Passions — a blog

Alliums on the Cover

My friends at The American Gardener magazine selected one of my photographs of ‘Purple Sensation’ ornamental onions for the cover of the September/October 2014 issue.


American Gardener Cover

The cover photograph was made in late May, 2010 at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I have two more Allium photos inside the magazine on pages 14 & 16, plus one of western poison ivy on page 25. I’ve been contributing to The American Gardener since 1997. Thank you, David Ellis and Mary Yee, for continuing to choose my photography for the magazine.

No Cougars on the Divide, Just Autumn Brilliance

Sitka Mountain Ash and Cascade Blueberries

Sitka Mountain Ash and Cascade Blueberries with drifting mist

Last Saturday I made time to get out into the mountains for one of the few day hikes I’ve done all year. I went with my friends Rick Dubrow and Cindi Landreth, who were also responsible for the design and construction of my studio remodel. They own Adaptations and A-1 Builders.

Rick & Cindi

Rick Dubrow & Cindi Landreth among giant Mountain Hemlocks on the Cougar Divide trail.

We picked Cougar Divide as our destination. The road takes you to nearly 5000′ so there’s little climbing to get to subalpine ridges, meadows, and forest. It’s a long rocky ridge that leads south toward Mount Baker. The trail is an unofficial boot track that enters the Mount Baker Wilderness just a few hundred yards from the parking area. In mid-summer Cougar Divide is known for dense swarms of mosquitoes, but in the rain of early October there were none of the nasty pests buzzing about.

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Spiraling Up

Matt holds spiral staircase pole in position

Matt holds spiral staircase pole in position

One of the very cool features of my new studio is the spiral staircase that connects the camera room with the offices upstairs.

Back in early July Mike Gill and Matt from A-1 Construction puzzled through the instructions and assembled it. This was the first spiral they’d built, and like everything done for the first time it took a little figuring to get it right.

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Everybody’s a photographer

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These days, nearly everybody carries a camera with them everywhere all the time. Everybody’s a photographer. But not everybody is a “Capital P” Photographer.

In the Arb

In the Arb, a roadside view in Bellingham’s Sehome Hill Arboretum.

I read A Photo Editor, a photography blog, from time to time and today I came across a block of text in the sidebar that intrigued me so I clicked through to the source. It was an interview with Aaron Schuman, an American photographer, writer, editor, and curator who curated Krakow Photomonth. Continue reading

Portrait Garden in Mid-Summer

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Turner Photographics portrait garden

Turner Photographics portrait garden, as seen from our second-story bedroom window.

I spent several hours on this overcast Sunday at the end of the long Fourth of July weekend photographing our garden at its mid-summer peak.

Natalie and I have been enjoying watching the garden unfold with the seasons. It’s our first year at our Wynn Road home, and the garden was established by previous owners. We’re told that everyone who has lived here since the early 1960s has been an avid gardener. There’s evidence of long-term gardening.

We’ll certainly make changes and additions in the coming years, but for now we’re mostly just doing a little editing and enjoying what we find. Some of the perennials are assertive and are crowding other plants, so there’s going to be some shovel pruning in our future.

For now, come along and enjoy our garden with us in this video slideshow. It runs about 6 1/2 minutes. Click the Full Screen icon in the lower right corner for best viewing enjoyment.

If you’d like to visit in person, give us a call to arrange a time.

Oak and Stucco

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Studio exterior

Outside of the studio with the final coat of stucco and a big pile of flooring boxes out front.

Monday, June 30

It’s been a busy day at the studio, with a big crew from Morris Floors and Interiors working all day to install the oak flooring and Mark Sager from Sager’s Stucco and Plastering applying the finishing texture coat of stucco on the outside walls.

Since I don’t work in construction, it’s always fascinating to see the specialized tools that various tradesmen use in their jobs. Continue reading

Light and Color

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Camera room after painting

Camera room after painting, with boxes of oak flooring stacked in center. The walls are neutral gray so reflected light won’t add color casts to photos made in the space.

Saturday, June 28

The inside of the studio is starting to look like finished space. It’s amazing what the application of a few gallons of paint will do. Natalie and I spent four days last weekend painting the interior walls. We applied seven gallons of primer, let it dry overnight, and then rolled on the top coat. I spent a lot of time going up and down a stepladder and the scaffolding in the high-ceiling part of the camera room. To reach the highest points I had to place a two-foot platform on top of the highest scaffold platform. It was pretty secure, but still took a while for me to gain confidence to stand up there with nothing to hold onto and a paintbrush or roller in my hand. To top it off, I was painting white on white in poor light so it was hard to see where I’d been and where I still needed to paint. And since heat rises, it was hot up there. Continue reading

Smooth Stuff

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Tyson smooths joint compound around ceiling light fixture

Tyson smooths joint compound around ceiling light fixture in the camera room.

Tuesday, June 17

The big job in the last week has been finishing the drywall work. Once the A-1 Builders crew had all the pieces in place they brought in a specialist to finish all the joints. Tyson worked several days to get the walls and ceiling nice and smooth. First, a layer of “hot mud” to fill all the big cracks and joints. Then he taped the seams, with another layer of mud (a.k.a. joint compound). A little light sanding. Then another layer of mud. Then a little more light sanding. Each layer had to dry overnight, so they brought in an electric furnace and lots of fans to move the drying process along.

By this morning the drywall work was nearly done. The photo above shows some of the last work, finishing the edges around one of the recessed ceiling light boxes. Those boxes will ultimately have fluorescent fixtures that will be the work lights in the camera room. They’re built so the plexiglass lens will be essentially flush with the ceiling. Continue reading

Shaping Up

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Matt screws ceiling drywall panel into place

Matt screws a ceiling sheetrock panel into place in the camera room. Notice the plywood blocking along the walls to hang background rollers and track for muslin backdrops.

Tuesday, June 10

The studio is starting to look like it has real rooms, with walls and ceilings. It’s a far cry from what we started with back in April.

We passed the electrical, plumbing, and framing inspections and then the insulation crew came in and did their thing. They placed thick fiberglass batts between the studs on the first floor and in parts of the attic. Where they couldn’t reach to place batts, they drilled holes and blew in cellulose insulation, packing the second story wall cavities. I’m not sure what the actual R-values are for all the spaces, but we’ve put in as much insulation as will fit and the county building inspector approved the work when it was done. Continue reading