Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Photos

With all that’s going on around me lately it seems that this blog has been at the very back of my mind (unlike this time last year, when it was indeed at the forefront of everything I did). However, I’ve been busy with work, trying to more work, bouncing between Coeur d’Alene and Portland to visit my grandpa, not to mention preparing for the upcoming Little League season (more on that later).

Nevertheless, I definitely have been taking photos.

With my newfound obsession inside the wide world of Flickr, I’ve been following other local photographers religiously. It’s especially intriguing to me how others shoot the same landmarks, as their perspective is often times quite different than my own. Long story short: I love my camera again.

As for my recent stuff, I’ve leaned pretty heavy on the HDR and processing in Photomatix and Photoshop CS4 with Topaz Adjust. I think I’m going to try and back off the Topaz Adjust a little bit, however, and maybe try the HDR a little less. I know it looks pretty sweet sometimes, but more often than not the photos just look fake. Even some of the amazing photographers I’ve seen sometimes overdo the HDR. But maybe I’m wrong. Who knows. I don’t really care, as long as the picture looks good.

Lately, though, I’ve finally started exploring parts of Portland I’ve only seen through Flickr. Photographers like Aaron Reed, Andrew Curtis and Zeb Andrews have chronicled some of the best Portland imagery, and it’s by following their Flickr Photostreams that I see where the best views can be attained. I’ve learned a great deal about my camera and how to use it better by attempting to imitate some of their shots before looking for my own.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to lately. Seems I’ve got a love affair with Portland-area bridges:

Underneath the on-ramps an off-ramps of the Fremont Bridge.

Mt. Hood behind downtown Portland.

Looking up from the ground at the bottom of the St. Johns Bridge.

Silhouette of the St. Johns Bridge at sunset.

From the hillside at the south end of the St. Johns Bridge. In case you can’t tell, I love this bridge!

Fremont Bridge just after sunset. I think it looks fake because the sky turned out so incredibly blue. Oh well, what can you do? Not a cloud in the sky…

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Grandpa, the comedian

For anyone that doesn’t already know, my Grandpa was recently diagnosed with a form of lung cancer, Mesothelioma to be specific. Thusly, I've spent the past week in Coeur d’Alene at their house helping out. I’ve since witnessed some of the funniest moments of my entire life.

Earlier this morning, Grandma yelled at Grandpa about not eating enough breakfast these days. She went on to scold him about simply eating a small bowl of cereal and some peaches, saying he needed to make himself a more fulfilling breakfast.

Soon after, as Grandma read the paper, Grandpa quietly got my attention by winking a few times. He looked at his wife and quietly boomed: “Well, I think it’s time for a small bowl of cereal.”

Grandma – obviously not amused – peered around the corner of today’s Coeur d’Alene Press and glared deep into his soul (I could feel the burning from across their living room!).

“Ok,” he said. “I guess I wouldn’t say no if somebody brought me scrambled eggs and toast.”

Grandma obliged: “I will make that for you,” she said, before returning to her crossword puzzle.

Then, a minute or so later, she quipped: “You know, I’m going to keep track of all these little games you’re playing on me. And when you get better , I am going to make you pay.”

Then, a few seconds later, she said again, “I am going to make you pay.”

She brought him a warm breakfast, eggs, apple sauce and english muffins. “There ya go, kid,” she said, and set it in his lap.

“You know what,” he responded. “I think I’d rather just have cereal and toast.”

“I’m not even going to respond to that,” she answered.

I hit the floor laughing harder than ever.


Last night’s highlight, after Grandpa yelled at the TV:

Grandma: “Gene, has anyone ever told you that the TV can’t listen to you yelling?”

Grandpa: “Shirley, has anyone ever told you to shut up?”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Save the Date

Now that Holly and I have finally got things organized concerning all things wedding-related, our Save The Date cards should be in the mail any day. That being said, here is a sneak preview of the card I created for our STDs (I’m not too fond of that acronym). The people at the Crystal Ballroom let me sneak out on their balcony to shoot the photo, and then a few minutes in Photoshop let me change the reader board text to a more fitting sign.

I know Holly probably wanted everybody to wait until they got this in the mail, but I just couldn’t hold back any longer!

Crystal STD

Friday, February 5, 2010

More Portland-Area Photos

Here are some more photos I’ve taken lately in and around the Portland area. After seeing so many great shots on Flickr, I’ve gotten the itch to get out as much as possible. I now have a huge list of photos I want to shoot thanks to seeing what others are doing in the same areas.

Here is what I’ve been up to lately:



Portland 26 HDR 



High Dynamic Range (HDR)

There is a technique among photographers that turns high-contrasting scenes into seamless masterpieces. It’s called High Dynamic Range, or HDR for short. Here is a simple breakdown of what happens:

Let’s say that you want to take a picture of a cityscape next to the river. What’s more, you want to do this in very low light. You want the lights on the building to show perfect, the water to reflect perfect and the sky to come out perfect as well. Unfortunately, most cameras simply aren’t capable of creating such an image. Either the highlights get washed out when the shadows are perfect or vice versa.

That’s where HDR comes in handy.

If you are creating an HDR image, you are going to take separate photos at different exposures before merging them all together. One photo will be underexposed, one perfect while another may be overexposed. When you merge the three together in a program like Photoshop or Photomatix, the best parts of each photo show up in the end.

And that is what I did this morning. When I woke up at 6 a.m. for reasons unbeknownst to me, I couldn’t fall back asleep. So I decided to be productive. I had seen many phenomenal photos on Flickr taken from the same spot down on the river. I tried to mimic them the other night, but to no avail. (Here is my favorite photo on Flickr of this scene).

Instead, I got an overall dark image. Here is my first version from the other night:


I got down there a little later than I had planned, but still gave it a whack. You can’t even see the pilings in the dark, and I even tried using my flash. No dice.

So, this morning, as I laid awake in bed thinking of how to be productive at 6 a.m. in the morning (without waking Holly, of course!), I decided to get the same photo as the sun came up. That way I could get the best light possible.

I was stoked when I got down there just before it got real bright out. I figured an HDR would be the best way to get all the elements I wanted, so I took dozens of the same exact shot. When I loaded them up in Photoshop CS4 afterward, they just didn't impress me.

But then I remembered a friend who always talked up Photomatix, so I downloaded that to see what I could do.


I think I am love. I went back and ran another image through Photomatix instead of Photoshop, and I loved the results! Here is the HDR image that I shot this morning. Without a doubt, I have to say this is probably the greatest photo I’ve ever made – and it’s all thanks to HDR:

Portland HDR 
View it larger on my Fickr page here.