Washington seascapes

Photographing the Olympic coast with the GFX

Over a recent long weekend, we returned to the small community of La Push, on the Quileute tribal land, on the coast of Washington. A year ago, we made the same trip, when I had a prototype X-T2 to test. This year, we returned with the GFX 50S. No matter what camera you bring, the Washington coast is a great place to explore and make photos.

MV Coho

Travelling to the Olympic peninsula is a 2 1/2 hour ferry ride from Victoria, aboard the MV Coho. The Coho is a ship with character that wears its many years of service well.

The lineup for the ferry provided me with a good photo-op, when my wife spotted Mark and his beautifully restored Studebaker truck. He was on his way to weekend rally for Studebaker owners.

Quileute land and First Beach

The Pacific coast of the Olympic peninsula has few communities between Cape Flattery, in the north, and Aberdeen, about midway down the coast. La Push is one of the few. Located at the mouth of the Quillayute River and First Beach, it is the largest community within the Quileute Indian Reservation.

Friday evening and Saturday morning provided the first interesting photo opportunities of the trip.

Ruby Beach

About an hour south of La Push, Ruby Beach offers easy access to the Pacific Ocean. It is many kilometres long and offers multiple vistas, plus the occasional muse posing above the sand.

Eight minutes of quiet

Fog enveloped First Beach on Saturday night and Sunday morning, creating perfect conditions for long exposures.

The Hoh rainforest and Second Beach

Given the foggy conditions on First Beach on Sunday, we headed inland, to the Hoh rainforest in the national park. It was really warm and sunny and filled with tourist. Not ideal for making photos, but a nice break from the cool coastal weather.

The fog lifted on Sunday afternoon, setting up a great evening of photography at Second Beach. The beach is a short hike from the road and is popular with surfers, campers, hikers and lots of photographers. Hard to make a photo that didn’t include one.

By the time we returned to La Push, there was still a hint of colourful light left in the night sky.

Lingering and leaving

After a final early morning photo session around First Beach, we made the leisurely drive back to Port Angeles and hopped back on the Coho to return to Victoria.

NB: With the exception of three images shot with the X-Pro2 and the XF23mm f/2 lens, all photos were captured with the Fujifilm GFX 50S. Most of those photos were made with the excellent GF32-64mm f/4 lens, that Fujifilm Canada kindly lent to me. The balance of the images were made with either the equally great GF63mm f/2.8 lens or an adapted Mamiya 645 150mm f/3.5 lens. I carried the GFX and the 32-64mm lens, plus the Mamiya 150mm lens in my backpack, wherever we went. I also hiked in my tripod, when I intended to make long exposures. Although not as light as the equivalent X-camera setup, it was very manageable.

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