Ninja vs Pirate   6 comments

To start this off, last week when David and I were at fair grounds, I found some rubber ducks done up as ninjas (4 different colors) and a pirate.  I just had to buy them.  I couldn’t help but think how it would be fun to photograph them in different areas “battling” each other.  I do feel I need to find a couple more pirate duckies.  To me it seems odd to have only one… I mean usually you have a whole ship full of pirates, right?  Anyways, I present to you the first of many (I hope) Ninja vs Pirate.

Lazy Eye Bailey is on a stroll through a wild tulip jungle in search of the rest of his crew mates.  He was separated from them recently due to his lazy eye being mesmerized by how far up the tulips go into the sky.  Before he realized it, they were out of sight.  He was not worried, as he knew where they were headed and he always carries his trusty compass with him.  However, little does he know, the jungle is full of ninjas.  In fact, Rinkilu Fire and Zutaka Shadow are watching from the leaves of a nearby tulip.  They silently watch until Lazy Eye Bailey’s back is to them.

Zutaka Shadow quickly jumps out of the tulip to attack.  The feathers on Lazy Eye Bailey’s back go up and he quickly turns to face what ever is behind him.  He focuses on Zutaka Shadow, but fails to see Rinkilu Fire.  He has faced off with ninjas before and feels confident he can win this battle.  He is about to draw is sword when he sees Zutaka Shadow give a signal.  It is then that Lazy Eye Bailey finally feels a hint of fear.

For it is then that he sees Rinkilu Fire as she jumps to the ground to help surround Lazy Eye Bailey.  The ninjas know they have the upper hand, as only the best of the best pirates could hope to face down two ninjas.  Lazy Eye Bailey knows this too.  While he is confident in his sword skills, he is well aware that they have more extensive training.  He puts up his wings to show he surrenders.  Zutaka Shadow pulls out his sword and points for Lazy Eye to move to a nearby fallen tulip that hangs over a ravine.

The ninjas force Lazy Eye Bailey up on to the tulip.  It appears they don’t plan to just let them go.  In fact they plan to have walk to the end and fall into the ravine.  Similar to how him and his crew have forced ninjas to walk the plank off their ship.  He chokes down his fear.  He has never been known as a coward and he surely will not be named one now.  He squarely turns and faces his opponents, so not to give them a chance to stab him in the back.  Both Rinkilu Fire and Zutaka Shadow have their swords out now and motion him to continue his path to sure death.  He walks backwards and before he knows it, he is falling.  The last thing he remembers is ground coming up on him very fast and then every thing goes black.

Rinkilu Fire and Zutaka Shadow look down to see the pirate below them.  Even from that distance they can see his life force has not completely left him.  They quickly discuss what to do with him.  If he did not die, that must mean something.  They decide they must take him to Master Nodoshi.  He will know what is to be done.

To be continued….

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Baker Lake Road   Leave a comment

On Friday, my friend David and I took the day off from work to go to the “World’s Largest Garage Sale” at our local fair grounds.  We often go out during the summer months together to hit up garage sales.  It just seemed natural we go to this one.  We didn’t find much that we had to have, but David did snap off a few pictures of items.  Very interested to see if they turn up in his blog.

Once we were finished, we figured we might as well use some of the day to go get some photos.  Only logically, right?  We stopped at his house first, so I could borrow a couple of lenses he isn’t using right now.  We were then off for our adventure (well, after getting gas).  We had a choice to go out to the tulips or head east down Hwy 20.  We decided on the later.  We had both been wanting to explore Bake Lake Road.    The name just seemed to promise something good.

Down Hwy 20 we went.  Looking for garage sale signs on the way, along with any signs of elk or eagles.  Unfortunately, we got a little too busy looking for all those other things that we completely missed the road we wanted.  And when I say we missed it, we really missed it.  We were out past Concrete before we realized we were well past where we would see the turnoff.  David went to turn around at the next road.  Instead of just doing a basic u-turn, he decided to drive down the road.  What the heck, might as well, right?

As we drove down the road, we happened across this nice little creek that was flowing down to the Skagit river.  On one side of the road it had this beautiful woodland setting as it flowed down little steps to create mini waterfalls.  The other side, the creek flows out of a culvert to drop 20 to 30 feet before continuing on its journey.  There are pillars there that are covered with moss and saplings.  It appears that once upon a time a bridge crossed over at that point.  Maybe it was an old road?

After a short time there, we jumped back into David’s van.  After driving through Concrete, heading west this time, we found Baker Lake Road.  Which had a decent sign pointing out the road.  How in the world did we miss that?!   The first thing we noticed on Baker Lake road, is that you are certainly going up in elevation.  That felt promising.  The next thing you notice, there are just an awful lot of trees and a stream following the road.  However, there was nowhere to pull off the road at the points with a clear picture.  Next we come across Grandy Lake.  It looks nice and there is a camp ground.   We keep going until we come to a sign pointing to Baker Lake Dam.  Sounds interesting, right?  So we go check it, expecting some little dam.  Well, we were wrong.  That was a pretty good size dam.  Not the Hover dam, but still impressive.   I think we both plan to go back another day to get photos.

Back to Baker Lake Road.  We keep driving down the road without really seeing Baker Lake.  The road finally gets to a point it is no longer paved.  That is where we decide to turn around.  We figure that most of the views for the lake are at the camp grounds.  And those have not opened for the season.  Oh well, just means we will have to come back another day!  As we are going back, there is a marsh type area that we make a quick stop at.  There some flower things growing that interest David.  I snap a few pictures off.  One is of a an old stump with a tree growing on top of it.  Making sure it is keeping dry.

As we continue back down the road, David actually spots a bear as it runs across the road.  I was looking out my passenger window, and completely miss it. We drive up really slow (there are NO other cars in the area), hoping to catch a glimpse.  The bear had no plans to stick around and has disappeared into the forest.  *sigh*  Maybe someday I’ll get to see a bear and take a picture of it (and not one in the zoo).  Of course, from a nice safe distance where I don’t have to worry about being eaten.  haha

Anyways.. we continue on back home.  However, not before making two more stops.  One is just a short distance from the bear sighting (we made sure to keep the car doors open to escape into in case the bear came by).  Boulder Creek is flowing there and *BAM!*  an awesome view of Mt Baker.  It was playing peek-a-boo behind some clouds.  Even with the clouds, it is majestic.

While we didn’t get to see the Baker Lake, I was happy to see the actual mountain.  And I got two new lenses to play with!  The first photo in this blog was actually taken with a wide-angle lens, but I cropped it down.  My Flickr site has a couple of pictures I have taken with macro lens.  Thank you David!

Have a great week!

Rasar – Washington State Park   7 comments

This last week my hubby and I received our discovery pass in the mail.  The discovery pass allows you to park in any of our Washington State Parks without having to pay any fees.  It cost $30 and it is good for the full year.  To us, not a bad deal and some of that money will funnel back into the park system.

The day we received it, we headed out and went to a park we have never visited before.  Rasar State Park.  About a mile or so off Highway 20, it sits right along the Skagit River.  On our way to check out the park, we saw part of a herd of elk running along to catch up with the rest of the group.   They were meeting up to graze in a field right behind someone’s house.  I managed to get a few shots off from my camera after I had to turn the car around and come back down the highway. 🙂

After watching them for a few minutes we head off to the park.  We found as we entered the park that it is available for day use, but also camping.  Either by tent or by trailer.  Not that I’m huge on camping, but it nice to know.  Josh and I headed for the day use area.  We proudly put our discovery pass up for display and went for the trail that would lead to the river.

The trail, or really more of a path, leads from the parking down an incline that takes you to a meadow/field area.  The view of the larger foothills right before you get to the Cascades is fantastic.  We were lucky that clouds this particular evening were adding some character to the view.

From there we wandered down the path to the river.  Overall it is a short walk to get there, but it goes through a beautiful forest area with some great old trees with the moss hanging off their limbs.

At the river, there wasn’t anything spectacular about the view, but it was relaxing.  The water has a little bit of a teal/aqua blue to it.  This is usually signs of glacier feeds into the river.  We didn’t go to much further, as we wanted to get home before it was dark.  We could see the sun was starting to set of in the distance.  Just from where we were at along the river, there was a couple vantage points to watching the sun set.

So we turned around and headed back to the car.  As we talked, we both agreed that we will be returning very soon to further explore what this park has to offer.  This will hopefully be the start of a series for throughout the rest of the year in which we explore other state parks within our area.  Stay tuned!

New Exploration   2 comments

Where I work, the customer service supervisors are on a rotation for the opening shift.  This last week one of my co-workers asked if anyone wanted to take her opening shift, as she doesn’t particular care for it.  I decided to take her up on the offer.  I figured loosing a little sleep may pay off if the weather cooperated (and that is a big IF still), in that I would be off work earlier and have some time before the rest of the family came home.

Last Sunday I looked at the weather forecast and saw nothing but rain our future.  How sad.  However, I kept my hopes up and it paid off for Monday.  When I left work the clouds were hanging out, but there was no rain.  I ran home to grab my camera and changed into more appropriate shoes and clothes.  Now the decision was where to go.  I didn’t want to go to the fields, as I had gotten my fill of daffodils for the moment.  I have enough Northern State Hospital photos for now until Spring and Summer are more in swing.  Where does that leave me.  My vibe was to go east.  I always seem to travel west from my house.

So off I went, east on Highway 20.  And that’s when I decided to take the Cape Horn Road.  I knew it followed along parts of the Skagit River.  I made the turn when it came and headed down the road.  I did find a nice little spot next to the river where the trees weren’t completely blocking the view.  This picture I took there shows a beautiful fallen tree that is being reclaimed.   Part of the Skagit River floats past with a light reflection of the lowland hill that looms up on the other side of the river.

I then continued down the road to further my exploration of this new area for me.  I found a couple other spots that showed interest.  Each time I would stop and take a few pictures and then jump back into the car.  As I was going, I realized that instead of doing a “photo walk”, I was doing a “photo drive”.  However, I do hope to go back to a few spots and explore further by doing more of a photo walk.  Anyways, I was getting close to the end of this road to where it connects back to Highway 20 (It is really nice that it just loops back) when I drove by this old truck.  I literally stopped and backed up my car.

Looking at this truck, it has such great character.  I actually felt a little bad for it too.  To me it just seems to be crying out for someone to come reclaim it.  To bring it back to the beauty it once was.  It just wants to be loved.  Yes, I know it is just a truck, but I think adding “a voice” to something like this brings more life to the picture.  But maybe I’m just wrong or crazy.  More likely crazy. 🙂

I am glad I decided to explore a new area and plan to do more exploration this year to the east.  I can’t wait to see what I find and share it!   Hope you have a great week.

 

Spring! It is here!!   3 comments

Today, at this moment, as I write this very entry, the sun is out!  There is blue sky with some high wispy clouds.  The little Pine Siskin are fluttering around the bird feeder.  My tulips are working their way up in my flower beds.  All the perennials are showing new growth.  Heck, I even have one plant with some flowers on it.  Spring is certainly in the air!

After such a horrible Spring season last year here in the Pacific NW, we are very happy to see a bit of “normal” weather come back to us. Here in the Skagit Valley, the best indicator that Spring is on track and arrived are our daffodil and tulip fields.  And what a great place to visit if you can during the end of March into April.  We even spend the whole month of April having a Tulip Festival.

In the past couple years, by the time I get out to the fields the daffodils have already been blooming for a few weeks.  So they are certainly not looking their best.  Well, I wasn’t going to do that this year!  On Friday, my hubby and I scooted out of work a little early to kick off the weekend and enjoy the sun.  We stopped at the The Farmhouse for lunch.  Yummy as always!

We then went off to check out the daffodils.  Scooping out the bloom map by RoozenGaarde we knew there were a couple of fields in bloom.  The first field we went by was just starting to get some blooms.  So we continued on down the road.  As we got closer, you could see the field of yellow.  Almost like the beacon from a lighthouse guiding us to the field to where we needed to be.  I quickly parked the car and set up my camera.

Quick side note to this picture outing … While I was taking pictures, we met a delightful older couple, probably in their 70’s.  They had come up from the Seattle area for his birthday.  It just added to the joy of the day to see them enjoying each others company and being out and about together.  I told my hubby I want to be like them when we get older.

I am so happy with the way this picture turned out.  I had my camera do three bracket photos (just learned about that last week).  Used Photomatix to bring them together for the HDR image.  I then did some final editing in Lightroom adjusting the yellow in the daffodil, bringing out the green of their stems, and adjusting the blue of the sky.  While I know the picture is “perfect”, it is still probably the best I have done to date.  I hope you enjoy!

Final Days of Winter.. Maybe?   Leave a comment

Today I woke up once more to snow on the ground.  And even as I write this, there is snow coming down.  Not enough to worry about, but it does make you wonder if Spring is just around the corner.  I am looking forward to the tulips blooming.  To all the birds that will come visit my feeders.  To just having some warmth.  Until then, I will take what mother nature gives me and turn it into a picture!

This last Tuesday my hubby and I took off early from work.  It was once again another day we had woken up to snow on the ground.  By later in the day, some had melted off, but the further east you went (towards the Cascade Mountains) the more there still was on the ground.  We went out in the afternoon and I played around a little more with HDR and tried out Photomatix.  The sad part is while in trial version it is watermarks, but I like the program and plan to buy on payday! 🙂  These are both of the Skagit River.

Have a wonderful week!

I Think I Got It Now   4 comments

I have now have had my camera for about 3 years.  Over the three years I have a learned a lot.  First, was just the fun of using of it and how much better my pictures looked.  Then it came time to step away from the “point and click” and actually learn more about aperture, speed, iso and taking pictures in RAW.  This last lesson came after taking a two day class that went over the basics of photography.  It was a good class that helped me confirm what I already know and helped with a couple things I wasn’t strong on.

Most of all it led me to finally figure out that I am free to make my photos into whatever I want them to be.   Before now I have been worried if the photo looks right.  I would always compare photos to what my friends are doing and worry that I was maybe just wasting my time.  Which in turn took some joy out of taking pictures.  Now I realize it doesn’t matter!   I need to like what I’m taking pictures of and what I do with them.  I am now challenging myself to post two pictures to Flickr a day.  Hopefully that will grow into posting a blog more often too. 🙂

A big kick in what made this change for me was Lightroom 3.  It made it easier for me to edit my photos and be more creative with them.  And I don’t have to have a lot of knowledge on how to use it.  Unlike Photoshop, that I was using before.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Photoshop is a excellent program, but I felt completely lost using PS.

So, I suppose this is in part suppose to be a photo blog. ha!  The following photos go from what the original photo looked like the final photo that ended up being my favorite I posted to Flickr this week.

This was the original photo.  I saw potential in it, so flagged it as one to work on.

I took the photo and fixed the exposure, brightness, contrast and a few other things.  At this point I was happy with it, but really felt more could be done with it.  I did though go ahead and post this one to Flickr.

I took the last photo and added on of tons of filters Lightroom has to choose from.  I then made a few more adjustments with grain and vignetting.  And the final result was this photo.  And I just love it!  I hope you enjoy it also.