Friday, August 31, 2012

Photo of the day: An exotic ranger, out standing in her field

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.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Photo of the day: Beings of pure light

Beings of pure light by The Bacher Family
Beings of pure light, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I love this photo of Chris inspecting a butterfly he's caught while participating in the Cascades Butterfly Survey at Mount Rainier National Park. It truly looks like he's caught something extraordinary, a being of pure light whose brilliance shines through his fingers. It's a bit of a metaphorical stretch, and yet butterflies, in many ways, really are benigs of light, riding the solar thermals as they fly from one sun-loving flower to another. The researchers treat them with careful reverence, not only for their pure beauty, but also for the stories they tell about changing climates and the fate of our world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Photo of the day: Capture, identify, and release

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

Photo of the day: Butterfly hunters

Butterfly hunters by The Bacher Family
Butterfly hunters, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

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

Photo of the day: Carly Rowland, Citizen Scientist

Volunteers do all kinds of amazing jobs at Mount Rainier National Park, and occasionally, as the park's volunteer coordinator, I get to unlock the ankle restraints under my desk and go out and join them in the field! This was one of the most extraordinary days for doing so all summer: surveying butterflies for long-term climate chage studies along the Wonderland Trail east of Sunrise, at the head of Berkeley Park. Here's one of our volunteers, Carly Rowland, waiting for the project to begin at the start of the transect. I love the light, a beautiful combination of direct and reflected light, all of it natural; and she has a wonderful smile, too.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Photo of the day: A bee in the bloom

A bee in the bloom by The Bacher Family
A bee in the bloom, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

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

Photo of the day: Stars in their eyes

Stars in their eyes by The Bacher Family
Stars in their eyes, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

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

Photo of the day: Rebecca + Andrew

Rebecca + Andrew by The Bacher Family
Rebecca + Andrew, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
On July 13th, I photographed my first wedding. It was a lot lower stress than it could have been, because I was there as a strictly unofficial photographer for a ceremony that had been put together over the course of less than a week. I wasn't even sure if my schedule would permit attending until a few hours ahead of time. With no official duties as photographer, I was spared the stress of making sure I had reflectors, casing out the wedding location, conferring with bride and groom and family, etc. etc. etc. I had no control over anything, so could simply take pictures as I found them and hope for the best!

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

Photo of the day: Ranger Ross

Ranger Ross by The Bacher Family
Ranger Ross, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

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

Photo of the day: Things that go bang in the night

Photographing fireworks is always such a matter of trial and error, and mostly error. You don't get a second shot, unless you have a second firework to set off! Exposure, especially, is a guessing game: too much, and your image is blown out with nothing but white spots; too little, and your image loses its spark, so to speak, disappearing into the night. And then there's the matter of proper timing, especially when something blows up.

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

Photo of the day: Line and tone

Line and tone by The Bacher Family
Line and tone, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Cities are so different from natural landscapes, with their sharp geometric lines and solid expanses of color. As such, they make great subjects for abstract arrangements of line and tone. I shot this image looking up from Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Photo of the day: American Camp

American Camp by The Bacher Family
American Camp, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
OK, first of all, you need to click on this image and then, in Flickr, type "L" to see it full-screen... it just doesn't have the full effect otherwise! Obviously this is several images stitched together, as seen from the high point at the American Camp in San Juan Island National Historical Park. It's a sweeping panorama from this vista, looking out over the prairie with Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Daniel was walking along the trail as I took the series of photos that would become the panorama, so when they were stitched together in Photoshop, he ended up duplicated, which I think it s a cool effect!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Photo of the day: British soldier at English Camp

On vacation on San Juan Island, we visited San Juan Island National Historical Park, site of the infamous (and little known) "Pig War" between the US and Great Britain in the 1850s. Today, that era of history is commemorated by periodic encampments in the regalia of the era. I captured this portrait of one of the reenactors in the evening light.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Photo of the day: Capturing the splash

Capturing the splash by The Bacher Family
Capturing the splash, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This was a totally experimental shot on the western shore of San Juan Island as we were watching the sunset. The waves were crashing in over the rocks, and I wondered, how can I capture that kinetic movement? I tried slow shutter speeds, but that just made a blurred mess of the water. Then I thought, what about a fast shutter, actually capturing the water in mid-splash? I was limited by the low light in how fast I could snap the shutter and still capture detail in the rocks, but as it turned out, this shot at 1/13 second was a very nice compromise between freezing the motion and capturing the blur of it. The water has just enough blur to show its velocity, but just enough definition to not completely disappear into the blur.

It's not a gallery-quality photo, but it was a fun challenge and I'm pleased with the results!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Photo of the day: Queen of the house

Queen of the house by The Bacher Family
Queen of the house, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

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

Photo of the day: Jessica on the San Juan Ferry

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

Photo of the day: David on the San Juan ferry

Via Flickr:
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

Photo of the day: Tutankhamen's golden staff

This magnificent staff originally was topped with blue feathers, based on residue left behind in the tomb. The exquisite gold inlay and carving, of course, better survived the ravages of time. This is one of the artifacts found in the burial chamber itself of Tutankhamen. I believe that the cartouche (hieroglyphic inscription) on the top of the staff represents King Tut's name.

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

Photo of the day: Winged jug

Winged jug by The Bacher Family
Winged jug, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
An exquisitely carved jar from the King Tut exhibit at Pacific Science Center. Can you imagine the hours and hours of work that went into carving this piece from a single block of source material? And I love the way they've done the lighting at the Science Center, spotlighting the artifacts so that the background disappears with an exposure metered on the foreground.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Photo of the day: King Tut's pocket game

It's not the most exquisitely crafted item in the King Tut collection at the Pacific Science Center, but it is one of my favorite photos... I love the lighting on this, with the pool of light highlighting the little game pieces in the foreground. And while it's not made of solid gold like so many of the other museum pieces, this one is just as carefully crafted, and in my view, conveys a lot more of the humanity of the Boy King than the elaborate canopic jars and burial masks in which he was laid to rest. This is a part of his life, something I'm much more intrigued by than his death.

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?

Photo of the day: An Egyptian quail

An Egyptian quail by The Bacher Family
An Egyptian quail, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Another exquisite artifact from the tomb of Tutankhamen...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Photo of the day: The panther in the tomb

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

Photo of the day: Tutankhamen

Tutankhamen by The Bacher Family
Tutankhamen, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

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

Photo of the day: Tutankhamen, the Boy King

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

Photo of the day: Unfurled

Unfurled by The Bacher Family
Unfurled, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Such exquisite detail is present in a bud unfurling from the end of a twig! I managed to capture this delicate specimen along the Comet Falls Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. I love the way the shallow depth of field focuses attention on the bud to the exclusion of all around it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Photo of the day: The weight of the world

Line of duty by The Bacher Family
Line of duty, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
For a park ranger, especially a supervisor, there's nothing harder than dealing with the loss of an employee in the line of duty. This was our second in six months: Ranger Nick Hall, who fell on the Emmons Glacier while helping with a rescue on the mountain. This day, the 27th of June, we had the difficult duty of organizing a press conference with Nick's father and brother. You can see how much the event weighed on our park superintendent and chief ranger by the care-worn look in their eyes and the stoop of their shoulders as they stand at attention near the outdoor podium.


Here's one of Superintendent Randy King chatting with reporters before the press conference.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Photo of the day: The Mountain in the clouds

This was one of those days when I took one look at the view at Kautz Creek as I drove by on my way home... and turned around and the next opportunity, grabbing my camera and sprinting out of the car even as I turned off the engine. I took a whole series of photos as the clouds moved in and out. This is my favorite. Mount Rainier so often looks just like this -- half hidden behind a gossamer veil of mist, beautiful in the evening light.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Photo of the day: Underwear models

Underwear models by The Bacher Family
Underwear models, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of the popular stations at Seattle PrideFest was this booth where you could buy all kinds of sexy underwear for men. They had a couple of buff models showing off the goods, so to speak. This woman was having a great time posing with them, and it made a great candid moment to capture on camera!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Photo of the day: Who needs Speedo?

Who needs Speedo? by The Bacher Family
Who needs Speedo?, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
A striking characteristic of the Pride Celebration following the Gay Pride Parade in Seattle is the tradition of, well, not exactly skinny dipping in the International Fountain, but also not bothering with traditional swimsuits. The vast majority of those who cool off on a hot day either do so in whatever clothing they happen to be wearing, or strip down to their underwear, whatever interesting form those skivvies might take. This woman was a delight to photograph, because I always love seeing people transcend the traditional inhibitions imposed on them by culture. Under what other circumstances would you see a plus-size woman with stretch marks splashing with abandon in a public fountain? It doesn't conform to society's typical standard of lipsuctioned perfection, but in a sense that is much more than skin deep, it's very beautiful.

Who needs Speedo II


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo of the day: Dancing in the fountain

The International Fountain is so much fun to photograph on a hot day, so I was very pleased when the sun finally came out after a cloudy morning at the Seattle Pride Parade! The fountain brings out the child in everyone, and they dance around in the water in their underwear with the kind of delight most people lose after about their 13th birthday. It's a delight to capture on camera!