Tag Archives: solitude

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

 

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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: 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

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.

Search for Simplicity

Last night we watched A River Runs Through It, based on Norman Maclean’s book of the same title.  It wasn’t the first time of course, but each time I’m reminded what a beautiful and human story it is.  There is quite a wonderful feel to it and of course the filming is superb; it fully absorbs me and touches my heart.  By no means are the characters simple, yet there is a certain simplicity and quietness to the complexity.

Grasses in the field | Washington

Grasses in the field | Washington

As Norman and his brother Paul fished the river so I love to spend time along the river, photographing.  The troubles and complexities of life are left behind as soon as I step out there and God’s beauty surrounds and fills me.

Grasses and flower after the rain | Washington

Grasses and flowers after the rain | Washington

The story makes me think about relationships, about how people interacted.  Sure seems very different than today.  But even a few years ago it was indeed more personal.  Imagine writing a letter on paper, with a pen.  Or have a good conversation on the telephone, or better yet, how about in person, face to face.

Grasses and reeds grace the edge of a wetland | Washington

Grasses and reeds grace the edge of a wetland | Washington

We’re so connected now, perhaps fully overwhelmed by technology, with our iPhones and texts and emails, etc., that the human interaction has nearly vanished.  Are we hiding behind this technology, afraid of each other?  Eventually the signals fade and so do friendships.

An old fence post, fading into the field | Washington

An old fence post, fading into the field | Washington

As I walk down the paths along the grassy fields, their delicate simplicity and beauty allows me to reflect on the days past.  On the friends lost to distance and time.  But also to imagine and reflect on the days to come.  The rays of the sun eventually break through even the gloomiest of days….

Afternoon sunshine illuminating summer grasses | Washington

Afternoon sunshine illuminating summer grasses | Washington

I found perfect joy on many occasions among these grassy fields.  All I carried was a little Sony RX100 point-and-shoot camera.  Often in the company of my awesome wife and our sweet dog Stan.  Simple and beautiful and glorious.

As I get older I search more for this elusive simplicity.  I still think of the days I traveled a lot chasing landscapes but now see that I’m greatly enjoying the little things so much more.  There is more excitement in walking down to the river I know than to go chasing some far off lands.  It is like getting a letter from an old and true friend.  There is history there, memory, personal experience, connection.

Frosted grasses and reeds | Washington

Frosted grasses and reeds | Washington

In the end then, I love the way Norman put it:

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.”

Quiet Forest Road

Wow are the days getting short around here.  Early summer can still have light in the sky at 10pm but now it is dark at just past 8pm.  Seems like the last couple weeks we’ve been losing that light way too speedily….The wetland grasses are golden, leaves are beginning to show hints of the changing season.   And the rains in the last couple days definitely are harbingers of what’s to come.

It has been a good summer and the brief autumn will hopefully bring a few great compositions.  And I’m going to try to not think about winter!

As I was returning from Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan areas in late summer I took the road less traveled by, to use Robert Frost’s famous words.  I made a few side journeys on dirt roads I haven’t been down before or simply not in a long time.  The clouds were weeping all day long and I wasn’t in much of a hurry.  Eventually in the later afternoon the rain let up and I found this pleasing curve in the road.  It was still warm, the trees were dripping, and I was surrounded by solitude.

I lingered for a while, just taking in the view, filling my lungs with the fresh moist air and enjoying making this composition.  I do wonder what this scene will be painted like in autumn….

Lonely late summer forest road inviting the explorer | Washington

Lonely late summer forest road inviting the explorer | Washington