Friday, December 21, 2012

Blue Hour Again

It’s been a very busy day on the river, and I haven’t been able to take much of it in.

By definition, the “blue hour” had been over for at least 20 minutes when I made the shot.

You could fool me!


It’s the Sinar Kutai riding at anchor just west of the Mill Pond area.  I love that the water is brighter than the sky.  There was actually clear sky overhead.  The massive cloud bank topped out a few degrees above the upper edge of the frame.

105mm @ f/8, 4 seconds, ISO 200.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A (couple of) Shot(s) In The Dark

I’ve never entered a photo contest before. 

I’ve been shooting for 35 years and more, but I haven’t entered anything in an actual contest.

That changed last week.  I entered two images.  If you like them, please feel free to vote for one!

Mine are #218 and #220.

#193 in the series is another favorite of mine, for personal reasons.

There are some truly wonderful images in this set, many of them from this area, some not. 

The contest has a judged portion and a “Reader’s Choice” element.  All entries are in both pools. 

There are some very strong candidates, depending on your interests.  There are also some that shouldn’t have made the first round of a daily “keep or save?” edit on a cell phone, but that’s not something that I have any say about.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall’s Really Here

I slept in today.  It’s been a really long time since I’ve done that.  I broke the surface to consciousness a few times and glanced out the window to see clouds, or a smattering of sun, or a fog bank, or, just before I actually got up, a howling squall that obliterated the view as it shook the doors and smeared raindrops across the window.

That would be fall.  A bit of everything in a short span of time.

I had it in my head to take a trip out Highway 202 with the specific intent of taking in and perhaps capturing the colors.

Well, it sort of worked.  The weather seemed to have taken a break as I drove southeast, but of course as soon as I arrived at Lee Wooden County Park, the rain started again in earnest, leaving me to re-think my kit and strategy.

Lee Wooden Park Entrance

It was raining hard.  I don’t usually attempt to use an umbrella when photographing, but I did today on several occasions.

An afterthought, added a day later:  The road in the frame above is a bit less than a year old, if I remember correctly.  I can’t help but wonder if the civil engineers involved envisioned that graceful sweep as they planned it out.  This is the view that drivers see as they pass by on Highway 202.  The road (lane, really) just seems to whisper “Come down here!”


It was an awkward trudge.  Bag over shoulder, tripod under one arm, brolly in the other hand.  But, I knew that I would like what I found at Fishhawk Falls and its immediate surroundings.


My polarizer has been a bit of a layabout lately.  I put it to work regularly today, though.  The difference in just a few degrees of rotation is amazing when dealing with water reflections.


From atop the Klaskanine River Bridge.  Not a typo… just one of many spellings of the word that you’ll find in both Clatsop and Columbia Counties.


Heading back toward home with the light fading fast, I caught a glimpse of these “Clatsop longhorns” in what used to be an elk “ranch” near Olney.  Really impressive horns!


As I got closer to home, the light was dimming fast, but I had to try to catch some of the calm on the water.  As a bonus, I was rewarded with the splashing of fish in spawning grounds behind me, elk bugling in the distance and ducks squawking all around me while I made a series of long exposures.

All shots in this series made with the A77 and 16-50mm zoom.  The first three used a Cokin polarizer.  Exposures and ISO settings varied.  Most were tripod-mounted.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A “Mini-Show” is Up and On Display

Nine of my images are now up on the walls in Astoria’s Baked Alaska restaurant. Some if the photos have been featured on this and my other blog, but none have been on public display as prints before.

The image area on each of the prints us roughly 12 x 18 inches, and all are professionally matted and framed.

Stop by and take a look, if you’re interested.




Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quiet Day at Ridgefield

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog.  Stuff’s happened so often and I’ve photographed so much (some of it even good) that I just haven’t had time to keep up.

I still don’t, but I thought I’d throw these out from this afternoon.

I’d decided to stop off at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (the “River S Section”, for those familiar with it), and see what I could find.  The series below was shot in the first few hundred yards of the loop.  The rest of the trip was amazingly quiet… very few birds around.  From what I’ve been told, this must be the calm before the storm.  Things will likely be very different in a few weeks, but at that point, we won’t be allowed to get out of our cars.

It was good to take a last walk around the trail for the season, even if it didn’t yield any photographs.

I’m not a good bird-spotter, as has been proven again and again, but I think this is an American Bittern.  When I first saw the shape through the cattails, I thought it was a Kingfisher, as it was compressed so tightly on its branch.  I couldn’t see it as clearly as shown below.  The first view through the long lens told me that that guess was wrong, but I was even more puzzled.


Then, it stretched out and did a little dance for me:


And then did a more typical pose:


All shot with the A77, 70-300mm G @ 300mm.  f/8, ISO 200.  Shutter speeds varied.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The tide was very low, the wind calm and the sky full of potential.

Time to pull on the “can’t drown ‘em” boots and go for a walk in the silt.


Step past the grass line and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out again.  It’s not quicksand, it’s just incredibly fine, tenacious silt (and probably remnants of decades of things we’d rather not think about in detail).


I slipped and slogged for the equivalent of a couple of blocks before I realized that I was on a fool’s errand.  There was no way to make a loop out of this without becoming one with the muck, so I doubled back.

Neighbor Arno and another local character were at the base of the bank and were startled and amused by my sudden appearance.  It’s true, seeing human trudging from that direction is not something one witnesses every day.  Geese and ducks, sure, but people?  That was worth a chuckle.

We stopped and talked until the mosquitos spread word about the smorgasbord available, then swatted them away as we went our separate ways.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Really Hate

There, I said it.

For years, that domain has been pointing people toward this blog for no reason at all. There’s no contextual connection between that domain and this one.

In all likelihood, Dongo visitors who land here are disappointed, perhaps even pissed off, and I don’t blame them… I probably would be, too, but it’s not something that I have any control over.

If you landed here in search of vacation properties in southern Europe or Africa and found something completely unexpected… GET ANGRY!  But not at me… go after the webmasters at Dongo.

I don’t even know what their game is, but it’s not mine.  If you got pointed here and liked what you see, you’re welcome to be here, comment, browse, whatever… I’m happy for the accident.

If you landed here from a Dongo link and didn’t like what you found, I encourage you to raise hell with them, because I think you’re in the majority.

I want people to visit this blog because they want to, not because some freakin’ robot pointed them here against anyone’s will but theirs.

With great respect for your choices,


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where’s the Gig?

I was looking for a different series of shots and ran across one that I made a few years ago.

It’s not posed.  I don’t know the guy.

But, I’m betting that he showed up less than an hour after this exposure at the appointed venue in Cannon Beach and was playing his heart out not long after that.

Where's the gig?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I’m Going to be Hurting So Badly!

My Coastie neighbor (I’ll call him Motorboy, since he couldn’t seem to resist anything that burned gas… two-stroke or four, mobile or stationary, it didn’t matter) moved away a couple of years ago. 

His burning need to play with his motors drove him over the bank (literally) to cut back the invaders at the tideline that sprouted up constantly.  In a different world, these shoots would be normal and natural, but now, they support and encourage two offshore invaders, English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberries.

I borrowed my parents’ small chainsaw and took some time off from work (to take advantage of low tide) and took over where Motorboy had left off.  The tangle of canes, vines, and previously-cut branches was incredible, and incredibly clingy… there were times when I thought I could dangle freely from my shirt, the blackberries had such a good grip on me.

Wow, that was WORK!  I had attempted to “go green” last year and use nothing but two handsaws and a machete to get the job done.  I nearly ruined my right shoulder in the process and couldn’t complete the task.  The chainsaw made things easier in some ways, harder in others.

Going back with the chainsaw, I spent at least 20 minutes just getting back to my starting point last year.  That mass grows really fast and with great determination.

I had less than three hours to get the job done, if it was to be a single-day effort.  I got “my” portion of the bank done, but the tide was fast encroaching, so I couldn’t work further west… yet.

Completely soaked with sweat, I retreated to higher ground before the tide had me swimming out.

The left image is from two weeks ago.  The right image is from this evening.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Testing My Nerve


This shot just reminds me of the one that I didn’t get.

It’s a Caspian Tern, and I had really pissed it off.  How, I’m not exactly sure, but I had.

The shot that I wish that I had was that of the bird approaching me in full dive-bomb mode, mouth so wide open that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see daylight in the middle of it all. It was shrieking its disapproval of my presence with a complete absence of reserve.

The shot above is of the bird on climb-out after the attack.


I got several of this one with the fish in its mouth.  I wondered if the blowhard was trying to tell me “this could be you, biped!” with the number of passes that it made.  Or maybe it just wanted to be sure that it got its picture taken with it’s prize.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I’ve shed most of my packrat tendencies over the last few years, but most of what didn’t get purged in previous moves ended up in my home office in either boxes or bins, and I just got tired of looking at it.  It’s only been about five years.

The room is only about 12’ x 12’… how bad could it be?

With better planning and perhaps more coffee, I could have had it all done in a day or so, but it’s taken… well… longer.

Early on in the process I rediscovered my first “real” camera body.  I had always known where it was, but I hadn’t had reason to dig it out.  It was the last thing that I scooped out of a large storage bin.


I bought this little brick and its original lens (a 50mm f/1.4 that was stolen years ago) in 1977, and I continued to shoot with it until about 1999, when the shutter-cocking lever decided to refuse to move.

When the shutter jammed, it was cheaper and faster to just buy a used body to take its place than it was to repair it.  But I just couldn’t part with it.  So I’ve been lugging it along wherever I’ve landed for a good long time now.

The body that I replaced it with was stolen along with the original fast 50 and a couple of other lenses that I really liked a lot, but the 24mm f/2.8 shown here and the really cute little 250mm mirror telephoto weren’t in the bag at the time, so they follow me around, too, unused.

The camera shows its scars proudly.  The dent on the top of the pentaprism came from having a tripod leg slip off a rock. The whole rig landed on that point.  I was afraid that all of the interior parts would be knocked out of commission, but no… it just kept right on firing.

The camera and I got tromped on by volleyball players and running backs.  It fell with me through a false ceiling while on an assignment and was better off after than I was. It shot weddings, family gatherings, storms, flight deck operations, talent contests, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and my son.

I think I owe it a repair job!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Moving Targets

Playing with focus modes on a detour from my commute home tonight.


Monday, January 30, 2012

There’s Always a Better Mousetrap

…isn’t there?

I try really hard not to be a gear nerd.  Doesn’t matter what the pursuit.  I pay attention to new bikes, cameras, lenses, software, computers, etc., but I still tend to make leaps only when it really makes sense, not just because something is new.

But, after 25 years of serious cycling, I still have not found the perfect jacket and the failed versions still populate my closet

And, after more than 35 years of photographing, I still haven’t found the perfect gear bag OR method to secure my camera to me.  And the failed versions still populate my (other) closet.

I’m going to focus on that last part here. 

Neck-straps suck.  Like Hoovers.  It only gets worse when the camera and/or lens gets bigger.  If you need to move quickly with a camera on a strap, you have to give up a hand and an arm to keep the assembly from beating you to a pulp as it slams repeatedly into your torso.  That, or you do what I did for decades and take the damned thing off your neck, wrap it repeatedly around your right forearm and run like hell with the camera in your right hand, ready to shoot if the running back and his tackler(s) didn’t flatten you first.

Well, hell, if you’re going to do that, why not just carry the thing?  As in “hold on tight and go.”  A legitimate question!  Minus something to back up your own grip, though, that’s a little dicey, not to mention fatiguing over the long haul.

What I needed was an actual hand-strap.  Something that dispensed with this “around the horn” nonsense and secured the gear to my actual hand, letting me keep something less than a death grip on the equipage without sacrificing security.

I started with a doodad that Camera Armor provided with their NYC-proof neck strap (that I thought I’d try, but never actually used).  The Kevlar-reinforced strap was stiff as a board and only slightly more form-fitting, but the hand-strap thingy was actually pretty cool! 

I used the Camera Armor handle until the attachment point was frayed to the point that I lost confidence in it.  It took a while, and it was a good and comfortable tool while it lasted, but I didn’t find a way to replace it without buying something else of dubious utility and extra cost.

When I ran across a Hanuba hand strap, I thought I’d found the answer.  With a single exception, everything about it was well-made and comfortable.  The strap was readily adjustable and made of soft but durable leather.  This thing was really comfortable!  The mount was good and firm, as long as you didn’t need or want to use a tripod/monopod.  Everything went to hell at that point.  Security turned to temerity, even when set up for horizontal shots.  Don’t even think about verticals.  The plastic base just was not up to the task of keeping even a light DSLR in place.

Other than watching a well-meaning relative nearly drop your newborn, few things can make an adult gasp as readily as having your camera and favorite lens suddenly point earthward when you thought they were securely fixed to the tripod’s head.

I learned (quickly) to detach the base of the strap completely before mounting the camera to either the tripod or monopod, regardless of the orientation.

That’s just not a complete solution!

Enter the Matin strap.

I’d never heard of it, never seen it advertised.  I just stumbled over it while browsing at Pro Photo Supply in Portland.  And I bought one.  Actually, I bought two… the last one as a “present” for the A-77 that hadn’t yet arrived.  The photo below shows the simplicity of the solution after I mounted it to the new camera.  Hand goes under the strap, fingers around the grip… bring it on!

Ready for action

It’s made in South Korea out of a very durable and comfortable combination of leather and nylon, and most importantly has a no-nonsense all-metal baseplate that secures consistently and reliably to the tripod mount of the camera while providing another, equally-sturdy 1/4”-20 receptacle for a tripod or monopod mount screw.

The version that I have is the only one that I’ve been able to find on this continent.  It has a pair of small legs that can be extended from the base that can allow the use of the camera on a table top or other flat surface.  I think I’ve used this feature once, perhaps twice.  It’s a nice concept with minimal practical applications.

But… the company’s literature (even the packaging for the straps that I have) indicate that an Arca-Swiss dovetail-compatible plate is available.  The question is “where?”  I’ve never found one.  At least not where I could converse in English with a seller.

Which brings me to an unintentionally teasing email that I got from B&H Photo last week introducing me to (tempting me with) products from a company called Camdapter.  They have everything that the Matin system does PLUS a smaller-profile plate that promises to not obstruct the battery-compartment door and… an option for a dovetail plate. 

Plus, there are a lot of colors available if matching your handbag is important.  I just need black, thanks.

Why don’t I have one yet?  It costs more than twice what the Matin strap did! 

Yeah, I’ll end up with one of those.  And a ball-head for both the tripod AND the monopod to go with it.  It doesn’t fit the budget at the moment, but I’ll squeeze it all in somehow. 

It’s hard to argue with stuff that actually works.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Only One Frame

This took a long time!

Bridge and Star Trails

I’m still working on star trails. The large version (the one on the other end of a click on the photo) is larger than usual today in hopes of being able to show the stars that I couldn’t even see as I sat on the rocks waiting for the shutter to snap closed.

I’m glad the exposure worked reasonably well, as the camera is rendered unusable for longer than the exposure itself.  So, the whole assembly had to stay parked and untouched for 25 minutes.

Polaris (the North Star) is the brightest dot in the mid-upper left of the frame.  The rest of the stars spin around it.

ISO 50, 10 minutes @ f/22, 16mm.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Day Shoot

It’s that time of year when color is pretty much a bonus, especially at the beach.  It’s usually so muted that it’s a distraction, not an addition, to a photograph.  I had that in mind when I headed out.

Arcadia Beach NYD 2012

Small Whirlpool

Looking North at Arcadia Beach

The afternoon wasn’t colorless.  The palette was just muted.

Looking North

It wasn’t until will after the actual sunset that I was packing up the car for the drive home.  That’s when I glanced westward again to find a shocking degree of afterglow.

Afterglow, Jan 1 2012