No Tulips for Tommy

This is a quick one-fer to share an image from over the weekend.  The original plan was just to get out of the house for a few hours, but that turned into an all-day thing which included a trip to the Skagit Valley.  See, they grow tulips in the Skagit Valley, and every spring it’s a kind of a big deal to visit the area and check out the local farms.  There are massive fields for selling flowers and bulbs and also exquisitely designed gardens.  I wrote a little something about it a few years ago.  Anyway, we made the drive up there only to discover that we were about a week too early.  The tulips were just . . . about . . . to open up in an explosion of color, but almost none of them were quite there yet.

There were, however, daffodils, and I got a picture of Tommy walking through those fields.

We discovered during this outing that Tommy doesn’t like to walk on natural ground.  Although a prodigious walker since the age of 10 months, he’s only run around indoors.  I’m thinking that the uneven surface of real ground freaks him out a little bit, so now it is our goal to get him more comfortable with walking outside.  To that end, we had him walk around our backyard the following morning.

I guess this isn’t a one-fer anymore (also, that second picture was taken and processed with a smartphone, not a DSLR).  You’re getting two Tommy pictures, taken on back-to-back days, with some nice scenery in the background.  I hope he eventually appreciates the area in which he’s growing up.

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Marymere Falls in the Winter

It was late February when we took a day trip into the Olympic National Park.  The weather was mild for this time of year, but it was still gray, rainy and a little chilly.  Although there would be no pictures of blue skies and white, puffy clouds, the overcast sky made the colors of the forest really pop.  Here is my step daughter, who couldn’t resist getting in on the action, taking almost as many pictures as I did.

It’s a very short hike from the nearest parking lot to Marymere Falls, but a sign told us it would take about an hour and a half.  We scoffed.  Surely an easy 1.8 mile walk would be quick.  We did not account for how slowly we would walk through the beauty of nature and ended up taking longer.

It was challenging to capture just how green everything was.  I was well aware that this was a lush rainforest, but we felt like we were inside another world.

There’s a tree in there somewhere.

Along the walk to the falls, you pass a creek where the water is always flowing briskly.  I tried to shoot this same thing a few years ago.  I don’t know, was it better this time?

Just past the creek, there are two bridges.  One is more modern-looking than the other, but they are both pretty cool.  The trick is to get a shot when no one is on them.  This can take some patience, and your group may get grumpy with you for lagging behind them.  Here’s a view of the wooden bridge.

After the bridge come the stairs.  It gets a little steep here, and if you’ve pushed a baby stroller this far, you will push it no further.  There are a couple short switchbacks and then a muddy incline.  Although there are multiple viewing locations, all but one were closed due to dangerous conditions.  Eventually you’ll reach Marymere Falls.

I don’t remember that huge branch (tree? limb?) sticking out at the top the last time I was there.  I find it distracting in the image and almost Photoshopped it out.  But if you Google Marymere Falls, pretty much every image has this in it, so I guess it’s a permanent thing.  I would never want to use Photoshop to make a scene look unrealistic.

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Water Works in Maui

They say it’s always raining somewhere in Hawai’i.  It’s probably more accurate to say that it’s always raining somewhere on each island in Hawai’i, but that’s the cost of having a lush, tropical setting year-round.  And it’s usually still warm and sunny in most locations, while the rain is transient.  I don’t know if November is normally a good time (as far as weather goes) to be on Maui, but last November was one of the wettest they’ve ever had.

We took our first trip on the Road to Hana during this time (because, why not?) and apparently saw some things people don’t normally see due to the heavy rain.  Our guide was pretty awestruck with these waterfalls.  He repeatedly said he’d never seen this much water rushing over them.

Standing by the side of the road to get this shot, it was loud (like a jet engine) and wet.  I mean, it was wet everywhere.  The air was wet, even though it wasn’t raining at that exact moment.  Does it look more dramatic in a vertical format?

We started the day on the Ke’anae Peninsula.  Actually we started the day at about 4:00 in the morning in a Starbucks parking lot because we wanted to be at Ke’anae for sunrise.  When we got there, it was still dark.

Eventually it got lighter as the sun came up, but we never really got a sunrise.  Although that didn’t happen, the surf was certainly active, and that gave us a different kind of show.

Seriously, the waves that morning were most impressive.  Check out the height of the waves compared to the houses in this next one.

I took about 3 million shots of the above three things.  I just couldn’t leave that spot because it was so awesome.  Even though we didn’t get a gorgeous sunrise that day, the light was still beautiful.  When I was able to break myself away from looking at the waves, here’s how the scene looked with the sunrise light on it.

Perhaps that’s not the prettiest scene ever, but the light – the light!

It actually didn’t rain on us for our entire Road-to-Hana trip.  And what a trip it was!  I’ll be sharing the rest of the things we saw that day soon.

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My Favorites of 2015

A lot of my 2015 was spent taking pictures of a certain baby boy.  On March 1st my son Tommy was born, and from that point on he ended up being the subject of many of my images.  Of course, every picture of him is a favorite of mine, but this one was an artistic attempt when he was about 3 weeks old.

I also got to shoot a lot of my step daughter’s soccer games this year.  At one point I stopped travelling for work, so I was home and ready to shoot many more games this year than in the past.  As luck would have it, her team did better this year than any previous season, so that added some extra excitement.

Even with a new baby around, we still managed to take a few trips and see some interesting things.  We made it out to Kaua’i a couple of times, and I got to visit the Allerton Gardens again.  This time we were there for the sunset dinner, so I got to see the place at, you know, sunset.

On a different trip, we took a small plane tour and got to see the island from the air.  I guess that’s the post right before this one, but I’m surprised I didn’t share this image of the Na Pali coast before.  The rock formations are called cathedrals, and they are breathtaking.

We also managed to get to Maui this past year, but it was in November and very rainy at the time.  Really, it was much rainier than usual for Hawai’i.  That extra water lead to many scenes like this one of some very swollen waterfalls.

I was in my 30’s before I went to Hawai’i the first time.  I guess we’re making up for lost time now.  But after all, it is just the next state over.  I was 40 years old the first time I saw the Grand Canyon.  My son was 4 months old for his first visit.

Sedona, Arizona (where we were staying for the Grand Canyon visit) is absolutely beautiful and much greener than I was expecting.  I had the shot below printed huge at 36″x 24″, and it looked great.  It makes me want to get other big prints made.

For some reason I found myself in Atlanta in 2015, where I ran around trying to find shooting locations for The Walking Dead.

I managed to get some non-Waling Dead pictures in Atlanta too . . .

. . . and even see Eric Burdon and The Animals perform.

I finally made it up to Orcas Island in 2015.  The area around the San Juan Islands is endless with beauty.  This was a quick trip, so I don’t have a whole lot of images, but boat tour was sublime.

Speaking of “up there in the San Juans”, there was also a trip to Victoria BC in 2015.  Here is a shot that proves Tommy walked in foreign lands before he was a year old (dressed as  a football no less).

There was that wedding I ended up shooting in Michigan in the pouring rain.

And there was that trip to the farm in Rosemount, Minnesota.

Of course there were some images to be seen closer to home this past year too.  Like St. James cathedral in Seattle.

A cargo ship parked in front of Mt. Rainier.

This year’s 4th of July fireworks show on Vashon Island.

And toward the end of the year, I got asked to shoot the children’s Nutcracker performance here on Vashon.  I’ve always wanted to do this, but they’ve always had a guy for it.  This year was my year, and I may be shooting more Vashon Allied Arts things in the future.

So I guess it was a pretty full year.  Looking back, we apparently did a lot of things, and these are just some of the highlights.  Hopefully 2016 will be at least as exciting (in a good way).

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Soaring Over Kaua’i

The last time we were in Kaua’i, we booked a small plane tour around the island.  It was fantastic.  Although we did a helicopter tour over Maui some years ago, the plane tour was different somehow, and I think I liked it better.  Still, if you’re able to afford both, I’d recommend trying each at least once.

There were 7 people total on the plane.  This includes the pilot and our 7-month-old son.  He’s a good flier, but he fell asleep halfway through the flight.  I guess he wasn’t that impressed.  There’s no grabbing for seats on this plane.  They weigh each passenger beforehand and then assign seating to balance the plane.  The seat they assigned me was the co-pilot’s seat, and it was as cool as that sounds.

We almost didn’t fly at all.  The flight was almost cancelled due to inclement weather.  We flew anyway, and I was worried not about having an unsafe flight, but about not getting good shots of the island.  The website for this tour described it as a photographer’s dream, and I wanted to live the dream.  I thought the views would be obscured by too many gray clouds, and that turned out to be partially correct.  There were no clear blue and sunny skies, and there were a few times when the rain completely blocked the landscape.

I still managed to get a few good shots though.  Since we’ve been around Kaua’i a few times before (on the ground), it was neat to see things from this different perspective.  The pilot was great about pointing out pretty much everything on the ground.  You’re familiar with Waimea Canyon?  It’s “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  I looks pretty cool from the air, even on a cloudy day.

Waipoo Falls is the big waterfall in the canyon, and it looks pretty darn cool from above.

Do you remember Hurricane Iniki back in 1992?  I wasn’t there for it, but they say it pretty much wiped out everything on Kaua’i.  This plane tour we’re talking about was in 2015, and you can still see huge swaths of land destroyed by that hurricane that haven’t fully recovered yet.

Then there’s something they don’t tell you on the website.  There was radio chatter – lots of it, from other tours.  Everyone in the plane had headsets on, and we could talk to each other and the pilot.  That’s how he would tell us about the spots down on the ground.  Apparently this is some kind of open channel, and everyone else in the area could hear us and our pilot.  And everyone else could chime in if they felt so inclined.  One person who felt very inclined to be part of our tour was our pilot’s buddy who was flying a helicopter nearby.  Most of his interjections were related to South Park.  Specifically, he had a penchant for talking like Towelie (the anthropomorphic towel character who was always stoned).  So, you’re going to have to imagine our pilot telling us in a professional-sounding pilot’s voice that we were about to fly over, for example, Mahaulepu Beach.  Then imagine some guy coming in over the headset, in Towelie’s high-pitched voice, saying, “If you’re gonna fly over Mahaulepu Beach, don’t forget to bring a towel.”

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