Happy Fourth of July

It has been almost a year since we moved to Wenatchee, Washington and we are just about to witness our first “small town” celebration of Independence Day in the USA. Yesterday’s newspaper was filled with a schedule of events that will occur today.  The climax will be a firework show launched from Walla Walla Point Park where we have walked numerous times. The park will be full of activities ranging from a youth circus to a full orchestra presentation during the fireworks. We walked the area this morning and it was quiet.  The pyro team was busy making last minute updates and checking things. Some folks had their tents in place at 09:00 and look to be planning to spend the day. The wind has died down enough to remove the Red Flag warning we’ve been under the last two days and the sky is filled with clouds.  Temperatures should peak in the mid- to high 70’s.  Last year it was about 100 degrees.

I’ve photographed fireworks many times in the past and it takes a bit to get me enthused enough to brave the crowds for more images.  But I admit that the feeling of a “small town” celebration caught me up.  Part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and get back to the park early enough to get a spot near the fireworks launch point. Another part of me says “stay the heck out of there”.  I think we’ve found a decent compromise.  We plan to drive over to East Wenatchee and view the firework show from the loop trail.  Our view will be into Wenatchee, looking west into town.  We will be directly across from the fireworks display and at the edge of the Columbia River.  Reflections may be featured if winds and powerboats allow the water to be calm.  The end product of the evening, for me, will most likely be a composite image that merges a base image showing the town and hills to the west and several firework bursts.  If we get a nice image in one frame all the better.  Time will tell.

Last night the local baseball team, the Wenatchee Applesox, played the team from my friend Eric Vogt’s home town – Kelowna, BC.  The Sox showed no mercy and handed the Kelowna team a 12-2 loss. It was fireworks night at the game so Dianne and I went about a half mile from our house and watched the display and got a bit of practice with the Fuji and TriggerTrap to prepare for tonight’s “big show”.  The wind was blowing about 20-30 mph at times and the images are not all that sharp but we had a good time watching the fireworks and the display on the camera as it cycled through about 100 photos.  We’re as prepared for tonight as we can be so it is just a matter of time.

Wenatchee, Washington July 3, 2016.  3 shot composite

Sumpter Valley Railway – morning long exposures

I had the good fortune to spend last weekend with my good friend Steve Howes at the annual Photographer’s Weekend hosted by the Sumpter Valley Railway in Sumpter, Oregon.  Steve is an avid rail buff and seems to have a never-ending knowledge base about every thing railroad… track lays, locomotives, stations, people… it goes on.  He has mentioned this annual weekend opportunity to me several times but I never made it before this year.  He was a bit concerned that I’d be bored or put off by the cast of people who show up for these events.  Let’s just say that railroad buffs are PASSIONATE.  It was really interesting to me to see the variety of camera gear people brought along.  Everything from point and shoot to multiple DSLRs.  My personal favorite was a man who had 3 film cameras along and frequently mounted them side-by-side or stacked them one above the other.  Judging from the polished lens barrels he used I know that he has been at this a LONG time.  He told me he started about 1969.  There were a handful of videographers along with the still photographers.  Two of these chaps had traveled from North Carolina and worked as a team to get different views of each train “pass by”.  We all learned that the video guys would really prefer that everyone else be as quiet as possible and they bristled a bit when someone (aka, me) made some rocks roll or clicked a camera too close to them.  I appreciate that their chosen method to record the train has differrent and demanding needs but I can’t bring myself to think that they are the priority since we all paid the same entry fee.  We tried to be accommodating but sometimes the space was limited, the best view angles were always in high demand and sometimes things just happen.  Anyway, it was an interesting mix of people and gear.

Saturday started at 06:00 with coffee and sweet rolls along with juice and fruit.  People bantered among themselves as they prepared for the day.


Engine 19 rolled into position at the depot to allow people to load.  We had about 15 minutes in which the locomotive was stationary as the sun started to come up.  I, along with a few others, lined up for a few shots of the train as it warmed up and the light matured.  The image below was shot for 10 seconds using the Fuji.  There is movement in the cab as the engineer prepares and the breeze caused the steam to drift backward.  I have digitally modified the image to remove power lines and poles.  Some purists will undoubtedly take issue with this treatment but I think the image is vastly better without the clutter.



We spent Saturday moving up and down the 4 mile track following much the same sequence:  train stops, conductor gets off and puts a step for others to use as they leave the train, video guys rush to the front so that they can get the best sight angle, others get off and find their way to the photo line, the photo coordinator radios to the engineer, aka “19”, that all are clear and the locomotive should move up the track to begin its “pass by” run, coordinator tells them to go heavy on smoke and at a certain pace, engineer complies, photographers shoot, video guys wonder how much chatter will be in their audio, repeat 2-4 times then reverse the drill to get everyone back on the train for the next location.  We started shortly after 06:00 and ended about 16:00.  Approximately 800 images found their way onto my memory card.

The next morning began the same way only we’d lost a few people from the day before and gained some new folks.  Locomotive 19 pulled into the depot as before and I was ready for the morning light.  It was colder than the day before and frost was forming on the ties.  The light came up as I shot, this time using the D800.  Steve and I had gone through the previous day’s images and critiqued them.  I learned that I shot at too slow a shutter speed, focused too high and did not allow the locomotive to get close as I shot.  The Fuji files are really quite nice but I still am a bit perplexed trying to use the mirrorless camera to follow a moving subject.  It works and the images are sharp but I don’t have 100% confidence while shooting.  I know my way around the D800 thanks to all the bird photography I’ve done in the last few years.  A train is vastly easier to photograph compared to a bird… you know exactly where it is going to be and it is not subject to random and rapid changes, the speed is much slower, the train is MUCH bigger, the contrast for focusing is much better.  Really, there is little reason for not getting a good photo if you mind some fundamentals.  For me that meant shutter speeds of at least 1/360 but more frequently 1/500th, f/8, continuous focus, manual mode and ISO as low as I could go and maintain the speed and aperature I wanted.  With birds I almost always shoot Auto ISO but this train gave me a lot more flexibility.  Plus, as an added bonus, the train backs through the scene to prepare for its run and you get the chance to view the scene, think about composition and test exposures.  Then when the train comes through you shoot so that composition is maximized.  This means that you want to minimize the amount of brush or weeds that are obstructing the wheels and getting the steam engine and the tender car both into the frame.  I found it interesting that before the train came through it was common for someone of the verteran photographers to go out and pull weeds, trim brush or, on occassion, fall a sapling to make sure the view is unimpeded.  I guess that a railroad right of way is different from my work experience on public lands.

I will post several more images of the train in the coming days but the image below was taken Sunday morning as the train sat waiting for passengers to load and for the sun to begin lighting the scene.



And the sun did come up.

20141019_072050__DSF6343What a wonderful way to spend a perfectly glorious weekend.  With a good friend doing something new, outside in great weather.  Life is good.

More to come….


Power curve

This story centers around a young lady named Katy Gillingham.  Katy is the grand-niece of my long-standing friend Jon Brazier.  We first met Katy several years ago when I was asked to take family photos for a Brazier family reunion in Sunriver, Oregon.  Dianne and I traveled to Sunriver and joined the family for a marvelous dinner and an evening in which they endured a lengthy photo session of individuals, families and the whole group.  Katy sat for her individual photos in our makeshift studio, smiled nicely and, I’m sure, was relieved when she was “done”.  I remember her as being a bright eyed, smiling and pretty young lady.  That hasn’t changed over time.  Katy is now a Junior at Holy Names Academy in the Seattle area.  Katy rows as a varsity member of the schools rowing team.  That’s where this story really begins.

Last year Katy’s rowing team was entered in a major northwest regional rowing competition staged at Vancouver Lake just north of our home.  Jon and I talked a bit and agreed that we would like to see what this sport is all about since neither of us really knew diddly about rowing.  I did a bit of research on how to photograph what may be the world’s worst spectator sport… rowing… and found little to assist me.  We knew the times and category for Katy’s races and were given some help finding her and her team among the crowded lanes as the boats came into view.  Getting the photos isn’t really all that hard as long as other boats don’t clog up the view between Katy’s boat and the camera.  Not to worry… they are usually out in front.  Katy has the habit of wearing her HNA ballcap backwards on her head so she stands out from others in her boat and among boats around her.

So I tried to focus on Katy and capture the “peak moment” of the rowing cycle even though I had no idea about the rowing “power curve” that happens each cycle.  My solution was to shoot bursts through as many complete cycles as the camera could buffer. As the boats come into view the photography begins.  It hits its peak as the boats pass by near the finish.  Maybe a couple of minutes total.  Done.    We got some decent photos and sent them off to Katy’s mother, Anne, for distribution to the team.  Well, it turns out that Katy’s team won the Regional Championship and went to Nationals in Tennessee where they proceeded to win the national championship.  These ladies are the REAL DEAL.

Now the story I really want to tell.  It’s told really well in the book “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown.  The book is about the 1936 University of Washington rowing team winning gold at the Berlin Olympics.  The book presents what it means to be on a crew team.  Each person linked to the power and rhythm of the others in the boat.  Conditioning is critical and hours of rowing and strength training are buried in the muscles of a rower.  Their hands may tell the story of the wear and tear they endure for their sport.  Keen coaches know that the team members aren’t perfectly matched in size or strength so they put their rowers into specific assignments on the boat.  The rowers learn to read each other’s stroke and cycle.  Each can feel the power of the others as the coxswain calls for power or calm.  The coxswain is in charge of everything that happens on the boat.  It starts when they give orders to move the boat to the water, to enter the boat, to move away and, in the race, they call for cadence and power.  They know how to move the rowers to their pain threshold or to save their strength.  They are responsible for assessing their position relative to the other teams and to meter out the rowers’ strength over the distance with surges and recovery as needed.  The goal is reach the sweet spot where everyone in the boat, rowers and cox, all move and respond in harmony.  Technique and strength united into fluid movement down the course faster than the other teams… or not. Katy and her team seem to know the sweet spot pretty well.

Katy rowed in two races in this year’s Regional Championship at Vancouver Lake.  She rowed with her friend Marlee in a pairs race, winning the final race decisively. They both joined in the 4+ competition a few hours later.  After winning their race Katy’s team watched as the team from Mt. Baker won a second semi-final heat race, finishing only 0.02 seconds behind HNA.  The finals were held today and HNA finished second to Mt. Baker by about a boat length.  Disappointing for the HNA team I’m sure but both teams earned their places at the National Championships near Sacramento next month.  Losing today likely ignited a fire in the HNA team and we look forward to the rematch to come.

Yesterday I asked Katy’s parents if there was a single moment in the rowing cycle that was “the peak moment”.  Was it as the oar entered the water and the pull began?  Was it when the legs were fully compressed and ready to straighten and release all their power?  I’m sure there is a diagram of the physics and force diagrams for a rowing cycle.  Katy’s dad, Jim, explained that the power curve is steepest as the legs straighten and the arms are pulling for all they are worth.  That makes sense.  Trying to time photos to capture that peak moment is not that easy.  My camera does not shoot more than 6 frames a second so I am at a bit of a handicap to blast away during the event to truly capture the peak.  I shot several sequences of shots and, like shooting birds in flight, tried to make sure that the subject is in focus and that the movement of wings or oars is such that they coincide with the shutter release.

The photo below shows the Holy Names Academy 4+ varsity team during their semi-final heat.  I almost gave this post the title “Rip City” since I am so impressed by the musculature in these ladies backs, arms and legs.  Please click on the image to see a larger view.  While not at the precise moment when the legs are fully extended you can can see the power of the ladies in their shoulders and arms.  You can see the power in the bend of the oars used by Katy and Megan.  Look at the matched hand positions and postures.  You’re looking at a team that knows what the sweet spot in rowing feels like.  They have worked harder than I can imagine to get where they are.  After their loss today I know that they are motivated to succeed at the Nationals next month.  Amazingly, we are planning to be there along with the Braziers when the coxswain calls for the boat to once more enter the water.  We wish them all the best possible and look forward to seeing the famous Katy smile on the podium.  Rip it up Ladies.

Left to right:  Marlee Blue, Katy Gillingham, Madison Morris, Megan Del Possi and Louisa Abel (coxswain)
Left to right: Marlee Blue, Katy Gillingham, Madison Morris, Megan Del Possi and Louisa Abel (coxswain)

The moon rises…

My friend Eric and I went up to Larch Mountain east of Portland last night to photograph the full moon rising near Mt. Hood.  We were concerned that smoke from wildfires might mess up the view as it has so many times in the past.  While we were a bit disappointed to not have some clouds in the sky to add character and interest we were both pleasantly surprised to see that Mt. Hood was pretty clear.  There was a lot of smoke in the distance no matter which way you looked but we seemed to be in a bit of a hole.  I suspect that we were benefiting from being so close to Mt. Hood.  It was the best view I’ve had of Mt. Hood and the full moon in August since I began the quest for a photo of the event.  I’ve been turned back many times by fouled air so I really enjoyed the night last night.  Once again, time with a friend outdoors on a nice evening and decent light.  I’m a lucky guy.

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Parental Pride

Gina was in the spotlight last Saturday – literally and figuratively.  Anyone who follows this blog knows that we love time with the grandkids and have followed them to a variety of races, team sports, parties and gatherings.  This Saturday it was a dance recital put on by Gina’s dance studio, Studio One.  Heidi arranged tickets for us to attend along with Derek,  her Mom, sister and Grandmother.  We filled a row on the right side of the auditorium.  Heidi was also nice enough to check about photo restrictions prior to the recital.  She learned that still photography was allowed as long as flash was not used.  Perfect (well, at least ‘good’).  I went with the D800 set to “Quiet mode” and with the 70-200 f/2.8 attached.  Test shots prior to Gina’s first dance told me that I’d be at ISO 5000 to 6400 to get a shutter speed of 1/250 or faster at f/2.8.  I wanted 1/500 of a second so turned on AutoISO and dialed in the shutter speed I wanted using manual.  I knew that there would be noise to deal with but I’ve learned that I can live with noise a lot more than I can with blurry photos.  That’s just me (or is it?).

I’ll start the photo series with a shot that really inspired the title to this blog.  You can see the parents of these young girls sitting in the audience with their cameras pointed at the stage.  All their investment of money and time is about to be displayed as their daughter performs her fist public ballet dance.  I love the fact that the girls are all over the board with the poses.  Their teacher is up front and below the stage trying to lead them through the poses.  Little kids just seem to march to their own drummer in spite of our best efforts as parents and guides.  Read the body language on these girls.  I love the two who seem to be asking “what now” with their arms and the one girl on the right who just knew that it was time to do her best spin move.  Gotta love little kids all dressed up and on show.



Now to Gina’s dances.  Gina is anything BUT shy and retiring.  She has a ton of energy and a brilliant attitude.  She puts her all into anything she does. We’ve photographed her playing lacrosse where we saw that bigger girls do not intimidate her.  She’s quick and well balanced.  She has fun and works hard.  So when her first dance came on stage we knew we’d see a familiar Gina doing tap.  Fast paced but with detail in the choreography.  All the kids got a time to “star” during the routine.  I stood at the side of the auditorium and shot my way through the dance while trying to predict peak moments.  In retrospect it seems like the whole dance was a peak moment.  But check out the facial expressions on Gina.  Yes, she has fun and is comfortable with the whole thing.  We all got to see the Gina we know and love.

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We have been very fortunate in the past to photograph a couple of very talented ballerinas.  We learned so much from Gavin Larsen who gave us the gift of a couple of hours to photograph her as she danced for us and the camera.  Nikki Leopold posed for us in a private session where we learned more of the value of small details in a ballerina’s expression of the dance. Hand and wrist positions are important.  Line and posture are essential to a pose.  Ballet is so complex and requires strength, flexibility, grace and hours and hours of practice.  This is Gina’s first year of ballet and as I watched through the lens I saw shades of Gavin as familiar poses formed for Gina.  There were 3 or 4 times that smiled widely thinking of Gavin or Nikki as I watched Gina give her all to the dance.  Leaping, spinning, standing poses all flowed together for us.  I offer you 3 photos from the ballet.  I think you can see that she is still having fun but it is clear from her expression that she is concentrating a great deal.  She gives it her all and works hard to do the best she can.  We love that in Gina and all our grandkids.  Who wouldn’t.  Thanks Gina.  You make us proud.

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A surprise finish

I was fortunate to be part of a Burrowing owl banding operation on the Hanford Reach National Monument last Friday.  My good friend Steve Howes introduced me the US Fish and Wildlife Service staff at McNary National Wildlife Refuge and eventually I was permitted to tag along with the crew when they met up with Dr. David Johnson who leads the Global Owl Project.  It turned out that there were several vehicles of people involved and I became part of a crew of six that headed to the northern-most Burrowing owl sites to set traps and, hopefully, catch owls to band.  Our crew was composed of three old, retired guys (me included) who drove, helped haul gear, ran the GPS to locate the burrows and took some photos while 3 young ladies did all the digging and trap placement.  I just wandered around and took photos of the operation hoping to get a chance for an up close portrait of a burrowing owl.

The routine was to set the live traps, decorate the ramp entrance area with scat to make it look like it was a natural burrow, put an mp3 player and speakers playing the territorial call of a male owl into one of the traps and then move on to repeat at other active (we hoped) nest sites.  We did this at about 6 different locations.


The area north of Rattlesnake mountain in which we placed Burrowing owl traps
The area north of Rattlesnake mountain in which we placed Burrowing owl traps



Keith and Steve watch as the ladies prepare the burrow trap
Keith and Steve watch as the ladies prepare the burrow trap

After about an hour we’d go back to the traps to see if a bird had been caught.  Our first sites did not yield any owls.  We finally hit paydirt at one of the last sites when two adult owls were trapped.  The ladies carefully extracted the birds and put them in what looked like a small cat carry crate.  They headed out to take the owls to Johnson who was working in an area further to the south.  We joined them at the gate to the other area and watched as Johnson measured and banded the owls.  Another fellow and a couple of assistants picked some fleas of the birds and documented them for later evaluation.  Interesting to me but I was glad I didn’t have to reach into the burrows (spiders and fleas) or handle the birds.  I did get several shots of the crew hauling materials, placing traps, removing owls from the traps and during the banding/measuring operation.  I never got the chance to take the type of owl portrait photo I had hoped to get but am quite OK with that.

Dr. David Johnson holds adult male and female burrowing owls
Dr. David Johnson holds adult male and female burrowing owls


We left the Johnson measuring site to return the two owls to their burrows.  It was pitch dark being nearly 11:00 at night.  I stayed at the car and used the time that it took to walk the owls back to their burrow to pack my camera gear away.  When everyone returned I heard someone say that they could see the Northern Lights.  WHAT?!?!  I’ve never seen the lights and have always wanted to photograph them.  I crawled out of the car and asked for some help locating the scene.  Yes, I did know to look north but I didn’t see anything that I expected to see.  Being fairly far south the lights were not the spectacular waves of pulsing energy that are so famous.  I was able to see some faint streaks above an extended band of fairly bright light that was mounded on the horizon.  Steve confirmed that I was seeing the lights since he knows I don’t do well with seeing greens and reds even when fairly bright.  I set the camera up and did my best to recall what I had read about the “how to” of aurora photography.  My first shot was way too bright so I dropped the ISO down to 1600 from 3200 and shot again.  It looked OK at 30 seconds f/4.  I took a few more and then realized that everyone else was waiting patiently at the cars to return to the Johnson work site.  I snuck in one more shot and headed for the car.  When we got to the Johnson area we found that some of the people were still out in the field checking traps or returning owls.  I set the camera up again and set to taking more photos to the north hoping that others would turn out well.  Since no one was waiting on me I took my time and just experimented with settings and chimped the LCD to make adjustments.  Turns out that many were out of focus.  No great loss since they kind of sucked anyway.

So, Friday afternoon and night I got to record several “firsts”… first banding operation, first time work under a permit to the USFWS and first time to see and photograph the aurora borealis.  I slept well that night.


Blue Moon?

As I stood at Pittock Mansion last night to photograph the Blue Moon rising near Mt. Hood I was entertained by a variety of people questioning the origin of the term “blue moon”.  At one point a gal walked away from her group in a bit of a huff declaring that “it’s stupid, it’s NOT blue”.  Yeah, she’s right.  Our local weather guy explained that the second full moon in a month is properly called a blue moon.  I carried that information with me to the Mansion and offered it up when asked if I knew why it was called a blue moon.  I like to think that I sounded scholarly.. at least I did not hesitate to offer the explanation.  Everyone seemed content.  Why not?

I just googled “blue moon” and looked at the definition or origin in Wikipedia.  They say that the third full moon of a season with four full moons is referred to a blue moon.  Historically, a “season” had four full moons.  To get two of four full moons in a single month is a fairly rare event but does not help to explain how it got the name in the first place.  Our use of the term “once in a blue moon” seems to support the notion of rarity and also reinforces that the term “blue moon” is something real and well known.  Go figure.  Anyway, it was entertaining to listen to people speculate how it came to be that the event we were watching was called “blue moon”.

For me, the event was special because of it’s occurrence next to Mt. Hood so close to sundown.  The smoke made for disappointing results photographically but I figured it was a great way to spend the evening and to think about Neil Armstrong and the first step onto the moon.  I’m confident that he was not bothered by smoke or haze as he gazed at earth from the moon.  What a thrill he must have felt go up his spine as he came off the ladder.  I know that my skin tingled as I watched him step down.  Now, that step is a true rare event.

The Blue Moon moving through low clouds above Portland, Oregon

Once again, every emotion

Dianne and I have photographed a variety of annual Relay for Life events over the last 6 years.  We just finished covering the 2012 Sherwood, Oregon Relay and I want to post this blog while my thoughts are fresh.

First, let’s make sure you know where I stand… CANCER SUCKS.  Too many people are affected or lost due to this indiscriminate disease.  Young and old, rich and poor. It just sucks.

Anyone who has ever participated in a Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society knows that emotions range wildly during the 24 hours of walking, eating, socializing, hugging, crying… it goes on.  Some parts of the event are more apt to bring emotions to the surface, a Survivor lap or the luminaria ceremony for example.  Other events bring smiles or laughs.  If you pay attention to the people around you you get to see a wide range of experiences and snippets of relationships or bits of stories.  Being photographers who strive to record the event through its emotions and “moments” we try to stay alert to situations that may last only seconds.  Sometimes we get wonderful images that show the commitment of people to fighting cancer.  Some people who are fighting cancer come for a short time to show support and then retreat to a quieter, more comfortable place to continue their fight.  Some come who seem to have no connection at all until something happens or someone shows up to ignite them.  Most people come to spend 24 hours with friends or family and to walk or run through an entire day as a way of showing support for the eradication of this disease.  You see moments of extreme courage, moments of wonder and lots of moments of open caring and love.  We do our best to capture the emotions and hope that our images find a way to help some how.

One thing we do as a routine is offer portrait sessions for Survivors.  Each year we smile when we see the same Survivors return to our makeshift studio.  Sometimes people we expect are not there and we hope that they are just out of town or have other commitments. We meet new people each year.  We get about 5 minutes to greet them, make the contact for new relationships or renew them with people we know.  It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person in a short period.  In our experience, people want to talk about their cancer experience but it never comes easily.  We listen with genuine respect and an awareness that everyone’s story is different but extremely vivid for each one of these brave folks.  Our goal is to help them relax, smile and feel proud of their accomplishments.  We’ve had people tell us they never smile, that they want a certain side toward camera since they just lost a tooth crown or due to some treatment effect.  We watch as people write down their address while referring to their driver’s license for the information… chemo does that to people.  We have people who tell us that a photo we took of them several years ago still sits on their bedroom mirror because it was taken right after they finished treatment and marks their celebration of that milestone.  We take pictures with the hope that the individual and/or their family will put value on it.  Look at them smile.



A few of the people shown above are dear friends.  Carol and Terah know that they are very special to us.   Most, though, are people we see once a year at the most.  But look at the smiles… including on the one person who told us that she never smiles… doesn’t know how to.  I love that.  And then there’s Selma.  She’s a lady with a personality that invites people in.  She’s been at the Sherwood Relay since the beginning and we just seemed to instantly become friends who have no reservation about a public hug or a bit of joking around.  I have photos of Selma by herself and this year she dragged her two daughters in.  It’s easy to get Selma animated and I love the look on her face and the contact between her and her girls.  Yeah, we enjoy taking these photos.


The Relay went on as always… games, theme laps, side conversations, entertainment, kids monkeying around, eating, walking.  As the sun started to set we prepared for the Luminaria ceremony and traditional “quiet lap”.  I know from the past that it is virtually impossible to photograph luminaria bags in the dark.  All the photo gremlins line up to spoil images during what, for me, is one of the most meaningful portions of the Relay.  This year I decided to get set up across from the main stage and experiment with a variety of photo tools to see if I could make a photo that wasn’t trash.  I gave up on photo-realism and went for an image that makes you look.  The jury is out but if you want to cast a vote feel free to leave a comment below.   Now for a nap I think.




A gift

Anyone who knows us will testify that we love all four of our grandchildren and the adults they live with.  We try to be part of the kids’ lives and that means frequent appearances at games, races or events.  A few years ago I started carrying the big lens and monopod to photograph lacrosse games.  Once I got used to it I felt pretty comfortable pretending to be  a Sports Illustrated shooter on the sidelines.  And you know what?  The effort is worthwhile.  The images I’ve gotten with the 200-400 lens are vastly better than I’ve gotten with a 70-200.  I love this lens.

All three of the older grandkids play or have played lacrosse.  The youngest, Kendyl, just started walking and I’m guessing that there will be skis and wheels in her future very soon. I can’t wait.

Heidi is the mother of the three older kids and gives her time, energy and resources abundantly to support all three.  She’s a coach, a timekeeper, a treat provider, an observer and a lady with boundless energy and will to do what is needed to allow her kids to play or participate.  We thought it would be nice to give her a photo of her 3 kids playing lacrosse as a birthday gift.  We went back through several thousand photos of the kids and selected 3 images to composite.  The criteria for selection were simple… the kid had to have a ball, Riley had to look “cut” and they needed to balance each other as a design.

The resulting photo is a composite in many ways.  Each of the kids was extracted from the original image and put on the background.  The background was shot at the end of a game when there were only about 10 people on the field near the net.  There was a baseball field perimeter fence with signs running completely across the field behind the lacrosse net. Yeah, the background is pretty “made” in Photoshop.  Again, you know what?  I like it and Heidi seemed pleased with the photos and compilation.

My thanks to John Wooden for the quote.

It pays to get up

Yesterday’s sunrise was sent to me by my daughter-in-law (I think) Heidi using her iPhone camera.  A simple message … “Good morning” … was attached.  There were some great and unusual clouds in the shot and I regretted not being somewhere to capture the event myself.  By the time I got her photo and got to my front porch the colors were mostly gone and the clouds were not to be seen.As we headed for bed last night Dianne and I checked the moon but was thinking about the morning’s sunrise. The sky was clear and cold.  I thought about going to Pittock Mansion for the next sunrise.

When I got up I looked outside to see a bank of clouds to the west and some light cirrus-like clouds to the east.  I grabbed the camera, some filters and the tripod and headed out.  I was the first one at Pittock and had my choice of places to plant the tripod. I got set up, pulled the zipper up on my outer layer, caught focus, framed and waited for the light.  As usual, I start shooting as soon as I think I see color… not my strongest suit BTW.  Another young man joined me and set up after casual greetings.  After about 20 minutes my hands were absolutely freezing.. gloves and all.  It was still about 10 minutes prior to technical sunrise but I’d had enough.  I headed to the car.

Once back at the car I saw another guy unpacking a video camera and tripod.  I wanted to tell him he was too late but I looked at the sky and the show was really just beginning.  I remounted the camera to the tripod and headed back out to the overlook.  After shooting about 20 HDR sets I really had had enough.  My fingers were so cold they hurt all the way to my armpits.

Was it worth it?  I think so.

Click on the image to see a larger version.  Thanks for stopping by.