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Cascadia Captures


Jake Gosline explores the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest with his Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD and 70-210mm Di VC USD lenses.


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By Jenn Gidman
Images By Jake Gosline


Jake Gosline had always been interested in taking pictures while growing up in San Francisco, and he already had a few photography classes under his belt by the time he graduated high school. But it was a move to Seattle four years ago that planted the landscape photography seed permanently. "It's just stunning in the Pacific Northwest," he says. "When I first moved up here, I'd go on hikes with my wife, and my cellphone camera couldn't adequately represent what I was seeing. So about two years ago I purchased a DSLR and have been heading out to document the area's landscapes ever since. I think I went to Mount Rainier National Park alone six times last year."

While many landscape photographers gravitate toward wide-angle lenses, Jake is partial to telephoto. "When I'm in the field and seeking out compositions, my brain focuses in on the smaller details more so than the wider compositions, like a small patch of light on the side of a mountain 3 miles away," he says. "It just clicks with me. It also helps to show the scale of, say, a wide sweep of mountains by focusing in on those details."

To help him achieve his telephoto vision, Jake uses the Tamron 18-400mm Di II VC HLD and 70-210mm Di VC USD lenses. "I've had the 18-400 the longer of the two lenses, since May of last year," he says. "I'd been using kit lenses and wanted a little more reach on a telephoto. I came across the 18-400, purchased it, and used it pretty much exclusively for seven months in a row, which is when I added the 70-210 into the mix. The 18-400 is the perfect hiking lens, with a remarkable focal-length range that means I don't have to swap lenses out while I'm hiking and open up the body during inclement weather. Plus, the optical quality is amazing for that large of a range. The 70-210 is a nice complement to the 18-400. I'll pull that lens out when I come across a scene where I don't need the full 400mm."

The Vibration Compensation (VC) feature on both lenses helps Jake keep his images sharp as he's wandering the trails. "I usually do bring a tripod, but I'm often hiking with my wife, and setting up the tripod takes quite some time—I can't be stopping every 10 minutes when I see something I want to shoot or she'd go crazy," he says. "So I shoot handheld probably 80% of the time, unless I'm hiking solo. That VC is much needed for those situations."

Sunrise is Jake's favorite time of day to shoot. "Pacific Northwest forests tend to be quite moody and foggy in the early morning," he says. "If you get decent light, that fog lights right up. Sunset is my second preference. I don't like shooting in the middle of the day, as the light is way too harsh. If shooting in midday is my only option, I'll hope for cloudy weather and take black-and-white shots, emphasizing contrast instead."

In addition to the satisfaction of using his Tamron lenses to showcase the beauty of his new home, Jake has enjoyed success selling his landscape work in large-format offerings. "This past holiday season, I think I sold about 40 prints," he says. "To me, a picture doesn't really come to life unless it's printed big, so you can see all the details. It's cool to view a picture on Instagram, and I do spend a lot of time on there, but those small images don't really do the landscapes I see justice. A small screen isn't the same as a 24x36 print."

Read on to see how Jake has used the 70-210mm and 18-400mm telephoto lenses in his recent landscape work in and around Seattle (and even in the middle of Switzerland).

© Jake Gosline
18-400mm (400mm), F/9, 1/2000th sec., ISO 640
Click image to view larger

At Mount Rainier National Park, I hiked to the top of a peak near the Sunrise Visitor Center just in time for sunrise. I left Seattle at 2:20 a.m. and got to the top of the peak at around 5:45. It was the day after a very large rainstorm in the park, but the weather had called for clear weather the following morning, so I figured there would be a decent chance I'd get a lot of fog coming off the forest floor. If it was clear outside, the light would hit all that fog. Sure enough, that's what happened. It was probably the best conditions I've ever experienced in the park—I got about 20 portfolio-level shots of the fog. It was quite a high!

© Jake Gosline
18-400mm (22mm), F/11, 1/20th sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

I recently visited Switzerland, and before I went to see the Eiger, a mountain there that overlooks the town of Grindelwald, I did a ton of Google Maps searches looking for spots with compelling compositions. I was walking around and came across this solitary tree, set just apart from the three grouped trees on the left. I set up the photo so it was balanced this way, with the one tree on the right, and the three trees and the Eiger to the left.

© Jake Gosline
18-400mm (29mm), F/7.1, 1/160th sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

From this vantage point on the south side of Mount Rainier, you can actually see the Paradise Visitor Center (bottom center). Once again, I left Seattle around 2:20am, got to the hiking trail, hiked for about an hour, then ended up with this view over this valley. I did some wide-angle work while I was up there, but at a certain point I transitioned to capturing slightly more zoomed-in shots, shooting handheld with the 18-400.

Because I focus on telephoto work so much, one of my challenges is conveying scale. I'm always looking for man-made elements, or smaller-sized elements like trees to help viewers figure out what they're looking at. The visitors center serves that purpose here.

© Jake Gosline
18-400mm (185mm), F/10, 1/30th sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

Mount Tamalpais (aka Mount Tam) is located in Marin County, just north of where I grew up in San Francisco. However, I'd never photographed it until recently. When the fog rolls in over these hills, you can capture some gorgeous long exposures, with amazing curves and colors. I headed up there hoping I'd get that fog, but it happened to be an incredibly clear day. However, I still got fantastic colors during the sunset; what you see here is pretty close to what I saw with my own eyes. This image is just a small section of a wider panoramic shot I have featured on my website.

© Jake Gosline
70-210mm (112mm), F/9, 1/50th sec., ISO 100
Click image to view larger

This photo I took in North Cascades National Park was my first photo outing with the 70-210. I drove out at sunrise and did a whole bunch of shooting, but this shot I actually took in midday, at about 1 p.m. I was driving home from Diablo Lake, looked over to the left as I was crossing the bridge, and spotted this scene. The fog was still hanging around, which was unusual, because typically fog like this dissipates pretty quickly in the morning. I knew this was a unique photo op, so I pulled over to the side of the road, got out my camera, and just took a quick handheld shot.

© Jake Gosline
18-400mm (46mm), F/9, 1/640th sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

This is my favorite shot of the bunch. I actually took it from the exact same spot that I took the golden morning fog shot I talked about earlier, except this time at sunset. I'd scouted this composition on Google Earth previously and thought that the winding road was the perfect S-curve for a composition. I was checking the weather closely on the day I took this, and although it had been raining in the morning, it was supposed to clear up toward evening as sunset hit.

That's my favorite time to shoot, because you can get light rays that pierce through the clouds. And that's what happened; the light was amazing. You can see the sun was pretty low based on how long the shadows are from those trees in the foreground. After that evening, I knew I had to go back for sunrise, which is why I started planning the golden morning fog shot, taken about two weeks later.

© Jake Gosline
18-400mm (270mm), F/9, 1/100th sec., ISO 640
Click image to view larger

I have a buddy who's very into incorporating the rising and setting moon in his photos, and we'd been talking for a while about trying to get the moon rising from behind Mount Rainier. This particular shot, taken from Fox Island in the Puget Sound, only lights up like this once a year, and the weather has to be clear on that specific day to get the photo. We did some scouting on Google Maps trying to figure out where we could stand and came across this road that connects the island (which you're seeing in the foreground) to the mainland. We found the spot, pulled over to the side of the road, set up our tripods, and waited, hoping our math was right and that the moon would rise from behind Rainier. Sure enough, it did.

The best day to take this shot isn't the day of the full moon—it's the day before or the day after. I took this photo the day before the full moon, when the moon rises while the sunset is taking place. We knew the sun would be lighting up Mount Rainier with that pink alpenglow. If we had come a day later, it would've been dark already when the moon was rising above the mountain.

If you zoom in on the moon, in the bottom left corner, you can spot a Cessna plane that happened to be flying by. Right as it got in front of the moon, it turned and flew straight at us. It was pure luck and added an extra little touch to the image—no one's ever going to take this shot again.

© Jake Gosline
70-210mm (210mm), F/9, 1 sec., ISO 200
Click image to view larger

I took this sunset photo of the Space Needle from Kerry Park, which offers a terrific view of the city's skyline. It's a very popular photography spot—at any given time, there are almost always five to 10 photographers with their tripods taking pictures here.

I've taken photos of the Space Needle from this vantage point before, but I've never really achieved these types of colors. One of the photographers who was standing next to me shared a tip: If you put a polarizing filter on your lens when you're shooting these scenes close to sunset, the polarizer will bring out colors in the clouds that you can't even see with your own eyes. To my naked eye, the clouds here didn't even really look that pink. But once I put on the polarizer, it turned the whole background a light purple and the clouds a brilliant pink. I never would have thought to use the polarizer in this situation, which goes to show you: Don't be afraid to make new friends while you're out taking pictures. They could have an invaluable tip waiting for you.

To see more of Jake Gosline's work, go to www.jakegoslinephoto.com.



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