Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Gift

A friend and I headed to Central Washington Monday to hike a trail that the hiking guidebook said was nice-enough, but didn't really offer much, view-wise.

Oh, I beg to differ.

Perhaps only in the state of Washington -- where one can hike in over-the-top natural wonderlands like Mt. Rainier National Park or the North Cascades --  would the place you see in the photographs I'm posting today be poo-poo'd as being scenically sub-standard.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the landscape that my friend and I beheld Monday was nothing to complain about, thank-you-very-much Mr. or Ms Snooty Guidebook Author. Neil and I covered 16 miles and did not encounter a single other human being all day long, perhaps thanks to the book's negative report. All we encountered was solitude, snowy silence, and more than a little beauty.

The hike was a fine Christmas Week gift!

Friday, December 19, 2014


The witch hazel plant just off our back deck is a bit wacky,  if you ask me.
Every year, right around Christmas, the crazy thing blooms, apparently oblivious to the seasonal fact of life that it is Winter.

I shot the above image this morning with a macro lens, getting up close to witchy woman's sensuous, golden curls. Though the weather today does happen to be sunny with temperatures nudging 50 degrees, the witch, Hazel,  blooms at this time,  even in years when there is snow and ice around.

As I put this morning's photographs on a backup drive, I noticed that it was just 10 days ago that I shot the images I'm now posting below. It doesn't snow often at our house -- most of the snow we get in Western Washington falls in our mountains, not in the lowlands -- so when white stuff does cover our local landscape,  I venture out with a camera, looking here and there, hoping to find an image or two to document the Big Event.

Forgive me if I sound a bit paranoid, but I think Hazel the Witch and her girlfriend, Mother Nature,  might secretly be working together: Two dames in cahoots…intent, as women often are, in keeping a photographer fella like me off-balance.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

U.N. Human Rights Day

Delegates from around the world came together 66 years ago amid the rubble of World War II to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articulating fundamental civil and political rights of all people, and reminding each of us of our responsibility to protect those rights.

I suspect that many of us in America did not even realize that the United Nations declared yesterday to be the 66th annual Human Rights Day.  We probably tend too often to take our rights and freedoms for granted. To be honest, an awareness of "Human Rights" is on my own radar screen largely due to my involvement with the Seattle-area Tibetan community.

Each month my friends from that community come together at their Tibetan Buddhist monastery and offer prayers for peace, and for long life for their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Most months I am there with my friends, making pictures that I hope document the Tibetan diaspora's efforts to keep Tibet's culture and traditions alive.

Maintaining cultural identity will eventually be up to young Tibetans, and individuals who are mere children today will one day grow up and decide whether to follow Tibetan traditions, or global pop culture, or perhaps a mixture of both.

As long as my friends continue to trust my motives and are patient with my visual intrusions, I hope to continue to photograph this process.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Macklemore Gets It

I was working out on our indoor cross country ski machine the other day, ear buds plugged into my head,  when my Pandora station apparently forgot that I am of the 61-years-old-geezer demographic because a rap song by Macklemore titled “Ten Thousand Hours” started playing.

The lyrics practically stopped me in my, uh, tracks.

“You see, I studied art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great because they paint a lot

A life lived for art is never a life wasted.”

Even though Macklemore is a recording artist whose music is certainly embraced more by those in the Millennial Generation than by old farts like me, I loved what I heard. Earlier that very day I happened to make the images you see here;  and though I did shoot the pictures partly at the request of some friends who like calla lilies, the real reason I tackled this atypical-for-a-photojournalist subject matter was that I love to practice photography.

In the 35 years I shot for newspapers, I can’t remember ever being assigned to photograph a flower. But now, because much of what I do is self-generated, I shoot pretty much whatever excites me... and
I'm happy to say that that is most everything.