2019 Calendar: The stories behind the images

 

I am excited to announce that my 2019 Calendars are now available.  Here are the stories and also hopefully some of my not too random ruminations  to go along with the images!

There are two calendars available, a standard size offered at $21 and a large size calendar offered at $35. 50% of the proceeds from the sale of the Calendars will go to support the Washington Nature Conservancy and the remainder will help offset my operational costs.

 

 

Spirit Angels in the Forest SS

January: Spirit Angels in the Forest

When I fell asleep Saturday evening I had no plans hiking the next day.  But when I woke up about 5AM feeling wide awake and calculated that if I left for Poo Poo Point soon I could be at the top before sunrise–this all changed. I decided to go and I am glad I did! It was one of those mornings where the valleys are filled with a sea of fog moving like spirits through the forest. As the sun rose interesting combinations of warm and cool light ensued. I used my 200-500 telephoto lens to capture about 700 images and the constantly changing drama and action.  Even in the field, however, I knew this image was the one that best captured the feeling of this place and time!  Sometimes one is just in the zone and it all comes together-weather and atmospheric condition, the forest, imagination, vision, ones inner state of mind, emotions, weather, and technique–all working together seamlessly together in a state of flow to bring to the light of day an image that lurks just below the level of consciousness.   For more on capturing this type of image see my blog post Forests in the Mists: Windows into the Active Imagination.

 

 

Gold Creek Pond Eastside170-HDRcomp

February: Gold Creek Pond Winter Skies

This image is of Gold Creek Pond close to sunset on a late December evening. It was cloudy most of the day but toward sunset there were brief openings in the clouds to let in some beautiful light.   Kendall Peaks are in the distance which were the destination for many of my previous snowshoe trips.   On this trip, the snow around the pond and up the valley was very compact so my micro spikes were sufficient and snow shoes were not needed.  As I stared across the pond I noticed the bridge and Kendall Peaks rising above the forest.  Often I have hiked around this pond on snowshoes and also up the long winding trail to the top of the peaks.   In the long moments of reflection leading up to this image I would often flash back to these earlier experiences, but some how the beauty of this place—its silence, interspersed by the occasional duck calling or light wind blowing– would bring me back to the here and now .   In the mountains it is almost like we experience eternity one moment at time.   In this moment I knew I would return to this place again and again.  In landscape photography there is a lot of waiting for the right moment to arrive.  But it is this waiting in beautiful place like this that I often like the most, experiencing the timeless wonders of nature.

 

 

Taming of the Storm

March–Mobius Arch: Taming of the Storm

On my first full day at Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills there was an unrelenting wind and rain storm for a good part of the day until just before sunset. I lost power at my Hotel in Lone Pine, but when I saw the sun break through the clouds and the wind subside I went back to the Arches and was able to get set up just in time for this image. By the next morning is was nothing but Bluebird Skies as far as the eyes could see   For many, stormy weather is a signal to cancel plans for an outdoor excursion.  But for us photographers it is often a signal to us that it is time to go!

 

 

Skagit Mid March Daffodils 053 copy

April–Daffodil Field Evening Reflections

Daffodils bask in the evening light and are reflected in the water spanning long rows of flowers.  Bright yellow daffodils are the first to bloom in the flower fields of the Skagit valley often as early as late February.  The weather at this time is usually still cool and damp, sometimes even cold.  The fields are wet and muddy making setting up to take images an invitation to play and roll around in the mud!  This is one of the beauatiful Roozengaarde fields that are scattered throughout Washington’s Skagit River Valley.  The Roozen family business of growing Tulips, Daffodils and Irises is the largest in the world, covering Skagit Valley with more than 1000 acres of field blooms and 16 acres of greenhouses.

 

 

Morning Dew.JPG

May–Morning Dew

The Roozengaarde Tulip fields in Washington’s Skagit Valley awaken to a fine mist of morning dew as the sun arms reach over the distant mountains and envelop the fields. This year heavy spring rains flooded many of the field rows with standing water creating wonderful opportunities for silhouettes and reflections. A few of the fields were so bad that Roozengaarde closed them to any public access. Please respect their wishes and remember we only have access to these private field due to the good graces of Roozengaarde.  Getting to these fields for sunrise can be a bit of a challenge for those of us in the Seattle area which is about two hours away.  This year I scouted the fields the day before, spent the night in a comfy hotel, and made the long walk to this field using headlamp to be on site before dawn.  Had I not  scouted earlier, finding this spot in the dark would have been difficult if not impossible!

 

 

Diablo Lake Sunset

June–Diablo Lake Sunset

I have always just sped by this lake on my way back from the North Cascades, but last June on the way back from a hike and seeing the parking lot empty, I decided to spend a couple of hours exploring this iconic overlook. I love the fjord like quality of this lake and the teal color of the water seals the deal with me! With the earlier hot weather and rapidly melting snow, the water was flowing very good in the North Cascades now and it seemed like every quarter of a mile there was a seasonal waterfall, some spilling water directly onto the road!

 

 

Dead Hoarse414-HDR copy

July–Heather Pillows at Sunset

I just love where I live in the Pacific Northwest. I left my house one day in July on an impromptu trip and three hours later here I was in Paradise heading up the Dead Horse Ridge Trail to Panorama Point! If I was a dying horse these heather pillows would seem to be a beautiful final resting spot. How do these trails get their names anyway?  Heather are some of the first flowers to bloom after the snow melts usually right after the Avalanche and Glacier Lilies make their appearance.  The contrast of the pink magenta flowers and the surrounding new green foliage to me is just striking.  Spring comes to these meadow a little later than down in the lowlands, around the middle of July!

 

 

Lostine River Loop1669

August–Islands in the Sun

A beautiful bonsai rock is bathed in light from the sun that is setting below a ridge above Chimney Lake in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness.  I took this image on the last night of a week long multi-day backpacking trip with the Sierra Club.  The day before I did some scouting around the lake and was immediately drawn to this series of rocks leading up to this bonsai rock.  Chimney lake is somewhat difficult to photograph because the shoreline close to the water lacks remarkable features and the mountain on the backside of the lake is a long and fairly uniform ridge also lacking distinctive features.  This bonsai rock I thought would give the lake character and a more distinctive identity.

Capturing the scene at  sunset would be a challenge because the sun sets behind the ridge a good 90 minutes before the actual sunset leaving the lake and surrounding mountains in deep shadow.   I decided to photograph the rock earlier in the evening and when I approached the site I noticed  sun’s star also reflected in the lake.  At this time the light was way too intense causing massive flare even with a lens that is not prone to flare.  There was a short window of time, however, about a couple of minutes, when the flare was manageable and the sun star was still reflected in the lake.  It was during this brief period of time I captured this image!  A few seconds later the sun star reflection disappeared, and about a minute later the sun sank below the distant ridge and the entire lake area was in deep shadow.

 

 

Rock Tapestry

September: Rock Tapestry

The grand vistas of Death Valley Park including Zabriskie Point, the Badlands, Badwater, and Mesquite Flat Dunes seem to get all the attention.  But what I found most interesting at Death Valley are the more intimate and often abstract small area scenes deep inside the various slot canyons.  I am sworn to secrecy about the location of this image, but the location really does not matter so much for an image like this.  Venture into any of the canyons and wander deep inside, then pause not just for moments but extended periods of time to take in the small wonders of these canyons.  Study small areas on the walls and look for interesting patterns, lines, shapes, and contrasting colors.  Images will reveal themselves to you in time.  One just needs to stop and listen to the silent sounds written on the canyon walls.

 

 

Enchantments and Tumwater0395

October: Clearing of the Morning Mist

As the early morning mists clears out of the Enchantments Basin and Leprechaun Lake, a thin mist still hovers over Prusik peak creating a soft and airy feel on the granite walls of the peak extending down to some of the autumn larches.    I find Leprechaun to be the most interesting of all the Enchantment Lakes with its various peninsulas and channels spread out across the lower Enchantments basin. To me it is more like a half of dozen lakes than just one.  Soon after this clearing high winds would blow in snow clouds with flurries at night and a full fledged snow storm the next day.  We found a nearby high location with cell phone reception and learned that the storm would last several days.  We decided to leave the next morning heading down the steep mountainsides in at least six inches of snow with micro spikes on our boots and gloves on our hands!

 

 

Kubota 10.25

November: Kubota Maple Early Morning Light

I took this image in November at Kubota Garden as the diffuse sunlight making its way through clouds and trees was just beginning to illuminate the delicate now bright orange leaves of this legendary Japanese Maple.  Part of the look and feel of this place is the stream and water that surrounds this tree that sits on a small peninsula.  The tree is also surrounded by and sits below a mixed forest of much taller deciduous and evergreen trees providing a sense of enclosure. With my frequent pilgrimages to this place only 15 minutes from my home, I think it is safe to say that I periodically worshiped this beautiful tree!

It was a sad day for me, however, when I returned to the tree in April of this year and found out that an almost unbelievable rumor I heard was in fact true.  This legendary Japanese Maple Tree fell victim to a huge fallen tree in a storm, fatally crushing the Japanese Maple and now the tree is no more. They have planted a new smaller Japanese Maple from another location in the garden that has good form and symmetry, but it will take years for it to reach the size and stature of the one in this image. The long process of renewal now begins.  The lesson I learned from this episode is not to take anything in nature for granted.  The only thing that is eternal in nature are the ever renewing cycles of creation and rest.  Somewhere it is always Spring, and somewhere it is also always Autumn.  And somewhere a new tree has just sprouted from seed that will be the next beautiful legendary tree that captures the imagination of our children’s children children.

 

 

Mt. Si Reflections

December: Mt. Si Winter Solstice

One can feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and inspiration through finding beauty in familiar and ordinary places.  Often this beauty is not obvious and may be hidden.  This is one such place, no more than a half hour from my house at a park in the Snoqualmie Valley used primarily to walk dogs.  To approach this pond I needed to go through sticker bushes that found their way into my boots and skin, and finding a relatively uncluttered perspective was no small  exercise.  But nowhere have I gained more traction in developing my skill set than in presenting an ordinary place in the best light.  This is also the ultimate confirmation to others that you have arrived as a photographer through your ability to make even the ordinary look good.  Often this beauty was recognizable to us all along, but conveying this beauty that is often very personal  to others remains a huge challenge.  But if one can communicate a sense of your “Feeling” of a place at these somewhat ordinary and mundane locations, think how much easier it will be to do this at iconic sites and other places where the beauty is so obvious to everyone!  For more on finding sources of inspiration see my blog post Sources of Inspiration for Nature and Landscape Photography: Finding Your Photographic Vision.

 

 

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