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After months of mist and grayness, the beauty of a Northwest summer in July and August is prized and celebrated by Seattleites and the wave of tourists that comes and goes like the sun. With Labor Day upon us, the symbolic end of the season, a few members of The Seattle Times photography staff wanted to pay tribute to mother nature’s gift in images.

Photographers Marcus Yam, Bettina Hansen and Erika Schultz set out to interpret summer through four elements: earth, air, wind and fire.

Some scenes are from regular assignments. Others we would seek out: riding the ferry, collecting flowers with Hmong farmers and watching fire dancers. But often, we’d capture special moments while just enjoying the weather on our own.

It’s bittersweet to say goodbye, so we hoped to preserve the light, mood and ambiance of this fleeting season. Here’s our tribute to summer in Seattle, before the rains return.

 

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Sailors on “Absolutely”, owned by Charlie Macaulay, take their second lap around the course as the sun sets behind the Aurora bridge during the Duck Dodge, a Tuesday-night summer tradition since 1974 on Lake Union, July 30, 2013.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A Hmong flower farmer picks sunflowers at his farm near Carnation, Wash. Sunflowers are planted in early summer and harvested by August. There are roughly about 90 Hmong flower farms in Washington state, said Bee Cha, Washington State University extension immigrant specialist.

ERIKA SCHULTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Jered Cottell holds two crabs recently caught in a trap in Puget Sound, just off of Discovery Park in Seattle. Kara Velikanje, not pictured, retrieved the trap from her stand-up paddleboard and Cottell then retrieved the marine animals from the trap.

MARCUS YAM / THE SEATTLE TIMES

University of Washington GenOM project and incoming UW freshmen celebrate the end of their summer internships around a bonfire at Golden Gardens Beach in Seattle, on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013.