(selective) Beachcombing


Point Robinson beachcombing


Fern Cove beachcombing


Fern Cove beachcombing


Point Robinson beachcombing


All images were taken on Vashon, WA — the first and last were photographed at Point Robinson and the middle images were photographed at Fern Cove. (If you missed it, you can read more about the photo processing technique here.)


Harsi / July 27, 2011 / travel / 4 Comments

The One with The Crow & The Rain

I snapped the following series of images of this crow as it was sitting on the railing adjacent to the vehicle queue for getting onto the Seattle ferry over to Vashon Island. ** As always, click on the photo for an embiggened view. ** Just for fun, I’ve included a rough (very rough) facsimile of the accompanying dialogue between me and my husband…

“Roll your window down, hon.”
“Let me try and get a few shots past you, out your window.”
“We’re going to start moving any second now to get on the ferry!”
“I know, I know… so hurry up already!”

Crow + rain + the Seattle ferry

“Aren’t you a lovely bird? And posing so nicely for me too — thank you!  Boy, you look wet.”
“Hey… Speaking of wet… Me and the car are getting kind of soaked over here.”
“I know… sorry! Just a few more… and then you can roll it back up, I promise.”


Crow + rain + the Seattle ferry



“Are you getting anything decent?”
“Yup! These are pretty… The muted colors of the background and the water… the rain falling… the way light is hitting its black feathers. In fact, I’m really happy with these! Thanks for putting up with me, hon.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah… So, do you think it’s just an American Crow, or is this one actually a Northwestern Crow?”
“I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure out how to tell the difference exactly. I need to check the field guide again.”

Crow + rain + the Seattle ferry



“Oh, hey… Wow! It looks like it’s dancing in this shot!”
“Well, it’s doin’ something fancy with its feet…” *GRIN*

[NOTE: Differentiating between these two species of crow mostly involves geographic range and habitat, as well as some variation in call sounds. However, I gather that there is also a fair bit of hybridization between American and Northwestern Crows, which makes it all the more difficult to tell for certain which species you’re dealing with. I’m fairly certain that we must have seen at least a few Northwestern Crows (a new species for us) in the course of our more than week-long visit to Washington… just don’t ask me which ones they were exactly.]


Harsi / July 24, 2011 / birds, photography, travel, weather / 2 Comments

Some Like It (a little less) Hot

Much of the country experienced record high temperatures today. While we’ve been fluctuating between low- to mid-90s, I know it has been much hotter than that for some of you.

I found myself thinking about the temperate island we visited off the coast of Seattle at the beginning of March. Vashon’s high for today was 72 degrees. The average temperature there for this time of year is listed as 78 degrees.

I tried to imagine myself in the midst of all that cool, green loveliness. It was hard… Fortunately, I have a bevy of photos from our trip to assist me in my fantasizing. You’re welcome to join me!

Moist, overgrown and incredible! From our walk around Christensen Pond…


Christensen Pond, Vashon, Washington

Intoxicating blue and a breeze along the water’s edge at Fisher Pond…

Fisher Pond, Vashon, Washington


Is it working? Do you feel any cooler? Maybe a degree or two?

Well… I tried!  *GRIN*


Harsi / July 22, 2011 / plants, travel, water, weather / 4 Comments

Simple Thoughts

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about…


sunset abstract






Vashon water abstract




They both draw me in…

Shifting expanses of color.

Vastness beyond comprehension.

A place to become lost.

A place to find things.


Harsi / June 20, 2011 / skies, travel, water / 2 Comments

Even The Sound of Your Voice

thickets tall photo art


Crickets call, courting their ladies in star-dappled green
Thickets tall, until the morning comes up like a dream
All muted and misty, so drowsy now I’ll take what sleep I can
I know that I miss you, but I don’t know where I stand

Joni Mitchell, “I Don’t Know Where I Stand”


I guess I didn’t really feel much like writing today… The house is so still. It’s just the sound of me typing and the crickets singing away. All I have to offer is a bit of art that I created from an image taken on our trip to Vashon and some lines from one of my favorite songwriters.

Have a peaceful night everyone. *sleepy grin*

Harsi / June 12, 2011 / artwork, lyrics, travel / 0 Comments


I don’t think there has ever been a time in my existence when I wasn’t fascinated by the small details of life. My mother has told me stories of how ridiculously long it took to walk anywhere with me when I was a toddler as I kept stopping every few feet or so to inspect something that had caught my interest. For anyone who’s ever had the experience of walking somewhere with me today, they can probably attest that not a lot has changed! *GRIN*

Though it can be distracting (and occasionally overwhelming), my heightened attention to very small details is not a trait I would ever really want to change. I think it is an essential component of being a good naturalist… and photographer too. Being able to see small differences in two different shots can be very useful when editing a large number of images. Paying attention to how an image makes you feel if you alter the exposure a little or experiment with a slightly different crop can really improve your finished product. Of course, sometimes I wonder if the things I get hung-up on are perhaps too subtle for most people to care about. For instance, I was working on this image today:


sky & water pre-crop


This gorgeous scene was captured from the window of the train on the return leg of our trip to Seattle. The body of water paralleling the tracks provided a perfect mirror image of the striated sky above. The colors were subtle and perfect. This is the image I took, full-frame, nothing done in post-processing except to adjust the exposure a bit. I wanted this to feel somewhat abstract. I wanted it to be more about the repeating colors and lines than about the context of the scenery per se. As I stared at the above image, something just wasn’t sitting right for me. So, I cropped it, like this:


sky & water cropped


If you can immediately tell the difference between these two shots… well then, I am impressed! This crop did serve some practical purpose because my camera creates images that are roughly 8 x 10.6 inches. These dimensions are not particularly useful for making prints and cropping this to a standard size of 8 x 10 inches makes sense. But, that’s not why I did it. My reasons were far less obvious…

I am always trying to understand how someone’s eye reads a photo or piece of artwork. I think there are ways to guide the eye. To subtly suggest where the focus should be and how the eye travels to get there. My goal with this piece was to have the viewer’s eye follow the repeating horizontal lines in a way that would feel seamless… flowing, I suppose. Back and forth, like a typewriter, spewing pastel lines of clouds and water. I wanted to include the land below the water because it anchored the whole scene a bit and gave a hint of context. But foreground — especially darker foreground — is always going to draw the eye, and in this case, my attention kept being inexorably drawn to that tiny dark blob in the lower left corner. A little bump that made me stop and scrutinize when I wanted to just keep gliding back and forth.

At this point — if you’re still reading — you’re probably thinking 1) this woman is more than a little neurotic, and 2) does it really make any appreciable difference? Well, I freely admit to the first point… and as to the second, who knows? I felt instantly better about the whole thing after cropping it, but I have no idea how it translates to others. I’d be happy to hear what you think! Here are the two images side-by-side:


sky & water compare*Click on this (and the above images) if you want to see a larger view.*


Eventually, after staring at these two images for long enough and putting this blog post together, I began to second-guess myself. What was the big deal with the little blob anyway??? It finally dawned on me that it was the “blob” part that wasn’t working for me. Though a small protrusion, it poked up out of an otherwise congruous series of lines and drew attention. But then, to further frustrate things, I simply couldn’t resolve what I was looking at and that made my eye linger even longer on this spot. At this point, curiosity got the better of me and I enlarged the image and seriously increased the exposure to get a better view of the inscrutable dark lump.


sky & water blob revealed


Surprise! It’s a GOOSE!!! A Canada Goose, with its back to the camera, to be exact. Hah! Now, if this goose had been more visible, recognizable as a goose from a distance, there is no way that I ever would’ve considered cropping it out. That would have been a perfect destination for the viewer’s eye — traveling across the image and settling on this lone bird also surveying the unfolding scenery. Ahhh, but it wasn’t meant to be this time around, I guess.

Hmmm… re-reading this post, it seems awfully long and meandering. Not sure if anything I’ve written will be of interest to anyone. Just trying to give some insight into my creative process, which at times can perhaps be overly rigorous. More and more, I recognize that I must give myself more freedom to have fun and be spontaneous with my photography… but, the details do matter to me and they probably always will. And… I’m OK with that!

Harsi / June 10, 2011 / photography, skies, travel, water / 4 Comments

From Los Angeles to Seattle (Day 1)

I had thought I would be telling the tales of our trip to Vashon as they happened, with regular updates from the road. But (happily) I found that there was simply too much to see and experience for me to want to stop and sit in front of the computer for very long. I was also surprised by just how exhausted I was when we returned home last weekend. I guess my body (and my brain) needed a bit of time to process everything. When I finally sat down to start writing and sorting images, I realized there’s just no way that I could share all my photos (1000+!!) nor describe every detail, but hopefully this retrospective will give you a taste of where I’ve been…

As you may recall, we decided to travel via the Coast Starlight train. After my mother-in-law kindly dropped us off at Union Station, we boarded the train and were shown to our sleeper car. For those of you who’ve never traveled in this manner on the train, let me say that the seating is pretty comfortable in the daytime, but the fold-down seats and upper berth which become bunk beds are (understandably) not the most desirable of sleeping surfaces. But… we were not taking the train in order to get a good night’s sleep. We were eager to travel in a way that would allow us to see new places as we made our way up north — we were not disappointed! The first really interesting locale we passed through was the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. Apparently, a historically notable spot for having once been a stagecoach route, as well as being the site of a movie ranch.

Santa Susana State Historic Park
Santa Susana State Historic ParkMy photos do not do these stone outcroppings justice… The back of one of the large movie set facades as we sped past… Am I the only one who sees a large dinosaur poking its head over the top of that hill? (*grin*)
As we continued past Simi Valley and traveled through Moorpark, Camarillo and Oxnard we saw a lot of agriculture and farm animals. These two fields were right next to each other and reminded me of a classic “Before & After” shot.

Agricultural fields
Around Ventura, the train moved towards the coast where it mostly paralleled the Pacific Coast Highway for a while. We passed through Santa Barbara and Goleta, then somewhere around Gaviota State Beach, PCH diverges inland but the train continues to hug the coast for quite some ways. Much of this area is encompassed by Vandenberg Air Force Base and I wonder (outside of this train route) how easy it would be for the average person to see this stretch of coastline? I had so many beautiful images (despite the difficulties of shooting from a moving train!) that I had trouble narrowing down which ones to share. As you can see, the textures and layered colors of the passing landscapes were a photographer’s delight!

California coast
California coastBe sure to click on the images to see a larger view!
Finally, around Grover Beach, the train headed inland once again. The sun set on our first day of adventuring as we we headed north of San Luis Obispo. I never did manage to take any great photos of the sleeper car, but this last photo shows the parlour car where we spent a fair bit of time looking out the windows, eating, and talking to other folks on the train. The social aspect of traveling via train is one that some might not like, but we really enjoyed meeting and chatting with people from other places (a few of whom were quite knowledgeable about the areas we were passing through and were able to give us some insight into the locales we were whizzing through). I must also mention that the train staff was almost universally friendly and very accommodating. They made our trip as comfortable as possible and kept us smiling.

Coast Starlight parlour car

Harsi / March 19, 2011 / not nature, travel / 6 Comments