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]

Lincoln City Annual Kite Flying Festival

This last weekend…Whoops!  That was two weekends ago!  My busy schedule of other projects that I needed to complete, one being a fun shoot of a beautiful girl and her horse, interrupted my writing of this blog.  These interruptions to my well laid plans happen often.  I can honestly say I am never bored! Photographers have many projects! Priorities taken care of I now must re-write the beginning of my blog.  

My husband and I along with our dear friend Sonia, spent Saturday, June 25th at Lincoln City enjoying their annual ‘Kite Flying Festival’.  We have endured the first half of this year of unusually wet weather.   Our bodies deprived of vitamin D began to re-energized at the lack of clouds in the sky.  The exposed blue sky provided a wonderful background for the colorful  kites that flew as an opening act above the assembling crowd of people staking out their individual piece of beach. 

Chilly winds, which is typical of the Northern Oregon coast, kept most under cover by way of jackets, blankets and beach tents.   A few, mostly the young, could be spotted in their more revealing attire, exposed skin red from sun and wind, as they strutted and swayed in the human way of attracting the opposite sex.   I hoped at that age I wasn’t so obvious as these youthful beings, but I fear might have been.  Those younger still, also scantily clothed, in the way of shunned jackets and bare feet, ran and hopped about, kicking up sand and squealing with delight at the kites overhead.   Many with hand-made kites of their own ran with a hand-held high clutching a short string attached to their kite, that soared and dived erratically behind them, their youthful energy fueling the warmth they needed.  Dogs of all shapes and sizes greeted each other in their doggy ways showing signs of excitement in being in this festive environment   Nearer to the waves, leash free, they
played in the surf then sprayed a shower of salt water droplets freed from wet fur, on to those close by.   I observed all this as we set-up our spot among the throng of fellow beings practicing the
Art of Being’.  How invigorating!

After staking out our section of sand, I ready my gear consisting of two lens, a wide-angle, and small telephoto, both great for using in what I refer to as shooting from the hip.  A tripod in such instances is not practical.  To capture excitement and wonder involving an event such as this, I needed flexibility and quickness in my positioning.  After taking a couple of test shots to satisfy myself of my basic camera settings and I wandered off to integrate my camera and I with those of my subjects and objects, leaving my husband and friend to enjoy the festivities from their camp chairs and warm blankets on our little piece of beach. 

Children fascinate me for they are the true artists in the ‘Art Of Being’, for their minds have not been molded with constrictions of responsible thoughts that plague adults.  As I watched their expressions of wonderment and excitement, though tempted, I avoid singling them out to photograph, as it makes most parents uneasy and rightly so.  Instead I observed what captivated them and with their expression in mind I attempt to capture an image that will get the same reaction of wonder and excitement from those who view it. 

Walking the outer edge of a ribbon-made fence, set-up to discourage the masses from entering the area where they anchored the big kites , one kite-man caught my attention as he held an instrument up over his head.  I soon learned he was measuring the winds as he announced they were at 16 knots.  He kept checking his anchor and the taut lines leading skyward to a tethered bright red octopus kite dancing in the winds, its tentacles break dancing in time to the frequent gusts.  A large colorful blow-fish swam the air currents only a few feet from the sand, dwarfing all that ventured near for a closer look.  I did envy those who had video cameras as I attempted to capture the synchronized flying of six kites handled by six people to surreal music.  It was a
beautiful sight to see but difficult to capture.  I finally relinquished this effort and settled myself on a nearby drift log to enjoy the show.  

I see you are another Nikon-er.”  stated a voice interrupting my semi-meditative moment with the synchronized flying kites.  That was when I became acquainted with D. Deane Ingram, a fellow photographer who started his profession shooting the Vietnam War.  He told me of his job travels all over Europe.  How he and his German wife, Ingrid, finally settled in Portland until his recent retirement to Lincoln City.  Still photographing, he proudly shared with me some of his work that he carried with him in his gear bag.   Our conversation veered toward the digital world of photography and the pros and cons of being a pro-photographer in that field.  It felt good to share my love of photography with a fellow photographer. 

I ambled back to our spot only to find two famished people who had patiently awaited my return to enjoy the food we had brought with us.  I placed my camera in my bag and settled down to eat, all the while scanning for more picture-taking opportunities.  Our picnic consumed, a need for a restroom trip delayed, as Sonia and I giggled like  young girls over an incident we found ourselves in.  Our chairs had sunk deeply into the sand making it extremely difficult to get up.   As we tried to hoist ourselves out of our seats her chair tilted as it went deeper into the sand on one side, nearly dumping her into my lap.  John was of no help as he found himself in the same predicament.  Laughter is  the best medicine except when you have to use the bathroom!    

As the events of the day drew to a close, we loaded ourselves with our belongings and  trudged back to our vehicle.  As we walked, a scene had unfolded before us requiring that I again take out my camera.  Now I fully understood, the vigilance, of attending to the anchored kites.   A kite measuring eighty-one feet long had broken away from its anchor on the beach.  It had entangled itself in a tree and power line that edged the beach-front road.  Six frustrated men worked to gently untangle the $5,000.00 kite from the tree limbs, wires, and its own tethered ropes.  I did not envy their work nor the loss of investment if they were not successful in their endeavor.  My need to capture this unfortunate scene satisfied, I was not surprised to find our vehicle with my husband and friend inside driving towards me.  They, already loaded-up, had come to pick me up.

The drive home was pleasant as Sonia and I noticed places of photographic interest.   My husband focused only on his driving and our destination, could not bother with the scenery we passed, allowing Sonia and I to relax and enjoy the landscape, knowing our eyes and reflexes are not needed to assist him when he is behind the wheel.

With my other current priorities taken care of and my blog completed, a little later than I had planned, I can now return to reviewing and reminiscing that day on the beach at Lincoln City Annual Kite Festival.   

©copyrighted
by
Dee Browning