Musings with Camera in Hand

Belinda Greb – The Photographic Journey

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A Day Spent Along the Columbia River Gorge

My niece and I drove straight to Multnomah Falls in the morning to try to grab a parking spot before the crowds -Success! However, the trail was closed due to icy conditions. We were able to view this most stunning falls from the bottom.  This is the highest falls in Oregon and 2nd highest in the nation, totaling 611 feet in two steps.

We next headed to Latourell Falls. I loved the basalt rocks that surround the falls (lower). The hike is lovely and fairly easy and will take you to the upper Falls and then loops back to the parking lot, passing some lovely views along the way. The best view of the (lower) Latourell Falls is accessed from a path that leads to the base of the falls. Beware if you are photographing, there is a lot of spray. Keep your lens away from the direction of the spray until you are ready to shoot and bring a wipe. Once the water level has receded, the spray level is probably not as bad.

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After the hike, we had a delicious lunch at Edgefields in Troutdale and then went back to Triple Falls for another short hike. However, after about 1/2 mile up the  Triple Falls Trail, perhaps as a result of the meal, we proved to have less motivation to deal with the steep, snowy and narrow trail and decided to leave that hike for another day.

To see more of my photography, please visit me at or one of my other sites!

Bridge over Sky

Bridge Over Sky – Along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway


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Mount Rainier

I had a wonderful short camping trip to Mount Rainier at the end of July. The wildflowers were in bloom and the weather was amazing. The first day we arrived in the afternoon and started a hike about 3:30pm. We meant to do the 5 mile Lakes Trail hike, but we missed the turnoff for the loop and continued instead on Mazama Ridge and then Skyline Trails. In the end, it was a wonderful mistake as even though it added an additional two or so miles to the hike, the scenery was amazing. The second day’s hike turned out to be almost 11 miles and although we were rewarded by the alpine meadows of Summerland, we all agreed the first day’s hike was our favorite as the hike was long, uphill, and grueling considering that I was carrying camera equipment. The first hike was more interspersed with beautiful views.

For more Mount Rainier images, please visit my national parks gallery . Selected images are also available on RadiancePhotos at Etsy and Belinda Greb Photography at Amazon Handmade .

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The Need for Public Lands

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and
a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. – John Muir

Two American White Pelicans

Two American White Pelicans at Malheur NWR (©Belinda Greb)

Lately my heart and mind have been in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a wild gem of Oregon taken over in early January by armed militia. This takeover was in response to the arrest of Hammonds, two ranchers who intentionally set two fires that spread to public lands endangering lives, (in 2001 of the young relative who was instructed to set the fire and  in 2006 of firefighters who were in the area). Bundy and his followers purported to take over the refuge for the purpose of returning the land to the people – a ridiculous proposition since the land already belongs to the people, as in “We, the People”. They didn’t want the government to manage the land and instead unilaterally decided that they would be the ones to do so. Malheur NWR is one of numerous  public lands that have been set aside by our forefathers who wisely saw the need to preserve natural habitat and wildlife for future generations. I suspect most of us consider this a blessing, but sadly there are those that consider it an overreach of the government.

Falling Light on the Marsh

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area (Falling Light on the Marsh ©Belinda Greb)

Public Lands

In 1864, Abraham Lincoln ceded land around Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove Area to California for use as a state park in response to Galen Clark and Senator John Conness who argued that with the increased tourism since since the mid 1850s, unregulated commercial interests were becoming a threat to the area. This would set a precedent for establishing Yellowstone as the nation’s first national park, Meanwhile after 11 years of trying, Ferdinand Hayden, was finally able to put together a geological survey in to the Yellowstone Area. This resulted in an influential report, that included pictures by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, and in 1872, Ulysses Grant signed the Act of Dedication which made Yellowstone a national park. (

Waiting for Wolves in Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park (Waiting for Wolves ©Belinda Greb)

There was opposition at that time to the establishment of the park. Local settlers in Montana worried that the economy would suffer from federal prohibitions and so numerous bills were put forth to reduce land-use restrictions. There were those that wanted the land for logging, mining, and hunting. Sound familiar?

The entities in charge of public lands need to balance the needs of interested parties while protecting the land. While hunting is not allowed in National Parks and many Wildlife Refuges, on other public lands, hunting is allowed. There are guidelines for the logging that takes place on public lands, and there will always be controversy about whether these guidelines are too strict or not strict enough. Ranchers were allowed to continue grazing their cattle on public lands and charged a nominal fee. Grazing fees per AUM (animal unit per month) was raised in 2015 to $1.69. Of course fees for grazing on private or state lands is much higher. In Oregon, the state fee is $5.60 in 2016. ( How many of you can feed your pet dog or cat for that $1.69 for even a couple of days?

William Finley Refuge

William L Finley NWR (William Finley Refuge ©Belinda Greb)

In addition, as opposed to owning the land, the ranchers are not responsible for the financial cost of purchasing the land, maintaining or paying taxes on it like other property owners would be. But apparently some of these occupiers, like Cliven Bundy, feel that they should not have to pay any fees at all, and for years he has gotten away from this, refusing to pay the fees or remove his cattle from federal lands. After a court order allowed officials to remove his livestock from federal lands in 2014, armed supporters advanced on collectors resulting in a standoff. The cattle were not removed by BLM due to their concern that employees might be harmed or shot. So now Cliven Bundy owes the people over $1 million dollars and continues to graze his cattle on public lands. If our society continues to give in to this type of behavior, we will have anarchy.

Flight of the Great Blue Heron No. 2

Seen at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area (Flight of the Great Blue Heron ©Belinda Greb)

There’s certainly a right to question how the land is being managed, but trying to bully your opinion across via intimidation and guns is not it. The government entities that regulate these lands are not above reproach, but they are trying to balance the rights of the community along with the special interests of ranchers along with the wildlife advocates and environmentalists. How can this be an easy task? And of course the administrators are also going to be have their own personal opinions and beliefs. But dissenters should take any issue with that management to our legal system or the media.

Pete French Long Barn No. 2

Malheur NWR (Pete French Long Barn No. 2 ©Belinda Greb)

Malheur NWR

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908.  The land was initially occupied by the Paiute Indians. Settlers then came in and took over much of it, relegating the natives to a reservation. How ironic is the world view that rages against the government but really isn’t talking about returning the land to the original inhabitants.

One settler amassed with his employer, Dr Hugh Glen, over 140,000 acres.  He also restricted access to water to other fellow settlers and in fact was murdered in 1883 by one settler whose access to water he denied. Not a pretty story.  Some of the land was sold to pay of company debts, and after being resold, nearly 65,000 acres was incorporated into the refuge in 1935. (


Great White Egret seen at Malheur NWR (Great Egret ©Belinda Greb)

In the late 1880’s bird populations were being decimated by plume hunters who used their feathers for hats or  vanity wear, as I like to say in regards to fur coats. In 1908, photographers, William L Finley and Herman Bohlman noticed both the diversity of birds and the horrible effects of plume hunting. Finley successfully personally lobbied President Theodore Roosevelt for federal protection for the area. ( The William L Finley National Wildlife Refuge, also in Oregon, was named after him in 1964.

I find myself getting so upset and angry by the Malheur occupation. First I’m angry at the nerve of other people coming from out-of-state with their guns, taking over the buildings, government vehicles, blocking roads, and causing so much damage, not least of which is the emotional damage done to the community around Burns. This is an invasion. There were threats to people and their families who worked for BLM or USFWS, and there has been a huge financial cost to the county.  I am also angered at this threat to a beautiful refuge and the wildlife that is there.

Private vs Public

If these protections were not in place, we would not have our system of: 58 national parks; 560 National Wildlife Refuges and 38 wetland management districts; 155 national forests and 20 grassland areas; and other state managed wildlife areas. These are open to people to enjoy, but more importantly to conserve natural resources and habitat for wildlife. How would these lands have fared had they not been under federal protection? Look around – how well have mining, privately owned logging companies, corporate farms served the land or the interests of the general population? In addition, there’s a wealth of information and recent discussion about how cattle grazing impacts environment and climate. Google it.


Cattle on Public Lands in Harney County (©Belinda Greb)

“Why should we protect this lands? How will it benefits humans, or really me?” some may ask.

  • Deforestation results in global warming. Trees absorb greenhouse gases and return moisture to the air. Once they are cut, the land will dries out quickly.  Clear cutting results in loss of habitat for many species – 70% of animals and plants live in forests. (
  • Loss of habitat results in loss of species. Just think what would happen if there were no birds and how that would affect the insect population. How would that affect crops or the spread of insect transmittable diseases…and so on? What about the disappearance of a predator that helped keep the rat population in control? It’s all about balance. The loss of one species can result in the overpopulation of another. There is a fine balance between prey and predator. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver is a novel that clearly explains this issue.
  • If there were no regulations, there would be no limitations on the type of chemicals that are used or other safety regulations that exist for a reason. Even with regulations, there are not enough controls and we’ve seen the impact of the chemicals on bees which are so important pollination and agriculture.

Red Shouldered Hawk seen at Fern Ridge Wildlife Area (Surveil ©Belinda Greb)

If resources are not managed, there is no sustainability. This affects us directly in regards to food and shelter. Would you really trust Ammon Bundy who represents his own interests or the interest of like-minded individuals over a government department that while cumbersome is still subject to the interests of many, including: legislators, citizens, and businesses?

Those are the self-interested reasons for preservation and conservation.

Acorn Woodpecker

William L. Finley NWR (Acorn Woodpecker ©Belinda Greb)

Being a photographer, and spending a lot of time observing animals, I am on the side of the wildlife. We do not occupy this land alone. We share it with animals and flora. We have already created an environmental imbalance that threatens not only our future, but the future of all living beings. We have used our lands and water as a huge trash can that we think we can keep pouring our waste into without consequences. Those consequences are catching up, and it is the poor and the animals who will suffer first.

These public lands are also important in that for many that is the only place that many will see life in a near natural state. The beauty and understanding that come from being in nature to those that are open to it can give one a profound respect for life, its vulnerability and its resilience. Nature can make us better human beings by connecting us to the the larger natural world that contains a multitude of life outside the “me.” It can teaches us that life is not ego-centric but all-encompassing.

Love your public lands and protect them.


Wild Horse seen in Harney County (Resilience ©Belinda Greb)

Photographs taken at: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Harney County, William Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Yellowstone National Park,  and Fern Ridge Wildlife Area (run by Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife).






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Grand Canyon Series, Part 1

This year’s been wonderful for me as I’ve gotten the opportunity to visit and revisit a few of our nation’s treasures – our national parks.  In October, I got to meet up with my dear friends and spend a bit of time in Arizona and Utah.  While the weather wasn’t optimum I am still grateful not only to see my friends, but also to get a chance to see Grand Canyon since I haven’t seen this since I was a young girl. I will now have to go back to see it in better weather and different light.

For this series, I will just be posting more frequently with just a couple of images and fewer words.

It may be October and the kids are back in school, but there are still crowds, at least by the Visitor Center viewpoints.  Walk around the rim, and you will find peace and quiet! Such a beautiful place, I was sadly disturbed to find cans thrown over the edge. Too steep to retrieve, but perhaps the park services has a long extension pole. Why come to see beauty and then leave such an ugly mark that is also dangerous to any wildlife? These parks, more than money or commercial items are our real treasures, a million years in the making.

The same image, in black and white.  Black and white photography, to me, always seems to add a timeless quality to the image, highlighting texture, light and shadows.

More to come.

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A Few More from Chincoteague

I think I will try to have some intermittent shorter posts with just a few images and fewer musings!

It’s funny when you come back from a trip with tons of images, there are some you just can’t wait to start processing.  But on the second or third round, it’s always the case that there’s one that was overlooked and you wonder how in the world you missed it.  This one of an egret landing on a pond is such a photograph for me.  I love the grace of the egret coming in for a landing and the background colors of the reeds and water.

Early Evening on the Chincoteague Bay

Early Evening on the Chincoteague Bay

This second photograph was taken just about sunset, as I looked eastward from the boat we were in.  The light was just so beautiful around that time and this image lent itself to a subtle watercolor effect.  As I often do, here I worked with layers and masks to blend in an effect for more control and artistry. Westward the sky was more dramatic but to me visually less appealing. This was looking towards Assateague Island, and I like the one post sticking out of the water and the trees in the background.

The next two photos use textures. In the case of the mallard hybrid, the background was just sort of light as I had spot focused on him to bring out the details of his feather.  Another thing I enjoy is researching the photos for more information. For instance in this case, I tried to identify the duck as he really didn’t look like a mallard.  I found that domestic ducks and cross breeds often result from pairings with a male mallard as the iridescent green head is apparently quite appealing to female ducks of all species. I used one of the fabulous textures by Jerry Jones.

In the final photograph for this week’s post, I have taken many photographs of this filly as she was young and beautiful of course! 🙂 I was shooting with a telephoto since we were in a boat and at a distance. I cropped one of the more sharper images to use as just a head shot, and used a free beautiful texture found on Deviant Art and created by env1ro. I loved the bold colors in this texture.  Generally when I use free textures, I do try and change them up by using more than one, or another exposure to blend in, and for the Portrait of a Filly I did add another texture in but the primary texture was so gorgeous, the changes were pretty subtle. For the mallard, the texutre was such a perfect background for the duck’s coloring, I also didn’t add in another texture. For me this is an exception rather than a rule. Generally I will try to personalize it. See my note on how  I usually do to that.

Note: For other textures or exposures to blend in, think blurred landscapes, flora, flowers, clouds. Or shoot texture found in metal, rocks, etc. Or try your hand at using the various brushes in Photoshop to create your own. Then experiment with the blends or use the masks to just brink in part of an effect.

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Enjoying Spring

The last few weeks have been really lovely. Temperate days and cool nights. Beautiful flowers have been spicing up the normal homogenous green of Oregon, while birds are busy tending nests and eggs, and butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies are starting to put in an appearance. I saw four baby robins flying from their nest which had been getting much too small for them. The mother robin watched as they flew away, and it was a bit sad the next day not having her in that area of the garden keeping a careful watch.

These are the day where my gypsy spirit comes out and I’ve a strong urge to chuck the job, pack my dog, camera and car take off on a journey across the land.  But since my car is now 200,000 miles plus, and my dog doesn’t especially like long rides, my practical side kicks in and for the time being I content myself with short jaunts.

I did want to explore places I hadn’t been before, so one week I went south of Eugene to the Mt Pisgah/Buford Park area.  I had fallen on my knee in the morning, but it actually felt better once I got out and moving.  Not to say that my winter’s sedentary ways didn’t make my pace up the steep trail a pretty slow going! In fact, I didn’t make it up to the peak, but stopped, supposedly to take a picture here and there and also as a way of catching my breath. I decided at a fork to take the path that wound down through grassy meadows and towards an oak grove as opposed to staying on the path up to the peak.

I was happy with my choice.  At one point I was scared out of my wits as I heard a rustling and saw the grass moving as something made its way towards me.  It turned out to be a very fat squirrel…I think! It looked more like the size of a marmot, and perhaps there are marmots in that area.  A few minutes later, it happened again.  I don’t know what startled them, but I was surprised they were running towards me and my dog, who luckily was oblivious, off investigating other scents.

There were lots of birds about, and still a lot of wild flowers. And the grass was so long, my ankles felt quite itchy when I got home  and my dog was scratching for days! Once I worked my way down the dirt path, there was an oak grove and benches where one could sit and soak up the warmth and watch for the finches and jays that were flitting about. A lovely day. However, I’m used to solitary walks and rarely running into anybody.  On the main trail, going up towards the peak, there were quite a few hikers due to the proximity of Eugene and also, dogs are required to be on a leash. It was only after I took the other path, I could let Maisie off her leash and really relax.

The next week, I was going to head over to the coast, but since my knee was still stiff, I decided instead to investigate Fern Ridge Wildlife Area.  The option to print the parking pass of the computer hadn’t worked, so I had to stop by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to get a parking permit, which seemed to be unnecessarily more complicated than need be. No, I was not a hunter, and at one point the nice lady thought I might have to give my social security number to get the one day $7 parking pass! However, I got my pass and by late afternoon had made my way to Fern Ridge.

The first part of the area I stopped was Perkins Park. That had some lovely park areas, and people were about enjoying the Spring Day.  Because my dog also needed to be on a leash, taking photographs was a bit more complicated and sometimes comical.  My dog, Maisie is pretty good, so she doesn’t take off suddenly if she knows I’m taking a picture.  However, we did manage to get tangled a handful of times, and occasionally while I was focusing, there suddenly would be a lovely lab in the frame. I did manage to lose my lens cap and stubbornly had to retrace my steps until I found it.  The park had lots of large lovely oaks, some firs and long grasses bordering the lake itself.

There were a lot of Red Winged Blackbirds, tree swallows. I had been hoping for some egrets and heron, but only saw one white egret that was quite a distance away.  I did also see a pair of Western Grebes at some distance, but I haven’t gotten around to processing that image yet.

One of the landscapes taken at Perkins Park, I had fun with, enhancing it to create a supernatural scene. I used two of my older exposures, a moon shot and a swan, and then also used a public domain image of the Unknown Woman by Thomas Dewing to create an image influenced by one of my favorite novellas, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

Again, having my dog on the leash, with my camera equipment was not that relaxing with people about, so I made my way next to the marsh that abutted the lake – the area set aside for birds to winter and nest. I enjoyed the solitude of the marsh setting and found the landscape to be quite beautiful. I love the fact that there are so may areas in Oregon set aside to provide a habitat for birds.

I enjoyed climbing up on a bird watching platform to get another vantage point for some landscapes shots. This area was much more peaceful for me. Again there were a lot of Red-Winged Blackbirds, a few ducks, some Kildeer, but I also captured this beautiful Cedar Waxwing. I had my telephoto, taking a shot of a blackbird that had perched his way of a tree, when something flew in front and landed a branch even closer to me. I was so please with the sharpness the result. I’m really loving these sunny days for my photography.

I was exhausted when I got home and glad I hadn’t driven over to the coast. While I enjoyed both areas, I have to say I’m quite spoiled to normally have a place all to myself when I go rambling about with my dog. I somehow just feel more constrained and it is difficult holding on to cameras and the leash at the end of which is a dog that is raring to go.

Yet it’s also very nice to be able to find some place new to explore that may end up as a favorite place. Two places I explored last year were Malheur Wildlife Refuge and William L Finley Refuge and both places I see myself returning to and am eager to do so soon. Neither of those places are appropriate for a dog on or off the leash as they are bird habitats, and poor Maisie will probably be left at home and I will have to deal with my guilty conscience.

At any rate, although today it is raining, and my knee is still sore, these last few weeks of Spring have been thoroughly enjoyed, and I hope that others are enjoying theirs as well.

My final image today is a simple one, of a common song sparrow. I loved its expression.  It was in some branches, and I added grain and texture to the background, and then distorted some of the branches as well.

I also visited an osprey’s nest and will maybe do a short post next week with those photographs. However, I’m hoping that will be some young there, and will try to visit it before then to see if I’m lucky.

A couple of these links will now got to a new site I’m excited to be affiliated with – Please check out my gallery at: .


My Usual Haunts – Exterior and Interior

I didn’t post last week, as my days off were filled with a couple of outings, but it should work out well, because as I review my photos from two weeks ago and think back, I’m in a similar frame of mind this week.

I find myself, at this stage of my life, more confined, so that when I look at photographs of others from far off places, I’m a bit envious, although I’ve been blessed to have traveled in the past. But the current situation can dim my spirits and I’ve been feeling like I’ve been running on empty. So I seek refuge in my usual haunts, and find myself traveling familiar grounds, physically and metaphysically.

Metaphysically speaking – I find myself on the verge of depression. I’ve been here and through it before. I’m isolated, geographically, from my closest friends, and I feel at a disconnect. I feel like I’m putting one foot in front of the other and just plodding through without any hope of getting to some place better.  I know this feeling will pass and come again and pass again, and I always seek to come to terms with it philosophically or spiritually.

I wish I were less analytical and lighter in nature.  My belief is that people who are tend to be happier. In the past, I’ve quit my job, moved, taken a trip, but those aren’t options I have the energy or money for and of course you never can really escape your self, not while you’re living!

And I don’t dislike my self, but I miss being near people who get me.  Any way, I know I’m in the midst of a poor me pity party, so I will move on. Maybe others reading this will find comfort in knowing that others also experience these blues and greys.

Physically, I return to my favorite walks with my dog and my camera.  Sometimes I take only a few pictures and discard the majority, thinking I’ve done that. Sometimes there are just a few that I care to keep, but the act of walking is a soothing one, and my dog, Maisie, appreciates it as well.

Sometimes, the walk alone will shake the inertia away. If not, it allows me to sit with the feelings I’m going through.  It settles the restlessness like a form of meditation. And since I haven’t been doing my meditation practice regularly, this is good.

At other times, although I’m walking the same road I’ve walked numerous times before, I see something new, or more clearly.  When we find ourselves in the same life patterns, it’s interesting to wonder if instead of a circle, our path is not instead a spiral viewed from a different angle. Are we reacting the same way to a similar situation, or trying to find a new way.  This is a challenge of both consciousness and discipline.

One morning, two weeks ago, I got up early (not easy for me as I tend to be a night owl) seeking to find the elk that a friend had said were visiting her yard. Though they had been there for two days in a row, and come 4-5 times that week, they were not there that morning. (A week later I did see some female elk, but my photos were lousy as the light was too low and I was unable to get any sharpness at the distance.)

Disappointed, I decided to take try to take some pictures of the fall color that was fading fast.  I came upon these beautiful rays shining down on the road.  Was it as great as the elk would have been?  No, but it was lovely and that will have to suffice.

So I will keep trying – getting up early, occasionally, to seek the elk and putting one foot in front of the other, trying to muster some hope that my path is not a circle, and spiraling upwards and not down.