Monday, February 26, 2007

Why WSR Photography

That's the most common question about my Website, is what, who or why is WSR. There's an explanation on the Website but it really started in August 1977 when friends and I hiked to the ice caves above Paradise. It would be another 10 years before I could return to the Northwest and resume hiking in Mt. Rainier NP.

The photo above was taken in the early 1990's at Longmire. I was done hiking for the day, and set up a camera and lens across the visitors center taking occasional shots while I walked around with another camera-lens taking other shots. I would watch the storm passing by in the late afternoon and run back to take a few shots in series. In the end I took nearly a whole roll of Agfa Scala film for this one. But it was awarded third overall in the US Department of Interior 150th Anniversary photo contest and hung in the main building in D.C. for two years before being returned where it sits on my wall.

The photography made me realize one thing I wanted to do after I left the USGS, and that was to explore and photograph Mt. Raininer NP. I haven't done near as much as I wanted, lots of reason and/or excuses, but describe it as life and work. To that end, a few years before I retired I explored the idea of a photography guide for the NP. I discovered the last one done in the 1950's, which I actually found a copy in the Tacoma Library.

Well, between the time I began thinking about it and I retired to actually start work I discovered there were several newer ones on the market, but all were general 12-15 page guides or fact books with the obvious turnout vista photo opportunities. Since then, however, there is a better one, linked to on my NP news Web page. It's an excellent guide for the southern half with the north half due later this year. I still plan to work on mine as an on-line one that is updated as I find new stuff or get out there with new experiences.

Anyway, one of the reasons I retired earlier than planned (others will be forthcoming topics, perhaps), was to work on this photography guide and get serious with my photography, adding a 4x5 camera system last year and a 35mm digital camera last December. It has totally surprised me to opening the doors to where it's a near-fulltime job taking me wherever I want to explore and whatever I want to learn.

What more could you ask in retirement, something new to learn new and anew, and somewhere to explore new and anew? I asked folks when I left the USGS, what could be better than hikng and photographing Mt. Rainier NP and exploring life?

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