in an Oregon state of mind

Don and I spent some time in Oregon in June.  Neither of us had been there before. Here are some quick take aways:

  1. it has an incredibly diverse landscape;
  2. it seems like everyone has a dog and takes the dog(s) with them everywhere they go; 
  3. Road signs say “Speed 60” instead of “Speed Limit 60.” Why no limits in Oregon?
  4. They don’t let you pump your own gas and gas stations often close at dusk;
  5. Seafood, beer, wine, fish hatcheries, logging, and Les Schwab Tire Dealerships seem to dominate the landscape (btw Les Schwab did a great job patching two flat tires for us); 
  6. Oregon appeals to a lot of outdoor enthusiasts and photographers (ask Don about breakfast with the professional windsurfers sometime); and, be sure to remember this last one …
  7. the Oregonians we met and spent time with clearly love Oregon and appreciate what they’ve got.

So what photograph(s) do I share?

Well, at this point, only two. 

So because Oregon is such a dog loving state, we’ll start with “Fetch.”

yellow lab chasing ball in water in Joseph Oregon

“Fetch” was taken in Joseph, Oregon, in the heart of what is called Oregon’s “Little Switzerland.” The mountains in Joseph look a lot like the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I was sitting on a boat dock when a woman nearby started throwing a ball in the lake for her yellow Lab to retrieve. I went over and started talking with her and then made friends with Kona. Good times.

This second image was taken on the Oregon coast, I think near Newport.

Oregon Coast

 

 

I like the whimsical nature of this image. Often I look up at the clouds and think about the shapes they make. The boulders in the background of this image also invite you to imagine. Is that a dragon back there? Or maybe a clone of the Loch Ness monster?

It’s never been a goal of mine to visit all 50 states but when I took a silly Facebook quiz many years ago I realized I had then been to 40+ states and so started considering it.  This trip made Oregon my 48th state to visit. What’s left? North Dakota and Hawaii. Will I visit those states? I don’t know.

Sure, I like to travel, but in recent years I’ve come to realize that while it’s fun to visit new places, lasting contentment does not come from travel; it comes from appreciating wherever you presently are.

A couple nights after coming home from Oregon I did a photography session with newborn twins. As I looked around at the location the parents had chosen, it occurred to me, particularly in that golden hour of light, that the setting was as beautiful as any I had encountered in Oregon, and I was so lucky to be there, in that place, with that family, in that moment.

That state of contentment where you appreciate where you currently are – it’s the only state you really must visit.

Thanks for following my blog and joining me as I remember our time in Oregon and think like an Oregonian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loose in the Palouse

I’m back to the blog after a little long road trip. This post is about how we started that road trip, after flying into Portland, Oregon, and then driving six hours across the state.

So … there’s a little patch of heaven in the southeastern corner of the state of Washington called the Palouse. Sometimes called “America’s Little Tuscany,” its pastoral rolling hills of wheat are vast and serene. It’s been on my bucket list of places to visit and photograph for years. Don and I went last month.

Before reaching the iconic fertile hills of the Palouse, we stopped in Palouse Falls State Park, a geological 180 from what I had come a long way to photograph. It has never been on my bucket list of places to visit or photograph, and we almost turned back several times before arriving.

Seriously, we had all sorts of reasons not to go — it was out of the way, we’d be late checking into our hotel, the park had closed recently due to security concerns after someone fell to their death when part of a cliff collapsed, and there were rattlesnake warnings all over the place — but I think …

palousefallsw

it was worth it. Pretty awesome, right?

The next day was the day I’d been anxiously anticipating. Armed with maps and apps, we drove to the top of Steptoe Butte State Park, probably the most popular photography destination in the region. Here’s my photograph of what I understand to be one of the more beautiful scenic overlooks of rolling hills in America:

Fog on top of Steptoe Butte State ParkFair to say, June 9, 2018, will not go down as the day I captured the beautiful expanse of the rolling hillsides of the Palouse.

Undaunted by the weather, I went ahead and made a few photographs that day:

_23A6218w
Palouse hills 1
_23A6156w
the ladder by Silo #6
wheat barn
simple but strong

Okay, but not what I had come to capture.

Towards the end of the day, when we were near Oakland, Washington, the sky opened up for a short while.

barnwebThat wet red barn on the rolling hillside is the closest I came to what many people view as an iconic Palouse scene. Still, it’s not the abstract photography I wanted from miles and miles of overlapping hills reaching into the horizon.

What is beautiful? Is it a red barn against a green hillside? Abstracts made from hills filled with light and shadows?  A waterfall into a deep canyon?

In an interview with Krista Tippett and published on http://www.onbeing.org, cellist Yo Yo Ma described beauty in this way:

It could be music. It could be a poem. It could be an event … [o]ften, in nature. But, when that encapsulated form is received, there’s a moment of reception and cognition of the thing that is, in some ways, startling … We are part of nature and we observe nature, but we’re part of the human realm, and there’s that moment, when essentially there’s a transfer of life. [I]t’s the human cognition of that vastness, the awe and the wonder, something that’s, in a way, bigger than yourself.

The Palouse is beautiful – all of it – but on this trip, the part where we felt that transfer of life into a world way bigger than ourselves, more than anywhere else, was the part we almost missed … Palouse Falls State Park. And you know what? At this point in my life, I really like that an old dry canyon with water and energy and life flowing in and through it, can on any one particular day be more beautiful than fertile fields many miles away.

Sometimes a little fog helps you see things a little more clearly.

Thanks for following my blog.

Stay tuned for the next post which will likely feature some aspect of our 2,000 mile jaunt through Oregon, where we saw whales, sea lions, elk, deer, marmots, eagles, dogs, more dogs, one cat, lots of fish, but no ducks. And they call themselves the Oregon Ducks? I’m not kidding, no ducks. Not one.

cropped-logo_transparent_background-copy.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Iroquois Steeplechase

What was on Nashville’s hot list this weekend? The Iroquois Steeplechase. It’s been a Nashville spring tradition since 1941.

As one of the premier steeplechasing events in the country, the Iroquois offers the well-heeled social and equestrian circles of Nashville an opportunity to sport new spring fashions, party, and raise money for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. It’s a fun place to hang out for the day, especially if you’re a photographer.

So what did I see and photograph Saturday? Well, for starters, hats. Lots and lots of hats. Here’s a sampling:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then, there’s the people watching. Let’s just say there were many fashion conscious people out there:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some things I found humorous:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some images seemed timeless:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And last but not least, there’s the horses, the races, the jockeys, and the winners:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All in all, a great day. Thanks, as always, for following my blog.

cropped-logo_transparent_background-copy.png

some thoughts on cell phone photography (Part I)

Just as it seems like it’s a good time of year to clean out your closets, yesterday I spent some time scrolling through my cell phone photographs to see what was worth keeping and what could be trashed. In doing so, I was surprised to find, amongst everything else, a good many keepers. Below are some of these images.

This first set of photographs remind me of the types of photos I would often take as a photography student. They highlight lines, shape and form. These photographs typically convert nicely to black and white, although I left one in color because I liked the pink.

The warmer, golden images below are parts of light fixtures.

The next two photos are abstractions giving a hint or suggestion of a sunrise.

The cloud photo was how the sky looked above the Maryland Farms YMCA when I finished playing tennis a few weeks ago. The shinier sunburst image that I took yesterday morning is largely reflected light from the trash can at the bottom of the image.

So it seems when left on my own I take a lot of shape and form and abstract photos. Not really sure why.

Above you see more light fixtures and these have the bonus of having faces. These I found at the mall. BTW, one advantage to taking photos with your camera phone as opposed to one of your larger cameras is that it reduces the risk of being stopped by security. 🙂 

Anyway, when shooting professionally, I still rely heavily on my DSLRs and mirrorless camera, but the times are changing.  More and more professionals are incorporating cell phones into their photography and cell phone photos and video are used frequently by the media, stock agencies, and yes, law enforcement. Cell phone photos also line the walls of many fine art galleries. 

Certainly the ever-changing technology in camera phones is partly responsible for this phenomenom, but I would maintain that it’s still the photographer and not the camera who is ultimately responsible for creating powerful imagery. It is, after all, the photographer who plans, who waits, who designs, and who clicks the shutter when the moment is just right.

To bring this point home, you might go back and look at the “FIRSTS Project” in one of the September issues of Time Magazine. In that project, Luisa Dorr used her iPhone to photograph twelve covers and 46 portraits of women who “are changing the world.” In doing so, she and the powerful images which came out of her iPhone made history. Here’s a question for you: Was the iPhone responsible for the success of the FIRSTS Project or was it the vision of Luisa Dorr collaborating with the Time editors who used the iPhone as a tool to realize and/or futher their vision? I think the latter. It’s all just amazing, however.

So have you taken a look through your camera phone images lately? Where have you been putting your focus?  Do your photos track or follow your life or something you enjoy?  Is there a photograph perhaps on your phone which is more important to you than a photograph you’ve taken with a bigger or more expensive camera? My guess is maybe so.

And now the end all question which I must ask on behalf of all photographers: Is there now really a need for you ever, ever, ever to ask a professional photographer this question: “Wow! What camera were you using when you took this photograph?” As many professional photographers say time and time again, “the best camera for you and for me both is the camera we currently hold in our hands.”

Thanks as always for following my blog. May you always find joy in your photography, no matter the camera you hold.

 

 

418998110_1a1c3a05-9b62-4475-8ca7-b56cabb6c64d copy