A Life of Varied Endeavors

Tag Archives: pacific northwest

Back to bark – madrona this time



Early in my photography days (black and white film, darkrooms, class seminars – happy days!), I took photographs of tree bark, among other things. I found bark fascinating, but difficult to capture effectively. In response to one of those photographs, my professor (Bernie Freemesser) asked me a question that was like a lightning bolt. “Where’s the LIGHT, Nancy?”
Photography is about light.  The photograph in question was a mass of flat greys.

I haven’t studied bark closely for a long time, but last week on one of our morning walks, I was struck by the beauty of a madrona tree in our neighborhood. For several years, I’ve walked past this tree and it’s neighbors almost daily. I usually notice them most when their blooms cascade all over the ground. Last week I got an unplanned closer look to this tree’s trunk while avoiding a big truck on the road, and I was struck by it’s complex beauty.

Click on images to enlarge

Certainly, madrona bark is more colorful than doug fir bark, and these images take advantage of that (as well as not being in black and white). And being taken with an iPhone also doesn’t give an image the best chance of high quality. In these, the light is still subtle and a little flat. Nevertheless, this tree stuck me with it’s sensuous beauty, and I took some quick pictures.

And taking quick, casual pictures is something I gave my self permission to do a long time ago. Bernie might not have approved, but they give me a lot of pleasure.

Korean Dogwood colors the grey morning

Korean dogwood in November

Korean dogwood in November


Ah, another favorite tree. This Korean Dogwood (cornus kousa – plain vanilla version) is really enchanting in June with it’s massive coat of large white flowers. By late summer and early fall, those blossoms have turned to very large, gorgeous red berries that provide a feast for the birds, squirrels, and other not so wonderful creatures. And now, in November, the leaves are both brilliant and subtle with all their colors. Love them! A couple of these are iPhone photos again; easy and better than nothing!




Nandina photo, Acrylic Ink, and Peridot – September Little Altars

Embelished Nandina Leaves

Catching up on the Little Altars spots.  For September’s Full Moon this was my contribution:

September. Oh, what another meandering installment!

I was first inspired more than a month ago with Kathy’s prompt of Spot H – what does H mean?  I settled on Harvest.  Started to think of fruits, vegetables, and the recipes I was using for plums, pears, apples, tomatoes. I almost posted in spot H a great recipe for a Rustic Plum Cake, but you wouldn’t have been able to read it, and only Beth would get it anyway!

I thought of an illuminated letter H, but realized that my flourishing skills (as well as picturing skills) would not be adequate.  I was also inspired by a teeny, tiny piece of flotsam on the living room floor.  It was riding on a small, dried, brown maple seed that had been tracked in, and it was a little piece of very shiny, coppery-red tinsel.  It took me SEVERAL days to realize it was from a cat toy!  But in the meantime, I had decided that the color and the shine needed to be part of the (as it turned out, not-to-be) illuminated letter, so I purchased some copper acrylic ink.

Then, with the colors of the tinsel and Harvest in mind, I headed for my photographs.  I found a picture that I took last Fall of nandina leaves on our deck –in my mind a perfect fit.  I fussed over whether it should be a soft, fuzzy print on watercolor paper, or a high quality print.  I settled for high quality on my favorite paper:  Canon Matte Photo Paper.  Then I decided to make it pop a little with the copper acrylic ink that I KNEW I was going to use somehow.  Then I had to buy a couple more colors and use them!.  In the end, the whole thing needed a bit of softening, gussying-up, and dimension, so I added a strand of peridot chips on the bottom.

This is for the gardener, Beth: an embellished photo of nandinas in the Fall!

In process (1 of 1) P1050254

Color out the Grey – Fall 2013

Deck Color and Edibles Fall 2013 (1 of 3)We’ve had a TON of fog this fall.  Grey, windless days, and DRY!  But some of the colors have been amazing.  I have certain plants in my garden that were selected specifically for their fall colors.  My favorite is a disanthus cercidifolius that gets more sun than is usually recommended (it’s normally a shade-loving shrub).  In the middle of the day in high summer, it gets pretty strong sun but late afternoon shade. It’s been arborized to be a single trunk, and its 10 or 12 feet tall.  It grows near the side of a deck, so we see the top very close up.  With large planters built-in to the deck, there are certain times when we get a showcase picture.  This year, grass and a savoy cabbage get this amazing backdrop.
Deck Color and Edibles Fall 2013 (2 of 3)



Just to the right of this display is a nandina (with pretty blossoms at the moment) that wants to take over some space. Looks nice now, but it will get pruned….

If you like fall color, disanthus cercidifolius is a plant you might love!  It blooms (discretely) early in spring, and colors up early in the fall. Thanks, Miller Garden, for the Fall Color class that introduced me to it several years ago!Deck Color and Edibles Fall 2013 (3 of 3)

Beauty in Decline – Part 1

Found and Fascinating

Found and Fascinating

I was reading a photography tips book, and the author suggested that the place to find great flowers to photograph was at the flower market – where all the subjects were young, dewy, and fresh (I’m greatly paraphrasing.) It struck me that there is lots of other beauty around, and since its winter, much plant life is ‘in decline’. I found wonderful things in my garden, in decline and beautiful.

This completely whole piece of lichen, or fungus (?) – I’m not a botanist – had landed on the lawn. Apparently just itself. I picked it up and laid it on another surface, and looked closely. Little bugs started crawling out of it and walking away.

This “object” reminds me of the ocean, but it’s all terrestrial.

Points and tubes

Points and tubes

Somebodies love this - lots of living things all over

Somebodies love this – lots of living things all over