Category Archives: Among Trees

2015 in Review: Autumn Grace

Autumn arrived shortly following the loss of our amazing companion Stan.  Stricken with grief that comes from the departure of a dearly beloved, it was no easy task to get up and go…the fact that autumn is a cherished season meant very little at this time.

With much effort, we gathered ourselves and made it to Mt. Rainier, a place Stan got to visit just a few months earlier.  Despite the season being near its end, earlier than normal, we were blessed with color and light.  We followed a deer path to this wonderful spot.  With not very exciting overcast light I set up my medium format camera and composed…and then the heavens opened and a shaft of light graced the scene in front of me, putting a smile on my face.

Forest and pond in autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Forest and pond in autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

A few weeks later we made a journey to Oregon’s scenic Columbia River Gorge.  We had many tough moments and many filled with joy recollecting memories of the area shared together with Stan.  With the extreme heat and drought of the year, colors were mostly lacking except for a few tiny pockets.  I loved this arrangement of oaks.

Autumn oaks, Rowena region | Oregon

Autumn oaks, Rowena region | Oregon

When most autumn places have become a memory, I took a quick trip to Seattle’s wonderful arboretum, despite the rain, to see about capturing the last of the season.  I was fortunate enough to make a handful of compositions, and particularly was attracted to this collage of leaves saturated from the rain.

Autumn leaves, Seattle arboretum | Washington

Autumn leaves, Seattle arboretum | Washington

 

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2015 in Review: Mt. Rainier Dreams

Slowly but surely I keep revisiting places of 2015.  Mt. Rainier National Park is a special destination for me and has been since I moved to Washington State over 20 years ago.  A place that always provides much inspiration.  This time around I was heading out to meet up with my good friend Ross (have a look at his work here) visiting from Florida.  Over the years we’ve enjoyed many great photographic excursions, and this was no different.

Due to extreme heat, at least for our area, and lack of adequate precipitation the previous winter and spring, flowers came and went early.  Despite this, the landscape remains glorious.  To get “warmed up” we spent some time in Paradise Valley, enjoying the glowing firs and meadow.  I particularly enjoyed working this scene with the mountain ash berries in the foreground.

Paradise Valley Meadow, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Paradise Valley Meadow, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

One can find various gems throughout the park, some hidden in plain sight, others truly off the beaten path.  Following a good start at Paradise Valley, we spent quite a bit of time photographing Paradise River rapids before seriously focusing on Ruby Falls.  With its many strands of falling water, various rock surfaces and dappled light, this can be a magnificent place to enjoy for a while.

Ruby Falls, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Ruby Falls, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Feeling quite pleased with the day’s work, we decided to take a quick spin up to Reflection Lakes.  No matter how many times one views the Mountain from here, the landscape is simply glorious.  We had the place to ourselves, and that is a big bonus at this spot.  And we were even treated to stunning sunset light.

Mt. Rainier Sunset | Washington

Mt. Rainier Sunset | Washington

Returning to camp, we stirred up some grub, good drink, and good conversation.  It was a grand time with a great friend in a magnificent location.

 

2015 in Review: Winter Trees

What is it about trees that so many find fascinating, beautiful, powerful, humbling, breathtaking and magical? Throughout human history they have been used for everything, from fuel to hunting tools to subjects of paintings, poetry and of course photography. We seek shelter under them during storms, search out a perfect spot for a picnic, or a place to rest one’s tired back and daydream while listening to the wind whisper its song among the crowns. I love trees, always have. I climbed them as a kid, crashed into one while sledding with my younger brother, was left breathless upon witnessing the enormity of giant sequoias, to hardly being able to comprehend the age of bristlecone pines, many of which were thousands of years old when Jesus walked this earth. In trees I see God’s perfection.

On this particular day in April I was searching for solitude along the Stillaguamish River and I found it here along the river’s shores. I stood among stately cedars, on a forest floor covered with soft mosses, with the Stilly swiftly flowing below me, and I rested my eyes upon this scene of grandeur and perfection.

Winter trees along the Stillaguamish River | Washington

Winter trees along the Stillaguamish River | Washington

2015 in Review: Of Aspens & Wildflowers

Looking back to April, we were headed to a somewhat remote cabin at the end of a canyon in the Lake Chelan region of Washington State. To our surprise things were blooming earlier than usual due to a general lack of winter precipitation and warmer than usual temperatures. I like surprises like that, especially in a new to me area.

As we were getting closer to our destination the sun dipped below the rim of the canyon and the landscape was in deep blue shade, but the opposite rim was lit with warm light, casting some of it onto the landscape below. As we found this young aspen grove I was immediately stopped by the delicate beauty of the boles with glowing spring growth. Note the blueness on the trees from the sky…I got very excited.

Glowing spring aspens, Lake Chelan | Washington

Glowing spring aspens, Lake Chelan | Washington

We arrived at the cabin with plenty of daylight remaining, of course to Stan’s incredible happiness: all the new smells to discover, all the space to romp around in and squirrels.  Did anyone say squirrels?!

The night was fantastic.  Crisp, with some crickets performing a little concert, and even an occasional owl call, all below a gorgeously vast sky sprinkled with an infinite multitude of stars….

There was much to explore over the next couple days, but at a relaxed pace. We walked the trails, listened to the birds, admired the wildflowers, felt the furrowed bark of pine trees, and of course filled our lungs with the sweetness of life. Stan gave a few squirrels a good run and just enjoyed himself to the fullest. Moments like these are unforgettable and will forever be cherished.

I leave you with a composition from our canyon of balsamroot wildflowers blooming among striking sage shrubs.

Balsamroot flowers among sage, Lake Chelan | Washington

Balsamroot flowers among sage, Lake Chelan | Washington

2015 in Review: Snohomish River Alders in Fog

In many ways 2015 was a real tough year. Despite all the hardships there is a lot to be thankful for. From the photo side of things, I’m going to look at 2015 in a series of posts called “2015 in Review”. Instead of a “best of” selection, which for some reason was one of those things I never got into, I’m going to simply go thru my images from the year and one by one choose 10 or 12 or 15 that are significant to me or simply strike my fancy.

This first one, “Snohomish River Alders in Fog” was made on a chilly January day. The thick fog that descended on our neighborhood got me excited and so Stan (our beautiful four-legged family member) and I quickly grabbed some gear, some biscuits, our coats and drove down to a nice little place by the river. I particularly enjoyed these alders, with their catkins, growing just at the edge of the river. The fog was so thick one can barely make out the river just beyond the graphic design of the trees.

Once we had our fill here, we drove a bit further and enjoyed a quiet walk in the fading light, embraced by the fingers of the fog.

Snohomish River Alders in Fog, January | Washington

Snohomish River Alders in Fog, January | Washington

Mt. Rainier in the Rain

Most of the year I had moments during which I told myself it was time to go to Mt. Rainier.  I’d get excited but then something would take that spark away and I wouldn’t go.  Spring went by, the wildflowers of summer, and the brief brilliance of autumn.  Mind you I’m no stranger to the park.  I used to go there 10-15 times per year for a good 15 years.  Then I stopped.  A lot changed for me, around me and in me.

And so for three years I didn’t make a single visit.  At times I missed being there and at times I felt helplessly indifferent.  But that desire to travel came back and I actually grabbed my camera, some extra clothing, got into my vehicle and drove south to the park.  It wasn’t particularly a nice day; heavy overcast with passing rain storms.  It looked worse at my destination.  But I was ready to go.  The closer I was getting the higher my excitement grew.  And yeah, I was excited about my excitement!

Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

At the entrance gate I knew I messed up for not coming here for so long.  I got the annual pass.  As I entered the park the drizzle was still coming down, but it was really trying to stop…or so I told myself.  I have passed by the above scene a 100 times or more.  I looked but didn’t see.  This time it took my breath away.  It was wet, lush, gorgeous, so much so I had a few tears of absolute joy.  I looked for a while before setting up my camera, simply absorbing the scene, while big drips of rain from the branches above fell on me and all around…just perfect.

As I continued through the park, via Longmire, climbing in elevation, the landscape looked so new yet I had witnessed it on so many occasions over the years that it was recognizable.  I guess it is like aromas that are familiar to us from childhood, forgotten for years, and once inhaled again feel as new as yesterday.

Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington

Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington

With the climbing elevation the rain increased to downpour strength.  I wasn’t going to see the mountain up close today but that’s just fine, I love the forests for all the various trees, the shrubs, the lakes, the valleys.  Heavy rain and fog in Paradise.  I was bummed that the park closed the Paradise Valley Road even though the snow had not come and some remnants of autumn still adorned the landscape.  I was overjoyed to see some remaining color despite the fact I was here nearly a month past the usual peak.

I stopped at Reflection Lake and set up a couple compositions in a sideways downpour.  Maybe not the most romantic thing to be setting up a large camera with one hand and holding an umbrella with the other.  But when you love the craft, such things don’t really matter.

Arriving at the western edge of Stevens Canyon the fog thickened and the rain really did stop.  In the above photo I loved the shrubby vine maples (among my favorite “trees”) with autumn color and the layers of silent conifers.  I filled my lungs with deep and sweet breaths of wet mountain air….

Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

The fog began to lift and break up revealing secrets of the gorgeous Stevens Canyon.  I was thrilled to make another composition.  I was able to take in the sight for a few more minutes before the vail of fog returned thicker than ever hiding the glorious landscape…rain began pelting the landscape once again.

The rest of my journey was in the rain.  I was filled with peace, however, knowing I had been blessed by God.  There was much to be thankful for and much to contemplate.

 

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.