Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011, Day 334 - Nearsighted

Sometimes it is fun to try something new.  This is a photograph a took a couple week ago and I purposefully have the focus way off. You can see the bridge and the water and the lights of the city but you have to fill in the detail with your mind.  In a way this is rather like a book, all the fundamentals are there but you fill in the details for yourself.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
35mm, f4, 3.2 sec @ 320

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011, Day 333 - Arrowhead of gold

The native sword ferns are practically indestructible, freezing weather doesn't seem to affect them but there are other ferns native to the NW that are not so hardy.  Some turn lovely shades of gold as their fronds die back and re-emerge only with the arrival of warmer weather.  These fair-weather ferns are not nearly as common as the evergreen sword ferns but they are just as beautiful and really add to the fall landscape.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f8, merged layers of 1/6 and 0.3 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011, Day 332 - Needle in a haystack

This morning there was a blanket of fog covering the city so I decided to try my luck at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.  Unfortunately the fog wasn't heavy enough to create a dramatic effect but I did find some trees that hadn't yet suffered defoliation at the hands of the storms that have been tearing through Portland over the last week.  That was really the highlight of the outing and this is perhaps the best photo. I like the winding path and the darkness around the trail, there is something very Little Red Riding Hood about it...

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f8, merged layers of 1/50 and 1/25 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011, Day 331 - Ewoks

Mount Talbert is getting a lot of love from me recently.  Yesterday was my second time out there in the last month and every time it is amazing.  The sun sets pretty early this time of year in the Pacific NW so even though it was probably only about 3:30 the sun was already getting low in the western sky.  I am usually a morning shooter so this gave me an entirely different view of the park and this area I really enjoyed.

To get this shot I was seated in a little circle of rocks with the heavy carpet of leaves shielding my butt and bare legs (I thought it was shorts weather yesterday) from their abrasive edges.  So I sat in my nest with my tripod almost in my lap as I framed the image in my head and then through my viewfinder.  I liked the way the light hit the ferns making their fronds glow in the late fall sun and the rich tones of the fallen leaves.  While I waited for my bracketed shots to fire it occurred to me that the scene was not dissimilar to that of Endor, the Ewok home world in George Lucas' epic Starwars trilogy.

I tried the image as a black and white, both have their merits so I figured I would share both and let you decide which you like better.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L MarkII
16mm, f8, merged layers of 1/60, 1/30 and 1/15 sec @ 200 ISO

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L MarkII
16mm, f8, merged layers of 1/60, 1/30 and 1/15 sec @ 200 ISO

2011, Day 330 - Farewell to color

This afternoon my friends Julie and Rinda both contacted me individually and asked if I wanted to go out shooting today.  At the time I hadn't really considered it as I was content to have a lazy day but when the second request came and then Brian Matiash posted a reminder to make time for photography I felt that I had no choice but to give in to popular demand.

Both Julie and Rinda live in semi-rural suburbs southeast of Portland so I suggest Mount Talbert as a venue seeing as it is between where we all live.  It was mid-afternoon when we arrived which is not my typical shooting time but with the scattered clouds and occasional sun there were a number of different opportunities.  Unfortunately our heavy showers and high winds of the last week have denuded many of the trees but there is still some color left.

Even though we officially have a bit of fall left I am pretty sure that its unofficial end is marked by the last leaves falling.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
30mm, f8, merged layers of 1/15 and 1/8 sec @ 200 ISO

Friday, November 25, 2011

2011, Day 329 - Drops

The joy of macro photography is that it is always about the little things. Sometimes you are out exploring the world and it looks so familiar and boring but when you look a little closer there are amazing things to discover.  Today I found this leaf while I was waiting for some friends.  When you have a camera with you there is no reason to be bored!

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f9, 1/80 sec @ 320 ISO

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011, Day 328 - Tree fungi

I never realized that there are so many mushrooms that pop up in the fall.  They're everywhere and these I discovered on the side of a tree as I was walking the dogs this morning.  Once all business was successfully conducted I went back to take this photograph.  To get the effect I wanted I did some not-focus stacking.  Two pictures were taken at different apertures, one at a small aperture to get a greater depth-of-field on the mushrooms and another at a large aperture to get the nice background that I wanted. I wonder if these could be used to make vegetarian gravy for my mashed potatoes.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, merged layers of f/4 and f/13, 1/40 and 1/4 sec @ 200 ISO

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011, Day 327 - Rosemary's baby

On Sunday I was waiting for an inspector to do his thing at a home my clients are buying so I grabbed my camera and explored the backyard.  It had been raining heavily about an hour earlier but the rain abated and the sun managed to break through the clouds for a few minutes.  During that window I found this rosemary in bloom.  It is clear that the plants and trees are still confused, rosemary is usually done flowering in October so for it to still be flowering with such vigor in mid/late November is unusual.  If it weren't for the gale force winds there would be a lot more leaves on the trees as well.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f8, 1/100 sec @ 320 ISO

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011, Day 326 - The mountain

This dignified looking gentleman is Fuji.  I suspect the name is in tribute to the Japanese film giant and camera maker but he puts me in mind of Mount Fuji with his substantial size and enormous personality he is a very charming guy.  And, like the mountain, if you are in the wrong place he will completely obstruct your view of what is going on around you.  When Fuji wants attention you'll know it because he will stand in your lap and use you as a giant scratching post as he kneads you with his catcher's mitts. I suspect he is going to be a super happy guy soon because his mom is returning from her trip to Vietnam this weekend.  Nicole, I am holding him hostage for a good bowl of pho, I hope you picked up some cooking experience on your trip!

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f2.8, 1/50 sec @ 3200 ISO

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011, Day 325 - Leading lines

Another photo from my waterfront wanders of yesterday.  Too bad the clouds disappeared by this time but after the soggy weather today I am ready for them to leave again even if it makes my skies a little less interesting.  As I said last night, I generally don't walk this far north and the city looks rather different from this angle, you can't see the hills and because I am on a bridge the other interesting bridges are too far distant but I still like it.  The little detail that ties it all together is the sign with the graffiti, it is the cherry on top of the sundae!

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f6.3, merged layers of 3.2, 6 and 13 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011, Day 324 - Infrastructure

This evening I went out to play along the chilly waterfront.  Normally I get lazy and don't walk too far but this time I had to try to impress Brian Matiash with my athletic prowess so we walked a bit further.  The waterfront takes you underneath a section of Interstate 5 and I liked this perspective especially because you can clearly see the Steel Bridge in the background.  The age of industry clearly evident in the Steel Bridge and the modernity of reinforced concrete of modernity.  I prefer the lacework of steel in the old bridge over the rather graceless aesthetic of efficiency.

Regardless it was a fun night of shooting and it didn't get too cold until the end when Brian had to break my fingers off the frozen leg of my tripod.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f8, merged layers of 13 and 25 sec @ 200 ISO

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2011, Day 323 - Hansel

I am as yet undecided about the new TV series Grimm.  The storyline is rather generic, the acting is okay, the effects are pretty good but what I like best about it is that the story takes place in Portland and they actually do some of the filming in town.  A few times I have walked through the crew setting up for filming and, unlike in Los Angeles, the people are friendly and make an effort not to inconvenience you.  When I was last in LA the people are downright hostile and I am sure it is born of their experience but it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

Back to my point...  I like that Portland actually looks like Portland.  I recognize some of the neighborhoods, the parks, the city certainly, and even the actors.  The last is really not important to my point but there you have it.  To my eye I think that they show the city as the charming place that it is and there are times when I am reminded of fairytales as I am off on my adventures.  This is another photo from Mount Talbert, probably the last that I will share from that outing, and it puts me in mind of the story of Hansel and Gretel.  If I were going to lure children into my gingerbread house I would probably build it in these woods.  I like the sense of stillness, the cool bite to an almost imperceptible breeze that stirs the fog and brings the rich scent of earth to your nose.  Mmmmm, German forest children...

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
31mm, f11, 1/6 sec @ 200 ISO

2011, Day 322 - Angel lost

I was running around today and as I got out of my car on an errand I saw this dead gull and was struck with a sense of sadness.  There were other birds around the lot, pigeons and gulls mostly, but they were keeping their distance so this single bird was left alone and abandoned on the asphalt.  Despite my grief for their bird's loss of life there was something beautiful about it, the pale blue-gray against the blackness.  I am not a religious person but I immediately thought of an angel that had been struck down which seemed a bit incongruous given that gulls are loud birds with an unpleasant cry that we associate with stagnant beaches and trash heaps.  Still, it does not diminish the marvel of evolution that produced these amazing creatures.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 24/f1.4L Mark II
24mm, f2.5, 1/5000 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011, Day 321 - Feathered forest

Although I have lived in Oregon for ten years never do I get tired of the landscape.  Everything is so lush and green, I always thought that ferns were delicate plants that liked warm shade but I am now completely disabused of that idea.  There may be some that need a warm environment but the native ferns survive with little light in nutrient poor soil and winters that always include frost and often snow and ice.  Somehow these plants manage to be as resilient as the people and they don't need beer to survive the winters either :)

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 24/f1.4L Mark II
24mm, f1.8, 1/50 sec @ 320 ISO

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011, Day 320 - Floor fungus

This morning, in the Oregon drizzle, I stopped in the woods to take pictures of the trees in the rain and fog.  It didn't work out as planned but as I was wandering I noticed, amongst the debris, mushrooms.  There were all kinds sprouting in the rich floor under the evergreen canopy.  Many were peeking out from moss and pine needles, partially hidden under skeletal maple leaves in the dense shady parts of the woods.

Recently I've been using small apertures to achieve a greater depth-of-field but for the mushrooms I decided to shoot closer to wide open for a number of reason that resulted not only in this shallow depth-of-field but also faster shutter speeds so I didn't have to set up a tripod.  In fact, my camera was on the ground with the left side of my face pressed into the moss to get this shot.  When I stood up my knees were sodden and I had to brush pine needles off my face.  This was the second shot, it was so dark and I wanted the rich colors that I underexposed by over a stop.  I want to take more pictures of mushrooms now but there is only so much time you can spend in the rain in wet trousers before you've exhausted your endurance.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 24/f1.4L Mark II
24mm, f1.8, 1/50 sec @ 320 ISO

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011, Day 319 - Misty morning

I love happy accidents.  In this case I was running out to the country this morning on an errand and the whole city was covered in fog.  Once I got outside the city and started making my way down the country roads it became patchy.  Right before reaching my destination I came upon a Christmas tree farm with only saplings.  In front of the baby trees there was a buffer from the road that was grasses and the remnants of wildflowers and behind the holiday icons there was a wall of fog lit by the rising sun.  If you look closely you can see some morning dew on the plants as little points of light.  Sometimes images that seem simple capture more than can be seen at first glance.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f4, 1/2000 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011, Day 318 - Baby hippo

Today I helped my friend say goodbye to her baby hippo, Ingrid.  It is always hard to lose a companion and Rachel had Ingrid for less than a year.  Given that it was such a short amount of time it would be easy to be bitter, we rarely bring home a pet and expect such a short time with them, but Ingrid was almost 10 years old when Rachel took her home from the animal shelter.  For a rottweiler that is already old but Rachel didn't care, she knew that not many people would consider a dog of her age.

It was obvious that Ingrid had been cared for but that she had not been exposed to much.  Initially many commonplace things startled her or made her unease but as the weeks passed she became more comfortable.  Ingrid loved almost everybody and was good with children of all sized.  Despite her substantial size that garnered the nickname "baby hippo" Ingrid was a surprisingly spry old gal.

Sadly she started to limp a few days ago and when it became worse the vet took an x-ray and confirmed the worse, Ingrid had bone cancer.  The cancer eats away at the bone compromising its integrity and creating the possibility of a catastrophic break.  With this type of cancer it is always best to say goodbye a day too early than a day too late so a little before noon Rachel called to tell me that today was the day.  I threw on my coat, grabbed some cookies and was out the door.  Ingrid was the type of girl who made a lasting impression and if I could give her a little comfort (and maybe some to Rachel too) it was the least I could do.

So I ask you all to give you pets a big hug from me in celebration of Ingrid's life.  No matter how it began I can guarantee you that it ended as one full of love and happiness.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f2.8, 1/320 sec @ 400 ISO

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011, Day 317 - Gnome habitat

I wonder if this what the world looks like to a gnome.  We all know gnomes exist and that they live in the woods in homes made of mushrooms kind of like smurfs except not blue or, you know, animated.  I expect that they don't have this kind of field of vision; if you had peripheral vision like this it would be good to avoid predators or assassins but most of us have more of the latter than the former which is why we all employ ninja bodyguards.

Well, that is probably enough of my insane ramblings.  This is another one of the photographer I took while hiking at Mount Talbert.  I enjoy the satisfying crunch of fall leaves underfoot and the mild musty smell they give off.  In the spring they will have decomposed into a rich mulch that will give birth to new ferns, wild orchids, fungi, and especially trillium.  For now we are bless with their rich colors and their gentle descent from the canopy to the forest floor.  Like the bear these maples are shedding their leaves and slowing their metabolism in preparation for the long, damp, dark winter ahead and when the world beings to warm again their buds will mark the approach of spring.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f11, merged layers of 0.6 and 1.3 sec @ 200 ISO

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011, Day 316 - Long walk...

The title is deceptive, it wasn't a long walk at all but we were out on a dock and the first thing that came to mind is the saying about taking a long walk off a short pier.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Kurt Rogers, co-founder of ThinkTank, while stopping in at Pro Photo Supply for my weekly browsing of their used items.  It is getting towards the holidays and sometimes you can find a gem consigned by someone who needs a little extra holiday cash.  Unfortunately for me but fortunately for my wallet there were no wonderful surprises but I did happen to talk to the distinguished gentleman from ThinkTank on my visit.  We got to chatting and I told him I had been out shooting at Mount Talbert as soon as there was enough light.  Kurt bemoaned the lack of opportunities to get out and shoot while traveling for work so I gave him my number and said we could take a couple night shots of Portland after he finished pimping his wares.

Before going out we grabbed a bite to eat with trouble-maker and great guy Brian Matiash and his buddy Brian who was visiting from Boston.  Our timing was perfect because it was raining before dinner and while we burned time chatting and eating the rain stopped and the clouds thinned.  When we had sufficiently gorged ourselves Kurt and I ran down to the Hawthorne Bridge for a few photos before the arrival of the next storm system.  While he worked on a panorama I caught him at the end of the long wooden dock.  Often I try to keep people out of my photography but sometimes it is nice to give it a sense of scale.

Thank you to Kurt, Brian and Brian for a great evening of food, photography and conversation!

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f4, 4 sec @ 640 ISO

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011, Day 315 - Shrouded

Last night I had given a little thought to shooting today, I expected to have the time this morning and my interest has be piqued by the great fall color that I've been seeing.  There is a sense of urgency because we've had a few small rain storms and they are denuding the trees at an alarming rate.  Despite my desire it has been a busy week and with the absurd torture of daylight savings time I've felt a little run down so I was reluctant to commit in spite of my desire.

All of my reservations disappeared when I awoke to find the city shrouded in a think layer of fog.  Fog is not something we get a great deal of in Portland and it lends the world a different feel and they really help to exaggerate depth and distance.  So I walked the dogs, fixed my hair (and realized for the tenth time I need a haircut), grabbed a bottle of water, fed the hounds, and ran out the door.  My destination was Mount Talbert.

Mount Talbert is one of those places that is, to me, a bit magical.  It is a wooded park that, around the perimeter, consists of pine trees in the upper canopy, vine maples in the middle and ferns along the woodland floor.  By contrast the trees at the summit are primarily Oregon white oaks and instead of the lush undergrowth of ferns there are small hardy shrubs and tall grasses.  As you walk into the park it smell strongly of the sweet fragrance of decomposing pine needles and in the cooler months that lovely aroma mixes with the scent of damp earth and you feel at one with nature.

As you can probably tell I like the way the backlighting of the sky makes the leaves glow but in this image I also captured the ferns and the fog.  This is exactly the kind of image I wanted to create so I am glad that I overcame my reluctance and got myself out the door.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f11, merged layers of 1/6, 0.3 and 0.6 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011, Day 314 - Copse

I had another hectic day today, a lot to get accomplished during days that I swear are getting shorter.  Although I was born and raised in California I really feel that Oregon is my home.  The people are a great mix of laid back and fanatic, the food is great, the cost of living in the city is comparatively affordable and we get real seasons.  True, our winters are relatively mild and the rain I think is a bit overstated but we have been blessed with a spectacular autumn.

Fall is such an odd season.  The trees turn gold and red but their warmth is betrayed by cool weather.  They give such a wonderful celebratory goodbye to the long summer days and usher in winter with the temporary departure of foliage.  On those chilly winter days it is nice that the trees have doffed their leaves so that the brief moments of sun we get can actually provide a little warmth as we defiantly insist that the damp weather will not keep us house bound.  While it lasts I am going to try to capture as much color as time allows.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f11, 1/125 sec @ 200 ISO

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011, Day 313 - Visitation

It is funny, this year I have seen a tremendous number of ladybugs.  Often I am walking the dogs or stopping to take a closer look at a flower and there, hidden in plain sight, is a ladybug.  They are special to me and have been since I was thirteen when my grandmother wrote me a letter prior to a backpacking trip in New Mexico saying that she wished she was a ladybug so she could sit on my shoulder and share my adventures.  That letter was shared with everyone in the family and since then we always associated my grandmother with these speckled red beetles.  She was such a warm person, a woman of endless patience and love for everyone; my grandmother was the heart of the family so her passing a few years ago was quite a blow.  Now every time I see a ladybug I think of her and although I am a devout heathen I feel as though she is there to share my adventures.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 70-200/f2.8L IS Mark II with 12mm Extension Tube
70mm, f5.6, 1/500 sec @ 200 ISO

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011, Day 312 - New baby

Today was a day of adventure!  I woke up early while most of the city was still asleep so that I could get my dogs walked and fed and then I was out the door headed north.  My destination was just shy of Seattle; I volunteer with a greyhound adoption group and I had a special delivery to collect, a sweet nineteen-month-old boy named Bones.  After about ten minutes of helping me navigate and a couple failed attempts to sit in the passenger seat my fuzzy bundle of joy was snoozing contentedly on the three hour drive to Portland.

His new family hadn't met him yet so we made a brief stop so they could get acquainted.  Bones, whose name will be Dawson, is such a happy boy.  His tail never stops wagging and he is insatiably curious.  He is an ideal compliment to his soon-to-be brother Preston who is rather shy and cautious.  Unfortunately he isn't ready to go home yet, Dawson needs to go to the vet for a small surgery (snip snip) and when he is healed (and his new family is done travelling for work) he will make the trip to his new swanky home where he will start life as a city boy.

Congratulation J, Garrison, Constance, Preston, and, most of all, Dawson!  Below is Dawson and Dawson with his new daddy J.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 24-70/f2.8L
24mm, f4, 1/640 sec @ 320 ISO

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 24-70/f2.8L
34mm, f4, 1/320 sec @ 320 ISO

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011, Day 311 - Eye of fire

This morning I went to Powell Butte with my friend Julie.  We both just needed to get out and take some photos, we hadn't had a chance to shoot together for months even though we have visited a number times since.  Last night we were wracking our brains to think of a place to explore and settled on Powell Butte.  I have been there a few time before but only during the middle of winter and it is a good meeting point being between our respective homes.

Powell Butte is a huge park, some six hundred acres, with open grassy meadows, dense evergreen woods lush with ferns and stands of various deciduous trees scattered throughout.  We opted to take the orchard trail because it was a cloudy morning and we hoped that it would be warmer than under the canopy of the woods.  As we passed the old orchard along an exposed ridge and mounted a raise we could see a small grove of trees in the middle of an open field ripe with autumn color.  A short hike took us into the copse just as the sun broke through the clouds and the photograph below is what the boughs looked like as we craned our heads upward.  I can still feel the brisk fall air, smell the musk of decomposing leaves and damp earth, hear the rustle of the leaves as the winds gathered a little strength only to die away moments later.

It was the kind of morning that speaks to all of autumn's best qualities.  Thank you Oregon for your splendor and thank you Julie for the company and the steaming bowl of pho afterwards :)

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f11, 1/50 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011, Day 310 - Fall heat

I am still waiting for the fall color to come into its own here in the Pacific Northwest.  My friends in Salem say that may of their trees are already bare but in Portland and out eastward in the Gorge the leaves are tenaciously holding on to life and chlorophyll.  They're probably just trying to frustrate me and will wait until I have no free time to change and then will disappear before I have a chance to catch their transformation.  However up around Mount Hood the maples started to show their color a few weeks ago.  They look like bonfires in the undergrowth in stark contrast with the deep emerald color of the evergreen canopy.

Oh well, I will continue to wait with what patience I can muster...

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f5.6, 1/50 sec @ 100 ISO

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2011, Day 309 - Devil in the mirror

Perhaps the most breathtaking place on the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway is Devils Lake.  It is a small shallow lake that is more a large pond than lake but it is dotted with campsites that allow unobstructed views of its crystal clear azure waters.  With only faint ripples from a light breeze the clouds are reflected almost perfectly.  Add to the wooded surroundings volcanic rocks and gnarled skeletons of trees whipped by chill winter gales and you have a natural wonder just a few steps off the highway.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f22, 1/10 sec @ 100 ISO

Friday, November 4, 2011

2011, Day 308 - Where there's smoke

When we were driving through Deschutes National Forest the smell of smoke permeated the car before we could see it.  As we continued over a crest we saw a wall of smoke about a quarter of a mile away.  The sunlight was filtering weakly though and I insisted that we find a spot to pull over so I could get a better look.  Upon inspection it was clearly a controlled burn, there were fires set methodically throughout the trees but it was interesting nonetheless.

This is a landscape crop of a photo taken as a portrait.  I like the details better and the contrast between the trees in the fore and backgrounds.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f4, 1/1000 sec @ 320 ISO

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011, Day 307 - Precarious

Another photo from my trip to Bend, this was taken at Smith Rock State Park.  I had been before but last time I visited there were no rock climbers at all but this time there was almost always a climber in view.  Unfortunately I my shoulders are not especially stable, it doesn't affect my daily life but I suspect that it would be a really bad idea to try to take up rock climbing.  I've already dislocated my right shoulder once and both of them are susceptible making the risk an ill-advised one.

At some point I am going to have to finish sharing photos from this trip but it was so exciting.  Here in Portland we're used to our temperate rainforest environment and the high desert is so vastly different.  It makes me long to repeat a road trip I took a decade ago through the southwest stopping at all kinds of state and national parks.  Perhaps it is time to plan another such adventure...

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 70-200/f2.8L IS Mark II
200mm, f5.6, 1/250 sec @ 200 ISO

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011, Day 306 - Birthday Bubbs

Happy birthday Stubbs!  Today my big chicken turned eight years old although it seems like such a short time ago that I brought him home.  Stubbs, he came with his name, is a terribly shy dog, pathologically afraid of new people and easily upset by any change in our daily routine and yet he has made so much progress.  When Stubbs came into the adoption program he was two-and-a-half years old and has never raced at all.  At the same time we also received his brother Gary who is, if anything, even more nervous than Stubbs.

The two brothers took a long time to warm to anyone new but because I volunteered at the kennel where adoptable dogs were housed I saw them every week.  After a few months they both began to get a bit more comfortable with all of us regular visitors and we walked all the dogs so they got some one-on-one attention.  Sadly after a year both of the brothers were still in the kennel, no one seemed to want to try to love a dog that they suspected might never love them back and at the time I had three other greyhounds, two of my own and one foster, so I felt that as a single person it would be too much to take on one of these nervous boys.

After a disastrous attempt to place Stubbs in a home after which he came back with bruises from a panicked fall on the kitchen floor and thinned coat from stress (after only ten days in the home) the folks who tried to give him a chance regretfully returned him to the kennel.  It was then that I decided that Stubbs was going to come home with me.  I had become very fond of him and we would cautiously wag his tail when I came to see him so I took that as a good sign.  At the time I had already concluded that if he was just a pretty ornament that lived in a quiet corner of the house I would be fine with that situation.

A month passed and, because I have a tiny yard, Stubbs was used to our walks around the block.  My eldest greyhound Falcon has some orthopedic issues and could only comfortable walk around the block once before his feet would start to bother him so that has been the route that Stubbs insists on ever since.  With all his nervous energy he doesn't need much more exercise than that and it was traumatic enough as he acclimated to life with me.

In those first few weeks Stubbs pretty much lived in his crate, it was the only place he felt safe.  We would go for a walk and when his leash was removed he would run to his safe place.  More than once I would leave the house and the door to his crate would be left open by accident.  While I didn't think that he would do anything in my absence I worried that he might try to escape.  Before the end of the second month I would routinely come home to find my bed turned into a greyhound nest but Stubbs would always be in his crate.

The one day, as I sat at my computer in my large bedroom suite, Stubbs walked out of his crate and hopped into my bed.  When I stood up to get a better look he looked back at me, slowly stood and returned to his crate.  That was the beginning of his transformation.  Shortly afterwards he would get excited and play in the backyard before our walks.  Then he would lay in my bed and would let me sit by him.  That was a happy day, it meant I no longer had to climb into the crate with him to give him attention!

Eventually he would let me go to bed and then would climb up with me.  He rarely stayed more than a few minutes but it was progress.  Stubbs was beginning to act like a normal dog.  The only problem as I saw it was that he would revert to his timid ways if anyone else was around.  It was kind of like having a Ferrari that you could never drive anywhere but the track.  With time though I got over that shortcoming.

Today Stubbs is a wonderful dog.  He is still afraid of new people but he cuddles and plays and enjoys his walks.  With other dogs he is generally indifferent unless they are also a greyhound in which case he is overjoyed.  Eventually he warms to new people but it takes repeated exposure and I can leave him with some friends when I travel and he enjoys staying with them and visiting with their dogs.  Normality is something he will never achieve but that's okay, the bond we've developed as I have worked him through his many fears is something rare and wonderful.  Stubbs is the biggest baby in the house, the least demanding and the most rewarding, I've had him for over four years now and in that time I have learned so much for this fantastic neurotic dog.  Happy birthday Stubbs!

*Addition*  With recent news coverage I wanted to assure everyone that Stubbs shyness is not the product of any kind of abuse or neglect.  While we no longer have greyhound racing in Oregon he was born the year before it ended to a couple who loved him and his entire litter.  Stubbs' mother was their pride and joy, she was first and foremost a pet and companion.  If my friends cannot look after him when I go out of town the people who bred and raised him happily take him for me.  There are few people in the world I would trust with any of my dogs and fewer yet that I would allow to look after Stubbs.  His shyness is innate, it is part of his personality not the result of any trauma; he is forever my sweet shy sensitive boy.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 24/f1.4L Mark II
24mm, f1.4, 1/100 sec @ 2000 ISO

2011, Day 305 - Following the path in front of you

This photo was taken on the Six Lakes trail in the Deschutes National Forest.  Many of the trees were stripped of their foliage, the evidence of a fire that ravaged the area is the recent past.  It was so different from the forested areas that we stopped at that day, here we could see the sky all along the trail, it was quite beautiful.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
19mm, f4, 1/320 sec @320 ISO