Painting is just another way of keeping a diary ~Pablo Picasso

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sand, Sky, and Surf

One of my favorite things about the ocean beaches in the Pacific Northwest is how a layer of water sits on the sand as the tide pulls out and reflects the surroundings so perfectly!  At Rockaway Beach, Oregon on Monday it was all clouds and sky at the water's edge.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tide Pools

The tide was coming in Monday afternoon at Rockaway Beach, Oregon, slowly connecting all the tide pools that were covering most of the beach.  We mainly saw minnows in these tide pools, but we also saw a few purple starfish which was sort of surprising because these were such little pools.  And I'm not sure exactly how they form, but if you stand on the sand in a low area between the tide pools it acts sort of like quicksand, moving quickly under your feet as you sink into the muck.  The nearby sand is much firmer so you just stand right on top of it.  I'm not really sure what accounts for that difference though. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hello, Summer!

We welcomed the unofficial start of summer yesterday with an afternoon trip to Rockaway Beach, Oregon.  I wasn't sure what the weather would be like at the coast, but we had beautiful sunshine and a cool breeze, perfect beach-combing weather!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day

Very honored to place flags at the Washington Soldiers Home Cemetery in Orting this morning along with the local Knights of Columbus and Boy Scouts. This isn't a VA cemetery; it is maintained by the State of Washington as part of the soldiers home, which was established in 1889.  Many of the early graves are Civil War veterans, and we found two graves of  veterans of the U.S. Mexican War (1846-1847).  Other graves included veterans from the Spanish American War (1898),World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War.  Notably, five Congressional Medal of Honor recipients are buried in the Orting Cemetery.  The Knights of Columbus have been placing flags at the grave sites for over 40 years.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Going to Seed

A close up of the grass seed I was trying to photograph yesterday. I'm not sure if this is in fact grass though. The base of the plant has weed-like leaves that spread out like a dandelion. However the seed looks a lot like some of the grasses around here, which is why I'm uncertain. By the way, the field grass I photographed a few weeks ago is now almost 4ft tall! I can't believe how big things grow out here! And so many different varieties. The thing I liked about this variety is the way it goes to seed, from top to bottom in these little white Saturn rings. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wild Rose

It's been a long time since I've done any macro shots.  This afternoon I put the macro filter on my 50mm lens and headed out to photograph (unsuccessfully) some of the tall grass varieties going to seed right now.  Frustrated and heading home, I happened to notice this variegated wild rose blooming just off the sidewalk, and set my sights on photographing it instead.   My latest attempt at copying one of my favorite Jim Brandenburg photos. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sunset on the Columbia

Driving through the gorge earlier this week, we were treated to a pretty colorful sunset for this time of year.  We pulled over at a vista point, along with several dozen other travelers, and enjoyed the view.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ready, Set...

Jump!  This little guy was so cute, hopping from lily pad to lily pad on the beaver pond at McLane Creek.  This was his last hop before he spotted a mosquito flitting by.  He flew up and snatched it out of the air just a few feet from where I was standing.  It was very impressive to watch!  Not exactly sure what variety of sparrow he is.  Maybe some of my birder blog-friends will know.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Strawberry Field

This is a favorite field of mine; I also photographed it last December in the post Weather Nexus. I like how the gentle curve of the land bends the field rows. I didn't realize back in December that this was a strawberry field, although maybe I could have guessed because strawberries are grown in very steep rows like this. The field is filling up with flowers, so it should be full of strawberries by mid-June.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Changing Seasons

I love the first year in a new location, because each new season brings so many little surprises.  I took a few weeks off walking Clover, first because I was busy and then because I caught a cold (from being too busy).  Now I'm back on the walking route, and it's got a whole new look.  Where did all this tall grass come from?  And how could it be about to go to seed already?  This grass is in every vacant field along our route, and stands about three feet tall.  It glows in the sunlight, and I just love looking at it. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rainy Reflection

Some mossy old logs were jutting out of the water at Round Lake in Lacamas Park. I thought they made a neat reflection, and liked the idea of combining the reflection with the rain droplets. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Knot There

My walking route with Clover includes passing along several blocks of backyard fences of varying ages.  All the weathered fences have lost their knots.  Sometimes we see a dog snout poking through, and Clover and the other dog get to say hello, but not today.  I thought these knotholes made an interesting face with a vacant-eyed stare.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I was fascinated by this interesting balancing act at Cedar Creek this morning.  The stick has lodged perfectly above the rock in this fast moving water.  As the water rushed past it, the stick would pivot back and forth ever so slightly on its fulcrum, but wouldn't dislodge.  It will take a change in water flow to shift the balance here, and I wonder how long the stick will balance.  For now, it feels like a good metaphor. After a hectic few months, things are feeling more balanced. I'm happy to pause and enjoy the moment.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Flock Flight

My final photo in the series, which plays out like a flip animation. This was the last shot I got before the birds settled down.  It best shows the white and black spotted bellies, and also shows the really fascinating flight flock phenomenon. How these birds can fly so closely together and turn with such precision is one of the amazing things about them, and just so mesmerizing to watch. The thing you can't see in a photo is how fast they are moving.  I had lots of time to practice with my best shutter speed as the birds came in from high tide, and I finally settled on my fastest option which is 1/4000 of a second.  But I had adjusted to 1/1000 of a second when I was photographing the birds standing in the shoreline and wasn't prepared for this big flying flock.  I hardly ever use shutter speeds this fast. These birds can really move!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sandpipers and Dunlins

I'm about exhausting my shorebird knowledge here, but the birds with the black bellies are the dunlins.  They are a variation of sandpiper, which has the white belly.  Gray's Harbor NWR gets an enormous volume of shorebirds, but not a large variety.  The count peaks in the upper 40,000s, with mainly sandpiper and dunlin and two other similar species. The birds arrive from San Francisco and they each stop over for up to four days and then continue their migration up to Alaska. (This is what I learned from the birders as we waited for the tide to recede.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014


We were all busily viewing and photographing the shorebirds as they returned in small groups to feed in the receding mudflats, when all of a sudden the entire flock sitting on the large log lifted up at once and flew overhead!  All these birds flew right into my shot! If only I had one of the super big wildlife lenses I would have had great resolution on this shot, but unfortunately I had to crop to get this.  I think next year I'll try going back and rent one of the big lenses.  I did that a few years ago, and carried it around like a baby for the weekend (it weighed as much as a baby at just over 10lbs!)  By the end of the weekend I had sore biceps.  One of the photographers told me that she has had her lens for several years and carries it around all the time so she doesn't even notice it.  So in addition to great closeups of wildlife I would also be getting my workout in!