Wednesday, October 7, 2020

5 Minutes in Nature: The awe of autumn

Cottonwoods and Ground Cover, Autumn, Abiquiu, New Mexico

Changing seasons can help you appreciate the subtleties of nature. Often, you don’t have to travel far from home to find something wonderful to observe.

This post is part of my 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of short activities designed to help you relax and feel closer to nature. Numerous studies talk about the healing powers of nature. One published last week by the American Psychological Association finds that actively trying to notice something new during a walk provides emotional health benefits for seniors. The New York Times also wrote about the study, calling the activities “awe walks.”

In the spirit of discovering something new — in finding some awe in your neighborhood — here are a few things to try the next time you can spend five minutes in the autumn air.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The cycles of elk

Elk Sparring, North Bend, Washington

The clacking of antlers is one of the unmistakable signs of autumn. While elk spend much of the day feeding peacefully, every so often two of the larger bulls will literally go head-to-head in a demonstration of strength. The winner gains mating privileges. You can almost set your calendar by the action.

But there are several cycles on display in this image. The beginning of mating season marks the starting point of one.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Finding art in dirty air

Wildfire Haze Over North Creek Wetlands, Bothell, Washington

For the first time in nearly a week, the air quality at my home north of Seattle is merely unhealthy. Smoke from wildfires up and down the west coast has been piling up in the area for well over a week now. At its worst, the layer of smoke was 3,000 feet thick.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Where are all the wildflowers?

Hoary Marmot Feeding on Lupine, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

I have found it hard to get good action photos of marmots. Most of the time, they aren’t very active.

The hoary marmots I’ve seen in the Cascade mountain range spend most of the year sleeping. They hibernate for 8 to 9 months each year. They are awake only in summer when they scramble to eat enough to sleep through the next three seasons. Even then, however, I often see them stretched out over large rocks, napping in the sunshine.

Monday, August 17, 2020

5 Minutes in Nature: Appreciating green

Carpet of Ferns and Clover, Bellevue, Washington

This post is part of the 5 Minutes in Nature project — quick activities that are designed to help you relax and more deeply appreciate nature, five minutes at a time.

What color is grass? What color are leaves in the summer? What color is a cactus? They’re all green, right? But our snap response causes us to miss some of the nuance that makes nature interesting.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Chasing Comet NEOWISE

Mount Rainier and Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), High Rock, Washington

Normally when a photography project takes up a month of my time, I’ve spent many more months planning it. But my July photo project came as a complete surprise.

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) put on a spectacular display for most of the month — the brightest comet to be visible in the Northern Hemisphere in more than 13 years. Given its magnificence, you might think there would have been plenty of advance notice. Even though I track comets, I had heard of it only the day before I headed out to photograph it for the first time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Portrait of a barred owl

Portrait of a Barred Owl, Edmonds, Washington

While it can be incredibly exciting to photograph in a new place or to spend time with an animal you’ve never photographed before, I also enjoy revisiting old subjects. It’s allowed me to make some of my more creative images. It’s that familiarity that allowed me to make this portrait of a barred owl.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The bald eagles of Hood Canal

Bald Eagles Fighting, Hood Canal, Seabeck, Washington

For a few weeks a year, hundreds of bald eagles congregate along a short stretch of Hood Canal near the town of Seabeck, Washington. Bald eagles are opportunistic. While they are skilled hunters, they don't work any harder than they have to for their meals. Between a fish migration and wide tidal swings, the feeding is easy there in May and June.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Review: Saal photo book

While there’s nothing quite like appreciating a giant print on a museum wall, photography books can have their own charm. A high-quality book can help you get closer to the image than you ever could to a framed print. And advances in digital printing have made it possible for any photographer to their own books — even just a single copy.

I recently printed a single copy of a portfolio. I’m working on a photography exhibit and I need to talk to exhibitors, art patrons and other supporters about the concept. A short book is a great visual aid. I ended up using Saal Digital to produce the bound portfolio and wanted to share my experience.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Behind the image: Rialto Beach Driftwood

Rialto Beach Driftwood, Olympic National Park, Washington

I create only a few black and white images per year. I don't have anything against monochrome; I just find that most of the time, color is a critical ingredient that helps me express what I want to say. But there are also times that color gets in the way.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Big bother for little fluff

Great Blue Heron and Brewer's Blackbird in Midair Tussle, Skagit County, Washington

Occasionally, I'm a witness to things that are so bizarre you almost have to see a picture to believe it happened. Such was this odd encounter between a great blue heron and a blackbird.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Walled-In Pond

Cherry Blossom Reflections, Snohomish County, Washington

To call these unusual times minimizes how unusual they really are. Over the past seven weeks, the majority of my photography has been conducted within a few feet of my front door. And given that the stay-at-home order in my state has just been extended, my yard will continue to be my photography subject for at least another four more.

It’s easy to fixate on the limits. My spring and summer travel plans have been scrapped. And I can’t help but think of the photo opportunities in the parks close to home, which are off-limits to my camera and tripod. But these nearly two months at home have also been eye-opening.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Storm over Hogwallow Flats, Virginia

Rainstorm over Hogwallow Flats, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

With my photography projects on indefinite hold, I've had some time to process images that have been in sitting the production queue, waiting for their turn. This is one of those. It’s from Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Canon 1Dx Mark III review

Hummingbird and Flowering Currant

The days of dSLR cameras are numbered. But even though Canon announced it’s concentrating its development efforts on mirrorless cameras, its brand new top-of-the-line camera is… a dSLR.

Given that the new Canon 1Dx Mark III is likely to be one of the last dSLRs ever, is it worth investing in one for wildlife photography? After using one for nearly two months, I think it is. The camera is a much more substantial upgrade than its specifications might suggest. Its autofocus system is nothing short of revolutionary. The new smart controller, which helps you quickly select autofocus points, almost justifies the upgrade by itself. But the camera suffers from some infuriating glitches and quirks, even after a firmware update.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It's Earth Day #50

Hummingbird and Flowering Currant

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Since we’re supposed to be spending it at home, I thought I would post about how, honestly, Earth Day begins at home.

There are thousands if not millions of special places and wild creatures that are under attack from one environmental threat or another. And we should do all that we can to protect them. But if we focus only on them, we run the risk of thinking that doing right by the environment is someone else’s problem.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Introducing 5 Minutes in Nature

Sunset Over Olympic Mountains, Washington

For the past several months, I’ve been working on a project called Five Minutes in Nature. My plan was to introduce it to you now — the first full day of spring. But this is not how I planned to do it.

Five Minutes in Nature is about getting more people outdoors, appreciating the natural world five minutes at a time. The original idea was to help people get away from their screens.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Behind the scenes: Winter moose

Moose in Snow, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend for most people. It's a sign spring is near, so I figure I have only a few days left to share images from this past winter. I met this moose in early January in the northeastern portion of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. His pose and the snow-covered background make this one of my favorite images from that trip.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Speak up to save migratory birds

Western Sandpipers and Mount Rainier, Washington

The bird population in North America has plunged by nearly a third over the past 50 years. That’s a loss of nearly 3 billion birds. And that’s even with regulations designed to protect vulnerable birds.

The losses could soon grow even worse. The Trump Administration now wants to essentially eliminate one of those protections: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act. You have only until March 19 to speak up to try to save it.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Using their heads to survive winter

Three Bison in Snow, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

It seems crazy to spend the winter living on a mountaintop, but the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park do that every year. And they somehow manage to thrive. Life finds a way.

While I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited Yellowstone, I recently got a chance to make my first winter visit. I got the full experience. Nearly a foot of snow one night. Temperatures as cold as 9 below — Fahrenheit, not Celsius. And I developed a new respect for the animals that I’d photographed so many times before in less challenging weather conditions.