Photo of the Week - September 23 and 25, 2011

Natural spawning salmon
Lower Elwha River
Port Angeles, Washington
September 23, 2011 
Returning salmon on the Deschutes River
jumping into Tumwater Falls
Tumwater, Washington
September 25, 2011

This is a story of two salmon completing their journey from ocean to spawning grounds; one fish has spawned on a river which is the center of the grand experiment into removing the century-old dam to allow native fish to return to the pristine waters of Olympic National Park; the other fish is jumping into a tall cascade to attempt to bypass a fish ladder on its way back to the Tumwater fish hatchery where it will be captured.

The salmon in the picture at the top was seen on the lower Elwha River, just a mile or so from where the Elwha Dam is being removed. The hundred-year-old dam was built without a fish ladder, virtually eliminating what had once been a thriving salmon river. The Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act was passed by Congress in 1992, calling for the restoration of the fishery and the surrounding ecosystem. In September 2011, after many years of research, negotiations and preparations, the Elwha and Glines dams were breached to begin a three year, $325 million process of removing the dams. Progress on the dam removal can be watched with a series of webcams. To learn more about the project, check out the National Park Service's website

The salmon in the lower photo was spotted at Tumwater Falls. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, "The Deschutes River lower falls was historically an impassable barrier to salmon and other anadromous fish, preventing a native salmon run on the river.

In 1954, the Department of Fisheries constructed fish ladders to allow fish to circumnavigate the falls and rapids. A facility to capture returning salmon was established adjacent to the upper falls in 1964.

In the mid 70s more than 10 million fall chinook salmon were released annually from the facility; today, the annual release is about 4 million chinook. These fish contribute to recreational and tribal fisheries throughout Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Coho salmon were introduced into the Deschutes watershed in the 1970s. Established with hatchery fish, this run of salmon has been allowed to maintain itself through natural propagation."

Photo of the Week – September 16, 2011

Pied-billed grebe bathing
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Podilymbus podiceps

Olympia, Washington
September 16, 2011

Photo of the Week – September 12, 2011

Eight–Spotted Skimmer devouring a bee
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Olympia, Washington
September 12, 2011

The Eight-Spotted Skimmer is a common dragonfly of the Puget Sound region of Washington. It can be found at elevations from sea level to 3000 feet and is seen from late spring until early October.

For more information on dragonflies and damselflies, you may want to check out Dennis Paulson's field guide entitled Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West is the first fully illustrated field guide to all 348 species of dragonflies and damselflies in western North America. 

Photo of the Week – September 9, 2011

Dappled sunlight refracted by an antique window
September 9, 2011
Olympia, Washington
In the summer of 1989 the national Gallery of Art in Washington, DC produced a show celebrating the 150th anniversary of photography. The title of the show was “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: 150 Years of Photography”. It contained 415 black-and-white and color photographs spanning the range from 1839 to 1989.

When I encountered this wonderful play of light and shadow filtered through the antique window I was immediately reminded of that phrase – the art of fixing shadow. Photography is unique as an art form in its ability to capture the ephemeral. Time is both elastic and finite in a camera. It is one of the great joys I have as a photographer to be able to capture something that lasts for only a moment.

The pattern on the wall disappeared as quickly as it had appeared – the whole episode that lasted less than 2 minutes.

Link to the National Gallery of Art's page for the show "On the Art of Fixing a Shadow : 150 Years of Photography"
Link to Amazon's page for the book "On the Art of Fixing a Shadow : 150 Years of Photography"

Photo of the Week – September 2, 2011

Pink flamingo wearing yellow boots
in the window of Olympia Supply

September 2, 2011
Olympia, Washington

Now we know what flamingos where to work!

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