The Wonders of the Great Outdoors


Photo by Shannon Marie Chavez (M.S. Chavez) Cougar Mountain, Issaquah, WA

Some of my earliest memories are of being outside, with animals and nature. I was always climbing trees, exploring, riding horses and hiking.

I started riding horses when I was four. Though I haven’t ridden in years, I still remember so clearly the dust and grit on my hands and under my nails, the feel and smell of the leather, the tang of the alfalfa and how it always ended up in my hair.

Now, I walk and hike. When I was in better shape, I jogged and ran. I miss the almost trance-like state I’d find on those long jogs, and hope to get into that sort of shape again.

Until then, I will walk and hike. The Pacific Northwest is perfect for enjoying the outdoors.  Cougar Mountain is one of my favorite stomping grounds when the weather is decent.

Pacific Bleeding Hearts

Photo by Shannon Marie Chavez (M.S. Chavez)  Pacific Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra formosa) on Cougar Mountain. I rather like the lighting on this one. Taken using the macro option on my phone app. #flowers #macro #macrophotography #pacificnorthwest #pacificbleedingheart #bleedinghearts #cougarmountain

Some of my other favorites are Seward Park, Kubota Garden, Deadhorse Canyon, Honey Creek Trail, May Creek Trail, Waterworks Garden and the nearby walking and bike trails. I’m always looking for new areas to explore, so the list of trails and parks I’ve visited with my little dog, my son, my or the whole family is is long and varied. From Port Orchard to North Bend, and many areas in between. I’ll finally be exploring a bit of Mt Rainier in a month or so. There’s plenty more to explore, but considering that we haven’t lived in Seattle more than five years, I think we’re doing alright.

When I’ve gone out hiking and walking, I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures. Now that the quality of camera phones has improved so much, it has become even easier. I always have my phone on me.

I’ve recently discovered an app with a macro option, and I’m loving it. I’ve gotten quite a few fun and interesting shots recently. So of course, I’m also beginning to play with Instagram more.

It’s proving to be a good creative outlet. I’m certainly not giving up my art or writing, though. Photography has long been a hobby of mine. I adored playing in the darkroom in college. Capturing light was one of my favorite challenges.

Honey Bee and Rosemary

Photo by Shannon Marie Chavez (M.S. Chavez) Fun with macro. Lots of bees out in the rosemary blooms today. Those little buggers were hard to capture though. So fast! #pnw #bees🐝 #honeybee #macrophotography #macro #rosemary #rainierbeach #blooms #flowers

I was cursing the cloud cover that rolled in and out yesterday. Light was what had me so determined to take pictures this weekend. We have amazing light here in the Pacific Northwest.

While my son impatiently waited for me to snap dozens of photos of bees in the rosemary bushes yesterday, I explained to him that light was so important to a good photo. But what really makes a photo pop is how it’s framed. The angle, the composition, the contrast, are what make a good picture stand out.

So I took picture after picture, trying to catch a bee at the right angle, in focus, and with the right composition. When I finally gave up, I didn’t even know if I’d gotten a good shot until I reviewed them.

I think I managed to get a few good ones. They seem to be getting a decent reception on Instagram. But most importantly, it was fun.

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