Welcome to my Blog. It is a snapshot of my activities in six-month installments.
My photography emphasis has changed in the last couple of years. I have moved away from underwater images and now I'm totally devoted to landscape of the Western United States and Canada. I'm 'in the field' almost every week either taking photos or researching areas for the next shooting session.
Not much posted on the blog for the last half of 2017. Although I did some good photo work I also enjoyed myself on a great visit to Spain to meet up with Catherine when she completed a 500 mile cross country trek.
2018 however, has been a very busy year that started with a trip to Moab, Utah, followed by a six week drive to Florida and back to Hillsboro. Driving cross country had been on my bucket list for many years. Seeing how other people live, viewing the diverse geography and visiting with many friends along the way made it a great trip for Catherine and me. We especially enjoyed following much of the Oregon Trail route where it fit into our journey. Whenever possible, we traveled on secondary roads and scenic byways.
Just before our cross country trip, I added a new Olympus EM-1 Mark-II camera to my arsenal. It has become my 'go to' camera and I carry an older Mark-I, usually set up with a 7-14 Pro Lens. I love that lens and keep it ready when I'm in areas that can take advantage of its wide angle capability. With the new Mark-II camera I use a 12-100 lens and a 12-40 lens.
I made several trips to the Oregon Coast and to Mt. Hood. These are two areas that provide different photo opportunities on each visit. We got some good photos while staying at Black Butte Ranch near Sisters and also some descent photos during a trip to Joseph, Oregon. One thing we struggled with on these trips was the smoke from the many forest fires not only in Oregon, but also from northern California.
In September, I had a great trip with my Seattle photo buddy Bobby Berenson. We traveled 2000 miles going from Portland, across Oregon, into Idaho and finally into Washington. We visited Mt. Hood, Smith Rock State Park, The Painted Hills, Stanley Lake, Sun Valley and finally the Palouse farm country in eastern Washington. We stopped at several lesser known places during our trip and came home with great photos. I've included many of them on my webpage.
Before this year is over we have a trip planned to Yosemite National Park for some winter photography. I also have a photo seminar to attend at the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite. Hope to do some new postings before yearend.
The move to Oregon was an intense activity that cut into my photo journeys for a while. Catherine and I did some short exploratory trips to the coast and up to Mt. Hood. We also had fun exploring the Portland area.
Our first extended road trip was in March when we traveled across Oregon and down into Nevada, then across to Arizona. Spent a week visiting Sarah Boon in Phoenix and a few days in Sedona. On the way home we visited Mike and Kate Bally at Moose Lodge in Park City, Utah.
April was devoted to a second road trip with Karen and Todd Gibbs when we traveled to Lake Tahoe, Death Valley and Yosemite. A great two weeks of beautiful scenery, photography, off-road travel, biking in the Alabama Hills and being with great friends.
May, we headed to Norway where we got on a quasi cruise ship/freighter and sailed north up the coast of Norway. We made almost 34 port visits that ended above the Arctic Circle at the border with Russia. On our way home we spent a few days in Copenhagen.
June, we stayed close to home with a short visit along the Oregon Coast and a trip back to Seattle.
After countless remodels and repairs to our Seattle home, in September we moved to Hillsboro, Oregon. Catherine retired in October and we are settled in our new home about 15 miles east of Portland. For now, I packed away my SCUBA diving/photo gear and have been dedicated 100% to landscape photography. Oregon is a photographers paradise with mountains, desert and the coastal waters all very close to us. To have some distinction and separation for my photos I've added new categories to the webpage. I'll refresh the content of the page as often as I can. In my Facebook posting I'll direct people to the website. I'm planning to do blog entries at least monthly and perhaps more often if there is content to share.
Since arriving in Oregon I've been able to make countless field trips with several purposes. Always, I want to shoot good images, but since I'm sort of new to the area much of my travel effort is just to sort out the logistics of getting into good photos locations, the proper times of the year, the best time of the day to shoot and proper lens selection.
I'm still shooting the EM-1 Olympus mirrorless camera and amazed at how versatile it is as well as how light it is to carry in the field. I now have two camera bodies so I don't have to change lenses as often. A big advantage when in the rain forest conditions or the wind and sand of the Pacific Coast.
So, as we head to the end of 2016, I am excited as ever to continue photo shooting and sharing on my website and on Facebook. I also plan to get in some diving and underwater photography as time allows.
The first six months of 2016 have been very busy with landscape and underwater photo work. Diving in cold water was actually good for rehabilitation after the surgery on my right wrist. I was diving in the Seattle Aquarium once a week and also at least once a week in Puget Sound. By the way, I was very honored to have two of my octopus photos put on display at the Seattle Aquarium Octopus Live Exhibit.
In April, I took a great trip to Grand Cayman Island with a fine group of local divers. Lots of good images to carry home and new friendships to carry along in life. Grand Cayman is clearly one of the best dive destinations for anyone wanting to do photography in warm blue water.
May, I headed to Utah with Todd and Karen Gibbs. Catherine met us in Salt Lake City where we also picked up Mike and Kate Bally. We all headed to Moab for a week of off-road driving, National Park (NP) visiting and hiking and just enjoying this beautiful diverse landscape. The second week we headed to Canyon Lands NP and Antelope Canyon; great photo ops all along the way, especially in the slot canyons of Antelope Valley. Todd and Karen headed home while Catherine and I went on to Bryce NP and Zion NP; two gorgeous parks we'll visit again. I dropped Catherine at the Las Vegas airport, then headed for Flagstaff where I stayed 3 days while shooting along the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I moved on to Sedona for a few days of back country off-roading using some great maps made by FunTreks. Headed down to Phoenix for Sarah Boon's graduation ceremony from ASU Graduate School on May 14th; very special for us.
Catherine flew home while I headed across Arizona and Utah eventually getting to Ketchum, Idaho. Had 3 great days around Ketchum and Sun Valley, taking advantage of the early morning light, cloud movements and high country snow. Most of the photo shooting in this area is above 6000 feet elevation so it was still freezing each morning and never too warm in the afternoons. Many high country roads were impassable with snow and I was careful not to push my luck. Many times I just left the car in the road and hiked to find my next photo opportunity.
After a 5AM start from Ketchum, I went over Galina Pass and moved north toward Stanley where I was rewarded with two fine photos; one at Red Fish Lake and one at Stanley Lake. I continued north through Idaho following along the Little Salmon River enjoying the hunt for photo ops along the river and in the hills.
Got into Pullman and spent 3 days shooting the Palouse farms, then east to Palouse Falls before getting back home on May 23. Over 5500 miles and 26 days on the road; can't wait to go again.
Left Seattle early October 1, heading east across the state toward Lewiston Id.
Our first stop was the Palouse Falls near Washtukna. The falls are just a trickle from their normal flow as the river feeds west toward the Columbia. This seemed to be a great time to visit the falls since most vacationers are gone by now; crowds and road traffic are low.
Arrived in Lewiston for lunch then headed toward prairie country first stopping in Grangeville to see a life size copy of a wooly mammoth. Along the way Catherine found a brochure for a B&B in a Catholic monastery run by the Sisters of Gertrude in Cottonwood, Id. See photo with red roof church. Our room was great with a view across the plain that allowed me to get a good sunrise photo shown in this collection. The Sisters of Gertrude were great hosts, gave us a tour of their Chapel and all of the workshops used to keep money flowing in as they had for over 100 years.
We headed south toward Hells Canyon and the Snake River. The canyon got it's name from the Lewis & Clark explorers since they thought they had arrived in Hell; the canyon totally stopped their progress and the river 'snaked' along the steep walls but did not lead them anywhere. From the Idaho side of the river the only access road down to the water is along a 17 mile steep dirt road to a flat landing called Pittsburg, named after an early railroad. Today, sport fishing is the main use of the river and we were told to keep our eyes open for rattle snakes since this is their favorite kind of terrain.
Spent a quiet night in Riggins, Idaho then continued south toward McCall that sits beautifully on Payette Lake. Went through Stanley Idaho, over Galena Pass and into Ketchum/Sun Valley for a 2 day visit. Walked the town, hiked the local ridges and enjoyed the architecture. Headed east from Ketchum on a 60 plus mile dirt road to intersect with a highway that would lead us north and eventually into Montana.
Again we picked up the Salmon River and followed it until it went into a canyon where it got it's name as the River of No Return. This is where William Clark thought he could raft down the canyon to open water only to find the river disappears into the rocks.
Stunning scenery all along the Salmon as we ended our northward journey in Missoula Montana. There was however one last thrill for us; we got up super early and drove to Fathead Lake for sunrise as you can see in our photos.
Catherine flew home from Missoula. I headed over Lolo Pass to the Palouse for some landscape photos then into Seattle a few days later.
Just starting to do some serious planning for my first photo trip of 2015 to Moab Utah. Sure hope the gas prices remain low.
FRIDAY - APRIL 11, 2014
My last day in the Palouse started very early as I wanted to get into the field before sunrise. Although running a little late, there was a long cloud line on the mountains east of town so that provided me the extra time I needed before the sun broke through.
I positioned my camera on the south slope of a small hill and waited as the sun shot at a low angle across the fields. The browns, greens and blues were waking up at different moments. Watching the new light saturate the fields was amazing and allowed for a few good images. The whole event only lasts about 30 minutes.
I headed east - southeast about 90 miles to Palouse Falls. This is best shot at sunrise or sunset but 'what the heck', I made the best of it. I actually got some of my best images along the road about 3 miles from the falls. Shooting the falls required me to shoot directly into the sunbeams so colors are not as good as I would like. I'll have to work hard at editing these. After seeing the falls I'm convinced this is a great photo-op at sunset, not sunrise. The canyon below the falls is very green this time of year so that offered some opportunity I had not expected.
As I left the Palouse and headed toward home, I reflected on what a great trip this has been. I met some very gracious people on their farms, visited beautiful and bountiful farmland and came away with about 350 images to share.
THURSDAY - APRIL 10, 2014
Another great day roaming the Palouse. Headed south-southwest from Pullman into more beautiful farm land. Headed along a dirt track called Carothers Road and I found a little farm with lots of machinery parked in the front. Pulled in the yard and met the owner of the farm. He agreed I could shoot photos all I wanted around his place. We discussed wheat and garbanzo crops and then I headed on down the road. Shortly, I met another farmer just starting up one of the huge high-tech tractors; it had 12 tires. It also had satellite tracking and all the driver needs to do is make one pass around the perimeter and then the autopilot drives the rig. The farmer said he bought the unit two years ago for $300k.
Following my GPS, I traveled easily up and down dirt roads that interconnect the farms of the Palouse. I've uploaded a few more photos from today and will add more when I get the processed.
WEDNESDAY - APRIL 9, 2014
My first full day of shooting in the famous Palouse. Up at 5:30 and on the road (after Starbucks) by 6:30. My plans are altered however; it rained all night, the temperature dropped about 35 degrees and the wind is wild. I'm still headed to the City of Palouse, about 14 miles north of Pullman on Hwy-27, but cloudy skies present new challenges and opportunities for field photography.
The short trip to the City of Palouse took over 3-hours as I kept diverting onto dirt tracks following the quilt of field colors and shifting light exhibits as the sun tried to break through the cloud layers. I finally arrived in Palouse after 10 AM. I drove north of town about 10-miles then headed westerly toward Steptoe Butte. My progress remained very slow as I found that I was stopping every few hundred yards for another photo-op.
After many miles on dirt tracks I finally got to Steptoe Butte just in time for lunch. The top of the butte at 3575 feet, provides the best panoramic views of the Palouse. After an easy drive up, I was alone at the top except for some hawks soaring in the wind thermals right next to me. Most of the view is great, however I missed the epic sunrise due to clouds and, the whole north view from the mountain is ruined due to windmills for as far as you can see. Don't give up on Steptoe however; it is still a hot spot for photographers. Just arrive really early for sunrise or plan to stay for the sunset. Also, bring lots of warm clothing.
I headed north-northwest from Steptoe following dirt tracks that inter-connect the farm fields. Although not shown on most tourist or commercial maps, the dirt tracks are very easy to follow using a GPS unit. This is the area to start looking for red barns, white barns, weather washed barns, open fields of green and brown and the ever present 'abandoned' machinery of bygone farming technology. You can't miss the technology shift in farming on this kind of expedition; onboard computers, GPS, laser guidance. I'm very impressed.
I ended my northern drive in the small town of Farmington. As I drove into Farmington, I didn't see any moving cars or people. Finally on a side street I saw a boy walking his dog. To my amazement however, I did notice four bus shelters; no buses, but they have shelters. Another good use of stimulus money? I drove the backroads again from Farmington toward Garfield then across the border to Idaho and another back route into Moscow, arriving about 5:30 PM. Downloaded 178 photos from todays journey; that will keep me busy for a while.
TUESDAY - April 8, 2014
It is a little early in the year but a good time to get into the Palouse and see what there is to shoot with the new spring colors.
I arrived late today in Pullman and first visited the Chamber of Commerce office for some good photo advice. They have several good brochures about finding the best locations for photo work. Spent my first evening studying maps and plotting out my activities for the next three days. I'll plan to head north toward Steptoe Butte and other sites along the way. As I study the regional maps a few things jump out: look for barns 'of color, trees of 'distinction' and color spreads with sharp soil 'edges of dynamic contrast'. If you can work those into your images, you might have some 'keeper' photos. Keeper photos is what this is all about!
I left Seattle about 9:30 AM today after a (successful) doctor appointment. I did not push my speed along the way; stopped several times and really enjoyed the warm weather and great views allowed by clear blue skies. Clear blue sky is a rare treat after such a wet and dark weather period in Seattle. This however was a special spring day; 55 degrees at Snoqualmie Pass and 70 degrees in Ellensburg. That temperature held all of the way into Moscow, Idaho.
Just before Ellensburg, I took a short and frustrating detour to look for an access road up to Manastash Ridge. The snow level looked to have receded and I thought it was a good opportunity to drive up the ridge. I could not however find the access road and after an hour of hunting I headed back toward the main highway. Only later, after viewing Google Earth, did I find the right route. I'll check it out another time.
From Ellensburg to Pullman the road took its toll on me. Although it looks flat and straight, it is a nasty and bouncy route that never lets you sit still for a moment. The only relief is the increasing beauty of the landscape as you glide into more and more of the classic Palouse rolling hills of beauty. I was very happy to get into Pullman late in the afternoon, visit the Chamber of Commerce and then arrive at my hotel for a very needed rest.
Looking forward to hitting the road again on Wednesday...............
On June 1, 2012, I traveled to Freeport, Grand Bahama. There were five divers in our group, all from the Washington State. The timing of our trip coincided with the first day of hurricane season. Although there were storms along the coast of Florida we were spared the worst of the weather. We did experience high winds, clouds and heavy rain but it did not impact our dive schedule. Also, having cloudy skies probably saved many of us from sun burns. I noticed that the few times sun did come out the heat was intense and over the 8 days of our trip we did get some new skin color.
Most days we dove on coral reefs in 50 to 70 feet of water. Visibility was consistently in the 50 foot range so it was easy to stay within sight of dive buddies and finding the dive boat overhead was never a problem. Life on the reefs is good however coral growth seems to be struggling somewhat.
On day three we headed out in the afternoon for shark feeding. This action entails two divers in 'chain mail' suits; one to feed the sharks and one to keep watch on the overall event in case things get out of had. A third diver is in the water shooting video and a fourth diver is positioned behind our photo dive team as a final safety watch. The sharks know it is time for lunch when the group hits the water and they just seem to arrive from no where. They have their focus on the food given to them by one of the chain mail divers and they are very patient to wait their turn to eat a fish as the diver pulls it from his storage bin.
We also had a good time playing with a dolphin one day. This is a 12 year old dolphin that lives in a pen inside of a bay. The dolphin is very dedicated to its trainer and responds happily to his commands and also to a fish treat every few minutes.
This was a great scuba diving experience. I shot over 1000 photos in 8 days of diving. About 100 are posted on my site. Please enjoy ! This is an example of the beauty of these reef sharks. Notice that the diver keeps his hands close to his body so not to offer an unintended snack.
In February 2009, I traveled to Maui with a group of 10 divers from my dive club; Marker Buoys. One of our boat dives took us to the island of Lanai. We left Lahina very early in the morning in one of the boats operated by Extended Horizons. We dove in the Cathedrals on the south side of the island. On our second dive of the day, in Cathedrals II, we were visited by a fairly large Monk Seal. The seal had number tags on both foot-flippers. She swam among us as we went about our dive. Most of us were taking photos and some were running video cameras. As my air ran low, I signaled to our dive master that I was heading for the anchor line and would head up to the boat. I left our group and just as I reached the bottom of the line the seal came over to me and began to hold onto my back and wrapped it's large flippers around my shoulders. I could feel it's mouth on the back of my head and neck. I curled into a ball, holding the anchor line with one hand and holding tight to my mask and regulator with the other hand. There was no opportunity for me to move away or move up the line. The dive master could see I was in trouble, swam over and hit the seal on the nose with her dive light. The backed away, then swam off. I continue up the line with very little air and almost no time for a safety stop. While all of the 'drama' was unfolding, it was being recorded by my good friend Jim McGauhey. He later narrated the video and posted it on You Tube. Click below and you will see his fine work and my first audition tape that I could use if they ever bring back Sea Hunt.
The background on this particular Monk Seal is that 'she' was abandoned as a pup and got regular feedings by fishermen and tourists around Maui. She is large however and regardless of how friendly she may be, swimming among snorkelers at Molokini was starting to drive business away. Her attempt to ride my back was thought to be her way of rescuing me since I was showing lots of air exhaust and I was alone. According to NOAA and the aquarium people in Maui, this is a typical reaction that seals have to protect their own. Had I let go of the anchor line I am sure I would have had a very rapid ascent to the surface and she would have let me go. We later gave NOAA the tag numbers and they were going to come out and relocate her to another distant island.
Several scuba divers from the Marker Buoy Club headed from Seattle to Vancouver BC a week ago to dive in Howe Sound. Our host for this short excursion was Sea Dragon Charters http://www.seadragoncharters.com. Sea Dragon Charters operates one boat out of Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver and a second boat out of Nanaimo, BC.
From the Seadragon's boat we dove on vertical walls next to Gambier Island and Anvil Island. After dropping through 50 fsw we achieved about 10 feet of vis. Particulate in the water was in such big chunks that it dominated all of my photos. I'll look forward to going there again with better vis because the potential for photography is excellent for all kinds of fish and especially invertebrates.
On Sunday, a few in our group traveled to Porteau Cove about 10 miles north of Horseshoe Bay. The Cove sits right along the highway to Whistler with a well marked highway exit, ample car parking and great access to the water for any diver. This is a quick 10 mile drive from Horseshoe Bay. Depending on your personal schedule, there are two new log cabins that can be rented from the Provincial Park. The cabins, available for rent year-around, were recently built as a legacy investment of the Winter Olympics. They are beautiful structures and well worth thinking about for a weekend of diving. Check this out at http://www.seatoskyparks.com.
A few in our group put their gear on and dove at Porteau Cove and, although visibility continued to be a challenge, they confirmed that it is a great site. There are two boats in the park and several mature structure to investigate. The popularity of this site started with scuba divers over 40 years ago. Some years later the Provincial Parks Department saw the potential and made some strategic investments that have allowed boaters and scuba divers to both enjoy this beautiful section of Howe Sound. I took several photos that will give you a good idea of what to expect if you decide to dive here. Take a look at these photos and the next time you go to Horseshoe Bay don't forget to check-out diving at Porteau Cove. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimboon/sets/72157629879100461/