Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012, Day 91 - Solitude

It has been a long time since I fired up Photomatix but I did this evening for this shot.  I tend to prefer luminosity masks to stack multiple exposures to get a little extra dynamic range out of a shot but for this one I decided to go back to what most people think of as HDR.

Brian Matiash and I went for a walk in the industrial part of NW Portland to scout an area for a photo walk (more on that soon).  The weather wasn't really cooperating initially; we've had the wettest March on record and today was no exception.  But after a little while the rain stopped and then, miraculously, the clouds started to break and we had some blue sky!

This photo was taken towards the end of our walk.  For those who have been paying attention I have featured this, the Fremont Bridge, twice in the past month all from vastly different vantage points.  I liked the empty benches in the foreground as they add interest, and the bridge arcing through the sky.  The color version of this photo was rather unspectacular but when I converted it to black and white my imagination came alive.  There is something about the wood and the benches that reminds me of a boardwalk but without anyone there it feels almost lonely and I like that...

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f11, HDR of 1/1600, 1/800, 1/400, 1/200, and 1/100 sec @ 200 ISO

2012, Day 90 - Split

I left like Gordie from Stand By Me this evening as I walked along the train tracks with Brian Matiash. There were no dead bodies to be found this time but I still hold out hope that one day I'll find one.  Until then I am happy to explore Portland's more industrial areas.  I've never really thought of Portland as an industrial city and to most eyes it isn't but there are still plenty of areas where heavy industry makes its home and the city defends the integrity of its industrially zoned areas with great conviction.  The upshot is that much of the surviving areas are rather old but generally in good repair which makes those neighborhoods a joy to explore!

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
30mm, f8, merged layers of 0.4, 0.8, 1.6, and 3.2 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2012, Day 89 - Spotlight

There have been a lot of floral posts recently and if it seems a bit monotonous I apologize but these little bursts of color provide a wonderful contrast to the cloudy wet weather.  I don't know what kind of plant this is but the flowers were hit my a little ray of light as I was walking past during a break in the rain.  Calling the light a ray is probably an overstatement, it is more like an small patch of thin clouds allowed a little extra light through.  Nevertheless, the natural spotlight did a fantastic job of isolating the flowers from the rest of the foliage making for a great picture.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f5.6, 1/320 sec @ 320 ISO

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012, Day 88 - Icon

Some things evoke the Pacific Northwest like rainy days, new age hippies, Subarus, local food, and this little gem, trillium.  They are deceptively delicate, you would think that their less refined form would indicate a certain level of hardiness but pick a flower and you could quite possibly kill the plant.  Those that survive may take multiple seasons to recover.  There is nothing quite like a hike through maples and evergreens, the sweet smell of pine and decaying leaves hidden under a carpet of ferns dotted with the bright white of the trilliums.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f5.6, 1/320 sec @ 320 ISO

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012, Day 87 - House hunting

I found this ant while I was walking the dogs and I had the gumption to make them wait while I took a picture.  It's very kind of them to indulge me and wait patiently while I chase ants through the euphorbia.  Sometimes it is the little things in life that delight us and I enjoyed harassing this poor ant :)

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f6.3, 1/250 sec @ 500 ISO

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012, Day 86 - Shining star

By this time of year the number of flowers in bloom grows exponentially.  There are so many colors to catch your eye but these simple flowers are something special.  Their petals have a crystalline sheen to them, they catch light and amplify it so that they sparkle.  I love their simple form and disarming beauty; every year I forget about them and every year they grab my eye anew.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f4, 1/250 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012, Day 85 - Fleeting

A couple of weeks ago we treated to some real spring weather, days of sunshine and highs in the sixties.  Every year spring gets a deceptive false start and this year was no exception.  The brief warm spell brought the star magnolia out of its winter sleep and the buds started to open.  Now, just a few short weeks later, the petal are beginning to show the signs of their exposure to three short snow storms and bear the buises as evidence of the inclement weather.  Many of the blossoms are fading and those that aren't are just passing their peak.  I suspect it won't be long before they're gone until next year so I sent aside some time to record their beauty until next winter.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f4, 1/400 sec @ 200 ISO

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012, Day 84 - Gotham

Sometimes modernity isn't soulless.  Most of what we build today might have some stylistic queues from the past but we are all about efficiency and value so we build neighborhoods of hundreds of homes with one three floor plans and everyone there thinks that their home is unique because they have a different color granite for their counter tops.

But occasionally we get things right.  The photo below is part of Highway 99 in southeast Portland.  It has undergone a major face lift and it is really rather nice.  A little Art Deco really makes it interesting and it isn't what I would consider a showpiece location.  It is, however, heavily trafficked and on a cloudy evening like we have today it is really very impressive.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Sigma 50/f1.4EX
50mm, f4, 1/320 sec @ 200 ISO

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012, Day 83 - Rendezvous

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting up with Christianna Pierce to deliver her prize for being one of the finalists in the first PDX G+ Photowalk.  As she was ordering her coffee at Stumptown I noticed the light on the worn wood floors.  It was the texture that really caught my eye and amid the bustle of a busy coffee house with milk frothing, cups clinking, people chatting there was a moment of peace and I took my photo.

When Christianna returned with her coffee she asked what I was taking a picture of and I showed her the photo as I was processing it in Snapseed.  I didn't know that she is one of the curators of iPhoneography Friday but she encouraged me to submit it so that is what I am doing.  It wasn't until this iteration of the iPhone that I really took note of the quality of the camera.  While it can't do what my DSLR can it is a very usable, portable, and effective camera.

iPhone 4S
4.28mm, f2.4, 1/20 sec @ 64 ISO

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012, Day 82 - Don't drink the water

This morning I awoke to find Portland covered in a blanket of snow.  We haven't had snow this late in winter for sixty years and yet this afternoon I came back from running some errands and while I was walking my dogs I started to feel a little warm.  To be fair it was only forty-six degrees but the humidity had risen a bit and the sun was out so it felt relatively warm.

After walking the dogs and running a couple early morning errands I drove up to Mount Tabor to capture the snow before it disappeared.  As you can see the trees have halos of green around their trunks but it was still a nice scene even if winter's grip wasn't absolute.  The subject of this photo is Reservoir 6, one of many on Mount Tabor that holds part of the city's drinking water.  Yes, you read that correctly, we have open water storage but the site is very carefully monitored.  Last year someone was caught throwing objects into one of the reservoirs and he was very quickly arrested and fined heavily because the reservoir had to be drained and cleaned.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
19mm, f11, masked layers of 1/2, 1, and 4 sec @ 100 ISO

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2012, Day 81 - Beam & Anchor

This morning I have the pleasure of visiting Beam & Anchor's studio space.  It is home to furniture makers, upholsterers, and practitioners of the fine arts.  Actually, that statement is a bit unfair because everyone who works out of that space is an artist but perhaps not in the a strictly conventional sense.  The proprietors, Robert and Jocelyn, are justifiably proud of what they're doing so I was able to get the nickel tour.  They will have retail space on the lower level and I can't wait to see what they will have when they're ready to throw open their doors to the public.  From what I saw it should be fantastic!

Canon T3i, Sigma 50/f1.4EX
50mm, f2, 1/100 sec @ 200 ISO

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012, Day 80 - Midnight maintenance

This photograph was the one after which I said to myself, "I'm done."  In reviewing it on the back of my camera I was certain that I captured what I wanted.  That's not to say it is perfect, I would have preferred that the Union Pacific obelisk further from the center but to the right there was a huge floodlight that would have been distracting and to my left there were a lot of trees and brambles that would obstruct the view because, you see, this was taken from the concrete barrier along the side of a freeway onramp.

I sat there, checking my composition, looking over my shoulder to make sure there were not semis coming (their draft was tremendous and could have caused camera vibration), and trying to keep warm.  When the trucks weren't barreling past you could hear the ding ding ding of the warning bells as train after train entered the rail yard.  I like that all the distractions of real life are absent and the yard have a feeling of tranquility, the stillness that we witness only at night.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Sigma 50/f1.4EX
50mm, f5.6, merged layers of 2.5, 5, and 10 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012, Day 79 - Before and after

I thought tonight I would post a little before and after.  This is another photo from Saturday night taken where I-405 and I-5 intersect.  Last night I posted a photo of the highways taken from a distance and is the same place but taken from a different angle.  I am astonished that what looks so well-ordered from a distance appears to be a chaotic mess close up.

Below the processed (over-processed?) finished photo is the image straight out of the camera with the only adjustment being for white balance.  From there I toned to add texture, ran a high pass filter to create definition, and then an exposure overlay to balance out the lightness of the intersecting roads.  The result is a high contrast and slightly gritty/dirty looking urban scene!

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
17mm, f8, 8 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012, Day 78 - Confluence

Last night I went out adventuring with my friend Julie.  She was relying on me to take her somewhere interesting to shoot because she's a country girl and I live in the city.  Well, there was a false start when I tried taking us to an industrial area but accessibility was poor so we left and went to try another area I had kind of scouted previously and success!

This is the interchange where I-5 and I-405 meet right by the Union Pacific rail yard.  I love the graceful arcing lines of the freeways as they intersect, it almost looks like someone was starting to build a basket out of our highway system.  You could hear the muted roar of cars passing overhead and the chiming of bells as trains entered and exited the yard.  It was a nice night to be running about and enjoying some of the lesser seen sides of Portland.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
20mm, f8, 13 sec @ 200 ISO

2012, Day 77 - Morning sun

Yesterday, while walking the dogs, the clouds broke and we got some of that odd early morning light that has the warm orange cast more typical of the later afternoon.  These flowers caught my eye because they look so lush growing from a thick carpet of moss.  Once the dogs were back in the house I dashed back with my camera and this is, I think, my favorite shot.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Sigma 50/f1.4EX and Canon Extension Tube EF12 II
50mm, f4, 1/400 sec @ 640 ISO

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012, Day 76 - Frankie Friday

It has been almost three weeks since Frankie came home and in that time he has proven to be a wonderful companion.  He is respectful of the other dogs, walks so well he has graduated from the harness, cleans his bowl most of the time, and sleeps soundly through the night.  My erratic comings and goings no longer upset him, I work from home but leave daily and rarely at the same time two days in a row, but he knows I will be back.  There are only two things we're still working on.  The first is coming when called. He knows his name but often waits to see what the others dogs are doing and if they make no move he hangs back with them.  It's okay, being singled out can be daunting, he will get the hang of it.  Second, he loves his naps a little too much.  There are times I have to carry him outside for a walk.  It doesn't matter if he doesn't have to answer the call of nature, but I want him to participate in the household activities.  Plus, I am sure if I left him at home he would be upset that he wasn't included...

In the photo below I Frankie was napping in his favorite chair.  When I first pressed the shutter release he opened his eyes and this is the second shot.  I really like the smooth bokeh of Sigma's 50/f1.4, it really blows the Canon 50/f1.4 out of the water but it is a much more fiddly lens.  Nevertheless the results make it worth the hassle.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Sigma 50/f1.4EX
50mm, f2, 1/100 sec @ 1000 ISO

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012, Day 75 - Remains

After getting thoroughly soaked twice today while walking the dogs I felt that a picture with a little warmth might be nice.  I suppose I could have gone further back into the archives to find something even more suitable but this one caught my eye.  The haphazard remains of the puddles, the reflection, the blue sky and the fire-damaged walls were enough for me.

This warehouse now looks almost like a campsite.  There is evidence of squatters everywhere, they have left messages and trash when they have moved on or been forcibly ejected.  On a clear days it is probably not a bad place to take refuge as there are a few cozy niches to be found and the neighborhood have relatively little traffic after the end of the business day.  There is something sad though, it is the same feeling you have after a party when everyone has gone and you're left with a mess to clean up and an eerily quiet house.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 16-35/f2.8L Mark II
16mm, f4, merged layers of 1/40 and 1/20 sec @ 100 ISO

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012, Day 74 - Repose

The great thing about photography is that it has the capability, when properly executed, to convey both action and inaction.  In this case I like the stillness.  You can smell a bit of diesel mixed with tar and a hind of the river on the breeze.  During the day I expect that the crane is in motion and you can hear the gravel pouring over the edge of t he conveyor belt onto the pile like a bit of white noise while trucks and tractors rumble through the yard.  But at night it is still, the air is cool, and the only sounds come in the form of the low hum of traffic speeding across the Fremont Bridge high above.  In spite of the signs of activity that surrounds the site it is almost peaceful at night.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
25mm, f8, 30 sec @ 200 ISO

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012, Day 73 - Reinforcement

While exploring the riverfront in North Portland this warehouse caught my eye.  It isn't attractive or especially interesting but I was amazed that over fifty percent of it was hanging over the river supported by innumerable timbers.  Wouldn't it have been cheaper to build on a larger lot?  Is there some aspect of its use that required it to be in the river?  What kind of weight is each of those posts supporting?  Do they drive forklifts though the building?  Why is the structure sided in plywood?

As all those questions were running through my mind I couldn't help but appreciate the forest of supports reflected in the water, the lights of the industrial west side of Portland in the distance, and the inky blue sky.  I like that the subject is rather plain and the background is interesting but there remains texture throughout.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
17mm, f11, 117 sec @ 200 ISO

Monday, March 12, 2012

2012, Day 72 - Divided

And we come back to the Fremont Bridge!  Today Brian Matiash wrote a great article on the importance of caution in urban exploration.  Facilities that employ security do so for a reason and the most important thing is that you're safe so if you're out adventuring and security legitmately asks you to leave please have the good grace to do as you're asked.

As we familiarized ourselves with our environment Brian and I found a nice vantage point underneath the Fremont Bridge.  The west hills and Forest Park is dwarfed by the distance and the sheer size of the bridge.  Although you would never be able to see them clearly if you look closely you can see a few stars in the sky thanks to a relatively long exposure.  The light pollution from Portland is enough to drown out all but the brightest celestial bodies.

One of the most important lessons in photography is to be persistent.  Some days you go out shooting and you come home with nothing that inspires you.  It can be disheartening but it is vital to take advantage of the next opportunity because you never know what you're going to find.  I didn't imagine we would be able to find such a spectacular location but the conditions were almost ideal and we were greatly rewarded!

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
17mm, f5.6, 57 sec @ 200 ISO

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012, Day 71 - Limits

Today's photo outing was all about working within your limits.  I rousted Brian Matiash from his apartment and, at his suggestion, we went on an iPhone only photo walk.  Being a bit of a pessimist I brought a real camera with me in case I got annoyed working within the iPhone's limits but I managed not to take it out at all.  There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you are able to overcome limitations, even if they are self-imposed, to get results that show no evidence of compromise.

Both of the photos below were taken with SmugMug's Camera Awesome iPhone app and processed with Camera Awesome and Nik Software's Snapseed.

iPhone 4S
4.28mm, f2.4, 1/30 sec @ 80 ISO

iPhone 4S

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012, Day 70 - Lair

During last night's adventuring Brian Matiash and I found what looked like an asphalt depot where trucks pick up gravel aggregate to pave and repair roads.  Honestly, I followed Brian's eye to this scene, it was so well-lit that I had to take a few brackets.  I live the tractor parked under the tower like some sort of guardian protecting its lair.  It was dirty and weathered and the interplay of light and shadow was perfect so even though I have some great bridge shots left to share this one is jumping the queue.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
26mm, f5.6, HDR of 2, 4, 8, and 15 sec @ 500 ISO

Friday, March 9, 2012

2012, Day 69 - Beast

I can't remember the last time I had such a lovely day.  This morning I awoke sandwiched between sleeping dogs in my comfortably cool bed.  It isn't often that I am allowed to wake up without the prompting of one of the dogs so already the day was off to a good start.  We took a nice walk in the brisk morning air with the sun rising over the rooftops.  Then I was free to work for a few hours before a friend called to invite me out to lunch.

As I was headed home from lunch I was invited to join another friend for a walk in the park before the rain returns tomorrow.  So I went home to feed the dogs and take a thirty minute nap before walking the dogs again and taking the new pup to the park.  I met with my friend Christine and her dog and we took a leisurely stroll through the tall trees along the dappled sunlight hitting the trail.

When we returned to our cars who should call but Brian Matiash.  We had been trying to meet up this week for a little photo adventure and after a few false starts tonight was the night.  So back home I went to get the dogs out again before picking up Brian and having a dinner of succulent hot wings and a massive pile of tater-tots.  The we went to North Portland's massive industrial neighborhood.

I had only a vague idea where I wanted to go and after taking a couple side roads we found the eastern foot of the Fremont Bridge.  As we approached I was completely awestruck.  I have driven across this bridge countless times but I never appreciated how truly massive it is until tonight.  In the photo below you can see the ghostly silhouette of Mr. Matiash under this monolith of infrastructure.  Even at the time it seemed odd to be able to walk so freely to the base of the bridge but we took advantage of our freedom and were well rewarded.

Our photographic appetites sated we headed home with quick stop for some tasty gelato at Staccato Gelato.  Rarely are days so fun and productive as today has been.  Hopefully next time I have one of those days where nothing goes right I will look back into my blog and see this image to remind me that for as often as things go wrong the also go better than you might have hoped.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
24mm, f5.6, 25 sec @ 200 ISO

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012, Day 68 - Weathered

Nature constantly amazes me.  I have always lived in communities where natural space is treasured but I somehow managed not to notice it until I moved to Portland.  Today the high h it the mid sixties and the warm weather and sun seems to have spurred on the coming of spring.  My star magnolia that was in bud yesterday is starting to bloom in earnest.  The winter daphne is strong and sweet in the air.  As I walked my dogs cool air filled my lungs while the warm sun beat down on my back.  Life is so vibrant this time of year and I hope that everyone has an opportunity to appreciate its beauty.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 100/f.2.8L IS
100mm, f5.6, 1/250 sec @ 320 ISO

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2012, Day 67 - Better by rail

Sometimes common sense escapes me completely.  This is Portland's Union Station.  Built in 1896 it houses the only Amtrak first class lounge on the west coast.  In 1996, to celebrate its centennial year, the building underwent extensive restoration.  I have countless pictures of this magnificent train station but all taken from ground level and from a relatively short distance in an attempt to eradicate foreground distractions but on Sunday I went on to the onramp for the Broadway Bridge and found an almost ideal vantage point.  Why it didn't occur to me in the past is a mystery but never-the-less I present you with Union Station.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
17mm, f6.3, merged layers of 1.3, 2.5, and 5 sec @ 500 ISO

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012, Day 66 - Kissed

Today we were lucky enough to have sunshine!  It was cold and breezy but the sun was out and we took advantage of the nice weather.  The dogs all enjoyed long walks and I took some time out of a busy day to take a few pictures of spring flowers.  These crocuses were backlit by the sun, I like that the strong light illustrates the delicacy of the petals and underscores the vibrant colors.  It is as if the flowers were kissed by the sun.

Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f5.6, 1/800 sec @ 250 ISO

Monday, March 5, 2012

2012, Day 65 - New and old

Last night I made a quick run to pick up some loser from the train station.  I say loser because I want to see if he actually reads what I write or just looks as the pretty picture...

I arrived a few minutes early and, never one to waste time, I grabbed my camera and tripod to take a few pictures.  This one I liked because on the right you have a modern and probably efficient office building whereas on the left you have the onramp to the Broadway Bridge, a bascule bridge that was opened in 1913.  While modernity might wear well and be easy to live with the almost hundred year old bridge shows infinitely more character, even though there is so little to be seen in this photography.  The concrete has texture, the iron railings are delicate but sturdy, there is a grace that we've lost in the pursuit of efficiency.  Sometimes I hate compromise because nobody wins and everybody loses...

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
21mm, f4, 2.5 sec @ 250 ISO

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2012, Day 64 - Puddles

Reflections are a photographer's best friend and worst enemy.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to take a cityscape from a high rise and getting obnoxious and distracting reflections.  At the same time reflections can add tremendous visual interest and in this case it allowed me to use a wider angle than I might have otherwise used.  Imagine the picture below without any water of the ground, only dry concrete.  Suddenly the area of interest in the photo is reduced by fifty percent!  Fortunately this is Portland and finding water on the ground is almost easier than finding a dry spot.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17-40/f4L
17mm, f8, merged layers of 1/50 and 1/6 sec @ 100 ISO

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2012, Day 63 - Depth

Although the sun never came out today it was a balmy fifty-five degrees and rain-free which made walking the dogs an absolute pleasure.  They enjoyed our wanderings as much as I did and during our outings I discovered that one of my neighbors has a lush yard of succulents and bulbs.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f4, 1/250 sec @ 250 ISO

Friday, March 2, 2012

2012, Day 62 - Residue

This was a photo I took about a month ago while playing on the rail road tracks.  I liked the surprising amount of color in this photo, the purples, yellows, blues and greens make it rather vibrant and the light trail from the car that drove across the tracks is rather nice.  Sometimes the little details make the photo and if you didn't notice it before look at the utility line along the top and the pair of shoes hanging or the fact that there are a couple trees in an industrial area along the tracks.  It's fun to explore a scene even if you aren't there in the flesh.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f11, 20 sec @ 320 ISO

Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012, Day 61 - Mountain flare

I took this picture last month on my way to a long weekend in Central Oregon.  The mountain in the distance is Mount Jefferson and I made my friends stop along the side of the road for a time lapse.  Unfortunately shortly after starting the intervals we realized that we would need to make good time in order to collect the keys to our rental before the office closed so I only have a few seconds worth of shots.

Normally flare is a rather distracting element but because of the movement of the clouds I decided that some flare would be acceptable in the time lapse because it would come and go making it a neat element.  I like that you can see the anger in the clouds, their violent energy and the rays of light from the sun trying to break through the coming storm.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 24-70/f2.8L
70mm, f22, 1/4 sec @ 100 ISO