I moved to Seattle back in 1993, but for some reason it wasn't until last year that I joined the Mountaineers, a veritable western Washington institution for those interested in hiking and other outdoor activities. The thing I never knew until that time was that, along with hiking, mountain climbing, snow skiing, kayaking and the like, the Mountaineers also has a very active photography group. I have no excuse for not knowing, only that I had never taken the time to find out.
The third Wednesday of every month except March, the Mountaineers Photography Committee hosts a potluck dinner and slide show where members are encouraged to bring slides to share. Shooters of all skill levels are present, and it's a great way to network with other photographers. Given the Mountaineers main focus on the outdoors, people tend to bring nature and landscape slides, but others are also welcome; the variety itself makes the evening well worth it.
Additionally, each spring, the Mountaineers hosts a Photo Lecture series with professional photographers of regional and national acclaim. The 2002 series included such names as Feeman Patterson and Daryl Benson. For those just starting out, a Basic Photography course covering such topics as exposure and composition is also held each spring.
A variety of frequent field trips round out their photography offerings. These trips to locations throughout the Northwest range from day outings to more extended back-packs.
Complete details can be found on the Mountaineers site at www.mountaineers.org/photography.
So, my advice to you? If you're at all interested in nature and outdoor photography and live in the Seattle area, don’t do what I did; find or make the time to join the Mountaineers. If you live elsewhere, check around to see if you have any photo clubs in your area.