Do you have a favorite place you like to visit to do photography; a place you go again and again? One of my favorites is downtown Gig Harbor. There are views of Mount Rainier, picturesque boats, parks, and scenic streets. I don’t know how many times I’ve shot there, but since I use to live in on the Gig Harbor peninsula (and still live only a short drive away), I have photographed the Harbor many times.
One of the challenges of shooting the same place multiple times is getting something fresh. Besides the scenery, shooting in Gig Harbor helps me work on thinking outside my normal box. Since I’ve photographed the same scenes multiple times, it forces me to try to find new points of view for the same scenes. It presents good exercise for the most important component of photography – your mind.
Shooting the same location again and again also allows to work on variations on a theme. Again, this is a very good mental exercise for a photographer. While I suggest working a scene, shooting a wide number of variations (as I discussed in this previous post), by returning multiple times, you can add the fourth dimension, time, to your variations.
For these reasons (and because it was a photo outing with the Mountaineers), I did the Gig one evening last week. The photos here are some of the results.
Do you have your own Gig? Where is your favorite place you like to return to again and again, and why do you return?
If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that Tanya and I are animal lovers. For years we loved our Newfoundland, Carson, and our two cats, Patch and Sugar. In June 2013, we lost Sugar to cancer. Later in that year, Carson passed away as well. Last Saturday, it was Patch’s turn. While Carson and Sugar both died of natural causes, Patch was struck by a car as he was crossing the street to come see me as when I came home from shooting a wedding. As he lay stricken in the street, I petted him, hardly containing my tears, and called Tanya, who had just left the house on an errand. She was able to get back home in a few minutes, and we were glad we could be there comforting Patch in his final moments.
Patch was the best cat I’ve ever known. He was loved by everyone in the neighborhood. My neighbor across the street, Brad, who confesses to not liking cats, told me yesterday that even he loved Patch. Patch was about as friendly as a cat can get. He loved being around people, any people. We often heard stories about how he freely wander into other people’s houses. Before we moved to Tacoma, we had a neighbor who left his door open and a bowl of cat food in his dining room just because he like to have Patch come in to visit (he later stopped this after opossums came in for the food). We often thought we would lose Patch someday because he would visit someone we didn’t know and they might adopt him (he didn’t wear a collar – it was impossible to keep one on him for more than about 2 hours). Besides investigation other people’s houses, he would also jump into cars if someone left a door open. One of Tanya’s favorite Patch stories describes how she once answered the door for a repairman and as they were talking, she saw Patch checking out the cab of the repairman’s truck from the inside.
Patch was totally at ease with dogs, probably from growing up with Carson (they were best buddies, often sleeping together). But Patch was not against taunting dogs for his own amusement. He liked to prance back and forth on a neighbor’s lower roof, just outside their living room windows, and drive their inside dog crazy. Though he didn’t seem to care one way or the other about Nahla, our new Newfoundland, he did act as if to approve having a dog in the house again when we brought her home last year.
Patch had the loudest purr of any cat I’ve known. In fact he was a purr machine – just about anything would set off his purrs. He’d walk into a room, see me or Tanya and start purring immediately. A small treat, a quick pet, even a look from across a room, all set him purring.
He was also a toucher. If I was to sit down next to him, he’d usually stretch out a paw to touch my arm or leg. He’d often go lay down by Carson and reach over and place a paw on Carson’s leg or foot. When I read a book in bed, he’d lay on my chest, but always reach a paw up to touch me on the upper chest or neck where the bedclothes didn’t cover.
After Sugar and Carson died, Tanya and I brought home Nahla and a new kitten, Tuck. Replacement pets if you will, though they really aren’t. Now with Patch gone, we may get another new cat (it is clear that Tuck misses Patch as well). But there will certainly be no replacing Patch.
The car that hit Patch didn’t even slow down. I feel sorry for such callous, uncaring people. They had to have known they hit something. But I’m not bitter. Patch was 16 ears old and had a great life. He was my good friend, and I miss him dearly.
Goodbye Patch; I hope you have fun with Carson wherever dogs and cats go in the afterlife, and be nice to your sister too.
I haven’t been able to post as much this month as I had wanted. And now Christmas is upon us before I was ready. How come when you are a kid, it takes forever for Christmas to arrive and now that I’m middle-aged (leaning toward advanced-aged) Christmas comes so fast?
I don’t have much to offer you but a photograph. The above photo was taken in Gig Harbor 5 or so years ago. Normally we do not have much snow here during the holidays, and this year is no exception. It is relatively warm out right now and rainy, of course. But when we do have snow, it is so beautiful.
Happy holidays to all the readers of my blog, both casual and dedicated. I wish you all the best this holiday season. Be sure to remember to take some time for yourself and do something fun. (Hopefully, I can follow my own advice!)
I’m taking a break from my series of posts on the Southwest to talk about a good man,Tanya’s father, Eugene Suryan, Gene passed away from last Monday after a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer. He will be missed and be fondly remembered by his bride of 55 years (and Tanya’s mother), Maxine, as well as his five children, seven grandchildren, and indeed, all who knew him.
Gene grew up in Anacortes, Washington, son of immigrants from Croatia. His father, Little Joe, like so many Croatian men who moved to Washington, was a fisherman. In his youth, Gene occasionally worked on his dad’s boat, and spent a summer working at a salmon cannery in Alaska, but he didn’t catch the fishing gene (sorry Gene, couldn’t resist the pun). He went to Washington State University majoring in business. After a stint in the Army, he became a banker.
He loved mechanical things, especially cars, and particularly American cars. Gene was also the biggest news junkie I ever knew. He subscribed to several weekly news magazine, and I think he wore out his TV remote buttons tuning between the local news stations and CNN.
I’m not much of a car guy – to me, a car is just basic transportation. But I do keep up on the news, though I must admit, when I knew Gene was coming over, I’d bone up on the latest news so we’d always had something to talk about. He loved to discuss the world’s problems and offer suggestions on how to fix them. But sometimes he was stumped, and I will always remember the quizzical look he’d get on his face, slightly grinning and cocking his head sideways when I’d ask him about some particular issue when he didn’t have a good answer. Then he would always say, “that’s a good question Joe!” and laugh.
Gene was also one of the happiest men I’ve ever known, and he was so enthusiastic about everything – be it a glass of wine, a good-looking car, or just coming to visit at our house. Through the years of having Tanya’s parents over, I don’t know how many of Gene’s crushing bear hugs I survived. He always had a smile and was truly happy to met anyone (though the bear hugs he saved for family). He adored our cat, Patch, and Patch likely to sit on his lap. Which is quite funny, because Patch typically only comes up to visitors who don’t like cats or are allergic to them (how Patch knows this, I don’t know, but he does).
As I went through my photo collection looking for a picture of Gene to use with this post, I sadly found I didn’t have very many pictures of him, and even fewer of just him without other people in the shot. Tanya has repeatedly told me to take more family photos, and I have been lazy and not done so, thinking there is always more time. In Gene’s case, I no longer have that time. So let this be a warning to you photographers out there – take those family photos while you can, you never know when the opportunity will no longer be there.
Goodbye Gene. I miss you.
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!