Category Archives: Intimate Landscapes

At the Edge of the Sea

It poured all night, large raindrops clanking on the metal roof. It was soothing, at times frustrating when I couldn’t fall asleep. The next day started gloomy but there was a freshness in the air, even Charlie the dog was excited with the new smells in the forest.

We walked the road, poking our heads here and there to check on hidden corners along the water’s edge. A few words were exchanged but we were mostly happy to be there. The place renewed us…if temporarily, but still….

At water's edge, Washington Park, Anacortes | WA

At water’s edge, Washington Park, Anacortes | WA

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2015 in Review: The Great Pacific Ocean

I’ll close my 2015 in review with the following two images from the Olympic coast.  It was early November, winter was in the air with plenty of lowland rain and snow in the mountains.  We had Heather’s sister visiting from Ohio and we wanted to expose her to some of the beauty of Washington despite unfavorable weather.

We hoped to make it up to Hurricane Ridge but due to heavy snow the park closed all access…with dangerous drop-offs, a good idea in my book.  We stuck to lowland forests, which revealed massive cedars and stately bigleaf maples covered with gorgeous mosses.  But the highlight was definitely seeing the Pacific Ocean…first time for Beth.  We chose the scenic Rialto Beach within Olympic National Park.

Beach stones, Rialto Beach | Washington

Beach stones, Rialto Beach | Washington

The beach has no sand, just pebbles of all sizes and colors.  I was attracted to the two larger stones standing watch over the smaller ones.

It was great to see Beth’s excitement, which in turn also added to our excitement.  For us it was also the first visit to this area in over four years and we couldn’t believe that.  The area is so gorgeous, the beach with its stones and pebbles and massive logs, shadows of enormous trees ripped out by storms from Canada’s and Alaska’s coastal forests to the north…and most likely as far as Russia.  Also grand seastacks.  It was healing to listen to the pounding waves and to watch the light.  There was a grand tree log dancing in the waves but it would have to wait for a storm to come ashore….

Despite a at times very gloomy day, the clouds parted in late afternoon and treated us to a grand sunset.  It was a great journey indeed.

Rialto Beach sunset, Olympic National Park | Washington

Rialto Beach sunset, Olympic National Park | Washington

 

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

 

2015 in Review: Paradise River, Dusk

Mt. Rainier National Park is a place close to my heart. I always love spending time exploring the hidden places as well as taking in the vistas available to all visitors. This day happened to fall on Mother’s Day. Heather’s mom was visiting from Ohio and we were blessed to see the Mountain on this fine day…a grand present to us all, but especially to Arlene. And for the first time, Stan got to join us on this adventure since we were not doing any hiking – most national parks don’t like to see dogs on trails, but I’m sure if they met Stan they’d make an exception as he was definitely more than that! Anyways, it was simply a beautiful time for all of us.

Oh, and the following day at Paradise we encountered two foxes, still in their gorgeous winter attire, just lounging in the gently falling drizzle. Stan focused his attention on them while sitting comfortably in the back seat, and exchanged a few words with the foxes. They didn’t really seem to even notice but we had a great time watching them and listening to what Stanny had to say!

By the way, this is a 30 second exposure at the edge of day. I loved the blue and preserved it in my final image. Sure, this will make a great black and white as well, but the blue is what I remember….

Paradise River, Dusk, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington

Paradise River, Dusk, Mt. Rainier NP | 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

All is Quiet

It has been cold for a while, as could be expected in the winter in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve enjoyed plenty of sun in the last several days. But today thick dark clouds rolled in unexpectedly following a crystal clear blue morning and some white flakes began falling – whoa! what’s that?! It came heavier and the flakes began resembling mid-sized flowers. Let’s get out for a walk and see the world turning quiet….

I especially liked these wild rose hips enjoying their snow hats. How was your weather today?

Rose hips and snow | Mill Creek, Washington

Rose hips and snow | Mill Creek, Washington

2015 in Review: Delicate Beauty

In March and April winter can still have quite a grip on our area but hints of delicate beauty begin to appear for the keen observer. I don’t always carry a camera with me, even though many would argue that the iPhone is good enough. We loaded up in the car, and Stan was beside himself loving both car rides and the adventures once we would arrive at our destination.

Just in case, some scaled down gear made it in the bag. It was still early in the season, being March, but little hints of greenery graced the branches of various plants. Heather got to this spot just beside the quietly flowing Mill Creek and began her photographic exploration. At first I didn’t see a whole lot that really grabbed me, but after looking, this salmonberry flower commanded my attention. Stan patiently sniffed some grasses and waited….

Salmonberry Flower, March | Mill Creek, Washington

Salmonberry Flower, March | Mill Creek, Washington

On another occasion, a month later, we returned to the park. By now, spring could be seen in full force and sound. The trees have greened up, as have the grasses and various creeping plants. Songbirds were calling their potential mates and filled the air with music. Mallards quietly maneuvered Mill Creek, hoping for handouts while being eyed by Stan. And the slopes along the trail were covered by gorgeous wild bleeding hearts. And so I enjoyed making some images of these flowers, with this one being one of my favorite compositions.

Bleeding Hearts, April | Mill Creek, Washington

Bleeding Hearts, April | Mill Creek, Washington