Three Capes Outing

Took a day off from the usual grind and headed to the three Capes, Kiwanda, Lookout, and Mears on the Oregon Coast.  Being the middle of the week still in the off-season, along with overcast skies, I looked forward to a mostly solitary day of hiking in the Siuslaw National Forest.   My body and mind needing to experience the wonders and joys of being with nature.  I loaded up my photography gear in its backpack and headed out just before dawn to my destination at Cape Outlook.

I have wanted to do this hike for some time but held off due to what I had read about the trail traversing sheer drop offs, not a place for dogs or kids.  Having been on a couple of other hikes in the gorge that claimed the same and they didn’t bother me I decided to take this one even though I have somewhat a fear of heights.

I arrived at the trailhead just as the morning light was penetrating the seemingly ever-present morning coastal fog.  As I began my trek I saw early signs of spring, such as this delicate trillium wildflower.  Amazing how such a little flower can thrive under the thick canopy of old growth forest.

Trillium Flower

The thick canopy of forest soon gave way to a spectacular view only blocked by sparse trees and shrubs, their roots clinging perilously to the face of the huge rock I climbed.  I paused to capture the wonderful view stretched out below me, and since fear had not edged its way into my conscience I decided this was one hike I could do.  It was the last image I dared captured on this hike.

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Moving forward and up the sparse trees and shrub became sparser and the trail narrower.  I pushed on even though the edge, a sheer drop off to the ocean below of several hundred feet, kept me up against the wall of the rock.  The wind was picking up as I kept my head down looking at my path and concentrating on my breathing as I vowed to get past this section of the hike.  I reached my limit when my tripod got hung up on a root embedded in the rock wall.  This knocked me a little off-balance as I grabbed another root and flatten myself against the wall where I remained frozen while my mind went wild with all kinds of devastating events.  Earthquake would knock me off the cliff, some mean person will come along and push me over, or I will simply slip and fall.  I had to force myself to breath and eventually let go of my death grip on the root embedded in the rock, trying not to think why there was just a root.  Finally fear forced me to move and I got turned around and headed back the way I had come.  The wind gusting at my back.

Back under the canopy of forest I relaxed somewhat and told myself I had made the right choice for if I had seen something to photograph I probably couldn’t for fear had a great hold on me.   I got back into my car at the trailhead and headed for the safety of the low-lying beach that offered a variety of things to photograph.

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Fog at Cape Lookout Beach
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Erosion of the treeline on the north end of the Cape Lookout Beach

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After a few hours walking the beach I headed to Cape Meares where I captured this view, from a much more manageable height, of the town of Oceanside and it’s coastline.

Oregon Coastline view from Cape Mears.
Oregon Coastline view from Cape Meares.

I then retraced my route to Oregon Islands Wildlife Refuge.  This is just north of Oceanside and is a very interesting place to visit.  To get to the beach below one follows a trail built, by the looks of it, by several different people over the years.  Daffodils, pop their cheery blooms here and there.  Thick lumber embedded into the hillside provided steps.  Scrap lumber line the trail as a fencing and as benches to rest.  One section of the path was completely covered with scrap lumber and underneath it things collected from the beach below, rocks, feathers, buoys,rope along with names carved in the lumber, a place much like shrine filled the area within.  Quite interesting.

I continued my descent and finally reached a rocky beach filled with driftwood.  DKB7766

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I found these all quite interesting.  The swirl of the wood grain and the rocks embedded in them afford me time to contemplate nature’s design.

The misty rain, high tide and fog made photographing this beach a pleasure as I love photographing the rain, fog, rocks and water for it adds a punch to an image.

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I continued retracing my route with a detour to Sand Lake.  As the day waned the wind picked up in strength and I wanted to see if I could capture drifting sand at the dunes at Sand Lake.  I wasn’t disappointed.

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I left Sand Lake with my Yukon half filled with the wind-blown grit.

My original plan was to end my day at Pacific City sitting on the beach watching the sun set before heading home.

DKB7771  Fog and low clouds encroached enough on this idea that I knew there would be nothing to watch so I settled with a Bach CD and a leisurely drive home using the back roads to end another wonderful solitary day appreciating life and the surroundings I find myself in.

I had nightmares all night about falling off that cliff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can see these images and more on my website  www.deebrowningphotography.com

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‘They Photoshopped that!.”

THEY PHOTOSHOPPED THAT!!!

This is a term I hear from time to time in regards to my work and others as photographers.  I don’t know why anyone would say this in terms of degrading our work except that they have no knowledge behind their statement.  You either like our individual work as photographers or you don’t.  The same with any artist’s work.  How we produce that work is really irrelevant, though it is important that we know how to use our tools and do so correctly.   Because of this I have decided to write a blog on this subject.  Not my normal blogging, as I prefer writing about being immersed in the moment of a shoot when I express what I saw and felt, so others can see and feel what I experienced, when looking at the results of my work.

Most people have heard of Ansel Adams and have seen his beautiful images of our nation’s National Parks.  A well-known photographer, first known to heavily manipulate his images in the dark room.  His famous statement, “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and print to its performance”.  In the digital world, the negative is the RAW/DNG file.  This file is full of information captured by the photographer in full control of the camera.  Just as in the darkroom of Ansel Adams, that file has to be processed in the digital darkroom to perform.   A digital darkroom consists of color calibrated monitors and programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop and others.

Sir Clarence James Supervises
My assistant, Sir Clarence James in my digital darkroom. Captured in RAW using only the available ambient light. He has his own blog if interested in checking it out.

There are three groups of digital cameras; the point and shoot fixed lens camera, the dSLR with less than a full sensor, and the Pro-dSLR with a larger full frame sensor.  Both allow the photographer more control and artistic flexibility, the ability to shoot in low light without a flash and both RAW and JPEG images.  A Pro- dSLR, which I use, allows me, the photographer, an even greater ability and flexibility, such as capturing more light in a dark situation without a flash than that of the smaller sensor dSLR and has more control options.    It is more durable and has a higher price tag.

I shoot in RAW almost exclusively, which allows me to keep all the recorded data from the sensor giving me the highest quality files to work with.   With a much wider dynamic range and a larger color space, I can push the image further bringing out hidden details in the darkest shadows and/or brightest highlights, without blowing them out and boosting color without oversaturating, which can affect the quality of print.  This is Artistic Flexibility!  In JPEG files this type of detail often gets tossed away and lost forever by the camera’s JPEG conversion process.

Shooting RAW allows the ability to bring out the the shadows without blowing out the water.
Shooting RAW allows the ability to bring out the the shadows on a dark rainy day without blowing out the water.  Again only the available ambient light

Point and shoot cameras use JPEG exclusively and the camera does the processing.  Most times these look great, for the camera makes all the adjustments for you.  It is like sending a roll of film to the photo lab to develop your images for you.  With JPEG images, you can edit and retouch afterwards, but you will be working with an image that has already been processed with permanent changes, and further changes you make will only degrade it.  This is why you always work with a copy of a JPEG file so that the original stays in good shape.

When comparing a RAW file and that of a JPEG file of the same image, the JPEG will always look better.  Why?  Because it has been processed by the camera.  The RAW file appears dull in comparison for it has not been processed.   RAW files take up a lot more space on your disc as it is such a huge file packed with information.  When closely looked at, the JPEG image may not show the detail in shadows that you wanted to show, because the camera made adjustments by darkening the overall image to compensate for an overly bright sky.  Those shadowed details are gone, tossed out by the processing.  When processing the same image in the RAW format, one can bring out the details in the shadows and tone down the light in the sky without losing detail in either, if exposure is captured correctly, because nothing was tossed.

Snow like a waterfall can be blown out loosing the details.  Here I was able to capture the details in the snow like the rows in the field behind the tree and the details in the tree and barn by shooting in RAW.
Here I was able to capture the details in the snow as in the rows in the field behind the tree, and the details in the tree and barn by shooting in RAW. Again only the available ambient light.

To further explain digital processing, one must know before they shoot an image how they want the final output to look.  So time is taken to set the camera’s aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance, along with numerous other settings required to capture a well-balanced RAW file with tons of data to process later in the digital darkroom.  Ansel Adams did this well.   A person who does not know how to do this will not be able to produce the image they are after, for they will lack the necessary data required to do so.

Dale Chihuly Float Boat.  This was shown in a dark room with only the illuminus of the art work on a mirrored floor.  I was able to capture this image without a flash using RAW format.
Dale Chihuly Float Boat. This was shown in a dark room with only the luminous of the art work on a mirrored floor. Using only the available ambient light shooting in RAW.

Many photographers will shoot portraits and weddings in both JPEG and RAW.   The RAW file is so very important for the photographer to use, if need be, to tone down an overly bright cheek, chin or forehead, remove a blemish or anything else that would otherwise make a less than perfect picture to cherish forever without degrading the image.  I have had to remove blemishes, spots on clothing, and sometimes those spots that show up from lint or dust on the lens.  One thing I do not do is alter one’s appearance. When I work with a person, I will shoot from many different angles, pose them in many different positions and place them in good lighting to capture them at their present best.  Teenagers worry about breakouts and since those are not permanent I will “Photoshop” them out as any professional will.  If you have wrinkles, they stay but I will position you where they are not so prominent. I strive to capture the best of a person in their true form, including those awful ones of myself.  LOL!  Like most people I do not like pictures of me, so I let my husband decide which ones to show others.

My grandson, only one blemish needed removing.  Shooting in RAW I was able to remove it without degrading the image.
My grandson, only one blemish needed removing. Shooting in RAW I was able to remove it without degrading the image and capture the skin with no blown areas. Using only ambient light.

When shooting real property, RAW is so important in capturing an indoor image of a home that leads to an inviting outdoors.  The interior lighting and outdoor lighting comes from different sources.  Having a full frame sensor is imperative as it captures more information.   Having the knowledge how to process these files correctly is also important for it must represent the true property being captured.

My dining room. Outdoor light is not blown out revealing the inviting garden deck area while no loss of detail in the darker areas of the room. Captured in RAW using only the available ambient light.
A real property marketing shoot I did. This had a mixed ambient light source. I shot it in RAW working with the ambient light only.

So yes, I “Photoshop”.   In reality I use Lightroom and Adobe CS6 Photoshop.  When someone uses the word “Photoshop” in a derogatory way, we professionals know they are far from being knowledgeable in the profession of a photographer.  So… when you look at a photographer’s work and you think “Wow that is a nice picture!”  Appreciate it!  Be inspired by it!  And by all means BUY IT!  LOL!  We are artists too and how we use our tools to achieve what we see and interpret, is no different than that of an artist with a brush or other various tools.  Unless you have the original file to compare it to, there is no way of knowing how much manipulation was applied beyond the normal process.

Dee Browning, photographer/artist    www.deebrowningphotography.com

AMBIENT LIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHY:  available light or ambient light refers to any source of light that is not explicitly supplied by the photographer for the purpose of taking photos. The term usually refers to sources of light that are already available naturally (e.g. the sun, moon, lightning) or artificial light already being used (e.g. to light a room).[1]

Miksang

0027DKB-RGBI started this blog with the short story I wrote describing what I experienced on a photographing outing. I am now attempting to write a little about me, not my favorite subject, as a way of introducing myself. I am a very private person blessed with a full life as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend. I love to create artistic spaces in my yard and home that flow together providing little retreats for me to go to when I need to clear my mind. I have an aging cat, named Clarence, you can visit his blog  http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/    who supervises my office here in my home from his lofty perch over-looking my digital darkroom/desk. I don’t know what I will do when he will no longer hold this position, as he keeps me on a schedule of much-needed breaks with his persistent demands of attention when I have had my nose to the grindstone too long.

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Many feel that a photographer just goes out with camera in hand and takes lots of pictures then uploads them on to a computer, then puts them on a website and/or prints them out. That is only a small part of our work.  Photography demands, like other professions, a dedication and passion to sustain being a photographer. In my blog one will not find the technical writings that involve how to use a camera or the technical details of a workflow. I feel this subject has been successfully covered by those much more capable than I.  Like all serious photographers I spend more days in my digital darkroom/office than I do looking through the view-finder of my camera. With the ever-present sorting, culling, processing and adding metadata to all the images I have captured, to the updating and maintenance of a websites and now this blog/s, all this keeps me very busy in my office. I know members of my family and close friends just sigh when they hear I am working in my office as that seems the norm for me.  I am often asked when will I get caught-up?  I reply, ‘Hopefully soon.’ The reality is, this sometimes grueling work will never be ‘caught-up‘, mainly because I keep taking photographs!  I have wasted some of my time on the writing a blog as I often fine myself fretting over what to write about.

After writing ‘A Mental Retreat’ and starting a painting inspired by a photograph taken on that day, I realized I possibly had my blog figured out. All my life I have always had a deep-seated passion for creative writing, photography and art.   Now I have found myself combining the three.  I will not call myself a professional artist in regards to applying color on a canvas or paper, but I do feel it plays an important part in who I am as a photographer. When painting, I have a better understanding of color, contrast, texture and composition, thus allowing me to look at my subject through the view-finder of my camera, as an artist would.  As all artists, there are times when I feel disconnected from my work, and I find myself in a slump.  When in this mental fog, writing about a good photographing experience is a much-needed mental boost.  Allowing all three of my creative sides to work together has a meditative effect upon me, thus allowing all my senses to heighten, to become one with all, allowing me to see things I ordinarily would not see.  I aspire to lead others towards what I have learned.  To experience their enthusiasm and pride when they point out discoveries in their surroundings. Their discoveries bring to me a different perspective and more appreciation of what others perceive when using all their senses within the same surroundings.  A photographer needs to capture what others don’t see.

“Miksang” a Tibetan word meaning good eye, is a term used regarding my work.  It comes naturally for me, something I took for granted, until others began asking about it. In writing about my experience in capturing an image, I realized that it is because I become one with my surroundings and look at it in it’s entirety and thus develop ’Miksang’ so to speak.  Writing about this, I feel others will begin to see that photography is a very personal and solitary experience which sets all of us photographers apart in regards to our work. To write about how I use my senses, when photographing, I feel I can lead others to do the same. I hope to share with those who aspire toward photography, how to slow down and allow not only their eye, but their other senses, to absorb the space that surrounds what captured their eye, thus capturing a more interesting image. To be good at what you do, you must have passion, for it is that passion along with your own perspicacity is what comes through in an artist’s work. You can take several photographers and ask them to photograph the same subject and you will get different, though similar pieces of work, much like a room full of artists painting the same model. No pieces of work will be the same for we, as individuals, are different and perceive things differently. Knowing the technical side of photography, like operating a camera and processing film or files, is not what distinguishes a photographer’s work from others but the way one uses this knowledge to capture images that appeal to their individual senses. That in itself is a form of art, and like art, some will appreciate it and others will not. Artists come in all forms using all kinds of tools and canvas. There are painters, sculptors, writers, designers, the list goes on. To a photographer, our lens determines the size of the canvas. Our camera settings and equipment are our brushes and paints. Because I spend so much time photographing a subject, many ask, “Doesn’t this bore you?” Just the opposite! I find myself in awe at how time just slips away, and the added thrill in discovering a new subject in the same area to focus my lens on, or a different technique that would have been over-looked if I had not taken my time. After a shoot, I feel on top of the world.   I find any anxiety, self-doubt and/or worries I might have experienced at the time,  dissolved with ease as I immerse myself into my work experiencing a ‘mental retreat’.

I hope you will continue to journey with me as I add to my blog what inspires me to press down on the trigger-release and take a shot. As I wrote these three lines, “To share a mental perception.”  I realized that this was my goal.  So, the purpose of art whether captured or created is ‘to share a mental perception;.

To see more of my captured images and paintings

www.deebrowningphotography.com

©copyright Dee Browning – All Rights Reserved

Landscapes of Central Columbia River Basin

It seems I have little time for blog writing these days, as my summer is speeding by.  Family health issues are the  top of my priority list followed closely by shooting events, shows and jobs.  Because of this I have found myself falling further behind on some of my projects that don’t have time limits, this blog included.  So, for the time being, my blog writing will be sporadic.

2107DKBA couple of weeks ago, my friend Sonia accompanied me on a day trip to Central Columbia Basin as I wanted to photograph the harvesting of the grain.  Grain fields near The Dalles, Oregon, are vast and planted on rolling hills with Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams in the background, perfect for landscape photography.  Some of the fields were already harvested and some had already been burned adding texture and contrast for photographing. 2188DKBMy goal of capturing images of large combines working three or more abreast, cutting the grain, was not to be as the only combines I found were being worked on or parked unattended on the edge of a field.

Driving through the rolling agricultural hills I came upon an old abandoned farm house.2134DKB  My mind conjured up a story as to why this once beautiful home was abandoned.  Was it bad well water, foreclosure due to bad times, or the death of the last family member?  The whole scene was forlorn as the skeleton of a large tree added to the sadness of the abandoned property.

I love all landscapes from coastal to high desert as each has it’s own special geography of textures and colors.   I find photographing landscapes the most relaxing thing to do besides visiting a spa!

Prints available at   www.deebrowningphotography.com