Thursday, December 13, 2012

Through The Viewfinder

Photographers, here is a technique that will give you a chance to make fun and unique digital images using that old film camera that has been unused for years. It is popularly known as TtV (Through the Viewfinder). You will need an old twin lens camera with a large viewfinder on top.

This is a TtV photo. I cropped the image to frame it with a little bit of the camera around the viewfinder. Most images I have seen from other photographers have a black border around the viewfinder, but that is personal preference.

The technique is very simple. Put the twin lens camera on a tripod, point it at the subject (which will be reversed in the viewfinder) and photograph it from above with your digital camera.

Focusing can be tricky. The image in the viewfinder probably won't be very sharp, and you will need to chose between focusing on the camera or on the image. Stop down to get greater depth of field.

This Kodak Duaflex camera was used for these photos. The camera was given to me by an old friend, and a very fine photographer, Barry Bruce, who passed away in his 90's a few years ago. Our Sharp Shooters Camera Club once had a meeting that featured a CD of his amazing images.

It was nice to put Barry's old camera back to work.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Central Oregon Coast

Linda and I try to get to the Oregon coast every couple of years to enjoy the salt water and seafood.  Last month we spent a week exploring the central coast area from Newport to Tillamook.  The weather wasn't very good most of the time, so we had to spend more time working on the seafood and a little less on scenery.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed the beauty of the coast.
We had rain and fog at Newport, but enjoyed the best oysters on the coast at Local Ocean, right across the street from this harbor.
I think the mist added to the atmospheric effect of this beachcomber photo in Oceanside.

Probably the best meal of the trip was at Fathoms restaurant in Lincoln City.  The steamer clams were wonderful, the service excellent, the atmosphere relaxing, and the view incomparable.  The restaurant is located in the Inn At Spanish Head, which is built on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean.  When you go to this restaurant, you enter on the 9th floor and go up to the 10th floor. Hotel guests go down the cliff in an elevator to get to their rooms on lower floors.

Depoe Bay is a special treat for photographers if you get there on a clear day after a storm. There is a blowhole locally called a "spouting horn".  Big storms create huge waves that blast through a tunnel and out a hole, creating a 50 foot plume of water.  From a photographer's standpoint, you can go north, stay dry, and photograph this blast of water.  Or, you can go south, get drenched from the spray, wait for the blast of water to subside a little, and photograph the rainbow.  I got completely soaked taking this photo.

More Lincoln City restaurant recommendations include Blackfish Cafe, Kyllo's, and Mo's in the Taft district.  All had good seafood, and Kyllo's and Mo's had nice views.  Mo's isn't as comfortable as the others because of bench seating, but they are all good.
Pacific City had amazingly reflective sand, and cars were allowed to park on the beach.  It looked like a good opportunity to get stuck.
The Oregon coast gets plenty of rain, so there are lots of places just a couple of miles inland that have mossy trees, trails through green leafy passages, and picturesque creeks.  We went to Munson Creek Falls and found all of these things.  The falls were nice, but I really enjoyed finding the little things, like these sycamore leaves on a rock in the creek.  Munson Creek is just outside Tillamook. If you are in that area, don't miss the tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  To complete our culinary review, the ice cream cones at the factory are really, really good, but plan to wait in line.  Now, about that diet. . . 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oregon Coast Panorama

Linda and I need to see salt water and taste fresh seafood once in a while, so we drove to the Oregon coast last month. We rented a condo on Siletz Bay in Lincoln City and ate plenty of seafood, but photography was tough because of terrible weather. After reviewing my photos, I noticed that a lot of them looked better cropped to near-panoramic proportions.
Photography was difficult in the fog and occasionally heavy rain, so some of our photos attempted to capture the stormy mood.  There was little of interest in the foreground sand and blank sky of the beachcomber photo, so cropping to emphasize the center of the photo seemed to be the answer.
When we finally got some sunshine, the storm had churned up huge waves, and the wind was blowing the tops off. Faint rainbows appeared in some of the spray on these waves at Boiler Bay.  Cropping helped the viewer's eye go to the center of interest.
Sunset didn't have much color, so cropping this photo of Siletz Bay was a good way to de-emphasize the sky and create a peaceful mood.  The photo was taken from the balcony of our rented condo.
This flock of birds was also photographed from our balcony, when it was pretty dark, using a fairly long exposure to create a feeling of movement.
When reviewing your photos it is important to realize that the proportions of the image created by your camera might not be the best proportions for every photo you take.  Don't be afraid to crop out unwanted elements to make a panorama, a square, or a photo with some other proportions.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Southeast Idaho Autumn

This has been one of the best fall color years in my memory here in Southeast Idaho. Check out the following post for fall color in Joe's Gap, along with this post which shows the leaves in other locations.
The brilliant reds were the most outstanding color this year. Mountain maples kept their color for weeks, instead of the normal three or four days. The tree above was in St Charles Canyon.
Lighting conditions affected the way some colors were recorded by the camera. These red leaves appeared magenta in the deep shade in Home Canyon.

There were plenty of yellows, usually at higher elevation than the maples.  These aspen leaves were in Emigration Canyon.

Maples and aspens were not the only sources of color. St Charles Creek was bordered by yellow willows and purple chokecherries.

Maples had an amazing variety of color. In addition to red, there was orange, yellow, and some pale yellow that was almost white. See Joe's Gap in the next post to enjoy some of this variety.

None of the colors in these two posts were altered or "enhanced".

Orange maples in Goodenough Canyon.
Big aspens in the upper end of St Charles Canyon.
Autumn leaves present an opportunity to create art through photography. The palette of colors contrasts with the stark white of aspen trunks, or the dark wood of maples. They can become an abstract by moving the camera during exposure. The photo above was created with a vertical pan... in other words by moving the camera vertically during a relatively long exposure, in this case 1/6 of a second. The location is Williams Canyon.

I enjoyed exploring a number of locations for this post and the next one. They were Joe's Gap, Emigration Canyon, Home Canyon, St Charles Canyon, Williams Canyon, and Goodenough Canyon. Southeast Idaho was a gold mine for fall color this year.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Joe's Gap Autumn, Idaho

Joe's Gap is a small, but pretty, canyon that cuts through the hills just three miles from my home in Montpelier, Idaho.

This has been an amazing year for fall color in the Bear Lake Valley, with the red, yellow, and orange maples producing masses of color.  But smoke from several monster wildfires has made the color difficult to enjoy.  Joe's Gap is a good place to get into the trees away from the smoke.

The fallen leaves create a carpet of color on the trail where it enters the canyon.

As the trail climbs, the canyon gets more narrow and darker, so water droplets stay on the leaves until late in the day.

Joe's Gap climbs steeply into the hills with spectacular cliffs towering over the narrow gap. When the sun gets high overhead the autumn leaves glow with backlight.
The color is more muted on the valley floor, out of the direct sunlight.
In some places, the fallen leaves have gathered in deep piles against sheltered spots in the rock.
The muted light allows for long exposures, so I tried zooming the lens for about 0.5 second, creating this dynamic effect.
I wonder how Joe's Gap got its name? Who the heck was Joe anyway? This autumn, Joe's Gap was a very special place.

UPDATE - 04/08/15 - Thank you, George Lane, for telling me that Joe's Gap was named after Joseph Phelps, an early settler in Bennington, Idaho

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lamoille Canyon, Nevada

There are places in this country that are every bit as beautiful as most National Parks, but are nearly unknown by most Americans. Lamoille Canyon is one of those special places.
The canyon is the largest valley in the Ruby Mountains south of Elko, Nevada.  It was carved by glaciers, and usually has snow fields and waterfalls year round.  We missed them because of the dry year.

Wildlife includes beavers, and their ponds create reflective pools that are great for photographing the massive canyon walls. There are also bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

The canyon walls soar 2000 feet above the valley floor so sunlight hits some of the cliffs while others are in shadow.  The sheer rock walls remind me of Yosemite Valley.
The morning view in the beautiful campground included this dagger of light when the early sunlight touched the ridge.

The morning light bounced off a mountain and reflected in the water of the creek next to my campsite.  In the space of one second, the color disappeared when the sunlight reached the water. The rocks in this photo were in shadow, and they picked up the reflected blue of the sky.
The road through Lamoille Canyon is paved and 12 miles long. For you younger, more energetic kids, there are miles of  trails. The campground is excellent and there are motels and restaurants in nearby Elko. Don't miss the Basque food at the Star Hotel!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Metropolis, Nevada Ghost Town

Summer was way too busy to find time for updating this blog, but a camping trip last week included a photo opportunity that I just had to post.  I was on the way to Elko, Nevada to meet a friend for our second camping trip this year, and our 31st consecutive year of camping and photography.  I took a side trip north of Wells, Nevada to the ghost town of Metropolis.  This was a planned farming community started in 1910, with irrigation provided by a dam on Bishop Creek.  However, the planners never bothered to get water rights and were sued by the town of Lovelock, Nevada.  When Metropolis lost their water, the residents gradually moved out, and Metropolis was a ghost town by 1950.
The most spectacular ruin is the arch of the old Lincoln school.  The town once had a railroad station and daily passenger service, but there is no trace of the station.
This is the basement of the ruined school.  Spooky, to say the least.  Someone has shored up the stairs with a couple of 2 x 6's, and there are ceiling holes everywhere, but the debris-filled space is a ghost town classic.

The other major ruin was once a hotel.  Notice how isolated this place is.  There are miles of treeless sagebrush plains in every direction.  There is probably a cemetery somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
If you wander through the sagebrush, you will find a few foundations, the usual small artifacts like broken glass, and this wonderful rusty wreck.  There used to be a city here, with houses, stores, and about 700 people, but the desert has reclaimed nearly everything.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sharp Shooters Camera Club Picnic

Our annual Sharp Shooters Camera Club picnic was held at The Shady Lady in Geneva, Idaho.  Cliff and Kathy price have a beautiful home with a picnic area in the foothills, and they invited the camera club to their place for the evening.  They call their home the Shady Lady, and it is a perfect place for a big group, with a covered picnic area, grassy lawn, lots of aspens, and outbuildings painted like a saloon and livery stable. Everyone brought food to share, then we had an informal photo shoot.
Kathy had some wild hats, costumes, and (empty) booze bottles, and several camera club members got dressed up and posed for the cameras.  My wife, Linda (left), battled with her sister Jo Ann Farnsworth.
Bernice and Bill Parslow looked great posing on the saloon porch.
Lynette and Dave Bower hammed it up to the delight of all the photographers.
 Do these people look like they are having fun?

Someone asked Linda to take their picture using their camera.  Then someone else asked.... then someone else...

You get the idea.

It was getting really dark, and photography was pretty tough, but thanks to flash or high ISO settings available on the digital cameras, we kept on shooting.

The last group of models was Linda Cochran, Connie Hymas, and JoAnn Taylor, and they looked wonderful.

The evening ended with a group photo critique in the picnic area.  It was a good ending to a really fun meeting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Car Show

Our little town, Montpelier, Idaho, has a surprisingly good annual car show with lots of opportunities for photographers.
Friday evening featured a downtown cruise.  A beautiful Ford was parked across the street from our funky old Centre Theatre.
Several of the show cars 'dragged main", including this wonderful roadster.  The blur was created by "panning" the camera with the motion of the car.
Saturday was the day of the show, and cars were on display at the local park, including a customized Ford Woody. The lawn area under beautiful big trees was ideal for the show.
This Studebaker pickup won best of show. Car shows are usually a great opportunity for close-up photos with spectacular color.
Look for opportunities to use your wide angle lens. Edsels were sometimes called a "Mercury sucking a lemon." The wide angle lens exaggerates this feature and creates a fun distortion. It was a great show despite an afternoon thunderstorm, and I hope a lot of the car owners return next year.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Home Town In Connecticut

Linda and I recently traveled to the east coast for my 50th high school reunion, so of course I explored my home town.  As expected, a lot has changed, but some things that are important to me haven't changed too much.  My home town is Sandy hook, Connecticut which is a borough of Newtown.  I graduated from Newtown High School, so in a sense, Newtown is also my home town. One of the first things you notice about Connecticut when you arrive from the west is all the trees. Everything is almost overwhelmingly green.
This was the house where I grew up in Sandy Hook.  In those days, this was J Appleseed Farm, and we had  a big apple orchard.  In fact, I have heard it was the biggest golden delicious orchard in the state at the time. The apple trees are gone now, but the house, built in 1742, and barn are still there.
This used to be Warner Store, or simply the Brick Store, and my family did most of our shopping here.  It was the centerpiece of the tiny town of Sandy Hook. It was run by my Godfather, Hawley Warner and now has been beautifully restored and turned into a restaurant. I got a tour by Michael Porco, the current owner. The Hook has really been dressed up and is a beautiful community now.
This is the main crossroad in Newtown, and it is famous for its flagpole in the center of the intersection. It makes for tricky driving, but is a magnificent sight. The church is now known as the Meeting House, but I was a member there when it was a Congregational Church. I once worked at the "Flagpole Fountain", a sort of 1950's C-Store that was located in the building on the right.
This is the center of Newtown from Castle Hill, showing (left to right) the new Congregational Church, flagpole, Meeting House, and Episcopal Church.  This scene showcases the beauty of New England architecture and trees stretching to the horizon.  I feel fortunate to have grown up in such a wonderful place, but now I am a westerner at heart.