Category Archives: Intimate Landscapes

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

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.

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….