Landscape Photography with George Stenberg

Though there are many factors that come together to make a good photographer—gear, dedication, understanding of theory, etc.—the one elusive quality that boosts George Stenberg’s craft into the upper echelon is timing. This is often translated to photographers terms as patience.

Although many assume that being in the right place at the right time is happenstance, one look at Stenberg’s extensive collection suggests there’s something more sophisticated at play. Time and time again, he publishes jaw-dropping creations that not only make us fall even more in love with our own DSLRs, but with Hood Canal that continually provides these glorious moments.

Note: all photos featured in this post belong to George Stenberg.


Meet George Stenberg

He’s the man behind the image that makes you say, “whoa.” And rightfully so—his mission is simply in the right place. “The world is a wonderful, amazingly beautiful place,” he says, “look around and see for yourself. Let’s cherish it and take good care of it for those who come after us."

We caught up with him for a little Q + A.


What makes shooting around Hood Canal and on the Olympic Peninsula special?

The simplest answer is because I love the Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula. I grew up in a small community along the Puget Sound called Dash Point. I always love to being by the water.

As a youngster, my folks would take us on weekend trips to my Grandparents' cabin at Maggie Lake, near Tahuya. We would also spend a lot time with friends who had a cabin nearby on Hood Canal. My earliest memories of the fjord are the warm waters, oysters, and a rocky beach. This was way different from our cold water and sandy beach in Dash Point.

Swimming in warm water was much nicer. Also, just about every summer we would take a trip around the Olympic Peninsula on beautiful Hwy 101. We called it a trip "around the loop." So I developed this love for Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula in my early years and as they say, "shoot what you love," applies to me.


What camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best as a photographer?  

My equipment is very modest. I use an Olympus E-3 DSLR with two Zuiko lenses, 12-60 f2.8 and 40-150 f3.5. I shoot in RAW files and develop the images in Photomatix and/or Smart Photo Editor.

The Photomatix works well when I use HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography to help me capture the scene as I remember it. The Editor software is for basic editing and enhancing to suit the image and my taste.


Which photographers influence your work?

Port Angeles landscape photographer Pat O'Hara has been a big influence. I purchased his book Washington—Images of the Landscape almost thirty years ago, and I still refer to it and am inspired.

The late great Galen Rowell has been another huge influence. Mountain Light is a must read for any inspiring photographer. If only I could emulate his technical understanding of light and his passion for photography.  

Also, Jim Brandenburg is an environmentalist and nature photographer and filmmaker based near Ely, Minnesota. Jim's work is nothing but spectacular in many ways. One of his books, White Wolf, is also a must read everyone who enjoys nature and particularly wolves.

Lastly, my Mom, Bonnie Stenberg, is another huge influence. I remember growing up with her taking pictures of us at all of our family events. Her photographs have accumulated in tons of scrapbooks and in frames filling the walls. She bought me my first camera when I went off to college. If only I had had the money for film and processing during those days.


Where is your favorite place to shoot around Hood Canal?

Every place on the Hood Canal is a favorite. It all depends the on time of year, the time of day, and many other factors. The view of the Olympics and the Big Bend is beautiful from the Union.

Lake Cushman, Skokomish Valley, and all the estuaries of the Skokomish, Hamma Hamma, Duckabush and Dosewallips Rivers are wonderful places to visit, explore, and take photos. I love to shoot from a special 3000' ridge top with a sweeping 360 degree view of the Cascades and Olympics.  And there are many places that I have yet to find. But if I were to narrow my answer to one favorite place, it would be paddling in a kayak anywhere on Hood Canal on a warm summer evening.


Do you know someone who delights in shooting the under-trodden nooks of Hood Canal? Someone who sleeps with a tripod and welcomes the sunrise DSLR-in-hand? Is this person you? We’re on the hunt for those who love to shoot the Hood Canal. Get in touch with us, and you might be featured as next month’s Spotlight Photographer.

 Until then, keep an eye out for photographic inspiration on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and be sure to tag your creations with #wildsideWA so we can keep tabs on your travels about the Olympic Peninsula.