Showing posts from 2012

Merry Christmas!

I found this photo while transferring files to a new computer.  It is one of the first photos (number 11 to be exact) I took with my first digital camera.  It was a Canon S2 IS with 5 megapixels and a zoom lens.  I thought I was fixed for life and it served me very well.

This is Skagit Bay on December 22, 2008.  We would end up with about 14 inches of snow.  Western Washington roads between the Canadian and Oregon borders were pretty much shut down.  Mountain passes were closed and the ocean beaches had blizzard conditions.  Unlike other parts of the country, spring and summer weather is usually pretty dull here.  Fall and winter, on the other hand, are always interesting.

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

Loggers in the Garden

When people purchase wooded property to build a home, usually the first thing they do is cut down all the trees.  Not me.  I wanted to keep the trees.  I wanted big Douglas and Grand Fir trees in my garden.  Perhaps you can understand why from this photo taken yesterday during a brief, late-December sunbreak.

They are a mixed blessing.  Gardening beneath them is much more difficult than I anticipated.  They are big, greedy resource hogs.  A far-reaching network of rootlets sucks up all available moisture and nutrients.  I always have needles tracked into the house, in my truck and in the gutters.  When the windstorms kick up, there is always a worry about them coming down.  Nevertheless, I have no regrets.  After 25 years, they are like very good friends with just a few bad habits.  I think they also allow wildlife to feel comfortable visiting the yard.

Like any plant in the garden, the big trees need tending.  For this I engaged an ISA certified arborist.  He recommended removing th…

High Tide

High Tide occurred at 8:43 AM this morning.  With an astronomical tide of 11.9 feet (3.63 meters), the water level should have just reached the driftwood line.  We also had a storm pass through overnight.  At 1:39 AM, barometric pressure bottomed at 28.908 inches (978.94 mbar) giving us the lowest value for the year.

It was quite windy here yesterday evening and overnight, but at the time of the high tide this morning, winds were calm.  The trailing edge of the storm produced northerly winds.  We are usually sheltered from north and west winds on this part of Fidalgo Island.  Nevertheless, the combination of low atmospheric pressure and wind added one to two feet to the tides throughout Puget Sound.  A flock of Canada Geese seem to be enjoying the neighbor's flooded lawn.

This could be a look at our future under a regime of global climate change and rising seas.

West Seattle also experienced an unusually high tide this morning:

Next up, a promise 2-4 inches of snow tonight and tom…

Windows 8: It's Not Bad

This is my first blog post written on a brand new computer.  As some may notice, I am also marking the occasion with a new look for the blog.  After doing some shopping and checking reviews, I have settled on a new desktop machine rather than another laptop.  With an Intel i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 2 TB of disk space and an IPS monitor, it is a truly great photo editing and blogging machine.

A new computer meant considering Windows 8.  After reading all the negative reviews, I was apprehensive about the prospects of the the new OS.  Then I noticed something about all the bad-mouthing.  It sounded vaguely familiar.  When Microsoft adopted the ribbon menu for Office, I heard the same complaints, "confusing," "bewildering," "incoherent," "disappointing," "annoying" and the like.  Once I located the first tool in the ribbon menu with a little help from Google, I discovered that it was easy to predict where to find everything.  The ribbon…


The term "macro" refers to photographing small things up close.  It seems to me it should really be "micro."  To add to my confusion, Canon calls their macro lenses "macro." while Nikon calls theirs "micro."  Apparently, I am not the only one confused by the term.  Perhaps the solution is to just call them "close-ups."  They were shot with the Canon 7D and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens.  Those are Pacific Crabapples (Malus fusca) in the photo.

This time of year, clear skies bring out photographers and chilly temperatures.  All of these photos were taken along the Upland Trail at the Breazeale Interpretive Center.  This is the headquarters location of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  Fidalgo Island can be seen across Padilla Bay.  The visitors' center includes a museum and aquariums.

Macro photography can create interesting images from mundane things.  Even in late November, Blackberries are still…

Nootka Rose Hips

The Wild Rose fruits of Rosa nutkana is a sign of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.  These were growing along the dike at Wiley Slough in the Skagit River delta.  The hips linger on the canes long after the leaves have dropped, providing a food source for lucky wildlife.  They are a favorite of Douglas Squirrels, but too bad for them, I have never seen any of those critters out there.

Thanksgiving Day

Visiting Deception Pass State Park seems to have become a Thanksgiving tradition for me.  Last year it was quite windy, but things were calmer this year.  The sky was overcast, but the day brought a lull between a series of storms rolling in off the Pacific.  Another storm with high winds and heavy rain is expected to arrive after midnight.  November is usually our rainiest month.

The state park straddles both Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands with the iconic Deception Pass Bridge connecting the two.  More information about the bridge may be found in a previous post.

Shades of gray and green are the colors of the season.  I am told that artists appreciate the winter light here because it lacks harsh shadows.  Of course we also enjoy those moments we call "sun breaks" when the clouds part, regardless how brief they may be.

This visit also gave me a chance to try out a brand new Canon 7D camera.  It is a step up from the T3i Rebel I have been using.  The bridge provided a great sub…


The Japanese Maple, Acer Palmatum, is a Pacific Northwest garden favorite.  Our climate, Asian heritage and design aesthetic make it a natural choice.  In summer, the leaves of 'Osakazuki' are a rich green.  In the fall, they put on a spectacular crimson show during late October and early November.  The Sunset Western Garden Book describes them as the variety "with the best fall color."  The brilliant red in the photos has been given a bit of shine by a rain shower.  I have not exaggerated the red color through editing.  In fact, it was necessary to tone down the red saturation a bit in these images.

Japanese Maples are small scale trees available in many forms and leaf colors.  Sizes range from 4 foot (1.2 m) dwarfs to around 20-25 feet (6-8 m).  Osakazuki is one of the larger varieties.  They seem to like the same growing conditions as Rhododendrons and Azaleas.  Mine are thriving in the native glacial till soil which tends to be dry and packed hard in the summer.…

Seeing the Forest

Autumn has arrived on South Fidalgo Island with cooler temperatures and a welcome bit of rain.  Between showers, it's a great time for a walk in the woods.  Nearby Deception Pass State Park is one of the best places to see both the forest and the trees.  Hang your Discover Pass on your rear-view mirror and join me on a hike in the woods.

Overcast skies paint the landscape in shades of gray now.  Blustery winds will kick up some surf along the beach at Bowman Bay.  Our destination will be Lighthouse Point on Deception Pass.   It sits on the outer edge of Reservation Head on the right in the photo.  This is actually a small island that is connected to Fidalgo by a tombolo or sand bar.  The trail to Lighthouse Point begins just past the fishing dock.

A Great Blue Heron finds the railing of the dock a convenient place to rest after some early morning fishing.

The trail begins with a brief climb, skirts the cliff over Bowman Bay, then descends back down to the beach.  A small wetland …