"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Clear eye on nature

By on September 27, 2017 in Articles with 0 Comments

By Mike Gardner

It’s been one heck of a summer here so far — from drag racing photography to wildlife, from landscape to Aurora Borealis.

Eagle by Leavenworth photographer Mark Gardner.

Life just keeps getting better. After quitting drinking this year, it seems that everyone is noticing my photography is also getting clearer. Looking at life without the “beer goggles” is quite different after drinking for over 20 years.

I finally met a beautiful and wonderful lady. Dana Schafer has really changed my life and the life of my 10-year-old daughter as well. Somehow all is coming full circle now.

Ok, back to photography…

This year has been spectacular. This past spring, we have seen so much wildlife: Bears, fawns and raccoons.

Although the mama raccoon was too fast for me to get a picture, it was adorable to see her carrying her baby by the scruff of the neck.

The eagle was here in Leavenworth at the Birdfest event held at Barn Beach Reserve this past spring.

The bears have a bit of a story behind them. We woke one morning to find the trash can had been invaded and trash strewn all over. One bag was carried to the back of the house next to the hot tub. Dana cleaned it before I woke up. No, seriously. I did not fake being asleep.

Later that day, I was editing some pictures and I heard a thump noise outside. Sure enough, one of the cubs came back for seconds in the next door neighbor’s trash cans.

I tried to make noise to shoo it away but it had no fear at all.

The very next day my daughter and I were taking the dog for a walk. We get out to Icicle Road and notice at least a dozen people at the base of a tree with cell phones looking up.

There was the mama bear and two cubs up there. I could hear mama huffing and puffing. Obviously stressed, so I mentioned to the people with phones that they might want to back off as it was not a smart place to be. They didn’t listen.

I had my 150-600mm lens on my camera so I went to the other side of the road and got pictures of them in the tree. Looks like I was in the tree with them but I assure you, I gave them plenty of space.

Finally a Chelan County Sheriff’s deputy dispersed the crowd and the mama calmed down.

The deer in the pictures were taken at The Leavenworth Golf Course. My friend, Travis, works there and gives me notice when they come around. The does know it is safe there and are very tolerant to photographers, as I found out.

Once again, on goes the 150-600mm lens and I get some decent captures. Then one day I get a notice that one of the fawns is on the course. I took my daughter with me and got a capture of the baby.

Recently we had a treat. The Aurora Borealis was “supposed” to be strong enough to see with the naked eye. Sadly it fizzled out.

But I did have my Canon 5D Mark IV with me. I cranked up the ISO to 8000, set my lens at f/2.8 and shutter at an eight second shutter and got the beautiful lights with the Milky Way above it.

One thing I have noticed is that with my action photography, I get my adrenaline all fired up and love it. But then there are the quiet and serene moments that balance it out. To just appreciate the beauty that is all around us, one just has to open their eyes.

The good life for me just keeps getting better and better. Sobriety has helped quite a bit. But the loved ones and photography keeps everything in perspective.

May you all be as happy as I have become.

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