Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I Was Waiting For


After publishing the previous post, she was “hanging out” where I hoped she’d be.

Why “she”?  What, you didn’t read Charlotte’s Web as a kid?

ISO 100, Sigma 105mm macro @ f/8.  Reproduction ratio not recorded.  Remote flash.  No crop.  Click for the larger version if you’re not scared of spiders.

While Waiting

I thought I had a great opportunity to photograph a spider at work this evening, but as I set up, I scared her off.

I left everything in place and waited.

And waited.

Truth is, I’m still waiting now… maybe as I write this she’ll come back down out of her hidey-hole.

Spider webs catch anything that passes by, and this one happened to catch two dandelion seeds before they could find terra firma again and set roots. 

Using the 105mm macro at 1:1, they looked more like something that might have escaped from the imaginations of the producers of The Matrix.  They look like some sort of alien spaceships in formation.


No crop here.  The actual image area would fit neatly inside the space occupied by a typical pinkie fingernail.  Just love macro lenses!

ISO 100, remote fill flash, 1/125th @f/8.

PS:  I strongly suggest clicking on the image for the full effect.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I May Not Have This Quite Right

Susan in Tygh Valley

Taken during the Ring of Fire 24 Hour Time Trial.  Susan was approaching the turn into Tygh Valley.

Since it was early in the day, early in the race, what else would I do but shoot photographs?




This particular file brought a story to mind.  I can’t call it a memory, since I wasn’t in the same vehicle.

During the preparation for our first go at Race Across Oregon, the team gathered for some on-course training.  We’d never done this kind of thing before, so we wanted to get a feel for what was going to be expected of both riders and crew out on the course.

We gathered ourselves into my car (an aging Subaru Legacy wagon) and a borrowed Ford Explorer (to sit in for the motorhome that we would later rent) and headed east to Tygh Valley. 

Since we’d agreed that I’d be the lead-out rider for the race, it seemed logical that I should be the lead-out rider for our practice sessions, and so I was plopped on the road (US 197/OR 216) and pointed toward Maupin.  “Ready?  Go!”

That’s exactly where Susan is in this picture, except she’s going in the opposite direction.  But you can see where I was pointed.

Obviously, the first half-mile was a walk in the park.

The Explorer was supposed to hang back for a while, playing the part of the RV and not doing direct support.  Since it was by far roomier than my station wagon, that’s where the rest of the team (Laura, Linda and Richard) were loitering, each awaiting their turn on the road. 

Since it was illegal to do direct-follow support for a training session, Jeff kept close tabs on me doing short leapfrogs in the Subaru, while Susan and the team planned on making bigger jumps between exchanges.

Susan had hung back long enough to allow me to make significant progress up the grade shown in the blurry background here.

I should state here that I normally enjoy climbing hills.  I’m not built for it in the same way that I used to be, but the affinity remains… unless I’m having a really crappy day, I still get along OK with positive grades.

And, it was early in the day.  I was fresh out of the blocks and feeling fine.

This is what was told to me (or the way that I remember it being told to me):

As the crew in the Explorer passed me on the grade the first time, someone (Laura… it just had to be Laura) said something to the effect of “Well, that doesn’t look so bad!  Looks like a piece of cake!”  To which Richard (Australian, laconic, but not lacking a sense of humor) replied dryly “Yeah, but you’re not the poor bahstid on the bike.”

(This poor bastard understands that much laughter followed.)

The Explorer (and team) pulled over and allowed me to pass once more before setting up an exchange, and when they passed me again, the passenger-side windows were packed with faces hanging out, yelling “YOU POOR BASTARD!” as they went by.

I had no idea what had happened.  I don’t even recall if I understood what they were saying at the time, but when the story was recounted to me as I peeled off sweaty gear, I laughed. 

It became our rallying cry for that and the races that followed.  We have “PG” rated team T-shirts with the phrase emblazoned on them.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I still treasure mine.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Further Up The River

Taken at Doug's Beach, near Lyle, WA on 9/5.

I really needed something different to photograph!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Revisiting a Project

I shot the base images a couple of weeks ago, during the last full moon.


Several years ago, digital imaging gave me some direct feedback that was really hard to argue with… an accurate exposure of the full moon will be (depending on atmospheric variables) somewhere around 1/60 second at f/8 at ISO 100.  As noted, there is some fudge-factor built in here, but that has turned out to be a reliable rule of thumb.

In other words, the full moon is freakin’ bright.  Far brighter than we expect it to be.  Even robust attempts at artificial lighting by we earthlings literally pale in comparison.

On a clear night, our eyes can resolve details on the face of the moon that are pretty amazing, given  the distance.  Using a pair of decent binoculars will yield even more granular detail, but many of us will start to squint, having become used to the ambient darkness.

But our eyes and brains work together in an amazing ballet that keeps re-computing and re-resolving the available illumination at a rate that no current technology really can in a single frame.

All of which makes photocomposites necessary to create a reasonably convincing facsimile of what we can really put together in our own heads.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) image compilation software offers solutions for many situations, but not this one.  The moon moves too quickly.  I shot a series of nine exposures in hopes of being able to combine them into a single frame, but there was just too much motion between frames to make that possible.  So it was back to an advanced version of cut and paste to get to what’s shown here.

Getting Closer

I don’t know why, but it seems like I’ve been on a prolonged self-assignment to catch a Great Blue Heron at the moment it overcomes gravity.  I’ve never shown anything previously because earlier attempts were garbage, and that really gives garbage a bad name.

This isn’t “it”, but it’s the closest that I’ve come so far.


A little earlier today I saw (and caught a few frames of) a turf battle between two herons in Youngs Bay, but this one came closer to what I was hoping for.

Even at f/8 at considerable distance (I’m guessing this to be about 50 yards), depth of field is still razor thin at an effective 450mm focal length.  I wish I could trust images made at ISO 400 or more!  Soon, maybe… Sony has announced a new camera with a sensor (and entirely new technology) that intrigues me, and the replacement for the Alpha 700 is still rumored to be just over the horizon.

It’s a cropped image.  There was just too much negative space in the remaining frame.

1/400 second, f/8, ISO 100, 70-300mm “G” @ 300mm (450mm effective).  Handheld.  Developed from RAW in ACR, very minor adjustments.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It’s the Little Things…

Handlebar tape on a bicycle is normally not something one thinks about much.  Unless you ride several thousand miles per year.  And even then, it’s not considered to be a structural issue.  It’s a matter of comfort and aesthetics.

But that’s not really always the case, as I found out tonight.

The right half of my handlebars has been “insulted” on several minor occasions.  The wounds weren’t that bad, but they were growing with each outing. 

It was time to re-wrap.

It’s worth noting that the tape on these bars has been around for longer than the frame has.  Trek saw fit to replace my frame (good on ‘em) when the original all-titanium frame developed a crack from a stress-riser on the downtube.  But the bar tape has been around since dirt was new.

I’ll shorten this story a lot by saying that I was astonished to find that my own sweat had leaked through a small gap in the tape and had, over time, eaten a hole in the handlebar.


Structural failures (or even impending ones) are not to be trifled with on a bicycle (or car, or motorcycle, etc.) and so I set off in hopes of finding the right size and shape of bar to replace the existing part. 

It was not as easy as one might think.

After much searching, I found a part that I thought would work at Performance Bike Shop.  It’s a mail/online house that has retail stores around the country.  I have been doing business with them for more than 20 years when local outlets have not been able to meet my needs.

But, my account information was all messed up.  I couldn’t place the order online and couldn’t wait for an automated response.

So I called the number listed onscreen. 

The call was answered before the third ring by a real English-speaking voice.  No… a real “American” speaking voice.  I’m not jingoistic, but hearing a Southern lilt in the middle of the night is somehow comforting when there’s something urgent to be taken care of.

We processed the order, and she offered to attempt to ship next day air to my office.  At no charge.  It was tempting, but she said that she could not guarantee it due to the specific hour.  I elected to have the part shipped to a store that I would be much closer to in the event of a screw-up.  (If something went awry at this particular time, it would mean an extra 300 miles of driving for me… not something I wanted to take a chance with.)

But, damn… I really appreciated the offer!

As she processed the order, I just had to ask… was she in North Carolina (Performance’s home base)?  “No, the call center is in West Virginia, but I’ve got a son in North Carolina, if that counts.”

It counts.

Customer service is not dead, and it’s not all offshore.  I would buy locally if I could, but my options are thin-to-nonexistent for items like this. 

I was both glad and sorry that I’d made contact with this extremely polite, very accommodating person in what was (for her) the middle of the night.  I’m glad she was there to help me, but I’m also sorry that she had to be talking to me at 11:45PM her time.

She should have been at home, reading or sleeping.