Announcing My Quarterly Newsletter

I just published my first quarterly newsletter. In this first newsletter I provide some guidance for visiting at peak bloom the wildflowers at Paradise Mt. Rainier. There also is a short article on a method I find very useful in creating compelling images of the wildflowers in their larger environment titled: “To Focus Stack or Focus Stack, That is the Question”. You will also find a summary of my new Apprentice Program where I work one on one with a photographer over a period of time of one year for skill set development and to help the photographer creatively find his/her vision. There are also special offers available only to newsletter subscribers and announcements of upcoming trips I lead for the Seattle Mountaineers.

Wildflower Rapture
Focused Stacked Image

Here is the link to my first newsletter: Summer 2019 Erwin Buske Photography Newsletter

Here is a link to where you can subscribe to the newsletter. Subscribe

I will of course continue to post informative and inspiring article here on this blog, but as has been the practice, blog articles will explore subjects in greater depth. The newsletter will only contain short articles that are easily read in a failry limited period of time. I encourage everyone to also subscribe to the newsletter and in many ways the blog and newsletter are designed to work even better together, although they will also stand on their own. Thanks so much everyone for being part of my photographic journey!

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.



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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.



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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!



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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!



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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.



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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!



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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.



2018 Calendar: The stories behind the images

I am excited to announce that my 2018 Calendar is now available and can be purchased through this link  Erwin Buske Photography 2018 Calendar.  As was the case last year, I will donate ALL proceeds to the Nature Conservancy.  Here are the images for each month along with some stories behind the images.  All images were taken in about the last twelve months and feature locations either in Washington State or somewhere near Washington.  Thanks everyone for your support and interest over the past year!


Gold Creek December072

January: Early Winter Magic

This image is of beautiful Gold Creek Pond close to sunset yesterday evening. Operating the camera was quite a challenge in the freezing cold temperatures made worse by occasional gusts of wind across the pond, but well worth the effort. I took out my water bottle to stay hydrated and placed it on a snow covered log-less than 15 minutes later is was more ice than water! The hike up Gold Creek was awesome also. I just love this area! Sony A7R2  22MM F16, 1/10S, ISO 100


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February: Hall of Mosses Deer Crossing

My daughter Caroline and I spent three days at Kalalock along Washington’s Pacific Coast over her spring break, with visits to Ruby Beach, and the Hoh and Quinault Rain Forests. The weather was at least ten degrees cooler there than here in Seattle and the rain storms came at intervals of about every 15 to 30 minutes. In between storms, however, there were epic conditions for photography with frequent sun breaks and also a few bright colorful rainbows!  Here in the Hoh Rainforest as soon as we parked the car the rains subsided creating an opening for us to hike the Hall of Moses trail along the Hoh River.  Beautiful filtered light entered through the forest canopy creating a soft glowing mysterious look. I set up my tripod at this group of Maples and Caroline said “Daddy there is a deer!”. I said where! And sure enough a deer walked into the scene I had already set up as I was looking through the viewfinder, at which time I cranked up the ISOs to freeze motion and started firing away the shutter!  Nikon D810, 36MM, F14, 1/200s, ISO 1250 to freeze motion.



March: Ecoloa Beach Overlook: Flying West

It was a very awe inspiring experience this early evening to watch the movement of clouds and play of light on the waves. The perspective from the Ecola Overlook is one I never tire of and I find that the early evening light is best for this scene. It was particularly inspiring this evening with the dramatic clouds forming a ring around the sky and a passing gull flying through the scene.  Nikon D810, 28MM, F14, 1/320S, ISO 200.



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April: Ballad of Big Pink

This image is of sunrise at Roozengaarde Tulip Fields.  This is an example of an image that I did not consciously plan to take and by the good graces of the universe I arrived at the scene with little if any time to spare in order to capture the sun rising.  I planned to head out to the Skagit Valley from my home nearly two hours away around noon.  But at about 3AM I awoke wide awake from sleep and on a quick impulse decided to go then in order to make sunrise.  I arrived at the general area of the Tulip Fields but could not find a suitable field and place to pull the car to the side of the road even as the sunrise was starting and beautiful colors will filling the sky.  I thought at this point that I totally missed it in terms of “getting the shot” and as I was driving to get some coffee and breakfast I noticed a group of cars parked at the edge of what appeared to be a Tulip Field.  I quickly pulled into a field parking area and more clearly saw these pink tulips about a couple of blocks away.  I quickly grabbed my photo pack and  ran down the muddy path arriving just in time to setup and shoot!  Sony A7R2 35MM, F16, 1/2S, ISO 125




May: Palouse Waves and Patterns

This image is of Palouse Waves and Patterns as viewed from Steptoe Butte.  When one  first arrives at Steptoe Butte the temptation is to take wide sweeping panoramas of the area, but in my experience the best shots are more of the narrow field images that emphasize the waves and patterns of the rolling wheat fields.   This image was taken with my 300MM lens with a 1.4 teleconverter attached.  Nikon D800, 300MM, F13, 1/15S, ISO 100



June: New Morning

At no time is the transformation of Mt. St. Helens more apparent than early summer when the first flowers appear in large drifts cascading down the mountainsides. Within my own lifetime I have witnessed a change going from ashes to Eden~  This image was taken just after sunrise.  This is a focus stack of several images taken at F8, 16MM,1/50s, ISO 400mm, Sony A7R2.


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July: Walking into a Dream 2

The best wild flower meadow that I know about is this one at  Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground, Mount Rainier National Park. This cabin is perfectly situated in as beautiful setting as I could ever imagine and when approaching the cabin through the meadow it is like walking into a beautiful dream. Indian Henry, known as Soo-Too-Lick, early on (1883) guided several familiar names to Mt. Rainier including the Hunting Grounds, these familiar names include James Longmire, Philemon Beecher Van Trump and John Muir. Indian Henry was a Cowlitz Indian, beloved by many people.  Sony A7R2 29MM, F16, 120S, ISO 200


Glacier Peak 2017 Images1896 copy

August: Image Lake at Sunrise

Beautiful pasque flowers gone to seed and Image Lake awaken to a rosy sunrise underneath Washington’s most remote volcanic peak, known by the Suak Indian Tribe as “Tda-ko-buh-ba”, but also known as Glacier Peak. This location in the Glacier Peak Wilderness comes as close to heaven on earth as anything my imagination can possibly conjure up. Looking out across the meadow and lake to Glacier Peak one feels the pure essence of a wilderness area, an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by people, and where we are just visitors who cannot remain in a place of such unspoiled beauty. Image Lake is not very accessible and I approached the lake as part of an extended 7 day backpacking trip with the Sierra Club in August of 2017. Our route took us up and over Spyder Gap’s Lyman Glacier, scrambling down into the Lyman Lake Basin, up and over Cloudy Pass, over to Image Lake, and out through Flower Dome and Buck Creek Pass-about a 60 mile loop trip including side trips.
Western pasqueflower, or Anemone occidentalis has a less than showy bloom but you won’t miss the next stage, which resembles a fuzzy mop of hair. An early bloomer, the seed pods last all summer on mountain slopes and meadows in middle to high elevations. This is a focus stack of 6 images taken at F11, 29MM, 1/5s, ISO 800 (to reduce movement caused by wind.



September: Where the Angels Roam

This image is from my trip to Mt. Rainier in September of 2017. While driving up US 410 to circle around Rainier I passed through thicker and thicker smoke. This summer almost half of the days have been like this, drab and smoky due to forest fires in the area including the Norse Peak Fire on the northeast side of Rainier. The smoke actually helped me at Silver Falls as it combined with clouds to produce some spectacular mid-day filtered light. But this same layer of clouds and smoke did nothing but diminish the view of Mt. Rainier to the point where it was almost unrecognizable through the haze. I felt some winds blowing in the area and on a hunch, I thought Bench Lake would be a good place to go for sunset if some of the smoke would just blow away. It took almost ten minutes before sunset for this to happen, but for ten precious minutes the reward was absolute bliss, and some of the best light I have ever seen in this area!  Sony A7R2 23MM, F16, 1s, ISO 100


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October: Guardian of the Camp

The small peninsula in the Enchantments upon which we made our camp was evidently the home of this particular Mountain Goat who was our almost constant companion during our stay at the Enchantment Lakes!  The closer I moved toward the goat the closer she also moved toward me.  With the Kid goat not far away, I decided to go not closer than this!.  Sony A7R2, F14, 1/160S, ISO 100


Elowah Falls

November: Elowah Mystery of Autumn

This image is of beautiful Elowah Falls looking through the veil of moss covered boulders sprinkled with maple leaves, moss covered branches and the warm atmosphere of Autumn.  Getting this image was no small challenge, not so much because of the difficulties of navigating a steep and slippery hillside down to this shooting location, but because once I arrived I saw about six unattended tripods planted right in the river in front of me.  Luckily the workshop leader agreed to temporarily move his group out of the way so I could capture this shot.  I am hoping this area will be spared by the recent Eagle Creek Fire, but if not it will be wonderful to experience the renewal of this area in the years ahead.   Sony A7R2 16MM, F11, 1/4s, 1S0 160, this is a focus stack of several images.


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December: Garfield Whispers of Winter Approaching

In early December, I took one of those long hikes in the light rain that makes me happy I live in the Pacific Northwest-yes I love hiking in light rain! This time I headed west (rather than east) along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, past rainy creek and on to Pratt River. What a spectacular section of trail through the rain forest! I especially like the sounds of the light rain falling on the trees and bushes against the constant roar of the Snoqualmie River occasionally with the accompaniment of small creeks and streams swollen with near constant rain. There was only one brief opening and I retook this image, this time with a dusting of snow on Garfield Mountain and some clouds rolling through the valley.  This image won third place in the Washington Wild (a Conservation Advocacy Group) 2017 photo competition.  Sony A7R2, 16MM, F16, 8s, ISO 125, 5 stop neutral density filter