The Story behind the Calendar Photos

The 2013 Robinson Noble calendars were mailed earlier this month. Hopefully, you received yours by now. If not, we understand that some are still in the process of being delivered. We also have a limited supply left available for purchase (contact me for details).

One of the special features of our calendar is that all the photos are supplied by me, who (when away from my job as president of Robinson Noble) am a professional photographer. And as the photographer for the calendar, I often get comments on the images we select for it each year. So I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the photos selected for 2013.

Diablo LakeEven though I have approximately 30,000 photos in my image library, coming up with 12 photos for the calendar each year is a challenge. Most of my images in my photo library won’t work. Throw out all the vertical shots, and the library is cut in half. Not shot in the Pacific Northwest, people too prominent in the shot – there goes thousands more. Now, discarding any shots that are too similar to previous years’ images, and we are starting to get severely limited. To make matters worse, Jim Hay, the final arbitrator on picking photos and matching them to the various months, likes to pick photos that were taken in the same month as they will be illustrating (a photo taken in March, for example, is generally displayed on the calendar for March).

To meet Jim’s unreasonable demands, I typically like to take at least one day off from work each month to go photo hunting, typically dragging my wife Tanya (who always brings one or more books to read) and dog, Carson, along. If I bag one potential calendar photo per day these photo outings, I’m happy. While I do enjoy these outings, I’m not much of a winter person, and I can’t say I actually get out each winter month. So sometimes winter photo outings need to serve for multiple months.

Such is the case with the January photo, shown above. This photo, of Diablo Lake along the North Cascades Highway, was taken in the final week of December 2009. Finding winter roads open in the mountains where you can see over the roadside snow banks is a problem. When this photo was taken, there wasn’t much snow yet in the North Cascades, so snow banks weren’t a problem (like for the December photo, as explained below). It was a very worthwhile trip and actually provided several calendar images; two on this year’s calendar, and one on a previous year’s.

WestportFebruary’s photo is from Westport. After last year’s calendar was delivered, we heard from a client suggesting a Westport photo should be included on a calendar sometime. So last February, Tanya and I packed Carson in the car and drove out to the beach. As you might imagine, the weather was pretty bad (although Carson, being a Newfoundland, loved it). Considering the cold rain that was falling when this picture was taken, I’m pretty happy with the results.

Haystack RockThe Oregon coast is a favorite destination of ours. There are two Haystack Rocks on the coast there. This is the less well-known one near Cape Kiwanda (as opposed to the one at Cannon Beach). In March 2008, while waiting to get seated in the Pelican Pub & Brewery at Pacific City, I noticed a decent sunset coming on. So while Tanya saved our place, I quickly ran out, snapped this shot, and got back in time to order a beer.

Seattle MoonriseI’m working on a photo ebook concerning Seattle. So on one of my photo days last April I headed up to Seattle and was lucky to capture April’s image. I choose the date of a full moon, and knew that if I positioned myself at a particular viewpoint on Magnolia Hill, the moon would rise near the Space Needle. Luckily there was a small gap in the clouds on the eastern horizon, and the moon was visible for just a few minutes. By the way, I was not the only photographer with the idea; I shared the spot with about 30 other guys with cameras and tripods.

Kubota GardenMay’s image is also from Seattle. It was taken last May at the Kubota Gardens. This wonderful garden is definitely worth visiting, particularly in the spring with the rhododendrons and azaleas are blooming.

View from Steptoe ButteJune’s image was also taken this year. I’ve always wanted to do some photography in the Palouse region during the spring, but never had the chance until last June. Tanya, Carson and I stayed in a motel in Colfax. Since I photographed both the sunset (getting back to the motel about 11 p.m.) and the next morning’s sunrise (leaving the motel about 4 a.m.) from Steptoe Butte, I’m not sure why I even bothered with the motel. This image was taken just after sunrise. Purple Haze LavendarI like flowers, at least taking pictures of them. So shooting the lavender farms near Sequim is always a fun outing. July is typically the peak time for the lavender there. However, when this was shot in July 2011, most the lavender hadn’t flowered yet. This scene was one of the few I found with good color that day.

Tatoosh Beauty I’ve never had much luck shooting August wildflowers at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. Somehow I always pick cloudy days. I got lucky last August, however, and was able to capture this sunset over the Tatoosh Range.

Low Tide, Beach #4Last September, Tanya, Carson and I took a photo day to the Kalaloch beaches in Olympic National Park (the beaches there are one of the few places you can take a dog off the pavement in a national park). Low tide was right around sunset, and I had visions of a shot of the sunset with a tide pool in the foreground. It was sunny the whole drive from Tacoma to the beach, except for the last quarter mile where a fog bank hugged the coast. This shot was taken at Beach #4, right around sunset. And though there weren’t any nice sunset colors that day, this is one of my favorite shots of the whole year. Technically, it was a very difficult image both to shoot and process. If interested, you can read about was involved in my blog. This photograph, by the way, won 1st place in the landscape category at the fall conference of the Nature Photographers of the Pacific Northwest.

Cotterel Mountains, IdahoDriving back from a trip to New Mexico and Utah in October 2011, I saw this scene and pulled off the interstate to take that shot. No great effort here, just exit off the freeway, jump out and grab a shot, and get back on the road; total time spent – about five minutes.

Winter Approaches on the SkagitThe November image was taken on the same trip as the January image. This one shows the Skagit River somewhere between Marblemount and Newhalem. I was attracted by the color of the water, the frosty ground, and the barren trees – a very typical western Washington winter scene.

Sunset on Mount RainierI shot the December image a year ago, almost to the day. The trickiest part of capturing this image was finding a location without tracks in the foreground snow. Tanya and I were up at Paradise, but near the lodge there were tracks everywhere. To take this shot, we parked at the winter trail to Barn Flats. But rather than go out on the trail, I went the opposite way, across the road, over a huge snow bank made by the snowplows, and down to a small meadow below the road. Snowshoes were essential, and climbing back up the snow bank was hell, but the end result was worth it.


9 thoughts on “The Story behind the Calendar Photos

  1. Excellent work, Joe, made all the more interesting by the story behind the shot! The superb quality of your calendar reflects the quality of work we have received from your services for more than 60 years!

    • Thanks Marc! While a photo is worth a 1000 words, sometimes you need a few words to talk about a photo. And we’ve enjoyed working with you for more than 60 years (well, maybe not you personally all those 60 years!).

  2. The Kalaloch photo is amazing and triggered memories of childhood visits there. Thanks for sharing the images and story. Glad I opened this blog notice!

    • Thanks Irene, your words are music to a photographer’s ears since most photographers, me included, hope to invoke an emotional response with our images.

  3. Pingback: Calendar Photo Stories « joebeckerphoto

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