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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

December 22, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Mercer Island ballet dancers prepare for The Nutcracker

Posted by Erika Schultz

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Eugenie Morton, from left in peach shirt, Monica Wilson, hoodie below, Alexandra Gomez, grey hoodie, Jamie Vanderwall, in tank top, Maria Gomez, blue hoodie and Emily Porter, in purple, work on their hair before performing excerpts from The Nutcracker Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The Children's Dance Conservatory, the official school for Island Youth Ballet, sold more than 1,000 tickets for their six shows in December.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Monica Wilson puts on mascara before performing excerpts from The Nutcracker ballet Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The Children's Dance Conservatory, the official school for Island Youth Ballet, sold more than 1,000 tickets for their six performances in December.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Dancers attend class before performing excerpts from The Nutcracker ballet Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The Children's Dance Conservatory, the official school for Island Youth Ballet, sold more than 1,000 tickets for their six performances in December.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Dancers attend class before performing excerpts from The Nutcracker ballet Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The Children's Dance Conservatory, the official school for Island Youth Ballet, sold more than 1,000 tickets for their six performances in December.

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December 21, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Zoo animals find holiday cheer

Posted by Colin Diltz

LINDSEY WASSON / THE SEATTLE TIMES

An Eastern Rosella, bottom, grabs a berry from a wreath as as cockatiel, top left, plays with Christmas-colored paper chains as part of the day's Winter Celebration Enrichment at Woodland Park Zoo on Sunday. The zoo's final Winter Celebration Enrichment for the year is on Monday at the Willawong Station at 11:30 a.m., the Anoa at noon, and the Kunekune pigs at 1:30 p.m.

LINDSEY WASSON / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A snow leopard licks a wrapped package, covered in meat juices.

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December 20, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Making memories with family

Posted by Katie G. Cotterill

ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Maria Martinez, from San Angelo, Texas, poses for her brother Jesus Martinez, of Tacoma, in front of a picture-perfect Seattle skyline Friday afternoon. Maria, her mother and her daughter were visiting Jesus for the holidays and were checking out the sights.

December 20, 2014 at 4:55 PM

In the spirit at the farmers market

Posted by Katie G. Cotterill

KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Tandoozy owner Craig Ackermann rings bells Saturday at the University District Farmers Market in Seattle, after getting another order for one of his popular naan dishes.

KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES

This market Santa is made of potatoes -- from some of the 23 varieties grown at Olsen Farms in Colville. "We always like to have fun with potatoes," said co-owner Brent Olsen, who added there will be heart-shaped potatoes for Valentine's Day and bunnies made out of potatoes for Easter. The market, at University Way Northeast and Northeast 50th Street, is open Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., year-round.

December 19, 2014 at 6:46 PM

This way for some Christmas spirit

Posted by Katie G. Cotterill

MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Dressed for cold and rain, Ruby Pippin passes out candy canes on her corner, Thomas Street and Boren Avenue North, where she directs traffic and trucks at a South Lake Union construction site. "There's a lot of stress out there," she said, "and I just try to make people smile."

December 19, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Northwest Wanderings: All aboard for a visit with Santa

Posted by Alan Berner

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

John Graddon, fireman on the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, readies the 1929 steam engine for a Santa Express run from the station in Elbe.

This player was created in September 2012 to update the design of the embed player with chromeless buttons. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites.

ALAN BERNER & CORINNE CHIN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Santa is the star, but the steam locomotive is the draw on the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad.

Three hundred people are on board the Santa Express, a misnomer, as it takes a leisurely pace from the station in Elbe, Pierce County, to Mineral in Lewis County, about seven miles away.

The uneven tracks make for a gentle rock 'n' roll at 10 mph.

At the station, engineer Zeb Darrah and fireman John Graddon prepare the 1929 Alco 2-8-2 Mikado oil-fueled engine for the run. Engine 17 once made short runs in Northern California for the Hammond Lumber Co. With no seals on the moving parts, there's oiling to be done at each stop.

Graddon explains how the engine works. "Boil water in a pressure vessel, control the steam into a valve into pistons, which drives the rods. The wheels turn."

No wood or coal is burned as they produce sparks that could start a fire in the woods along the tracks.

In the car where Santa is seated, he waits to hear wants and needs of more than 100 children and a few adults. There's no Prancer or Dancer, no Donder or Blitzen. He explains they're in a pasture.

One child wants a forklift, another wants "purple dogs." A grandmother says she "needs a boyfriend. It's getting lonely." Each who visits him receives a small, stuffed toy.

Back in the passenger cars people sip hot chocolate and eat cookies.

In the cab of the steam engine, Graddon tends the boiler.

Just like the children in line for Santa, he says what working on the railroad feels like: "I'm 12. I haven't grown up yet."



ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Santa makes his way to a seated passenger to hear her Christmas wishes.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

December 18, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Lake Union Crew's jingle shells

Posted by Colin Diltz

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

With the Seattle skyline glowing in the background, six racing shells from Lake Union Crew, some with seasonal lights, set out on Lake Union to sing carols to a few houseboats. They modified some of the carols such as "Jingle Shells" and also sang "Frosty the Snowman" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." The lights are battery-powered LEDs.

For more photos, visit the gallery.

Get your jingle on at holiday events and activities in and around Seattle.

December 18, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Postcards from the past: Christmas tree construction, 1968

Posted by Colin Diltz

GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Pat Hauck decorated a Christmas tree on a painted beam as it was lifted into place during "topping off" ceremony on Dec. 22, 1968. The beam was the last piece of steel framework to be used in construction of the 40-story Washington Plaza Hotel.

Postcards from the past is an occasional feature, highlighting images from The Seattle Times historical archive.

For more postcards from the past and links to other posts, visit the gallery


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