One of the humblest and most crucial jobs at Mount Rainier National Park is that of the Invasive Species Control Team. These intrepid individuas spend summer days slowly walking along park roads, keeping an eagle eye out for plants that don't belong there. Foxglove... oxeye daisy... bull thistle... all are met with a critical, discriminating eye and a firm hand yanking them out by the roots. We know by experience that a single invasive or "exotic" plant overlooked this year will turn into a field of weeds next year, crowding out the native plants. We also know that we are, ourselves, responsible for the vast majority of these invaders. They ride in on our cars, on our clothes, in the furrows on the bottoms of our boots. And finally, we know that despite our best efforts, we'll only get 90% of what's out there. But next year we'll get 90% of what's left... and 90% the next year... until eventually, the weeds are controlled, and the native plants can thrive.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Is that a checkerspot or an arctic fritillary? Careful, it's very delicate, ease it into the viewing jar! You can tell by the looks of concentration that Heather McPherson and Chris Evans, Citizen Scientist volunteers at Mount Rainier National Park, take their job seriously. They repeated this careful procedure of capture, transfer, identification and release about two dozen times over the course of about three hours of surveying a kilometer-long transect north of Berkeley Park along the Wonderland Trail.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Here they go, our intrepid Citizen Scientists, off in search of the wild butterfly. Along their way they will encounter checkerspots, blues, and fritillaries. They will dive after fluttering targets and fall flat on their keisters but come up victorious, then carefully-oh-so-carefully ease the little fellows into plastic jars for closer inspection. They will cross-reference their finds in colorful guide books, making certain they have the correct species with the dark tips just so and not thus. They will walk their kilometer-long transect at a steady pace of one kilometer per hour, noting the composition of each 200-meter subsection. And they will create a striking image as they stride slowly along the Wonderland Trail, eyes alert and nets at the ready.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Here's a phot that could have been taken almost anywhere, but was, in fact, taken in the garden of our hosts on San Juan Island in Puget Sound. This was one of the first pictures I took at their place--I was attracted by the buzz of the bees and the beauty of the flowers, and took a whole series of pictures of both. When you're shooting something as small and as animated as a bee, you never know exactly what you're going to get, in terms of lighting, focus, and composition, because by the time you push the shutter, everything's different from what it was a fraction of a second ago when you composed the shot. This one's my favorite of the set, with a nice, crisp image of the bee in a nice position in the flower. You can even see the pollen stuck to the abdomen.
It's fun, looking at the whole series of pictures, to see just how limber these fellows are, reaching in odd angles with their six legs in ways that would make a master Yoga practicitioner envious.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Here's another photo from the outdoor wedding of Rebecca and Andrew in Mount Rainier National Park. The afternoon light created all kinds of challenges, especially without the option of using reflections (since I was shooting "unofficially"), but I'm pleased with this one, given how difficult it is to capture both foreground and background at proper exposure when you're shooting against a snow- and cloud-covered mountain.
The starburst in Rebecca's sunglasses is a nice touch.
Friday, August 24, 2012
The conditions were very challenging -- a sunny afternoon with intense light and shadows in an outdoor setting. Very nice for the bride and groom, but difficult for portraits. This was my favorite of the day: the First Kiss after the declaration of marriage. The shadows aren't too harsh, and I love the shallow depth of field, with the officiant in the background (holding a clipboard made out of a piece of unsquared wood) just out of focus enough to not be too distracting. But I love his smile back there, representing the good will of all of us in attendance.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
This is a picture of my good friend Kevin, who is a park ranger at Mount Rainier National Park. It was the handcuffs that caught my eye, and I angled my photo so that they were prominently in the foreground. He gave me a nice smile when he saw I was taking his picture, and I'm pleased with the result. The white vehicle kind of washes out in order to achieve proper lighting on the face, but that's a small price to pay for a nice portrait.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I was extremely pleased with the way this image turned out. The exposure and timing are perfect; you can almost hear it go "bang" in the night.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
It's not a gallery-quality photo, but it was a fun challenge and I'm pleased with the results!
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The cat in this picture is 13 years old. Like many cats of that age, she was winding down a bit: didn't want to go outside as much, didn't run around as much in her family's yard in the eastern United States. So when her human companions got new jobs and moved to San Juan Island in Washington state, they worried that she would have a hard time making the trip.
On the contrary: when she arrived at her new home, on five rural acres with clean air and lots of room to run and explore, she felt a bit of her youth return. She still carries herself with the dignity of an older feline, but she happily goes outside and explores; she bats and chases toys around with her humans; and she perches alertly in her perch on the staircase to watch over her domain. She is unquestionably queen of the house.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
On the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, my niece Jessica came down to the front of the boat to take pictures... and ended up getting her own portrait made! I loved the morning light on her face and the wind blowing in her hair, not to mention that big grin and the bright color of her jacket adding just a perfect splash to the image.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
This portrait of my son David was taken on the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. I love the soft, natural light from the observation window at the front of the ferry as we headed west on the morning transit!
Monday, August 13, 2012
As with everything else in this exhibit, I'm in awe of the detail and time that went into creating these items. What an advanced society, that could craft such works of art. And yet what a sadly regressed society that did so solely to bury them in a tomb in the belief that a privileged member of society would carry his wealth and influence into the afterlife.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Did he carry this little game around in his pocket? (Did he have pockets?) How was it played, and whom did he play it with? Was this a restful solace after a hard day of ruling the kingdom? Was it secretly one of his most treasured possessions? Does this artifact, more than any other, reveal the true soul of Tutankhamen?
Thursday, August 9, 2012
This gold panther head was, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful items in the King Tut collection. I wish I could remember what its function was... so many pieces on the exhibit had ceremonial purposes, or served some function after death, or were simply functional but gorgeous. This guy had jar lids that were finer and more exquisite than the jewelry possessed by an average person. He was the original King Midas... it seemed that everything he ever touched was turned to gold, and buried with him in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Such exceptional artistry... can you imagine someone crafting this piece for King Tutankhamen, thousands of years ago in Egypt? This is not factory-made piece of jewelry -- it's a massive piece of gold, painstakingly carved and shaped and sculpted and polished and colored. Someone held this in his (or her?) hands, obsessing over every detail to get it just right. How long did it take? How much effort was invested in it? Did the artist work willingly, or was he a slave or servant? So many questions... but meanwhile, it feels like you could almost see the sculptor's fingerprints on the gold, if you just looked hard enough.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
The King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle is magnificent. I suppose to some it would simply be a collection of antiques, but I, myself, could not get over how exquisitely detailed each item in the collection was crafted. This bust of Tutankhamen, for example -- I don't remember what it was carved from, maybe alabaster? -- but look how much care was put into it. It's about life-size, and the artist made sure that the folds of the ear, the shape of the nose, the furrows of the hair were all represented -- then painted in with painstaking care the features of the vulture headdress, the red lips, the line of the eyes, even the red blood vessels in the corner of the eyes. Add the right light -- which the exhibit definitely has -- and it looks marvelous.
Photography is difficult in the exhibit area, because flash is prohibited and the lights are dim. I shot at 800 ISO, not so great on my XSi, but good enough, with patience, to get some magnificent images.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Here's one of Superintendent Randy King chatting with reporters before the press conference.