LoveBomb Go-Go, Portland’s Marching Band, in McMinnville Annual UFO Parade

02For 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.

01 04 05 110708091003At 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

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Dee Browning, photographer/artist

 

 

 

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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

Garden and Glass House

Dale Chihuly Exhibit Glass House and Garden
Dale Chihuly Exhibit
Glass House and Garden

On a recent balmy, damp Saturday morning Sonia and I boarded the train to Seattle at Union Station in Portland.  The predicted downpour for the day had thankfully arrived early the night before leaving only puddles of water and low hanging clouds.  A little disappointed that our train was not the new European style one, recently purchased by Amtrak, but pleased to find it clean and comfortable for I had heard since my last train ride that Amtrak had fallen behind in the upkeep of their trains’ interiors.

Settled in our seats we looked out the picture window, the sky growing lighter with the lifting of the low ceiling clouds allowing a nice view of the scenery passing by.  As the train moved northward we noticed periodically leaves, from seemingly nowhere. were flying past our window leaving us to pondering their source.   As we passed by the south end of the Puget Sound, we watched the choppy waves rolling across its vast expanse.   It was then we realized how hard the wind was blowing and its strength is what carried the fall leaves from their unseen source.

As we drew nearer to Seattle, we began discussing one of our favorite artists, glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly, whose ‘Garden and Glass House’ exhibit we had come to see.  Upon our arrival at King Street Train Station, again the wind made us aware of it’s strength as we ventured outside.  Whirlwinds of fall leaves flew in our faces as they pushed past us and into open doors of shops as we walked, or rather pushed past.  The next day, we learned due to the high winds, the floating bridge crossing Lake Washington closed, leaving cars abandoned as people walked off the bridge to safety.

We had on a previous occasion, a couple of years ago, visited Dale Chihuly’s Museum of Glass in his native home town of Tacoma, Washington.  Enchanted with the Bridge of Glass, a 500 foot long pedestrian overpass that links the Museum in Tacoma to the downtown section of the city, a  delightful walk with walls and ceilings showcasing  his work.

Our first sight within the Garden and Glass House exhibit, in Seattle’s Center, brought a sense of calm as we paused to admire the Chihuly’s ‘Glass Forest’.  I love light and its effect on a subject whether it be natural or created by man.  Chihuly  truly understands its importance as it illuminates and reflects off his sculptured pieces.  A real treat to one’s eye and mind.  Allowed to photograph his work, I captured a few of my favorites.  These are very large displays set on a stage, its floor covered with reflecting mirrors producing an impact.

Dale Chihuly's Glass Forest
Dale Chihuly’s ‘Glass Forest’

We moved on to the ‘Northwest Room’, a gallery of his glass sculptured Indian Baskets.  Magnificently done, with Indian designs painted on the blown glass.  His success revealed in his sculpturing the glass to the likeness of ancient Indian baskets with their slump and saggy forms.

Dale Chihuly's Indian Baskets
Dale Chihuly’s Indian Baskets

Another gallery ‘Macchia Forest’, intrigued me as the shape of the glass sculptures captured and reflected the light directed upon it.  Below I captured a section that really caught my eye.  Subtle yet bold!

A section of Dale Chihuly's Macchia Forest
A portion of Dale Chihuly’s ‘Macchia Forest’

Further into the exhibit we came to ‘Ikebana and Float Boat’.  The ‘Float Boat’ literally took my breath away.  Full of glass blown floats the boat drifted upon an illusion of water created with mirrors.  Other floats appeared to have fallen from the craft and been set adrift.   I shot two different angles. This is a life-size boat.

Dale Chihuly's Float Boat
Dale Chihuly’s  Float Boat’
Dale Chihuly Float Boat
Dale Chihuly’s ‘Float Boat’

The other side of this display is another watercraft filled with Dale Chihuly’s interpretation of Ikebana, a traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement.

Dale Chihuly's Ikebana
Dale Chihuly’s ‘Ikebana’

As we moved slowly through the rooms, contemplating this man’s magical work,  one enjoys  the many themes displayed here besides those shown above.  The ‘Sea life Room’, filled with sea plants, starfish, anemones, octopuses, fish, all intertwined, appearing as if moved by the sea’s current.

To our delight, we came to another ceiling gallery, ‘Persian Ceiling’, for we so enjoyed the one displayed at the Tacoma Pedestrian Bridge.  ‘Mille Fiori’ another gallery, at the Glass House and Garden, is fifty-six feet in length and twelve feet wide, a garden of sculptured glass.  Very colorful as most gardens are.

When we finally reached the ‘Glass House’. which sits at the base of the Space Needle, we marveled at the size of this sculpture.  This piece has two thousand individual Persian glass forms fused together.

Myself and my editor, Sonia Picture taken by exhibits staff.
My editor, Sonia, and myself.
Picture taken by exhibit’s staff.

Below a closer view of the Persian glass sculpture in the Glass House.

My self and my editor Sonia In the Glass House.  Picture taken by exhibits staff.

We exited the glass house to stroll in the garden.  At the base of the Space Needle ‘The Sun’, a sixteen foot in diameter sculpture in bright yellow, sits center stage above a platform of sculptured plants.

Dale Chihuly's "The Sun" sculpture
Dale Chihuly’s ‘The Sun’ sculpture

My favorite piece in the garden, as shown below, I see dolphins riding the surf.  The garden, a fun enchanting place, is filled with Chihuly’s glass sculptures.

7After our stroll in the garden we went to the Collectables Café .  A cute little café with tables inlaid with shadow boxes, displaying items from Dale Chihuly’s personal collections.   To our surprise the foods presentation at other tables evoked our reason for eating here,.  We were not disappointed, it delighted our palates.  I highly recommend it.

Though invigorating, we had fought the wind and mini-tornadoes of autumn leaves coming to this exhibit by way of city busses.   With our time running short to catch the train back to Portland, we decided to take a cab.    At the station as we departed our cab, the wind ushered us into King Street Station, along with dry crackling leaves,

With a little time on our hands we took in the architectural beauty of the building.  Sonia commented that it looked freshly painted.  I took pictures of some of the architectural design and when I got home I looked up the building’s history.  Built between 1904 and 1906, over the years it endured many remodels, one that resulted in a lowered ceiling, leaving much of the original ornate interior hidden, till now.  The restoration completed just this year reveals a very stately structure of classic architectural design.

King Street Station restored to it's original architectural design.
King Street Station restored to it’s original architectural design.
King Street Station restored to it's original architectural design.
King Street Station restored to it’s original architectural design.
King Street Station restored to it's original architectural design.
King Street Station restored to it’s original architectural design.

Darkness descended as we traveled south.   Without the views to distract us we made acquaintance with some of our fellow passengers.  One small group told us about eating at Ivan’s that afternoon, a well-known restaurant on one of the many piers along Seattle’s waterfront.  This restaurant is a newer version of it’s former self, destroyed by fire.   As they ate, the strong winds drove waves crashing over the piers.  The rolling white-capped seawater, in clear view of  Ivan’s vast picture windows, left one in their party feeling a little queasy as he tried to finish his meal.

We arrived on time back in Portland, though we didn’t get the opportunity to ride the new train, the comfort and cleanliness of the ones we rode in left us in good form.    An enjoyable day, windy but no rain!

Road Trip to Port Angeles, Washington

 

I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful friend/editor as Sonia.  A thirty year age difference is not an issue, our mutual interests and philosophy provide a bridge.  We are a lot alike in many ways which surprises others.  Neither of us are very social, thus we come across as rather aloof.

Periodically I will take a road trip photographing asking her to join me.  She assists me in taking notes of the images I capture and points out subjects that catch her eye, providing for me, a different perspective.  I deal with a lot of distractions so when I blog, I always run my final draft past her keen eye.  After correcting any errors, she will read it out loud, her English accent and clear voice adding flavor to my written words.

Last Friday I planned another road trip Sonia and I had talked about doing for some time.  It had been years since I had been to the northern Washington Peninsula and the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  As a teen, our family enjoyed camping and clamming in the Olympic National Park.  One of our favorite locations, Lake Ozette, a place promoting solitude, where only a short hike through old growth forest led to ocean beaches adorned with seastacks.  Seals romped in and out of the icy sea waters of the Pacific Ocean, always entertaining to watch.  I plan to return to this place in the near future but for now our destination, Port Angeles, is where we had reservations for a two night stay. The weather forecast called for a wet and stormy weekend, which has never deterred us.

Leaving Portland fairly early, the low clouds prolonged the lighting of the day, we took I-5 to Tacoma where we would exit and cross the Narrows.  The rain we had driven through on I-5 abated as the clouds broke up allowing blue skies, lit by the sun, to appear.  Encouraged by this break in the weather we took a side trip to Port Townsend.  Incorporated in 1851, well-known for its preserved Victorian architecture, rich in history, art and annual festivals.  We arrived to witness them setting up for the weekend annual International Film Festival.  It felt good to really stretch our legs as we joined the locals and tourists alike taking in the interesting sights.

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The rain kept its distance till we were well on our way to Port Angeles.

The next morning we were again blessed with only partly cloudy skies and no rain.   We drove to Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic National Park, where Sonia wanted see the vast vista of the Olympic Mountain Range. This place held a special meaning for her.  Just recently her dear friend Bob passed away, and his wife and fellow hikers brought his ashes, as per his request, and scattered them near here.    Bob, an adventurous outdoors man, loved the Olympic National Park, his hiking boots were left somewhere up here under a tree marking his favorite spot.   Seeing the view from Hurricane Ridge we understood and appreciated his last request.

_DKB7352_DKB7361Clouds began reclaiming the space of blue, a sign of rain, soon to follow.  As we drove down Hurricane Ridge, the clouds followed obscuring most of the lush, majestic scenery.  The rain began in earnest pelting the Subaru in a side ward direction pushed from the increasing winds.  As with all of our other excursions, when bad weather is predicted, we felt fortunate for once again we experienced a nice dry and partial clearing of the skies while we enjoyed the view.

Seeing blue skies to the east upon entering Port Angeles, we decided to drive back to Port Townsend.  Our hopes were to beat the rain’s arrival and again enjoy the little town built on the shores of a bay with the same name.  Hopes fulfilled, we entered Fort Worden where I helped Sonia set up on the beach with a view of the lighthouse, and the sounds of the small rippling waves coming ashore.  While she took a power nap, I with camera in hand, explored the shore.  Having lost my tethered trigger release on my last hike, I replaced it with a remote trigger release.  It had just arrived the day before and I hadn’t had much of a chance to work with it.  Being told several times that I need to update my self-portraits, something I loath to do mainly because I am not good at it, upon finding a secluded spot alongside of a pier, I made an attempt.  I do not recommend this unless you have a good sense of humor, especially when directed at yourself.

Doing a test shot
Doing a test shot.  Why am I  leaning against the wood and stooped over?  Don’t know!  Must have tripped or stepped on something and lost my balance, at the same time I pushed the trigger release.  LOL
Trying different poses.  UGH
Trying different poses. UGH! and feeling stupid.

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Not quite so secluded, I even got a shot of myself acknowledging the presents of another.  How embarassing!
Not quite so secluded, I even got a shot of myself acknowledging the presence of another. How embarrassing!
So embarrassed and nervous, I rose and pretended to be looking for something in the sand.  Little did I realize, due to my discomfort I had kept my finger pressed on the trigger release button which was set for continuous release.  LOL
So embarrassed and nervous I rose and pretended to look for something in the sand.   Little did I realize, due to my discomfort, I had kept my finger pressed on the trigger release button, set for continuous release. LOL

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After Sonia’s power nap on the shores of Port Townsend Bay, we again visited the more crowded streets of the town enjoying the many sites and different street wear of the locals and tourists.  Heading back to Port Angeles, the clouds again opened up and again we felt fortunate that we avoided the down pour.  The rain soon dissipated when we entered Port Angeles, affording us a wonderful view of the sun setting reflecting off clouds and the waters of Strait of Juan de Fuca as we ate dinner in a local restaurant.  Life is Good!

To purchase prints of images taken that day of sail boats,sunrises,sunset and others   please visit my website     www.deebrowningphotography.com

Mental Retreat: Journaling In The Practicing In The Art Of Being

0966DKBwebWe all have those days when we just need to escape.  Living in Portland, Oregon gives me an array of venues, each providing a different scenic and meditative place where I can immerse myself.  The northern Oregon Coast is one of my favorites as it provides an ever-evolving atmosphere for contemplation.  When my everyday schedule starts to get the best of me, I gather my camera gear and head out.  Rarely do I plan these trips as they are accessible day trips.  The night before decisions are the best as they offer me an earlier start.

The northern Oregon coast is a magnet to many, especially those of a solitary artistic nature such as myself, for there are many wondrous areas to appreciate the variable moods and actions of the sea. This particular trip found me traveling northwest on Highway 30, along the banks of the Columbia River.  A light drizzle traveled with me as I drove the dark highway with only the small passing town lights, and headlights of those heading into the city for work, lightening the predawn sky.  Tension in my neck and shoulders begin to recede as I draw nearer to where the Columbia River meets the sea.  My destiny close at hand, as is evident in the silhouettes of ships appearing in the beginning rise of the sun’s rays, as they light the peaks of the dark choppy waters of the mighty river on which anchored ships sit.DKB7408web Life is stirring as I drive through Astoria, Oregon, a town of antiquity and it’s four mile long Megler Bridge that spans the Columbia River.

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Arriving at Cannon Beach the rising sun rays have begun to dissipate the early morning fog.  I am in luck as the low tide is nearing its end, leaving a wide beach to stretch my legs.

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Pools of salt water were left from the retreating surf around Hay Stack Rock, as crews begin to set-up informational signs about the tide pools, a signal to me that possibly a group of school children would soon be arriving.  Wanting more solitude, I returned to my car and headed further south in search of my retreat.0033DKBweb

South of Cannon Beach on Highway 101, I arrived at my destination, Arcadia Beach which is between Hug Point and Cannon Beach.   Hug Point was an old-passage way for wagons and automobiles, before 1940, so-called because the roadway hugged the shoreline contours as it connected Arch Cape with Cannon Beach.  With a trained eye one can see a piece of the abandoned section of this earlier roadway at low tide covered with colonies of anemones, mussels, starfish and sand.3662DKB

Visiting this area of the Oregon Coastline in the middle of the week during the off-season, offers a meditative venue of nature’s art, especially at low tide.  Massive rock formations, once connected to the coastline, stand separated by years of relentless pounding of the sea, evidences of such in the form of trenches, surrounded these Herculean pieces, trapping sea water and creatures alike.  I am not drawn to view the old passage nor to sea life stranded in the pools, instead I find myself captivated by the abstract art formed by nature and where it leads one’s gaze.

I place myself and camera gear on the firm cool wet sand near a grouping of  massive sentinels.   My line of sight follows the artistic curve of the smooth-edged sand banks retaining shallow calm water that flowed slowly past the monolith sculptures of nature, each adorned with mussels, and sea anemones glistening in the sun’s rays.  This watery path lead to the more aggressive waters of the sea that were instrumental tools in the design of these statures.  As I contemplate each shot, I lulled not only by the beauty within my camera’s frame, but by the sound of the rhythmic waves of the reversing tide.  A feeling of well-being and clarity enfold me.   Relaxed, I am thankful for such an opportunity.0952DKB

Pleased at my early arrival for I was experiencing the solitude I so desired as I ambled over to Hug Point Waterfalls, while the tide is still low.  One must be ever so aware of one’s surroundings no matter where you are for various reasons.  Here though, because of the tempestuous nature of the sea at high tide, one can become trapped or at worst pulled into it’s icy turbulence without provocation, by what is known as a sneaker wave.  As in life nothing is as it seems.   Do not be fooled by the calm, for calm is the opposite of turbulence and the two go hand in hand as a balance, as is the way with nature.

Arriving at Hug Point Falls I reclined upon the now sun-warmed accommodating sand and reflect upon the sounds surrounding me.  This was the tonic I so needed.  Born on the cusp of Pisces and Aquarius, I feel this is why I am so drawn to water.  The source of arresting sounds of the fall of water over the small rise of Hug Point Falls and those of the over-lapping waves of the sea, allowed any remaining tension I retained, to completely drain away with each receding wave, as my mind and body became one with my surroundings.  What a gift to oneself.0949DKB-web

Distant voices interrupt my meditative state.  Opening my eyes I saw the source, as an older couple strolled along the tide pools heading my way.   Their beloved pet, of an indescribable canine breed, chased an occasional seagull and snapped at the items offered up by the waves of the incoming tide.  Again I take up my camera and begin capturing the beauty that surrounded me.

As I capture nature’s art and it’s intent, more people arrived to beach-comb or to enjoy a leisurely stroll.  Young adults were the last to make a trek along this beach, probably due to the previous late nights activities.  Their young athletic bodies, with agile limbs, transverse the rocks as they noisily explored their surroundings.  This did not perturb me for it filled me with adventurous thoughts of my own nimble youth and vitality. Though not as spry as I once was, I am grateful for these delays due to my age, for they afford me a more thorough exploration of my surroundings.   As I watch their youthful enthusiasm, I am aware that they are not being truly appreciative.  This will only come with time as I have had to learn.  Our lives are paths which we must all take and each brings about a new awareness.  We must not be critical of those who have not caught up or have surpassed our current path, for they have not traveled as far, nor have we traveled as far as those before us.

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People are friendly here, a nod accompanied with a spoken “hello” from a smiling face prompts an enthusiastic reply.  Some stop to chat about photography upon seeing my gear.  Others proudly display their finds and mention where they found them.  Children squeal as they run knee-deep in the icy waters, along with an occasional shriek when a wave pushes them from behind, soaking once dry warm garments.  I come alive watching and capturing the human interaction with nature.

Hunger forces me to return to my car and since I did not pack a lunch I’ve decided to head back to Cannon Beach for a bowl of clam chowder at Moe’s.  I enjoy this place for one can watch the goings-on along the shoreline.  The chowder’s warmth spreads through me as I watch those bundled-up souls braving the icy wind as they stroll and play on the beach.  A simple but pleasant meal break.

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Not wanting to retrace my route, I decide to travel south along the coastline to Tillamook on my return trip home.  More of nature’s art is seen in the wind sculptured trees that line the road, along with panoramic scenes of ocean waves, boulders and sandy beaches.  I turn east and follow the shoreline of Tillamook Bay, passing through tiny fishing communities their boats dotting the bay.

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I can’t resist the Tillamook Cheese Factory, the true reason for this chosen route, as I am a lover of cheese and here you can sample to your heart’s content before you buy.  Let’s not forget the desert in the way of an ice-cream cone, dish or shake.  The stress released by my journey so far has prepared me well in the practiced art of patience as I become one of the throng of tourists who visit here.  Waiting in line I observe my surroundings and take in the many forms of human life.  I like to think up small life stories to attach to those that interest me.  It is a mental game I enjoy.

After purchasing my cheese and eating my one scoop of ice-cream in a cup, as I am always on a diet these days, I resume my drive towards home by taking Highway 6.  Dairies, their pastures filled with black and white cows, spread across the landscape.  Inland water-ways swell from the incoming tide as it reclaims its mark on the pillars of the piers and docks stationed along the banks.

The landscape changes even more as I make my assent up the coastal range, which is evident in the forest that grows there. Gone are the trees sculptured by the insisting coastal winds.   The trees here have chosen their own paths, some standing tall and wide, others succumbing to the soggy soil as gravity pulls on them, their roots slowly relinquishing their hold.  As I continue to follow the asphalt ribbon I have chosen, I feel the Pacific Ocean diminishing as I near the summit.   Instead of dread or sadness, I feel gratitude that I am fortunate to have experience what I have this day.

Having reached the summit I begin my descent, again I take in my surroundings as the forest gives way to farm land, orchards and vineyards.  Highway 6 connects to Highway 26, known to the locals as Sunset Highway.  Here the traffic grows in numbers as it becomes a multilane freeway.  The homeward journey lengthens as traffic becomes more congested when one draws nearer to entering the Portland Metro area.  With the masses, I traverse through the south-east blocks of the city, my chosen route to bypass the more heavily congested routes.  As I made progress I saw many things of photographic interest.   I found myself not thinking of the heavy traffic but instead of how I need to come and spend another day in the city to experience and capture images of the life here.

Leaving the city behind I continue my way towards home, on the far south-eastern edge of the great Portland Metro area, the distant Mt. Hood stays in my sight on this last leg of my journey.  It beckons me to visit it too soon, exploring it’s many trails with hidden alpine wonders to photograph.

I journal my experiences when photographing for they are such wonderful experiences of time taken to study ones surroundings.  When processing my photographic image files I often write thought-provoking phrases to go with a group of photographs.  Here is one from my experience that day.

 Ride the waves of life for they will recede.

To see more Sea Escapes visit my website

www.deebrowningphotography.com

©copyright 2011 Dee Browning   All Rights Reserved

Reno Air Races – September 16th 2011

I wanted to get this blog posted due to the current events that have happened.    The photographs shown here are from the 2009 Reno Air Races that I took.  NCAR owns all copyrights to any photos and videos taken at the show.  This means these photographs cannot be used for profit.  I have been given permission by the NCAR back in 2009, to show these photos on my website but they are not for sale.

Friday, September 16, 2011,  I went to work on a marketing photo shoot that involved the rest of the afternoon.   Upon returning home, I stowed  my camera gear in my office then turned on the TV for local news.  Seeing a video played on the screen of a horrific plane accident that appeared to involved spectators, I paused and turned up the volume.  My heart flipped when I heard this had happen at the Reno Air Races.  The news stated that it involved many casualties.  I immediately picked up my cell phone and started making calls as I was concern for family members and friends who were in attendance and/or were participating in the event.  My first call went out to my Dad and when no one answered I began to feel the icy grip of fear.   I was near tears as I hung up and called my brother Greg’s cell and was somewhat relieved in hearing his voice but feared he would have bad news.  He quickly assured me that all family and friends were fine and that he would call me later for his phone was constantly ringing as other family members and friends who were there,  plus those not in attendance such as myself,  were making contact to get assurance of everyone safety and well-being.  I feel for those who did not get this reassurance.  I experienced, if only for  a moment, what it must have been like for them.

I come from a family of race fans of all kinds and my Dad, a pilot, instructor, retired crop duster, licensed airplane mechanic and a former crew chief for race pilot, Nick Macy.  So I know what I am writing about here.

Past and Present Crew Chiefs for Nick Macy
My Dad, Ace is on the right.
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My brother Greg and his wife Diane both are pilots.  Each have their own planes and a hangar there at Steads Airfield Airport, in Reno where the races are held.   During the week of many annual Reno Air Races my Dad, his wife, brothers Greg and Pat and their families along with many friends gather and hang out at another friends hangar.  This hangar is huge and has a master size bathroom, seating area and refrigerator full of refreshment.   A barbecue gets going just outside the hangar most evenings and brother Greg’s  fifth wheel parked out back to accommodate the overflow from the hangar.

Another gathering place is at Macy’s assigned pit area where race pilot Nick Macy, his crew, family and friends converge.  In between races Nick’s plane gets towed back to this area where those with pit passes can have a closer look at the vintage super machine, a Corsair.   And yet another gathering place is at race pilot Bill Whitlach’s pit area.  Hew flies the late Bob Yancy’s plane, a Russian Yak.  Bob was another family friend who raced planes at the Reno Air Races till his passing from cancer several years ago.

So with so many friends, family and acquaintances that I knew were there, not to mention those I knew who could be there, you can understand my reaction to the news of many casualties.   Before I continue I want to say how sorry I am for those who lost their lives or are fighting to stay alive and what their families are going through.  My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

I have been told that this horrific accident could cause the cancellation of future annual Reno Air Shows.  I hope this is not the case.   This was an accident like those of other dangerous sports such as car racing and other air shows.  All have safety measures in place that are constantly being improved upon.

In 2009, I joined family and friends at Stead Field Airport, in Reno, for four full days of air racing and other spectacular air performances.   The atmosphere charged with anticipation and tension of the unknown outcome that evoked the feelings of excitement of your pilot winning and apprehension of the always present dangers.

During my time there I saw one accident, involving one plane, and the pilot walked away to everyone’s relief.  In this air racing event in Reno has been an annual event for forty-seven years and there have been 19 fatalities before this year and none were spectators.  To me this is a small number considering the dangers involved.  I attributed that small amount to the safety conscious effort from of all those involved in this extreme sport.   Air Racing is dangerous as it involves man-made machines, some modified to have unbelievable power/speed, all under the control of a man/woman.  The pilots push their plane to their limits edge with skill and knowledge.  It is one of the earliest form of extreme sports.  These pilots and their crews are the best in what they do.

Spectators flock to the races in great numbers to experience the thrill and excitement of the event.   This would not happen if the extreme threat of real danger did not exist.   I have felt that thrill as a spectator.  It was a mixture of wanting to cheer my favorite pilots on, Nick and Bill, and at the same time, fear of something going terribly wrong that the pilots nor their crew could foresee.   To be brutally honest, that is a rush!  Which is what extreme sports is all about.  I did a little research and found that in the past forty-eight years of the Indie 500 races, ten drivers, one track personal and 3 spectators died.   Going back to Indie’s  beginning, the numbers in all areas rise.  There are many extreme racing events throughout the world.  Due to the extreme speeds and closeness of machine and man, accidents will happen.  These are unfortunate, but to ban them!   There is more hazards in everyday life from people being careless.  At least at these events safety is a priority.

When I was at the 2009 races I witness all the safety that was in place.  I was in awe at some of the spectators as they got so involved in trying to capture an image with their cameras or wanting to get a closer look, they would venture just past the safety barriers.  These spectators were immediately corralled.  In the pit area, you had to have a pass to enter, pit crews are very much aware of anyone getting to close to their plane, as was apparent in seeing the nearby ever-present sentinels,  this is evident even on the tarmac.

Six Cat on Tarmac   Pilot Nick Macy
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In this extreme sports event, planes fly low at high speeds, at times wing tip to wing tip as they pass each other.  They maneuver in close to the staked pylons that mark the air race course.

Air Racing
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Besides the racing there is danger in all the performances that entertain the spectators between races.   There are the pilots performing air defying stunts, that would make most people lose their lunch at the rapidly changing view seen from the cockpit of alternating sky and fast approaching ground.

Stunt Plane
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I experienced this once flying with my dad in a stunt plane, though not to the extent that you see at shows.   Skydivers fall from an aircraft high above, their bodies a tiny speck in the vast blue sky.  Those specks take on a human shape that rapidly grows larger as spectators feel a touch of dread when parachutes don’t deploy when they feel it should.

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Our armed forces pilots fly their jets upside down towards each other in what appears as a mid-air collision only a few hundred feet above the airstrip and in different very tight flight formation making one grimace as they pass by us  in an arena of open desert surrounded by distant mountains.

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Top-notch pilots are so in tune with their planes that plane and pilot become as one.

Pilot Nick Macy winner in the T-6 Class piloting his plane the Six-Cat
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The moment a pilot feels something might be wrong, he will pull out immediately and away to avoid any danger to others.  This is what appeared to have happened in this tragic event, only by the time, the pilot, Jimmy Leeward was aware of trouble, it quickly escalated into something that a very experienced and highly qualified  pilot, such as himself, was unable to get his troubled plane safely away.   My heart and prayers goes out to his family/crew.  Many family members become part of the crew.  Many are pilots themselves.  These crews have not only lost a beloved friend/family member, but must also be harboring a form of responsibility in regards to the mechanics of the plane that may have resulted in death of others.  A two-fold burden I would not wish on anyone.

Inspecting Mechanic
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I guess what I am trying to say here is that we are all human.   We may try but we can not control fate.  I know the kind of people who work on these planes and who fly them.  They are the best in what they do.  My father can attest to this first hand.  After each race, pilots and planes are given top priority.   The plane is thoroughly inspected. The pilots after conferring with their crew and the press, will retire to a quiet place away from the crowds where he/she can recoup the tremendous energy they spent piloting their plane.  This is so very important as they need to be in peak condition both mental and physically before racing again.  The time with fans will come later.

As for the spectators they were there for the thrill of being so close to such a potentially dangerous event, as I can attest.

2009 Unlimited Gold champion  pilot Steven Hinton ©copyrighted

My prayers go out for those who were hurt, for those struggling to live and to those who lives were lost.   My sympathy and prayers go out to those family members of the victims and I am sorry that this accident had to happen just as I am sorry for the accidents in the past.

In memory of those extreme jocks present and past, and their faithful fans.

Dee Browning, photographer

Columbia River Gorge Flamboyant Sunset

I hope all enjoyed my assistant, Sir Clarence James, while I was busy with many other matters including my work as a photographer.  A little whimsical, he is always a source for entertainment.  If you are disappointed that you are not reading another of his adventures, rest assured he will be back.

With only a couple of weeks of summer left one wonders where it all went.  This year has been very un-summer like in regards to weather, as we here in Oregon have experienced below normal temperatures and an unusual amount of rain the first half of the year.  My garden, or an attempt at one, produced a few green beans and just a week ago the cucumber plants, less than six inches high, produced blooms and now are developing tiny cucumbers.  It seems so peculiar to watch them grow on such small plants.  If the weather holds in the nineties this week and next, as predicted, we will be harvesting tomatoes, and possibly cucumbers if those tiny plants can withstand the burden.  All other plants that I planted either did not come-up or died from lack of sunshine.

With the hopes of an Indian summer, I look forward to capturing the autumn colors, that is if the smoke clears from not too far away forest fires east of Mt. Hood.  Today the wind is coming from the east, filling our air with smoke.  With the return of  the warm weather, I find myself confined mostly indoors due to the smoked-filled air which irritates my lungs. I can’t complain as there are so many who have it so much worse as they deal with natural disasters throughout the world this most unusual year.

The haze of smoke in the air affords one the ability to capture some interesting sunsets and sunrises.   Last Sunday the winds from the south cleared the air allowing me to venture out without a mask.  Wanting to take advantage of  the forest fire’s haze, my husband and I drove to Vista House on Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge.1906DKB  Here the Columbia River curves a watery path separating Oregon and Washington states,  affording one a ninety degree panoramic view of the south end of the Columbia River Gorge, to watch and of course capture the sunset.

We came early as I wanted to capture the east end of that vista as the sun began it’s most westerly descent casting shadows from trees and craggy cliff edges.

Soon others with the same idea began arriving on this pleasant warm evening to witness and celebrate an end to a wonderful day.

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A young man settled himself on the rock wall surrounding the Vista House and began playing a guitar.  His music fitting as it glided smoothly on the ever-present air currents found in the Columbia River Gorge.   Some brought picnic suppers which they spread out on the concrete steps.  Cameras from cell phones to the big guns, made their presence known as their owners captured the smoldering orange-red ball as it descended in the west.1937DKB

After I had taken the eastern images of the Gorge while the sun was beginning it’s descent, I then readied my camera with my Nikkor 17-35mm 1:2.8D wide angle lens and added a graduated ND filter.  With my trigger release cable attached and camera mounted on a tripod, I set-up facing west and framed my shot to include a lamp-post as a silhouette.  I then metered my shot.  I took different stages of the sun’s descent while enjoying exclamations of those around me and the lilting music of the lone guitar.  Young couples kissed the sun silhouetting their features.  Older couples such as my husband and I drew each other closer while facing westward, relaxing in the warm rays of the setting sun.1974DKB

I thought of those close to me who are dealing with life and struggling with what it throws at them.  I wanted them to witness this beauty of nature with me.  I wanted them to receive from this event what I was receiving.  To have hope and faith for when bad things happen, in this case a forest fire, to know there is light at the end of the tunnel such as this wonderful sunset .  My heart and prayers goes out to them as they negotiate their way through the turmoil while I can only be there for them in the form of support as I have no control over what they must endure.  My photography I hope brings them moments of mental relief from their daunting tasks when they view my captured images of the beauty that surrounds us or read the whimsical writing of Sir Clarence James!

So, go out and enjoy the sunset for it not only represents the end but also the beginning!  Life can be good if you want it to be.

Prints available at   www.deebrowningphotography.com