Silver Peak Photography

I mentioned in an earlier post, I have started a second Tumblr blog for my photography. I sold my motorcycle to buy a DSLR because I love to take pictures but I am extremely frustrated by my inability to make photos look like what I’m seeing (*exasperated noises*). There’s a learning curve, of course, but I am already leaps and bounds closer to accomplishing that. I have no plans to go pro because 1) every single woman I know except my mother is a professional photographer so 1a) the market is saturated and 1b) I am uncomfortable trying to compete with my friends and 2) I don’t take pictures of people and that’s where the money is (weddings and portraits). There’s a lot less call for and money in landscape photography. Maybe someday I’ll try my hand at selling images on stock photography websites, but in the meantime I just like to take pictures of stuff.

I call my photography blog Silver Peak Photography because Silver Peak is the name of the fictionalized version of my adopted hometown (and, by extension, the fictional universe) in which my novels take place. Silver Peak is an archetypal Pacific Northwestern small town and what I’m shooting for (ha!) with my photography is the archetypal Pacific Northwestern small town aesthetic. I like to take pictures of beautiful things and interesting things and inexplicable things but there’s a balance of beautiful and ugly in the perfect rural photo. My best example thus far:

img_0221_fotorBeautiful light, lush greenery . . . shitloads of packed-down litter. The yin-yang of the rural: 50% National Park-like gorgeous scenery, 50% human ugliness.

Anyway, here’s some more of my stuff. If you like it you can see more at Silver Peak Photography.


A foreclosed house soon to be burned down by the fire department. I think I took this the first day I had my camera, which explains the blown-out sky, although it’s a hard thing to avoid in the Pacific Northwestern autumn.


Dewy lichen on an alder branch. One of the first halfway decent pictures I took with my new camera.


One of a startling number of deer rib cages newbie hunters (or maybe poachers) left on the wrong side of the gates on DNR roads around my house this year. (Fun fact: this particular rib cage was just outside the shot in the top photo of the litter and blackberries. I would have loved to have them both in the same shot but I would have had to work myself twenty feet deep into another thicket, so . . . )


There’s several of these signs around a property on the road to town.


This is the best picture I have yet taken of this listing mailbox station (yes, I have shot this thing like ten times). I cannot seem to capture the lean and twist and fragility. The pictures make it look far more level and rigid than it really is. At least this one has nice light.


A flag on the back of a classic log truck in town.

— Amanda


Anniversary 2016

Longtime readers know that Matt and I save up all year for our annual getaway to Lake Crescent (home of the chair on the shore that I have declared my official happy place). We like to stay two nights so that we have at least one day where we are on the peninsula all day.

Clearly we haven’t yet tired of Lake Crescent (perhaps because there was that off year where we didn’t reserve in time and ended up at its sister facility, Lake Quinault) but the tricky part of returning to the same vacation spot every year is not taking the same pictures of the same stuff every year. But I enjoyed the challenge. This was also the first year I shot pictures entirely with a phone (baby’s first smart phone) and not the little old digital camera we received as a wedding present nine years ago.


The view from the porch of our cabin just after check-in. We got cabin #21 again.


Breakfast in the sunroom on our first morning. Omelets, fruit, potatoes, very sweet butter, jam, amazing English muffins, very good coffee. Seriously, I don’t know what was up with those muffins, but they were fucking awesome.


Look. At. The. Color. Of. This. Water. I did not use a filter on this image. This is actually what the lake looks like from the Spruce Railroad Trail on the north side.


Cool rock formations on the Spruce Railroad Trail.

L: A tree etched with lovers’ initials and other graffiti on the Spruce Railroad Trail. R: Naked madrones on the Spruce Railroad Trail.


We thought that this massive, flat rock in the middle of the Spruce Railroad Trail looked like the ideal place for local witches to get together. (My mental image includes both athames and Starbucks, because this is the Pacific Northwest – although there isn’t a Starbucks for an un-fucking-believable 20 miles.)


Albino slug???? We thought at first that this might be a super-duper light-skinned Banana slug (Ariolimax columbianus) but it was not the right shape at all and completely free of spots. It was, however, the right shape and size to be one of the more common Black slugs (Arion ater). Wikipedia makes it sound like white Black slugs are totes normal, but trust me, as a Pacific Northwestern native and a lifelong gardener I have seen more than my fair share of slugs and I had never seen a white one until this moment.


Lake Crescent, afternoon of day two, with little white caps and a steady breeze.


Churning water at the side of the MV Puyallup on our ferry ride home. I love this color.

— Amanda

(not) Wordless wednesday

Forest Service bid 03-04-16 (1) wm

Forest Service bid 03-04-16 (2) wm

[If you ignore this paragraph then this post is still wordless. Sorry I haven’t been posting much. This has been the longest radio silence on this blog since its inception in 2008. I don’t have a really good excuse: just the 24/7 distraction of the puppy and a bad case of the winter blahs. But spring is on its way, action has been taken against the other causes of mopiness, and soon I shall be writing again (both here and on my goddamn book). If nothing else – there’s always Camp NaNoWriMo to look forward to! So anyway – these pics are from a Forest Service job that Matt is bidding on. It’s a campground on a glacial lake. You can see in the second shot that the trees they want removed are marked. This place is beautiful!]

— Amanda

New pictures in our photo album

[Note: our photo album is no longer online.]

This morning I added two new folders to our online photo album: Misc 2015 and Gardening 2015.

There’s all sorts of snapshots of 2015 in these folders, such as:

1st robin egg of 2015 4-18-15 (4) wm

The first robin’s egg of 2015.

Kopper Kettle Peony 05-12-15 2 wm

The first bloom of my beloved ‘Kopper Kettle’ peony.

151024_003 wm

My Halloween costume (Babe the Big Blue Ox).

bailey jobsite 9-5-15 (4) wm


boll weevil 08-28-15 (2) wm

Pets (including the elusive Boll Weevil kitty).

DSCF6094 wm.jpg

Lots of sunrises and sunsets.

Matt being creepy 03-27-15 wm


— Amanda

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt of 2015

Black Friday is my least favorite day of the year. Not because of the crowds – I don’t go shopping – but because of the snow, the ice, the altitude, the cold, the snowmobiles, the sheer bloody terror. On Black Friday we have The Great Christmas Tree Hunt. I married into this unholy ritual. What was I thinking?

Since time immemorial (that is, since whenever it was Matt and I started dating 10 or more years ago) I have had the screaming shit frightened out of me the day after Thanksgiving by the combined efforts of my husband (who fears not death), Matt’s family, Segelson ridge, frozen precipitation, motor vehicle failures, and reckless off-road driving.

The rules are:

  1. No one goes up the mountain until everyone is assembled. The party must advance as a convoy. Departure time is annually announced as 9:00 am but is usually not achieved until closer to noon as not all parties are A) dressed, B) sober, C) present, D) answering their phones,  E) other, as applicable.
  2. No one goes home until everyone has a tree. Sounds easy, I know, but some party members (who will not be named, to avoid legal repercussions) fall in love with and order cut and then, on closer inspection, despise up to five trees a year. (You can’t take a tree off the hill without a permit and there’s just one permit per household so the ones this person dislikes must be left behind.)
  3. No one can go home until at least one vehicle has been seriously broken in some way or has slid completely off the road (all four tires must be off gravel and a tow with a chain is required). Viable options I have witnessed include: A) fuel line disconnection, B) transmission line disconnection, C) punctured tire, D) severed brake line(s). I know from experience that regardless of precipitation, windshield wiper failure is not an acceptable breakage. (“Stick yer head out the window.” “Tie a stick to one of ’em and push it with yer hand.”)

The first few years I was dragged along attended this nightmare tradition there were snowmobiles involved. We convoyed up to the Sno-Park in trucks and then convoyed up to the cell tower on snowmobiles. Nothing could have prepared me for how much I would hate snowmobiles. A lifetime of riding bitch on everything from 2-stroke dirt bikes to chopped Harleys was insufficient preparation for the horrifying speed, the pitch and yaw, the painful stinging cold, and the nauseating view from a balls-out snowmobile piloted by a man who has already been legally dead once on a bright November day on a switchback on a 5,000-foot high ridge with not so much as a desiccated huckleberry bush to catch you if you roll or miss the corner.

This was the year I was finally going to weasel out of attending. The Great Christmas Tree Hunt is my least favorite day of the year (yes, after tax day and my pap smear). But it was Matt’s mom’s favorite day of the year (right after Christmas itself). And in July she died. And we all loved her like crazy (even me – not all mothers-in-law are evil). So this would have been the worst year to weasel out of attending.

So I didn’t. I went. And this was the first year that I bailed out of the truck before we “got to the trees.” (No really – that’s what they call it. Never mind the thousands of trees that we drive past on the 7 to 10 miles of Forest Service roads we lumber up to get to our destination. All that matters is the one species that the Finks crave: the Silver Fir. And they don’t grow below 4,900 feet above sea level.)

On the upside I didn’t puke this year.

I also learned something very valuable: if I bring chili and cinnamon rolls then next year they’ll let me out at the big Y (where it’s usually just muddy and not yet icy and snowy) and come back to get me and my food and fire when they’re done sacrificing timber to the great saw god, Stihl.

Noted. Perhaps I won’t weasel out next year, either.


The view from where we parked. Off in the distance, appearing to float on clouds, are the Olympics! I could see my brother’s little neighborhood down in the valley.


My favorite mountain: Whitehorse. This was our view on the way back down.


Matt (dude), Jayne (truck), and my tree.


Bobcat prints!

— Amanda

Two waterfalls in one day

On Sunday I joined my husband’s family on not one, but two hikes to spread some of his mother’s ashes. I hadn’t been on a hike since our anniversary so it’s a good thing there weren’t many airborne bugs, because I walked the whole way with my mouth hanging open. You would never know I am a lifelong native of the Pacific Northwest. Get me in a forest and I turn into the double rainbow guy. “Oh my god, a tree! Another tree! Look at that rock! Look at that river! Oh my god . . .”

We hiked first to Boulder Falls,

Boulder Falls (2)

Boulder Falls (15)

Boulder Falls (54)

And then to North Sauk Falls.

Sauk Falls (2)

Sauk Falls (7)

Sauk Falls (14)

Frank (L) and Matt (R) shown for scale.

— Amanda