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regnaD kciN

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maple Valley, Washington
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 20,532

Journal Archives

2017: A Look Back

Time for my (almost) annual photo retrospective. For those of you who haven't seen one of these before, I always have two rules in building this collection:

1) One photo per month.
2) None of which has been shown on DU before.

The last point used to be difficult; this year, it's been simple, since I see I only posted to this group five times this past year (one of which was last year's belated retrospective).

It's safe to say that 2017 has been an odd and disquieting year. As the 2016 holiday season came to an end, with Inauguration Day looming on the horizon, I think it's obvious that I fell into a pretty deep depression, one which only intensified as news got worse and worse throughout the year. It clearly effected my photography was well. Ironically, it took yet another tragedy to snap me out of this pit.

January, as usual, is a pretty mediocre month for photography in the Pacific Northwest. In my case, the best I could find was this shot of high clouds on the edge of a storm.




February had me looking up again; this time, at a rare contrail from a rare A380 "superjumbo" as it passed over our house on the way from California to the Far East.




In March, I was at Pioneer Square when I took this shot of the bust of Chief Sealth.




April, as always, is the month for tulips in the Pacific Northwest...




...as is May for rhododendrons.




My image for June was a close-up "texture" study of ferns.




July, as always, found me at Lake Wilderness for the fireworks.




Now, I think anyone familiar with my work in previous years, looking at the choices up to this point, would conclude that something was awry. Virtually everything here was either a plant or flower close-up (at least one of which came from my own yard), or a snapshot that could have come from a camera phone. Indeed, between the horrors that were afflicting this country, plus my own advancing age, increasing sense of mortality, and decrease in activity level and capacity for physical exertion, I began to wonder if it was about time to hang it up. As it happens, the event which was to turn this around was fast approaching, but not for another month or so.

August was the month of the only total solar eclipse in my lifetime to cross the west coast. My son and I left home shortly after midnight, in a mad dash to beat the expected crowds on the freeway, and made it to Salem, Oregon, directly under the path of totality, just before dawn. (We then wound up surviving the very real crowds on the freeway leaving the site, in a trip back to Seattle that took over eight hours.) I very consciously chose to NOT bring my camera equipment, as I didn't want the pressure associated with manipulating gear and trying to capture the "perfect shot" to detract from the actual experience that might well be once-in-a-lifetime. Accordingly, when the moment of totality struck, I had only my smartphone, and it is a very-heavily-postprocessed iPhone shot which is my image for this month.




Less than two weeks after that trip, the incident that was to become a turning-point for me occurred: an arson-caused fire that destroyed much of the Columbia Gorge, one of my favorite places on earth. To say that I was devastated would be an understatement; for the first few days, I spent almost all my waking hours on social media, checking news stories and reports from friends in the area, trying to determine which, if any, well-loved locations might have survived, and fearing that the relentless advance of the flames might wipe those places away as well. I was in mourning for most of the month; however, as September drew to a close, I found that my depression was replaced by determination: if a place that I so treasured could be wiped out due to a teenager's recklessness and stupidity, I owed it to myself to not put off visiting other beautiful locales, either familiar or yet-unvisited, lest I find it too late for them as well. Plus, as I noted at the time, the best cure for the loss of a favorite beautiful place was to spend time at another, still-existing one.

The first fruits of this new resolve was my late September day-trip to Mount Rainier's Carbon River rainforest.




In October, the floodgates opened, as I spent every opportunity I could "on the road" to favorite autumn locales (and even discovering a new one close to home). If I wasn't keeping to the one-photo-per-month rule, I could probably include ten or more images here. However, I'll stick to this shot of Mount Shuksan and Picture Lake, taken a few hundred feet to the right of the viewpoint familiar from dozens of postcards and calendars, where an inlet provided a nice leading line to the mountain.




Of course, almost as soon as my enthusiasm was rekindled, November arrived, and with it the beginning of the long, gray, rainy northwest winter. Still, I was able to catch the last traces of autumn, most notably with this image of fallen leaves from ornamental maples in a rainstorm (titled Autumn's End).




December is usually the time for little more than shots of Christmas lights. However, mid-month, the Skyfire app I use predicted impressive sunset light on Mount Rainier. As seen in my first, admittedly-primitive attempt at photo-vlogging*, I wound up, not with sunset light, but with something even more unusual: a series of stacked lenticular clouds.




So, it's been a long, strange trip this year. With resolve renewed, onward to 2018!



*(Moved down here because I can't figure how to post a link to a YouTube page without getting a thumbnail instead)


Paradise...Lost

In my life, there are two places that have been special to me beyond all others. Places where I instantly found myself at peace, closest to nature.

Yosemite National Park is one of them.

The Columbia Gorge is the other.

I have visited the Gorge many, many times since I've been a member of DU. No doubt you have seen many of my photographs from there.

Last Saturday, a group of teenagers playing with firecrackers in a burn-zone area, during the hottest and driest stretch of the year, managed to set brush on fire in the Eagle Creek canyon, probably the most celebrated and scenic area of the Gorge. Driven by strong east winds, the fire spread rapidly; amazingly enough, in the course of three days, it had spread forty-six miles to the east, crossed the Columbia River to the Washington side, threatened the outskirts of Portland, possibly damaged the city's water supply, and, astonishingly, managed to torch the entire Oregon side of the Gorge. The place I loved so much lies in ashes, unlikely to return to its now-past glory for half-a-century or more.

Here are some of my images from my travels to the Gorge. With the possible exception of the last two, all are now essentially destroyed.

Latourell Falls







Shepperd's Dell Falls













Bridal Veil Falls










Wahkeena Falls







Lower Wahkeena Creek







Upper Wahkeena Creek







Fairy Falls







Multnomah Falls










Ponytail Falls




Horsetail Falls













Munra Falls




Wahclella Falls




Metlako Falls




Sorenson Creek




Punch Bowl Falls




Emerald Falls (possibly undamaged)




Gorton Creek (possibly undamaged)




At this point, my inclination, once the truth is known about the extent of the damage, is to remove these photographs from my website and never offer them publicly again. I wish to celebrate the beauty of nature as it is now, not as it used to be and is no more.


Water Falling Over Things, R.I.P. - A view lost to us

Nature can be majestic, indeed -- but that majesty can be found in destruction as well as creation.

These are photographs I took in 2014 of Oregon's Metlako Falls. Personally, this was one of my favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest. Coming off the famed Eagle Creek trail, you took a short spur downhill to a promontory at a bend in the creek; looking upstream from the narrow viewpoint, you could gaze into an impossibly-lush (particularly in late spring) canyon toward the spot in the mid-distance where Metlako plunged into a small pool. Adding to the wonder of that spot, there was often a trace of mist hovering about the fall.










Sometime in late December, in the midst of winter storms, a massive landslide hit the area. While the Eagle Creek trail itself survived, the Metlako viewpoint did not; it, and around a 300-400 foot stretch of the surrounding cliff, simply collapsed and fell into the canyon. The spur trail leading to it now stops abruptly about half-way there, at a hundred-foot-plus drop-off. The only view of Metlako left from the trail is downstream, partially obscured by the canyon walls, and blocked by tree limbs. Unless one rappels into the canyon itself (a very-dangerous maneuver which is way beyond my, or most hikers', skills), there is no other unobstructed view of the waterfall. Since it would be extraordinarily difficult and prohibitively expensive to build any sort of a stable viewing platform where the viewpoint once stood, it is likely that Metlako Falls will remain unviewable to hikers for years (or, more likely, decades if not centuries) to come.

Let this serve as a reminder to everyone: if there's a natural place you've always wanted to visit -- or photograph! -- do so as soon as possible. Otherwise, as we in the Pacific Northwest have just been reminded once again, you have no guarantee that spot will be there when you finally get around to making the trip.

2016 Year-in-Review (Belated)

Well, I normally put up a year-in-review thread on one of the last couple of days of the year. I planned to do the same this (well, last) year, and had everything selected and ready to go...but I couldn't get on DU. Thanks to the hacker attack of last November, I needed to revise my password...and the security e-mail from DU simply didn't arrive. It took me until 1/4 to actually get the system to reply to my request and send me that confirmation -- and, until then, I was unable to post, period. Since I already did all the selection work, I figured I might as well post something, even if it seems a bit pointless to do so now that New Year's Eve is long past.

As usual, I have two rules: 1) a photo per month, which 2) can't have appeared on DU before.

In January, shooting from the observation deck of the Columbia Tower, I got a different perspective on Seattle.




When my attempt to shoot Snoqualmie Falls at high-water came to nothing in February (thanks to way too much spray), I settled for a black-and-white study of rock and water.




Thanks to last winter's El Niņo, tulip season came unseasonably early, in late March rather than April. As usual, this shot was taken in the Skagit Flats.




Similarly, the rhododendrons of May bloomed in April, instead.




I have taken many photos of the city from Kerry Park (as has practically every other photographer who's ever set foot here), but I found this shot from May notable in the way Mount Rainier hovered ghost-like in the background.




I have taken many photographs of Snoqualmie Falls (and posted many here), but my visit in June was the first time for shooting the fall from its base.




July, of course, is a time for fireworks...and, sadly, possibly the last time I'll be able to attend the festivities while feeling truly proud to be an American.




In August, I took my only trip to Mount Rainier; as atmospheric conditions were not what I hoped for, I was only able to come away with this rather minimalist and abstract view of the mountain.




September's image came from early evening at the Des Moines (that's Washington, not Iowa) marina.




I already posted several images taken in October at Whatcom Falls; here's a vertical composition from the same trip.




November was hard. Very hard. Putting it simply, I had no real desire to go out and photograph nature. Aside from a couple of dispensable iPhone photos I took at the very end of the month, the only image I thought appropriate was a "studio" (i.e. computer desk) shot I took, several days after the election, to be used as a social-media avatar.




Since I began the year with a photo that included the Space Needle, it would only be appropriate for me to conclude the year in a similar manner, right? Of course, December's photograph isn't of the REAL Space Needle, but on the replica a neighbor built on his roof as a pičce de resistance for his usually-spectacular Christmas light display (which, this year, was featured on an ABC special about elaborate holiday lights).




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