Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Someday I'll get to Vernonia...

Ever since we moved to Oregon in late December, 2010, Adam has been telling me that I will like Vernonia.  It's a small town in the Oregon Coast Range, only 30 miles from my house.  As much as I like exploring the area, it's surprising I haven't been there yet.  So, last week, after the snow followed by days of rain had swollen all the local creeks, I thought it would be a perfect time to explore up towards Vernonia.  The Nehalem River would be running high and might provide some excitement.

While I do see the benefits of single-minded devotion to one's goal, I find it far too easy to get distracted. Especially here in western Oregon, where visual distractions abound.  So, not yet 2 miles from home, I stopped to take another photo in my series I'm calling "late apples".  For whatever reason, there are a lot of apple trees here this winter with apples stubbornly hanging on long after the leaves have dropped.  They are beautiful when the light is right.

The road up toward Vernonia is beautiful, wooded, twisty, and follows the West fork of Dairy Creek.  So every time I got a glimpse of the water, I was assessing the photo opportunity.  Plus, I just love mountain streams and still haven't gotten over the novelty of having them so close.  So, of course, I stopped... more than once.  The water was definitely running high, it sounded fantastic and the day was warming up, but the photos were not wonderful at this point.

Crawling over a large, wet, mossy log, I spotted this cute little guy...

The absolutely cool thing about exploring is that you never know what's going to be around the next bend in the road.  When I spotted this old railroad trestle through the trees, I jammed on the brakes.  Luckily there was enough room to pull off the road and walk safely.  Too often around here, taking photos means hanging part of your anatomy out into the road, and the people who know their way around these mountain roads really drive fast.  Luckily I had room to work, the road was quiet, and I could just concentrate on the excitement I was feeling.  Next time, I'm going to try to work my way down the slope to the creek and see how it looks from there.  But really, if I had ended my little trip right there, I would have been happy just to have discovered this special place.

A little ways up the road I found the entry to Stub Stewart State Park.  I had heard of this place, but it doesn't show up on Google Maps so I wasn't expecting to find it today.  It's a great park with a road that winds higher and higher up into the hills.  It has a campground, cabins, hiking trails, and the Banks-Vernonia paved trail crosses through the park.  I found lots of great trees, so I was happy shooting there for quite a while.

By this time, the afternoon was getting late, and I needed to get home.  I was still miles from Vernonia.  I hadn't even made it up to the watershed...  I was on the Dairy Creek side of the ridge, and I was hoping to see the Nehalem River on the other side.  That will have to wait for another day...  but someday soon I will get to Vernonia.

But I did see two more scenes along Hwy 47 on the way home that just HAD TO BE CAPTURED.  As a photographer, I'm always seeing the world in terms of light and composition.  When things are just right, you have to grab the photo while you can.  You can tell yourself you will come back later, but the light will be different.  In this case, the water level dropped significantly by the next day, so these places look very different now.

I know this is a lot of photos, and if you made it here to the end, you must love the natural landscape like I do.  I've lived in Oregon for a year, and this is my first blog post from here.  This particular day I spent exploring is so typical of what I find here, so I think this is a good place to start.

Stay open to beauty, my friend.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring comes to the marshy places

After the long, harsh winter we all endured, everyone seems to really appreciate the arrival of Spring this year. A couple of weeks ago, I got out to a few new places; I had been wanting to explore some marshy or swampy places here in our area. I found one very close to me in Parkville: the Parma Woods Conservation Area which is on River Rd very close to where I-435 passes overhead. This is a small nondescript place, but I had seen a nice pattern of trees from the highway and went to investigate. The frogs were in full voice, the grass was beginning to green up, and there was just enough standing water to give me some nice tree reflections and swampy effects. Inspired by these results, the next day I drove farther, north of Weston, MO to the Little Bean Marsh Conservation Area. This wetlands has some larger swampy areas, and I got several good images. Next time I go, I'll need to take some waders!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Faux Polaroid

I'm late arriving at the iPhone photo app party. There are so many apps that let you enhance and modify photos in the iPhone. A few days ago I saw some photos posted to Facebook that were created using one of the apps that modifies your photo to look like an old Polaroid. There are several apps that do this, and there are Flickr groups that specialize in "fauxlaroid". I downloaded a couple of apps immediately and got started. The next day I went out and captured these images. There is a great metal shed in Jefferson County KS near Perry Lake. I pass it on the way to Perry Lake and always think it would be great to photograph if the light is right. On Sunday I hit the time just right and used the opportunity to try some faux polaroids. Who can say if the color is "real" polaroid? There were so many different Polaroid films made over the years and each one had its own personality. It doesn't matter; I love the images. The app used for these is Shakeit Photo.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Something new

I've been wanting to try a new technique for my motion photos. Normally I photograph a scene one way, either vertically or horizontally depending on which direction the dominant lines of the scene "flow". Trees usually work best as verticals and water or distant landscapes often work best as horizontals. But the idea has been growing in my head that I should try photographing a scene in several different ways, then combine portions of them so that each part of the scene uses motion strokes that emphasize the subject in that area. Of course it was midnight or thereabouts when I decided to actually try this, and so I couldn't just run out and take some new photos. So I found a scene that I had shot a while back and worked with what I had. This was a winter scene with snow on the ground and ice floes in the Missouri River at sunset. I like the results; the grass in the foreground and trees on the far side of the river work best with vertical strokes, and the river has nicely irregular wavy strokes that really are a great interpretation of the flowing water.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Misty sunrise

Here is another Missouri River panoramic. Hopefully we will have more mist and fog as the weather changes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Missouri River panoramic

This past week I have been focused on the idea of doing some panoramic pictures of the Missouri River. Since I have lived within a mile of the river for three years, one would think I would have been doing this all along. I have photographed the river sporadically, but never did any panoramics until now. I went down one afternoon to do a test, then went back the next morning before sunrise. There was fog for a short time, but it dissipated quickly. The local sand dredge has been working this section of the river at Parkville for the past week, so there was no choice involved as to whether to include it. It might look like it's chugging upriver, but it is anchored in place. I like having it in the photo. This photo is a full 180 degree pano, so you see the path (looking downstream) at the far left, and the same path (looking upstream) at the far right. This path is in English Landing Park in Parkville, Missouri for those of you not familiar with the area. The moon is visible in the sky. Hopefully the photo will look nice when you click to enlarge it. I saved this version to display 7 in x 45 in but I see that my browser window has shrunk it. Hopefully your browser will do better.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sometimes you just know...

All afternoon and early evening I had a feeling that I needed to get out on the water tonight. It had been cloudy all day so I was watching for some break in the clouds. I finally went down to the marina about 20 minutes before the sun set. A nice bank of clouds was hiding the sun. I was hoping to get some nice reflections in the water, but it ended up not working out so well for reflections, but the silhouette of land mass against the sky with cloud bank made a great composition so I concentrated on that. I am excited about what I came back with. The nice thing about shooting digital is that I can get a feel for whether my motion technique is working in a particular situation, and then fine-tune what I am doing to get a better result. If I was still shooting film, it would be more hit or miss. Tonight, I shot over 350 photos and narrowed the results down to these 5 as the most promising ones.