able to sneak away for some great sunset and long exposure shots (thanks for your course by the way).

    Also, somewhat unrelated, I’m curious to know your set up for storing large amounts of photos and working in Lightroom/Photoshop. This latest road trip has now all but exhausted the hard drive on my Mac, so I’m thinking of moving all my photos to an external drive and then running my Lightroom catalogue from there in the future.


  6. Jim Powers

    Places on the Eastside that may not be on your list.
    Tipsoo Lake near Chinook Pass for flowers and a lake reflection.
    Ohanapecosh Campground Area (Silver Falls, Grove of the Patriarchs, Ohanapecosh River).
    Sunrise and possible hike to Mt Fremont lookout from Sunrise.
    Good Sunset Location: Lower parking lot at Paradise, views of the mountain, Tatoosh Range and small peaks to the west.
    Another possibility if there are good clouds is the U bend in the Stevens Canyon Road just below the Reflection Lakes.
    Places to eat: Alexander’s Country Inn, just outside the park at the Nisqually Entrance (fresh trout from a pond in the back of the Inn)
    Hamburgers (Scaleburgers in Elbe, WA). This is also the location of the Mt Rainier RR. Elbe is on the way into the park from the West.

  7. Doug A.


    Didn’t see your post until today so my reply is a bit late assuming your post meant that you were at Rainier yesterday. In any case, perhaps for future reference…

    One of the best things about great landscape photography is being able to imagine yourself in that location and time when the photograph was taken. One thing I really enjoy, but don’t see often enough, is a photograph that includes a pristine hiking trail along with the amazing view afforded hikers on that trail.

    I live in the Palouse area of Washington State and the Mt. Rainier area is probably my favorite place in the world to visit. Undoubtedly a quick search on MPIX would give you some of the typical places to photograph and they are ALL worth seeing and photographing. However, what I don’t see often enough are the trails being used as an element in the picture.

    Both Sunrise and Paradise have absolutely great hikes. Above Paradise there is a section of trail that is literally carved out of the side of a rock wall and one of the fun things about the trails around Sunrise is that they are on a ridge next to the mountain so it is easy to include them and get a majestic view of the mountain in the background.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents. If you ever need additional info feel free to e-mail me. I can describe some of my favorite trails and even send you my pictures for reference (yours will be MUCH better which is why I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what you came up with on your trip!).

    Thanks for taking the time to do this blog. I’ve seen you many times on the KelbyOne side of things but only recently started looking at your blog. You take excellent landscape photos and it is SO nice to be able to learn a bit more about how to improve my own work. MUCH appreciated!


  8. Leise


    Can you explain what u would do when u want to do a long exposure in water when the water creates a glare. I know u can use a polerizer but that doesn’t help with the long exposure. Ideally there was a polarizer with a nd filter attached so that u could get the best of both worlds.

    Also the wide angle lens in nikon curves out. Therefore nd filter doesn’t fit. What do u do if u want to do a long exposure with that lens? Is there a nd filter that would fit on that lens?

  9. Joe Candrilli

    Hi Matt, one of the things I struggled with was getting the starburst pattern when shooting into the sun and still have good exposure everywhere else. I know it requires a small aperture, but for me it just would not come out right during my last sunset shoot. I would love a quick runthru of shooting into the sun during sunrise/ sunset in general.


  10. Danny

    Hi Matt,

    In the section where you say you do not use hyperfocal distance, and to see your Tack Sharp class for specifics, can you point me to that class, or is it simply the one you reference in this post?


    1. Author
      Matt Kloskowski

      Hi Danny. Yes, it’s a class that I recorded last week. Should be up in a couple of months. However, if you’re looking for more info on hyperfocal distance, that’s not the place to go. I don’t cover it other than to say I don’t use it. Thanks!

      1. Danny

        Thanks, Matt. I’ll keep an eye out for the class. I want to see your alternative to hyperfocal distance — I’ve been reading about HD and I think I get it, but without the distance scales on my lenses, it’s not so easy. I want to see your method instead!


  11. Lee Turner

    Hi Matt:

    If you get a chance check out the top of Crystal Mt. It looks right at the mountain with valley and river below. I was just there on the 6th.

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