Visting with Santa: Friday Edition

Each year since 2009 I’ve spent the first weekend of December photographing kids as they visit with Santa at Bellingham’s Holiday Port Festival, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven. We see quite a few children come back year after year. It’s fun to watch them grow up, and to share their wishes with Santa.

This video slideshow is of the kids who visited Santa on Friday evening, December 6, 2013.

Into the Woods

Sunday morning Natalie said, “let’s go for a walk in the woods” and I suggested we hike the loop trail at the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve near Lake Whatcom. It’s an easy 3-mile loop through nice old- and second-growth forest, perfect for a quick getaway on a morning when light rain threatened.

Beaver pond wetland

Beaver pond wetland

Just a tenth of a mile up the trail there’s a viewpoint to a large beaver-built wetland. This is the view from the trail, with the wetland framed by western redcedars, Douglas-firs, and red huckleberries. The wetland plants are still brown, not yet having started their spring growth in the cold water.

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Chuckanut Spring

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A few days ago I had a little time to kill between appointments in Fairhaven so I headed down to the North Chuckanut trailhead for Bellingham’s Interurban Trail to see what I could find. It was a glorious warm and sunny spring day, somewhat uncommon for late March around here. I didn’t have a lot of time so I didn’t hike far with my camera and tripod slung over my shoulder.

1300151 Unnamed waterfall along Interurban Trail. Interurban Trail, Bellingham, WA. © Mark Turner
Waterfall along Interurban Trail
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Fragrance Forest Panoramas

I continue to be drawn to Chuckanut Mountain trails for my winter hikes. Last weekend I headed up the Fragrance Lake Trail from Larrabee State Park. There’s a lookout over the bay just over a mile from the trailhead and Fragrance Lake itself is only about 2.2 miles with less than 1000 feet of elevation gain. I carried my Canon G12 pocket camera and a small tripod. Continue reading

Assignment: Bricks

Brick wall, Pacific Chef building

A couple of weeks ago I ended up with an hour or so to wander around Fairhaven, where my studio is located, when a client failed to show up for an appointment.

I gave myself the assignment to photograph bricks. I ended up straying a bit from the theme and included a few other textures, but with all the brick in this old commercial neighborhood I was able to keep myself busy and come up with some interesting views of the subject. Continue reading

Fairhaven Girls Night Out

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The Old Fairhaven Association, the business group for the neighborhood where my studio is located, hosts an annual Girls Night Out fundraising event each May. The money goes to the St. Joseph Hospital Cancer Research Center, part of our local hospital. There’s a small parade late in the afternoon, then a fun-filled evening of entertainment in the Fairhaven Pub & Martini Bar with a fashion show, comedy, and a bachelor auction.

Here’s a video slideshow with highlights from the 2011 event, held on May 12:

Prior to the event most of the bachelors came into my studio for a portrait to help promote the auction. The gals who won the bidding on each of these guys are going to have a great time on their dates. They’re all relaxed, easy-going, and ready with a smile.

I enjoyed the challenge of photographing the event, which is so very different from the more deliberate kind of photography I do most of the time. I shot with my Canon 5D Mark II at ISO 1600 with an on-camera fill flash with a small modifyier to soften the light. A little quick adjustment work in Lightroom, and then the slideshow was created in Animoto.

A Walk on the Gray Side

Natalie and I headed out to Lake Padden for a walk around the loop trail this afternoon. The rain had stopped before we left the house, but the sky had that leaden tone so common to winter days in the northwest.

The forest along the back side of the lake was lush and verdant. Conifers, Oregon-grape, salal, and ferns glistened with moisture. Mosses and lichens reveled in the life-giving rain.

And on the sunny side ducks swam, oblivious to the color of the sky or the temperature of the water.

Red Alder branch reflected in lake surface

All along the shore the red alders, Alnus rubra, leaned out over the water. Dangling catkins, waiting expectantly for the warmth to come within just a few weeks. For now they’re sealed up tight, clasping their pollen until it’s time to release it to the wind and the sticky female flowers on an adjacent tree.

Reflected here, a branch bowing low to the surface of the lake.

Mallards and Coots on lawn

Nearly tame, Mallards and Coots feed on cast-off breadcrumbs tossed from the path by a human couple luring them close to their lens. They dance forward with each underhand throw, racing backward with unhealthy morsels. Repeating until the bag is empty.

Our jaunt complete, we experienced a little exercise on a drab day brightened by fresh air, earthy aromas, textured forest, and avian adventurers.

Back in the warmth of my office I processed these images from my Canon G12 in Adobe Lightroom and tossed them up to the web for you. It’s not yet spring, but not really winter either. Something of a nether season. As a passing walker said today, “Hiking season will be here soon.” Maybe it never left.

Come Hither, Sexy

Common Filbert female blossomWhen you’re tiny and looking to get pollinated this early in the season you’ve gotta put on a show. At least that’s one way to look at this Common Filbert, Corylus avellana, blossom. All that feathery red stuff is part of the female flower. Dangling in the background are the long male catkins which soon will be releasing drifts of pollen to be carried across the void.

You can see other bits of red, more female blossoms, on other twigs here. That big fat bud at the base of the flower is actually the ovary. It’s going to turn into a tasty nut, fine food for a squirrel or human, later in the season.

Common Filbert is one of the first trees or shrubs to bloom around here. It’s actually an escapee from cultivation. Our native species, Beaked Hazelnut or Corylus cornuta, won’t start blooming until March. The two species look very much alike when they’re in flower. Actually, they’re hard to tell apart any time except when they’re in fruit. And then you have to beat the squirrels to them.

Common Filbert male catkinsHere are the male flowers on the same plant. Each dangling catkin has many individual blossoms. Last year’s foliage is still on some of the branches, weathered to a nice shade of brown.

These photos were made this morning along the Whatcom Creek Trail in downtown Bellingham between Grand and Dupont. The trail has lots of nice native trees and shrubs, mostly planted in a restoration project about ten years ago. I also noticed swelling buds on the Indian Plum, another plant that blooms very early. But it’s going to be at least another week and maybe two before its flowers start to open.

I walk this route frequently on my way to the Post Office or other downtown errands. Today I just headed out to clear my head, carrying my Canon G12 in my pocket. I shot in the cold fog with natural light and used macro mode and manual focus to get close and keep my subject sharp. The trick was to set the focus as close as possible and then move the camera back and forth until the blossoms were sharp. Like most pocket cameras, the macro mode works best when the zoom is at its widest setting. That means camera position is critical to keep distracting elements out of the background.

My photographer friend David Perry blogged about Tiny, magenta girl-flowers about a year ago. Check out his take on sexy Corylus.

Shining Oregon-grape blossoms

Oregon-grape is another shrub that can start blooming very early, although not all specimens are as early as this one along the same trail. In our back yard it will be at least a month before the Oregon-grape begins to blossom.

What have you seen blooming? My friend Janet Loughrey posted a series from Portland yesterday on her Facebook that included Crocus naturalized in a lawn. Some of my native plant society colleagues down in Oregon have been reporting first blooms of Grass Widows and Salt-and-Pepper Lomatium in the Columbia Gorge.

Falling for Fairhaven Fun


Gotta catch me a cab and head down to old Fairhaven town for a little Halloween fun.

People watching from Tony's window

Maybe I’ll grab a cup of Tony’s coffee and sit in the window watching all the fairies and goblins stroll by.

Am I a witch?

This holiday isn’t just for kids any more. Even older folks get into the spirit of dressing up, painting faces, and assuming an alter-ego for a day.

Trick-or-treaters cross Harris Avenue.Loot bag? Check.

Best friend? Check.

Costume? Check.

A ride to Fairhaven from mom? Check.

Halloween trick-or-treating in Fairhaven Sunday afternoon was a mob scene with sidewalks crowded with hundreds of happy haunters. Check out more photos in the Fairhaven Halloween Gallery.

I felt a bit out of place wandering the streets with a camera but no costume. OK, so I was wearing clothes, but nothing special for the holiday. I hope you all had fun. I know I did.

Birchwood August Garden Tour

Wow, where is the summer going? It seems like just yesterday that I joined with dozens of other Birchwood Garden Club members to visit three more unique and interesting Bellingham gardens on a warm summer evening in the golden sunset light. It’s actually been a couple of weeks, August 4 to be precise.

First up was Jennifer Wall’s garden, which is actually in the Birchwood neighborhood. She purchased the home, with an existing garden, a couple of years ago and has been on a journey of discovery to see what was there. Now she’s adding her own personal touches and style to the place. People were oohing and aahing over her plant choices and asking lots of “what’s this?” questions.

Then we caravaned down Chuckanut Drive to the edge of Mud Bay where we enjoyed Donna and Allen Buehler’s waterside garden and the view out over the bay at high tide. Lots of containers here, and outdoor entertaining spaces.

Finally, a few miles further down Chuckanut to a garden that backs up to Larrabee State Park. The Susan and Landry Corkery garden features an extensive collection of trees that blend with the native vegetation. Myriad paths twist, turn, and invite getting lost among the foliage. The Corkerys say they have 66 varieties of Maples, 50 Japanese Maples, 23 Magnolias, 8 Pines, 7 Oaks, and 275 Rhododendrons.

As usual on a garden tour, I just carried a pocket camera. This time is was my Canon S70, which provides more control and choices than the iPhone I carried on the July Birchwood tour. All of the images in the slideshow were processed through Adobe Lightroom and the show itself was produced in Animoto.