Spring has to be my favorite time of the year. We put the cold, snow, wind, and heavy rains behind us and welcome the return of green plants all around us.
Here in our little corner of paradise we’re blessed with a massive carpet of our native bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) on large expanses of our woodland floor. I’ve been checking on the emergence of the foliage and flower buds for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday I found the first almost-open flowers, which means than within a week or so we’ll have a glorious flower show. Continue reading →
I have a lot of respect for mountain hemlocks (Tsuga mertensiana).
They’re tough, living at high elevation in the mountains where they get hammered with wave after wave of winter storms. Young trees may get buried completely by snow, hidden for months by a deep white blanket. Old trees take on a grizzled appearance, encrusted by rime ice after nearly every storm.
If you ski at any of Washington’s west-side ski areas you’ve seen mountain hemlocks, together with subalpine firs. You can easily recognize younger hemlocks by the characteristic nodding top, bent over whether under snow or not. Old trees may have their tops broken off. When you stop to catch your breath at the side of a ski run, look for the furrowed brown bark of the hemlock, in contrast to the smoother silvery bark of the firs. Upon even closer examination, notice that the hemlock needles are short, just a half-inch or so long, and arranged all around the twigs, with a somewhat ragged appearance. Continue reading →
Chances are you’re going on a vacation somewhere this summer and you’re going to take a whole bunch of pictures. You’re going to want to savor those memories in the years to come. That means you need to caption your photos and file them where you can find them again. I wrote about digital filing systems back in November 2011 when I wrote “Where’s My Stuff?” This month I’ll address captioning.
My mother was a captioning queen. She was super organized and diligent about writing names, dates, and locations on the margins or back of prints or on the edges of slide mounts. My dad, who taught me the basics of photography, was also pretty good about captioning his pictures. I’ve also been diligent about captioning my photos, since if I can’t find it I can’t sell it. Continue reading →
“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” That’s a saying I learned on the playground many years ago. Unfortunately, just saying it doesn’t make it so. There are times when I’m out on a photo trip and it rains. What to do? Pack up and go home, wait for the rain to stop, or pull out the camera protection and keep working? If I’ve traveled a long way to photograph interesting plants I usually just tough it out and keep working. Here’s how I keep my equipment (mostly) dry so I don’t end up with an expensive repair bill. Continue reading →
Western Serviceberry, also known as Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), is a widespread shrub or small tree that’s found in almost every county in the Pacific Northwest. It blooms in April and early May, depending on elevation and temperature. As I write this on April 29 it’s in bloom right now on both sides of the mountains in Washington and Oregon. Continue reading →
Among the first small trees or large shrubs to bloom in western Washington, Oregon, northern California, and British Columbia are the hazelnuts, Corylus avellana (common filbert or European hazelnut) and Corylus cornuta (beaked hazelnut). To the untrained eye these two can be difficult to distinguish.
The way light plays across a subject can dramatically change your perception of it. Does your garden appear flat and one-dimensional or richly layered? Does texture appear or disappear in the sand on the beach? Are facial contours accented or hidden? Consider two aspects of light: the size of the source in relation to the subject and the direction from which the light strikes it. This month I’ll discuss how the size of a light source affects its quality. Next time I’ll cover the effect light direction has on revealing shape and texture. Continue reading →
Light is the stuff from which pictures are made. Light has color. Light has shape. Light brings the world to life.
So often a snapshooter is concerned only about capturing a fleeting moment. The subject is everything. There’s certainly a lot of value in catching the crack of bat against baseball, the warm embrace of grandmother and grandson, or your triathlete husband crossing the finish line. Those are memories to cherish and your photos help preserve them whether the lighting adds to or detracts from the subject. Continue reading →