Calendar captures splendor of Peninsula as noted photographer’s sight fades

SEQUIM — Ross Hamilton, celebrant of the Olympic Peninsula’s wild splendor, now sees only dark shapes and little color.

Glaucoma and a series of eye surgeries have taken away the photographer’s sight, making it impossible for him to add to four decades’ work in the wilderness.

The most recent operation three months ago “pretty well decked me as far as producing more images,” Hamilton, 66, said recently in an interview at the home of his friend and agent, Sandy Frankfurth.

But this man’s passion is anything but dimmed. He shares another year of heart-stopping photographs in “The Olympic Peninsula 2009.”

Hamilton’s hope is that after hanging the calendar in the kitchen or in the office, people will feel the urge to get outside, and not only see the Olympic Peninsula’s big sights, but also to experience this place on a soul level.

That’s what happened to him.

Hamilton grew up in Southern California, but his father, Oliver, had been to the Northwest — and fell under the spell of the Olympic Mountains.

From the time he was a toddler, the younger Hamilton’s mind was filled with images of grand peaks and chapel-quiet woods, courtesy of Dad’s vivid memory.

Arrived in 1969

Hamilton finally moved to Sequim in 1969 at age 27. The places lived up to their reputation, and then some.

He saw the Olympics as “an awfully big story” and learned to offer it to others via pictures.

Hamilton’s father and mother, Mildred, also moved to Sequim to spend their last years beneath their beloved mountains.

And Frankfurth, who for 14 years cooked meals for Sequim’s elderly residents at the Prairie Grange Hall, got to know them and their son, the photographer.

Frankfurth, who called her cooking for seniors a labor of love, used to place inspirational quotations on each tray.

And for Hamilton’s 2009 calendar, she’s selected some apt words to match each season.

In January, Abraham Lincoln tells us: “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

In March, Ann Bradstreet reminds the weary: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Turn to July for the picture of sunbathed Purple Haze Lavender Farm, and you’ll read this from Marcel Proust: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Never seen until now

Frankfurth pointed out that several Hamilton images are debuting in the 2009 calendar: a never-before released shot of the Sol Duc River in autumn is the October page, and a view of the New Dungeness Lighthouse with snow-blanketed peaks rising behind it is the February photo.

A salmon-pink-shaded Dungeness Bay graces September.

Hamilton’s own words open the calendar.

On the inside front cover, he remembers his arrival here, and the feeling that he’d found the place where he belonged.

Hamilton writes that for 40 years, “I listened to waterfalls, thundering waves, lonely beaches . . . flower¬­ing meadows, swirling mists.”

With his calendars, he wants to send people out into the mountains, onto beaches and up forest paths, to hear what he describes as “the music of color, light and space.”

When asked about his personal hopes for 2009, the photographer and inveterate hiker didn’t pause.

“It really would please me greatly if I could get out and enjoy the trails again,” he said. “There is such a quantity of beauty here; I never get enough of it.”

Hamilton has been across the continent — and his travels have highlighted the singularity of the Olympic Peninsula.

He doesn’t know of another place where sky-piercing mountains, rain forest and ocean beaches are together in as close an embrace.

Reverence and delight

His clouded eyes don’t see the foliage or the peaks the way they did.

Yet it’s clear that Hamilton experiences the wilderness with as much reverence and delight as ever.

“The places, the sounds, the smells, the temperatures, they assault all of your senses. That’s why I say a picture can’t tell the whole tale,” he said.

Hamilton’s doctor has told him that as he continues recovering from his most recent surgery, his sight will improve a little.

Whether or not that happens, he looks forward to spring and summer and some small-group hiking in Olympic National Park.

“Being able to share it with friends is every bit as thrilling as being able to photograph it,” he said.

“Part of the joy is to hold it out in front of them and have them look, smell and feel.”

At his age, Hamilton added, he can “legally claim to be an old man.” But because he lives here, with his friends and the mountains near, he expresses only gratitude.

“When you get to be old,” he said, “you still feel young inside.”

________

“The Olympic Peninsula 2009,” a calendar featuring photographs by Ross Hamilton, is available at bookstores, Olympic National Park visitor centers and many other retail outlets across the North Olympic Peninsula.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

More in Life

Cyclists with Bike and Build to join community dessert

Cyclists with Bike and Build will join a community… Continue reading

Walk and talk about seals on the beach set

Deisy Bach will lead a beach walk and discuss… Continue reading

Pictured, from left to right in the front row are John Yano, Darlene Gahring, Pat Gilbert, Kathy McCormick and Beverly Dawson. 

In the middle row, from left to right are Janet Russell, Wendy Blondin, Mary Kelsoe, Pam Ehtee, Jane Marks, Marcia Kellerand Melissa Hsu 

In the back row, from left to right, Leiann Niccoli, Mary Jacoby and Emily Murphy
Summer Green Thumb award winner named

The Port Angeles Garden Club has awarded its summer Green Thumb award… Continue reading

Karen Griffiths/For Peninsula Daily News
A fine mesh fly sheet from OPEN’S used tack shop that covers the body, belly and neck, plus a fly mask, has proved the best combatant for my horse Lacey’s allergic reaction to the saliva from flying insect bites. The sheet and mask are sprayed with horse insect repellent before putting them on her. Her companion Sunny has no allergic reaction, so she just wears a fly mask to keep the flies out of her eyes.
HORSEPLAY: Horses can be allergic to bug bites, too

DON’T YOU JUST hate to go outside at dusk and get attacked… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: 8 ways to make your yard a midsummer dream

AS WE ARE now just entering the mid-season of summer, many things… Continue reading

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News


The Sturgeon Moon, the last full supermoon of the year, emerges behind Port Townsend's Marrowstone Island and the distant Cascades, on Thursday night. The reddish color is due to the smoke from the fires in eastern Washington.
Sturgeon Moon over Marrowstone Island

The Sturgeon Moon, the last full supermoon of the year, emerges behind… Continue reading

tsr
Forest management topic of Green Thumbs presentation

Are you a landowner with a forested property? Check… Continue reading

tsr
Sequim band to celebrate ‘Movies, Musicals and Marches’

The Sequim City Band’s “Movies, Musicals, and Marches” concert is… Continue reading

tsr
OTA’s annual Renaissance Faire this weekend

Back and bigger than ever, Olympic Theatre Arts is gearing… Continue reading

Most Read