Today is the great American holiday Thanksgiving. Besides giving a day off from work to feast on vast quantities of food and watch football, it is a day for us that celebrate it to give thanks for the many blessings given us over the past year. Today, Tanya and I will have a quiet holiday by ourselves, declining the invitation to travel over the Cascade mountains to visit with my family in Spokane due to a lack of a good car for winter driving (our little SUV is having troubles and the other car needs new tires). This appears to be a good decision, since much snow is forecast for the mountain passes this coming weekend. Besides, without Carson here, who loved the turkey scraps that normally come with Thanksgiving, it seems good to have a quiet time at home.
But life goes on. We brought a small kitten, named Tuck, home a couple of days ago to help keep our older cat, Patch, company. Patch, who is feeling the loss of Carson seemingly as much as Tanya and I, as well as the loss of his sister earlier in the year, has been acting up (as some of our leather dining room chairs can attest to), we presume because of loneliness. We hope getting a kitten was a good idea; we shall see after a few days of slowly introducing the two cats to each other.
Celebrating by ourselves, without turkey-loving company, we have decided against the big, traditional turkey dinner. Tanya, a vegetarian, doesn’t eat turkey (although she has been known to sneak a taste of crisp turkey skin); so it seems a waste to cook a big bird for only the two cats and me. A year ago today, we celebrated Thanksgiving in Madrid with Brooks, having a great meal of paella. So we decided to try paella again for Thanksgiving. We went grocery shopping last night for the requisite fixings. Do you know how hard it is to find fresh clams at 10:00 pm the night before Thanksgiving?
Anyway, I did not intend this post to be a discussion of our Thanksgiving menu, but rather a listing of some of the many things I am thankful for. Here are a few of the things I am thankful for:
- for you, the many readers of my blog – I’m not sure why you care about my words and photos, but I am grateful that someone does. Many thanks!
- for Tanya – she is the love of my life, my best friend, and the most wonderful partner anyone could ever ask for.
- for my son and daughter, Brooks and Janelle, who have grown up to be fine young adults. I’m thankful that they both have good jobs that support them, and that they live close (but not at home with Tanya and I).
- for pets – I’m thankful for the many years good years of companionship that Carson and Sugar gave us, the continuing years of companionship that Patch is giving us, and (hopefully) the future years of companionship that Tuck will give us.
- for my many friends and family members who care for me no matter what stupid things I do or how many “help-me” chores I ask them to assist with.
- for my day job at Robinson Noble – a job I enjoy doing, a job that provides enough to pay the bills as well as support my photography habit (which would have a hard time of supporting itself)
- for my health – I’m thankful that at being over 50 years old I can still do 30-mile backpacking trips (like I did earlier this year)
- for living in a part of the country that still have plenty of wilderness and places to do 30-mile backpacking trips; for being close to deserts, mountains, and coastlines
- for hoodoos and arches and red rocks in general
- for rainforests, giant trees, and hanging moss
- for photography – a passion that gives me so much joy
- for my church, United Church in University Place, a group of people who truly care about everyone no matter their race, sexual orientation, or financial status
- for the word “thanks” being in Thanksgiving, otherwise many Americans would forget what the holiday is really about
- for warm beds and frosty mornings and, in particular, warm beds on frosty mornings
- for decaffeinated coffee for me and caffeinated coffee for everyone else in the Seattle area
- for good bottles of wine, India pale ales, and scotch and rye whiskeys (not necessarily in that order)
- for baseball – one of the best games ever invented, and (reluctantly) for my home team, the Seattle Mariners; for spring training, where every team dreams of the World Series (even the Mariners)
- for working indoor plumbing, particularly after having the big dig in our front yard last summer essential for keeping that plumbing working
- for day trips and weekends away with Tanya
- for snow on weekends, and clear streets on work days
- for the sun rising every morning and the color it brings to the world
- for the stars at night, particularly when we are out of the city and can see them
- for my hometown of Tacoma, a city I swore when I was young that I would never live in; I’m so glad I was wrong
- for travel, in the United States and beyond, in particular our trips to Spain, Greece, Belize, Scotland, New Orleans, and our many trips to the American Southwest
- for a rib-eye steak on the barbecue (and halloumi for Tanya)
- for text messaging – otherwise we’d rarely hear from Brooks and Janelle
- for good music, in particular music by Neko Case, Neil Young, the Shins and the Decemberists
- for zoom lenses, split-neutral density filters, cable releases, and quick-release plates
- for rivers, lakes, and oceans
- for good light, good subjects, and a good sense for composition
- for eagles and hawks, deer and elk, wolves and bears, and wildlife of all kinds
- and for the very many other blessings in my life.
Thank you for letting me share my photography with you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Readers of my blog know that Tanya and I have a dog, Carson. But I’m not sure I’ve mentioned we also have two cats. Well only one now because last Sunday we had to put our Sugar down.
Sugar was a very special cat. For one, she was an orange female, which I’m told are fairly rare. Our vet, in fact, said she’d never seen one before. Our other cat, Patch, is Sugar’s brother, and the two were totally different. Patch is very friendly; Sugar very shy. But once she got use to you, she could be very affectionate and loyal.When we first brought the two cats home as kittens, Sugar hid under the furniture for days, while Patch immediately started exploring the house (and begging for food). Patch has a loud, almost aggressive purr; Sugar’s purr was quiet and calming. Sugar was actually my daughter, Janelle’s cat. Janelle, who’s now 22 years old, no longer lives at home, and if she had tried to take Sugar, I doubt Tanya and I would have let her go.
Sugar was a great hunter, and when we lived in the wooded suburbs near Gig Harbor, she’d often bring home live critters of every sort (mice, birds, snakes, frogs, etc.) She loved to have her head scratched and would often hop up on the arm of my chair and rub her head under my hand until I scratched it. She also really liked to use her claws, digging in when she was happy. I don’t know how many sweaters of mine she ruined while I was petting her.
Sugar had been sick for a while, with no clear cause. But even while sick, she was still affectionate and active. Then last week she stopped eating and stopped roaming around the house and yard. The vet thinks it was probably liver cancer. She went downhill fast, but I like to think she had a good 13 years. We had a good 13 years with her.
This blog is my tribute to Sugar – one great cat. I will miss her.
The book is now completely written and has been through one edit. All the photos are inserted (except one, which I still need to take, and hope to do so in the next week or so). And now I’m looking for a few good readers to give me feedback before putting it to press. If you want to be a “beta reader” and tell me what you think, please leave a comment or send me a separate email. I’ll pick several people to send a draft pdf copy of the book to, and those that give me feedback will get an acknowledgement in the book and a final production copy. Here’s what I ask:
1. give honest feedback – what you like, what you don’t like, how can the book can be improved
2. provide a quote (and give me permission to use it) that I can use in marketing the book
3. try to get it done by May 15th
4. and consider writing a review of the book on your own blog (I’d really appreciate it)
So if you are willing to help out, please let me know. I’ll email volunteers next week. Thank you for considering helping.
The 44th Annual Ocean Shores Juried Art Show starts tomorrow. I have five images accepted into the show in the Photography Division – those posted here. Regular readers of my blog may recall the five images as I believe I’ve posted all of them before.
The show is open Friday, April 19th from noon to 5 pm; Saturday, April 20th from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, April 21st from 10 am to 3 pm. In addition to photography there are fine arts (paintings mostly) and electronic arts divisions. If you are in the area, it’s worth stopping in to see some great art. I’ll be there Sunday afternoon to see the show and pick up my work. Hope to see you there.
I haven’t written much about Tanya on my blog. She is a communications instructor teaching at Bates Technical College here in Tacoma. However, she is also seminary trained and is the volunteer chaplain at the Oasis Youth Center, also here in Tacoma. Oasis serves LGBT youth in Pierce County. Tanya also occasionally performs weddings and funerals. In that regard, she has a new website which I made for her and uploaded yesterday. I admit to being a bit slow on getting her site up. She wanted it up last November, shortly after the gay-marriage law passed in Washington State. Better late than never!
I am not much of a web designer. For her site, as well as my own, I used a Lightroom plugin from The Turning Gate. Their plugins are relatively easy to use, and I found the one’s I’ve purchased are worth the money. If you are thinking about making your own website, and have Lightroom, you might give them a look.
Tayna’s site is Wed As You Wish. The photos of Tanya on it (like the one here) are ones I have taken. The rest are no-cost, royalty-free photos. I feel somewhat like a hypocrite using these no-cost photos, as I generally believe that the advent of microstock sites is driving prices down for all stock photography, making it harder for full-time professionals to make a living. And though I have a few photos available as microstock, I stopped submitting to microstock sites several years ago. But, microstock is not going to go away, and I didn’t have the time to shoot all the photos myself for her site. Still, I feel like a hypocrite…
Enough confessions. If you get a chance, check out Tanya’s new website, Wed As You Wish, and tell me what you think.
I know this is way off topic for my photography blog, however, I do have another persona as a groundwater geologist (in my day job). I work for a company called Robinson Noble, we do environmental consulting and geotechnical engineering. We recently started a company blog, and I wrote a post there concerning the upcoming election. If you are interested on how the two candidates rate on water, environmental, and infrastructure issues (issues important to Robinson Noble and its clients) and science issues in general, you may wish to read my post on Science and the 2012 Election.
Seattle, widely known for its rain, has had 0.03 inches of rain so far this September. Combined with no measurable rain in August, we’ve had one of the driest periods on record. Nor is rain falling much elsewhere in Washington State. All month-long there have been forest fires burning in the mountains and eastern Washington, and the smoke is really messing up the air quality. So when I took a day off to go do some photography earlier this month, I decided against going to the mountains which are full of smoke and instead Tanya, Carson and I headed for the beach. We decided to head for Kalaloch and Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, a 3-hour drive from Tacoma. It’s 156 miles from my house to Kalaloch, and only the last 5 miles is along the ocean. And when making the drive over, it was sunny and the closer to the coast we got, the less smokey the air was. Then, at approximately mile 151 from my house, we entered a fog bank. That’s right, all this sun all over the whole state, and the beaches along the Olympic coast were fogged in. The good news for photography – no boring totally blue skies. The bad news for photography – no great sunset shots either.
We spent the first part of our trip at Ruby Beach, which has some nice sea stacks and a creek on the beach. The fog made for some interesting compositions, and several other photographers also had their tripods out. We walked north on the beach. The fog closed in around us, and it was if we were alone in the world, just the ocean on one side and a wilderness forest on the other. No sounds but the crashing waves. Hunger eventually drove us back to the car and we headed back down the highway to find a viewpoint where we could eat a picnic dinner with a view, or as much of one as the fog would allow.
It was nearing sunset, and the fog bank started to roll off shore such that it wasn’t actually fogging on the beach, but the fog still blocked the sun. Ever optimistic and still hoping for a good sunset, we stopped in at Beach 4 (which is between Kalaloch and Ruby Beach). No luck on the sunset, but as it was shortly after low time, there were tide pools to explore and starfish to photograph.
All in all, it was a good day, and I didn’t have to worry about forest fire smoke ruining my photographs. Given the choice of smoke or fog, I was happy to have the fog.
My blog has just surpassed 1,000 followers; now at 1,006 and counting. Thank you!!!
When I started this blog in January 2011, i was unsure if anyone would care. And now, I’m honored and amazed by all of you following my posts. I hope my photography and rambling musings keep you coming back for more. To illustrate this post, I give you Carson, our Newfoundland. He’d plant a big slobbery lick on all of you if he could!
My daughter Janelle turns 21 today. I remember the day she was born, 21 years ago in Seattle. There as a big thunderstorm and it even snowed a bit. An appropriate welcome to the world for a girl who has always been her own person – often to the chagrin of her dad when she was growing up. Now, she’s a fine young woman of whom I couldn’t be prouder. Janelle will graduate later this month from University of California at San Diego with a double major in mathematics and econ science. Following graduation, she is planning a 2-month trip to Europe with her boyfriend, before heading to Seattle to start a job with Amazon.
Happy birthday Janelle from your very proud father. Have fun (and stay out of trouble)!
I wish you all the best this holiday season with this natural light show from Mount Rainier National Park last Saturday. If I have time in the next several days, I’ll post some more shots from that trip. Meanwhile, it’s my holiday wish that peace fills your heart, joy fills your days, and life gives you a chance to experience the incredible in the new year.
I’m the chairman of the Photography Committee of the Tacoma branch of the Mountaineers. The Mountaineers is a western Washington outdoors group dedicated to hiking, climbing, kayaking, and doing most other human-powered activities in the outdoors (including photography). Right now, running through October 31, we are having a photographic exhibition at the Tahoma Center Gallery in Tacoma. The exhibition features 42 photographs selected by a jury (including the six images of mine attached to this blog); all were taken by members of the Tacoma Mountaineers.
Come check it out, there’s some great images there. The gallery is open from 8 to 5 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 8 to 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The gallery is located at 1323 S Yakima Avenue, Tacoma, Washington in the Catholic Community Services building. We are having a photographers reception on September 15th, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Food and beverages will be served; please come by if you are in Tacoma that night.
I’ve revamped my website. Actually the new site has been up for about a month, but I haven’t announced it until now because I wanted to fix a few broken links. Please visit the new site, if you haven’t done so already, and tell me what you think! The site is at www.seldomseenphoto.com.
Summer is the time of art festivals. This summer, I have pieces hanging in three juried art festivals here in the Puget Sound region. So, if you happen to be in the region, and want to see some good art, visit one of these festivals.
Kent Summer Art Exhibit – features painting, photography, pencil drawings, mixed media, and other 2-dimensional art. The exhibit opened yesterday and runs through August 26th. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed holidays). The exhibit is held at the Centennial Center Gallery, 400 W Gowe St, Kent, Washington. My piece “Waiting for Spring”, a photograph printed on canvas, will be on display.
Edmonds Art Festival – art at this festival includes painting, drawing, mixed media, photography, sculpture, fiber arts, jewelry, pottery, and more. It is held Father’s Day weekend, June 17 – 19th at the Frances Anderson Cultural Center, 700 Main Street, Edmonds, Washington. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the 17th, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the 18th, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 19th. In addition to the art work, this festival includes performing arts, children’s activities, music, storytelling, a wine bar and bistro, and a food court. I have two pieces in this show: “Night Maple”, a photograph printed on canvas, and “Wedge and Cone”, a framed photographic print.
GigFest Maritime Art Exhibition - includes maritime-themed paintings, photography, and sculpture (think ships in a bottle). The exhibition is currently running a the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Washington and ends July 3rd. The museum is at 4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. I also have two framed photographs in this exhibition: “Titlow” and “Tall Ship, Tall Lighthouse, Tall Mountain.”
In my day job, I am a hydrogeologist. I work for a consulting firm in Tacoma, Washington. We put in a lot of drinking water wells throughout Washington State. On a recent well drilling project for the City of Sumner, we found something rather unusual – deposits from an ancient beach at a depth of 464 feet below land surface (several hundred feet below sea level). One of my colleagues will be discussing these deposits at the Washington State Hydrogeologic Symposium, which is being held this week in Tacoma. For his presentation, he asked me to take some photographs of one of the shells and some wood found in these beach deposits. Those photographs are included here.
We really don’t know how old these beach deposits are. The shells and wood found were not old enough to be fossilized. They are still fairly fresh looking. In fact, our field geologist reported the drill cuttings with the shells smelled like the beach when they were brought to the surface. Our best guess is that they are somewhere between 5,000 and 100,000 years old. We may eventually get a date from the wood using carbon 14 dating, but have not done so yet. Besides scallop and clam shells, there were also barnacle shells in the drill cuttings.
This particular well was drilled with cable-tool methods. Cable-tool drill rigs essentially pound a steel casing into the ground, than remove the sediments in the casing by sucking them out with a bailer (basically a steel tube with a one-way valve on the bottom). If the sediments aren’t loose enough to be picked up by the bailer, a drill bit (basically a large hunk of steel) pounds the sediments into a slurry so they can be more easily picked up. Considering this drilling method, it is very surprising that one of the shells came up intact – most were quite broken.
Photography wise, I took these images several days ago in my studio with a table top setup using a single monolight on one side of the table, a reflector on the other, and black or white matboard as a background.
The wind was so strong, the rain was falling sideways yesterday at Ocean Shores. As you might imagine, the beach was fairly empty, except for hundreds of seagulls, all standing at attention facing into the wind.
Carson, our Newfoundland, thought it was great out in that rain and wind. On the other hand, while Tanya and I both thought it fun to see these conditions at the beach, we spent little time outside the car – it was more fun looking at the surf through the car windows. And with blowing sand accompanying the sideways rain, I thought it best to leave the camera inside the car too, so no photos of the beach today.
Which is fine, because we weren’t at Ocean Shores do photography, but to pick up my entries in the 33rd Annual Ocean Shores Photography Show, which ran Friday through Sunday. I had eight entries in the Professional Photographer division. Of the eight, six won ribbons – both 1st and 2nd place in Seascape/Maritime category, 1st place in the Architecture category, 2nd place in the Miscellaneous category, 3rd place in the Flora category, and an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category. I guess you can say it was raining ribbons!
I’ve been thinking a lot about Japan lately; hard not to with all the news lately. Foremost, I’ve been thinking about all those poor people who died, were injured, or were left homeless in the cold weather; and about the nuclear workers who will be getting radiation sickness while trying to save their country from an even larger disaster. But I’ve also been thinking about how the same thing could happen here in my home, Washington State. I’m a geologist by training and work as a hydrogeologist in my day job; I know all too well that the tectonic setting of Japan is very similar to that of the Pacific Northwest coast. Epic earthquakes and tsunamis can happen here. They have done so in the past, and they will do so again. It’s not a matter of if it will happen here; it’s a matter of when.
The news also has brought me thoughts of my time in Japan. I’ve traveled there twice; once, for a single month, as part of an exchange-student program between sister cities (Spokane, my home town, and Nishinomiya), and later for a summer when in college. Needless to say, both were a long time ago. I mainly visited the Osaka-Kobe area, far south of the current earthquake/tsunami damage zone, but that area had its own earthquake troubles from the last time a major quake hit Japan (in 1995).
My photography owes a lot to Japan. I bought my first SLR camera there, an Olympus OM1, back in 1977 when I was in high school. The image accompanying this blog was taken with that camera on that trip. It’s a transparency, recorded on Kodachrome film, and scanned this week (which is another story – since Nikon doesn’t support its film scanners anymore with new drivers; so with my Windows 7 upgrade, it was a challenge getting the scanner to work).
I believe the image is also the first photo I ever won an award with (a ribbon at the Spokane County Interstate Fair). Looking at it now, it’s not such a great image – it’s underexposed, not framed all that well, and has some weird reflections and artifacts. However, the image, and the rest I took on my two trips to Japan, really helped fuel my love for photography, especially travel photography. Of course, the other Japanese connection to my photography is in my equipment – Canon all the way (except for that pesky film scanner). Also, when I was shooting film, my favorites were from Fuji film, especially Velvia slide film.
The image is of Cimtamani-cakra in Nara. It sits in the Great Buddha Hall in Todai-ji, reported as the largest wooden building in the world. The building is so large because it also houses the largest bronze statue of Buddha in the world, Buddha Vairocana or the Great Buddha, also known as Daibutsu. Diabutsu is 49 feet (15 meters) tall. By contrast, Cimtamani-cakra (also known as the Golden Budda, though it is a Bodhisattva not Buddha) is only about 20 feet (6 meters) high. It sits on the right side of the Great Buddha and represents mercy. A fitting image for these times in Japan, a time when I, and most of the world, wish mercy for that country.
Today my friend and fellow photographer, Bert Daniels, was laid to rest on a hilltop in Puyallup. I knew Bert from the Mountaineers where he was very involved in many of the group’s activities, including photography. He was a regular fixture at our monthly Mountaineer photography meetings. Besides being a photographer, he was also a fine engineer who formerly worked at JPL and Boeing.
Mostly, though, Bert was an outdoorsmen in the truest sense of the word. He loved the outdoors and embarked on many adventures with the Mountaineers. He had a story for every occasion, and listening to him over the years, I swear he must have climbed every peak in Washington State. He loved nature - being in it, photographing it, and living it. He owned in a house in the woods, with a small duck pond in his front yard. He often told us how he took care of these ducks, and got to know the same breeding pair that returned each year.
I’ve chosen the accompanying photo to honor Bert. It’s from a photo trip we took together last spring to Fir Island and Deception Pass State Park. On that trip, as our group walked along the southern beach along Deception Pass, we noticed several eagles far overhead in a tree. Everyone took photos, of course. Later, at a Mountaineers’ meeting, we shared some of those photos. Bert’s image of these same eagles is better than mine is. He had the sense to move down the beach some, to get a better angle.
His passing was unexpected. Just two weeks ago, he attended one of our photo meetings, and we had both signed up to go on a photo tour of the LeMay car museum next Saturday. I understand he died of natural causes, working outside his house, in the nature he loved. I will miss him.
As I am learning how all this blogging stuff works, I just wanted to share another image, this one from Capital Reef National Park.
The golden hours, those right around sunrise and sunset, are magical for photographers. This image of the ridge line above North Bend was taken at sunrise from a Safeway parking lot as we waited to meet the others in our snowshoeing group a couple of weeks ago. That early morning light is so very sweet!
This is my first post, just learning the ropes. Here is an image from my snowshoe trip to Source Lake on December 30th.