Archive for Waterfall

The Practical Joke

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by chamimage
Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

I’m not much of a practical joker, but once in a while someone innocently sets one up and it really seems a shame to waste a ripe opportunity. Just such an opportunity presented itself to me last week.

I have framed photographic prints on the walls at work. In one hallway are a half dozen of them and as part of her Christmas-ification program after Thanksgiving my assistant likes to take them down and gift wrap them and hang them back up in her spare time, which she apparently has way too much of.

These six framed prints have been there longer than I care to admit. Most of them were shot on film and switched to digital in 2006. One is from Laos in 2003. Not that they are bad images, they have just been there for years and everyone is prone to ignore them.

I sensed an opportunity to hang new prints and have a little fun at the same time, so I went in last weekend and carefully unwrapped each print and replaced it with a new one and carefully re-wrapped them. I left a couple of them; one because it is the most discussed image of a pool with an eddy of autumn leaves in front of a waterfall and every body wants to know how I did it (threw everything in the bag in front of the lens that would slow the shutter speed because you could barely notice the eddy with the naked eye). The other was an 8.5 x 11 from France and I didn’t bring an 8.5 x 11 with me.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

This morning I thought I had blown it because I also hung new prints elsewhere and they were noticed right away. Should have waited to change those. But when my assistant unwrapped the first two they were the two old ones so her surprise when she unwrapped the third one was genuine. I told her the rest would be just like Christmas all over again because she didn’t know what to expect.

Truck Full O' Muddy Dogs

Truck Full O’ Muddy Dogs

In the end what saved me was that she couldn’t believe I would actually go to the trouble of re-wrapping all of those prints.

Like I said, these prints are pretty old. The yellow lab above has passed on from congestive heart failure. The golden retriever is looking kind of wary because the yellow lab is the alpha and not above playing a few practical jokes of his own and being trapped in the back of a pickup with him is not the golden retrievers idea of a good time. Actually the black female is the real alpha, she just lets the lab think he is. Any perceived infraction and she will let him have it. Even if he strayed too far out and had to be called back, she would be there waiting to light into him for it. She was my enforcer. She’s mellowed a bit with age. It all just rolls off of her now.

Big Ben_London

Big Ben_London


Oregon Coast

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by chamimage

Breaking Wave

There have been snowy owl sightings in Oregon this winter. I went to the coast, which is fifty miles away, to check one sighting out, but could not find the owl. It sounded more fun than checking out the Albany high school or going to Marine Drive in Portland. I knew if I struck out on the owl I would at least have the coast.

This is an irruption year for snowy owls. Irruptions are where large numbers of a bird species migrate to an area where the rarely go. In this case snowy owls are being seen throughout the upper half of the US this winter.

Snowy owls nest in the arctic tundra. They depend on lemmings for their food and their numbers follow the lemming numbers. The owls lay from two to eleven eggs, depending on how abundant the lemmings are that year. It was a very good lemming year.

Boiler Bay Waterfall

There is usually barely enough water to keep the rock wet in this bay. Now it is a waterfall. Inland we are still recovering from the torrential rains and snow melt that resulted in cars full of people being swept away and widespread flooding. My dog walking park is still under the Willamette River.

Depoe Bay Harbor

It was a balmy 56 degrees at the coast. Shirt sleeve weather. No wind. When I drove home my car thermometer read 38 degrees. It was a good day for people to go out on one of these charter boats for salmon fishing. They brought back fish, which made the seagulls deliriously happy.


This bell was in the yard of the Coast Guard station in Depoe Bay. Not sure where they got the bell, but the words inscribed on it are a verse from the 1970’s song Dreamboat Annie by Heart. Actually Dreamboat Annie wouldn’t be a bad name for a boat.

Wooden Sculpture

This oars and life preserver sculpture was on the wall of the Coast Guard station. The wall was white so I had to grunge it up a bit.

I had a great time not finding an owl.


Posted in Philosophy and Spirituality with tags , , , , on November 22, 2011 by chamimage

Lonesome Tree

We all seem to be involved to some extent in social media – Facebook, Google +, Twitter. Some more than others. It is time consuming and I started wondering just how worthwhile and to what extent. It turns out that a British anthropologist named Robin Dunbar worked out that 150 active social contacts is the maximum that we humans can maintain.

It would take a massive effort to maintain that many active contacts so we all have much fewer, maybe around 60 people that we follow, interact with regularly, etc. The number depends on how much effort you put into being social so I probably have like 5.  Of course, two of those are dogs. Interestingly, this work about social contacts came about as a result of field work done studying primates.

Primates require social contact within a group and they generally maintain their social bonds through mutual grooming. The number of social contacts they maintain turned out to be proportional to the size of the neocortex in their brain. You can only remember the names of so many other monkeys.

Columbia Gorge Bridge

It was extrapolation of the group sizes and brain sizes that the maximum number for humans was derived. The number of 148 seemed to hold up when the average village size and army unit sizes were considered. Villages and army units are highly motivated to work together for the common good so they work hard at maintaining the maximum group size. More than 150 and the groups starts to splinter.

Now, we humans have some social stigmas and laws attached to mutual grooming, at least in public, so Facebook seems to be our grooming substitute of the moment. I think I prefer it that way.

Horsetail Falls

So next time you here about Dunbar’s number, remember that it is a maximum that can be attained only if you are highly motivated. Do not ‘Friend’ 150 people. Please.

Columbia Gorge

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by chamimage

Wahkeena Creek

The Columbia River Gorge is a lovely place to be in the fall. I spent the day there on Monday with my friend, Sandy Nykerk, visiting from Bozeman, Montana. It was fun to see the reaction of someone from sagebrush and rattlesnake country to our lush rain forest.

Wahkeena Falls has always been my favorite in years past, both for the photography and the loop trail for a good hike. The young hardwood trees have finally grown up to obstruct the view of the falls from below now. They have also runed the shot of the creek above the bridge at the top of this photo.

Latourel Falls

Of course, the lushness of the forest comes at a price. We had only two rain showers on Monday, one at noon and one that ended the day at 4:30 pm. Not bad for Oregon. We did fight the wind and spray all day, as the drops on the lens and the wind artifact in the trees attests to in this photo of Latourel Falls. We gave up on photographing Multnomah Falls altogether due to the volume of spray being blown around. The green mold on the rock walls might give another hint at a bit of dampness year round.

Stone Wall

I loved this mossy stone wall. It snaked through the forest and would have made for some great sinuous curve photos had it not been for all of the tree limbs and brush in the way of the wider shots.

Bridge Over Latourel Creek

If you like bridges, this is a great place. I finished this image and the next one with a filter recipe in the new Color Efex Pro 4 that I like called Warm Sunset. It stacks polarization, sunlight, and vignette filters. I made some tweaks to the image above.

The image below is the filter effect untouched. A bit too warm for me in most cases, but I guess that is the point of the filter.

Latourel Creek Bridge

The Next Level

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by chamimage

African Fish Eagle

The rains have settled in here in Oregon, so it is time to catch up on editing and optimizing images. Every so once in a while it seems that I reach a new level with Photoshop, and then I want to go back and re-work all of my images because I think I can make them better. I’ve done that already this fall.

This improvement was relatively painless, except in the pocketbook. I broke down and bought Nik Color Efex Pro. I had been dragging my feet because it is expensive and because it did not work in 64 bit Photoshop CS5. They have fixed the 64 bit problem. They offer Color Efex Pro in three different configurations, unfortunately all but one of the filters I use the most reside only in the most expensive Complete Edition.

I recently heard one of the top Photoshop gurus state in an interview that he has quite a conundrum now. Does he teach the long version of Photoshop that does not require the purchase of plug-ins, or does he teach the way he really optimizes all of his images, with Color Efex Pro?

I used the Pro Contrast filter on the image above and was pretty much finished with it. It color corrected, added contrast and some saturation. I almost feel guilty that I’m finished already.

Rosemary at White Sands

The thing you need to watch for with Pro Contrast is that it tends to blow out highlights. I usually need to add a mask and paint in the highlight areas with black at about 50% to add detail back in the whites, as in the photo above. I also used the Brilliance/Warmth filter on this image to make the yellows pop. It is the only filter in the Basic Edition that I use routinely. I like the Tonal Contrast filter also, but it has three sliders for contrast that need to be adjusted and doesn’t color correct as well as Pro Contrast. I usually quickly click on both and then decide which to use. I heard a portrait photographer say he likes Tonal Contrast for portraits because of the warmth it adds.

Notre Dame de Chartres

The Brilliance/Warmth filter does a very nice job in an image where you want to balance blues and yellows, as in the above two photographs. I also used the Bleach Bypass filter on the above image. It works well in photographs with fine detail or texture.

Gargoyle at Notre Dame de Paris

I am having an inner battle with myself about the use of the Midnight and Glamor Glow filters. This is the Midnight filter above. Is it art, or is it a cheap gimmick?

Zebra Stripes

I think this photograph is an example of the Midnight filter creating a look that I would have no idea how to go about creating without it. This image would be oh so much less interesting without it. More tools to create more interesting photographs can only be a good thing.

Portland Japanese Garden

The Glamor Glow filter gives a painterly, Thomas Kincaid look. I worry that it might be perceived as velvet Elvis art.

Photoshop has gone from being a bit tedious and time-consuming to being fun again with these Color Efex Pro filters. I am still at a stage where I enjoy opening a photograph in the plug-in and clicking through the various filters to see what happens. What happens varies widely between photographs and I am just now starting to get a handle on which filter I might want to use on any particular image. It is a learning process and an art all in itself. What can be better than clicking on a filter and going “Whoa!” at the result. For me, “Whoa!” is a very, very good thing.


Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2010 by chamimage

Avalanche Lily

I really feel for the people living on the east coast this spring, with storm after storm, so I almost hesitate to post the Oregon wildflower photos from this weekend. Maybe it will provide some color in their otherwise white world. Every year I try to capture the avalanche lilies in a new way. It keeps me on my creative toes. In the past I’ve used macro lens, wide angle lens, flash, no flash, shooting upward by laying my camera on its back beneath the bloom, shooting down from above. I hadn’t decided quite what I was going to do as I gathered my gear yesterday. My camera body was still attached to my 600mm lens and I was going to remove it and put it on the 105 macro lens when inspiration struck. This year I would use my long lens on the lilies. I loved the look when I have done it in the past.

I took this photo and then noticed that the 1.7x teleconverter was still on. I tried taking it off, but ran into problems with close focusing distance, so instead of using an extension tube, like I should have done, I put the teleconverter back on. The advantage of the extension tube would have been a narrower depth of field than the f/6.7 with the teleconverter.

Avalanche Lily

Last year I used a tungsten white balance setting and then used an orange gel on the flash to neutralize the white balance on the flower. I also had blue sky last year.

Tower Junction, Yellowstone N.P.

Every year the Photoshop skills improve a bit and it is fun to go back to an older photo, like this 2008 Yellowstone landscape, and touch it up a bit. I dragged this one out to enter in the BBC competition this year. I stitched two exposures together for this, one exposed for the foreground and one for the sky. I wasn’t doing HDR’s yet when I shot this, but the clouds moved a bit too much between exposures to get a sharp sky in a HDR anyway.

Bison Herd

I have my screen saver set to display my photographs and this one of a bison herd seems to be coming up a bit too frequently to be a coincidence. It had a horrible color cast and seemed to be saying “Please fix me.” I’ve come to really like it as well, though I can’t really figure out why since it seems like such a unassuming photograph. I had thought I would upload it to my stock agency, but though it is plenty sharp, I know it is not sharp enough for the sharpness police at the agency. Of course, no child of the 60’s can look at this photograph and not break into song with a rendition of Roger Miller’s “You Can’t Roller skate in a Buffalo Herd”.

Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden in Autumn

I know, I know, the post is titled spring and this is an autumn photograph. I was asked for a print of this so also reworked it for the first time in a while. I tried not to have to crop it to size, but using the Content Ware Scaling feature in Photoshop CS4 created distortion in the waterfall so I gave up. Since then I’m wondering if I can select the waterfall, invert the selection, and then stretch it, protecting the waterfall in the process (credit to Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS4 book for that one – highly recommended book). I guess someone will need to order another print for it to be worth trying.

Silver Falls

Posted in Natural History, Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by chamimage
Lower South Falls

Lower South Falls

Two things we have an abundance of in Oregon are hills and moving water, which creates a good opportunity for waterfalls. Twenty-five miles from my home is Silver Falls State Park, which has ten waterfalls all in one medium-sized state park. The falls do not have very creative names. The falls displayed above is Lower South Falls and the rest are not named any better. The tallest waterfall is South Falls at 177 feet. Two years ago we confirmed that a kid could indeed get himself into the creek above South Falls, fall down, and go over the waterfall. No, it is not survivable.

Our two biggest rivers also have waterfalls. Willamette Falls in Oregon City dumps the entire Willamette River over a falls. It slows the salmon down a bit. It stops boats altogether. Well, there is the occasional boater whose engine stalls at a very inopportune time and goes over the falls. The boater usually survives, the boat never does.

The Columbia River used to have a dandy of a waterfall called Celilo Falls. It was buried when they built Bonneville Dam. I don’t know how much the government compensated the native American tribes for the loss of Celilo Falls, but it couldn’t have been enough. Celilo Falls was the summer gathering place for many of the Northwest tribes to come and net salmon as they tried to make their way past the falls. It was heritage lost. We speak of heritage in terms of four or five generations. I wonder how many hundreds or thousands of generations of native Americans fished at Celilo Falls? Because of dynamiting at the time of dam construction many native Americans claimed the government blew up the falls. The Corp of Engineers actually recently went over the falls with sonar equipment  to prove it was indeed intact down there. It was an emotional experience for many older native Americans to see those images and see the falls again. Every once in a while there is a rumor that the Corp is going to draw down the water to uncover the falls again, but they never do.

Our most popular waterfalls are all along the Columbia Gorge on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. Any water wanting to make it from the north slope of Mt. Hood to the Columbia River has to hurl itself off of a pretty tall cliff to get there.

The cabin photograph below is from Silver Falls State Park. This photograph has eluded me all of these years until now. Now I have Photomatix and can do HDR images to open up those inky shadows.

Log Cabin in Oregon

Log Cabin in Oregon