Monday, January 25, 2010

That “Sweet Spot” in January

For nearly as long as I’ve lived on the coast, there’s always been the local’s secret of the mid-winter break, an interlude that might be just a couple of really nice days or sometimes a springlike fortnight of shirtsleeve weather and still backwaters.

The forecast really didn’t call for it on Saturday.  Andrea and I loaded the car with rubber boots, an umbrella (for the cameras!), gloves and various precautions against the chill and damp… and drove smack into a day of sunshine and calm.

ChinookLowTide Near Chinook, WA.


A slash of red, Bay Center, WA.

ClammingDesat Clamming at Bay Center, WA

BacklightAfterglow At Chinook River.  Day’s end.

ChinookRiver Chinook River.  The batteries in the Sony finally gave up, so I pulled out the Panasonic again for a last few frames.

Andrea’s take on the same day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Did you feel that?

“Feel what?”

You mean you didn’t feel the Bush administrations (from the past) and the Reagan administration (from beyond the grave) screwing you?  Telling you that because you only earn an average (or below average) living that your “speech” doesn’t count for squat?

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court effectively codified what we reluctant realists (cynics) already believed:  Money = Speech

If you’ve got more dough, you’ve got more say, period.  And it doesn't even matter if you're not an actual human being. Corporations have "personhood" as far as campaign financing is concerned.

With the stroke of a pen, a century of campaign regulation and reform was negated, and there is no further appeal.

Nearly a decade ago, a friend asked me why I was so passionately anti-Bush. 

This was before two unnecessary wars, before four aircraft were used as guided missiles against American targets in spite of prior warning, indeed, before the election had even occurred.

My answer was very succinct:  “Think about the Supreme Court!”

And today, we think about the Supreme Court.  Only one Justice has been replaced by the current administration, and the net result was a zero-sum.  One moderate for another.  The balance remains unchanged. 

For the foreseeable future, this court has the capability to continue to bestow more and more power and influence to corporate “citizens” and fewer and fewer avenues of appeal for mere individual, legal (or illegal) human Citizens.

Never thought I’d envy that!

One of my neighbors has been sneezing for close on five minutes now, with less than 15 seconds between blasts.

It’s a situation I’m familiar with, even infamous for.  But these days even thinking about that makes my chest hurt.

Earlier this evening I had a “mini fit” of four sneezes in a row.  I had to stifle each of them, and managed to do it with only a minimal amount of pain.

Anyone who has broken, cracked, or bruised ribs will know what I’m referring to here… the feeling of having your chest ripped open at the point of contact with each convulsion.

I’m now 18 days into recovery from the fall that I took on the driftwood at Indian Beach, but there’s clearly a long way to go.

The fellow next door who’s blasting away will probably feel the need for a nap soon.  I know the feeling.  If I’d just done the same as him, I’d probably be in the ER, begging for a sedative.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What were the odds?

I didn't have a firm plan, but I'd thought that I would be leaving Portland before dark and be home in time for a dinner of leftovers.

But, Andrea had just got her new toy (Canon 50D) unpacked and one battery half charged, so I dawdled, had dinner with most of the gang and then Andrea and I had the unexpected opportunity to escape into the wilds of Multnomah Village for a couple of hours unaccompanied by minors.

The plan was a simple one, have a quiet drink, play some more with the new camera, allow the alcohol to dissipate while talking and then drive home.

But O'Connor's had a different idea. Their Saturday night routine had been upsot somewhat by hosting a wedding party earlier in the day, so their evening performance was delayed for an hour. They had to unlock the door for us since we showed up at 8:00.

We sat, talked like photogeeks, shot photos in the dark (the Canon can do that, though not quite as well as the newest, "sell a kidney to afford it" models can). We were having a nice time until a rather astonishing party filed in the front door.

The wedding party was back. It seems we were to be part of the "after reception" party, but this was no ordinary wedding.

The bride was delightful Japanese woman who arrived in a white kimono. Her new husband, a westerner, contrasted smartly in black with black and white trousers. What followed was a visual treat, as traditions completely unfamiliar to us unfolded.

I had not anticipated playing reporter again after all these years, and so didn't have a notebook handy to record names, but it should be noted that the bride arrived in white and was assisted in two more changes of kimono. I had not even brought my camera in from the car until it was clear that the pageantry would be ongoing, so I only caught the last two of the three outfits.

And then the music (and dancing) began. One could write an entire entry on that... but I won't. It's 2:00 AM and I've just driven the 100 miles back home.

Sleep will overtake me shortly.

She's just explaining her clothing, but her gestures are so balletic! "Kabuki" isn't appropriate, as I know that's an all-male affair, but her expressions are definitely worthy of the stage.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back to The Beach

Indian Beach, that is.  The weather turned out better than I expected, and it continued to improve as time passed.

But it's been pretty wet lately, and the driftwood is still wet and, uh, well slicker than I've ever experienced it before.  Slick enough that when I stepped on one log to get over another, my right foot went sailing off out of my control and I landed on my ribs ON the second log.

That really, really hurt!  Still does.  It's the same patch of ribs that I bashed against some outcroppings on Mt. Hood a few years ago, so many of the sensations are distressingly familiar.

Well, I don't think I'd faint if I sneezed this time around.  Groan a lot, yeah, but I don't think I'd black out.
Slowed, but not stopped, I continued to shoot through the late afternoon.

Top photo is infrared via R72 filter, ISO 100, 60 seconds @f/8. The surfer photos were experiments for me, using modes I usually don't and post-work that I often don't.  All just for fun.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Myth of the "Uncompromising Photographer"

Ad copy and book flaps are full of references to (often excellent) photographers who are "uncompromising" in their pursuit of their images.

Bio-writers get something of a pass on this because they're often not concerned with specific technical details, but to advertising copy writers, I call a bullshit on you.

Many (maybe most) decisions on equipment purchases and use are based on compromises.  People who work exclusively in a studio environment have a better chance of avoiding this, but I'm guessing that there isn't a single working pro who hasn't made image-creation decisions without acknowledging that they're sacrificing one "ideal quality" in pursuit of another.

A truly uncompromising photographer would have to design and create each part of his or her image-making process, from the body of the device to its image receptor (film or sensor) and its lens and THEN design the post-image process the best suited the specific exposure, be it software, chemistry, substrate, emulsion... even display environment.

That simply doesn't happen.

Photographers, professional and amateur alike, make compromises at nearly every step of the image making process.  There will be the odd "golden moment" when equipment and scene mesh absolutely perfectly, but those are exceedingly rare.  The rest of the time, we can only strive to keep our variances from the ideal to a minimum.