Weekend Photography Trip to Central Washington

A group from the Photography Committee traveled to central Washington to photograph abandoned buildings and the starry night sky.
Anita Elder Anita Elder
August 18, 2016
Weekend Photography Trip to Central Washington
Govan Sunset

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I led a photography trip to central Washington to photograph abandoned buildings/ghosts towns and the starry sky. I was excited for this trip, because I had never tried to photograph the night sky and stars before. I also like taking pictures of old buildings.

Joining me were three other photographers and Mountaineer members. Only Heidi Walker had taken starry sky photos before and she was my co-leader.

On the way to our location, we stopped at the Wild Horses Monument that overlooks the Columbia River and Vantage, WA.

Wild Horses Monument

While we waited for the sun to go down, we drove to the ghost town of Sherman, WA. Not many buildings were left and these seemed to be on the property of a new home, so we didn't want to intrude. We did, however, take pictures of the old church and looked at the tombstones in the cemetery. I found one who was born in 1801 and died in 1899. Driving back towards Coulee City, we found an abandoned house in the middle of a wheat field and stopped to photograph it.

Sherman Church

After dinner in Coulee City, we drove to Govan, a ghost town about a 30-minute drive away. We scoped out the schoolhouse and some of the abandoned buildings and houses while we waited for sunset. One house still had an old wood stove for cooking in it, along with old books and other things somebody left in a hurry.

Govan Sunset

As the sun went down, we got beautiful shots of the sunset. Later, the moon illuminated the schoolhouse quite nicely and it cooled off. Unfortunately, because of the moon, we couldn't see the Milky Way. We also had a bit of cloud cover, so trying to see any Perseid meteors was hard. I had brought along the book, The Night Sky by Jennifer Wu, and it was quite helpful. I bought the book back when she presented at The Mountaineers clubhouse and was promoting her new book. We stayed there until around 11pm, experimenting with different camera settings.

Big Dipper

When we got back to camp at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park, I decided to skip setting up my tent and just sleep under the stars cowboy camping style. I hadn't done that in about 30 years and it felt wonderful! I woke in the middle of the night and just laid there for a bit, looking up at the wonderful stars! The wind had picked up and was blowing dried leaves across the camp, so when I went back to sleep, I started dreaming that it was little critters scurrying around me.


While I settled down for the night, Heidi had gone off to photograph the stars over one of the lakes. One of the other photographers, Howard Boyle, stayed up most of the night looking at the stars and Perseids over the lake (since the clouds had blown away).

Lake Chelan

I woke up again around 5:30 and was just starting to settle back down. I heard what I thought was one of the rangers driving around in their golf cart, checking on things. Then I heard it stop followed by a "hee hee hee." I looked up to find Howard taking photos of me from his Prius. I'm sure I looked lovely with bed head!

After we broke camp and left, Heidi decided to try and find another ghost town. We found it, but most of the buildings had long collapsed and it was that interesting. We did see some amazing scenery and explored parts of the state we hadn't been to before. I especially liked the huge boulder left over from a glacier that had been painted with graffiti.


All in all, it was a successful trip and everyone really had a great time learning and taking photos of the night sky. We're already talking about going to Artist Point to do the same.


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Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
Aug 17, 2016 04:38 PM

If anyone is interested, several of us are heading to Artist Point on Aug. 27th to try and photograph stars and the Milky Way over Mt. Baker. The lodge is open that weekend, so you can make a reservation to stay if this interests you. Just contact me or Richard Lawrence to let us know you're joining us so we know to look for you.

Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
Aug 19, 2016 01:49 PM

More photos from our trip can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitae/albums/72157671566744291