Port Orchard photographer has an eye for nature’s beauty

SOUTH COLBY — Stand at any local shoreline or vista and you’re sure to spot something that draws your eye — a flock of black turnstones in tight formation skimming inches above the waterfront, a regal bald eagle perched high above while on a hunting trip or a stunning pink summer sunrise.

If you ask Carrie Griffis what compels her to pull over to the side of the road, grab her Nikon 7100 digital camera and fire off a round of images, she’ll tell you it’s the beauty of South Kitsap’s natural setting. It’s four seasons of spectacular scenery provided by Mother Nature, populated by a plentiful supply of marine life, airborne or otherwise. Griffis and her husband of 53 years, Chuck, live near the water in the South Colby area, so it’s only fitting that for her to have a camera at her side.

The mother of two boys has been a photographer for more than 33 years, which is how long she’s lived in South Kitsap. The Moclips native moved here after her husband retired from the Navy and took a job at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. In her years living the life of a Navy wife and mother, traveling and setting up housekeeping in places as diverse as Japan, Hawaii, Maine and San Diego, Griffis said nature has always drawn her to capture its beauty, first on film, then digitally.

She’s the first to say her talent as a photographer is home-grown. “It’s just a hobby that I picked up along the way,” Griffis said as she scanned the skies above Yukon Harbor Road, searching for an eagle or perhaps an aerobatic seagull in flight.

The backyard of the Griffis home is a perfect photo studio, she said. “There are so many birds in our backyard that I’ve been able to practice my skills a lot.” A Steller’s jay or an Anna’s hummingbird are just as likely to be feeding there as is an American Goldfinch. Her favorite bird, the pileated woodpecker, is a frequent visitor. One in particular, a male named “Junior,” has had his portrait posted often on Griffis’s Facebook page.

Her colorful image postings on Facebook, in fact, have become a favorite on the Port Orchard group page. They’ve become so popular that Griffis is often asked if she would sell them as prints admirers. “I get a lot of requests for photo prints, but I just haven’t gotten around to setting something up so I can do it,” she said. “A lot of people want me to make a bird photography book.”

Asked the secret to her photographic success, Griffis thought a bit, then answered that it’s because she gets so much enjoyment out of taking the images. “It’s so relaxing to get outside and start shooting.”

Advice to budding photographers? She said it’s important to shoot what you love, be it nature or otherwise. “That way, it won’t get old for you. And keep practicing.”

Another trait to learn success, she said, is patience. And finding the right lighting.

“‘Just open your eyes’ is what I tell people who are taking up photography. Try shooting at different times of the day. I get up very early in the morning so I can catch the sun rising, which is especially beautiful in the summer,” she said.

Griffis’s favorite places to shoot include Yukon Harbor Road, which offers beautiful scenes of downtown Seattle from across the water, and Harper Pier.

Her nature images have been published in Birdwatchers Digest, as well as the Port Orchard Independent. Will that nature photography book happen some day? Stay tuned, Griffis said.

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