Category Archives: Grand Vistas

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

 

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

 

Lone Pine & Sage

We were traveling east of Washington’s Cascade Range when we made the decision to go near the Canadian border and check out some roads we have never set foot on.  It was fantastic, felt desolate and beautiful.  The day was warm, enough so that snakes were coming out of their holes to sun themselves on the pavement.  The air was filled with intoxicating aromas of spring sage, the sky was graced with floating cumulus clouds and plenty of crisp blueness.  The whole place was just breathing with life and we had big smiles on our faces.

I really loved the gentle folds in this sage covered hillside and of course the lone ponderosa pine.  But what really was the icing on the cake was the light.  As the clouds moved across the face of the glowing sun the landscape changed by the second. I had my Sony a900 camera on the tripod with the fantastic Minolta 200mm 2.8 APO lens and made several composition as the light played on the hillside.  This one is one of the favorites.

Lone ponderosa pine thriving in a sage landscape of north-central Washington

Lone ponderosa pine thriving in a sage landscape of north-central Washington

As we slowly meandered and enjoyed the landscapes we were just filled with awe and inspiration.  So much majesty and splendor.  Yes, we would love to travel parts of the world, like Africa and Iceland and Australia and New Zealand, but it is just awesome to be moved by landscapes near home.  It doesn’t matter if they are grand or just below one’s feet.  We just need to open our eyes and breathe in the splendor.

 

Glacial Fields

If I was told that I could only photograph Mt. Rainier, I don’t think I’d ever run out of compositions…as long as I remained inspired.  The mountain is so gorgeous and so very different from each side.  The glaciers that have chiseled it for thousands of years are in themselves weathered and full of character, like aged and beautiful faces.

During this excursion we were poking around the Sunrise side of the mountain (north-eastern section of the park) when I became aware of the dappled light on the massive glaciers created by slowly floating clouds.  Look at the furrowed crevasses, how much character they add.  I can just get lost in the details.

There wasn’t much color in this scene, just a little blue here and there, so I made the decision to make it into black and white.  I thought that it would make the image’s complexities simpler, allowing the viewer to focus on the rawness of this ancient landscape.

Glacial fields on Mt. Rainier | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Glacial fields on Mt. Rainier | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA