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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Laurelhurst Park

I am fortunate to live near a beautiful park that includes lovely walkways, a small lake, and a vast and varied collection of huge trees. I try to walk there almost every day and love watching the changing seasons.

The leaves have mostly fallen now, but the scenery is still interesting - especially for someone who grew up in arid Colorado. I can't get over the variety of moss and lichen: it's everywhere!
There are also a few characters whom I often see in the park. There's the guy who practices his tuba
And the homeless guy with his two cats
And the creature who lives in the bark of this tree!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Changing colors

What a difference a week makes! The last time I went to the Japanese Garden, on a gray rainy day, it was packed with photographers all clustered around the iconic Japanese maples which were showing off their exquisite autumn colors.

With bright blue skies forecast for yesterday, I thought I would return to catch the difference in light. This time, the park was practically deserted. Cold temperatures and high winds had drastically altered last week's colors.

Here's the maple with the mushroom from last week:

And the same tree with same mushroom this week:

The bridge last week:
And this week:
I saw only one other photographer. He was hunched over his tripod set low to the ground. He kept looking at his watch, camera remote in hand. Intrigued, I asked what he was doing and he explained that he was shooting a long exposure to capture the swirling leaves in the pond.
I looked more closely. I hadn't noticed how the leaves were moving.

If you just take an ordinary photo, the waterfall and pond look like this:
But after quick lesson from the more experienced photographer, I reset the ISO, the aperture, and the exposure and I captured the movement of the leaves!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


f/stop, ISO, aperture, white balance, bracketing, bokeh, histogram, RAW+JPEG, HDR, stacking . . . And the list goes on; jargon that rolls off the tongues of my fellow photo club members. Meanwhile, I just want to take pretty pictures.

I'm slowly picking up some tips and tricks by watching others, reading books, looking at lots of photos and asking questions. And this weekend I attended a meeting of the Nature Photographers of the Pacific Northwest. Check out the some of the winning photos submitted there. I learned some new techniques for making sharper photos and was anxious to try out these techniques on Sunday morning at Portland's Japanese Garden. I thought I'd get there early to take advantage of the members-only hours from 8-10 AM. Apparently, I wasn't the only person to have this idea, despite the rain.
It's true that the Japanese maples offer exquisite shapes and colors. And I was thrilled to notice one special tree that had a mushroom growing out of its trunk. Can you see it growing on the left side of the trunk in the center of the photo below?

However, as I learned last night at my local photo club, it's not enough to capture the image in the field; you also have to be a master of post-processing on the computer. Winning photos have typically been carefully massaged to remove imperfections and to add highlights, often with add-on enhancement software and very clever use of  special effects. I have a lot to learn in this domain, and my photos were judged merely average.

So in the meantime, I'll continue taking photos for my personal pleasure and to send you, my indulgent readers, a record of my travels. After all,  for me, photography is not about ISO, aperture or bracketing. And it's not about lenses, filters, tripods and post-processing. It is about seeing and feeling. Telling a story. Being outdoors in the fresh air and noticing the effect of sunlight on raindrops. It is acknowledging the ineluctability of change, the recognition of mortality, and an attempt to be fully alive in the present moment. And if I happen to capture ephemera on film, so much the better.