The World is Golden

aspen-against-blue-sky-horizontal-yesThere’s a long, south facing hillside up in the Stanley valley, near Redfish Lake, which is covered with an equally long stand of aspen trees. There’s a trail that meanders along the base of the hillside for a few miles and I’ve always thought that hike would be spectacular in fall when the trees were in full color but for two decades I’ve missed it. Successful leaf peeping requires timing, luck, and motivation and for whatever reason I’ve never had all three in sync.

This year I finally hit it. I did a runaway up to the cabin for a couple days of Indian summer and struck gold. Turns out it wasn’t just the aspen. The whole valley was lit up. Golden. This time of year the light is thinner, slanted, as the sun retreats back towards the southern hemisphere and the way it reflected off the changing foliage of willows and dogwoods, aspens and dried grasses made the air itself glow. It was an extraordinary sensation.

Left to my own devices I would have parked my phone camera at home and just rambled around for two days soaking it in. I find a lens tends to get in between me and the full experience of a place. But I promised my mother-in-law I’d take pictures for her and it was not a promise to renege on. Marie lived up in that valley for twenty-five years, running the medical clinic as the first practicing nurse practitioner in the state of Idaho and ministering to the health needs of a rural population when no doctor was willing to go. She adored her life up there, loved it, but at 84 years old and losing her sight she’s given up the mountain mama existence and moved to the lowlands where more care is available. She never complains mind you, she’s an amazing woman that way, but I could hear the longing in the way she talked about her memories of the fall colors so I was hellbent and determined to at least capture some of it for her digitally.

These are the result.

Version 2Above is Fishhook Creek running through a large beaver engineered water system that spans the meadow with a couple of Sawtooth peaks behind.

fisher-creek-range-sunsetFoothills in front of the White Clouds mountain range during sunset. You can see pockets of color as the aspen are changing.

iron-in-river-rocksThis is a stone in Fishhook Creek full of iron, which gives it the orange-red color. (It’s an iron rich area.)

aspen-hillside-with-mountain-yesThis is a view of part of that long hillside I mentioned. The color just keeps going and going and going and going…

And finally…

illuminated-aspen-1Sunlight illuminating the leaves from behind. The photo doesn’t do it justice of course. The real effect was rather holy…another one of those moments out in the natural world when the impulse to fall on my knees and whisper thank you to whatever would listen almost got me. In the end I couldn’t do it in front of the Canadian hikers behind me but still, we were all pretty quiet and big eyed.

Here’s for you, Marie. Thanks.

The Camera Phone and the Dilettante Photographer: Part 2

In Part 1 I think I mentioned that I’m a little fixated on skyscapes. (I’d probably be fixated on starscapes, too, but night photography requires a level of skill that is clearly, judging from the deplorable quality of my photos, lacking.)

Most of the great skyscape photo opportunities I get are from the front deck of the hubster’s family’s cabin in Stanley, Idaho. It’s a breathtaking view and, as far as results are concerned, highly ego inflating. You can’t take a bad picture from the place, you just can’t. I challenge anyone to try. It’s a favorite playground for the Northwest weather gods who are forever romping around, rolling in from one end of the valley or the other, or spilling over and between the mountain peaks, or rising up from the early dawn river as fog, or shooting down between a crack in dark clouds as ethereal, roving spotlights. It’s amazing and kind of spellbinding. The first time I ever visited the cabin I just sat at the front window staring outside for three days. (It was also the first time I ever met the hubster’s family who, fortunately, forgave me. They’re pretty proud of the place.)Carpe Musings

Shaw mesa winter storm lighting

Version 2

Shaw mesa dramatic storm front copyTired yet? But I have so many more. Sigh.

These last two were taken by the hubster. The first is morning fog filling up the deep valley between the mesa we perch on and the mountain range on the other side:View this morning B copyAnd the last is…well, we have no idea what this is. It’s a phenomenon we’ve only ever seen up at the cabin this once. It was a column of light that shot up unexpectedly from the setting sun. It was HUGE. The photo doesn’t capture that part. And most odd, lasting about two minutes from the time we first saw it.Morning light column over Sawtooths copySorry for the enormous size of the photograph. WordPress changed the download media feature while I was gone and I haven’t figured out how to resize yet. As mentioned…dilettante. 

The only other time I’ve seen this column of light was on the morning Obama came to Boise to speak while campaigning for his first election. It shot up into the sky from behind the Boise mountains directly over the Taco Bell Arena where he was scheduled in an hour’s time and, between you and me, I think it was an expression of total Idaho flabbergast. A Democratic presidential candidate campaigning here? It was as astounding as if a migrating flamingo had been blown off course and landed in one of the ponds over in Katherine Albertson Park. Even the sky was surprised at such a turn of events and it shot up a great big exclamation point of light before it remembered itself and regained its poise.

I would love to know what causes it though. Any ideas?

copyright 2016 Dia Osborn

The camera phone and the dilettante photographer – Part I

I come from a long line of woman photographers, one of whom was even talented enough to earn money at it around the turn of the last century. (That would be great great Grandma Atta, who was also an avid fisherwoman with scoliosis who used her crutches to swing over streams and keep her hems dry, and who also, BTW, divorced a difficult husband in an age when that just wasn’t done and raised three girls on her own. I would love, love, love to have known this woman but must settle for her genes instead.)

And while the family photographic enthusiasm has continued unabated through the generations, the skill seems to have peaked with Atta so that the ratio of good pictures to bad has steadily fallen. Which is a bummer for me and my brother since we’re the family photo archivists who have to store the vast cache of pictures and slides for their historical value, no matter how bad they are.

How many sunsets, Grandma? Really?

Fortunately for the children that will follow me, though, things have gone digital and it’s now easy-peasey to delete the hundreds of bad photos I have to take in order to get one that’s at least semi-interesting. And since, like my mothers before me, I favor taking pictures of landscapes and objects rather than living, breathing family members (reducing the genealogical value to pretty much zero), it’ll also be easy-peasey for said daughters to store everything on a single thumbdrive that can then be easily overlooked in a box and accidentally tossed without every having to feel guilty about it the way that I have.

I’m a big, big fan of digital.

Anyway, I’ve been collecting a variety of snapshots on my camera phone for a while now and lately wondering what, oh what, to do with them? Then, today, I found a blog post on the site of one of my favorite bloggers, Coming to terms with my iPhone – Part I over at Rangewriter – What Comes Next?and suddenly I remembered that I, too, have a blog! Cobwebby with neglect, true, but still, a blog. So I, too, can post my photographs online where they’ll be stored…nay, immortalized…forever and ever, despite any deplorable lapse in appreciation or taste on the part of my careless, self-absorbed, future daughters.

(Then again, is a little bit of guilt really so bad?)

So here’s one taken late last winter when the water levels in Lucky Peak reservoir were still quite low.

Lucky Peak Beached boat

Whoops. Did somebody forget something?

And then here’s another shot of Lucky Peak reservoir on a weathery sort of day, also last winter. (Where my grandmother loved sunsets, I love blustery skyscapes…which also all tend to look the same after awhile, as you’ll probably notice in future posts. Consider this a disclaimer.)

Lucky Peak dramatic lighting

copyright Dia Osborn 2015

Editor’s note: I got a photographic editing suggestion from Rangewriter (who’s a serious photographer BTW)!! Time to step up my game a little and try something new.  Here’s the beached boat again only with a little less sand to cross to get to it. Easier. (Like feet, like eyes I guess. Makes sense.)

Lucky Peak Beached boat

Me in the morning…


grumpy bird

Someone sent me an email FULL of stunning bird photography like this with nary a credit given to any of them.  Drives me absolutely nuts that I can’t tell you who took this beauty but whoever you are…you’re brilliant.  Brilliant.  Please…if anyone knows, tell me so I can give credit where due.

Another Break: Delightful Snowflakes

Okay.  I needed a break from advance directives and just found a good one:

A friend sent me a link to Have A Beauty Filled Day, a blog full of photographs and insights…two of my favorite things.  Christine Young, the author/photographer, takes her inspiration not only from the natural world, but often from the tiny natural world…which I particularly adore.

Here are a couple pics taken (with permission and a link) from a post entitled Flaky:

There are more photos.  This is only an appetite whetter.

(Also, for anyone wondering, this is what magic used to look like before it was roped and domesticated by Merlin, Houdini, Penn and Teller, and the rest of those guys.  Hard to recognize, no?  I think it’s the simplicity of it that fools most people.  There was often simple magic happening around dying people, too, which is perhaps why I recognize it.)

Check out the blog if you get a chance.  It’s a delight.

copyright Dia Osborn 2011

Accidental Photo II

Something happened yesterday around sunset that I hadn’t seen before.  For about one minute:thirty-five, the last rays of the sun peeked out from under tumultuous, massed storm clouds and found a sliver of pathway between the branches of three big trees, around the patio roof, and through a major tangle of wisteria to actually make it in our kitchen window.  The light was golden, dramatic, and lit up two vases sitting in the window like luminaries.  And…in a complete fluke…I had my camera to hand.  I took a dozen shots or so and this was at the peak of the light:

Hardly prize winning but it caught the effect so I was happy.  It also, funnily enough, turned out be another accidental photo.  I was only aiming for the vases but wound up capturing an entire series of worlds that I hadn’t seen when I first snapped the shot.  I mean, look at them all.  There’s…

1) the outside, distant garden,

2) the illuminated, inner world of the vases,

3) the invisible realm of glass separating the two (you can only see it by the ghostly reflections it casts),

4) the world of shadows at the bottom right, where the silhouette person lives, and then

5) the dark abyss just under the shelf.

There are more than five of course, (like the neighbor’s world through those darkened windows in the upper, right hand corner) but you get the gist. Without the camera I only perceived a single world with the vases as its dominant focal point.  All the other unique, fascinating worlds present were reduced to background noise, like visual mall music.  It took the camera to give me the time and mental shift necessary to see the rest.

I realize our brains are designed to take the overwhelming barrage of sensory detail that batters us at every moment, and filter it down to just one or two things that we can actually focus on.  And this ability is a good thing.  I understand that.  Without it we’d all have Asperger’s.

But it also means that this seemingly solid, worthy, dependable world we put so much stock in is actually made up of layers upon layers of different realities, entire alternate worlds in fact, most of which we completely miss, all the time.  Our perception of everything around us isn’t even real.

Or no…it’s real enough taken by itself I guess, but it’s only a teeny tiny sliver of what’s really real.

It’s like what the poor sun had to do to itself to make it all the way inside our kitchen window: Reduce an entire star’s massive energy field–immense enough to warm and light an entire solar system–into a low spectrum sunbeam, roughly 2 foot by 3 foot, that only lasted for a minute and a half. Talk about partial.

Having said all that though, still.  The illuminated vases were very…verycool, and I guess that’s enough.  Sometimes, the slivers alone will knock your socks off.

copyright Dia Osborn 2011

Accidental photo

“Remembering Baby”

Taken in Quinault, Washington in March, 2011.  It’s funny, I didn’t even see the little, turquoise angel in the upper right corner when I was taking the shot.  I discovered it a couple weeks later, after we got home, when I was cropping the original image.  I love it when I capture surprising images like this.  They tell a much fuller story.

copyright 2011 Dia Osborn