Tag Archives: 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

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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.

 

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….

 

Quiet Waters

So there it was, our anniversary was coming up and we decided that going camping was just the ideal thing to do.  Checking out Lake Ozette area on the Olympic Peninsula had been on the list for no less than a few years…so why not!  We packed up the truck and took off to catch the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston.  Wow, thinking about it now, I miss it all; mind you this was back in 2009.  It is always amazing to be heading out to a new destination.  Even if one knows details about the place, there is no substitute for being there….

Part of the drive was unimpressive due to going thru much logged land…didn’t look short of a war zone.  But once we arrived, there was an incredible sense of isolation and solitude.  One has to be deliberate to come here.  There is nothing beyond here except the vast Pacific Ocean, legends, and history.

Being late summer, the weather was all over the place.  It is Washington after all.  But that was part of the charm.  Imagine cooking in between two huge cedars, their branches spreading wide, trying to protect you from the massive downpour.  Some drops get through and the whole experience makes you shudder and reminds you that this place is greater than you can imagine.  The rain drowning out all other sounds.  Knowing you are not far from civilized places but still feel like you are a million miles from anywhere.  And the love of my life is right next to me sharing in the memories.

And much like in life, following the storm there was brilliant sunshine and quiet….

I made this particular photograph at one of the bays of Lake Ozette just as the sun set below a ridge of trees.  I tried a few ideas, but ultimately found this one, without a polarizer, to be my favorite.  The water was still, the lilies reflected the pure blue of the sky and the reeds reached for the air above.

Lily pads and reeds on Lake Ozette | Olympic Nationa Park, WA

Lily pads and reeds on Lake Ozette | Olympic Nationa Park, WA

‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you….’

Jeremiah 32:17 ESV

Mount St. Helens Rising

This was quite a morning.  We arrived around midnight, enjoyed the mountain for a spell under millions of stars of the Milky Way before we crawled in the back of the truck and slept a few hours until the alarm rang around 5 am.  Looking out I was a bit disappointed that the whole landscape was in thick fog, and I thought that there was little chance of any dramatic light happening. Nevertheless, I decided to look for an interesting foreground, just in case. It was warm, very quiet, and the aroma of the tiny lupine was simply deliciously intoxicating.

As soon as I set up, the fog lifted and exposed this magnificent landscape…enough time to make one composition. Just as quickly as it dissolved, the fog returned and once again the landscape was plunged into silence.

Soon after the silence was broken by a spectacular and chilling song of a pack of coyotes that must have been roaming within a couple hundred feet. I felt extremely blessed.  It is one of those memories that I will always cherish.

Mount St. Helens rising from morning fog | Mount St. Helens National Monument, WA

Mount St. Helens rising from morning fog | Mount St. Helens National Monument, WA

After a couple more hours of sleep, a beautiful warm blue sky day greeted us.  We cooked up breakfast with this glorious view of the mountain and later descended a bit south into the forests to roam about Lewis River.  But that’s another story….

 

Quiet Forest Pond

There are always new discoveries to be made, even if we know a place by heart.  I don’t remember much else from this particular trip to Mt. Rainier National Park except walking a narrow and overgrown path through a forest of subalpine firs to find a beautiful setting.  A quiet landscape of a forest pond surrounded by firs and its shores sprinkled by gorgeous blooming lupine.

Soft sunlight filtered through the trees to add a bit of a sparkle to the scene.  The air was still and filled with aromas of summer forest and flowers, sweetened by the sunshine.

I have returned to this spot many times over the years, like visiting an old friend, but it has never been quite as glorious as this time.  But I have missed the last couple of years…could it have been so breathtaking then?  Perhaps this year God will paint it even more beautiful….

Quiet forest pond graced by lupine and sunshine | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Quiet forest pond graced by lupine and sunshine | Mt. Rainier National Park, WA