Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best Photos of the Year...A Duel To The Death

It has become tradition for nature photographers to post a compilation of their best photos of the year. This year I finally had my act together enough to contribute something to the web. There turned out to be a problem however....

I discovered my favorite images and my "best" images were not always the same. I was constantly drawn to the photos I had an emotional connection to: the ones that had a story, a funny circumstance, or a mishap associated with them. I've been around photography long enough to know how to turn of that emotion off when I'm editing but I wasn't sure I wanted to this time. After a long deliberation (of about 90 seconds), I decided the only fair way to pick the images was to assign them to different categories and let them compete against each the death, as it were. The winners would be immortalized for eternity in a blog post while the losers would be cast into the darkness of the hard drive. So without further adieu, here are the victors in each of the ten selected categories.

 Best image taken on Thanksgiving because my wife works and I'm looking for something to do with my son.
Keystone Spit, Whidbey Island, Washington

 Best image taken one-handed while fending off a young child pulling on my jacket.
Fort Casey, Whidbey Island, Washington

 Best image taken on a day when I really thought I would get absolutely nothing accomplished because of the weather.
Double Bluff Beach, Whidbey Island, Washington

 Best image taken while realizing that I am completely alone in a State Park on a warm Friday evening and starting to become paranoid that there is some deranged killer loose in the woods.
Camano Island State Park, Washington

Best image taken while losing a polarizing filter in the river.
Sauk River, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Park, Washington

 Best image taken while accepting a warm beverage from a passing waiter on the deck of a cruise ship.
Tracy Arm. Alaska

Best image taken while worrying that I had gotten the departure time wrong for my cruise ship.
Skagway, Alaska

Best image taken after arriving well after sunrise and assuming I'd screwed everything up.
Rainy Lake, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

and last but not least...

Best image taken while saving a small child, cat, and puppy dog from the raging surf of the Puget Sound.......well maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but it is my favorite shot of the year.
Mukilteo, Washington

Thanks for looking and (hopefully) having a little chuckle. I promise to do more macro photography next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Shorter Days

Wow, the days seem shorter this year. Perhaps it's my busier schedule, maybe it's the heavier rains this fall, or, more likely, it's completely my imagination. At least I can fit a sunset shoot in and still have time to cook dinner for the family.

Picnic Point County Park, Snohomish County, Washington

Monday, December 17, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Outside The Box

I was organizing my documents folder the other night when I ran across a file called "General Goals For 2012." It was a little late to do any planning based on the list but it might provide some amusement so I began to scan down the page...

1. Shoot more often......OK, that is pretty vague but CHECK.

2. Post 3 times a week to social media sites.....I did pretty good on that so CHECK.

3. Concentrate on creating images by using strong compositions rather than relying on amazing light....Feel very good about that one so CHECK.

4. Get out more in bad weather to create strong images....Very happy with that so CHECK.

4. Do not let photography interfere with family life and be the best father and supporting husband I can be.....Well it's probably a good thing I'm rating myself on that one so....CHECK

5. Shoot different subjects instead of landscape....I shot some skylines and stuff so CHECK.

6. Step outside the box and create interesting computed enhanced images.......oh.....well.....crap...

At least I knew what I was going to do that evening....

This photo file had been sitting on my hard drive since early spring. I always liked the composition but could never quite get the processing to look the way I wanted to. It always had a funny color cast in the shadows or the sky looked off...a perfect image to change into something else.

Since I didn't quite know where to get started, I used a preset in Adobe Lightroom call EFF Dragon 5 created by Sean McCormack. That got me into the ballpark, and a few more adjustments finished off the image. If you follow my photography, you know this is way outside the box for me. What do you think?

P.S. Yes it's only a single image but I'm putting a little tiny CHECK after number 6 now :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Last Summer on the Sauk River

Late afternoon along the Sauk River, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunset and Snowfall

I've been itching to get up to the mountains lately but my days have been consumed by holiday preparations, activities, and crafts...the life of a parent this time of year. At least I had a few minutes this evening to reprocess an image from a couple of years ago.

Sunset and snowfall along the banks of the North Fork Skykomish River in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quick Shoot...And A Pizza

I was stuck at home on Tuesday waiting for UPS to deliver a package because I was too cheap to pay the fee to schedule a delivery. Mercifully, they arrived at 3:15 which left me exactly one hour til sunset for a shoot. I never gave my destination choice much thought because Picnic Point on the Puget Sound is only a couple minutes from my house. The light was soft and pastel, and the water was glassy and calm. I hung out for awhile and watched the light fade away, then picked up a pizza on the way home for the family. Sausage and peppers if you want to know.....Life is good!

Picnic Point County Park, Snohomish County, Washington

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park a couple of years ago.....OK a couple of decades ago. This was actually shot on.....

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's
a sunny day
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away......

But they did!!

Well thanks to Paul Simon for immortalizing the film inside the little yellow box that I cut my teeth on.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This Is Oregon?

If you don't live in the Pacific Northwest, you may think the entire area is moss and waterfalls. In fact, over half the region could qualify as desert by most accounts. The top of Steens Mountain in Eastern Oregon is a fantastic treeless wonderland. At over 9000 feet, it frequently catches the very last light of day skimming through the atmosphere creating some unworldly colored light.

Steens Mountain, Oregon

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rocky Beach

Since my wife had to work today, my son and I spent the afternoon wandering around Whidbey Island. We played at some playgrounds, explored the dark passageways at Fort Casey, threw rocks in the water, and walked some beaches. The little guy was even patient while I worked through a couple of compositions at Keystone is looking up :)

Keystone Spit, Ebey's Landing National Historic Preserve, Whidbey Island, Washington

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

South Falls

There is nothing like the sound of water throwing itself off a cliff and splashing in a pool below....unless it is accompanied by the sound of rustling autumn leaves.

South Falls in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sit By The Stream

Sit down by the stream and set life aside. Close your eyes and clear your head. Let the negative emotions float away and forget the responsibilities that burden you. Listen to the sound of the water. Hear it dance over the rocks. Feel the damp breeze rushing across the water and caressing your face. Open your eyes and soak in the riot of colors that paint the scene in front of you. Watch the river race past you, seemingly in a hurry to reach some destination, and not even aware of the beauty it's flowing through. Count your blessings and remember...You are alive and here. It is enough.

Sauk River, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Misty Morning

I wanted to be up at Washington Pass as early as possible but this scene made me turn the truck around and spend some time in the ditch by the side of the road.

Rural Skagit County, Washington

Sunday, November 4, 2012

North Cascades

I have one minor complaint about the Cascades. The lower slopes of the western side can should I describe it?.....somewhat claustrophobic. You can hike miles through the trees and never see more than the trail in front and behind you. Don't get me wrong...the misty forests have their own charm but if you are searching for views of the peaks, you need to get up high.

How far did I have to hike to arrive at this glacially smoothed wonderland of granite slabs? A body-crunching, mind-numbing, fatigue-inducing total of 100 feet from the car. Nature photography is not always glamorous and it requires an exhausting level of commitment that I'm not sure the average person understands. ;)

Evening light at Washington Pass, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunrise in Anza Borrego

Spent some home time with a sick child this week and it presented me with an opportunity to rummage through some old film scans after bedtime. I came across this image from 14 years ago. Man, how time flies!!!

Sunrise in Borrego Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back Of The Boat

From the back of the boat in Tracy Arm Fjord, Tongass National Forest, Alaska.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunset At Rialto Beach

If you are looking for a screaming sunset, you hope for clouds. Clouds give texture to the sky, they reflect the colors of the setting sun, and create layers and give depth to the composition.

But there is something incredibly satisfying about a clear sky at sunset....that chance to witness the singular moment when day becomes night. Sunshine leaves not in an explosion of color, but with a quiet moment of contemplation. A cacophony of daytime sounds disappear and are replaced with the quiet symphony of twilight. Rushing movements of the bright landscape are traded for the slower, more thoughtful pace of the dark. The light dims, fades away and finally disappears altogether, leaving you alone with your thoughts and anticipating tomorrow.

Brilliant sunsets may flood you with a sense of excitement but a clear twilight sky fills your mind with a sense of peace.

Sunset at Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sauk River

Dancing waters of the Sauk River in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last Day Of Summer

Somehow you know it.

The sky is blue, the rocks are warm from the sun, and the air is rich with the scent of dry pine needles. It may look and feel like summer but it's not.

You look deeper at your surroundings and realize change is in the air. The days are short, the north slopes are cold from the lack of sun, and wisps of clouds are streaming across the sky high above the peaks. Change is com

Somehow you know it. This may be the last summer-like day of the year. So what do you do? Just wander down the trail across the warm granite slabs and soak it all in.

Goodbye summer, see you next year.

Washington Pass, North Cascades, Washington

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Picnic Point

The beach at Picnic Point is one of my "go-to" spots for a last minute photo shoot after feeding the family and cleaning up the mess. It is only a ten minute car ride and a quick jog over the railroad tracks from my house. This image was taken last June when the days were longer and the evenings were warmer.....well June evenings are never really warm up here but the days were longer :)

Picnic Point County Park, Snohomish County, Washington

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rainy Lake Reflections

I spent the entire day last Tuesday wandering through the North Cascades between Rainy and Washington Passes. I didn't manage to drag myself out of bed with enough time to make it for sunrise but there was still not a puff of breeze when I arrived at Rainy Lake for this mirror-like reflection.

Rainy Lake, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Awaiting The Return Of The Rains

It is suppose to rain in Seattle this weekend. Laugh at that statement all you want but we've suffered through two agonizing months of sunshine up here with barely a drop of rain. I'm not asking for your pity, I managed to slog through the cloudless days with a forced grin on my face ;)

Today's image is from Whidbey Island in May.....when the weather was a little more typical for the region.

Hastie Lake Road Boat Launch, Whidbey Island, Washington

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sol Duc Falls

This waterfall has been photographed to death but I still love it anyway. Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Camano Island

I'm back from my self-imposed exile from the photographic world. A big thank you to everyone who has stopped by my blog, Facebook page, and G+ page over the last several weeks and taken the time to comment on my images. I am rested, energized and look forward to sharing my work over the coming months.

Sunset over Saratoga Passage, Camano Island State Park, Washington

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I must confess I've felt a little unmotivated lately. My posts have been getting shorter as I've struggled for something to say. I've frequently spent several hours trying to process images and then quit with disgust. Last week. I wandered for an entire day in the Cascades and could hardly find anything worth tripping the shutter over.

It isn't the first time this has happened and it won't be the last. It is part of the creative process, I suppose, but it's still frustrating when it happens. At least experience has taught how to deal with it.

I need a little break.

Just a couple of weeks away from the social media scene, away from the late night processing, and away from the constant need to create something. Some time to harvest the last of the vegetables in the garden, to finish some projects around the house, and to savor the last warm days of summer with my son. The world seems a little topsy turvy to me at the moment. A couple of weeks off should spin it quickly back to right-side-up.

See you in a few....

Harbor reflections in Edmonds, Washington

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Run Through The Forest

Everything always seemed rushed when our cruise was in port. On a trail above Skagway, Alaska.

The effect was created by moving the camera during the exposure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Alaskan Fjord

Mountain photography from the deck of a cruise ship while they are passing out free drinks. Life can be hard sometimes :)

Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sunset Silhouette

Just a little sunset shot to end the week from Rainbow Basin National Landmark, Mojave Desert, California.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Walk In The Clouds

I love a trail through the mist. Each twist and turn reveals a sliver of of the forest but never announces everything. Each step brings you closer to a destination that remains hidden. All you focus on is directly in front and behind you. Anything more remains a mystery. A walk through the clouds is like a journey through life.

Cape Lookout State Park, Oregon

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alaskan Peaks

Glacier covered peaks above Tracy Arm Fjord in the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska. The wilderness is 653,000 acres of exactly that...wilderness. No roads, no trails, and precious few routes for those experienced enough to even try them. I stayed on the deck of the cruise ship :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Water Reflections

A little abstract to finish off the week. Reflections in rippling water. Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Rather Large Boat

I didn't get a full appreciation of how big these cruise ships were until I stepped off onto a small bobbing boat in the middle of the harbor.

Juneau, Alaska

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I'm back.....

During my 47 years of existence, I've managed to visit every state in the USA except one. That big block of land to the north has eluded my travels every year up until now. I've finally been to Alaska!!!

OK, it was a family vacation on a cruise and I only saw the extreme lower portion of the state but it was enough to wet my appetite. I am already planning a ferry-hopping adventure in a couple of years.

We arrived at the entrance to Tracy Arm fjord early in the morning and spent the next several hours slowly making our way through 30 miles of jaw-dropping beauty. The 6:00 AM arrival time helped keep the decks clear so it never seemed crowded. Each twist and turn of the waterway brought new views culminating directly in front of Sawyer Glacier. We passed this nondescript piece of ice midway through the passage. I didn't give it more than a passing glance at the time and it wasn't until I got home that it dawned on me how big this floating chunk was....

This image was taken from the 11th floor of a floating building.

Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, Alaska

Friday, August 10, 2012

Misty Sunrise

Sometimes the alarm goes off and outside, you see nothing but a completely overcast sky. A little voice in your head keeps telling you to roll back over and grab another hour or two of sleep. It is way too cold out there to waste your time. There is no way this could ever break in time for sunrise. You ignore the voice, drag yourself out of bed, and head off into the nighttime chill because you just never know....

Misty sunrise at Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sierra Sunrise...Without The Color

I started rummaging through my film scans and converting a few of them to black and white last week. I'm still a color photographer at heart but it's fun to take a trip to the monochromatic side of life every once in awhile.

Sunrise on the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summertime On The Snoqalmie

Summertime on the South Fork Snoqualmie River, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Silver Falls

My first visit to Silver Falls State Park was with my wife shortly after we moved from San Francisco to Oregon. It was our anniversary and I packed a picnic lunch full of artisan meats, cheeses, and breads to celebrate. We hiked halfway around the loop and it started to rain. Looking back, it should have seemed obvious but what did I know. I had just moved from California. Winter was over in May, right? We arrived back at the car drenched and bailed for home to have the picnic on the living room floor. There is still a photo in our living room of us soaked and smiling in front of a waterfall somewhere on that hike.

South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Upper Sardine Lake

Sunrise on the Sierra Buttes above Upper Sardine Lake, Tahoe National Forest, California.