Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Photo of the day: Stephanie, reflecting

While vacationing at Fort Stevens State Park in late July, we rode our bikes out to the historic military batteries along the Columbia River. It was late afternoon, in that beautiful golden light of summer, and the light was perfect for taking pictures. Stephanie was sitting on a bench watching the world go by with her hair blowing in the breeze, perfect for a few quick portraits! I love the light on her face, the Mona Lisa smile, and the self-portrait reflected in her glasses!

Here's another one I really like:

Stephanie at Fort Stevens

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Photo of the day: Heart of the sunset

Heart of the sunset by The Bacher Family
Heart of the sunset, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
First of all, I can't take credit for this idea--my brilliantly artistic neice Jessica came up with it! I can, however, take credit for recognizing what a brilliant idea it was, and taking my own version of it! This photo is from Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon, where we were vacationing in late July (it was actually taken on my birthday). There's a wonderful observation tower way out on the northwest end of the spit, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Columbia River on the other. The hands are those of my sister Lisa. Key to the success of the photo, I think, was metering on the bright sky rather than on the hands (or on the average between the two), thus casting the foreground into silhouette. And, of course, perfect framing!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Crater Lake Rogue

Crater Lake Rogue by The Bacher Family
Crater Lake Rogue, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

The "Rogue" in Crater Lake. Crater Lake National Park,Oregon, July 26, 2007.

We lived and worked at Crater Lake National Park for almost four years, from early 1999 through late 2002, and I gave countless tours of the lake in this boat and three others. It was nice to go back on my birthday five years later and see again the extraordinary blueness of Crater Lake. I took this photo near the docks, looking down on one of the unused boats, painted blue intentionally to blend in a bit with the blue water. It made for a wonderfully monochromatic image.

This photo was accepted into the Northwest International Exhibition of Photography at the Western Washington State Fair in September 2007, in the Electronic Imaging category.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Accepted for exhibition!

Bodie, August 2008 by The Bacher Family
Bodie, August 2008, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
We just got home from a few days away, and in our mailbox is a notice saying that four of my photos have been accepted into the International Photography Exhibit at the Western Washington State Fair (AKA the Puyallup Fair)! Here are the four images that were accepted. The one above is of my wife's cousin's son, Bodie, taken in August of 2008. The one below was taken at a Middle School track meet in May of 2010:

Before the mark

The next one is my favorite photo from our trip to Death Valley this past March, of a coyote on the Salt Creek Trail:

Death Valley farewell

And finally, a photo of a lupine in the rain, photographed along the Glacier Basin Trail in Mount Rainier National Park in September of 2010. This one was accepted as a digital entry (as opposed to a print):

Lupine in the rain

I'm still waiting to hear on whether any of my photos were accepted ino the Washington State Photographers exhibit. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Photo of the day: Patti

Patti by The Bacher Family
Patti, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
My intern this summer at work is Patti Poulin, whom I hired through the Student Conservation Association. She's serving both as our seasonal volunteer coordinator and also helping with our outreach program, and doing a fantastic job at both. Here, she's participating in the park's "Mount Rainier Adventures" program, which brings families from local communities to the park through a partnership with Tacoma MetroParks for first-time camping experiences. It was evening, and the light was very dim, so I'm especially pleased that this shot came out well. You can tell the depth of field is shallow, but the face is in focus, and the light on the face is clear and well-defined, and that beautiful knit cap adds a splash of welcome color to an otherwise drab picture, and pulls the eye toward Patti's smiling face. It's a good portrait of Patti, and captures well her quiet and positive spirit.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo of the day: Tattooed beauties

Tattooed beauties by The Bacher Family
Tattooed beauties, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is another of my favorite photos from Seattle's Gay Pride Parade in 2011. These lovely ladies were posing for someone else, but I happened to see them doing so and snapped off a portrait of my own. I love how colorful they are, both literally (that hair!) and figuratively (those tattoos! That leather jacket! Those earrings! That... lack of hair!). Humans come in such wonderfully diverse configurations, and the Pride Parade is a wonderful way to celebrate it, and photography is a wonderful way to document it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Photo of the day: Randy and Dave

26 Randy and Dave by The Bacher Family
26 Randy and Dave, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

On this, the 95th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, how could I not feature a photo of two of my favorite park rangers?

I took this image at Mount Rainier National Park at an employee gathering to meet the Service's Pacific West Regional Director, Christine Lehnertz. Shortly before that meeting, Superintendent Dave Uberuaga, on the right in this picture, had announced that he would be leaving Mount Rainier to become the new superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park. Randy King, on the left, his Deputy Director, would be serving as the Acting Superintendent until a new superintendent was chosen. Along with being colleagues, Randy and Dave had become good friends over the years, so a portrait with the two of them was bound to look good -- they had a natural comraderie that was clearly visible in their interactions. I shot this image at Longmire in the light of a cloudy sky, so nice for portraits (especially when you have a shadow-casting flat hat to deal with), with the Nisqually River and its historic suspension bridge behind them. Dave was a bit disappointed with the way his tie is blowing in the breeze in this photo, but in my own opinion it adds to the photo rather than distracting from it; in my own view, it adds a dynamic element to the image that wouldn't have been there otherwise.

Here's another photo from the same set that I like almost equally well:

20 Dave and Randy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Photo of the day: Seattle PrideFest: Cute couple

Of all the pictures I snapped at Seattle's PrideFest this summer, I keep coming back to this one as one of my favorites. I like the lighting and composition, and I love the contrast between the two skin tones, the red and white underwear, and the two tattoos, and the subtly sexy way the two men stand nearly hand in hand, contemplating who knows what. It's a captured moment of real life, and it makes me smile.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photo of the day: The light of learning

One of Mount Rainier National Park's outreach programs is a program called "Mount Rainier Adventures," a partnership with Tacoma MetroParks that brings families out for first-time camping experiences. They hike trails, set up tents, experience a campfire program, roast marshmallows, and (the kids at least) become "Junior Rangers." I love this photo of a newly-minted Junior Ranger because of the wonderful lighting on her face, reflected from the white cover of the Junior Ranger booklet. She was such a cute kid, too, so shy, but so keen to learn about the park!

Here's another photo I like, of the same young ranger:


Monday, August 22, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Recovery

Recovery by The Bacher Family
Recovery, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I'm posting this photo today because, and I still can't quite believe it myself, our family is featured on NBC's Today Show this morning, part of a story about the 5100 children every year who fall out of windows in the United States. This is one of our two most iconic photo from our own accident.

More than six years after the fact, this photo still brings a lump to my throat.

On the evening of July 5, 2005, unbeknownst to my wife and me, our sons David and Daniel were sitting on their second floor bedroom window sill watching the neighbors set off fireworks. One of them leaned against the window screen and they both went tumbling out, falling 15 feet to the concrete patio below. David, age 7 at the time, landed flat and was hospitalized for just three days. Daniel, 5, landed on his head and sustained a closed skull fracture and traumatic brain injury, was life-flighted, spent three days in a coma and three weeks in the hospital, and spent more than a year in physical and occupational therapy. He still struggles with minor impairments, including reduced dexterity in the fingers of his right hand, but overall made a remarkable recovery with the help of doctors at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma and Children's Hospital of Seattle. This photo captures his indomitable spirit about two and a half weeks after the accident.

Please, if you're reading this and have children in a house with second-floor windows, make sure they have child safety locks. They are so inexpensive, and such an easy way to prevent your own family from having to take photos like this -- or worse.

Here's the other "iconic" image from Daniel's time in the hospital, this one taken by my mother, of my father holding Daniel at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital shortly after he came out of his coma.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photo of the day: future slugger

future slugger by The Bacher Family
future slugger, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
At the family 4th of July gathering, Matthew was in his element -- lots of colorful and interesting things going on, and he could be right in the middle of them! As we were setting off some "daylight" fireworks in the evening, the lighting for photographs was perfect -- even in a photo like this one, where the light was mostly behind the subject, it looked great as it cast highlights in the hair and created nice lights in the eyes. I snapped several photos in quick succession, as you have to do when photographing kids; this one is my favorite (though this one is close behind!).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Super Badminton Boy

Super Badminton Boy by The Bacher Family
Super Badminton Boy, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
OK, first off, I know this isn't a great photo! Yet every time I look at it, it makes me smile. I like to think it's because on some level it's a beautifully abstract combination of colors and motion, nicely framed, blah blah blah, but most likely it's just because the subject is my son, and I know the story behind the picture. I took this out the window of the house as David ran around the yard on a cool, gray January day. He had just turned 8 years old two days before, and he still had that youthful exhuberance that allowed him to unselfconsciously run around with a black cape over his shoulders playing superhero with two broken down badminton rackets. I tracked him around the yard with my camera, trying to get a perfect image of David in frozen frame against the motion-blurred background. The light was too dim, the lens was too long, and the camera was inadequate for the job. But this one turned out approximately the way I wanted, in an abstract kind of way.

Plus, it just makes me smile. :-)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Photo of the day: Ice cream and waffles

We stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory on our way to celebrate Spring Break in Cannon Beach. I snapped this photo in the ice cream shop, inspired by the "Our Daily Challenge" topic of "Chips" for April 18, 2011. It's a fun still-life, of a sort -- simply a combination of interesting items in juxtaposition to one another. I like the patterns of the waffle irons, the lone electrical outlet with black and white plugs, the dark band at the top with the flash of blue above it, the combination of light and shadows throughout the image.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Coronado Islands

Coronado Islands by The Bacher Family
Coronado Islands, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
In February 2001 I spent a week at a conference in San Diego, and on a field trip day, took a whale watching cruise out to the Coronado Islands. It was a magical day--we saw literally dozens of whales and hundreds of other sea mammals, including a blue whale. My camera at the time wasn't good for capturing the whales, though, but much better suited for landscapes like this one. I love the view of the Coronado Islands in the distance in teh late afternoon light, with the lone bird flying over.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photo of the day: The Trumm Family

Hunter by The Bacher Family
Hunter, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Earlier this month, I received an e-mail from my father confirming that my grandfather, Milton Trumm, had passed away in South Dakota. This wasn't entirely unexpected, but a funeral is always a drop-everything-and-buy-a-plane-ticket event. This was a side of the family I didn't know very well, both due to geography and an epic bit of family history that would take too long to explain here; so I spent the weekend getting reacquainted with people I hadn't seen for many years and, when I could, snapping an occasional candid portrait.

I'm including all of the best ones at once here, because they're thematically related. First is Hunter, my cousin's son, who was camera shy most of the time but indulged me for this one shot. Below is his sister Morgan, trying on her uncle's suit coat.


Next we have Lucas Glaesman, whom I had just met an hour before this picture was taken, at the family visitation.


Elisa Cyre is another of my cousins, who's currently a lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina:


Elisa's sister Tara is married to Rob Neumayr. Tara and Rob are both physicians in St. Louis:


Tara and Elisa's brother Erik is pictured below, with his wife Corrie and daughter Arabella. Erik is a pilot in the Navy, currently stationed in Tampa, Florida.


And last but not least, my traveling companion and father:


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Snow Lake in morning fog

My sons' first backpacking trip was to Snow Lake in 2006. Other than the mosquitoes, it was a perfect trip: short trail, great weather, beautiful scenery! I even took a short swim in the lake, with emphasis on the adjective short--as you can guess by this photo, the water was barely warmer than the snow. In the morning, the mist settled around the lake, slowly lifting in the morning sun, as the mirror-still water reflected the far shore. In many ways, I find a scene like this even more beautiful than when skies are clear and sunny. There's more mood to the landscape, and it's constantly changing as the clouds move in and out among the peaks and trees.

Here's another version of the same image from the same morning. I think I prefer the above image, with the peak peaking out of the clouds; for me, the image below is just too perfectly bisected. Or maybe not perfectly enough. What do you think?
Snow Lake, and Snow Lake

Monday, August 15, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Hannah's self-portrait

Sometimes your favorite pictures are simply of things you come across from day to day, which is why a photographer is rarely far from his camera. In this case, I came home from work one April to find this self-portrait drawn by our neighbor as she played with our sons in our garage. The colors and patterns were so compelling that I grabbed my camera and snapped a photo.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Photo of the day: Pride

I've wanted to visit the Seattle Pride Parade for several years, but something always came up to make the trip in to the city inconvenient. This year the rest of my family was away on a trip, I had the day off, and so I hopped on the commuter train and rode the rails in to watch the event. From the perspective of a photographer and people-watcher, it was fantastic, everyone dressed in rainbow colors, with the complex emotions of people so often persecuted coming together to express pride in their identity, combined with the euphoria of strength in numbers and the ability to express that pride, for once, safely and fully.

After the parade, people gravitated toward Seattle Center and its fountain, especially since it was a warm and sunny day. At one point, two gentlemen climbed up on the fountain and unfurled a pride flag, which caught the sunlight behind them. I had only a few seconds to fire off a couple of pictures before the moment passed. This was my favorite image, and to me, it iconically captures the infectuous spirit of the day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Photo of the day: Upper Crystal Lake

Upper Crystal Lake by The Bacher Family
Upper Crystal Lake, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I can't say it enough: I LOVE Photoshop Elements' capacity to stitch together several photos (in this case, eight I believe) into a seamless panorama. I've taken a lot of these panoramas over the years, and have gotten better at the technique with practice. In this case, I took vertical shots, so that I got maximum vertical spread, and panned from right to left, overlapping each shot by about half the frame. I made sure to include foreground elements along with the background, especially along the edge; they frame the photo nicely. I metered on the most important part of the image, in this case the middle of the shot, then shot manual explosure for the whole set using those settings. When the composite was done, I cropped it rectangular so that there's no distracting white blank spaces around the edges. Voila, a cool panorama that more fully captures the beauty of a panoramic landscape!

If you hadn't already figured it out, this one's in Mount Rainier National Park.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Photo of the day: Pasque Flowers at Crystal Lake

These days, my job at Mount Rainier National Park is mostly administrative. I manage the park's volunteer and outreach program, and my duties usually tie me to a desk and a computer, answering correspondence, solving problems, building partnerships, and keeping a close eye on the budget. Every once in a while, though, I find an excuse to get out of the office and into the wilderness that inspired me to pursue this line of work to begin with. This time it was to visit a group of Boy Scouts hard at work on volunteer trail maintenance on the Crystal Mountain trail in the northeast corner of the park. Upper and Lower Crystal Lakes were just a short side trip beyond their work site, and I'd never been there before, so I took the opportunity to make a quick visit. On the way back out I stopped to photograph these beautiful pasque flowers in bloom by the side of the trail.

Now, pasque flowers are one of the first to bloom in the high country after the snow melts, so it's an extraordinary year in which they're blooming on August 4th. They also are notoriously brief, lasting less than a week from arrival to disappearance. Most people are more familiar with their distinctive seed heads resembling a "mouse on a stick," or "the Lorax" out of the Dr. Seuss book. (I heard a park visitor once compare it to "Tina Turner's hairdoo.") But the flowers, if you can catch them, are exquisite, with their pearly white petals and bright yellow stamens framed by the delicate green frills of their leaves, all covered in a delicate fuzz.

To capture this photo, I stood in such a way that my shadow fell behind the flowers, but not onto their petals, which required me to twist my body awkwardly--I would have been quite an odd sight to an observer! I also underexposed by about a full stop, to prevent completely burning out the white in the petals and to further boost the contrast between the flowers and the background. I took a bunch of shots, knowing that I wouldn't be able to return and try again. Some weren't focused well, some had the wrong depth of field, some didn't have the right combination of shadow and light. This one had it all!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Photo of the day: Family portrait at Bethany Lutheran Church

In May, the pastor of our church asked if I'd take a few portraits of some new members. After the service, I scouted the sanctuary for a good spot to pose them, and settled on this corner in the front next to a large window. I've always envied the pastor's position, being able to see out this window as he preaches, but this time I got to make good use of it and its soft light! I took several others, too, in a couple of different locations, but none pleased me as much as this one lit by this gigantic "softbox."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photo of the day: Acting Superintendent Randy King

I took this picture of Randy King, then Deputy Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park, in front of the park's Community Building during a visit by the Regional Director of the National Park Service. I love the photo both for its technical merits, with soft lighting and a sharp foreground against a blurred background (love this lens), and also for the way that it captures Randy's personality. Randy's one of those people who are supremely competent but unassuming, foreward-thinking but also deeply rooted in the best traditions of the National Park Service, which you can see in his impeccable uniform, perfectly flat hat, and faded forest green tie.

A month after this photo was taken, Randy was named Acting Superintendent upon the departure of Superintendent Dave Uberuaga for Grand Canyon National Park. I got an e-mail from Jeff Mayor at The News Tribune asking if he could use the photo for an article he was writing in the paper. Of course I said sure, be my guest. It's always nice to see a photo in print!

Published in The News Tribune on July 24, 2011 (online at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Kelli and Larry on Lake Wawasee

It's fun to digitize old photographic slides and see the images take on a new life on the computer screen. This picture brings back great memories of a trip to Indiana and New York in October of 1995, while Kelli and I were engaged, to visit my alma maters and some old friends. Dr. Larry Yoder was a professor of mine and later my boss, but more importantly he was a mentor and later one of my closest friends. Sailing is one of his passions, and here he's taking us out on his Sunfish on Lake Wawasee in northern Indiana. I love the lighting, rimming Larry's face and backlighting Kelli's, and the looks of enjoyment on their faces.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Photo of the day: My beautiful wife at her high school reunion

My wife celebrated her 30th high school reunion at the end of July. It was a low key affair, just a gathering at a local restaurant, but it was fun for her to see old friends she hadn't seen in years, and fun for me to capture it all on "film!" This is one of the better portraits I've taken of Kelli in a while. With that light in her eyes, she's just as beautiful as she was on our own date of note more than 15 years ago.