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A Bridge not too Far

Several years ago I saw a photograph of this bridge in the Palouse, but there was no location information with it. When I saw the image, I knew I wanted to photograph it as well. However, after several attempts to find it using internet searches, I could not find its location.

As you may or may not know, in my day job, I’m a groundwater geologist. I’m the president of a consulting firm called Robinson Noble. We work with a lot of different civil engineers who work with water systems. One such engineering firm we work with is based on Port Orchard, Washington – which for those of you not familiar with Washington State, is about 20 miles northwest of Tacoma. A year or so ago, one of the engineers with that firm, Todd, moved to the Palouse region and now telecommutes and serves his company in eastern Washington. A while back, I was talking with Todd about this bridge. I’m not sure how the topic came up, but he knows I do photography and was suggesting he knew some good locations in the Palouse. Anyway, I mentioned I was looking for this bridge, and Todd told me he owned it! He said I was welcome to drop by anytime to photograph it.

I finally had the chance last week. I accompanied Tanya to Walla Walla so she could interview for a vice president’s job at Walla Walla Community College (she was one of three finalists, but unfortunately didn’t get the position). While she was off interviewing, I drove up to the Palouse to meet with Todd. He gave me directions to his house (something like, turn at the second mailbox, drive through the farmer’s field, go over the bridge, and uphill past the barn), and indeed, the bridge in the directions was the bridge I was looking for.

I had a nice time visiting with Todd and his family, and they told me the story of the bridge. They bought their 200-acres of land along the Palouse River northwest of Colfax about a year ago. The land includes an old railroad grade which crosses the river. When the railroad was abandoned, a former owner of the property turned the bridge into part of his driveway. Todd also described an old train tunnel on his property, further down the grade.

Apparently the bridge is well known to at least a few photographers, as Todd and his wife told me of photography workshops that stop and take pictures of the bridge. There is a viewpoint on the county road across the river from their house, which is where I took the above photo.

But Todd said individual photographers, and sometimes even workshops, have come onto their land without permission to photograph at the bridge.¬† The Palouse is very popular with photographers, especially in late spring. Todd said he has talked with several of his neighbors and others from Colfax, and they report the number of photographers in the area seems to grow each year. Several of his neighbors are getting fed up with photographers blocking roadways and trespassing on private land. It’s these type of photographers that give all of us a bad name (but I digress).

Todd has given me standing permission to come by and photograph his bridge (and tunnel) anytime I want. He and his wife suggested other potential viewpoints and the best times of day. Next time I’m in the Palouse, it think I’ll take them up on their offer.

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Tacoma Open Studio Tour – Come on By

Once a year, the artists in Tacoma open their studios to the public in the Tacoma Studio Tour. This free event is held annually as part of Tacoma Arts Month, where the city celebrates the arts and its artists. This year, the studio tour includes 70 artists at 42 locations. I am one of seven photographers participating. I’d like to personally invite any of my blog readers in the local area to come on by, see my studio, meet Tanya and Nahla in person, and talk about the art of photography.

The studio tour this Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. I am stop number 4 on the tour. You can learn more about the tour using the link above or by going to the Tacoma Arts blog, which has run a 9-part series on the event (I’m part of part 1).

As part of the tour, many artists are offering hands on activities. I am no exception. I’ve done some work with scanography – the art of making photographs using a flat-bed scanner. I will have the scanner set up so my guests can try their own hand at scanography and take home a print of their masterpiece. This is a fun activity, which I previously blogged about. In addition, I”ll have about 40 prints on display.

Hope to see you this weekend!


Marymere

I’ve lived in Washington a long time and driven by Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park seemingly countless times (okay, perhaps several dozen), but I’ve never taken the short trail to Marymere Falls. Last week I cured this default. I left Tacoma before sunrise (and boy is that early this time of year), hoping to catch the rising sun on the Olympics from the shores of Hood Canal, but the sky was overcast and the sun rose without apparent effect. But overcast skies are great for waterfall photography, so I drove on and reached the Marymere Falls trailhead, reaching the parking lot a little after 7 a.m.

I was the first  one there, which is always a plus when photographing popular spots. And this hike is popular, and deservingly so. It travels through moss-covered old growth forest along a pretty creek to a beautiful waterfall. It is short, only 1.5 miles roundtrip, and is flat until the end, where it climbs several hundred feet to the falls.

Though it is an out-and-back trail, end of the trail near the falls has a small loop. As the trail nears the falls, it crosses over Barnes Creek (on a relatively new steel bridge) and then quickly over Falls Creek (on a classic one-person-wide wooden log bridge. From there, the trail climbs uphill and forms a small loop, leading to two viewpoints of the falls, one directly at the base, and one higher up nearly level with the top of the falls. I found the views at the lower level, and part way up from there, to be better for photography than at the upper viewpoint.

I mostly had the falls to myself, only interrupted by two sets of people who came quickly through, and I spent about 20 to 30 minutes photographing (leaving shortly before about a dozen people arrived). I spent another 20 to 30 minutes photographing in the forest on the way out. All in all, it was worth the stop, and I wondered why it took me so long to give it a try.

Detail shot of Marymere Falls.

Barnes Creek along the Marymere Falls trail.

Scene in the forest along the trail.

Devils club growing along the trail.

Large old growth tree adjacent to the trail. It’s hard to tell how big this tree is by this photo, but I estimate it is at least 6 to 8 feet in diameter.


Speaking Tomorrow Night

Scenic Seattle Front CoverI just wanted to let you know that I will be speaking tomorrow night (February 7th) at 7 p.m. at the University Place library about my book, Scenic Seattle. I’ll be discussing how I turned my personal project into a published book, showing photographs of Seattle (including some that did not make it in the book), and answering any questions about photography. Here’s a flyer from the library about the talk. So if you are in the area, come by and say hello.

The library is located at: 3609 Market Place W, Suite 100, University Place, Washington. There is parking available both in front of the library and also in the parking garage underneath the library off of Drexler Drive behind the library building.

UPDATE: the talk tonight was just cancelled because of the weather. I’ll let you know when it is rescheduled.

 


Death of a Friend

GaryThis is not a post I wanted to write, but it is one I must. Last week, I was, in fact, preparing another post, but then death intruded into my life. My blog is supposedly about photography, yet here I am writing about death. Most Americans don’t like to talk or even think about death. Yet death is a part of life. And, like most photographers, most of my photography is about life – places I’ve been, people I’ve met, the sharing of scenes that enrich my life. So, here I am, writing about the one inevitable part of life that we all must face – death.

This post is not one I wanted to write. It has been difficult putting these words on “paper.” It’s difficult to share. I’ve procrastinated, refusing to believe, searching my feelings for truth, for a reason. I’ve procrastinated, because by not putting this down on paper, somehow it cannot be real, because maybe it is just a dream. But it is real, and I cannot procrastinate further. My friend, Gary Mueller, deserves to be celebrated, and hopefully this post can be a small part of a celebration of Gary’s life, a celebration of his lasting impact on this world. A world he made a better place by just being himself. For Gary was one of the happiest people I know. A gentle, caring man, always quick with a smile, a chuckle, and an amusing story. He was a delight to be around. He was a Beatles fanatic, a dedicated Washington State Cougars fan, a fine wine and beer connoisseur. Most of all, he was my friend; a reliable mate to share a beer, help with a chore, or to just hang with. A man so full of life and love.

I met Gary about 40 years ago in high school. And unlike with many of my high school friends, Gary and I kept in touch. Over the past 15 years of so, since Tanya has been in my life, we have gotten together with Gary and his wife Vicki almost monthly. A week ago Thursday, Gary collapsed while getting ready for work. Vicki found him a minute or two later, but he was already gone. Often when the four of us were together, we’d joke about how Gary was the youngest of the four (we are all within about a year of the same age). Yet now, seemingly way before his time, he was the first to go.

If we are lucky in life, we have a few true friends. Friends who will stick with us through anything life throws at us, who aren’t bothered by our warts and eccentricities, who make our lives better to live. Gary was such a friend. He made my life better; he made me better. And this, my feeble attempt at a tribute, does not do him justice. Gary, my dear friend, I miss you…