About Me

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Pacific Northwest, United States
We'll use this blog to put out some photo tips we've found through our shooting experiences. Along with family stuff. Going to give this blog thing a try and thanks in advance for looking. And especially being aware I'm learning all this as I go!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Adventure in Alaska--Day Three 6/19/2012

Today we spent the majority of the day in Anchorage at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  Here is a section from their website regarding what this center is about along with the link:  http://www.alaskanative.net/  

"The Alaska Native Heritage Center, a renowned cultural center and museum in Anchorage, is an exciting place where all people can come to expand their understanding of Alaska's indigenous people.  Here we share, preserve, and perpetuate the rich heritage of Alaska's eleven cultural groups locally, regionally and statewide.  Our cultural center and museum is located in Northeast Anchorage, Alaska.  The center is a place where young people come to learn and share their cultures and the broader community gains critical connection to Alaska's rich cultural history."

Inside the museum are many artifacts showing the different tools, art and lifestyles of the native people of Alaska.  On the stage were three young people who compete in the Native Alaska Games.  These are games that have been played for many generations.  They not only helped to pass the time during the long winter nights but to keep the hunters agile, strong and skilled.  The games also taught skills needed to survive
during the hunts.
One Foot High Kick
The participant would jump from both feet, kicking the ball with one foot and landing only on the foot used to kick the ball. For the girls the balls starts at 54 inches and for boys it starts at 72 inches. They are allowed three attempts and if they succeed the ball is moved up 4 inches. When there are only 3 participants left the increment is 1 inch.
The boys can reach much higher.
Two Foot High Kick
The Two Foot High Kick is similar to the One Foot High Kick other than the heights are slightly less. And they must keep feet together when they kick and land on both feet without loosing their balance.
Knuckle Hop or Seal Hop for Boys
Each participant begins with bent elbows tucked close to the body, first knuckles down, and hands having fingers curled underneath so that the individual is supported by the heel of his hand and first knuckles. They then hop across the floor on his hands and toes only. They must not stop and restart, straighten their arms, touch the floor with his chest, knees, or stomach. The winner is whoever travels the farthest distance without stopping. It is very common for the their knuckles to become very bloody and much clean up is needed afterwards of the blood trails left behind.  This game originated as a way to get close to seals when they appear from their holes in the ice. It is the only way the hunters could get close enough to spear the seal.
One Hand Reach

The participants balance his body on both hands in a squat position. Once the balance has been attained he will reach out with one hand in an attempt to touch a suspended ball. At the same time he will bring the free hand back down to the floor before any other part of his body touches the floor. Control is stressed. The height of the suspended ball will begin at 34 inches for girls and 44 inches for boys. Three attempts at each height will be given to each athlete. The ball will be raised at two inch increments and reduced to one inch increments when three competitors remain. The winner is the athlete who touches the ball at the highest elevation. This game tests the control of one's body and basic balance and endurance used in hunting.

The interiors of the Native Alaskans were mostly made of driftwood that was found from the beaches. In most areas of Alaska there were no trees to be harvested. But sturdy structures that could withstand the cold and heavy snow were needed.

Note in this structure the walrus hide.  All parts of the animals that they hunt are used for the native's survivals.

In some areas of Alaska these structures below were made to keep the food and meat from large predators.  For that matter all structures whether for food or lodgings were made with this in mind.  Many lodging had openings small enough to keep the large predators from gaining easy access to the people inside.

The museum was also showcasing the different culture's dress and dances.  There were many masks used depicting animals or deities.

After a great day in Anchorage we drove up a mostly gravel road, Arctic Valley Road. This road puts you way above the city of Anchorage. It was a beautiful evening and a great way to end the day. A quick point to mention.....nearly all the vehicles in Alaska have broken windshields. This road is one of the several reasons most Alaskans do not have them replaced. It is futile!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Adventure in Alaska--Day One 6/17/2012


We left Portland, Oregon at 4:30 p.m. with a layover in Seattle, Washington where we watched the sunset at 9 p.m.  Our flight left shortly after that for Anchorage, Alaska.  During the 3 1/2 hour flight it never got totally dark and shortly before landing in Anchorage we saw the sun come back up.  Sadly enough I had put my camera away under the seat in front of me as we were going to land shortly.  I say sadly because I couldn't get it back out quickly enough to catch the most incredible light I've ever seen.  We came down through the clouds and when we saw the mountain peaks, the underside of the clouds and the ocean we found they were bathed in the most amazing shades of red.  As any photographer knows these sights are fleeting.  I did capture this light in the image above and had to be satisfied with that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How I Did It

I have talked with many people just starting out and wondering how to set up their camera. I've been taking digital photos for over ten years and am still learning. Here is my advice....read as many magazines, books and articles online in regards to what you are going to be shooting. For each different situation there are totally different settings. Another tip...shoot like a maniac, check what you've just taken and adjust. At this shoot I took over 700 images. Maybe 20% were OK, 10% were good and maybe 1% were WOW.

With that being said here is what I did to get this shot.

This was early evening at an indoor arena with East and West open areas. There was not spot lighting or flash, just the light from the sun going down. I was shooting with a Canon 7D and Canon 28-135mm lens using shutter priority at 160th second. I kept changing from ISO 400 to 800 and either spot metering or partial metering. Also I kept changing the exposure compensation to allow more light in but making sure I kept a shutter speed fast enough to stop the action.

Now go out there and shoot. It's the best way to learn and it's so danged much fun...especially when you get the results you were hoping for.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Revisiting the USA Desert Southwest 2005

This was my first  ever''Wowser' photo taken in Antelope Canyon Arizona

Way back when in 2005 I was just discovering the wonders of digital photography.  I had my little Canon Rebel X and was on top of the world.  Looking back now at the images I took on this beautiful trip I can only sigh.  And wish I had understood my camera more.  I wasn't used to being able to change my ISO, was scared to death of shooting in RAW and just did not grasp how bad my photos could look when the shutter speed was so slow.  I did use a tripod (sometimes) but regardless of all that I did get some photos that I thought were pretty good.  
So join me on a little walk down memory lane to some of our beautiful desert areas in the Southwest.
Bryce Canyon Utah at Sundown

And Bryce Canyon at Sunrise
North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona
North Rim Grand Canyon at Sundown
Old Paria in Escalante Utah  This was the setting for many Westerns,
including The Outlaw Jesse Wales.

Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona.  Crawled on my hands & knees to take the 2 images that were later stitched together to create this shot.  No way could I stand and shoot over the edge!

Antelope Canyon in Page Arizona  Followed behind a photo
group and was able to catch remnants of their leftover sunbeams.
More of Antelope Canyon  I liked the ghost like figure in
this sunbeam.  This is created by throwing sand into the sunbeam.

The famous Mittens of Monument Valley Arizona at Sundown

Navajo Indian showing how she weaves baskets in a
native dwelling in Monument Valley

Aztec Ruins in Northern New Mexico

Doorways in the interiors of Aztec Ruins.

Taos Pueblo Taos New Mexico  This is the oldest continual populated community in the USA today.

Cemetery & Bell Tower in Taos Pueblo
One of the homes in Taos Pueblo

Mesa Verde Colorado
Canyonland Utah  This is several images stitched together to make a panorama.
Newspaper Rock in Canyonland Utah
Cactus Blooms in the Desert Springtime

Overlooking one of the large canyons in Canyonland

And last is an often overlooked little valley in Utah called Goblin Valley.  Check out how large these rocks are.  Can you find the people?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

April 2011 Klamath Falls OR Trip

Day 1  April 23rd, 2011

This was a long awaited trip to Klamath Falls, OR and a 3 night stay at the Running Y Ranch.  Last year I won an online photo contest called 'Oregon Naturally' put on by Intel and Jeld Wen.  I had cancelled our reservations twice before due to extremely cold temperatures and way too much snow.  We had hoped to see the many eagles that gather to hunt the weaken water fowl   as the lake's ice begins to break up in late winter.

We left early on Saturday morning after taking a quick drive up to the Ridgefield Nature Reserve to see if we could catch a peek at the Great Horned Owlets.  

They must have been asleep as we did not find them.  It was however a beautiful morning.  And we did see these really cool yellow-headed black birds.  This was the king of the cat-tails as he flew from one to the other squawking and letting everyone know he is boss.

It was a great day driving down to Klamath Falls with blue sky but gathering clouds as afternoon approached.  We drove over the mountains and by the time we made it to the southern entrance to Crater Lake we found some snow.  This is the only entrance open to Crater Lake in the winter as they average about 40 feet of snow yearly.  But they keep the road plowed and the road was only wet.  

Here we are at the southern entrance to Crater Lake.  I especially like the sign on the right of the ticket booth warning of the 'snow zone'.  Do you think!!  But we are feeling very optimistic as the road is clear.  And we are to find that the snow here isn't too deep.  It will get deeper the more we climb to the rim.

So we've made it to the top of the rim.  And the snow is DEEP.  The road dead ends at the lodge which is boarded up for the winter and can barely be seen for the snow covering it.  As you can see from this photo the snow has covered nearly everything and the few things open to the visitors who brave the drive here has do be dug out.  I thought the outhouses were kinda cute.

And here is the visitor's center with only the one entrance in.  We had no sooner gotten up here than it began to snow rather lightly at first. So we hustled up the one snow bank that has a pathway in the snow to get up high enough to see the lake.  It was slick as can be but we managed to get up there just in time to catch a glimpse of the lake. It is roped off to not fall through the snow cornices.  And within a few minutes the lake was invisible.
We were later told that it had been a beautiful day with blue skies and the lake still & beautiful.  That will teach us to now dally around when heading out on a trip.

Day 2  April 24rd, 2011

The suite that we have in the lodge at Running Y Ranch is glorious.  We have a full balcony which over looks the golf course.  We have a full kitchen, a large plasma screen television over the gas fireplace in the living room, a large bedroom with a king size bed, a vanity area and a large bathroom.  It is amazing, when we checked in last night the double French doors into the lobby automatically swing open as you walk up.  I'm going to have to keep entering these photo contests!

Our first full day in Klamath Falls started out rainy but then the sun came out and pretty much stayed out most of the day.  With occasional spring showers and hail.  But it was pretty nice most of the day.  
We headed south out of Klamath Falls driving down Hwy 97 until we get to Stateline Rd which takes us to the Nature Reserves.  We saw  few pelicans as we are heading down the road but I was not prepared for what I saw as we drove down the road.  It was a 'Holy Shit, do you see that?' moment. There ahead of us was a sea of white birds flying up in the air and then back down again.  As we got closer we saw a tremendous amount of a type of snow goose in a flock that had to number in the tens of thousands fly up in the air to our left.  The flock split into two groups with one group landing in the lake to our right and the other group landing in a field to our left.  We pulled off the road alongside the flock in the field.  Every 10 minutes or so they would all fly into the air and land again just down the field.  It was the most incredible thing I've ever seen.

Again along Stateline Rd I spotted these birds roosting in some trees beyond a canal.  I believe they are some type of Night Heron but I am not sure.  There was about 10 of them that I could see from the road.  When we drove by again on the way back to the lodge late in the afternoon they were still there.

As we drove by the Night Herons we pulled into a side road to see if we could get a bit closer to see them.  As we were looking to the left we caught a glimpse of something white in the canal to our right.  It was our first close up look at a White Pelican.  I am not sure if they all have that weird bulb thing on their beak but every picture we've seen of them they are always there.

We didn't see very many pheasants that were quite as easy to shoot as this one was.  Most of them we would see would then disappear into the grass.  This guy was pretty calm.  I love all the wild colors on these birds.
The Three Amigos

Must have been a very funny joke.

We did see one Golden Eagle but before we could get into range to get a shot of it flew away.  At least we got to see one if not being able to get a shot of it.  

There are so many different kinds of birds down here that I've not seen before but I have no idea what they are. 
Another thing that we are seeing a lot of are Great Egrets.  They are all over and every road that we turn down causes some big bird to fly up and startle us.  We are slowly learning to approach the canals slowly and with cameras ready.  The roads down here at Lower Klamath  Lake and Tule Lake National Wildlife Reserves are plentiful.  It is incredible and I can see why everyone loves this place.

There was a couple of Jack Rabbits at the base of a large cliff that had a lot of nests.  They were running around while a couple of hawks were circling overhead.  The hawks were calling to each other and looked like they were looking to catch a bunny for lunch.  But it didn't happen, at least while we were there.


Day 3  April 25TH, 2011

 Today again started out rainy but also was very windy.  We headed back down to the Nature Reserves again but did not have the huge amounts of birds again.  And wow, the wind was fierce.  The fields that have been plowed are creating huge dust clouds and there is some pretty wild hail storms.  But in between the hail it's pretty amazing.  We were able to see the Great Horned Owl and it's 2 owlets.  When we first got there the adult and one baby was facing into the cave and appeared to be eating.  Then she finished, came out into the sun and took a nap.  It makes up for not having seen the two baby owls in Ridgefield on Saturday.

Most of the day we drove about the same areas seeing the same types of birds again.

At the south end of Tule Lake the road skirts right along the lake.  The wind is blowing so strongly that the lake water is being blown up onto the road.  And the birds have to stay pointed into the wind when they are on the lake.  If they don't the wind is blowing their butts up into the air and almost flipping them over.

One of the things besides the eagles, which we did see at least one Golden & several Bald was to see the Grebes dance.
When we first arrived we saw on the front page of the local paper a photo of two grebes running across a lake side by side with their necks stretched out and their wings thrown back.  Wes did see these two begin to dance as they stretched up high out of the water but that was the end of it.  I would have loved to see that but it just wasn't to happen on this trip.

Day 4  April 26th, 2011
Snow, but not too deep.

We left for home today with totally blue skies after having some very light snow fall last night.  I asked at the front desk how the road to Crater look was and they thought it should be pretty good today.  
Well that was not to be the case.  We drove over a small mountain range and had to put the SUV into 4 wheel drive.  The road was pretty slick with snow.  
Snow is getting deeper but the road still passable.

As were getting closer to the road up to Crater Lake the snow was getting very deep.  Wes was about to turn around and give it up when we got to the area where they plow.  We got pretty confident that we could make it now as long as the plows were running.  
So we continue heading on up.  There are some areas of the road that the snow has made it nearly a one lane road but luckily we've not ran into many people coming out.  
And then we came to a snow plow which are pretty cool to see.  These are the type that churn through the snow and blow it way up and over the bank.
We were so close when we came to a gate across the road saying 'Road Closed' 3 miles from the rim.  We turned into an area for buses where kids where putting on snow shoes.  A ranger told us they had received over a foot and a half of snow over the past two days.  They expected the road to be open late that afternoon.  It was not meant to be.
An old barn on the road out of Crater Lake
We drove the rest of the way up Hwy 97 and visited the Painted Hills late in the afternoon.  The sun was excellent and we had wonderful clouds.  It was awesome.  The only thing that was greater was the sunset as we headed out of Madras.  It was so incredible but nowhere to really turn out.  

It was an incredible trip which ended with a hair raising ride over Mt Hood.  It was not snowing much but the dirty spray from other vehicles, the lack of lines on the highway from people driving with chains etc. and the fog made it very hard to see.  But we made it home around 10:30 that night and had work the next morning.  But what a grand time we had.  Thank you Intel & Jeld Wen.