tells our story


Where’s Waldo? On the edge

Aww yeah!

Been shooting exclusively in raw only to find photoshop can’t read canon’s raw format. wtf

Momentary freak out. Thankfully Andy pointed out to me Adobe’s DNG converter and I’m back in business. Phew!

Last week I visited Mesa Verde again with my family. Big difference this time from last – it was summer and HOT. There are a lot of tourists. But I’m happy to say I finally got the pano shot of Cliff Palace I wanted to get last time.

Now that’s a sweet pano:

I tried so hard to get it without people, but there just happened to be a man climbing out the exit on the right top part of the cliff wearing the brightest orange shirt he could have picked out that morning. Thanks tourist! I actually like that he’s there – it’s like Where’s Waldo in the 800-year-old cliff dwelling.

Did you find him? You might need to click on the photo to see it bigger.



Here’s a closer look …… UBER zoom.


Some family photos, ala carte

Last weekend was Julie’s wedding – it was fah-bu-luhs! They held it at the pear orchard where her dad lives near Hood River. Amazing venue btw, I think I may have to steal the idea … (read, I will steal the idea for next summer – mark your calendars 7-13-13)

While the professional photographer was taking her traditional shots near some large fruit boxes, Briana asked me to come over and get some family shots with her husband, Ben, and her two children.
Her son Addison’s smirk cracks me up. He did it in nearly all the shots. Scroll to the bottom to see the slideshow.

I love how these turned out!

Here’s a few of Adam and me and our puppers.

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Super duper moon

Yay, super duper moon tonight. I thought we’d miss it entirely, but around 7 p.m. the clouds that had blanketed Corvallis all day lift, lucky me!

I’m not prepared – figuring the clouds would foil me as they did when I wanted to shoot the last lunar eclipse – so I didn’t wander around town today looking for a good spot to shoot like I thought I would. With the moonrise coming (scheduled for 8:24p), I talk Adam into going out to Bald Hill farm with our bikes and Yoshi at 7:15.

We bike the path until I find a nice hill ( I worried it was on someone’s property, but went ahead and set up, anyway). Then I check my compas, set up the tripod to that.

And am ready to go, it’s 7:50.

Then I check my iPhone Star Walk app, and it says the moon is actually a little more north – I move and set up again. Am ready to go … again … by 8:10.

Then we wait. It’s pretty darn cold out here. Yoshi’s even getting cold; course, he had a haircut Monday, so he’s practically naked. I’d be cold, too.

The moon’s supposed to come up at 8:24. By 8:30, I’m like wtf is up? I check Star Walk, it says it’s coming up? What gives?

THEN, I notice the semitransparent, nearly not there, huge as hell half circle coming up about 30 degrees south from where Star Walk says the moon is.

Thanks for nothing Star Walk app.

Here’s how ghostly the moon was first coming up. We missed the first half of it coming up because we weren’t looking in the right direction and it was barely there anyway. Maybe that’s a result of the haze? It was so big I wasn’t even sure it WAS the moon, thinking it was a cloud that just happened to be in a perfect circle (dur!)

Here’s my best close up. We were treated to a beautiful pink orb.

Because it was so barely there (isn’t this moon supposed to be 30 percent brighter than normal? It sure wasn’t putting that face on for us tonight) I had to drop down the shutter speed to get in more light , which means the moon has some movement so it’s not as completely crisp as I would have preferred (darn atmosphere!). But the purpose of tonight’s trip was to capture the horizon illusion, and I think I did – that was fun! In this one, notice Reser Stadium in the lower left corner.

Here’s a bunch o cold crazies!

Five Mile Butte Fire Lookout Tower – Spring 2012 edition

I’ve got Lightroom 4 installed now, and this weekend provided plenty of opportunity to take a million shots so I could put my new program to use. I carried up my Canon 7D SLR and my Canon Digital Rebel. Although the camera gear probably added a few more pounds to my load, I’m glad I brought it (even if my camera bag drowned in the treck up in rain and snot – I really need to figure out how to wash the poor thing.)

For this set, I created 4 watermark templates in LR4 and applied one to every photo so I can get the hang of it and see how well this design works. This really bogged down my editing process, and I may need to figure out a new procedure.

After going to Five Mile Butte last fall, I fell in love with the place and immediately booked again as soon as I returned home.

Being in the Hood National Forest, the tower gets a lot of snow. The description on the website says the gate to the top is open after March 15, so I stupidly assumed that meant snow would be gone by then, or at least be thin enough our Subaru could handle the drive up. You know what they say … don’t assume.

I called the ranger station on Monday to get the combination to the tower and asked about road conditions for our drive up on Thursday (we had it reserved for March 29-April 1). She laughed at me when I asked if my Subaru could make it to the top. OK … change of plans – my party of 5 would have to park at Billy Bob sno park, three miles from the tower, and hike in the rest of the way with our gear.

No problem, we’re young and fit (mostly) – we can handle a 3 mile hike with 30 pounds of gear. Huzzah!

Yeah, that attitude lasted all of 20 minutes after we started packing in. It was raining, at least 35 degrees out, and those packs were getting heavier by the minute (I blame the rain weighing them down.)

Here’s Megan about a mile and half in. She’s a trooper and dragged 3 gallons of water and 5 liters of wine on a sled.

After THREE rediculously strenuous hours, during which we encountered rain, freezing rain, blizzards and 3-feet-deep snow toward the top, we made it to the tower. Next time, if there is a next time, we bring snow shoes …

Thankfully, the forest service installed a new mattress since the last time I was there. Lucky for us, we had the cabin toasty in no time.

We made sure to pack the necessities.

Scary/slippery! There’s 41 steps, up three flights, the last being the steepest.

The fog socked us in the first two days – the snow and wind were relentless.

Here’s Yoshi on the catwalk. We had to carry him up and down because he’s too scared. Also note the pee bucket, lol. A precious gift from the forest service.

The wood stove in this thing is amazing. We had it at or near 80 degrees the entire time. Sometimes it was too hot! Overnight lows outside dipped to 23.

On Saturday, the clouds finally cleared and we played in the snow, went sledding and built snowmen. Several of these snowmen were already there when we showed up.

We walked out Saturday to meet up with Julie and Tom. They’d planned to come up Friday after five, but after our 3+ hour walk up we convinced them to wait until the next morning. Here’s our trail heading west from the tower. It only took them an hour and a half to make it up – better weather makes a difference!

A fun group of campers!

Although we had some sunny skies on the walk out Sunday, the wind was brutal and picked up the new snow. A few more feet fell in the three days we were there.

Yoshi’s super dog! He had a blast until the snow got too deep for him to go on and we had to carry him for about 2 miles.

The snow was thigh-deep in some places. I think it’s time to invest in some snow shoes!

So nice to get back to Billy Bob and see our vehicles were still there.

At the time I said I wouldn’t do it again, but I lied. I’d love to book this again for a winter stay – after I get snow shoes and learn how to pack a little lighter. I wonder if we should have left Yoshi home because the thick snow was too much for his little body and he kept developing huge snow balls on his chest. Although he had a blast, we were lucky we didn’t have to carry him on the way up (when we all reached our physical limits). I wonder if it’d be worth crating him and strapping his crate to a sled … Next time.

In the dark

I’m a few weeks into my 50 days of 50 mm project – I’ve just been too busy to edit through things and share.

Well, OK, let’s be honest – I’ve been reading Suzanne Collins – wtf. Anyway…

A few nights ago on my way home, I passed the Corvallis Mosque and loved the soft green glow the towers give off at night. In my mind I could picture a neat angle with the moon, a clear sky, green turrets – Post card worthy – in my mind.

Tonight as I hopped on my bike to head home, I noticed the full moon, clear sky, and despite the mercury dipping below freezing by a lot, I thought, why not now if ever.

So here’s what I got just off my bike, no tripod with my camera practically laying in the grass.

I got madame watermark up and running. Mayhaps I’ll put her on a diet in a few weeks.

So, considering what I was working with – no tripod, 50  mm, grass … toe numbing cold + I was afraid every second I was there a cop was going to approach me after what happened there a few years ago in the middle of the night …. It’s not a bad shot.

But  I wanted that damn post card.

So after a warm shower  two hours later, I finally got the courage to drag out tripod and the 300 mm. After a half an hour of trying to remember how to USE the tripod, 10 minutes of warming up the car – I was once again outside the mosque, only to find the moon had moved just enough, creating an angle that’s not at all post card, that invoves me liniing up my shot in the middle of the street through power lines – grumble grumble grumble.

After several attempts and frozen fingers, I gave up – but, I finally have a pretty moon shot I’ve always wanted to take.

On the fence

Although it’s been a rough couple of months, I’m eager to start making lemonade or whatever.

On the bright side, I now have a Canon 7D (quite a step up from my Rebel T3i) and some decent lenses.

I’m teaching myself Lightroom (thanks Scott Kelby) and even purchased my own personal software licence – I’m a big kid now!
I’ve still got a ways to go, and several more chapters before I finish my tour with the program – I think the next session includes blemish coverup (no thanks). You have my permission to shoot me if I ever abuse the built in filters, color selection and vignette …

I’m most familiar with Photoshop. A good metaphor would be an automatic (LR) vs. a manual transmission (PS). In Lightroom, I can get to all the same places I can with PS, but I keep reaching for the imaginary stick. Once I stop relying on my old PS habits, I’ll get there faster. The program is more efficient for what I need, especially for content editing (not every photo is meant to be seen.)

Here’s my first stab at editing my own photo completely in Lightroom, Coco kitty in our backyard.
Coco’s on the fence about my watermark, too. I hope to get something more professional soon.

In April, I’ll be attending a weekend workshop with the Rocky Mountain School of Photography with Briana.
It has all the promise of a perfect getaway: Good friend, Seattle and cameras.

Small steps, but steps none the less. Cross your fingers I’ll keep it up so I’ll continue to learn the tools that will allow me to grow as a photographer.

Ghost towns of central Oregon

I would like to preface this post with a promise that we did not take anything from these sites, except for pictures for our memories. It’s important to respect the people from the past and the people who remain.

Adam and I went on a tour of ghost towns of central Oregon.
Double-cupola barn in Cross Hollows, Oregon
Cross Hollows Oregon
66 cents a gallon in Kent, Oregon
Kent Oregon

Side of an old service station in Antelope, Oregon
Antelope Oregon

A traffic jam in Lonerock, Oregon
Lonerock Oregon

Shoe tree
This was the second shoe tree we saw on this trip. The other was between Shaniko and Kent on Highway 97 (and much smaller than this behemoth). I like this photo because Adam had taken his shoes off in the car and it was too much work to put them on again to get out and view the shoe tree.

Oregon sunsets

A rare thing

But worth the wait

It’s always cold and often rainy, but I love the Oregon coast.
These were taken during Memorial Day in Yachats, Oregon.

April 2010: Arches National Park

Final set of photos from that trip last April.
The day was beautiful when we got there. Blue skies and brilliant sunshine.

Again, spring in a good time to visit the national parks. There are fewer people.

This is the area around Delicate Arch. Full of tired hikers, cameras and tripods.

There wasn’t anyone around at this arch because we had to go off road to get here.

Every vista is beautiful here, even when it’s about to rain.

It was a great trip! I had fun; thanks for coming with me, Mom.

April 2010: Colorado National Monument

Fourth post on last April’s trip. If you missed the first three, be sure to check them out.
One of the big reasons for the trip was to visit my brother, who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. This is his backyard: Colorado National Monument

It’s a rock climber’s paradise.

You can see Grand Junction in the back here.

It’s kind of a photographer’s dream, too.

Wheee! Off to Arches National Park next.