Friday, December 31, 2010

Photo of the Day: Tristen

Tristen, originally uploaded by the light is all.
In early October, I had an opportunity to spend an evening in Seattle practicing portrait photography in a studio, with real studio lighting and a local model. I had taken a class, just a few weeks before, from another Seattle studio, in which I learned the basics of how studio lighting worked, how to adjust it, and how to meter for it, so I was eager to put those lessons to practical application. This particular session was to be with Tristen, who was 37 weeks pregnant with her first son, Finnigan, and was to be a session of fine art nudes.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time at all knows that I love portraits of pregnancy. There's a poignancy about them that resonates with me; perhaps it's the whole "mystery of life" thing, blah blah blah, or maybe it reminds me of the feelings of wonder I felt when Kelli was pregnant with our own two sons. I also think that there are just a lot of elemental emotions associated with pregnancy that are compelling to witness in the faces of the women involved. There is a sense of mystery, but also, variously, pride, wonder, expectation, fear, and often all of these and more all wrapped up in one. I also love the way light looks on the rounded shape of a woman's figure.

In my opinion, a nude portrait accomplishes many of these same things. There's something fundamental about an image where the human body is the subject without the distractions of clothing and fashion. Clothing is never just clothing--it carries a great deal of symbolism along with it, representing simplicity, poverty, wealth, status, comfort, visual resonance or discord with other items in the frame of the photo, so many different things. These can enhance the effect of a portrait. But nudity, too, is a symbolic costume, one that carries meanings of humanity, simplicity, freedom, vulnerability, and many others as well as sensuality. In an image like this one, it can, in my opinion, help the photograph to transcend its place in time, to become not just a specific portrait of a specific woman but a universal representation of all women, of all pregnancies.

And yet, the face, included in the portrait, and the intricate tattoo on Tristen's arm, also make this photograph personal and intimate. The look on her face is relates her own experience, and it's a wonderfully ambiguous expression that makes you wonder what, exactly, that experience might be.

Tristen, originally uploaded by the light is all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: Perri Diddle

Perri Diddle, originally uploaded by WP Photos.
I met WP at a photo practice session in Seattle a while back, and was impressed by his creativity in posing photographs. I came upon him by accident in Flickr and immediately recognized his work. Along with creative staging, he's also really good at using the studio lighting to good effect, and, in the case of this model in particular, getting fantastic portraits that capture both the beauty of his subject and the humanity in her eyes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: Capitol at Night

Capitol at Night, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
In April 2008, Kelli and I traveled together to Washington, D.C., where I represented Mount Rainier National Park in receiving a Cooperative Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior for our work on flood recovery efforts at the park. My wife and I went for a walk on the Mall at dusk, and found ourselves at the Washington Monument looking toward the Capitol Building. It was breezy, but the night was beautiful; I took this photo with my camera propped on a bench as an impromptu tripod.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Photo of the Day: Autumn Leaves: a perfect web

Of all the photos I took of autumn leaves shining with the glow of afternoon light that afternoon in mid October, outside my office at Mount Rainier National Park, this one is my favorite. Not only is the leaf itself gorgeous, the backlighting highlighting its beautiful yellow and orange color, but it also has a perfect cobweb between the arms of the leaf (and a second one a little higher up as well), which catches the light against the shadowed backdrop. A perfect photo on an equally perfect fall day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: Susie (regard)

Susie (regard) by Pascal Renoux

Of all the photographers I've come across on Flickr, none has resonated with my on artistic sensibilities as much as Pascal Renoux. I flagged fully 47 photos as possible examples of photos I loved out of his collection of 464 photos, fully 10% of the total! I strongly encourage you to check out his complete collection. Along with this photo that I finally settled on as representative of the whole, I was tempted by Lizzie and Monsieur Clem, along with quite a few of his fine art images. I chose this one because the lighting is perfect--getting that just right in a black and white image isn't easy; the composition is perfect (I love the depth of field); and the model is both beautiful and unconventional, both in her impish pose and her real-life, non-glamour-model hairy arms. That ability to capture both beauty and humanity in a photographic portrait is what I aspire to.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: Blue

If you have never visited Crater Lake on a clear, sunny day, then you have no concept of the true definition of blue. Photographs don't do it justice, though images like this one clome close. People will ask what filter you used, what trick of photoshop, but really, it comes down to physics. When the full spectrum of light passes through pure water, it absorbs all the colors of the rainbow, one by one, except for blue (and a few wavelengths of ultraviolet). Blue, rather than being absorbed, resonates with the particular structure of a water molecule, and like the vibration of a damp finger on the edge of a crystal wine glass, the molecule produces in response a clear, pure note of retransmitted blue light. And thus Crater Lake is not just blue in the normal sense, but radiates its own internal light, a luminescence impossible to capture on film. You have to see it to believe it.

Blue, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Photo of the Day: Autumn Leaves: blue sky

Autumn Leaves: blue sky, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
October 12, 2010 was SUCH a beautiful fall day at Longmire in Mount Rainier National Park! The light shining through the vine maple leaves outside my office was just gorgeous, so I spent about half an hour at the end of my work day snapping a few dozen photos, looking for just the right angles to capture the beautiful colors against the background of a blue sky. This is one of my favorites. Here's another:

IMG_3461_1, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: " Golden Colors "

" Golden Colors " by Vincent Wo
As I've said before, I really appreciate a photographer who can take both landscape and portrait photographs well. Vincent Wo is one of those gifted artists. He has some really nice people pictures--this sensitive pregnancy portrait is one of my favorites--but I couldn't resist showing this beautiful autumn shot. The tree is golden, the leaves on the ground are golden, the dog is golden, even the light is golden. It's one of those images where you can imagine Wo walking across the park thinking, wow, the light's great, I ought to consider photographing that beautiful tree, and then the dog walks into the picture and it all just comes together into a perfectly composed serendipitous moment of pure gold.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: Eva in the rain

Eva in the rain, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
In May of 2008, the volunteer program at Mount Rainier National Park won the George Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award was presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and along with the park Superintendent and myself, we got to bring along two volunteers to represent our program. We brought George Coulbourn and Eva Meassick. One of our perks was a guided tour of a selection of the monuments on the National Mall, and though the day started out with decent weather, by the time we got to the FDR Memoral it was pouring down rain. At one point I looked over and saw Eva standing slightly apart, and the look on her face compelled me to snap a picture. I love this shot because, unlike so many others, it's impossible to know what's going on in Eva's mind. She's not smiling for the camera, it's a completely candid moment, her thoughts lost in the rain.

What do you think: is the effect enhanced by black and white?

Eva black and white, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Photo of the Day: Autumn Leaves: palette in shadow

This October, the autumn colors were simply stunning outside my office in Mount Rainier National Park. One day in mid-month I stepped out on an errand and noticed how beautiful the vine maple leaves were, translucent with the afternoon light shining through them, and dashed back to my car for my camera. For these I used a prime lens and shot raw for the sharpest possible focus and color reproduction. I like this photo because, while it's not as bright and saturated with color as some of the others, it's a beautiful palette of autumn colors in both the leaves and the background.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: 65-365 My thoughts

65-365 My thoughts, originally uploaded by iryna_beata.
Flickr's "365 Days" challenge inspires some really fantastic photography. The goal: take a self-portrait every day for 365 straight days. Iryna Beata, pictured here, has in my opinion done a great job with this challenge. Some of her photos, like this one, are truly stunning pieces of art; I love the symmetry, the strong lines, the interesting composition and contrast between the smooth skin, textured hair, and cracked wall. Other photos I like include classic but tasteful fine art; expressively creative; and, my second most favorite photo, just simply beautiful:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: David at Watchman Lookout

Crater Lake in the background, my son at age two in the foreground at Watchman Lookout... how can this not be one of my favorite photos?

As a (theoretically) more sophisticated photographer today, ten years later, I can see that this is a very simple photograph. Find a good point of view, use a wide enough angle and small enough aperture to capture both foreground and background, make sure the horizon is level but the foreground line isn't... it's completely unsophisticated. But it's still a lovely shot that captures a lot of good memories.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photo of the Day: Drift Creek Falls Panorama

In the Siuslaw National Forest southeast of Lincoln City, Oregon is Drift Creek Falls, a popular hiking destination. The Forest Service, about ten years ago, built a suspension bridge over the gorge just above the falls, providing a fantastic aerial view in addition to the view at the bottom of the trail. Sometime early in 2010, with no one around to witness it, a massive slab of rock peeled off of the cliff wall and crashed to the bottom of the canyon, changing forever the shape of the falls (which used to be about fifteen feet taller) and the canyon wall. I created this image out of several photos stitched together, showing the bridge, the rock, the falls, the cliff of columnar basalt, and a friend climbing out on the massive slab, providing a sense of the immense scale.

Here's a link to the view from near the same spot just two years ago, in which you can see the slab of rock that eventually fell bulging out just to the left of the falls. Here, too, is another photo of the falls that I took this October. It's amazing how different this photo looks from the one above it, that one giving a sense of raw geologic power, this one looking serene and almost romatic, just from a difference in composition and shutter speed.

IMG_4150_1, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: mystereality

mystereality, originally uploaded by scottelbot.
Scott El takes the most beautiful pictures of Iceland. Imagine my surprise to look up his profile and find he lives in Portland, Oregon! Well, wherever he is, he takes great pictures. I wavered between showcasing this image or this one, and had originally chosen the latter, but this one kep calling to me. I think I like it better, even though the other is more technically perfect, because this one tugs at my imagination more. The black and white, the water, the mist rising, the far-off mountains, and the silhouette of a woman in the foreground all open up a million questions about who, where, and under what circumstances. The caption answers a few, but it's still an intriguing picture.

I also love this self-portrait of the photographer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rainier Ranger

Rainier Ranger, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
In May of 2008, the Paradise Inn reopened in Mount Rainier National Park after two years of renovation. I took photos of the event, but along with gathering images of the beams and foundations inside and the public and dignitaries admiring them, I also ventured outside to photograph the patrol rangers on duty directing traffic. This is Steve Klump, then our chief backcountry ranger, pressed into parking lot duty. He was pretty chipper inspite of the job, so I took one of those classic photos of the Mountain reflected in his glasses. The thing that makes this an especially great picture, for me, is the angle of the shot, looking up at Steve as he looks up at the Mountain.

A confession: the original photo did not have this beautiful blue sky in the background; in fact, it was completely washed out. Still a great picture, but not as aesthetically pleasing. I took another photo taken the same day with lots of sky in it, and supraimposed it behind the image of Steve, to restore the blue sky behind him that you can see reflected in the lenses of his glasses.

Just for fun, here's another photo I took the following month that also includes a reflection (and self-portrait) in someone's mirrored sunglasses.

IMG_2774, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Photo of the Day: Friends

Friends, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
We spent the last weekend in October, as usual, at Drift Creek Camp, where I found these two young friends playing with a variety of table games and someone's red iPod. They're both cute, of course, but I was especially fascinated by the girl on the left, with her red highlighted hair, orange "mustache," and big, dark eyes that seem to look straight into you.

IMG_4095_edited_1, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: Mount Hood

Mount Hood by Randy Craig
Randy Craig is a local (Portland area) photographer who shows equal aptitude at taking beautiful landscape photographs and beautiful portrait and fine art photographs. That's a great skill. I like this particular shot of Mount Hood because it'so beautifully colored and crisp, but also because the composition is so good, with the bright maple reaching upward in the foreground reinforcing the mountain soaring in the background. You see a similar adeptness in Craig's minimalist photo of the Oregon dunes, sculpted by the wind into a shape as beautiful and sensual as a woman's body. (And for good measure, check out the version with both.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: David at San Francisco Maritime

At age two, David was interested in everything, and it was such a joy to watch him discover the world. We went on vacation to San Francisco in the spring, where I captured this photo of our young naturalist inspecting the colored leaves on a tree growing alongside San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

Here's another photo of David from about the same time, back home at Crater Lake with Einstein hair.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photo of the Day: Percussion section

Percussion section, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
I love my new prime lenses! With a Canon Rebel XSi in a school gymnasium, I could never gather enough light nor use a low enough f-stop (f/1.8 in this case) to get a good photo without a good lens. I took this photo during the 8th grade band performance. The percussionists in the back row struck me as very interesting, with their varying poses and expressions; and with the narrow f-stop, they could be in perfect focus while the rest of the band was not. To emphasize the effect, I cropped the photo into a long, narrow "panorama"; I really like the effect.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: On my own...

On my own..., originally uploaded by Rundstedt B. Rovillos.
Rundstedt Rovillos takes mostly macro photos of insects and flowers -- and what stunning shots they are! If I were only choosing his most extraordinary image to showcase, it would be something like the longhorn beetle, pictured below. But I'm also looking for photos I can emulate, and frankly, as much as I appreciate the talent for taking good macro shots in others, it's just not where my own interest lies at the moment. But a well-composed landscape shot, with a solitary mangrove silhouetted against a beautiful sunset... now that's something that catches my eye.

Longhorn beetle, originally uploaded by Rundstedt B. Rovillos.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: Recovery Corps

Recovery Corps, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
After great floods swept through Mount Rainier National Park in November 2006, the Student Conservation Association stepped in with a proposal to field a crack team of interns who would help with the recovery efforts and also coordinate the work of public volunteers. During orientation for the second season of the Corps, I was tasked with getting a group portrait, and after trying a number of different ideas, on a whim I laid down on the ground and asked everyone to gather around me. I shot the photo looking up into the sky with my fill flash, and I'm super pleased with the result. All I'd do differently today is to take several photos, not just one, and then use the others to photoshop open eyes onto the individual who blinked!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo of the Day: Dinni

Dinni, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
On October 21, Carl Fabiani retired from his job as Trails Foreman at Mount Rainier National Park after 45 years of service. Obviously the event was well-attended! I used my new 50mm prime lens to take photos during the event. My favorite is this image of Carl's wife Dinni, looking so proud on behalf of her husband as he receives the accolades of his peers.

Clearly, though, I need to upgrade to a camera that can take better photos in low light. This image is at the outer limit of what a Rebel XSi can capture, even with a good lens! I'm holding out for the new 5D Mark III, rumored to be coming out in 2011...

Here's another shot I love from Carl's party: a remarkable panorama stitched together from several shots, not easy to do when you're dealing with people who don't hold completely still, but it came out amazingly well and really shows how full the room was. Open the original image to get the full-screen effect.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

Perfect form, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
At the end of July and beginning of August, we spent a couple of days with good friends at Klipsan Beach, north of Long Beach on the Washington Coast. The boys, as always, loved playing in the water, and Daniel, to fascilitate this, soon stripped down to his bare minimums, even though the rest of us were wearing jackets against a cool breeze. Daniel has always been sensitive to touch--he's the one who's most ticklish, most sensitive to abrasive fabrics, but he's also very sensuous about experiencing his environment. Here he stands, partly showing off I'm sure, but also immersed in the world, with his toes in the sand, his legs in the water, his eyes half shut, and his arms raised to feel the breeze on his skin.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: Mother's little helper

Mother's little helper, originally uploaded by Pete Zelewski.
This is what I aspire to: the ability to walk through a market in London and snap a candid portrait, on the fly, that is so beautiful, so perfectly lit and composed, and so full of life and soul. This child has absolutely no barriers between her and the camera--you can just look right into her eyes and get a glimpse of her soul. It's a fantastic shot! How do you suppose the photographer, Pete Zelewski, did it? Did he ask her to pose for him? Or did he just engage her in conversation, ask her to show him the coin she'd collected, and snap the photo before she realized she was being photographed?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: wind chimes

wind chimes280, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
If you Google images of Crater Lake National Park, about 90% of them will be images of sunlit days with rocky crags and meadows free of snow. If you look at the outdoor photos of someone who, like us, actually lived and worked there, however, you'll realize that the dry sunny season only makes up about three and a half months of the year, from about July through the first half of October. The rest of the year looks like this: snowy, with snow on the ground, snow in the air, and snow in the forecast. It's absolutely beautiful, though it does get old after about six months. This was the view one snowy day in early 2000 on our back porch, as yet another blizzard added yet another layer to the snow on the wind chimes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photo of the Day: Reflection in a puddle as deep as the sky

Hiking along the Puyallup River levy in mid-October, I noticed the beautiful reflections of the cottonwood trees and blue sky in the mud puddles. This is my favorite of several photos I took. It's interesting, to me, because of the combination of gorgeous sharp focus, backward and upsidedown, and half-visible foreground leaves floating on the surface of the water. The reflection is so perfect that you wouldn't even know it was a puddle if not for the floating leaves.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: girl on blue

girl on blue
girl on blue by mosippy
I absolutely love it when I find an artist for whom it's hard to choose my favorite photo. That's the case with Christina Gandolfo, which is interesting because some of her photos are just, well, meh for me, but others I find stunning. I almost picked a delightful photo of a cat looking like Lord of the Studio, and then fell for a whimsical photo of a friend, and then found this one and knew it was my favorite. There's such a beautiful, quiet sense of self-composure in this portrait, and it's so beautifully captured in the posture of the shoulders, the tilt of the head, the slightly careless fall of the hair, and the perfect match of costume, background, and eyes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: Biotoilet Designer

Biotoilet_037, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
In 2008, a Japanese group called Groundwork Mishima donated a high-tech "bio toilet" to Mount Rainier National Park. Through the use of special bacteria on a cedar chip substrate, the toilet, now located in the Cougar Rock Campground, literally digests human waste completely, producing no effluent. It's a perfect design for remote locations like Mount Fuji, and the toilet's designers wanted to try it out in the US: would the same technology work as well with American cedar and intestinal flora? Groundwork, a Japanese conservation group, saw an opportunity to capitalize on the growing relationship between conservationists at Mount Fuji and Mount Rainier, their "sister mountain."

All of this is prelude to explaining that this gentleman is the inventor of the biotoilet, who traveled to Mount Rainier National Park to supervise its installation and dedication. I found his proud bearing and lined face to be a fascinating subject of photography.

And by the way, the toilet is working great!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Photo of the Day: From whence the water comes

We took a walk in mid October along the Puyallup River levy near Orting. I shot this photo over an overflow pond, with cottonwoods reflected in the water and Mount Rainier in the distance -- which, of course, is where most of the water in the Puyallup River begins.

IMG_3511_edited_1, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest Photo of the Day: OOB Vertorama

OOB Vertorama, originally uploaded by moe chen.
Oh, man. If I could take landscape photographs like this, it would be all that I did! There's a real trick to taking pictures of a landscape and making them as expressive as a human body. Moe Chen has that gift. Even in the stillest of images, like this one, his use of strong lines conveys a sense of motion and depth that pulls you into the frame. He has some gorgeous color shots, too, but this one caught my attention for its masterful use of light and shadow.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Archive Photo of the Day: Pine Marten tracks

Pine Marten tracks, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
There are few things more beautiful than an unbroken expanse of fresh snow on a beautiful, clear winter day. A set of pine marten tracks angling across the meadow behind our house at Crater Lake National Park adds interest to this photo, taken during the second winter we spent at the park in January of 2000.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photo of the Day: Kelli in the rain

Kelli in the rain, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
In early October, we participated in a "walk for hunger" in Lakewood to raise money and awareness for local food distribution programs. It was a drizzly day, so Kelli was under our umbrella, which made a nice dark backdrop for an impromptu portrait.