June 28, 2018 Port Townsend, Washington

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

Fawns, Flowers, and Whale Watching

Lounging Blacktail Bucks
Lounging Blacktail Bucks

Port Townsend has a large intown resident deer population, and some would say, a large intown deer problem. Click here and here for local news articles on these urban deer.

Blacktail Buck
Blacktail Buck

It is difficult to drive anywhere in the residential part of town without encountering these beautiful animals.

Backyard Grazing
Backyard Grazing

As a person that formerly maintained a large collection of perennials in gardens around my home and business, I can’t imagine what the folks here in Port Townsend have to put up with in trying to maintain their gorgeous landscaping.

Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

As a tourist here, I enjoy being able to see and photograph these youngsters, there really are few animals as cute as these guys.

Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

To the many serious gardeners here in Port Townsend, I am sure it’s a different story.

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

These youngsters obviously can’t read that they are not supposed to be here.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

And here is the reason the inner city is so popular with all these deer, just an unlimited buffet of delectable gourmet deer food.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Many gardeners in town have erected deer fencing in an effort to keep the deer out. Local ordinances limit the height of any fences to six feet, not an unsurmountable height for for some of these deer.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

A drive around town reveals some very impressive landscaping. I envy the ability to grow such a wide diversity of plants in this environment. The difference in available plant selection in Zone 4 where I gardened and here in Zone 8 is huge. Don’t envy them the challenge of growing some of these flowers amongst the deer herds though.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Some wonderful dogwoods in bloom right now.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Tree Bark
Tree Bark

Even the bark of some of the trees is photo worthy.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Whale Watching Trip on the Redhead

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

A four hour whale watching trip out of Port Townsend was a wonderful way to enjoy a beautiful calm and sunny day ( the only one here so far ).

Orcas
Orcas

The whale watching part of the trip was actually kind of disappointing …

Orcas
Orcas

… spotting only one lone Humpback Whale and one small pod of transient Orcas or Killer Whales.

Orcas
Orcas

Regulations require all boats to remain at least 200 yards from the Orcas and 100 yards from other whales and our captain certainly didn’t come close to violating those rules. I would say we never got within 500 yards of the Orcas, thats over a quarter of a mile away, meaning you could barely discern their large dorsal fins poking out of the water and certainly could not get any kind of decent images of their activity.

Container Ship
Container Ship

But spending four hours on the calm waters of Puget Sound on a nice day was a welcome change of pace for me and there were other interesting sights to see out on the water.

Sea Lions
Sea Lions
Fort Worden Lighthouse
Fort Worden Lighthouse

The Fort Worden Lighthouse is much more scenic from the water than it is from land.

I hope to remain here in Port Townsend through the 4th of July week and then will venture farther out onto the Olympic Peninsula after the holiday week, hoping I might then be able to find a place to stay.

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June 20, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Cottongrass
Cottongrass

Wildflowers and Wildlife

Cottongrass
Cottongrass

Driving all the back roads above the city of Homer, I run across patches of wildflowers here and there, nothing like the fields of wildflowers you may find in the west, in the lower forty-eight, but still a visual treat when you do discover them. This is a particularly dense patch of cotton grass growing alongside the road, a very neat plant I was able to get some nice shots of very early in the morning before the breeze came up.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Cottongrass
Cottongrass
Columbine
Columbine

I really haven’t come across much Columbine, just a couple of plants here and there, again nothing like in the mountainside meadows of Colorado for instance.

Jacob's Ladder
Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium is starting to appear more frequently.

Impossibly Blue
Impossibly Blue

And this is not a wildflower, but some form of perennial that caught my eye in a bed next to East End Road. I am not sure what this impossibly blue flower is as I have never seen it before, and I used to pour theough all the perennial flower catalogs back when I managed almost a half acre of perennials at my art gallery.

Impossibly Blue
Impossibly Blue
Homer Perennial Bed
Homer Perennial Bed

Gorgeous flower in a very nicely designed perennial bed.

Lupines
Lupines
Lupines
Lupines

And then there is the lupine … everywhere it seems. Unlike back in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, here there is only one color, this blue, or perhaps purple. At least I have yet to find any other color here.

Boatyard Lupine
Boatyard Lupine

As I said, lupine, everywhere.

Virginis
Virginis
Fireweed Road
Fireweed Road

What I am patiently waiting for, here in Homer, is for the fireweed to start blooming. I think it is a real shame this wonderful plant is labeled as a weed because it is just a beautiful flower that fills the fields and roadsides here above Homer.

Fireweed Farm
Fireweed Farm

Thes two images kind of illustrate that point quite well, and just happen to be images taken on the back roads above Homer some twenty two years ago on my last visit here. I have actually been able to locate the fireweed farm location and would like to get an image to show the penalties of progress. That wonderful scene is now bisected with dirt roads leading to not so scenic homes breaking up the previous expanse of fireweed, and though I’m sure a lot of the plant still survives, the beauty of that particular landscape has fallen victim to progress.

Angry Beach Eagle
Angry Beach Eagle
Takeoff
Takeoff

I enjoy watching the antics of the bald eagles on the beach every morning while I have my coffee. This guy was doing his angry eagle walk up the beach heading directly at me until my neighbor came out and slammed his door only thirty feet from the eagle and scared him off. There used to be a woman who fed the eagles here on the Homer Spit for many years so a lot of these birds probably are somewhat accustomed to approaching humans looking for handouts, though now it is illegal to feed them.

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

As I walked around the boat harbor very early in the AM I was startled by the number of gulls on the breakwater there.

Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks
Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks

And this one really suprised me, what I am quite sure has to be a Ring-necked Pheasant mom and chicks feeding along the dirt road at the end of East End Road. I had no idea these birds could survive this far north.

Ring-necked Pheasant Chick
Ring-necked Pheasant Chick
Moose and Calf
Moose and Calf
Moose Calf
Moose Calf

And finally my daily dose of moose. This mom was feeding along the edge of the road and when I stopped to watch, her calf came struggling up through the deep grass behind her. As the cow continued to move forward and browse, her calf was having a really hard time trying to keep up with her movements. At first I thought maybe the tall grass and bushes were just so thick, and tall, that perhaps that was it’s problem.

Mom and Injured Calf
Mom and Injured Calf

But when they finally crossed the road, it became quite clear that the poor little guy had somehow broken, or severely injured his left hind leg and was hobbling along on three legs.

Moose Calf
Moose Calf

Barely one in three moose calves survive their first summer, most here on the Kenai fall victim to black bears or grizzlies, although there is also a growing presence of wolves in the area. Not being able to run or keep up with a protective mom probably will mean a short life for this guy. Mother Nature is cruel.

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June 11, 2015 Seward, Alaska

Tern Lake Reflection
Tern Lake Reflection

Day Trip to Hope

The weather has definitely taken a turn for the better, and it looks like it will be quite nice for at least the next three or four days.

Seward Waterfront Campground
Seward Waterfront Campground

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

I remain camped along the shore here in Seward,

Seward Waterfront Campground
Seward Waterfront Campground
Seward Waterfront Campground
Seward Waterfront Campground

but it is getting really crowded with way too much close human activity for my tastes, so I have got to give some serious thought to moving on. Once the weather turned nice, and you can actually see them, one can truly appreciate the incredible beauty of the mountains surrounding Resurrection Bay and Seward.

Thursday, when the weather started clearing here, I headed back north towards Anchorage to drive up the road to Hope. While the sun was starting to make an appearance back in Seward, as I worked my way north it clouded up and by the time I made it to the small village of Hope, it was once again spitting rain.

Turnagain Arm Mudflats
Turnagain Arm Mudflats
Turnagain Arm Mudflats
Turnagain Arm Mudflats

It seemed appropriate to shoot a couple abstracts of the mudflats of Turnagain Arm since I had once more managed to go out of my way to find the rain I thought I had finally escaped in Seward. Other than chasing around in the woods trying, and failing, to get a clear shot at a mother moose and calf, I found little to shoot in Hope and headed back home around noon.

I did run into a couple other moose on the way back …

Moose Calf
Moose Calf

 

Mom's Watchguard
Mom’s Watchguard

Tern Lake

Red-throated Grebe
Red-throated Grebe

On my return drive to Seward, I stopped at Tern Lake and got my first ever shot of a Red-necked Grebe …

Tern Lake Reflection
Tern Lake Reflection
Checking Out Tern Lake
Checking Out Tern Lake

and some kind of different reflection shots of the mountains hovering over the lake.

Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak

Not a great shot since he refused to cooperate, but, being another first for me, I’ll post this shot of ( I think ) a Pine Grosbeak.

The Seward Boatyard

Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard

At the end of Nash Road is the Seward Boatyard, and since I am always looking to add to my collection of reference photos for future watercolors, I had to take a trip through the yard.

Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard
Seward Boatyard

 

Cotton Grass
Cotton Grass

Still no fireweed blooming, but I did find some cottongrass in bloom along the edge of the boatyard.

Lupines
Lupines

Lupines, cottongrass, and dandelions are in bloom now, but I have yet to find any really nice wildflower shots in my Alaska travels.

I had planned on taking one of the half day wildlife boat trips out of Seward yesterday knowing that the weather forecast called for no rain, but then at 3:30 AM as I was having my morning coffee and watching the activity on the water out front,

Celebrity Millenium
Celebrity Millenium

in glided the largest cruise ship I have seen here to date, the Celebrity Millenium. It’s arrival meant that all the tour boats heading out on Friday would be jammed to the rails and not the kind of trip I would want any part of, so now it’s maybe Monday I will go out, if the boats aren’t too booked up.

Sea Otter
Sea Otter

However, not going out turned out to be a good thing for me as my favorite entertainers here, the sea otters, paid another visit to my campsite and I was able to get some pretty nice shots of them feeding on mussels only a few feet off shore. More of them in the next post!

 

 

May 20, 2015 Valdez, Alaska

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

Head in the Clouds and Water, Falling

In actuality, technically, my head was above the clouds!

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

When I awoke this morning, around 3:30 AM, there was a solid gray cloud cover over the area, with just a ray of light shining through here and there.  So, nothing to shoot here below the cloud cover, let’s climb back up Thompson Pass and see what’s happening there, if nothing else, I can do waterfalls with the soft diffused light from the cloud cover.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and many of these shots do deserve that you do so.

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

As I climbed the grade up Thompson Pass, I actually entered the clouds I had been viewing from below, soon a solid dense fog bank, all but obscurring the road. So much for any dramatic shots from Thompson Pass, I thought as I continued my climb to the top.

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

But I persevered onward, and upward, and there suddenly appeared a little shimmering of light from above, and then I emerged from the cloud cover, was at the top of Thompson Pass, and, boy, was I ever wrong about no dramatic shots from up here this morning!

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

Here, at the top of the pass, it was as if you were in a plane doing a flyover of the mountains, high above the clouds, yet I was able to set the tripod up on terra firma.

Above the Clouds
Above the Clouds

Just a magical morning at the top of Thompson Pass, gray and gloomy below, simply spectacular above. As I mentioned in my last post, catching the “Golden Hours” here in Alaska is going to require some severe self discipline, seeing as they occur at some very early, and very late times. Getting out before 4 AM this particular morning, I was well rewarded for the effort.

Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail

Keystone Canyon Waterfalls

Keystone Canyon on the road to Valdez
Keystone Canyon on the road to Valdez

On the road to Valdez, after descending from Thompson Pass, you enter the very dramatic Keystone Canyon, where suddenly, the road is swallowed by immense rock walls, towering over you to all but unimagineable heights. And as you round the first bend in the canyon, you are greeted by a pair of incredibly tall waterfalls.

Keystone Canyon Waterfalls
Keystone Canyon Waterfalls
Keystone Canyon Waterfall
Keystone Canyon Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, since the falls were still completely in the shade, I decided to stop and spend a little time ( ended up being well over an hour ), searching out details of rock and spray, looking for that ideal composition of water flowing over rock.

Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Bridal Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail

Extensive playing around with various ISO’s, DOF, and shutter speed settings produces a wide, and sometimes wild, variety of images of the very same portion of a waterfall. One of the things I enjoy about photography is being able to capture images that your eye actually doesn’t see.

Horsetail Falls Detail
Horsetail Falls Detail
Trumpeter Swan on Her nest
Trumpeter Swan on Her nest

On this same road I noticed this Trumpeter Swan dutifully sitting on her clutch of eggs. I will have to keep an eye on her over the next few days here, just in case I am lucky enough to catch some newly hatched signets.

Yet More Watercolor Subjects

Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock

And lastly, back in the village of Valdez, I found three more potential watercolor subjects sitting in dry dock. Though I know I’ll never get the brushes out this summer while here in Alaska, I swear this winter I will resume my painting career.

Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock
Valdez Drydock

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