Tree Smoke

An inaccurate description of what’s going on here.  Not completely, because those are, in fact, trees.  But that’s not smoke, just fog in the valley below and lifting out of the trees after a brief warming by sun.

I heard the phrase “tree smoke” years ago to describe this and have always liked it.  It’s interesting when it’s several trees like this, but a lot more interesting when it’s a single tree in a stand of trees.  That always makes me wonder about the microclimate around that single tree and the myriad physical processes that make that unique occurrence.

But sometimes I look and just enjoy the beauty of it.

Tree Smoke

Overlooking the Rogue Valley, Jackson County, Oregon, from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), approximately mile 1,746.5, at about the same time that “The Whiz” was given her trail name.

And now that it’s December, it’s time for WordPress to include the falling snow.  That makes your visit to this site a little bit more entertaining, especially once you realize that the snowflakes will chase your cursor as they fall.

Have fun!


Two Valleys

Spring is here.  Even though we didn’t have much of a winter.

It’s dry down low in the valleys, but enough moisture in the upper levels to give us some clouds, which at least helps make the photos interesting.

Two Valleys

Luckily this day, there was enough moisture in the clouds that at least a few drops made it to the distant valley floor.

Lava Fields

One thing that I think is impressing Goddess the most about living out here is how varied the landscape can be in just a short amount of time.

While driving on McKenzie Highway, just a few minutes out of dense forest, we ran across this view of Oregon’s Mount Washington, looking across an ancient lava field, complete with what is now a completely dead forest.  Another 20 minutes of driving and we were deep in lush, dense forest again, soon reaching moss and fern surrounded waterfalls.

Lava Fields

Photo details for those interested:  B+W 10-stop Neutral Density filter (ND110),  ISO 50, 30 seconds at f22 (I really need to clean my sensor).


It’s painful to watch the images pouring in from Japan.

A country that I’ve lived in a total of nine years so far.  Each in distinctly different phases of my life.

A country that continues to touch me in such a way that if an opportunity was presented that I could live the rest of my days there, I wouldn’t hesitate.

But really, I can’t describe the thoughts and feelings right now any better than our dear friend Beth Welliver.  Click on her name for pictures and words.

Her post inspired me to go back and look at some of the many thousands of images I have from Japan.

They all make me smile.

And this one encapsulates it all.

Help if you can.

Framed Brandenburg

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany


Three days prior, this area still had 4-6″ of snow on it.  Snow that had fallen on Christmas Eve.

But thanks to a couple of days of rain, then warming up into the 50’s (10-14C), the snow completely disappeared.

Out walking with Skinny, we stumbled across what looked to be a Scout campsite, complete with lean-to’s and other shelters.  Great stuff for an Ordeal.

Playing with the camera to get this image.  It’s a composite of 51 separate photos, all shot through my EF 200/2.8L, c0mbined to give the look of being shot by a larger medium-format camera.  Very shallow depth of field, silky out of focus background (and foreground if done right).

Doing the math and assuming a field of view approximating a 35mm lens, this would approximate an image shot with a 35/0.5.  But that’s just a wag.

The original composite in .jpg format is 8763×4945 pixels (18.6MP) and weighs in at 68.2MB.  A bit big to upload here.


Grunting and Groaning

Sorry, nothing exciting here.

Just a chance to illustrate the joy that is commuting in winter on the German trail system.

Imagine pushing a 22lb bike (and a substantially heavier carcass) through 5-6″ of soft snow, with drifts of 10-12″.  And occasionally deep ruts from cross country skiers and walkers that grab the front wheel and launch it in random directions.  Just imagine.

Honestly, this is the nice stuff.

It’s the roads where they refuse to plow, but dump salt on top of the 4-6″ of snow, turning it into a slushy, chunky mess, that I can do without.

Regardless.  It’s beautiful.

And when I reach a section that launches me off the bike, I make sure to stop and absorb the surroundings.

And enjoy the peacefulness of an empty, dark forest.

Wintertime Gloom

Winter hasn’t even started and folks are already complaining, whether it be too cold, too dark (we get only 8 hours between sunrise and sunset here right now), or too depressing.

Honestly, it’s a viewpoint I have never understood. You can’t control it, so it’s better to adapt to it.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to understand.

Goddess and I enjoyed a Weinachtsmarkt today.  A wonderful classic German town called Bad Wimpfen, with history going back to the Neolithic times, although it’s been settled since the first century AD (yeah, I know about BCE.  Get over it).

The temperature was hovering just above freezing, which is perfectly fine.  That’s what they make clothes for.  But just as we had completed the rounds of the entire market, we felt the first raindrops.  Which increased in intensity.

So that’s the one weather situation that I will agree is the worst – just above freezing and raining.  Because once you get wet in that situation, it’s pert near impossible to warm up.  Luckily we were done, so we didn’t have to think hard about heading to the car.

On the way back to the car, we stopped in a small park which happened to be the old cemetery.  The park overlooked the Neckar River and the river valley below.  It would be a beautiful view, except it’s dominated by a very large industrial complex, complete with large steam stack.

With the snow on the ground, the rain falling, the bare trees and the factory in the background, I began to see.  I may not agree, but I saw.

And understood.

And had to capture the mood with my camera.

Exactly as visualized.

Five second exposure, hand held.

Faded Colors

While out searching for fall color to shoot, we went to a nearby German War Memorial.  And found something new.

Mind you, this is a memorial that I run through usually once a week.

Normally the run keeps us to the main path, so there’s little exploration.  But while walking slowing along the memorial, Goddess and I spied a small building tucked away in the bushes off to the side.  So we had a look.

Turns out that the building, which is actually a small circular, roofless memorial, is a gateway to a cemetery laid out in the forest.  This was quite a surprise, considering that for the past year and a half, I had run past just yards away and never noticed.

While all of the remains in the main memorial grounds are German veterans of World War I, this cemetery was solely for World War II veterans.  Compared to the WWI gravestones, which are laid out in orderly lines in long rows, this WWII grounds had pairs of crosses scattered about the grounds facing in different directions.  But the crosses weren’t the gravesites, as they did not have any names or dates or unit designations on them.  They were just there.

Instead, the head stones were nothing more than bricks with the veteran’s name and dates.  Other bricks had unit designations, presumably to mark where members of that unit were buried.

So while we set out to find some color (there was some), instead we found a place to reflect.

Just a few feet off the beaten path.

So while we did find color, it just wasn’t appropriate for these images.