Picture of the Month


August 2011



Ape Cave Lava Tube

Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Monument



The weather this summer has been cool and cloudy, a nice alternative to the record heat wave hitting the rest of the country but a little frustrating for those of us who look forward to the brief summer in the northwest to get into the high country.  This year?  There is still 5 feet of snow at Mt. Rainier, which normally would be decorated with wildflowers by now.

I spent several days this month trying to get pictures of Mt. St. Helens, whose eruption I witnessed in 1980. ( I have never been back in the intervening 31 years and it seemed overdue). But the cloudy weather kept me from getting the pictures I wanted to the mountain and its yawning crater. So one day I struck out for the south slope of the mountain and this remarkable feature, known - oddly - as Ape Cave. No, the Sasquatch has never been seen here (to my knowledge); the name comes from the nickname of a troop of Boy Scouts who originally explored this cave in 1947.  

(Science note : lava tubes are created by very fluid lava that cools and hardens at the edges, allowing the lava inside to continue flowing inside, forming a stone tube. When the lava stops, it drains out the bottom end, leaving this remarkably uniform tunnel.)

Inside the 2 mile long cave, I spent an hour just trying to sort out how best to photograph it - finally settling on the use of two flashes - one on the camera/tripod and the other in my hands. 30-second exposures allowed me time to position myself in front of the light-colored wall (where I would best show up in silhouette) and fire off a few flashes manually. It was a case of trial and error - mostly error - to get what I wanted. In a perfect world, I would have had a third flash (and a model?) in the far distant bend of the cave, but I'm content with this.


An amazing place.


Nikon D3, 17-35mm lens, 2 Nikon SB-800 flashes



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Kevin Schafer Photography : HOME



Review a previous Picture of the Month:

Blurry Cassowary, 7/2011

Mud Maid, 5/2011

Roadkill. 4/2011

Light and Shadow, 3/2001

Aurora, 40 below, 2/2011

Petra, 1/2011

Cassowary Family, 12/2010

Antarctic Storm, 11/2010

Yellow-eyed Penguin, 10/2010

Harebells in Wind, 9/2010

Coy Polar Bear, 8/2010

Bathing Beauty Bear, 7/2010

Maned Sloth, 6/2010

Sarus Cranes, 5/2010

Black-winged Stilts, 4/2010

Macaque/Gibbons, 3/2010

Cormorants, 2/2010

Silky Sifaka, 12/2009

Amazon Dolphin Polo, 11/2009

Yucatan Bats, 10/2009

Gulls and Flies, 8/2009

Callanish Stones, 7/2009

Amazon Dolphins (2), 6/2009

Golden Langur, 5/2009

Island Foxes, 4/2009

Puget Sound, 3/2009

Border Fence, 2/2009

Amazon Islands, 1/2009

King Penguins, 12/2008

Darwin's Fox, 11/2008

Blacktip Shark, 10/2008

Greenland Fisherman. 9/2008

Ladyslipper Orchids, 7/2008

Wild Cassowary, 6/2008

Painted Hands, 5/2008

Zion Park, 4/2008

Marine Otters, 3/2008

Mt. Hood Sunset, 2/2008

Mountain-Biking, 1/2008

Tent Bats, 12/2007

Nunbird, 11/2007

Alaskan Otters, 10/2007

Amazon Dolphin, 8/2007

Madagascar #2, 6/2007

Baja California, 5/2007

Pelicans, 3/2007

Darien Gap, 2/2007

Grey Whale Calf, 1/2007

Galapagos Sea Lion, 12/2006

Rockhoppers, 11/2006

Hummingbird, 10/2006

Madagascar, 9/2006

Whales, 7/2006

Sea Lions, 5/2006

Tiger, 4/2006

Jaguar, 2/2006

South Georgia, 12/2005

New Generation, 11/2005

Childhood, 9/2005

Penguins, 8/2005

Sea Palms, 7/2005

Aster Flower, 6/2005

Siskiyou Mountains, 5/2005

Humpback Whales, 4/2005

Christo GATES , 3/2005

Eucalyptus Leaves, 2/2005

Alaskan Aurora, 1/2005

Nesting Turtle, 12/2004

Autumn Berries, 10/2004

Costa Rica, 3/2004

Aurora Borealis, 10/2003

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