Blue Cascade, Olympic National Park, 2004

A cascading creek of icy snowmelt rushes over moss-covered rocks in Olympic National Park in Washington. A World Heritage site renown for three diverse ecosystems, the 900,000-acre park has extensive old growth forest connected to mountainous glacial peaks interspersed with alpine meadows and miles of wilderness coastline.

It was spring when I began to work in the temperate rainforest, lush from receiving twelve feet of rain. I was excited and nervous on this mission. It was my first landscape assignment for the magazine, and the pace was far different than other people and cultural stories I had photographed. I slowed down. Senses heightened, I learned to read clouds attempting to predict weather and measure distance by time on a trail. When I was silent, the trees spoke. I felt inspired by light, color and texture of the primeval forest floor. Knowing the peninsula was isolated for eons by ice or water, I searched for some of the eight plants and 15 animals that are found nowhere else on earth.

Hiking a wilderness trail in heavy mist, I carried my camera under my jacket. My destination was the Sol Duc River, but ferns, mosses and small woodland flowers caught my attention. I stopped at a little stream and admired the emerald green color of mosses and was so glad I had carried the tripod to steady me with long exposures. I wanted capture beauty that would inspire and help people want to take better care of the earth.

Location: Olympic National Park
Photograph Date: 2004
Medium: Chromogenic Print
Edition: 200

Due to high demand and limited availability, we are unable to offer online purchasing. Please use our contact form here and a Consultant will be in touch. You may also email us by clicking here.

About the Photographer

Melissa Farlow

Melissa Farlow is a freelance photographer who has contributed to National Geographic for more than 15 years. Previously she was a staff photographer at the Pittsburgh Press and at the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times in Kentucky. While in Louisville, she was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of desegregation in the public schools.

Farlow has photographed numerous articles for National Geographic, including "Blackwater Country," "Swamps of Jersey: The Meadowlands," "High Stakes in the Bluegrass," "When Mountains Move," and "The Truth About Tongass."

Farlow worked in three African countries for Women in the Material World, a book comparing women's roles in different cultures. She photographed in Chile, Peru, and Mexico for a book on the Pan-American Highway and also published a National Geographic book titled Wild Lands of the West.

Her images have won multiple awards in the Pictures of the Year competition and other contests.

She received her B.A. degree in journalism from Indiana University and her master's degree from the University of Missouri, where she also taught photojournalism. She has been a faculty member at the Missouri Photo Workshop, the Center for Photographic Studies in Louisville, and the Anderson Ranch of Fine Arts in Aspen, Colorado.

Farlow is married to Randy Olson, also a longtime National Geographic contributing photographer.

Inquire About Price