The setting sun lights up the smoky sky above Spirit Lake at the Mt St Helens National Monument.

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Sunset at Spirit Lake

Last week, as August came to a close Liddy, and I revisited Mt St Helens National Monument and Windy Ridge.
With our experience from the week before, we researched Milky Way Photography and decided we needed to go back and practice our new techniques.

We watched a number of YouTube Gurus, Alyn Wallace, in particular to learn how we could improve our results. Alyn, by the way, had one of his prints named Astronomy Photograph of the year. He is well worth following if you enjoy capturing starry photos.

So this trip, it was just Liddy and me. We planned to stay the night up in the National Forest to avoid being eaten by a pothole or sink in the road.

Arriving at the Windy Ridge Viewpoint parking lot, we loaded up and began the ascent to the Viewpoint proper. One of my concerns about last week’s efforts was that we were clipping the galactic core behind Mt St Helens. By climbing up to the top of the Viewpoint, I was hoping to avoid that.

Well, the viewpoint is easily accessible to most anyone as there is a staircase that will take you to the top. Of course, the stairs are steep, and I am not in the best condition. We quit the climb and set up to take this shot at a point maybe 100 feet above the parking lot.

It was a good decision as I was able to capture several shots as the sun disappeared in the west. There was a lot of smoke in the air from wildfires burning in Oregon, to the south (left in frame) which gave us this super cool red glow. Spirit Lake is below us in the foreground. Mt St Helens is to the left, and the Johnson Ridge Observatory is outside the frame on the right.

A two second exposure at f/22 with a six-stop neutral density filter and a 3 stop soft graduated filter. I needed the grad to even up the exposure as the sky was so bright. You can see more exposure information by viewing the image in the lightbox. Just click on the image.

I really like this image. On its own it would have made this trip a success. But wait… there’s more… in our next post.

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