2016 Review… The “Far”

As with most years, many photographic opportunities presented themselves, not just in my home state of Florida, but the west was well represented in 2016.  Like the previous year end review post, I will focus primarily on the “new”.

Of course, there are a few images that never grow old, such as the frosty face of a bison fighting for survival in the harsh winters of the west.

_DSC6231-2Though I tend to forget sometimes the landscapes that lay before me, I tried to focus on them a bit in 2016._DSC4055There’s something magical about the iconic image of a beautiful red fox making its way across the snowy landscape …_DSC5569… though unique fox sightings such as this are quite beautiful and intriguing as well.  Never have I seen a setting like this one before._DSC5495It’s always fun to find a couple of coyotes in the snow as well, but it’s not everyday that you see this.  I know that to the casual viewer this looks like 2 coyotes standing there looking at us, which I suppose it was, but what makes this one so special is that they weren’t standing there being cooperative subjects by chance … they were tied after mating.  Once again, I’ve never seen anything like that before … and believe it or not, it was captured on Valentine’s Day.  🙂_DSC6495Another lifer for me was the elusive saw whet owl.  It had long been a dream of mine and I felt like I was floating on a cloud of joy when I got this one._DSC6977Sporting some nice red earrings and a necklace (i.e. tag and collar), my first mountain goats in the snow images were thrilling and a great bar to capture more natural ones in the future, though I do love the fluffy snow in this one._DSC7104This snowy day made photography a bit difficult, but I like most, still tried.  This group of elk in winter were getting tight as a group of either coyote or wolves were moving in on them. _dsc4122Speaking of wolves, I haven’t gotten a great shot of any wolves, outside of Denali NP in Alaska, before and still haven’t, but this is my first of that black wolf that calls Yellowstone home._DSC9812While I have lots of bison shots, this was the first year that I got out in the spring to capture those “red dogs”, who couldn’t be any cuter._DSC0192_DSC9570-2Predators can come in different forms and species, but the instinct to seek refuge is all the same.  Here I photographed a black bear cub who obediently climbed high (really high) to the top of a tree, while mom spotted a boar in the area.DSC_2910Speaking of things that I’ve NEVER experienced before was this aggressive protective behavior exhibited by this dusky grouse.  Though it played coy allowing images, it clearly felt threatened by some (especially women) and it ended with an entertaining, yet scary, encounter with Mr. Flashy Eyebrows, which incidentally change colors too.  LOL_DSC9981Usual sightings of beavers for me have been swimming around in the ponds, usually in the dusk hours, affording little opportunity for me to capture a great shot.  That changed in 2016 when this cooperative beaver exited the pond and sat, in the midst of flowers, on the bank and groomed itself for quite some time.  I was thrilled.DSC_4173-2Who wouldn’t want to have a lunch date with an incredible golden eagle? … Well, except the one being served as dinner.  I sat in awe as it devoured its dinner on the banks of the river, not far from where I was sitting.DSC_4697-2A first for me too was this ADORABLE little pronghorn antelope, that had to be less than one day old.  Nature is an amazing thing because this baby was so skilled at running and kept up with mom right from the get-go.DSC_2714In Florida, we have red-winged blackbirds, but out west they have these beautiful yellow-headed blackbirds.  Though a different species, their song is equally as distinct and lovely.
DSC_1400A definite goal of mine for 2016 was to get that iconic shot of the red-necked grebes swimming with their babies on their backs.  While I didn’t get that, I did manage to get not only the Western grebes, but an image of them offering the fish as part of their courtship behavior.DSC_1726Cuteness alert!  2015 I may have gotten my very first long-eared owls, but how about this?  It’s a long-eared baby owlet!  My heart melted the instant that our eyes met.DSC_21972016 was spent also on some landscape shooting … here from Steptoe Butte in the iconic Palouse …_DSC0513-HDR… and also from the Colorado National Monument, which overlooks the town of Grand Junction, CO._dsc1370-hdrIn what had to be one of the craziest shoots of 2016, was that very, very early morning at Maroon Bells in Colorado.  It was freezing when we started shooting some astro images in the wee hours, but continued to get colder as the sun began to rise.  That was my first time there … crazy, crazy, crazy the number of photographers congregating there!_dsc1135Fall in Colorado is a special treat.  The clouds, the mountains, the leaves … all jaw-dropping._dsc1577-hdrOf course, the golden leaf dropping aspens are always a favorite of mine, both on the ground …_dsc1160… as well as looking up towards the heavens._dsc7922Courtesy of Hurricane Matthew, which re-routed us from our return home, this bull elk chest deep in the lake was a new one for me too.dsc_8342The mule deer, also sporting their racks, were organizing as well.dsc_8998Yes, our time spent out west in 2016 was fascinating and full of firsts and new behavioral images.  Noticeably absent, in both this blog and in my heart, was Alaska.  It would have been our 10th consecutive year, but it wasn’t to be in 2016.  That only means that something super special must be in store for us there in 2017.  Can’t wait to find out!dsc_1673Thanks so much for our friends who participated in the fun during the year, including Jen & Travis, Amy & Scott, Rebecca, Jay, Phil, and Rick … we really appreciated sharing the good times with you guys.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed the trip down 2016 memory lane.  There’s one more segment to 2016 left though … hmm, what could it be?

Next Up:  Proud as a peacock moments

© 2016 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

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The Palouse Mystique

In mid-June, I flew from the sunny beaches and cool breezes of the Coronado region of  San Diego, CA to the rolling hills and rich fertile farmlands of eastern Washington … specifically the Palouse region.  I had been there a year ago – loved it – and vowed to return at that time.  The time was now.  🙂

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Probably the most popular and photographed area of the Palouse is from the summit of Steptoe Butte.  From there, you can see miles and miles (and then more miles) of the rolling hills and farmlands that make the Palouse region such a favorite with photographers … and not just landscape photographers either.  🙂

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I mean, who could resist playing with the light, which dances all over the landscape, depending on the weather, clouds, and time of day.  It’s so hard to concentrate on one thing … your eyes catch the beauty from every angle.

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This particular visit to the butte, we hit very different weather than last year.  Rain, heavy clouds, and varying winds were present, which was causing a challenge for me.  I fluctuated between getting broad landscape shots one minute, then more focused to a particular feature observed in the landscape.

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At some points, an even tighter, almost cropped view, was used.  In the Palouse, it really doesn’t matter … it’s all beautiful in my opinion.

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While hanging out on Steptoe, there were even wildlife opportunities, as the marmots seemed to be just about everywhere!  Of course, then I became even more confused as to what to shoot!  LOL

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On one of the days that we were visiting, we drove over to Uniontown and visited the Dahmen Barn and the artists’ workshops as well.  It was there that we got a lesson in the importance of all of this rain we were experiencing.  See, though for me (at least at the moment) the rain was an unwelcome guest, we learned about the importance of the rain to the farmers in the area … see these farms have no man-made irrigation systems and desperately depend on nature’s rain.  “Liquid gold” is what they call it.  I guess I can live with it, in fact embrace it, now.  It’s all about perspective and mine was “adjusted”.

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The perimeter of the Dahmen Barn is a work of art in itself … a fence encompasses it entirely – made up of wheels only … a virtual trip down memory lane and a way of life for the years gone by.  I can’t help but think the stories that could be told by each wheel or cog.  Mind boggling, I say.

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To my delight, the farm land immediately next to the barn was covered in newly bloomed canola fields, ironically courtesy of the recent rainfall.  It was amazing to see and in my opinion, impossible to capture the beauty through the lens … but of course, I had to try.

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As if it wasn’t already exciting enough, we happened to notice a nest nearby.  After careful inspection, we noticed it was occupied by 2 red-tailed hawk young ones.  Older than babies, but not yet ready to do much else but test their wings.  At least one of the parents flew over the nest periodically.

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Also a must to visit are the area small towns that dot the outskirts of the farmlands.  Such history in the area … it was hard to get Tom to leave and head back to the rolling hills again.

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If you ever find yourself in the area, please do yourself a favor and stop for a day or two.  You’ll be glad that you did!

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Stay tuned for more blogs shortly … Canadian Rockies and Montana!!

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© 2014  Debbie Tubridy @ http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Palouse Region 2013

As I mentioned in the last post, there was a trip that I took in 2013 that I never fully gave it the attention that it deserved.  Being that it was almost one year ago exactly, I thought that I would go down memory lane and share some of the sights and stories behind my experience.

Before we would visit Oregon, I insisted that I would visit the place that I had dreamed about ever since several of my photography friends posted images from there.  I was so excited as we arrived into Spokane for a few days of the Palouse.

We drove to the infamous Steptoe Butte for our first glimpse of the rolling farmlands of the region.  I was pretty much speechless (a difficult to accomplish state for me) as I looked out.  I hurried to set up my gear and my tripod … you know, because the light was just perfect._DSC0569

 

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What I didn’t realize is that the light does move around with the day, but it always seems to give such a lovely glow on the landscape.  The shadows actually helped to make it more interesting, varied, and beautiful.  I felt that I could stay there all day, night, and through the morning.  Of course, we didn’t but I sure took my share of images!

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The actual Palouse region, which is highlighted by the Palouse Scenic Byway, covers quite the massive area … 208 miles of the most incredible beauty.  I wanted to see each and every mile along the way!

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One of the more interesting areas within the region that we had a chance to visit was Uniontown, WA.  In particular, there was a place known as Artists at Dahman Barn, which was photographically interesting on the outside and fun for shopping on the inside – all while supporting the work of the local artists.

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Eventually, we traveled over to Palouse Falls State Park, home to one of the most spectacular and beautiful waterfalls in the state of Washington.  The falls seems to come out of nowhere … and drop ~ 200′.  I wished we had been there at a better time of the day, but our schedules were hectic and we did the best that we could.  In addition, the skies were threatening with a nasty storm that appeared to be heading our way.

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One of the more entertaining residents of the park were the yellow-bellied marmots, which seemed to be just about everywhere once your eyes became adjusted to their presence.

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I knew that we needed to make our way out of Washington state and into Oregon, but I vowed to Tom that I would return to the Palouse again.  I think (fingers crossed) that will be in 2014.  🙂

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