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Safe Harbor

September 16th, 2015

Safe Harbor

After returning to our little home from San Juan Island, and a well deserved nights rest we booked a place on the ferry from Whidbey island to Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula.

From Port Townsend we traveled inland to Port Angeles, when we got there it was raining off and on, and the sky was heavily overcast. After spending some time at the coast there whishing the skies would clear just a little to add some color to the dark gray clouds. After watching the antics of a little raccoon that was begging food from the others parked there, then looking at a couple of little shops we left Port Angeles, and headed into the Olympic national park, the route we took went up the hill to Hurricane ridge, but that is a story for another day.

After our trip up the mountain it was time to head back to Port Townsend and the ferry back to Whidbey island. As we pulled into Port Townsend we took a wrong turn which took us down the main road into the city, happily we found a bunch of historic, and interesting buildings there, if you get a chance you need to just take a moment to drive through the city, and look at the history of this port town. Unfortunately because of the weather we didn't really take the time to do any shopping there.

As evening came to Port Townsend the storm began to break up, the skies started to clear, and the winds calmed. The fishing, and leisure boats had been moored safely behind the breakwater in the bay at Point Hudson waiting out the bad weather.

As the cool of the evening breeze flushed our faces we walked down the wooden docs reading the names on the various boats that were moored there, and listening to the hustle and bustle that was taking place at the restaurant that sits across the way.

The storm clouds, and breaking light gave way to a beautiful rainbow. The red, and pink of the setting sun highlighted the dark clouds that hung low over the Pacific Ocean, reflecting on the calm waters of the bay.

As the rainbow began to fade into the night it's rich colors of red yellow and blue blended with the colors that were cast on the clouds from the setting sun. I sat up my tripod, and secured the camera, then began photographing the changing light, what a beautiful evening end to a wonderful day of exploring.

The beauty of this wonderful world never cease to amaze.

The Pillars of the Earth

September 9th, 2015

The Pillars of the Earth

In our smallish town of Midway Utah we have a "not so" local celebration over the labor day weekend called Midway Swiss Days. During Swiss Days we get over one hundred thousand visitors.

You can buy just about anything at Swiss days, they have food booths, fine art painting booths, craft booths, Photography booths, one person even sells appointments for his portrait studio, it is amazing what can be bought at Swiss days.

I have a boot at Swiss Days where I sell my fine art photography, one of the images I had in the booth this year to act as a "draw" to get people to come to my boot was "The Pillars of the Earth" shown here. I answered literally thousands of questions about this image, I know I answered that many because I gave away that many business cards, and everyone who came into the booth asked the same question: "Where is that?"! I thought since it had been asked so many times it might make a great story for a blog, when I tell them it is Jackson Lake, near Yellowstone National Park they would tell me something to the effect of "I was just up there and I didn't see that", and so the story begins!

On a trip to Yellowstone, my wife and I were traveling along highway 89, which takes you into the park, along it's way it passes by Jackson Lake. As we drove by the lake I asked my wife, she was driving, to pull into a pull out along the north end of the lake, I wanted to see if I thought it would be worth it to come back later in the evening to get some sunset photos of the Tetons in the distance.

When we got there I got out of the car and walked over to the bank where it dropped off to the beach below, as I stood there looking, there were all of these rock cairns that people with far to much time on their hands had built along the shoreline. I walked down to take a better look at them, and noticed this little bridge that some one had built, standing all of one foot tall, I know in the photo it looks like it is at least fifteen feet tall, it is all a matter of perspective. I thought it was a quite cool little bridge. As I looked around it I noticed that you could see Mount Moran framed in the opening of the bridge if you got down low enough.

I was not able to make it back that evening to take the photos I wanted, so the next day, after worrying all night long that someone would come along and knock it over I made plans to be there for sunset. As we drove up, almost holding my breath for fear it would be gone I walked to the edge and looked, to my happy surprise it was still there.

To get this photograph I had to take the center post out of my tripod, and turn it upside down so I could mount the camera under the tripod rather than on top of it so as to be low enough to get the shot and still be able to use the tripod. I set up the camera, with a moderate wide angle lens, to wide and it would look like the Tetons were a million miles away. After getting the camera set up I sat in the dirt, getting a few odd looks from passers by, and began to take the photos. I made several exposures thinking I would need to do an HDR of this, but my Sony camera has enough latitude that I was able to get it in a single exposure.

So now you know the secret of why you don't see this bridge as you drive by Jackson Lake on your way to Yellowstone.

Evening at Friday Harbor

September 9th, 2015

Evening at Friday Harbor

One of the things we did during our stay on Whidbey island is take a ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island.
We booked reservations on the ferry, we had been told if we wanted to actually make it to San Juan we should get reservations because it is a very popular destination, they were correct, glad we made the reservations, which was quite easy, you just go to their web site, and it guides you through the process. We had made our reservations for late morning, and the return trip for the last run of the day, 10:00 PM. We were still on Utah time, so that made getting there easy, the ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor takes about one hour, but the ride home, come to find out, takes over two because the last run hits all of the San Juan islands, letting people off for the night, and picking people up for the return to Anacortes. So we never made it back to Anacortes until midnight Washington time, then the hour drive back to Coupeville, we got back to the little home we had rented at 2:00 AM Utah time, it was a long day, but well worth it.
It was an interesting ride, both to and from San Juan Island, we met new people, got to listen to some nice music provided by a small band, I wish I could remember their name, the music had a kind of Celtic feel to it!
On the way there we went out onto the deck to watch the smaller islands go by as we sailed along, but it was cold, and trying to rain on us, which would prove to be the menu of the day as far as weather was concerned.
We seen many interesting things, one of the more interesting things, at least to me, were the Red Foxes that are on the island, from what I understand they are not indigenous to the island, and had been brought there several years ago, anyway they were like dogs, they would com right up to your car, and look at you. On one occasion I was set up on a little mound hoping to get photographs of the cattle point lighthouse, as I was waiting for the sky to clear, it never did, this little red fox came right up the trail, looked at me for a minute then headed off through the long grass to the coast.
As we waited out the rain, and the overcast skies, we decided to head back to Friday Harbor so we would be there to catch the ferry back to Anacortes, and home.
As we walked along the sidewalks in Friday Harbor, the sun began to set, as the rain storm ended, and the skies cleared. The lights of the harbor came on, reflecting in the still waters of the harbor that were protected from the Pacific Ocean. As the waves came and went boats gently rocked, the docks rose and fell, the sky clearing from gray to blue, it was a beautiful night along the boardwalk that lines the harbor just north of the ferry landing.

What a beautiful ending to an eventful trip around San Juan Island.

Sunset at Fort Casey

August 26th, 2015

Sunset at Fort Casey

During our stay on Whidbey Island we had the opportunity to visit many beautiful places, one of them was Fort Casey.

Once on the Island we drove to our little home we had rented for the week, then we started to explore, as we were driving we came upon a row of houses that all looked alike, I told my wife I thought they looked just like the houses in Fort Yellowstone, at Mammoth Hot Springs, turns out they are the officers houses at Fort Casey, we had no idea there was, or had been a fort in that area, I guess we should have done a little homework, but then again we love the excitement of finding these places on our own.

We drove into the Washington State Park at Fort Casey and had a look around, what a cool place, there is the Admiralty head lighthouse built on a little mound so it's light could be seen by sailors to safely guide them around the rocky cost line. There are also two "Batteries" the Moore, and the Kingsbury, these Batteries were built 1899 as part of the Puget Sound Harbor defense, they were equipped with 10 "Disappearing" guns. The guns take their name from the ability to be lowered below the top of the structure for reloading so the solders could not be fired upon, what a great idea.

When we got there is was cold, windy, and the middle of the day so we just took a quick drive around, stopped to take a look, from the car at Moore Battery, it's the closest one to the parking area! Since it was the middle of the day, and the sky was gray, and it was way cold we did not get out of the car to look around, but it stuck in my mind, that large 10" gun sitting on it's turret above the Battery.

We went back in the evening of a different day.

The wind was blowing and it was cold as the sun began to set in the western sky, the cold wind coming off of the northern waters of the Pacific Ocean caused tears to well in my eyes as I grabbed the camera, the tripod, and a bag of rocks to hang from the tripod to make it sturdy in the blowing wind. I headed across the grounds of Fort Casey to the Moore Battery. Climbing onto the Fort Bridge in hopes of getting a good view of the gun and the sunset, no chance there, I crossed the little cement bridge onto the main deck of the battery, perfect!

I set the camera up on the tripod, hung the bag of rocks on the bottom of the center column, and stuck my hands in my pockets, it was cold, and I was feeling it. Once I was set up and warmed up...a little, I set the exposure, and started taking my photographs, hurrying as the white hot sun melted into the cold blue waters of the Pacific Ocean I was able to capture this photograph of "Sunset at Fort Casey"!

Sunset at Penn Cove

August 20th, 2015

Sunset at Penn Cove

Sunset at Penn Cove

As we took the ferry from Mukilteo on Washington's mainland to Whidbey Island it was kind of exciting, I had never ridden on a ferry. If you have never ridden on a ferry it is a different experience, they are big...BIG...floating parking lots,

You pay the toll, they tell you where to park in the staging area, then when they are ready for you to board you drive your car onto the ferry, and they tell you where to park. Once on the ferry you can, if you want, get out of the car and move about the different decks. On the main passenger deck on the larger ferries they have a galley, and serve sandwiches, and drinks, they have booths just like in your favorite fast food place, and auditorium type seating if you don't want to sit at a booth. You can even go out on the deck to watch the waves go by, pretty cool!!

Once at Whidbey Island we drove off of the ferry and began to explore what would be our home for the next week, it is a beautiful place. We stayed in a little home in Coupeville, settled by Capt, Thomas Coupe. It is a small town nestled on the shore of Penn Cove, apparently Penn Cove was name after a "friend" of Capt. George Vancouver, but I have no idea who that friend was.

Up in this area of Washington it seams the popular stores are "Red Apple" stores, they reminded me of small country markets, very pleasant, with great fresh produce. That's where I found out about Johnson's Smokehouse's "Lil' Ronis" if you ever get a chance, and if you like hard pepperoni, you NEED to try those, what a treat, but I will warn you they are addictive...trust me!

While we were in Coupeville one of the places we had an opportunity to visit was the "Capt. Thomas Coupe park", which is a small parking lot with a boat dock on the southern shore of Penn Cove. When we got there the wind was blowing, it was cold, and the sun was setting, what more could you ask for. There where even some boats moored in the cove, resting for the night. I set up my camera on the tripod, always use a tripod! Because of the wind I hung a bag from the bottom of the tripod center stock that I had put two large rocks in to give it more ballast, and help stabilize the tripod, and camera.

As the sun sets behind the last lingering clouds of the day, the sky turns from blue to gold, the sun casts its warm evening rays over the waters. Boats rest in the cove gently rocked by the low waves, and the wind that is blowing. The waves lap at the rocky shore at my feet as I shelter my face from the cold. I take several images, bracketing my shots to make sure I get the correct exposure. I wait until the last rays of the setting sun are gone, just to make sure I see all of the beauty that is unfolding as the evening turns into night.

That evening standing in the cold, and the wind was beautiful, mother nature always shows her best side it seams, even when we think she is being fickle she is beautiful!!

Mukilteo Lighthouse 2

August 12th, 2015

Mukilteo Lighthouse 2

Recently on our first trip to northern Washington state my wife and I had decided to stay on Whidbey island.

To get to Whidbey island you have two choices, you take the ferry from Mukilteo, or you drive an extra 30 miles by going up the Burlington, then crossing the bridge, we were staying in Coupeville, and taking the ferry seemed to be the shortest distance, and my wife was looking forward to taking a ferry, neither of us had ever had that experience.
The first night we stayed in Seattle, then drove up to Mukilteo to check out how to get on the ferry, and everything involved with that.

While we were at Mukilteo Kena, my wife, had heard about a place called Ivar's, she had been told to not eat inside but rather to eat out under the awning so we could watch the ferries come and go, turns out there are more than one Ivar's and this one was not the one with the outside seating.

After checking out the ferry, and eating dinner we decided to take a look around, so we headed over to the beach, there is a park there called Mukilteo Lighthouse park, I had never heard of it, and it was a short walk from Ivar's, so we walked across the street and down the short road to the parking lot, from that location we could see the ferries crossing from Whidbey island, and as the name suggests they have a lighthouse, I was intrigued by the shape of the lighthouse, I had never see lighthouses with such short towers on them, kind of a cool design I think, anyway stormy skies had blown in and the sun was setting, as "my" luck would have it my camera was in the car waaaay over by the ferry parking area so we headed over to get it, on the bright side I didn't have to sit there impatiently waiting for the color to show its self in the clouds, but I did have to run to get to the car.

We drove back to the parking lot at the park, got the camera out and set up and this glorious sky began to show, the reds of the setting sun reflected from the stormy clouds that had built over the Possession sound.

The Mukilteo Lighthouse was built in 1905, and became operational in 1906, this lighthouse it built of wood, rather than the traditional brick and concrete, in 2001 the coast guard deeded the lighthouse to the city of Mukilteo.

In hind sight I should have just had the camera with me, and I should have anticipated the sunset, but in my defense Washington was in the midst of a drought, and who would have thought it would rain while we were there.

I will be sharing more of our trip to Washington in the future, here is an HDR image of the Lighthouse at Mukilteo Washington, I love the look of the Lighthouse, and I love the sky I was blessed to see on this trip.

I hope you enjoy it, and make sure you stop by the Lighthouse if you ever find yourself in Mukilteo Washington.

This Amazing World We Live In.

March 4th, 2015

This Amazing World We Live In.

Recently my wife and I decided to take a short trip to Utah's Bryce Canyon.

We wanted to go when there was snow on the red rocks, so we kept checking the weather, waiting to hear of snow storms, wile snow is not real common in southern Utah, it does snow at Bryce Canyon, which is really not a canyon, but rather a series of "Amphitheatres" made up of columns called Hoodoos, that make a kind of arch around the cliff face.

The fact that Bryce canyon sits at just over 8000 feet means it does get snow, but this year was a different year for snow in all of Utah, we never did hear of snow storms, but time was running out for us to make a winter trip, so we booked our stay at Ruby's Inn, in Bryce Canyon City, and took our chances, as luck would have it the day we arrived it had been snowing all that day, and through the night, visibility was about 15 feet, and foggy, since we only had two full days, and a morning on the third day it did not look good for photography, we drove around the area surrounding Bryce, made a strip to Escalante for lunch, and drove back to the same snow storm.

The next morning looked about the same, and I was beginning to think I would never get any snow photos, visibility was still poor, we decided to make the most of our trip so we headed west, to the town of Panguitch Utah, we stopped at the Flying M Coffee shop for lunch, if you like old fashioned hamburgers, the kind that are actually fried on a grill, and loaded with all the good stuff, on a great bun, and French fries to match you need to stop here for lunch if you find yourself in Panguitch.

As we left Panguitch and headed back to Bryce the skies began to clear, and by evening the sun was able to just peak through the clouds, highlighting some of the hoodoos, along with Boat mesa, it was beautiful!

The next morning, before we had to leave for home we got up early, looked out the window to check the weather, it look promising so we headed for Bryce Point to try and catch some morning light.

As I stood there in the blowing wind, in mid calf snow, I set up the camera for panoramic photos, doing so I felt the cold wind on my bald head, and realized I had just donated my hat to the canyon floor!!

Standing there in the cold, just before sunrise the colors began to snow themselves, blue, turning to a kind of salmon color just above the horizon, it was so beautiful I almost forgot to take photos, the beauty of this world we live in always leaves me in awe and wonder!

I hope you all find the beauty you are searching for in your journey through this wonderful world, and amazing life!!
TL Mair.

The problem with Talent

December 3rd, 2014

The problem with Talent

To me talent is the ability to do something well, perhaps better than others, in fact better than others!!

The problem with talent is that you probably don't know you have talent, well just so you know you do, in fact everyone has talent, it may not be the same as mine, or your neighbors, but you have talent. The trick is to recognize that talent!

I remember once a long time ago, a friend and I where doing something, I don't remember what it was, anyway I did something, I don't remember what that was either, my friend couldn't do it, I told him "Just do it", I couldn't imagine that he couldn't do it, I mean I am no one special and I could do it!! He told me "Things like this come easy to you, believe me they don't come easy to others"! At the time I didn't pay much attention to that, I was just puzzled.

I didn't recognize that what I was doing, what ever it was, was a talent, now I have no idea what that talent might have been, and now it is forever lost!!

And that is the problem with talent, it comes so easy to us that we can't imagine that others can't do it, we don't recognize it as a talent! If we don't recognize it as a talent we can't nurture it to it's full potential, and as the saying goes "If you don't use it you loose it".

I wonder how many great talents the world has lost because that person didn't know they had that talent?! And to be honest with you I really have no idea how you are going to recognize your talent, but somehow you need to, the world needs you to!

Perhaps wise words from someone who does not have a vested interest in you, or perhaps recognizing that your friends and family just can't do something quite as well as you can.

My father was an auto mechanic, and for him it was a talent, it was like the cars would talk to him, and he knew what they needed!
I can fix cars to, but I make a lot of mistakes in the process, it's not a talent for me.

So in the end, I don't know what your talent is, some days I'm not sure what my talent is, all I know is you have talent, you need to figure it out, and you need to believe in yourself!!!

Sometimes it pays to take a second look

December 1st, 2014

Sometimes it pays to take a second look

On a recent trip to Yellowstone as my wife and I drove up highway 89 from the south entrance I wanted to stop at the Jackson Lake shoreline. It was late morning so I knew the light would be bad, but I still wanted to see what it looked like.


When we stopped and looked there were these pillars and this little bridge (it is like 3 feet tall) some people with far too much time on their hands had made on the beach. I took several photos to get a feel for the location and the bridge. I decided to return the next evening and try to get a sunset photo of this scene.

The next evening I got there just as the sun was setting, I set up the camera, which I had to invert in the tripod so the camera was hanging upside down between the legs. I sat in the sand and rocks for an hour taking several photos as the sun set, trying to get the best light of the evening. When I got home and started looking at the photos I was a little disappointed with the results. After taking a second look at the image I knew there had to be color in that sky so I decided to use a technique I had used in the past called double processing.

I don't really want to turn this short blog article into a how to article, so in a nutshell this is what I did. I took the raw file into Adobe Lightroom and processed it exposing for the bridge and the mountains first then saved it out as a .tiff file. I then reprocessed it for the sky and the sunset colors, again I saved it out as a .tiff file. Then I took both images into Adobe Photoshop and pasted the exposure for the sky onto the image for the bridge and mountains as it's own layer. I then turned the top layer into a mask that I hid in Photoshop, then started blending both images together using the brush tool painting white which revealed the bridge and mountains from the top image. Finally I had to get rid of those pesky chromatic aberrations of which there were many!

After blending the images together I flattened that file, and took it once again into lightroom for some final shadow work.

I think this image has become one of my favorites.
I hope this helps, now go out and make it a picture perfect day!!
T. L. Mair

You never know until you go

December 1st, 2014

You never know until you go

Sometimes you wake up and things just arenít the way you thought they would be!

This was one of those days, it had snowed on one of the largest mountains in the area and I wanted to photograph the first snow of the season.

You know the drill, you picture this moment in your mind, you plan for it, you wait for it, you can even taste it!
This was that moment, I got up early put on all of my snow gear, yes it was cold but who cares this was that moment.

I started up the Polaris ranger, wiped the frost from the inside, and the outside of the windshield, made sure I had water, and a snack, no time for breakfast because this was THAT moment!

As I drove down the road from my home it was just light enough to tell that there were no clouds in the sky, not one, this was not how I pictured it.
I had planned on there being clouds because it had rained in the valley for the last three days, and snowed in the mountains, but mother nature can be fickle!!

The location I was going to was 14 miles away, up a dirt road, and over the mountain. I decided to go because you never know until you go what it is really going to be like.

When I got there still no clouds, and most of the aspens had green leaves, and the red leaves of the maples had began to fade so not a lot of fall color, but there had been a few things I wanted to experiment with so I set up the camera and waited for the sunrise.

As I stood there in the chill of the fall morning and watch the light on the sky in the west, I noticed the beautiful predawn colors.

I hurried and took a few shots to make sure I had what I thought should be the correct exposure settings and started taking photos.
I continued to photograph the mountain as the sun crept up in the sky, but that predawn photo was the keeper for the day.

So when things just might not seam to be what you thought they should be, it just might not hurt to go anyway, because: You never know until you go!

 

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