Author Archives: Slavomir

San Juan Island in December

It has been a while since I’ve made a post.  And in this case I invite you to read it on my other blog, Notes from the Open Road, here.

 

Lone boat, San Juan Island | Washington

Lone boat, San Juan Island | Washington

A Walk in the Woods

I had a little time to get out this afternoon and felt a pull toward a local park I haven’t visited in a good 10 or 12 years.  And the time I did step into it long ago, with a good friend, perhaps didn’t leave a very strong impression…or maybe it was simply too brief a time spent there or it wasn’t wild enough.  One thing is for sure, I’m not the same person I was back then.

Not really knowing what I’d find and bringing Stan the dog to enjoy a new place to sniff and mark,  I just grabbed my little cam, the Sony RX100.

Sword Ferns among decaying leaves | Washington

Sword ferns among decaying leaves | Washington

I’m glad I had at least this little capable cam.  I was overwhelmed with inspiration from the time we stepped onto the trail.  I needed that after waking today somewhat down.

So we rambled down the trail, stopping a while to compose for me or for Stan to admire the aromas at his level.  Neither one of us had any complaints!

Winter trees in a ravine | Washington

Winter trees in a ravine | Washington

It’s not everyone’s pint of delicious ale, but I love snaggy trees.  When they are bare and wet and mossy, wow, I can get lost in the patterns, imagining God bending each of the branches just perfectly.

I believe I found a little treasure trove of compositional goodness here.

Rays of sword fern among decaying leaves | Washington

Rays of a sword fern among decaying leaves | Washington

We kept walking, peeking here and there, around this corner and that, up this trail and down that one.  The air was invigorating, cool, damp, fragrant.

Fern and bare winter trees | Washington

Fern and bare winter trees | Washington

Just as we were returning from glimpsing this little city gem the rain began falling again.  We both left with good memories and some much needed inspiration for a return….

Mossy snags and sword ferns | Washington

Mossy snags and sword ferns | Washington

This was definitely a good reminder that one doesn’t necessarily need to go to the ends of the world to find beauty and quietness.  It can be had in the woods at the edge of the hustle and bustle of a city that seems to never sleep.

Brilliant Autumn Cottonwood

This tree is like an old friend I like to visit each year or every couple years. The conditions were simply perfect, a heavy drizzle, swirling fog and sublime colors.

I first discovered this spot many years ago with a good friend of mine, Chris, while we were out scouting new locations in search of stunning autumn colors.  That was during the days of film when both of us were using Fuji Velvia.  We were quite thrilled when we came upon this sublime spot….

This time I was here with my wife Heather and our dog Stan.  Heather and Stan enjoyed walking around in the drizzle while I worked under an umbrella as the drizzle was turning heavier by the minute.

The air was cold and rich with moist autumn aromas.  The fog moved like a ghost along the face of the vertical wall and the gentle rain fell on the leaves as the creek swiftly flowed out of sight.

Brilliant autumn cottonwood growing along the edge of Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

Brilliant autumn cottonwood growing along the edge of Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

 

Working on New Images

It has been a while since I posted new work on my main website.  I guess it was about a year ago now.  Not that I didn’t want to, and not that I wasn’t creating new work, because I have been, but simply other obligations took priority.  In the last few days I have enjoyed working on bringing to life a handful of photos.  Fifteen landscapes to be exact.

Maybe it is something about winter.  Playing around in the snow hasn’t been my thing since I was a kid growing up in Poland.  No lowland snow yet, but autumn has come to a close and places of nature are taking on the sad look of winter.  That’s a good opportunity to reflect on past journeys.

Mossy bigleaf maple at the end of autumn in the Cascade foothills | Washington

Mossy bigleaf maple at the end of autumn in the Cascade foothills | Washington

The images selected are not all made in the last few weeks or months but about half of them are from the last several months.  A couple from the last two years and a couple from longer ago.

Sometimes it takes me a while to revisit certain trips, other times I get very excited right away.  I enjoy having a sizable library spanning about 20 years.  I always find gems in there, some images even mostly forgotten until I have a look and really think about the events.

River stones along the Stillaguamish River in dusky blue light | Washington

River stones along the Stillaguamish River in dusky blue light | Washington

It’s just so awesome to get excited about past adventures, the memories of not just making the images themselves but recollecting the events of the journey.  And there are many wonderful memories that come to new life.

That makes me think of also working on a book, a retrospective volume.

Please do have a look at the new images here.  And I shall continue to work on more….

 

Remembering Utah

With the limited time I’m faced with this season, autumn photography is mostly not happening.  We have had a great and long summer but this seems to have not been helpful to possible fall colors.  Bummed at first, I have turned to memories of great times on the road chasing color.  Included here are three compositions from a trip to Utah.

The first from Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness.  As I recollect:

“After many years since our last trip, we were able to return to Utah and revisit a few favorite locations. Although the colors were not as glorious as during our previous trips, this particular grove caught my attention. The soft sunlight was filtering through the canopy giving the leaves a beautiful glow…and I really liked how the branches appear to be reaching out from the glowing boles. I can still remember the sweet aspen aromas and the crisp autumn mountain air.”

Luminous aspens, Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness | Utah

Luminous aspens, Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness | Utah

The second photo is from the Fish Lake region.  A moment that stands out particularly vividly because as I was making this composition an older gentleman was walking by with his very old dog and we shared some good words.  He did reveal with sadness that this would probably be the last walk with his beloved pup….

“After departing from Capitol Reef National Park, Fish Lake was to be the last location to visit before heading back home. The area was mostly deserted and quiet. Although some color remained on a few of the numerous aspen groves, this leafless grove grabbed my attention. The brilliant white of the boles and electric clear blue sky made me actually think of the approaching winter, but I was pleased that the sun’s warmth could still be felt on this day.

I really like how the aspens on the left are almost mirrored on the right, with those on the right bathed in light but not those on the left….”

Aspen sky, Fish Lake | Utah

Aspen sky, Fish Lake | Utah

The final image was made late in the day in the Mt. Nebo Wilderness.  There was a warmth reflecting onto the landscape from the brilliant pink sunset clouds above.

Mt. Nebo aspen forest, early evening | Utah

Mt. Nebo aspen forest, early evening | Utah

I sure would love to be standing among these trees but since that isn’t possible at this point I will reflect on the time I did walk here and will hope to return someday.

The Way Things Were

Sometimes when I look at my photographs I am quite surprised, maybe even shocked, how I used to see the landscape as compared to how I see it now.  When I gave up my medium format Pentax 67 film camera and switched to digital a chapter of my life closed.  It has now been 5 years since I made my last composition using film and I would say I miss the way things were.  Perhaps there will still be grand images that I will capture that will turn out pleasing and memorable to me…but I keep returning to the ones from the medium-format film days. This autumn scene captured along a quiet stretch of Nason Creek in the Cascades is one of those images that melts me and is so achingly beautiful to my eyes that as the years slip away my appreciation for this composition does not wane.  The photograph was also a great seller as a print.

Autumn along Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

Autumn along Nason Creek | Cascade Range, Washington

A framed print of this once adorned our home but was sold…it may be time to have it up again. Perhaps these landscapes are so special because they also bring memories of the years I actively pursued publishing and then (to a greater satisfaction) print sales in regional art shows.  I no longer do these things and don’t travel as frequently as I once did. I often even wonder why I photograph.  Every artist hopes that his work is appreciated, and when it doesn’t seem to be, that hope and excitement of sharing begins to vanish. One late autumn I made a quick excursion to Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum.  It was a rather gloomy day with heavy showers passing through the region.  The place was deserted, it began to rain.  As I found this composition I was moved in my soul and leaving without an attempt to capture it just wasn’t an option.  So I set up my camera, covered it with a bag to shield it from the steady rain and composed.  I think I had tears in my eyes, but if not, I was humbled. The light was quite dim from the heavy overcast and canopy of trees overhead.  I remember my exposures being 10-15 seconds in length…I didn’t know if it would work out but I tried!

Japanese maples in the rain, late autumn | Seattle, Washington

Japanese maples in the rain, late autumn | Seattle, Washington

When the film was developed a couple days later and I got to look at it on the light table, wow, my heart skipped a few beats.  This remains an image that is one of my personal faves. As I often struggle and think of giving it all up, it is these images that bring me back.  Even if it is a temporary ray of light, it is better than nothing at all.  I do hope I will always photograph…perhaps even make compositions that will be added to the favorites.

Palouse Simplicity

The Palouse, the now so world famous part of south-eastern Washington and eastern Idaho, is a treasure-trove of landscapes for the artist.  I could spend a month there at once and not get bored…if I could take a month to do it!

Here are a couple from a trip that’s part of our history book.  In the first one I was attracted to the character of the tree among the fields.  The flowers added a bit of spice and I didn’t even mind the human element of the distant telephone pole.

Lone tree among the Palouse hills | Washington

Lone tree among the Palouse hills | Washington

With the next one, it was all about a simple landscape.  I’m also seeing this as an interesting conversion to black and white.

Two lazy clouds floating above the Palouse | Washington

Two lazy clouds floating above the Palouse | Washington

As the day progressed the heavens were becoming more adorned with cumulus clouds.  I had a lot of fun with this scene as I watched the rapidly metamorphosing clouds.  And I’m quite pleased with the way the “coffee” toning worked on this.

Cumulus clouds dwarfing the Palouse landscape | Washington

Cumulus clouds dwarfing the Palouse landscape | Washington