In my last post, I described the path up to the top of our Japanese-style garden. This is the “Chief” that I mentioned at the the first turn of the upward path. The brilliant gold of this small pine stops me in my tracks. It is absolutely beautiful against the cold winter snow. It is a jewel in this area of the garden.
Bright and light it captures me. Gold shines apart from the surrounding land, Everything else is a background blur.
I have learned so many new things as we have been designing and implementing a Japanese-style garden here in Selah, Washington. The biggest thing that I have learned is how little I know and how much I need to learn. Studying and learning is a big part of the enjoyment that I am receiving from this project. Patience is a key element that I am balancing.
Walking through a Japanese garden is an adventure in discovery. To get to the point where this image is taken, I take a meandering stroll. I enter the garden from our driveway along a gentle bending path and come to a fork. I choose to walk up a gentle slope. The path curves upward to a wide level space where I pause to closely observe a brilliant yellow “Chief Joseph” limber pine. I turn around and see our pond in the distance. I continue to walk up the path to another wide area at the top of a stream. Again I pause to look over the now dry stream bed and over the valley below. After several moment, I cross a large basalt rock bridge over the stream. I turn to my right and see this vignette of the Kotoji and Yukimi lanterns. One leg of the Kotoji is anchored in the stream. The Yukimi is placed on a rock extending over the edge of the pond. On a bright day (without ice or snow covering the pond), I can see the reflection of the Yukimi on the pond. I feel like it acts like a guardian for the koi in the pond.
After I take the photograph, I step back upon the stone bridge. Looking down on the stream, I consider the options that are available to landscape around the stream to create a natural setting. Ideas flow through my mind. Nothing quite gels at the moment. There is no hurry to come up with a design. A landscape is developed over a period of years. It is never completed. Now is the time to have patience and just enjoy what is in front of me.
As we developed the design for our Japanese Garden, winter color was an essential element. Throughout the garden, we added several conifers that turn to a brilliant yellow to contrast against the greens of other shrubs and trees. We also selected deciduous Japanese maples and other trees that have color in their winter bark. The soft light browns of key rocks add to the color contrast. However, these were gifts, not necessarily part of our planned design. We just got lucky here.
How beautiful the snow is, but it is really cold. Today was -6 degrees when I got up. It is “dry” cold, so not too uncomfortable. Since Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction of an early spring, winter has hit Eastern Washington hard. We have had our first real snow of the year and the temperatures have dropped below zero. We are in for more!
The only good advice I have heard is to not trust the groundhog. Out of Phil’s 103 predictions, he has been right only 39% of the time! I see that he has about the same prediction accuracy as our regular weather forecasters.
It is about time that we had our first real snow of the year. Our luck of having mild winter weather has just run out. Last week I was out golfing. I don’t think I will make it out this week!
This morning was 20 degrees when I went out to photograph. I came in after about an hour walk around the house. After warming up, I decided that I would rather review and work on my images instead of going out and shovel snow. I guess I can’t put it off any longer … it’s time to go out and get to work.
This view of the Absaroka Mountains is looking west from the summit of Beartooth Pass, elevation 10,947 feet. The air is thin. I felt like I was almost on the top of the world. I was definitely light headed.
I am focusing on trying to create various moods with my black and white images. This image of Pilot Peak was shot in midday light. I added contrast along with dodging and burning to get this “late evening” mood.
The image below is processed with a B&W conversion with just a little contrast and brightness adjustment. It captures more of the detail, but lacks feeling (my perspective).
One of the most beautiful scenic drives that I have been on is the Beartooth Highway from Cook City, Wyoming to Red Lodge, Montana. On the way up to the summit, I saw a small opening through the trees with a beautiful lake peeking between them. I found a turnout and walked a short distance to see this beautiful scene. The lake was smooth as glass, the sky was blue, and the snow beamed out its radiance. Symmetry of the bluff reflecting in the lake was perfect. It was mid-day, so the colors were muted. But is was perfect for black and white.
Someday, I will be back for an early morning or late afternoon shot of the warm sun reflecting off the bluff into the lake.