Washington State Fair

I rarely get to the Washington State Fair unless our grandchildren are showing their 4-H animals.  But since they haven’t done that for awhile, it’s been several years since I’ve attended, and I’ve never gone with the sole purpose of taking night photos.  But this year Gary Wells, Scott Wood, and I ventured north to Puyallup to see the sights, eat the food, and shoot the rides – with our cameras!  Here are some of my favorite resulting images.  These were all shot in manual mode with the Blub setting so I basically just guessed at how long to keep the shutter open.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but it’s really the only way because you’d go crazy trying to set up the proper exposure every time.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Mt Rainier Snowshoe Trip

In March the Camera Club took another chance on a Mt Rainier Field Trip.  We had scheduled it previously this year, but the weather turned bad and that trip was canceled.  This month we got lucky.  It was a beautiful day – sunny and warm.  Warm for March, anyway.  We went with no particular plans in place.  But once there one of our members learned that we could join a free, ranger led snowshoe walk.  Several of us took advantage of that opportunity and donned the provided snowshoes.  If ever you decide to do this, you should know it is not an easy, level hike.  There were lots of up and down hill sections, and for me, it was very strenuous.  I also recommend you bring your own trekking poles with snow baskets attached because they do not provide poles.  Luckily I had mine with me and didn’t fall, but several others who didn’t have poles, did fall and found out how difficult it is to get up when you fall in deep snow.  All in all, it was an excellent experience.  It’s been years since I’ve been on snowshoes, and I’m not sure I’ll be racing out to do it again, but I’m still glad I did it.  So when winter comes again, consider a Mt Rainier snowshoe trip.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.


Visiting Seattle

Last weekend my son Kevin from Alaska brought his girlfriend, Mandy and his daughter, Savanah down for a visit.  This was the first time they had visited Washington for a long time and the first time Kevin had brought Mandy down.  Kevin and Savanah are big Seahawk fans, so one of the things they especially wanted to see while visiting Seattle was CenturyLink Field where the Hawks play.  In addition to the stadium we took them to the Space Needle, the Pike’s Street Market, and the Wheel.  Riding the Wheel on a rainy night didn’t produce any photos, but I did get some images at the various other locations.  Also, at the end of the photo set are some Seattle skyline photos I took on another trip to Seattle a couple weeks prior to Kevin’s visit.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

The Seattle Butterfly House

The Olympia Camera Club takes a field trip each month.  When winter comes, it’s a bit difficult to take trips that involve outside photography, so this month we took a trip to Seattle to the Butterfly House at the Seattle Science Center.  Chasing butterflies around the hothouse wasn’t too difficult as there were plenty just sitting on flowers or leaves.  What I found to be difficult was getting enough depth of field to get the complete butterfly in focus.  I took my 105mm f/2.8 macro lens but really was not able to shoot at f/2.8 due to the fact that the butterflies are generally not on a flat plane to the camera.  Even at f/7.1 I was still frustrated.  I think the solution is to take a flash unit and shoot a high shutter speed and also about f/16 to get the complete insect in focus.  A flash will also allow me to keep my ISO down low to help retain detail.  As it was I was shooting up ro ISO 1600 with my D800e.  I was  also wishing that I had had my 70-200mm f/2.8 so I could stand back more from the butterflies and still get close-up shots.  I’m really looking forward to doing this again.  Practice makes perfect – well close, anyway.

After we had our fill of shooting butterflies, we drove up to Kerry park to shoot the sunset over the Seattle skyline.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

The Pelicans of La Jolla California

If you go to La Jolla in January to shoot pelicans you won’t be disappointed.  The pelicans of La Jolla, California can be counted on year after year to be putting on a colorful display on the rocky cliffs of this small community. The males will be in full breeding plumage, so they are quite colorful. Along with pelicans, you can expect to see Cormorants, California Sea Lions, Seals, and a variety of other shore birds.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Santee Lakes in California

Part of the photography workshop in the San Diego area took us to Santee Lakes on two different occasions.  Santee Lakes in California have a tremendous variety of waterfowl that stick around throughout the winter so it’s a great place to take a camera and concentrate on the various kinds of birds you find there.

Birds we saw include Wood Ducks, Northern Pintail, American Coot, American Wigeon, Mallards, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, and a variety of small song birds.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.


Animals of San Diego Zoo

As part of a winter get-away to San Diego for a photo workshop in January, we spent a whole day exploring the San Diego Zoo.  In my previous post I focused solely on the Flamingos, so here are a few of the other animals we saw at the zoo.

It was quite a warm day, and most animals were content to laze around in the shade.  But a few did manage to pose nicely for us.

I loved photographing the animals of San Diego Zoo, but it becomes a very tiring day when you’re carrying camera gear around all day long.  I found it to be very worthwhile to rent a baby stroller for the day to carry the backpack in.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Flamingos at the Zoo

When I visited the San Diego Zoo in January 2014 I was intent on photographing a wide variety of animals.  As it turned out, I had so many beautiful images of Flamingos, that I decided to dedicate this whole blog post to just the flamingos at the zoo.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Christmas at Fort Nisqually

This year the Olympia Camera Club took their December field trip to the Christmas at Fort Nisqually celebration.  This event features volunteers in period costume depicting life at Fort Nisqually the way it was back in the mid 1800s.  It makes for a great photo opportunity, but also a fun time for children of all ages.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.


Close to Home


When November comes around here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard to make myself get out to take photos.  The weather is usually dreary and cold which does nothing to inspire picture taking.  But I did get out a couple times.

On November 12, I  took a drive over to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.  I’ve been here many times before, but there is always something going on there.  On this day I particularly wanted to practice with my 200-400mm lens mounted on just a monopod instead of the full tripod.  I also wanted to play with the ISO on the Nikon D3S to see how high I could push it and still get usable images.  So I set the shutter speed at 1600th of a second, Aperture at f/4 and enabled auto-ISO.  In most cases I was shooting at ISO 1000 or less, but in the case of the deer in the woods, that image was at ISO 12,800.  After applying the noise reduction feature in Lightroom, I think that image came out fine.

A few days later I ventured into Mason County to explore some areas I hadn’t been before and found a nice state park on Hartstine Island.  Jarroll Cove is a boating state park that also has road access.  There are mooring buoys as well as drive in campsites.  I found a couple nice waterfront locations and shot a some sunsets.  On the way home I stopped at the top of the hill outside of Shelton to shoot the lumber mill at night.

I really love the D3S for wildlife, especially birds in flight.  My Mason County landscapes were all taken on the Nikon D800E and I love that camera too.  They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but together give me everything I need.

Here is a sampling of what I shot those days. For the complete Nisqually gallery, click here.  For the complete Mason County gallery, click here.

Hood Canal in Fall

Since coming home from the Tetons I had been taking a bit of a break from photography until my friend Rosalind suggested I join her on a trip to Mt. Rainier on Friday, October 25.  By the time Friday came, it was pretty clear that there wouldn’t be any fall colors left at Rainier so we decided to take a drive up Hood Canal.  This was a great time to explore not only the canal, but also some of the side roads that follow rivers like the Duckabush, Dosewallips, and Hamma Hamma.  We really were a bit too late for colors, but still found some great streams to photograph as well as lots of “fallen color” on the forest floor.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Grand Tetons Photo Tour

I’ve always wanted to visit Grand Tetons National Park and since it is right south of Yellowstone, it makes sense to do both parks at the same time.  That’s why when I signed up for a photo tour in the Tetons I took extra time to visit Yellowstone as well.  (see my previous post).  I was signed up for a tour with Dirt Cheap Photo Tours for September 26.  Prior to that I had some decent weather in Yellowstone, but by the 25th the snows had started in both Yellowstone and the Tetons.  The tour ran Thursday through Sunday and we didn’t get one clear day during the whole tour.  Most of my landscape “keepers” were taken either in the days before the tour started or during the couple days after the tour. However, during the tour we did spend some time shooting wildlife when we came across, moose, bison, pronghorn, deer and bears.  So all in all, it was a bit of a frustrating tour, but I did come home with a few decent images and now I just know I need to go again on my own when I have the time to wait out the weather.  I can’t put any blame on the tour manager – it was all based on weather and he can’t control that.

Added to the weather problems was the ridiculous government shutdown that started on October 1st that kept me from staying longer in either park.  The irony was that the fall color was beginning to peak and the weather did actually clear up on October 1st, but instead of being able to take advantage of the prime conditions, everyone was forced to leave the park.  I managed to get some shots inside the park at Oxbow Bend by driving in on the night of September 30th and parking in the parking lot of the viewpoint overnight.  When I woke up, there were probably a hundred other photographers who either did the same or drove in very early before the park rangers were manning the toll booths.  I spent the day of October 1st capturing the sunrise at Oxbow and then moving south through the park trying to get shots I had missed when the weather was bad.  I hated to head out the gates because I knew that once I did, I wouldn’t get back in, but once I did, I headed up to the Hedrick Pond overlook, where I spent the night capturing the sunset, northern lights, and then the sunrise before leaving Jackson Hole and heading over Teton Pass towards Idaho.  On the trip home I spent a night with a friend in Boise and then drove to Cheney to spend the night at my sister’s house before making the final push for home.  So all in all, I was gone 2 weeks.  It felt good to get home, but I do wish I had had the freedom to spend more time in Yellowstone after the Tetons tour.  –  Oh well, there’s always next time…….

Here is a sampling of what I shot on the trip. For the complete gallery, click here.

Solo Trip to Yellowstone

In late summerI booked a photo tour in the Grand Tetons for September 26.  I decided I wanted to head east early enough to visit Yellowstone before and after my 4 day Tetons tour.  As it turned out I left Yellowstone a day earlier than planned due to an incoming snow storm and was not able to return after the Teton tour due to the government shut down.  I did, however, have a few nice days to explore a small part of Yellowstone.

I traveled alone in our 1989 Volkswagen Syncro Westfalia camper van.  After spending a night in Colfax, WA at the home of friends, I headed for Gardiner, MT where I spent the night in a rest area a few miles outside of town.  The next morning I was up early and into the park before dawn.  My routing the first day was Gardiner, Norris, Canyon Village, Tower, Lamar Valley and back to Gardiner.  I stayed in Gardiner that night.  The second day my route was Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris, Madison, West Yellowstone and then I stayed the night in the campground at Madison.  I had planned to spend the next day touring Old Faithful, West Thumb and Fishing Bridge, but since the forecast was for lots of snow overnight, I headed south through Old Faithful, West Thumb, and south to the Tetons.  It would not have been good to get stuck in Yellowstone with road closures and miss my tour!  Getting to the Tetons early worked out well as it allowed me time to explore a bit on my own and also get a much needed shower at the rec. center in Jackson.

I’m already making plans for a return trip to Yellowstone.  I’d love to spend a couple weeks or more there and get off the main road system a bit.  Here are a few photos from this trip. My next post will be some photos of the Tetons – stay tuned.

Here is a sampling of what I shot those days. For the complete gallery, click here.

Percival Landing

It has been awhile since I’ve taken the camera out. I don’t know why, but after a pretty busy June and July, I’ve just been taking a break. But I’ve started to feel antsy and needed to get out and shoot something. So I headed down to Percival Landing at sunset to catch the golden light and hopefully a nice sunset. The sunset never really materialized. There were no clouds to catch the suns last color, but there was a huge bank of gray clouds covering the Olympics. Even so, I still came home with a few shots.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

The Palouse in July

In mid July the Olympia Camera Club went on a weekend field trip to the Palouse region of Washington state.  Fellow member, Jack Lien, of Four Seasons Photo Tours, had offered to lead the group around to some of his favorite areas for shooting the rolling wheat fields, old barns and some old trucks.

Some members stayed at the Best Western hotel in Colfax, while about 6 people opted to camp at either Jack’s farm or at the fairgrounds.

Jack took us to some great locations for landscapes, but the highlight of the trip for many was the lesson on night shooting when we went out to shoot an old grain elevator, some trees, and the night sky after dark.

I’ve been to the Palouse before in June and everything was very green.  The Palouse in July is a little more golden, but there is still plenty of green and lots of interesting contrast in the rolling hills.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Family Trip to San Juan Island

I have two sisters and a brother and although we all live in Washington state we are spread out far enough that we rarely see each other. Usually the only time we all get together is Christmas at our parents house, and even then my sister in Spokane usually won’t do the drive over the mountains in the winter. (Can’t say I blame her!)  So when brother Bruce and his wife Tina invited the whole family to spend some time together in July at their place on San Juan Island, we all made it a priority to try to get there. Dale and I and Kim and Lee brought our VW camper vans to sleep in. Others slept in the main house, the guest shack or Bruce’s VW camper. It was cool to see 3 Westfalias; red, white and blue parked in the driveway! Very appropriate for the week of July 4th! Even our cousin, Delcie from Victoria rode the ferry down to see everyone. A few of our kids and grandchildren were there too along with several dogs. In the evening we had a great campfire with the music of a guitar, a couple Bruce’s African drums, and some rather weak singing.

The weather was perfect and everyone had a great time. Dale and I took a drive one day to explore the island and look for photographs. The photos below include some of those, but the full gallery also has some family photos for my siblings to enjoy.

Here is a sampling of what I shot on this outing. For the complete gallery, click here.

Trip to Tacoma

Every year I go to Alaska in March to volunteer for the Iditarod. As a result, I’ve met people from all over the world, and have come to call many of them good friends. So when one of these friends from the San Francisco Bay Area said he was going on vacation to Seattle, I suggested we get together.

Ian loves using public transit and his own two feet to explore the cities he travels too. He said he wanted to take the bus to Tacoma to visit the Museum of Glass, so we agreed to meet there and then use my car to other areas after that.  After touring the glass museum we crossed the Chihuly Bridge of Glass to the old Union Station and enjoyed the old architecture and more Chihuly glass art inside.

Next we drove to Point Defiance and visited Fort Nisqually, which is a replica of the Hudson’s Bay fort that was originally located in the DuPont area south of Tacoma.  Volunteers dressed in period costumes are eager to talk to you about life at the fort in 1855. For more photos of Fort Nisqually, see my older post; Christmas at Fort Nisqually.

Ian also had a goal to ride a Washington State Ferry, so we left Tacoma via the Tacoma Narrows bridge for Gig Harbor, had lunch, and then drove on to Bremerton. Once we got to Bremerton, we found a small lavender farm to visit and then I dropped him at the ferry terminal for the ride back to Seattle as a foot passenger. I had a nice drive back to Olympia via Belfair, Union, and Shelton.

Oh, and regarding the lavender farm in Bremerton. Ian got some photos there with his point and shoot camera, but because I had a “professional” camera (Nikon D800E) I was not allowed to take photographs. I don’t quite understand that, but it really ticked me off. I was going to buy some lavender to plant in my yard, but I changed my mind after that! Some people are just wound too tight.  So the one photo I have of the lavender farm at the end of the set was taken with my “non-professional” iPhone!

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.


Flowers in the Backyard

Not much I can say about these. I mounted the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 and went out to the backyard in search of flowers It was the first time I’ve mounted this macro lens on the Nikon D800E and I was very pleased with the results.

Nature Walk with the 200-400mm Lens

I haven’t used the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 since February when I shot Snowy Owls so I decided to take it on a walk to McLane Nature Trail to look for ducks. As it turned out, there weren’t many ducks and the few Wood Ducks I did see had lost all their color since it was well past their mating season. There were babies, but they were past the really cute stage, so I continued walking and found a few wildflowers. I’ve never shot “macro” with a big telephoto before, but it was the only lens I brought, so I decided to give it a try. I had it mounted on a monopod with my new Kirk monopod head. I decided I really love that head. It offers much more control than my regular ball head.

So I got a few ducks, a Cedar Waxwing, and some flowers. Not a total loss.

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.

Yosemite National Park

After what we felt to be a very successful photo workshop on the east side of the Sierras, we headed over Tioga Pass for a visit to Yosemite Valley.  This was probably my 6th visit to the valley, so I had a basic idea of the lay of the land, but I wasn’t prepared for the high volumes of people or the heat.  Before I had generally visited in either the spring or the fall when kids were in school and temperatures were cooler.  Since we weren’t prepared to do any real hiking, we were faced with doing all the touristy spots along with everyone else.  Guess I knew that would happen, but . . .  on top of that we ended up in the worst motel I’ve ever stayed in – primarily because I was looking for something close to the park entrance and inexpensive.  Had we been willing to drive further or pay more, I’m sure we would have done much better.

Even so, we came, we saw and got some photos, and that was our intent.  My favorite time was when we drove up to Glacier Point to wait for the sunset.  By then, most of the other people were gone and the temperature was more bearable!

Here is a sampling of what I shot that day. For the complete gallery, click here.