Friday, September 28, 2012

Evening Light

It’s an interesting thing about fall...the way the sun sets earlier and earlier with each passing day, but, as the days seem to get shorter, the evening shadows become longer.  Mother Nature taketh away hours of light, but she giveth quality of light.  Such is life for a photographer.

Oblivious to my artistic epiphanies, Pumpkin the goat comes to the pasture gate each evening and bleats loudly to remind me that it is time for her grain, and the light is golden then.

The pasture is dry and looks in places like wheat because we’ve had so little rain this summer. No wonder Pumpkin yells for her grain.  The pasture grass must be quite unappealing to a princess who knows there is better fare in a can in the barn, if only I would only get my act together and do evening barn chores.

The light is so wonderful that, before I go to the barn, I simply must take a few pictures...which of course causes Pumpkin to raise the volume of her bleating.

Okay Pumpkin, okay.  I’ll be right there.  Just this one last frame.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Natural History

As I hiker and a climber in this, the 21st century, I tip my fleece stocking cap to those who traveled before me in the  mountains and wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.  Native Americans first hunted, made homes,  and seem to have lived in harmony with nature in what today we call "the back-country."  Later, white settlers, trappers and traders came along; and still later appeared adventurers like me.

I camped last weekend in the North Cascades at the edge of a glacier at an elevation of 7200 feet, and my tent occupied the most amazing “View Property” ever.  A fairly strenuous day-and-a-half of hiking had been necessary to deliver my hiking partner and me to that spot. While we cooked dinner on a light backpacking stove, I looked out at the sea of peaks that went on as far as my eyes could see...and then I laughed.

I laughed because so many of the peaks I could recognize have names given them by my Johnny-come-lately brethren, and a lot of those names suggest fear and intimidation.  There are peaks named Mt. Challenger and Mt. Formidable, for example, while others are called Fury, Sinister, Damnation, Perdition, and Torment. 

Scary-sounding names, yes... though anyone who has ever spent time in the North Cascades will also tell you about the lonesome tranquility and peace one can experience there. Consider these place-names: Peach and Pear Lakes; Foggy Dew Creek; Poodle Dog Pass; and Meander Meadow.

The picture above is of the Triplets during the “magic hour” of sunrise, and below are other images that presented themselves during the weekend. The last photograph is sunrise light over Mt. Goode, a jet trail adding a man-made visual element to the otherwise natural scene.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Regarding Hats

There is a Photo Warning light in my head, and its bright red bulb flashes -- horns sound too -- when a human being wearing a hat enters my field of view. If I’m doing a wedding shoot and there is a woman in the crowd wearing a hat (or maybe she just has a cool scarf over her head,) my camera lens spins in her direction like a willow switch in the hands of a water witch who has stumbled upon H2O.

It’s a little freaky actually.

I’m not sure where my Hat Lust comes from. Maybe I like hats because I grew up in the 50’s and all my heroes on television, from Marshall Dillon to Yogi Bear, wore hats. More likely, though, I suspect I like hats simply because I’m a photographer and I react visually to the way a head covering frames a human face...not to mention the panache, style, and even personality suggested by jaunty chapeau.

The three photographs I’m posting today are of folks I encountered in my travels this summer, individuals whose picture I was moved to do simply because they looked so darned beautiful, or sweet, or interesting.

I also post the pictures with an appreciative tip of my own hat to Yogi and the Marshall.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Looking for Ann

I did a hike recently up to Lake Ann -- a place in the North Cascades that hiking guidebooks often refer to as an "alpine jewel" -- and my intention was to make a photograph of the stunning, towering mass of nearby Mt. Shuksan reflected in the lake. It is a scene that others have photographed, and a trip to Lake Ann has been on my hiking To-Do list for years now but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Well, now I have been to Lake Ann...but I can't report that I have seen her because the day I hiked there Lake Ann was still covered in last winter’s lingering snow. I was dumbfounded by the landscape: SNOW!... in LATE AUGUST!!... at a measly 4800 feet!!! All this on a day when it was 90-degrees in Seattle!

Then two words came to mind: Late Spring.

I remembered that well into June (and even July) we had had rain and cooler than normal temps in the Seattle area, which meant that snow was falling in the mountains. Hikers who have been venturing into the high country this summer have been reporting that the mountain snowpack is about a month behind its typical melt, but somehow that info didn't make the necessary connection in my brain as I planned the hike to Lake Ann.

The upshot that day was this: After several hours of hiking, I stood on a little rise above the "lake," looking down at a flat expanse of snow. My hiking friend, Joelle, took a picture of me, and all I could do was grin sheepishly and then laugh...laugh at myself for not listening to what other hikers had been reporting, and for relying instead on my 30-some years of experience, which, this year, is a mental mountain calendar out-of-sync.

But there was also this: Though the landscape we found that day was not at all what I had imagined beforehand in my mind's eye, it was, in reality, quite wonderful. The edges of the lake were beginning to melt and there were pools of blue beginning to form, though ice lingered both above and below the emerging water. The color and shapes were otherworldly and elemental, and the ice below the water looked like clouds. Joelle napped in the sun while I poked around for some time with my camera, giddy over the making of images.

It was a good day to play outside...and to relearn humility.