Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve

Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock forest w/ Sword Fern understory
Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock forest with Sword Fern understory

Last Saturday morning Brian and I decided to explore the new trail system on the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve overlooking Lake Whatcom near Sudden Valley. I’d never hiked there, and Brian hadn’t been there for a long time.

The trail system is newly expanded, thanks to the work of Washington Trails Association. The property is a Whatcom County Park, made possible in part by the efforts of the Whatcom Land Trust. It’s part of what’s known to some as the “reconveyance,” which put large tracts of forest into county ownership to provide both recreation and protection for the Lake Whatcom Watershed. We were there to recreate. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Snow-crusted Mountain Hemlocks overlooking Swift Creek valley
View from Artist Ridge to the Swift Creek valley and Baker Lake

I’ve long felt that what I choose to do on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the year to come.

This year Brian and I checked the weather forecast the decided it would be a great day for a snowshoe hike up to Artist Point. I’ve been going up there every winter since 1990-1991 and I never get tired of it. As Brian reminded me yesterday while we were hiking, it’s different every time. Continue reading

Color My Fall

Vine Maples and Thimbleberries
Vine maples and thimbleberries near Leavenworth, Washington

We’re in that glorious transition time, the period between summer’s greens and winter’s soft palette of browns and grays. As the days grow shorter and fog blankets the ground on many mornings, a lot of us like to get out and celebrate the turning of the leaves. Fall color is all around us now in varying degrees. Where do you like to go to enjoy the show?

While New England and Appalachia can rightly claim the best fall color on the continent, we Pacific Northwesterners can enjoy brilliant autumn hues without making the long journey across the continent. Continue reading

Sheep Lake & Sourdough Gap Wildflowers

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This past weekend, July 20-22, 2018, I hiked up to Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap with a bunch of friends on the Washington Native Plant Society annual backpack. It’s a short hike to the lake, just an easy 1.8 miles from the trailhead at Chinook Pass. Go for the flowers, not solitude, as it’s a popular place. My impression was that the flowers were a bit pre-peak, but still lots of things in full bloom. We checked plants off a list of some 170 species, although we didn’t find all of them.

This video slideshow features some of my favorite images from the trip. These were photographed with my Canon 5D Mark III, a Canon 100mm macro lens, a 16-35mm wide-angle lens, and a 24-105mm lens. It’s a short hike, so I carried a lot of gear.

Getting to Family Portrait Joy

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Family portrait

I love sharing happy moments with my clients when they see their finished portraits for the first time. A few days ago I met with Karen to help her choose the appropriate frame for this portrait I made of her family in their back yard earlier this year. It has a lot of meaning to her, incorporating her kids, grandkids, and the 1947 Buick that had been her late husband’s pride and joy and will be passed down to her son. She was nearly overcome with joy when she saw the finished portrait with all the retouching and finishing work complete. I’ll deliver it to her home and put it on the wall for her when framing is done.

But let’s go back to the beginning. Continue reading

2018 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

If it’s February, it must be time for the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival (NWFGS) in Seattle. This year is the show’s 30th anniversary and the theme for the display gardens is “It’s a Garden Party.” The video slideshow runs about 13 minutes. Relax and enjoy.

Cake and Cheers for 30 Years
Cake and Cheers for 30 Years

I’ve been attending the NWFGS for nearly 20 years. It’s always a treat to see what the garden designers come up with. There’s color, fragrance, cool plants, water, texture, and structures — all coming together to pleasure your senses. Continue reading

A Softer Kind of Portrait

Brian Mattioli portrait
Brian, soft portrait

Photography styles change over time. Currently we’re in a period of chasing ever-higher resolution and greater sharpness in photography. Many photographers capture large numbers of images during a portrait session since there’s no incremental cost (other than time and energy) with digital imaging.

But there’s another way, one that harkens back to the turn of the twentieth century. I’m starting to experiment with a slower process, with an old-fashioned lens, and fewer clicks of the shutter. The result is a more meditative and contemplative portrait with a softer look. I’m processing these images to black and white or sepia tones, in keeping with the technology of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading