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Month: August 2012

NASA visits the Elwha valley

*The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured these natural-color images of Lake Aldwell
on August 10, 2004 (top), and May 12, 2012 (bottom). These images have been rotated so that north is to the lower right. Removal of
the Elwha Dam started in September 2011 and concluded in March 2012. The high-resolution images also show changes in Lake Mills
and the Glines Canyon Dam, which is expected to be completely removed by the summer of 2013.

Just happened to check in at NASA’s Earth Observatory this evening and saw a familiar site selected as the image of the day. Here’s a link to the page where you can directly compare both images as an overlay-
Top image is pre-river recovery program, bottom is post-dam removal. The silting is impressive,  more post-holocaust than recovery.  I’ve walked the drained lake bed a few times, and probably need to a few time more before it fully sinks in.

*photos and caption courtesy

Purpurea peripheralis

Foxglove and gargoyle
Backyard, August 2012

I keep meaning to do a photo essay on noxious weeds. So many have invaded the peninsula. Scots and Spanish broom, myriad knapweeds and thistles, hemlock, wild carrot, ragwort, clary sage, saltcedar, even wormwood (absinthe). Looking over the ‘most wanted’ mugshots on the Ag extension’s website, I wonder if any flowering vine, shrub or ground cover is actually native to the area. A quarantined ‘pure’ forest or meadow is difficult to imagine. Would it be nothing more than rhododendron and bracken fern curtailing the shadows wherever firs and alder desist, combed meadow barley or spikegrass bent on the belly of a fat black-tailed deer? Some spare, kempt and simpleminded paradise where  brutally adaptive plants don’t writhe in frenetic one-upmanship?  Well that’s total bullshit of course; even the native species list for the Salt Creek bottomland is pages long, and that is a relatively inhospitable tidal flat; brackish, alkaline, and touristy to boot.

But as a photographer in great need of a project, I tend to crave the distinct.   The plant life here though  is anything but; even the margins of my yard are a comical swoon of rotting lush vegetation. Imperturbably patient and infinitesimally rampant. As if under strict orders to blend in, infiltrate, subvert, avoid detection. Even extracting samples to catalog is difficult, especially to my lazy eye and work habits.  So it seems like it might be a good exercise, build some aesthetic character, discipline. Break free of this embarrassing monotony of silver fir portraits.. But what to document first? Not all invasive plants seem so sinister at first site. Maybe start with ornamental and cultivated plants like Iris pseudacorus, the yellow flag iris. Oxeye daisy, the perennial “she loves me, she love me not’ flower. And of course there is the Foxglove; it looks quite lovely towering about the fetid scrum of the other weeds, a charming botanical chime in Lenten hues, until you hear the whispered scientific and colloquial names- digitalis purpurea, deadman’s bells, bloody fingers, bloody glove, witch’s glove.

A interesting sidebar to the project could be the therapeutic cost-benefit ratio of some of the rustic uses for these plants- risking protracted agony or death for a relatvely slight remedy, such as weight loss… or writer’s block. Hmmm.

From the wiki on digitalis poisoning-

Symptoms include hypersalivation, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, changes in heart rate and rhythm, loss of appetite (anorexia), diarrhea, visual disturbances (yellow or green halos around objects), confusion, dizziness, nightmares, agitation, and/or depression, as well as a higher acute sense of sensual activities.


The subject was horses

Bolt! Joyce WA August 2012

My wife is a horse fiend. Her mare just foaled a few months ago, so I’ve gone from a distant second to a stratospheric third place in domestic rankings.

Actually, the dogs are third and forth. Then the chickens. I have to do stuff like build horse barns, chicken coops and cook dinner most nights just to stay in the extended top 25.

I used to be preemptively aloof towards horses- I’m a dog guy and horses are just too goddamned indifferent. And difficult to photograph, at least with turn-of-the-century gear. They nicker and frolic until you are ready to trip the shutter then they turn, raise a tail and depart, leaving a giant steaming dump in the focus plane. So I mostly content myself with the inanimate, or the departed. Several years ago I took some memorial portraits of a horse we had to put down and this changed my attitude towards horses considerably. I still have trouble looking at the negatives, but the sweetness of the departed is seldom referenced in the living. Every time the mare pins her ears, snaps at me or shits right outside my window I fantasize about living in an apartment downtown. Or, at least, about leaving the gate open.