RN Calendar 2016 – the Story behind the Photos

The new Robinson Noble calendars were mailed on December 14th, so you may have already received one. It has become my tradition with each new edition of the Robinson Noble calendar to present the story behind the images here in the blog. So here’s the images for 2016.

JanuaryStuart Range from Blewett

As I’ve mentioned in the past, there seems to be an unwritten rule that January and December calendar pictures in the northern hemisphere need to have snow visible in them. This presents a problem for me, as I am not a winter lover. But I do own a pair of snowshoes, and last January, I convinced my wife, Tanya, to have an outing in the snow. I bought a Sno-Park season pass (figuring I’d be trying for more snow photography later in the winter and spring) and we headed out.

Now, as you might remember, there wasn’t much snow in the Cascades last January. Further, our outing looked doomed from the start. It was cloudy in Tacoma and raining horribly at Snoqualmie Pass. Coming down out of the pass, the weather cleared a bit, but there was no snow. We drove up to Blewett Pass, and finally, right at the top, we found both snow and a little but of sunny weather. We hiked about a mile or so west of the pass and found this wonderful view of the Stuart Range wrapped in clouds. I would have like to go further, but it was already late in the day and our dog was matted with large snowballs (she probably had 20 pounds of snow matted into her fur, which I had to break out back at the car). But it was a successful trip – calendar photo with snow captured.

I love the image and am glad we went. However, buying the season pass was a mistake. There was so little snow last winter that we never did go find any other significant snow the rest of the season.

FebruaryHarbor Night

No snow, no place to go. That seemed like last February for me. I ended up barely getting the camera out last February. However, one night I had a late afternoon appointment in Gig Harbor followed by my regular Gig Harbor photo club (Sound Exposure Photo Club) meeting later that night. So I took the camera along to play with between the appointment and meeting.

This shot was taken Maritime Pier next to the Tides Tavern. I loved the look of the Eirinn Rose reflected in the calm water of the harbor as the sky darkened. It was quite dark by the time I found the scene, so it demanded a long exposure. Normally, when shooting at night, I will take a test shot with a high ISO setting, allowing for a faster shutter speed. Then take the “real” shot with a low ISO and a long shutter speed. In this case, the shutter speed for the “real” shot was several minutes long (compared to several seconds for the test image). In between the test and real images, two men came down the gangplank and got into the Eirinn Rose. No problem, I let them climb aboard, waited a minute or so while the boat settled, and took the shot. It looked great on the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

However, when I got home and zoomed it up on the computer, I found the Eirinn Rose was fuzzy while everything else was perfectly in focus. Apparently, the men inside the boat were causing the boat to rock ever so slightly, not visible to my naked eye, but visible to the camera. Luckily, the “test” shot was good, and with a little digital magic, I was able to minimize the digital noise that accompanies high ISO shots enough that it could be used for the calendar.

MarchEbey's Landing

Several years ago, Tanya and I were getting a bit of spring fever and wanted to get out and do a hike in March. Not much of the high country is open in March, but trails near Puget Sound are. We gathered up the dog and headed up to Whidbey Island to Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The loop hike (5.6 miles long) at Ebey’s Landing is a wonderful hike in the spring, or actually anytime of the year. The trailhead we used starts at the Coupeville cemetery, runs out to the edge of the bluff, follows the top of the bluff, drops down to the beach (where this image was taken), follows the beach, and the climbs back up the bluff. The views of Puget Sound are spectacular, as is the view of the Olympic Mountains (looking the opposite way from which this image was taken).

AprilWashington State Capitol

I shot this image in 2011, but first started thinking about it three years earlier (as I explained on my photo blog). When I first thought of the image, it was too late in the spring and the cherry trees were already past their prime. Two years later, conditions were right and I had time on a Saturday morning to run down to Olympia. I wanted to take the image on a weekend to minimize the number of people milling about.

Still, conditions were that great. The sky was very bright and the foreground dark. I took a series of three shots with different exposures and combined them into a high dynamic range (HDR) image. HDR allows a photographer to reduce contrast and show detail in both light and dark areas. Back in 2011, it took a special computer program to produce HDR images. Today, many cameras will do it on the fly.

Three years in the making – I think it was worth the wait.

MayCannon Beach from Ecola

The Oregon coast is one of my favorite places for photography in the Pacific Northwest. I try to get down there every few years. This shot is from 2012, when Tanya and I took a spring camping trip to the coast. We camped south of Cannon Beach, but came up to Ecola State Park for a walk on the beach and to take evening and sunset shots from Ecola Point south toward Cannon Beach. The sunset was fine, nothing spectacular, and I liked this shot prior to sunset better than the ones I took later when the sun was setting.

The sunset was special in another way. Offshore from Ecola is the Tillamook Rock Light – a now deactivated lighthouse on top of a small rocky island. The day we were at Ecola, the sun set very close to the Tillamook Light, but that is a photo for another calendar.


June is a prime time to visit eastern Washington. Though I grew up in Spokane, I had never photographed much in the Palouse region of eastern Washington until several years ago. We made a trip over in June of 2012 specifically for photography, spending a couple of days photographing the Palouse and a couple of days photographing Spokane (for an assignment I had with American Bungalow Magazine). Several previous images from this trip have been featured in past Robinson Noble calendars.

This particular image is of the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown. I’m not the only photographer who likes this barn; it’s been photographed so often that it is becoming an icon of the Palouse region (a Google image search for “Palouse barn” will turn up many photographs of it). The barn is no longer used for agriculture, but is now a studio for numerous artists and is officially known as the Artisans at the Dahmen Barn. While Tanya visited the artists in the barn, I took time to walk around the property and photograph it from various angles. I particularly liked this view through the wagon wheel fence that surrounds the propery.

My father’s family settled near Uniontown (my great-grandfather and great-uncle were early settlers in the town of Colton, just three miles west of Uniontown), and I still have a lot of relatives in the region. I have an uncle and cousins with the last name of Dahmen and have wondered how they may be related to this barn.

JulyKayostia Beach

Last July I made a backpacking trip along the Olympic National Park coast with my brother and his grandson, from Shi Shi Beach to Rialto Beach – a distance of 37 miles. One reason we selected this hike was our assumption that without a lot of elevation gain, the hike would be relatively easy. How hard can it be walking on a beach? Well, I had my last physical therapy session today for my knees due to pain developed during that easy hike. But perhaps that says more about my age than the hike?

We were hiking for six days, which provided plenty of opportunity for photography. This scene was captured after sunset at Kayostia Beach, near the Norwegian Memorial. The sea stacks along the coast provided many photographic opportunities and were a favorite subject of mine on the trip.


One to the highlights of the Olympic Peninsula in summer is the lavender fields near Sequim. I’ve made several trips up to the area to photograph the fields. This shot is from a trip in 2011. The best shots are usually made in July, immediately before the Sequim Lavender Festival because farmers start harvesting the fields after the festival to make lavender oil and other products. This shot was taken in August, and luckily for me, this particular field had not yet been cut.

SeptemberColumbia River at Vantage

Growing up in Spokane and still having relatives there, I’ve driven by Vantage, Washington hundreds of times over the years but had never done much photography there. One reason is that if driving from the Puget Sound area to Spokane, or visa versa, you past by Vantage in the middle of the day, which is one of the worst times of day for scenic photography. However, on one trip home from visiting my folks in 2010, Tanya and I stopped outside Vantage at a viewpoint overlooking the Columbia River. The sun was behind a cloud, removing the harsh, contrasting light of mid-day. I took the opportunity to snap this image of the river.

OctoberTumwater Canyon

Autumn color can sometimes be a bit hard to find in the Pacific Northwest. One of the best spots, however, is the mountain valleys near Leavenworth, Washington. One October weekend in 2014, Tanya and I decided to drive up to Leavenworth to see the colors. We picked up Tanya’s mother for the ride and headed out. The quickest route to Leavenworth from Tacoma is over Snoqualmie and Blewett Passes, so we came into Leavenworth from the east. It normally takes about 2.5 hours to drive to Leavenworth from Tacoma. However, the day we decided to go, Octoberfest was in full swing in Leavenworth. It took us about 2 hours and 25 minutes to drive to within a mile of town, then about 45 minutes to drive into the town and find a parking spot. Then even longer to find a restaurant with an open table for lunch. It didn’t leave that much time for photography. I left Tanya and her mother in town to check out the festival and headed up Icicle Creek to shoot. Later I picked up the girls and we went up Highway 2 into Tumwater Canyon for a few more shots. This particular image was my last shot of the day, taken in Tumwater Canyon in rapidly fading twilight (it is a 30-second exposure).

NovemberYakima River Canyon

In a late season quest to find more fall color, in November 2014, Tanya and I made a day trip to the Yakima River canyon between Ellensburg and Selah, Washington.We were a bit late, and many of the trees had already shed their leaves. But it was a beautiful (and cold, as I remember,) day, providing blue skies and blue water to contrast with the dry hills and what color was left along the river.

This is a very scenic canyon, and a favorite road of mine traverses it. If you are not in a hurry, try skipping the interstate drive between Ellensburg and Yakima and travel the river road, you might be rewarded with views like this one. You can read more about the road on my blog.

DecemberBarn Flats

I took this shot on a short snowshoe hike to Barns Flat near Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park in 2011. This is a very popular spot, and it was difficult finding a view without a lot of tracks in the snow. I solved the problem by placing the small trees in the foreground – people had walked around the trees rather than through them. It had been fairly warm for a few days prior to taking this image. This had the disadvantage of melting all the snow off the trees, but did leave interesting patterns in the snow, which I think helped the image.




1 thought on “RN Calendar 2016 – the Story behind the Photos

  1. Pingback: 2016 Calendar Stories | joebeckerphoto

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