Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rainbows and Happy New Years - reflecting on the past, excited about the future!

I bring an end to 2009 here with a simple rainbow from this past week. Sure, I was happy to see this set up for me and get the small rainbow "piece" that made a brief appearance also reflecting in Case Inlet in my special part of Puget Sound.

But the rainbow always makes me stand there and think a bit, and what better time to do that than today - Happy New Year everyone! Maybe a rainbow can allow you a moment of peace to reflect on things of the past, even make what could be viewed a sour note in your past year into something positive. Maybe it will bring a refreshing positive and eager outlook on the upcoming year - it sure does to me! In either case, I hope everyone realizes you can appreciate the past year, you can make the next year positive. You are in control of your state of mind so smile and take the initiative to make happen what you want to fit in to your time in 2010! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Year ending with a bright light

It's been a bit quiet from my end as I figure out where to start out catching up from a busy wonderful fun time over Christmas. But a part of that catching up was enjoying some down time at the special place we call our get-away at our cabin. I've always enjoyed being there in winter more than summer for some is so peaceful, quiet, lacking urgency to play as hard outdoors with kayaks (although we DID kayak in Case Inlet this time anyhow!), and just enjoy being inside reading and playing games. Yes, I did get creamed at playing Nerf hoops, not to mention every other game I was challenged to over the days there. But...the weather in December has been so dry and so many clear days and that brings me to my "bright light". We get sunrise light there...and this time of year the sun rises far to the south and even south of Mount Rainier in our view. I was ready - and how fun it is not having to get up so early for the sunrise light this time of year - I slept in until 7:00am! For a COMPLETE HOUR the light in the SE was changing and climaxed with the sun cresting the horizon south of Mount Rainier. Oh, and Rainier was sporting a pile-up of lenticular clouds this morning of shooting as well. It was below freezing, it was cold, and my border collie was out there with me. My son even came out in his PJ's outside the door and took his own photos while I was out on the beach shooting. I saw him sneak out up behind me, he can't hide from me!

It was a great way to have nature tell me "here's to the end of a great year, Merry Christmas Mr. Bauer, and onward to 2010!". Indeed!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

On this special day of the year, I wish all of my friends, family, and those hidden strangers who might care to appreciate what little things I can do, a very Merry Christmas!

"In the First Light"

In the first light of a new day,
No one knew he had arrived.
Things continued as they had been,
While a new-born softly cried.
But the heavens, wrapped in wonder,
Knew the meaning of His birth.
In the weakness of a baby,
They knew God had come to earth.

Hear the angels as they're singing -- Hallelujah!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Calendar time again...with a different twist in my world

It would be expected that I create an annual 13-month calendar each year since I take a few images every year. But while most would in my shoes make this a calendar of nature images...maybe birds or mammals in my case...or landscape photos is very common among most people I know who spend time in the outdoors with camera gear. Me? I use it as an opportunity to create a special memory every year, one I will cherish forever, and share it as gifts to my family and many friends. Well, it isn't a gift from "me" but instead has the tag "From: Mittens" as it is the annual gift from my wonder pooch and border collie best friend Mittens!

Yes, it has become well known now after the past four years that this is going to be a project that I put a lot of work and thought into. Many special moments spent with my best friend and even my family doesn't mind that it isn't a calendar of THEM. My border collie never complains about my driving, many 10,000's of miles later, and is always there with unconditional joy even if I'm just having a bad day. It is a way to showcase many of my special days with her in the past year, many of the special images I've captured that will forever be in our memories of this special wonder dog in our lives!
So Mittens, this entry is for you! Thanks for making the 2010 calendar just as exciting to create as the first one years ago! And thank you for making time together that much more special. Now, can you stop asking me for a Nilla Wafer while I'm typing this in!!? :)
(photos: various images from the past couple of annual calendars...)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice - bring on the light!

Moments ago it happened - did you feel it? Does it feel different right now to you? It's winter and with the winter solstice now behind us by not even one hour yet, just feel the excitement in the air as the heavens are about to start releasing more light into our world here at 47*N of the equator! What? Oh....sure, it's about as dark as night and pouring outside at the moment. Heck, even my Christmas lights sensor just kicked on the driveway lights! But before you have too much time to grump over the rains, one day soon it'll seem like "wow, it's light and after 5:00pm?". Toss in some good El Nino weak warm dry weather and boom: we'll have desert wildflowers like this one shown to get after and belly around like a desert rat to photograph. Enjoy the anticipation, I know I will!!
(photo: belly shot from under the flowers on Whiskey Dick Mountain - Quilomene Wildlife Area near Vantage, WA)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

You can buy your winter/spring Desert Hikes preparations again

Hey, it might be dark 16 hours a day now but winter cold hiking and spring wildflower hiking in the deserts of Central/Eastern Washington are just around the corner! Don't believe me? Today is only 12-seconds shorter than yesterday, and tomorrow? Tomorrow will give us only 8-seconds fewer of daylight!
I'm pleased to see that the outlets for Best Desert Hikes-Washington are back in stock again after the past month or two of unavailability due to the running out of the first printing of this title. The second printing is hot off the presses and I got my first box of them yesterday from Mountaineers Books to fulfill an order I put in back in October!
Hope to see you stomping the sage lands with me the next 5-6 months!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nice PR for Day Hiking-South Cascades this week

Well, it is nice to be a part of someones "Christmas list" and even more of an honor to be part of a list of great ideas for "gifts for the outdoors type" that shows up in a media outlet such as the Portland Oregonian. Therefore I'm quite happy to see my book "Day Hiking-South Cascades" included in a list of recommended hiking guidebooks by Oregonian travel writer Terry Richard this past weekend. Care to read over the full column, head HERE and enjoy the long list!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trumpeter Swans - what are they trumpeting about?

I have hundreds of images of Trumpeter Swans from this week when I spent over three hours photographing a field covered with well over 500 of them just south of Monroe. It might take me awhile to edit over more of them! But this one struck me with a great sense of humor - just what are these rascals honking over here? What does it seem to look like they are saying if they were yakking out loud in our human voices? Have an idea - pass it along to me and help caption this photo!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A steamy morning at Snoqualmie Falls

Literally, I mean "steamy" outdoors, not indoors! Snoqualmie Falls is a delight when we get cold weather and what better way to enjoy it than wait out four straight days of temperatures not even coming close to getting above 32* out here and watch the ice build up around the falls. Yesterday morning I finally had to give in to the urge to revisit this frequent stop - the continuing clear sky would offer nice "warm" light back lighting the falls area after sunrise, and it was cranking on day three of morning temperatures in the single digits! This is where the steam comes from - even the cold water of the Snoqualmie River was steaming each morning this week, a sight we don't get around here. It has looked more like winter pre-freezing of rivers in Eastern Washington or North Dakota!

I pulled in to enjoy over 45 minutes of standing in what were 6* temperatures watching the show, of which I was completely alone 44 minutes of it I think. The light from the sunrise was better at adding truly dramatic feelings in my viewfinder that I had thought it could - instead of dealing with spray from the falls like so often happens when the river is quite high, I was dealing with steam! The water was steaming up a storm and that was simply one of the most cool things I've ever seen! I'd like to find the calculations that are involved comparing air temperature vs. water temperature vs. relative humidity to find out what effects what the most. By the time I left the falls at 9:30am the steam effect was far reduced from what I was seeing much of the time. Air temperature then was 13* (and not skyrocketing very quickly!). What a fascinating start to my day. Up next? Massive herds of Trumpeter Swans in the north end of the Valley where I spent 2.5 hours freezing my feet numb standing at an edge of a field with 500-700 swans right in front of me! Stay tuned - this will be a good show-and-tell coming up from me! :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It looks like summer outside!

Ahhh, the sun, all week! This is as good as summer! Well, it's as nice as summer...just a bit more cold! Fresh on the heals of setting my all-time cold temperature just last December 2008 (4.1* on December 21, 2008) we've rolled into December 2009 trying hard to reach that level. Yesterday early on it was 7.0* so I had hopes going into last night. With absolutely no breeze and heading into a night already cold from a high temperature of only 28.1* here yesterday, radiational cooling conditions were perfect! Upon checking data this morning until temperatures started heading back up toward double digits again, we came close! It looks like we have to settle on 5.8* as our overnight low. Not too shabby and even the old plastic thermometer in the orchard was sitting right on the low side of 6* after I returned from taking kidlets to school. Maybe we'll hit 32* by Friday at this rate for a high!
Anyhow, all this excitement is best enjoyed with the thought that hey, I never have to remove my shoes when I come in the house and I don't need to wipe mud and debris off of my border collie when we come in either!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanks for making the Holiday Market a success!

What a great day it was Saturday and I appreciate each and every one of you who came by the annual Holiday Market and took the time to come stop by my table and display! The enthusiasm from everyone who came was addicting and I was honored to have many surprise visitors come by as well - it was wonderful! Many note cards, many books and prints later, I packed up and left feeling so lucky to have this opportunity to share and be a part of the community around me. Thank you everyone, both those local as well as those who came from outside of the Valley to enjoy the day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feeling blessed and appreciative of what is around me

Life can be busy. No, life normally IS busy! But even the busy parts of every day are lined with special things that make me feel incredibly blessed. Like this is easy to get caught up in the rush to deal with getting kids to school every day. However I feel very blessed, greatly appreciating that I get such happy rural travels to enjoy when simply driving to school each morning. I'm living in a great world in a wonderful small part of it. What a blessing!
(photo: steam on Borst Lake on a very cold morning under a clear crisp sky just before sunrise)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Come browse, shop, or just visit at the annual Holiday Market!

Are you confused what to get a loved one this Holiday season? Strapped tight for money and don't want to get sucked in to the ease of over-spending on the Internet? Have a love and appreciation of hand made goods and wonderful creations by local area artists? Then please accept my reminder to come to the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley this coming Saturday, December 5th between 10:00am-3:00pm to the 10th annual Holiday Market held at in The Commons at Chief Kanim Middle School just outside of Fall City! What? Too far from where you live? Make it into a lovely half-day trip of relaxation and stop by a wonderful annual holiday fair, then add on great other destinations for a fantastic family or romantic early Christmas cheer! I'll have many new products available at my table and as always, a happy smile to greet you and just chat about almost anything! Hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another late afternoon swan visitation

Ah, visitation with the annual Trumpeter Swans - but in these cases, I'm the visitor to their wintering grounds. I was taking a brief moment before darkness would cover the Valley to see if increased numbers of these great white flyers were dotting the otherwise pale farm scape of the season. I pulled off a small area north of Carnation on one of my many little roads when I thought I saw two Ring-necked Pheasants across the way in the corn stubble of a summer corn/silage field. Sure enough, to lovely pheasants walking along. Too far off to photograph, but I still gave them a thumbs-up in their efforts to keep from sight of a very close by WDFW land area open for hunting season. Then I heard the sounds of what I would envision as poorly playing middle school trumpet players in the sky above me!

Sure enough, a group of five Trumpeter Swans were coming in to the same field I happened to be scanning for other birds. They circled the field three times, as if to first be waiting for the all clear from the control tower of an airport. By pass #3 I was set up with my gear and photographed them coming in to land. Then more came, two passing by a stunning color of light in the bright western sky as clouds broke before sunset! They all gathered in the field, and the last landing group seemed to be wanting to pick a fight upon landing. But chaos settled down to civil honking and jabbering, and all were happily eating soon together.

I sense this field might be an evening "roost" for the group as it was late in the day. But I intend on continuing to look and learn more about their behaviors at this field! THIS is why I love nature and wildlife photography so much - the ongoing challenges for learning, for understanding the biology behind my subjects is far more exciting that understanding the technology behind taking the photographs. Bring on more challenges from nature, I'm ready!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Great music with wind and pipes

No, I'm not talking about bag pipes or flutes or any other wind-blown instrument. I'm back to talking about lovely pipe organs again! I quickly wanted to let everyone know, and I know there are some among you out there who know nature isn't the only thing worth photographing and appreciating(!!), that the CD release of the week-long 2008 OHS Convention in Seattle is out. This wonderful 4-CD set has every performance from every venue that was part of this week-long event, which took place in July 2008 around the Puget Sound region. The 36-page booklet that comes with it has an enormous amount of information for the musically inclined appreciation of historical pipe organs around the region. And I've got to put in a plug that it has a lot of very grand photography, since each image inside of each venue is from my image library shot for this convention! I hope you'll visit the Organ Historical Society and check it out and consider supporting this spectacular organization and what they do around the world. See the CD on their website, then please take time to browse around to learn about OHS while out there too!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bring on the tugboats

As a child I sure had a fascination with tugboats. Sure, I had a fascination about trains and stuff too! But I remember how thrilled I was to count the tugboats I'd see on the Columbia River when we would do a family trip up the Columbia River Gorge to The Dallas to see relatives over the holidays sometimes. I thought they were so cool and still do! I've had a few chances to photograph them over the past few years in Puget Sound when out on a ferry or other boat. Now my childhood fascination can be enjoyed yet again after seeing one of my images of a lovely tug passing by the front of the Space Needle in Seattle being used in the just released 2010 Tugboats calendar. It was a pleasure to work with Capt. Tom McCall in New York who put this together and I'm excited to get my copies soon! You can see it as well as purchase it here at - enjoy!
(photo: tugboat on Puget Sound passing in front of the Space Needle and the Seattle waterfront)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What to do when the to-do list is too overdone? Go for a hike on the Snoqulamie Valley Trail!

So, I'm swamped with things that I need to get done. Between having been preparing for a trip, been on the trip, returned to 2+ weeks of sickness in the family, and being stressed and tired from everything listed, I have seen every part of my photography as well as personal life fall behind schedule! People still waiting to see images from me, broken things needing attention, people needing to be taken here and there. I simply don't know where to start, so today I dove right in and did something that would help me the most: I called my border collie to go for a ride, and we went for a short hike!

The calm air before the incoming storm, yellow leaves from the cottonwoods and a few maples littered the ground, and we had a few good miles to ourselves both on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and on side-trails off it that head up into the Hancock Tree Farm (aka Snoqualmie Tree Farm, aka old Weyerhaeuser Lands). I returned refreshed, relaxed, and ready to actually start making a few of the 1001 phone calls to clients, presentation arrangements, making appointments for doctors and dentist visits, and other joys of normal life. The dog? She returned smiling as she fell asleep for a nap...until I started the tractor to work, when she had to thus work then again too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's the Holiday Fair time of year

It's that time of year again, time to prepare for some upcoming holiday season art/craft fairs! And time to have fully updated my inventory for the season on my note card sales racks in retail locations. It is fun to see how quickly attention is drawn to the new note cards when I show up changing 1/2 of the stock I had on hand! Makes me realize maybe some people do really pay attention to what I'm doing out there....
Back to creating more prints and goods before December kicks in - man, I'm making a mess around this place! Hope to see you in a couple of weeks in the Snoqualmie Valley - more soon, or just get the info on the "Upcoming Events" tab on the right of this blog!

(photo: messy pile of matted up prints, ready to be reviewed and updated with even more local history, local scenes, and new material from around the Pacific Northwest)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day, 2009 remembered

What more could a person say today than to just look at our American flag and take a moment to think. Think about what people before us have done to protect what America is. Think about all of those men and women who today are sacrificing their time, their energies, and even sadly, their lives, to make our country the most special on earth. We are blessed with freedom and many wonderful choices in life and we owe everyone who has served this great nation supportive thoughts every day.

I hope you take a moment to do that and let someone know you appreciate what they have done and are doing for your country.
(photos: farmer's decorated barn in the Kittitas Valley, WA ; wind-swept American flag during snowstorm along the Fall City riverfront)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some lazy beach time on Maui

While away recently for a week stay on Maui, I didn't let myself sit around too much. I hung around a lot for a family wedding related things and then when not doing that I was certainly not about to spend my time just sitting still on the beach! I had many things I wanted to see, and in upcoming posts here will enjoy sharing the specific areas on Maui that I really enjoyed in my limited time, very limited amount of planning time to figure out when and where to go!

But, I did kick around by the resort and beach in my evening time a lot which was a lot of fun, watching the masses of people enjoy that time of day for themselves as well. Time to start finally looking at photos taken on a few of my day-trips around on the island!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Need your Desert Hiking fix? Book new printing is on the way!

I have seen the supplies of "Best Desert Hikes-Washington" slowly dwindle to virtually non-existent the past couple of months as the first printing of the title has run as dry as a summer in the Columbia Basin! Happily I'm pleased to let you know that a second printing of the book is just coming to completion and will be available before the holidays! I just sent a crisp copy of the cover photo to the publisher today to make sure they were ready to go. So if you are bummed about the rough weather of late in Washington, the snow about ready to start piling up in the Cascades this weekend, and wish you had a good solution to still enjoy getting outdoors? Want to have grand wildlife viewing opportunities all winter and next spring? Pick up a copy of the book soon before Christmas if you don't already have a copy or three! If you already have the book then contact me and arrange to spend a day out in the Washington desert hiking or photographing wildlife this winter! That's where I'll be....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tomorrow's KCLS presentation @ Des Moines Library - cancelled

Just got word and need to pass along...tomorrow night's last of the series of talks I've been slated to do via King County Library System this fall, slated for November 4th @ 7:00pm at the Des Moines regional library, is now cancelled. Much discussion has passed this week with them since my household has become home to the H1N1 flu virus apparently, and with things happening there as well, we all figured it best to hold off on things.
Good news is we'll be rescheduling this event for after the holidays when people are bored and want to start getting into the outdoors but it's still dark and raining! So look for updated information about when it is to be sometime in January-February. Thanks.

Snow Geese in the Snoqualmie Valley

I have numerous times talked about the growing annual winter population of Trumpeter Swans in the Snoqualmie Valley. It's a great thing seeing the large 200+ size group of them up near Monroe by mid-winter. It's more exciting seeing them grow in numbers further south up the valley, areas near Carnation and just out of Fall City last winter! Yesterday while coming home I did a short side-trip to check on a few fields to see where the corn fields were (ie. which will attract the swans by next month). Lo and behold I had a first sighting for my Snoqualmie Valley records - a group of 14 Snow Geese! I've seen them flying over, and of course I've seen 10,000's of them up in the Skagit Valley. But this was a great new sighting for me - maybe the Snoqualmie Valley will become home to more of them too eventually just like the Trumpeter Swans?

It will be fun adding them to my annual monitoring species for the valley now too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Up next: see you in Bothell

On the heels of getting back to work upon returning from my trip, I'll be presenting the third of my series of talks at various King County Libraries tomorrow night, October 29th. I hope to see a few of you there at the Bothell Regional Library tomorrow evening! Please come up to introduce yourselves to me if you are a new friend so I have a chance to meet you.
Next up to attract interested people in the South Puget Sound region? Des Moines KCLS Library next Wednesday evening, November 4th! You can always see my current schedule of upcoming presentations and shows on the "upcoming events" panel on the right side of this blog :)
(photo: American Three-toed Woodpecker on a burned snag on Crow Hill in the Entiat Mountains, while working on Day Hiking-Central Cascades!)

Aloha, well that was fun

Aloha from my office space needing to be heated and I sitting here no longer wearing shorts and sandals! The silence from me for more than the past week is due to having been away at a family Hawaii of all places :) In short, I'll have some fun stories to share of enjoyable days out and about on Maui over the course of my next few entries here! I'll save you from the wedding details - I'm sure my brother-in-law's wedding isn't the type of thing you care much about seeing here!! Now it's time for me to regroup my brain, get caught up this week around here, and then start sharing some of the things I had the pleasure to enjoy on my first ever trip to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In the mean time, you can pretend you are relaxing on that sailboat in this photo as you sail between Maui and Molokai.... (photo: one of many sunsets from the western most area of Maui at Ka'anapali)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More fun at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Each of my past three trips to do presentations in Portland I have used as a means to stop in at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, west of the Battle Ground area in the community of (surprise) Ridgefield, Washington. Yesterday as I headed south to get ready for my evening presentation to The Mazamas club in Portland yet again I took the detour off the freeway. Each time there, things start off with "well, looks like I'm not seeing much here. Oh well....". Each time there, how wrong I am and end up spending a long time there photographing different birds and other things than any previous visit!

This trip I thought it would be pouring, but rains stopped just south of Kelso and I proceeded in to the refuge. The wind was blowing very hard and I figured that was the reason I'd see virtually nothing. The first marsh I went by where I photographed my first ever seen Great Egret last year? Not even a duck in the howling winds and almost white-caps! I kept going and then about 1/2 way around the long loop, things changed dramatically. I was pleased to photograph a Western Painted Turtle enjoying a sun break on a log, even sitting there with a freshly fallen yellow leaf on its back - fun! Right after that the fun really began as I notice far off through the trees in a field a flock of 75-80 Sandhill Cranes feeding and coming in for landings. What a joy it was to watch them for the next 30 minutes as they fuel up for their journey south! Once I was out in the open ponds and prairie lands I was entertained for well more than an hour with numerous female Northern Harriers seemingly having a soaring party in the warm winds. Sometimes they would be gliding...and not moving as they just paused in mid-air against the wind. Very enjoyable!

And of course, the throngs of Great Blue Herons

are assured here every visit and each time I have returned with very different heron photos than previous visits. I'm already eager to stop in again at yet another month of the year - I'm 3-for-3 with different months, different experiences!