For the past fifteen years McMinnville, Oregon has held an annual UFO Festival. How this came about as an annual event and other captured images of aliens who attended and mixed with humans in enjoying all the goings on, I will post in my next blog. Featured here is Portland’s Marching Band, the Lovebomb Go-Go, an accomplished group of musicians playing Pop and Glam Rock music, and dancers. Having a flair for standing out, costumes and makeup adding to their repertoire of entertainment, the band brought this and more to this years UFO Festival Parade.
At the end of their march all were left with a need to see and hear more of their performance. After the parade they reassembled in the center of main street McMinnville to give an hour-long performance to everyone’s delight. Pictures are worth a thousand words, thus why I love photographing. So in this blog I will let the images I took tell the story. For more on the LoveBomb Go-Go visit their website at www.lovebombgogo.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I decided to shake it up a bit, from my normal photography venue, by photographing street performers. This involved stepping out of my comfort zone of capturing serene images where I give a lot of thought and time, processing my composition, before pressing the shutter release button. I tried being inconspicuous as I mingle with the crowd of sightseers, vendors, shoppers, and performers, not an easy task for attached to my camera is my portrait telephoto lens.
People fascinate me. I would love to shoot more, but my shyness holds me back. Being behind the lens helps me in that area. My decision to capture Street Performers is because they do so in a very public venue.
I use my portrait lens as I can zoom in without invading their space which would detract from their performance.
Variety is well-observed as one strolls by. Lets not leave out ever-present Clown one can find in such surroundings…..
nor those other unusual intriguing sites…..
that makes life so fun and interesting! This is what I refer to as overindulging in the “Art Of Being”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
There are times when I find myself overwhelmed with negotiating everyday living, especially in today’s economic climate. I feel fragmented with the here and there of photography jobs, taking care of and maintaining a home and yard, making time, willingly, for loved ones and friends, and of course assuring Sir Clarence James reclining years are comfortable. He is doing really well and will write a blog soon.
He now has his own blog http://sirclarencejames.wordpress.com/
I feel I have been pretty successful in these tasks but find myself tense from the effort despite my near daily yoga and meditating rituals. My husband recently reminded me that I had not been out in some time practicing my Zen photography. This is where I go off by myself to capture images that fascinate me. It requires that I find a spot, whether it be in nature or a bustling city, and spend the day there. I do this to clear my mind and become more receptive to my surroundings. Children come by this naturally and I refer to it as “The Art Of Being”.
Early Sunday morning I drove to the Sandy River, one of many rivers near my home here in Oregon. Water draws and soothes me and not wanting to spend a lot of time driving, I had in mind a day spent along this river looking for great spots to view and capture images of the spawning salmon when the fall run is in full swing. This run has already begun but it is still too early to get much opportunity to capture some images. Planning ahead I will pick my spot and return at another time for ‘Nature’s Cycle of Life’ show.
Fed by glaciers on Mt. Hood, which has slowed considerably this time of year, the river’s water levels are quite low leaving wider beaches where one can explore. Due to recent years of floods the river has forged new paths removing trees and boulders from its banks. Massive roots of the down trees washed clean from the flood waters, then dried and bleached from the sun, litter the beach. Some of the exposed roots still linger in pools of water at the river’s edge providing a safe place for the spawning salmon to lay their eggs. This is the type of settings I am looking for.
Hiking high above an old landslide area, I look down along a stretch of beach and notice what looked like stalactites, those icicle looking formations one sees in a cave, only these were pointing up. Curious, I made my way to the lower end of the slide before slipping and sliding the rest of the way to the beach. What looked like stalactites from far above were river rocks stacked on top of each other. This beach was approximately a quarter of a mile long and covered with river rocks, none stacked more than knee-high. As I walked around taking in my surroundings, I saw that these stacked rocks represented people. To my delight I had stumbled upon a village of River Rock People! Retrieving my camera from my backpack I began immersing myself in capturing this amazing village. All alone on the beach with only the sound of the river rushing over rocks, my fragmented thoughts drifted away. I became more receptive to the spiritual feeling I was receiving from this mystical village. It had to have taken a long time to build this scene I found myself in. Had it happened over a time or had it been recently done by a large group of people? As the day moved on, I would soon get my answer.
With camera in hand I went about capturing this River Rock Tribe. There were families, individuals and groupings. I saw a Navajo Squaw I recognized from a painting by the famous artist Rudolph Carl Gorman. Others faced the water edges, in miniature form, like those giant stone monoliths, called Moai on Easter Island, looking out towards the sea. Another ancient culture entered my mind when I came across a group of stacked rocks that formed a circle. I became aware of how alive I was feeling immersing myself in this mystical world of river rock. Amazed by the fact that there are still people in this world of advanced technology that find enjoyment in nature’s simplicity and being creative in using her wares, such as this creation with the use of these rocks. It further more amazed me that they were seemingly left untouched, even though there were other signs of human trespassers in an occasional left behind soda can, plastic bottle and a flip-flop shoe.
By noon, distant voices drifted my way. Looking around I saw a small family making their way to the beach using the same route as me. The children squealing with delight as they descended the slide on their bottoms ahead of their parents, packing blankets and packs, as they side-step precariously down the sandy slide. I began to feel anxious for the River Rock People fearing the intruding humans would be the beginning of their demise. Realizing that I could not stop what fate they would be dealt, I returned to capturing what I could before it could be destroyed.
As the sun warmed the beach on this early fall day, more and more voices intruded my thoughts as more people arrived. Taking a break, I sat among the River Rock People and observed those of my kind as they enjoyed a day on the beach. I became relieved to see the young and old alike, instead of destroying the Village, were adding to the landscape by building more stacks of rocks. I finally had my answer. This special place had evolved over a time and was still evolving. I felt blessed to have found this mythical beach and to see its effects on others for it gave me hope for humanity. I hope to see this village soon for I will be returning in a couple of weeks for the spawning of the salmon.
If one allows our media, and doomsday Sayers to depress our mental being we are to blame only ourselves. We all need to set aside time in our hectic lives to practice “The Art Of Being” a spa for the mind.
I 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.
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;.
Last night, as the rain beat a steady rhythm against the windows, the local news station forecasted snow, possibly on the Willamette Valley floor, by morning. This seemed a little far-fetched, especially in March here in the Portland, Oregon area. It wasn’t until they showed a live webcam of snow on top of Haystack Rock, at Pacific City, that I thought maybe this was a possibility. A peculiar sight to see, this mammoth haystack shape rock surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, its peak covered with snow. I had spent from dawn till dusk on the coast the first part of February and it was at Pacific City where I ended a wonderful day by capturing this beautiful sunset.
Seeing the snow on top of this rock a month later just didn’t seem possible, but there it was. As the rain continued to fall well into the night I began to doubt we would receive any of this unusual snow fall in our area.
Sir Clarence James ,my cat, woke me at 1:00am the following morning wanting to get under the covers. I couldn’t blame him for it was pretty chilly. My husband and I like to sleep with the heat off at night as we have discovered we sleep better when it is colder in the house. As Clarence made himself comfortable, under the covers,I began to wonder if the cooler night air meant it might be snowing outside and decided to get up and take a look.
My neighborhood had transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland, so clean, pure and peaceful. It seemed that about three to four inches of the white heavy stuff had fallen. For a time I sat and watched the big fluffy white flakes fall from the sky till a light veil began to drape my mind and my eyelids became heavy. I headed back to bed knowing it would still be warm thanks to Clarence and my husband John. Snuggling under the down comforter I slowly drifted off to sleep with visions of snow flakes falling softly from the sky still in my head.
It seemed I had only been asleep for a few minutes when Clarence crawled out from under the covers and started pawing my hair. This is his way of telling me it is time to get up and fix his breakfast. He has trained me well for I quickly rose knowing he would not leave me alone till I had gotten out of the bed. Wrapping my warm robe around me I stopped briefly at the window to take a quick peek outside before heading to the kitchen. To my delight it looked the same as it did several hours earlier. Clarence’s urging chatter got me moving again towards the kitchen with him hot on my heels.
His Highness taken care of and the furnace activated, I started the water for my tea. While I waited for the water to heat up, I opened the shutters covering the windows that looked out over the backyard and the hill beyond. Sipping my tea, I stood and watched the dawn breaking as the house warmed and his Highness noisily ate his breakfast. As the sky lightened with the moon still visible, the sun’s rays turned those clouds it reached into a pinkish haze behind the bare limbs of the trees, all enhanced by the undisturbed snow. It was such a beautiful sight to begin a new day and I decided to capture it. Still in my robe I grabbed my camera and headed outside to photograph this wonderful and rare scene to see, in March, here in the Pacific Northwest.
I love nature and encourage birds to spend time in my yard. I love to listen to their songs and observe their antics, all year round. Every morning we put out a handful of peanuts on the stone wall of our patio next to the arbor for the blue jays and squirrels. They are so entertaining to watch. This morning after putting out the peanuts I waited, with camera in hand, for the blue jay’s arrival.
These wonderful birds are something to watch as they come for the peanuts. A bird will pick up one peanut and seemingly weigh it, then put it back down so it can pick up another. This will continue till it has decided which one is the heaviest. The chosen nut will then disappear down it’s throat. Wait! He is not finished as he then grabs another, presumably the next heaviest and with it firmly held, within its beak, it will fly away to bury both nuts before returning for more.
As the day draws to an end we still have snow on the ground, though only in those cooler shady areas. Clarence and I have taken breaks from work to watch the variety of birds that visit our feeders today from the comfort and warmth of our home. Life is good.