Friday, September 30, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Perspective

Perspective by The Bacher Family
Perspective, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of the things I enjoy most about photography is capturing a unique point of view. So how could I resist grabbing my camera when I walked into this bathroom at Oregon State University, at my mother's retirement party, and saw this amazing set of parallel mirrors? I experimented with various camera positions to get the greatest "depth" to the image, and this was the shot I liked best.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Curves

Curves by The Bacher Family
Curves, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I've always liked this photo of a road sign near Bear Prairie, just south of Mount Rainier National Park. From the Longmire Campground, we commonly hear gunshots in the adjacent national forest, and as you see here, they're not always aiming at wild game (nor always in season). I like this image simply because of its unique point of view, with the sign offset in the foreground, full of bullet holes, with the dreary light of a rainy morning in the background.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Magical Eggs

Magical Eggs by The Bacher Family
Magical Eggs, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
You would never guess it, but this is one of the most popular images on my website! It just goes to show the power of a well-placed link.

I couldn't figure out why this image, of all images, had risen to the top of my photo set, until I started investigating the web links people had followed to get there. Turns out my photo of David's science fair project, looking at the effects of soaking eggs in various liquids including water, soda, and vinegar, had ended up on a web page called "35 amazig science fair projects," including "star wars vs barbie" and "what do my farts smell like?"

The web page is:

In this photo, David and his friend Tyler are explaining their science fair project to some friends. David explains that the water had no effect on their eggs, while the vinegar turned the shell thin and rubbery, and the rootbeer made the shell brittle, cracked, and brown.

Just goes to show, you never know where your pictures will end up...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Photo of the day: Hands in the earth

Hands in the earth by The Bacher Family
Hands in the earth, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of my favorite photos from National Public Lands Day this year is this simple image of a woman's hands finishing the work of putting a plant in the ground at the revegetation site at Sunrise. I try so hard, in most cases, to capture a face in my images, to show the concentration or contemplation visible in their eyes, to use those cues to convey the emotion of the image. This photo is a reminder that there are other ways of doing so -- that even without a face, you can see the care, the passion, the commitment that goes into putting a plant in the soil, on faith that it will contribute to the rebirth of a meadow where once there were only scars on the land. For me, the fact that these are old hands only reinforces that message; this is someone who has had a long time to set her priorities, and she is here, gently smoothing the soil around a new plant. I also, incidentally, like that the pot the plant came out of is visible in the photo, and that the color of the watch matches the sleeves, and that the depth of field is narrow enough to keep the hands in focus but not the plants around them. It's not a perfect shot, but It speaks to me, and for me, that's satisfying.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Photo of the day: National Public Lands Day 2011

For National Public Lands Day this year, more than a hundred volunteers showed up to help maintain trails and restore meadows at Mount Rainier National Park. Elizabeth, a young woman from Snoqualmie, showed up with her family and hiked a mile out from Sunrise to the old Sunrise drive-in campground, now being restored to its natural state. It was cloudy and breezy, and I love the way her hair blows around her face as she concentrates on her task. Thank you to all the volunteers who contributed their time in service to their National Park!

Below, Elizabeth's sister Clara prepares a plant for planting.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photo of the day: Morning on the Nisqually River

This was an incredibly beautiful morning, the kind you only get in September when the threat of autumn storms looms on the horizon. You can see the lenticular cloud on the summit of the Mountain, foretelling a change in the weather, and the boulders in the foreground left behind by an epic flood in November just five years ago. I really wanted to get both the foreground and background in focus for this photo, and also in the correct exposure, very difficult to do when the snow-clad Mountain is brightly lit and the dark rocks in the foreground are in shadow. I ended up taking three horizontal images, one on top of the other, and stitching them together in Photoshop, a technique which produced essentially a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image of morning on the Nisqually River.

Here's another version of the same photo:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Archive photo of the day: WTA on The Mountain

WTA on The Mountain by The Bacher Family
WTA on The Mountain, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Today is National Public Lands Day! It's also the day Mount Rainier National Park is rededicating the Glacier Basin Trail, large parts of which were destroyed by flooding five years ago in November 2006. Over the last four years, hundreds of people have contributed tens of thousands of volunteer hours rebuilding the trail, many of them under the leadership of the Washington Trails Association. This is one of my favorite photos of a WTA volunteer working on the trail. To be fair, most of the trail runs through the forest, but who can resist such a sunny image with such a beautiful Mountain in the background? I wish the exposure on the Mountain snow was better, but I still really like the composition and color of this image.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo of the day: Mountain lake in fog

Mountain lake in fog by The Bacher Family
Mountain lake in fog, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Here's another picture from my trip around the Naches Peak loop last week. I really love the depth that the fog gives to this picture, and for me, the black and white turns it into an even more surreal landscape than it appears in color. You can tell just how wet it was because there are water spots on my lens, but even so, I think it's a cool shot!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Photo set of the day: Rainier light

The great condensation


On my way home from work last night, I glanced up at Mount Rainier as I passed the Kautz Creek viewpoint, as I always do, and promptly did a u-turn at the next pullout so I could go back and take pictures. You don't often see a set of lenticular clouds this perfectly defined nor this deeply stacked over the mountain's summit, so when it happens, you drop everything and grab your camera! The view was, if anything, even more spectacular as I passed another viewpoint further down the road, so I stopped again. Then this morning, my wife called me on her way to work and said "go outside and take a picture," and there it was again--not a lenticular this time, but another extraordinary view of Mount Rainier, silhouetted against a blazing sky, casting its inverted shadow on the clouds. Rather than choosing just one of these amazing images, I'm including several in a slide show for you to enjoy. Click through to Flickr to watch them full-screen. A few of the images are panoramic shots, created from several images stitched together either horizontally or vertically in photoshop.

Oh, and for those who aren't familiar with mountain cloud formations, a "lenticular" is a cloudcap formed when moist air pushes over the top of high terrain, condenses into a cloud, then re-evaporates as it descends on the far side. It's usually an early indication of a change in the weather. Usually the lenticular is thin and single-layered, but on rare occasions, especially over a large mountain like Rainier, these stacked formations will form that cause everyone to pull over and grab their cameras.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photo of the day: Over the top

Over the top by The Bacher Family
Over the top, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I've never been a big fan of the crowds and adrenaline-inducing rides at the State Fair, but I do enjoy taking pictures of it! My son Daniel and his cousin Kiley, pictured here in the back seat of the roller coaster, love riding the rides, and actually rode this one twice over the course of an afternoon. There are only two places on the circuit where a photographer can get a good shot of the riders' faces, so you have to pay attention and be ready to snap the shutter when the moment comes. For this, I love my camera's sports setting, which uses tracking focus and fast shutter speeds. I snapped a series of four along the plunge, this being the third and closest image (at 135mm) before they disappeared behind the barrier. I love the various expressions on people's faces, from the look of delight on the girl in red in the front row to the eyes-squeezed-shut look of momentary terror on Daniel's face in the back.

Here's a photo from the second trip around the rails, later in the day:


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Photo of the day: A flight of music

A flight of music by The Bacher Family
A flight of music, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
On our way back to our car after a day at the Puyallup Fair, I spotted these birds overhead, looking for all the world like notes on a musical staff. You could almost play the harmonies and rhythms represented by this random collection of blackbirds silhouetted against the sky! It makes for a simple yet whimsical image... nothing profound, but a reminder that music is everywhere you look.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Photo of the day: Mutton busting

Mutton busting by The Bacher Family
Mutton busting, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
If you've never heard of "mutton busting" or "wool riding," then here's an eye opener for you. Think bull riding, but with 3 to 6 year olds riding sheep! We couldn't decide whether this was more akin to watching a sport or a train wreck, but there's no question it was entertaining, as these little kids line up excitedly to put on the padding, perch on a ewe, and hang on for dear life as she gallops full tilt across the arena. Most kids only made it a second or two before falling off, but a few had a thrilling ride all the way across, and .one made it all the way to the target 6-second mark.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Photo of the day: Michael W. Smith

Michael W. Smith by The Bacher Family
Michael W. Smith, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Every year, we try to get to a musical performance at the Puyallup Fair. This year, for the second year in a row, we saw Michael W. Smith, this time in concert with Amy Grant. They played quite a few songs together as well as individual sets -- 3 hours of music with a 15 minute intermission. A lot of great music!

Taking pictures at a concert is a special challenge. The light is so low -- yet on stage, with the lights on the performer's face, there's a huge amount of contrast between the light on the skin and the dark background. I compensated for the former problem by using my 85mm prime lens, with a very wide aperture to soak up every photon of light; and the latter by spot metering on the performer and hoping for the best. I got a lot of pictures that were so-so and a few that are really nice!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Photo of the day: William O. Douglas wildflowers

I had business on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park this week, and took a little time along the way to check out conditions along the Naches Peak loop trail near Chinook Pass. The loop circumnavigates Naches Peak, both inside and outside of the national park. I took this photo on the Forest Service side, in the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area, of an unnamed creek meandering through the fog and the wildflowers, mostly lupine. I love hiking in sunshine, of course, but there's a beauty to the fog as well, and it brings out the vibrancy of the colors. I'm pleased with how the composition of this image turned out, with the stream and the log leading the eye into the picture and the trees disappearing into the fog in the distance.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Jessica pulling the sled

With the weather turning cooler and damper, my thoughts turn to the approaching winter. Here's one of my favorite images from our years at Crater Lake.

Sometimes the simplest photographs can turn out unexpectedly well, for reasons you didn't even conciously notice when you snapped the shutter. Case in point: I don't think it registered at the time that all of the lines in this photo were leading the same way--the track of the sled, the lines my neice Jessica were holding, the slant of the falling snow. Nor did I see the symmetry between Jessica's red outfit and that of her sister Stephanie at the back of the sled, with my sons David and Daniel in between in green on the green sled. Sometimes these serendipities create nice art, accidentally.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photo of the day: Mr. Davies, Eagle Scout and National Park Servicevolunteer

Often, when I'm doing my job as the Volunteer Coordinator at Mount Rainier National Park, I talk to people over the telephone or by e-mail and help them set up volunteer projects with park supervisors, but don't actually meet them in person. So I was pleased when this young man introduced himself at a park function last weekend as the Eagle Scout candidate I'd help set up a project early this summer. Ian worked with one of our park rangers to rebuilt a trail bridge on the Wonderland Trail near Mowich Lake, and had a great time doing so!

Context aside, I'm really pleased with how this image turned out. The pose is a good one, with the body angled away from the camera and the head turned toward it -- I'll have to remember that -- and the lighting turned out well, too. I was using my flash with a diffuser on it angled up and slightly forward so that the light didn't strike his face "head on" (so to speak).

Here's another photo from the "Old Timer's Brunch" last weekend, of a slightly older alumnus. I had parked myself by the front door of the building, where the dinner line passed and where natural light from the door helped with photo exposures.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo of the day: Wings of tomorrow

Wings of tomorrow by The Bacher Family
Wings of tomorrow, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Inspired by Shannon Freer's Seeds of Tomorrow. This was my alternate for a photo challenge a few days ago, in which we were to choose a highly regarded photograph taken by someone else and either replicate it or put our own spin on it. The original of this image is full of amber color and lighting, but it's not late enough into the autumn for that now--in fact, as cold as our spring was, these seeds aren't even fully mature yet. So I went with a brighter look, and turned the image on its head for good measure. You've gotta love the blueness of an evening September sky!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Photo of the day: The hidden architecture of a leaf

Inspired by LinderRox's "In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous."

I've actually had this leaf on my dashboard for a week now, thinking I should photograph it; when I saw LinderRox's photo in the Our Daily Topic Explored list, I thought, now's the time to do it! I actually stopped at a viewpoint on my way home from work to take advantage of the nice evening light before it disappeared, put the leaf on a white piece of paper, and snapped away. I was getting too many shadows at first, so I switched to holding the leaf in my hand with the white paper in the distance behind it -- trickier, but in the end, effective!

I've always been fascinated by the structure of a leaf, with its primary arteries, secondary veins, tertiary capillaries, almost ad infinitum. This one looks like it's being slowly dismantled molecule by molecule and carted off to the biological recycling center.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest photo of the day: United We Rise | 9/11 Tribute In Lights

How could I not share this awesome image? There's little I can say besides WOW. I love the composition, with the piling leading the eye in to the distant skyline with the lights rising into the mist. Awesome.

From Ku's page on Flickr:

United We Rise
September 11
10 years
Never Forgotten. Always Grateful.

Taken from the piers adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 16-35mm @ 27mm
48 sec at f/16, ISO 100

New York City, New York

Photo of the day: Waiting

Waiting by The Bacher Family
Waiting, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
It's kind of funny that one of my favorite images from a set taken at Mount Rainier National Park's annual "Old Timers Brunch" is this one of the youngest person in attendance. But this little guy was so patient as his parents hobnobbed with fellow former employees and retirees, most of them many decades his senior. I spotted him sitting on a picnic bench in front of the Community Building after lunch, and caught a candid and spontaneous expression on his face that I love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Photo of the day: 4th of July

4th of July by The Bacher Family
4th of July, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
For the anniversary of 9/11, I of course looked through my recent photos for one that would be relevant to the day. I chose this one from this summer's Independence Day.

We gathered at my inlaws' house on the 3rd of July to set off fireworks and watch the town's display in the evening. It was a beautiful afternoon, with perfect light for photos, and as I was going into the house at one point I noticed how nice the light looked on the hanging basket of flowers on the front porch. Then I saw the juxtaposition with the flag in the background, and immediately realized what a great picture it would make. I spent a happy couple of minutes trying different combinations of depth of field and composition. This is the one I like the best.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Magenta and Indigo

I hiked up to Spray Park in Mount Rainier National Park hoping to get some magnificent photos of the Mountain, and found myself in a fog bank. Even so, the flowers were gorgeous! Sometimes the lack of a broad view forces you to focus on the beautiful details: in this case, a magenta paintbrush in the midst of the Lyall's lupine.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Photo of the day: ArrowCorps502

ArrowCorps502 by The Bacher Family
ArrowCorps502, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of the things I love most about my job as Volunteer Program Manager at Mount Rainier National Park is seeing a project that you've worked on for a long time finally take shape in the real world! "ArrowCorps" was an effort we worked on for almost two years, coordinating a hundred Boy Scouts from all over the country (mostly the Seattle area) to come to the park and neighboring Forest Service land to work on volunteer projects for a week. I took this photo at the opening ceremony for the event, held at Camp Sheppard just north of the park boundary. The lighting was dim, but I wanted to capture an image with some depth to it. This is what I came up with: the ArrowCorps502 logo in the foreground, in sharp focus, with Scout leader Ian Bellows in the distant background, out of focus. The image turned out well in spite of the dim light.

"ArrowCorps502," by the way, is named for the Order of the Arrow, the leadership arm of the Boy Scouts, whose local T'Kope Kwiskwis Lodge 502 members planned and executed the project. They boys did a fantastic job maintaining the Crystal Mountain Trail, restoring the Ipsut Creek Campground, and pulling invasive species at Government Meadows in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Here's a photo from the work on the Crystal Mountain Trail:


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Lucky shot?

Lucky shot? by The Bacher Family
Lucky shot?, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is a photo taken by Daniel in 2007. It's maybe purely by accident, as he was only six years old when he took this picture, but I think it's remarkably well composed. The ball hangs in mid air on its way to the hoop, and those clouds in the background loom so wonderfully ominously in the lower third of the image. The thing is, you wonder, how much is by accident, and how much is an intuitive sense for photographic composition? And how much am I looking for photographic intuition because I'm his father?

Well, you can decide for yourself! Here's a collection of his photos, which at this writing is, purely by accident, exactly 100 images in size. What do you think? Is he talented, gifted, or just lucky?

Let me direct your attention to another favorite of mine.

Stranger things

I love the story behind this one: Daniel, at age 4, had his camera at a Tacoma Rainiers baseball game, and was having fun taking pictures. He even started taking pictures of strangers. This fellow clearly wondered who this kid was with a camera taking a random picture of him. But Daniel saw something interesting in him and snapped the shot. I suspect he'd be a bit more inhibited now, but I think it says something about him artistically that he felt that when he saw something or someone that looked interesting to him, he should capture it on "film." A lot of his photos are that way -- random subjects that touched him in some unexplainable way. An artist shouldn't censor his own vision.

He decided yesterday, by the way, that he wanted his own Flickr account, so he could share his photos with people and participate in photo challenges. Yahoo let him sign up for an e-mail account, with parental approval (they charged my credit card 50 cents for the privilege), but they won't let him have his own Flickr account till he's 13. Till then, he'll have his own space in this set on the family account.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photo of the day: Little guy, big helmet

What's cuter than a kid in a helmet that's as big as he is, especially when he's riding the smallest bike you've ever seen? This little fellow was in the campsite next to us at Fort Stevens State Park and LOVED riding his bike. He rode around and around, on the roads, through his campsite, everywhere. I finally got a good photo of him by parking myself by the side of the road and panning with him as he rode by.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Photo of the day: In the light of the surf

My niece Jessica has all the good ideas.

In this case, she was taking pictures of her cousins, Daniel and David, and her sister Stephanie jumping on the beach. I showed up too late to get many pictures, but I did get this one that I like very much. Backlit against the evening surf, the figures were simply dark; but with a bit of adjustment to the exposure, I was able to turn it into a nice silhouette. It also looked better cropped into a square.

Stephanie always jumps the highest!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo of the day: Waiting

Waiting by The Bacher Family
Waiting, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I took this photo looking through the window of my office at Mount Rainier National Park. This little fellow was one of three birds, just juvenile enough to still be fed by their mother, but old enough that they really should have been out fending for themselves. They'd sit on the edge of the roof, preening and stretching their wings, or huddled against the occasional rain shower, till Mama dropped by with a bug to regurgitate into their mouths, then hop up with mouths wide open waiting for the treat. They were right at the limit of my zoom lens, and it was hard to get a good picture with a lot of detail in it, so I'm particularly proud of this one. It helps that, after almost constant movement, it finally settled down for a few seconds to wait out the rain.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Photo of the day: Taller

Taller by The Bacher Family
Taller, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
As we waited for the town's fireworks display to begin on the evening of July 3rd, Grandma Pat decided to update the measuring stick in her garage with the heights of all the grandkids. Here, Daniel stands for his measurement. He's getting taller every day -- it's rumored that they put Miracle Gro in the cafeteria food at school -- and at age 10 he's already taller than his brother was at 11.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Photo of the day: Arsenal

Arsenal by The Bacher Family
Arsenal, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Fort Stevens State Park features, along with its beautiful beaches, forests, lakes, and marshes, a collection of historic battlements left over from the late 1800s through World War II. Most of the old batteries and structures are abandoned, with nothing but empty holes in the concrete where the big guns used to be. Some of the smaller guns, however, are still in place, including this one near the visitor center, which was capable of lobbing massive shells as far as 10 miles out over the Columbia River. How does one take a photo of such a device that provides a unique and interesting perspective? I choose to focus on the business end of the weapon, using a shallow depth of field to make the gun barrel stand out from the background. I like how, even so, the color scheme of this image is consistent throughout the photo, both foreground and background. The late afternoon light also looks great on the old gun steel.

Here's a pair of photos of another gun at the park, covered in lichens that have grown up over years of unuse.



Friday, September 2, 2011

Photo of the day: Sisters (and Brothers)

Sisters by The Bacher Family
Sisters, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
As we watched the sunset from the beach at Fort Stevens State Park, the light was so good that we took a while series of family portraits, too. This is one of my favorites, of my neices Jessica and Stephanie. Stephanie's a few years younger but almost exactly the same height as her sister at the moment, and they resemble each other so much they could almost be fraternal twins. One thing I love about this photo (besides the sweet way they've put their heads together) is that they're not actually looking at my camera, but that of my sister, whose shoulder I'm shooting over. To me, it gives the image a dreamier and more inspirational feel than one in which the subjects were looking directly into the lens.

I took a similar photo of my sons Daniel and David, too, which is just as good in composition but not as well lit. This is true of all of my pictures from that evening -- It definitely helped to be taking pictures down the beach rather than up it!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Photo of the day: On sunset wings

On sunset wings by The Bacher Family
On sunset wings, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I captured this image, of my son in the sunset, at Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon. It was a beautiful day, yet the beach was completely deserted except for our family. David had found this feather in the sand and was holding it as he watched the sunset. The shot is completely unposed -- I just stepped behind him to get the silhouette effect and snapped a couple of different compositions. I like this version because with the light almost directly in front of David you get a nice rim lighting effect on his hair and the feather. David says it looks like he's holding a candle! I also think the image looks better with the subject off-center.