Passions — a blog

Northern Lights and the Night Sky

Northern Lights

I was blessed to witness a brief display of the northern lights last night. I was at Artist Point, the end of the road above the Mt. Baker Ski Area, photographing a high school senior portrait. We finished the session in the twilight and after putting my lighting gear in my truck I returned to the viewpoint for Mt. Baker and began photographing the stars in the night sky.

A little later Derek, who was also photographing the sky, and his mom called to me that the northern lights had appeared over the mountains to the north. I turned to see the eerie green glow I captured in the photo above. The display only lasted about 15 minutes before fading away. Continue reading

First Baby

Posted on by
Jaina, Chris, & Winslow Gemin. Bellingham, WA.  © 2015 Mark Turner

There’s something very special about a first baby. After months of anticipation, a new life comes into your family. There’s no owner’s manual to tell you what to do, but somehow you figure it all out with the help of family and friends. All is future and hope and innocence.

Not long ago Jaina and Chris brought their new daughter, Winslow, to the studio for a portrait session. With little ones like this there are inevitable pauses to change a diaper or for mom to give a snack. The baby sets the schedule, not the photographer.

Jaina, Chris, & Winslow Gemin. Bellingham, WA.  © 2015 Mark Turner

It’s easy to forget how small new human beings are when they come into the world. They fit on an arm, not much larger than a football. Tiny feet nestle in mom and dad’s hands. Will they someday carry her to the top of a mountain, to corporate stardom, to the White House?

Jaina, Chris, & Winslow Gemin. Bellingham, WA.  © 2015 Mark Turner

One of Winslow’s grandmothers crocheted the dress Jaina and Chris chose for her portrait session. She won’t be able to wear it for many occasions before she outgrows it. I expect her parents will save it and share it with her when she’s old enough to appreciate it. Right now she doesn’t know anything about grandmothers or crocheting or the love that went into that dress.

Jaina, Chris, & Winslow Gemin. Bellingham, WA.  © 2015 Mark Turner

My job during a portrait session like this is to make the studio comfortable, craft the lighting, and then know when to capture the magic that is a mother’s love for her new baby. Dad’s love, too.

Jaina, Chris, & Winslow Gemin. Bellingham, WA.  © 2015 Mark Turner

Winslow’s other grandmother gave her the tutu. I posed her on a New Zealand sheepskin that my mother gave us when our boys were very small.

I don’t photograph a lot of new babies, but there’s something very special and almost reverent about the experience. Like anything involving infants, it requires a certain kind of patience. That’s something I seem to be pretty good at.

Thank you, Jaina and Chris, for sharing Winslow with me.

Sunset in Our Meadow

Posted on by
Tufted Hairgrass, Meadow Barley
Tufted Hairgrass and Meadow Barley with Sicklekeel Lupines

Last summer we planted a native seed mix instead of a traditional lawn in front of the studio. It has a bit of a wild look, and now that the grasses and lupines are coming into bloom I think it’s becoming very attractive. The seed mix is called Coastal Grasslands and came from Sunmark Seeds in Oregon.

When I stepped out of the office at sunset last night I was immediately struck by how nice the grasses and lupines looked in the late afternoon light. I ran back inside and grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens and went to work in the few minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon. Continue reading

Vendovi Island Forest

Posted on by
Harsh Paintbrush and Oregon Sunshine
Harsh Paintbrush and Oregon Sunshine at Paintbrush Point on Vendovi Island.

Last Saturday I joined a boatload (literally) of Washington Native Plant Society friends for a field trip to Vendovi Island. It’s one of the smaller of the San Juan Islands, located a few miles south of the southern tip of Lummi Island and northeast of Guemes Island. Up until 2010 it was privately held. Then the San Juan Preservation Trust purchased it and has opened it to the public from May through September.

We’d hoped to enjoy spectacular meadows of wildflowers on a couple of west-facing balds, but with our very warm and early spring the flowers were well past their prime. There was still a little camas blooming, and quite a bit of harsh paintbrush, Oregon sunshine, and death camas. Continue reading

Waterfall Fix

Posted on by
Latourell Falls
Latourell Falls, photographed from the parking lot viewpoint.

Like a lot of photographers, I’m addicted to waterfalls. I don’t photograph them a lot because I haven’t figured out how to make money from them — too many great photos and not enough buyers. But I was down to Vancouver, Washington at the end of March for the annual Professional Photographers of Washington conference and had a morning free so I headed up the Columbia Gorge for a waterfall fix. Continue reading

Red-flowering Currant

Red-flowering Currant against wooden fence
Red-flowering Currant against wooden fence in Annie & Bob’s backyard

A few days ago my friend Annie called to say her red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) was about to burst into full bloom, inviting me to swing by and photograph it. She has a couple of nice shrubs against the fence in her backyard and when I visited on March 16 one of the two was in full bloom. Continue reading

I Love Photographing Homes

I opened my copy of the Bellingham Herald this morning (yes, we still get the newspaper delivered daily) and saw another of the homes I photographed on the front of the real estate insert.

Northwest Homes March 12, 2015

Michelle Harrington, the listing agent at Windermere in Fairhaven, is a delightful go-getter who has been one of my clients for real estate photography for about a year.

Real estate photography is a service I added to my business late in 2013 when Kena Brashear, the realtor in my BNI networking group, asked me if I photographed homes. Kena knew me primarily as a portrait photographer — I photographed her family and her business portrait. I photographed a high-end country home for Kena, she loved how I approached the job and the final results, and we’ve been working together ever since. She connected me to Michelle, who referred me to several other agents in her office. Real estate, like many other businesses, really is built on personal connections. Continue reading

Foraging for Fungi

Red-cap Bolete [Leccinum aurantiacum]
Red-cap Bolete [Leccinum aurantiacum]

I spent a couple of very enjoyable days with family foraging for mushrooms near The Mountaineers Meany Lodge just east of Snoqualmie Pass. My son Zach and his fiance Kristina invited us and her parents to join them at the annual mushroom weekend at Meany. It’s something I’ve done several times in the past, mostly in the 1990s and it had been some 10 years since I last participated.

Continue reading

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.