Category Archives: The Grand Landscape

The overview of the natural landscape.

Longing for Adventure

Steptoe Butte
The Palouse, Washington

I had planned to visit the Palouse in June to see the spring greens and yellows. It just wasn’t meant to be. I am yearning to get out with my camera for an adventure. Maybe later on this month I will be able to travel for a couple of days out to the Palouse. It should not be too crowded so I will be able to maintain social distancing during the trip. Warm summer breezes and softly blowing grains will be waiting.

Why Did I Create This Image?

“Selah Butte”
Heatherwood Summer

Our current “stay at home” and “social distancing” environment does have a few advantages. It gives me the opportunity to refresh some of my photography lessons. David duChemin, one of my instructors, stresses that to make a meaningful/compelling photograph, a photographer must first have a vision. That vision translates to having an intent for each image that is taken by a press of a cameras shutter.

This same thought is directly applicable to designing a landscape. When we first started designing our future arboretum one of the first things we did was to walk around the property to identify what scenes we wanted to protect and emphasize from potential “viewing rooms.” Selah Butte and the old Naches-Selah irrigation flume was a mandatory view. We picked a point near the southwest corner of our open lower lawn to build a protected viewing point. This point is where this image is taken from. We designed a planting area behind this point, an oval patch of lawn in front, and other curved planting and lawn areas between to develop a little room. In the back of the room, we planted trees to create shade from the afternoon sun. We framed the view of the butte with an oak and a Katsura tree. Other trees in the mid-ground have a limited height and will not interfere with the view. The summer sun rises directly over the butte. The setting sun lights the hillside up with a warm orangish glow. It will be a great place to welcome the rising sun with a cup of coffee as well as a peaceful place to enjoy a glass of wine as we enjoy the warm glow of the setting sun.

Now, let’s get back to the original question, “Why did I create this image?” My intent was simply to create a baseline illustrating the view that we have at the completion of our first phase of our Heatherwood’s landscape design. The image was created mid-day on the first day of summer 2020. I plan to develop a history of the passing of the seasons, morning and afternoon perspectives, and maturing of our Heatherwood arboretum over time.

Light and Shadows, Clouds and Sky

“As the Hills and Sky Roll By”
The Palouse, South Eastern Washington

In my last posting, I used a long exposure to blur the clouds in the image. In this image I let the camera do the work as I panned the camera along the rolling hills to create the blur. I saw clear contrasts between the light and shadows on the rolling hills and the white clouds and the blue sky above. In addition, I was gifted the contrasting orange-brown color of the hills against the blue color of the sky. Together they all combined for a nice abstract.

I am yearning for the Palouse!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

“The Badlands”
Wall, South Dakota

I’ve been laid up for the last couple of weeks and have not been able to get out and do any photographing. As such, I have been catching up on various photography topics. Jason O’Dell just put out a webcast on the Badlands that caught my eye. Jason, thanks for the stimulus. I was there for just a few hours as I drove across country from Philadelphia to Washighton. The day wasn’t the best for photography, but I was able to come up with a few that had potential. My visit was more of a scouting trip, hopefully for a return visit when I can spend the time to explore. I look back to my short visit. I look forward to when I will return.

Back to Reality … Sort of

Yakima Arboretum Infrared
Yakima, Washington

Now I am back to reality (partially). I am experimenting working in Infrared to see what works best with Infrared images. Clouds, deciduous trees, and grass are always good candidates. Infrared seems to bring out some of the tonality differences among the various types of trees. Here I see the differences between the deciduous trees which have fully leafed out, ones that are in bloom, others that have just started to have leaves at their tips, as well as the conifers.

This image was created using my standard image processing steps: Balance levels in Lightroom, convert to Black and White in Sliver Efex Pro. then optimize in Silver Efex. Pretty simple!

Borrowed Scenery

Chief Joseph and Selah Ridge
Heatherwood Spring

One of the design techniques in Japanese Gardens is to use a “borrowed” background to enhance the garden’s visual size. Here, we used the orchard and Selah Ridge to enhance the scene from this perspective. In the design process we layed out the path through the garden and the specific plantings to create these types of views. We tried to create multiple view points that would lend themselves to photographic interest.

Golden Hour

Selah Ridge Golden Hour”
Heatherwood Spring

This image was also taken from our view point shown in my 29 April post. From our “Perch” I look up and see history in front of me. Selah Ridge is part of the Yakima Folds running East and West. The rock outcroppings are part of the Columbia Basin basalt flows which occurred around 18 million years ago. Beneath the basalt there are layers of sandstone that once were part of the Pacific Ocean. The brown structure in the lower right is a piece of more recent history. It is part of the Naches-Selah irrigation canal built in the 1890’s. It still has a few years left until it will be torn down and replaced with a “modern” underground pipe. I will hate to see it go!

The day I created this image was a very unusual afternoon. It had been dark and cloudy for most of the day. Then around 5:00 PM the sun broke out and lit up the ridge in a golden orange-brown. The contrast between the warm orange ridge and the dark blue sky was breathtaking. There is always something interesting going on here at Heatherwood.

New Path to More Exploration

“On the Way to the Ridge”
Selah Ridge, Washington

During my walk to the top of the cherry orchard I found a new way to get up to the top of Selah Ridge that overlooks the hillside where we live. There are so many places around our neighborhood to explore. The trek to the top of the ridge from here will be one that I plan to wander and explore.

Looking at this line of basalt rock, I ask myself how this remnant of a lava flow got way up here. Beneath this level of basalt lay strata of limestone-type sediments from an ancient sea bed. How did a sea bed get up here? Piecing the little that I know of the geologic history of the area, the following is what I think happened: First, this area at one time was under the Pacific Ocean. Then the volcanic Cascade Mountains were formed which separated Eastern Washington from the coastal plain. Later, the Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho basalt flows covered what is now the Columbia Basin. Then the moving continental plates slowly forced up the Yakima Folds creating a line of ridges across south central Washington. We live at the base of one of these ridges.

Looking Over the Valley

“Looking Over the Valley”
Selah Ridge, Washington

Living out in the country is a wonderful opportunity to get out and explore. I have no excuse to feel “cooped up” inside the house. A 20 minute walk and I am above it all, overlooking an old cherry orchard, the valley below, and the gap to Yakima. How peaceful it is to just stand up on the hillside and observe the wonderful area where we live. In a short time, this orchard will be covered with white and pink blossoms. It is one of the few “old stands” of cherry trees around. Each year they remove a section and plant new trees. Hopefully this section will remain for several years to come.