Monday, December 19, 2011

Revisiting a Day in May

I could spend a lot of words on explaining this journey.  It would be colorful, to say the least.  Bad words directed at Adobe, references to feeling like an ignored stepchild because I shoot Sony and not Canikon, etc.

Never mind all of that.  The new camera pretty much forced me into upgrading Adobe’s Lightroom on my computer… up from version 2 to 3.

And suddenly all of the woes that made me stop using it two years ago were forgotten.  It works as it’s supposed to, and it never did before.

And, it allows… no, it encourages me… to go back and review hundreds (probably thousands, though I haven’t gone that far yet) of frames shot in the last couple of years with new eyes.

All of the images below were made while skirting a May storm in Wasco County, Oregon.

Approaching Storm

New Wheat

Abandoned House 1

Storm Boiling

Power Line Road

Howling Power Lines



Stubble Field

Rain on the Horizon

While some of these have been uploaded to Facebook before, previous versions were processed in Photoshop CS4 and required substantial effort to get the RAW file to look the way I had “seen” the frame.  All of these were revisited in Lightroom 3, using PS only for final web optimization.

All were shot with the A100.  It’s outdated, but it’s fully capable of capturing good images!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another Sunny December Day

Saturday was too nice to stay inside and do the chores that I knew I needed to do.

I set out in search of reflections and calm and found myself in the shadow of a Chinook on approach to Astoria Regional. 

OK, I’ll follow that!


Having spent a few years in aviation maintenance, I respected the flightline and shot from near the FBO until the aircraft commander walked up and said “Get as close as you like!”

He didn’t have to tell me twice.


That was cool but the crew was off to socialize with the Coasties, and there was a Jayhawk preparing for launch, so my attention was divided.

The differences between the two aircraft types is almost startling.  The Coast Guard helos are newer, of course, but even if they weren’t, there’s always been a difference in the way that the Army treats the exterior of its birds.  The Jayhawks look like hot rods, the Chinook looks like a farm truck.



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coolest Beer Can Ever?

You decide… I know it’s one of the best stouts that I’ve ever consumed.  Previously only available on tap, Fort George added it to its canning line in the last couple of weeks.


Five spiders are listed around the can.  Unfortunately and inexplicably, Charlotte A. Cavatica escapes mention.  Probably a copyright thing.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh, Just Click On It!


The image is a result of the (new) A77’s “sweep panorama” mode, Adobe’s Lightroom 3 post-processing and minor work in Photoshop CS4. 

Yeah, I’m still having fun with the new gear.

Shot at 16mm and 1/200 second, but past that, I can’t tell you a lot… the camera’s mode took over.  I think there were between 15 and 20 frames involved in the stitching, but I didn’t really try to count.  I was too busy panning with my finger on the shutter button.

The hard part (the panorama stitching) was accomplished in-camera in less than a second after the series was shot (on a Class-10 card… be prepared to wait with something slower), and the balance of the post-work was done in a couple of minutes in LR3 and CS4.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Matching the Format to the Conditions

Sometimes, all the pieces fall into place. 

I was on vacation two years ago and had an opportunity to ride the Sumpter Valley Railway in eastern Oregon.  It was a cycling vacation, and while I had my DSLR in my luggage, I only had my point and shoot with me when it was time for the train to pull out.

It had been overcast and sloppy wet for nearly the entire riding day, but by the time camp was set, the rain had stopped and the terrain had dried.  But the light was still quite flat.

The files have been languishing on my hard drive almost since they were taken.  The first one showed some promise early on, so I did some preliminary work earlier.  The second was a more recent rediscovery.

Number 19


The smaller sensor in the point & shoot allows nearly everything to be in focus at a relatively wide aperture and low ISO (about 4.0 and 125, in these cases).  Selective focus (the kind you get with DSLRs at wide apertures) is great, even impossible to live without in some cases, but now and then foreground to background focus is exactly what’s needed.

Both images are crops from the Panasonic ZS-1.  Photoshop was used for tone control and B/W conversion, but the alterations are to the original files. 

Larger versions are a click away.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Truly Summery Sunday

I got an extremely good ride in yesterday, so I didn’t feel ashamed to just spend a lazy morning on foot near home.

From the dock at Coffee Girl

Something to contemplate over your coffee at Coffee Girl.

Celestial Wing

Ugly ship, but nice colors!

USCG Jayhawk

A Jayhawk passed on cue.  No crop or adjustment here… the sucker was just posing.

Pilings from the Riverwalk

Yeah, more of the same for me, but the light was just so nice!

Elliott Hotel and Sunday Market

The Elliott Hotel has excellent beds!  (The big graphic says so!) And, it’s pretty much the anchor for Astoria’s Sunday Market.

Let the kids out!

The poor trolls and clown need a day out, too!

Inside the Astor Hotel

Inside the old Astor Hotel.  This portion is now an antique shop/builder’s recycling center.  Worth checking out regardless of your interests.

Astor Interior 2

Another view of the interior.

Skate Your Date

It might not show up well even if magnified, but these were sold by a rink in Aberdeen, WA.

Astor Hotel Exterior

Detail of the exterior of the Astor Hotel.


The only thing that was different from your average Astoria Sunday was the utter lack of clouds for the majority of the day.  The subject matter is entirely typical… it’s only the quality of light that differs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Upon Review

A recent exchange on FB led me back to a folder that I haven’t looked at in depth in quite some time. 

A file caught my eye in a way that it hadn’t before.  Two years is a long time in the digital world, and I’ve learned a bit since the image was made.  As much as I should have? No, but progress is progress.

So, I opened the RAW file again and began to experiment.

As I fiddled with tabs and sliders in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), I started to ask myself questions. 

What does it mean to be “Photoshopped”?  The adjustments made here only had a passing exposure to Photoshop itself, and even then just to make the image web-ready.  There are no added images or layers here, though there are likely some subtractions.  What’s shown is nothing more than existed in the original file, as captured by the camera.

And yet the mood is completely different from what was there that morning. 

If I entered this in a contest that required “no Photoshop”, would I be disqualified?  Probably.  And this is in spite of the fact that I’ve added no post-processing after the development process in ACR.  What I’ve done is the equivalent of changing film, developers, filters and paper in the world of photography that I learned in… but it’s probably not “legal” now.

North Head Dawn

ISO 100, 1/80 @ f/8, kit zoom at 35mm.  ACR adjustments only, no crop.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crow Story

I posted a severely cropped portion of a chance shot I made this morning on Facebook.  I think it got more feedback than anything else I’ve ever thrown up there.


This is the “improved” version, since the crow in the original was just too fuzzy to use for anything else.  I only had about two seconds to try to focus, and at that distance, autofocus wasn’t trustworthy.  I missed, too, by a few feet.

If there was a common thread to the comments that followed, it was centered around an affinity for them, their intelligence, etc.  I don’t discount any of those… I was just a little late to the party.

When I lived in the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland, I got rather annoyed with them and their flocks (probably multiple murders) that could number well above 50, sometimes a cloud that neared 100.  They made enough noise to make conversation almost impossible.

And sometimes (often after very late work nights) some of them would gather on the roof above my bedroom and fight, tumbling and thumping just feet above my head. 

But then I moved to Astoria. 

There are a lot of crows here, but they don’t tend to gather in huge airborne riots.  Sure, they can be noisy, but usually in just twos and threes. 

One might accompany you on a walk down the riverfront, leapfrogging you as you approach, flying up from a perch as you get within a few feet, circling behind you and then lighting 50 feet or so further on, repeating the process again and again.

Many of them congregate in the mudflats left at low tide in the lagoon across the street from my house.  They’ll pick up freshwater clams and perch on the utility pole next to my driveway and then launch them onto the street to crack the shells.

The street is fairly clear right now, but there are times when the bits of clamshells line the curb.

And then I met this one:


I was near the Hammond boat basin looking for shots of transiting ships, pilot boats, etc., when he (or she) lit in the parking lot about 30 feet away.  I heard the usual throaty rasps, cackles and caws and then turned my attention back to the river.

Then I heard a “meow”, and I snapped my head around to find the bird eyeing me, a little closer than it had been before.  It then emitted a more common guttural chuckle and gave me a “who, me?” look and stayed silent.  I turned back to the river.

After another minute or so, another “meow”.

And it was a little closer.  So I started talking to it.  I really don’t remember what I said, but it was in a conversational tone, trying to coax it closer.  But it had reached its limit and stayed there. 

I shot some more of the river and then turned back to the crow.  Still there.  I actually asked permission to take its picture.  Not that I was expecting an answer, but I somehow wanted to warn it that I was going to be aiming my harmless cannon in its direction.  It didn’t seem to mind.  Was pretty darned nonchalant, actually…


… scratching its cheek as I adjusted exposure.

I’d played out the possibilities of that position and wanted to walk over to the nearby beach.  I warned the bird that I was getting up, and it hovered away to a nearby tree.  I thought I’d seen the end of it.

But, as I turned my attention to small details in the sand, I heard the rustle of feathers behind me.  I turned slowly to find the crow perched twenty feet away in the sand, watching me.

We chatted as I explored, and it hopped along at about the same distance.  It wasn’t silent, but it wasn’t loud, either.  No huge caws and graaaaks… just clicks and softer noises.

Eventually I walked back to the car.  It was time to go, but the crow was still keeping the same orbit around me.  I wanted to try to make a deeper connection, but I had no idea how.

The clatter of opening the hatch didn’t bother it a bit by then.  I rummaged around and found a very stale Clif Bar.  It was all that I had.  I broke off several small pieces and tossed them carefully in the direction of the crow. 

It eyed the offerings and then me several times, but didn’t move.

“No?  I don’t blame you, really, but it’s all that I have right now.” I said.

It lifted off and lit in the same tree as before, and I packed up and drove off.

A few weeks later, I woke to what sounded like a child imitating a cat.  My bedroom window was open, and the sound came through loud and clear.  “Meow”

I put my glasses on and looked out.  We hadn’t had stray cats in the neighborhood in months, as the raccoons seemed to have scared them all away.  No cat.  No kids.  Just a crow sitting in the cedar tree across the street.

Monday, January 24, 2011

“HipAid” Benefit Night

HipFish is the North Coast’s alternative newspaper, and its offices were in the “10 on Sixth” building that was one of two waterfront structures destroyed by fire in December.

A benefit concert/party was held on January 23 at the Columbian Theater and the adjacent Voodoo Lounge. 

A very incomplete scattering of shots from the event:

Jeff Carden

Jackson Andrews

Kim Angelis

Mark Erikson

Jeremy Hirsch

Calamity Jane Herrold, Denise Drake, Dinah Urell

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Optimist

The Optimist

The surf was pretty big, it’s true, but it was messy and blown out.  But this kid (he looked like a kid, anyway, a very tall one) was smiling as he walked down the beach.

I was a little incredulous.  There was no one else in the water, and no other cars in the parking lot with boards on their racks. 

“You think there’s anything rideable out there?” I asked.

He smiled, looked out at the water.  “Maybe not for me, but it’s more a matter of getting into the water.  It’s been a long time for me.”

I wished him luck.

If he actually stood up, I didn’t see him do it.  He tried mightily, though.

ISO 100.  70-300 G, 100mm @ f/8, 1/640

Long Time Away

Time put something new up.

I went back to Indian Beach again today, 51 weeks after I mashed my ribs at the same place.  I was more careful this time.

The weather changed rapidly, but I only got hit by a couple of raindrops.

I shot a lot, and not all of the same subject, but for the moment, here are three different takes (and processes) of the Tillamook Head lighthouse.

Tilly Straight from RAW

Tilly Contrast-Masked

Tilly Monochrome

All photos with 70-300 G zoom, f/8 for the first two, f/25 for the last.  All ISO 100, shutter speeds varied.  Minor crops after straightening, but essentially full-frame.