Experience Olympic National Park
Longtime RMSP instructor Don Mammoser will be leading a workshop on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula from May 25-31. Having been there many times over the years, Don knows how special and downright amazing this area is. A quick search online will reveal that a trip to Olympic NP actually delivers “Three Parks In One.” In one day you can travel from snow-capped mountains, through some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country, and end up breathing the crisp air and photographing a sunset on a Pacific Ocean beach. Now if that isn’t a perfect day, I’m not sure what is! I was able to connect with Don to ask him a few questions about what his upcoming workshop will offer. Our conversation is below. If you have questions, ask them in the comments section below.
Don, you are leading a workshop in Olympic National Park for RMSP in May. Can you tell our readers what they can expect if they want to join you?
First, Olympic National Park is an absolute stunner of a place, and participants can expect to capture a wide range of diverse landscapes with their cameras. The greens are out of this world! Besides the diversity of this park, which I’ll talk about more in a bit, folks on the workshop can expect to have tons of fun in a supportive and positive environment. We’ll spend lots of time outside getting the best photos we can all week.
This isn’t your first time to Olympic National Park. How many times have you been there? What is it about the area that keeps you coming back?
I’ve been to this area 10 or 12 times throughout my career, and can’t wait to go again. Each time I visit something new happens. I’ve had rainbows over the beach, massive waves crashing the shoreline, orange sunsets, bald eagles fishing, seastack rocks covered in colorful starfish, fog, mist, forest sunshine making beams of light, and always those green greens of the deep rainforest – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Much more awaits us in this awesome park.
Walk us through the workshop. Where are you going to start and end? Photographically, what will you focus on throughout the week? (For example, will you teach macro techniques in the rainforest, landscape techniques on the beach, etc?)
We’ll begin in Forks, Washington, where we’ll be close to the Pacific Ocean and all its glory. From here we get to photograph sunsets, beach scenes, seastacks, ocean waves and more. Then we move on to Port Angeles, where we point our cameras at old growth rainforests, massive trees, crashing waterfalls, babbling brooks, and so much green that you won’t believe it’s possible. Landscape photography is definitely the focus of this workshop with intimate scenes and some macro photography thrown in as it comes along. Wildlife is also a possibility. There are seabirds, eagles, forest elk, and more, and if it presents itself, we’ll certainly take time to get photos of it.
Before becoming a professional photographer, you were trained as a zoologist and worked as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife ranger and endangered species researcher. Does this experience come through in your photography and teaching style? If so, how?
I think that it must as all of us constantly draw on our past experience as we go forward. My love for, and knowledge of wildlife means that, as I said above, if animals present themselves we’ll do our best to try and capture compelling images of them. But more than that, I feel as if I really have a true respect and connection with all things nature related. My passion is showing or teaching others about the wonders of nature, and there aren’t many places better for this than in the hugely diverse Olympic National Park.
Olympic NP boasts some pretty amazing beach scenery as well as views of the Olympic Mountains and lush rainforests. How will you squeeze it all in to this workshop? Can someone expect to create images of all the park has to offer?
They certainly can! We’ll have plenty of time to get those ocean views as well as the deep rainforest scenes, numerous waterfalls, and even some snowcapped mountain peak views as a bonus. Olympic National Park is perhaps the most diverse park within the U.S. but the good news is that it’s all in a relatively compact area, so getting from one habitat to another doesn’t take too long.
Besides the obvious gear someone should expect to bring with them, what are three otherthings participants should throw in their bag?
Be sure to have some sort of protection to keep your camera equipment dry. We will be photographing in a rainforest after all. Even mist from waterfalls is prevalent so a heavy plastic bag for your camera (at the very least) can be handy. A polarizing filter is one accessory that participants will certainly need. From waterfalls to wet rocks, to forest greens, this filter is invaluable for popping colors. A third thing would be good, solid, waterproof shoes or boots. Nothing makes a photographer happier than dry feet when out shooting (ok, gorgeous light, amazing scenes, cooperative wildlife, rainbows, perfect waterfalls, “God beams,” and such make photographers happy too, but dry feet do help you to see all those things).
Since I can’t resist, will you be talking at all about the Twilight phenomenon? Maybe a lecture on how to photograph vampires?
The craze has definitely taken over the Forks area and I can promise we’ll keep our eyes open and our wooden stakes at the ready. Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions. I look forward to getting people excited about Olympic National Park and all it has to offer!