Category Archives: Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA

Dahlia Garden at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma in October

Dahlia Trial Garden Point Defiance Tacoma WALooking for something to do over Columbus Day weekend?  My husband has noted that we usually have a storm on Columbus Day, but perhaps on the day after the storm, you’ll enjoy visiting the Dahlia Garden at Point Defiance Park, in the North End of Tacoma, WA.

Yes, this year, the Dahlias are still blooming and it’s October!  They are beautiful Autumn flowers!  It’s amazing how varied and elaborate their blossoms are.

Visit after a rain storm, and you’ll have beautiful droplets all over the flowers, adding another dynamic to your photos.

I love photographing flowers.  The very act of composing a photograph makes me pay attention and “be in the moment.”  The later joy of sharing them is just the icing on the cake.

Dahlia Garden was beautiful in Autumn

The Dahlia Trial Garden produces amazing flowers! The garden is maintained by The American Dahlia Society and flowers are voted on by judges. Winning flowers are added to the classification book. According to the Metro Parks Tacoma Garden Clubs website, the best time to view the dahlias is in August… I think there were more earlier in the season and some were cut down, but wow! Still so beautiful.


Beautiful Orange Dahlia seen on the Trial Garden in Tacoma WA


Sign about the Dahlia Garden at Pt Defiance Park, Washington State, USA

While You’re There…

You can walk (or drive) down the hill to the waterfront.  There’s a great walkway and you might even see a Seal!  You’ll almost certainly see the ferry, maybe a barge or some smaller boats, seagulls, and people walking their dogs!

Most recently, I saw this blue heron on top of a utility building along the waterfront.  It was high tide and he was just hanging out!

Blue Heron Seen at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma WA
First time I’ve seen a blue heron at Point Defiance Park!

Washington State Ferry Crossing the Puget Sound

A Mallard Duck with Feathers Stuck to Its Beak

I had some business to do in north Tacoma today (had to go to the Xfinity Store a.k.a. Comcast because our DVR was glitchy. They gave us the new X1 box and a year promotion on it for $10/month.)

Whenever I go up there, I usually go by Point Defiance. I was disappointed today that the cloud cover was kind of thick, which made shooting with my long lens difficult. With low light and wildlife there’s a lot of compromises to consider. If you raise the ISO, your photos come out more grainy. If you open the aperature, the field of focus becomes too narrow. If you lower the shutter speed, camera shake plus wildlife movement becomes an issue. All in all, you have to compromise with one of those settings.

I’m still trying to figure out what setting I can compromise on. In any case, I was pleasantly surprised that I got some photos worthy enough of showing here.

It turns out that 3200 ISO on the Canon Eos Rebel T3i can be an acceptable setting, especially if you’re taking photos for the web or for personal memories. There will be grain, but if you don’t plan on using the photos at their full resolution, or plan on printing them, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Of course, ideally you should wait for a sunny day, but nature can’t be planned for. Oh, if you’re taking photos of ducks that are there every day, then do re-visit on a sunny day and use a lower ISO. But if you want to capture the moment, don’t hesitate.

Female Mallard Duck Close-up

Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
Canon Eos Rebel T3i
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 Auto Focus APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Adjusted in Photoshop Elements Camera Raw
(adjusted clarity, saturation, & contrast)


Early Spring at Point Defiance Park

Yellow Crocuses

I walked around Point Defiance Park this past Sunday, during President’s Day weekend.   It was a breezy and sunny cool day. The crocuses were already blooming, as well as a couple of daffodils.  I was on a birding mission.. I am now recording my bird sightings and publishing on the website.   I did find a lot of birds and even got some good photography in.  This picture was a big surprise when I got home and looked at it on my computer:

Red-shafted Northern Flickers

These Northern Flickers were flying from tree to tree together, checking out sap holes and picking on the bark for bugs.  Most of the pictures I’ve taken of these beautiful birds are of them on the suet feeder, so it’s nice to get them in a natural setting.  And my timing was sure lucky on this one!

American Wigeon

There were a flock of about 180 American Wigeon in the “duck pond” and on the nearby lawn.  The maps indicate that they winter in the Puget sound region.  I saw them last time I went to the park (last month, in January) and there were just as many.  They like to eat in the sun and the high contrast sunlight/shadow made them hard to photograph last time… Plus they fly away if you get close.  But this time the less timid pair, pictured above, crossed my path.

Common Goldeneye

I walked down the hill to Commencement Bay and found this pair of Common Goldeneye riding the rough waves during high tide… I had to get my bird book out to identify them.  I haven’t done much birding around water (yet), so I’m not that familiar with ducks.