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

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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

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

Old Chevy Farm Truck

You just never know what you will find in the Palouse of eastern Washington State.  A farming landscape of beautiful rolling hills, old towns, abandoned homesteads, lone trees, barns just barely standing, and other relics of a bygone era such as this old Chevrolet truck.  Then there is the light…love the light!

Our friends were showing us some of their favorite backroads in the region when we came upon this old beauty.  We all had fun making compositions, each adding their own vision to the scene.  I wondered about its past, back in its prime, before it became old and tired, as its owner put it to use daily around the farm.  I reflected on the days when I was a young kid in Poland helping my uncle on his farm during harvest time.  Often, I miss those days, forever gone….

This image is available as a print in various sizes in my shop, just a click away, here.  Thanks for checking it out!

Old Chevy farm truck, resting in the fields of the Palouse | Washington

Old Chevy farm truck, resting in the fields of the Palouse | 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.

 

Lime Kiln Point

The day started out gloomy; that didn’t bother us.  After a late lunch at a fantastic pub in Friday Harbor we headed to the other side of San Juan Island to Lime Kiln Point.  By the time we arrived, via quiet country roads, with a few stops along the way, the heavens began to show a bit of blue sky and then the glorious sun.

I was looking over the wide and somewhat stormy waters toward the distant Olympic Peninsula with its majestic mountains, lost in thought, even if just for a few moments.  I chose to work with black and white and square format for this image, small aperture to add rays to the sun.  I noticed the flare and found it to enhance the scene and my excitement of standing at land’s edge.

Lime Kiln Point sunstar | San Juan Island, Washington

Lime Kiln Point sunstar | San Juan Island, Washington

This image, along with many others, can be purchased as a fine art print at my Etsy shop, here.