Thursday, December 31, 2009

The rest of the story.

As most of you guessed, the new FJR is actually a model. A most excellent one, I must add. The photo below is a good example of why you should take a peak at the background when you take a photo. This is the same photo as in the previous post. For the last one I zoomed in. With a wide aperature and shallow depth of field the background was unrecognizable. This is the same setting but with less focal length. I know it's a great shot of my garbage can, but it does add scale for the bike in the foreground. So I left it as is.

The model was a gift from a good friend. He said he thought I would enjoy it. Yes, I'm enjoying it immensely, Ray. Thank you so much! I'm very impressed. The detail is amazing and accurate. The handlebars turn and the wheels spin. The mirrors are on flexible stalks so they don't easily break off. As you can see, the sidestand deploys and actually holds the bike up.

This seemed a perfect opportunity to play with the D40. It's amazing how switching lenses and aperature settings can affect the photo. You can make a toy look almost real. The Nikon has settings to change where the camera focuses. Not only the distance, but the specific spot in the view. This was an exercise in utilizing that option plus others. I enjoyed playing with composition and depth of field. It's tough with both a very large object and a very small object in the same photo. I find that selective framing worked best.

Some views are from above but most are right down on ground level. That's been another revelation about making photos. You have to move around and look at things from different angles. Somewhere I read that you can't be afraid to get right down on the ground or wherever you need to be in order to get great shots. One can't worry too much about what passersby think. Of course, I've never cared about that, anyway!

The box claims the model is on a 1:12 scale. The recommendation is that it be enjoyed by kids three and up. I know, here come the jokes about finally having a bike I can handle. Go ahead and take your jabs. Just remember that I'm taking names.

Here is the website for Maisto, which the box says was the birthplace of the model. Click here. The motorcycle page is here. According to the website, this model is diecast. It feels nice and heavy in my hand.

I tried to capture the little brother trying to copy big sister by having both bikes with the front wheels tilted toward the sidestand. Hmmm, I see that Elvira's sidestand is scraped pretty good. I wonder how that happened.

I was gratified to see that Photoshop made no adjustments when I asked it to automatically fix the exposure. At least something is slightly coming together in my photographic journey. I made use of a fill flash with a diffuser for the shots where the model is underneath Elvira.

Like I say, the scale of one subject compared to the other made perspective difficult for me.


Anyway, this has been a lot of fun. At least for me. It's also been an enjoyable learning experience. I'm proving the adage that one sometimes has to take many photos to get a few good ones. In my case, a whole bunch. I took somewhere near a hundred over two days to get a few good ones. The term "good" is pretty subjective at times. I didn't get the sidestand and sidestand idea until I reviewed the previous shots. In those poses Elvira was on her centerstand and the front tire was straight on the model. Then I had this flash that it would be kind of cute to show the little bike with the front wheel tilted like it was trying to match Big Sister. It was back out again for some more shots.

Don't be surprised to see the baby FJR pop up once in a while in the future. The learning process never ends.

Miles and smiles,


P.S. Stay tuned. I owe Dave, aka old f, a waterfall photo.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New addition to the family.

I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the two-wheeled stable. This happens to be a 2006 Yamaha FJR 1300. We're having a bit of trouble figuring out the pecking order. Since this is a new addition, albeit an older model, does it become Elvira's little brother? Or does Elvira become the little sister based on the model year? Time will tell. Or maybe tomorrow's post will.

Here's an "artistic" front view.

Notice my mastery of the depth of field? The front of the bike is clearly focused while the back of the bike is artistically blurred. A few months ago I couldn't even spell "depth of field"!

More photos tomorrow. Maybe even the rest of the story.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Black and White Christmas.

Christmas day. Late afternoon sunshine.

Katie standing there wondering where the heck Elvira and I have disappeared to, now! Just like that guy. One of these days she's going to steal the keys. Do an intervention. Conduct an exorcism.

Actually, this is really Katie but it's not my house. This place is in the neighborhood, though. We were taking a walk in the afternoon sunshine. After I had washed Elvira, of course. You have to get your priorities straight. You knew a motorcycle would be involved, even on Christmas Day.

As we walked by the house I was thinking how it would be a perfect subject for a black and white photographic rendition. This place is so stately. It stands out from all the other houses. Each year at Christmas there is a lighted tree in each of the four front windows.

Now that the G11 is in the family it gets taken along on most outings. As was true this day. The small sized Canon has enough sophistication to stand on its own. The greatest value to me is the fact that it's so easy to slip into a pocket. It's great for me, but I suspect not so much for Katie. She ends up standing around while I play with camera settings and such. God bless her, she's as patient as you'd expect from a best friend. Hey, it evens out. I'm a gourmet cook and even do dishes. Art takes more than one form.

Katie says she knows how I am. I get interested in something new and immerse myself in it, striving for excellence. I think she finds it intriguing herself to be along for the ride. She often says that living with me is never boring. That might be a compliment. I'm not really sure.

Anyway, the way the light was hitting the side of the house appealed to me. The house is lighter on the left and gets darker on the right. It's amazing how much the contrast in lighting adds a depth to something. To me there's so much more interest in the contrasts than there would be in having the house lit evenly across. To think, I used to be "one of those" who only knew to have the "sun behind your back" when taking photos! All right, that wasn't very long ago, but I have now been "enlightened". Pun intended.

After taking a photo of the house by itself I persuaded Katie to model for me. Since it didn't appear anyone was home, I had her stand at the end of their sidewalk near the street. Katie was wearing a long coat with this new fuzzy hat she got. It's two toned brown and looks Russian. The combination of her looking like a stately Russian woman and the stately house seemed to go together.

The photo probably isn't as well composed as it could be. However, it's my photo and my expression. It did what I wanted it to. I wanted to get the front doors of the house in the photo since those are a distinguishing feature. The sun was coming in from the left so I wanted Katie looking that way since the sun would light her face. I have her almost too far to the left so that she appears to be looking out of the photo. It's borderline. She looks like she could be looking at something just out of the picture. Like a bike that just zoomed down the street!

For these photos I took them in color and then changed them in Photoshop. There's a setting for converting to black and white from color. I chose to try it differently. I put the color photo into the default project bin and made a duplicate layer. Then I went to the sliders where you can change colors, hues, and saturation. I simply removed the color saturation and left everything else alone. It seems to me that this method allows you to keep the pixel brightness which adds a bit of depth to the black and white rendition. You'd probably have to call it grayscale instead of black and white, I suppose.

Sitting down to supper, I saw something out of the dining room window that made me jump up to grab the Nikon and the tripod. Did I mention Katie's patience?

This is one case where the original is almost better than the grayscale conversion. The orange glow is from the porch light of the house.

I narrowed the aperature and changed the focus area to make the chimney more prominent than the branches in the foreground. It did get rid of the orange porch light glow, though. It's probably more of a Halloween photo than Christmas but fog was what we had.

Oh, by the way, just in case you're wondering where the heck the motorcycles are, I'm putting in a grayscale photo of Elvira on a bridge. This is a motorcycle blog, but I'm taking a fun side trip with the camera thing. Twice the fun!

I really like this one because you can see the ripples in the asphalt reflecting in Elvira's bodywork. Makes her look like she has the fur of some exotic cat.

Don't feel sorry for me but this week is forced vacation time. Our company shuts down and we must take a paid week off. I'm doing a few projects and playing with the camera. Speaking of playing, wait until you see the next post. My great friend Ray gave me a new motorcycle. I took delivery on Christmas Eve Day. Can't wait to share the photos. Here's a hint. It's another FJR.

Miles and smiles,


Monday, December 28, 2009

How NOT to use a bike.

This came across our instructor's e-mail list. Since this is a blog about riding to work, riding for work, and using a motorcycle for everyday transportation, it seemed like just the thing to share here. First off, the photo.

The caption for the photo was "Desk Jockey". I would not recommend this as a way to ride for work. Upon closer examination the object turns out to be a bar-b-que grill of sorts. Even then, this is not the way to do mobile catering.

As to credits for the photo, it has been around a while. The instructor who posted it saw it here.

This is the forum for Pacific Northwest riders. I'm happy to say that we finally got the technical difficulties sorted out and I can now post on this forum. Time for some Winter Tag!

Inquiry was made of the poster. Here is the reply.

Re: Biker with desk

I'm not sure. I'm always searching for funny pictures. I have a couple hundred saved on my computer. I post random 'caption this' pictures every day on another forum, everyone there loves it. Sometimes I find them on websites or blogs, other times I just do a google search for "funny" this or that. I don't remember where that particular one came from.

Turns out this photo has, indeed, been around a while. Here is an earlier posting.

The bottom line is that I'm not sure who to credit for the photo. I just want to make clear that it is not of my originality and is probably considered in the public domain by now. If it's your photo, please feel free to claim it here.

As for the rest of us, it might be fun to offer alternate captions. Go for it but keep it "G" rated, please!

Miles and smiles,


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dear Santa

It was great to meet your twin brother last Christmas. Up until then I had no idea that you even had a brother. That helps explain how you manage to be so many places in such short order. Splitting the work load in half is a great idea! As a fellow traveling man, I have to wonder who gets stuck with the expenses, though.

You two are certainly invited to come by again this year. Slide a big bag of cool stuff down my chimney and I'll take you and your brother on some more of those Oregon roads you loved so much last time. Actually, it was cool for me, too. Being with you two, we didn't have to worry about ice and snow at all. Somehow we simply glided over it all. Almost like we were piloting sleighs instead of bikes. Hmmmm.

We might even get the opportunity to engage in some Grinch hunting.

I have to admit it really got my pulse racing when you and your brother had one treed in that big oak last year. The sight of the Grinch glowing with this ghastly green and red, your two bikes trying to climb the tree like some sort of rabid reindeer, and the sound of your maniacal Ho Ho Ho's that would make a kid dive under their bed were pretty stirring at some primeival level. That is an experience I won't soon forget, let me tell you!

Just in case the prospect of another thrilling ride isn't enough, here's another possibility.

That has to be better than milk and cookies any day, right? I mean, how often do you get a Heritage Mall gift card? I've left a pint of Southern Comfort on the mantle to sort of top things off.

Sure hope to see you this year!




Whatever good things this holiday season means to you, I hope you find them in abundance. For me it's about friends, family, and reflection. It's a troubled world but there is still much to be thankful for. We all have a lot of good to share with each other. Thus begins world peace. It's the combined efforts of individuals. You and I.

I send you my warmest regards and best wishes for the future. I thank you all for the connection we have made in our blogging world.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nothing much.

Everybody's out and about and busy getting ready for Christmas. I had to work today. Nothing strenuous, just some more distributor calls. I chose to ride despite the freezing temperatures and fog. Getting a later start, Katie had come out to sit on the couch with me for a bit this morning. She has a robe that feels like a big, soft, kitten. Katie told me she just couldn't figure out why I still like to ride in this cold. Cuddling next to her, I wondered about it myself.

Since there's not much going on, I decided to post a few pictures I took at Washington Square Mall this morning. I planned my schedule to allow some practice time with indoor camera settings unaided by the use of a flash. This is the area that I seem to be having the most trouble with. I don't want to use too high of an ISO setting due to the "noise" factor. If I set the aperature at about f8 or smaller the shutter speed is slow which makes my photos blurry since I'm not using a tripod while walking about. I'll get there. These photos are more for exposure than composition. Bear that in mind before you comment on their quality!

This post is appropriately titled as this really doesn't amount to much. I'm having a Conchscooter moment. There's a great appeal to wandering around snapping photos then posting them with comments. My comments won't be as witty or wise as Conch's though. Again, I called the post "Nothing Much" for a reason!

Cold and foggy all day. The temperature never got over 37 degrees ( f ). I saw a couple of other civilian bikes during the day. Both were BMW riders. Between Beaverton and Hillsboro I saw three Washington County motor cops at scattered intervals. All three officers gifted me with big waves.

This water had been ice just a few minutes before. It melted while I dug the camera out.

There are always so many sparkly things to see in a mall. Especially during Christmas. I seem to be a sucker for blue LED's for some reason.

Sparkles take many forms.

As Mike had already shown us, some sparkles are more compelling to us than others.

Santa's pad at the mall is well decorated. I had a small issue here. The next few photos are just some exercises in aperature settings as they affect shutter speed.

Then there was this kid watching the proceedings. The line to have a photo taken with Santa was long. I'm sorry to say I screwed up the settings and don't have a picture of the mile long line.

Mama was pretty indulgent about me taking a photo of her son. I really want to take some kid photos. I'm not sure how to go about it. In today's society I could be mistaken for some pervert taking pictures of people's kids. I guess I'll wait until I have the grandson with me and take a lot of pictures of him.

I am using both the G11 and the D40. I went a bit far when I took a photo of the photographer in the Santa booth.

It wasn't long before a woman came over and told me I wasn't allowed to take photos around their operation. Yeah, I could have argued about it, but I also respect the fact that they sell photos and don't want folks trying to get their own for free. They aren't the only show in town, anyway.

I did discreetly snap a photo of a couple of kids at play. That's an advantage of not using a flash! The play area was surprisingly empty. Perhaps they were all at this store.

I once found a Lego in my daughter's diaper, but that is a whole other story that won't be told here. This store looks like entering some sort of time tunnel or something.

One of these was taken with the G11 and the other with the D40. Not that it matters at all.

There were some other photos but I'll save you from them. This is kind of like family vacation slides, isn't it?

When I got back to Elvira, I found her showing a Charger which end of her it would see once we got onto the open road.

Business called so it was time to get with it. With no electrics I have to admit that I was a true Iceman when I got home. I think literal ice water was running through my veins. Still better on the bike, no matter how cold!

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rainy day fun!

So what do you do on a rainy day when you get bored with splashing water up onto your bike? You go find more water, of course! While you're there, if you can haul a boat out of the river you get some bonus entertainment.

Dragging boats wasn't my original plan. This was a spur of the moment practice session with the G11. On a weather day like this nothing looks good to start with. There's a "cloudy day" setting on the white balance settings. I figured to check this out as well as some other settings. However, I had just barely gotten the camera fired up when the practice was interrupted.

Going with the settings I had on the camera, I snapped a quick shot. When three guys with shotguns approach, documentation can't hurt if your camera happens to survive you. Turns out they were duck hunters and I was in their way. They asked what the heck I was doing.

"I'm a photographer", I told them.

They nodded as if this explained everything. What kind of reputation do you photographers have, anyway?

I'd noticed their big pickup and boat trailer in the parking lot as I rode by. Actually, being the only other vehicle in the lot, it wasn't hard to miss. Feeling a bit cocky, I told them I could move the bike. On the other hand, we could save a bit of time. I'd just pull the boat out of the water with the bike and then we could lift the boat onto the trailer. Just be sure to secure the prop in the up position, first!

How hard could it be, after all? The trailer doesn't look much longer than the bike. I'll leave it to you to write your own ending.

A bit farther down the road this old house caught my eye. There was a guy working inside. This looks like one of my remodel jobs. It starts small. Then I pull off too much sheetrock. So I pull off a bit more so I can put a whole sheet back in. For some reason that doesn't work well so I take off more. Pretty soon the house looks like this.

I suppose that, even out in the country, there are people running around who might want to sneak off with your tools. Unless, of course, you have an alarm system.

Notice how the big lab is looking off towards stage left. There were a couple of guys walkng a small dog alongside the roadway. Sure enough, the lab sounded the alarm and charged. This would be a good time to steal tools, but I'm not wired that way. Dang. Figuring I would be documenting a dog fight, I swiveled the G11 that way. Check out the photo.

Look closely. The telling is in the details. You'd think the little dog would be concerned about the big lab. Notice, however, that the small dog is staring at me and ignoring the lab. Does that mean I'm an even bigger threat to the small dog than the lab is? The lab, in turn, is expressing no interest in the small dog. It's more interested in the dude in the white tennis shoes. Just what does he have in his pockets, anyway?

I can see I'm forever ruined. Now that I'm calling myself a photographer, I'll never see the world in the same way anymore. I'm gratified that I can still weave the tales, though!

Miles and smiles,


Saturday, December 19, 2009

So that's how it works!

I finally did it. I've seen photos in books of waterfalls with the moving water looking creamy while the rest of the landscape was in sharp focus. I knew it was a matter of a slower shutter speed but things always seemed to go wrong. Either I had the wrong landscape to try it with or my shutter speeds were apparently way too slow.

The other day while I was in Salem I stopped at this office building complex. More correctly, I stopped in the bicycle lane of Hawthorne Street. This street has a Costco at one end so it's quite busy. That's where I had to be to include Elvira in the shot. So be it. I had a bright retroreflective vest on. I'd look like someone on a road crew.

There are four or five multi-story buildings in this complex. The whole campus is beautiful. At first I just stopped to take a photo or two. I know that purists will tell me that this photo is framed wrong. Elvira is just about to pop off the frame to the left instead of having the "action going into the picture". What the heck. It's my photo and I wanted to frame the waterfall in the curve of the bike's lines through the dash, seat, and trunk. Here's one that's more "technically"correct.

Yet another look at the overall scene. I can imagine working in one of those offices near the pond. I would never get any work done but I'd always be smiling!

Like I said, my original goal was simply to take a few photos because the landscape appealed to me. I kept looking at the waterfall, though, and it dawned on me. Here was an opportunity to get some more practice. We stress to our instructors that students learn by doing. The same applies to student photographers. Thank goodness digital shots cost nothing, because I am doing quite a bit of practice!

Here's the first upclose picture of the waterfall. I used the shutter speed setting for these and let the camera decide the rest. The G11 made some interesting decisions.

I chose a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second to try to freeze the falling water. I could have tried 1/250 but it was a really gray, drizzly day. Even so, the Canon chose to use ISO 800 and an aperature of f4.5. It was trying to let in some light.

Then I went for the next shot.

This is at a shutter speed of 1/8 second. It actually turned out pretty good. I realize I had been trying to use too slow a shutter speed in my other attempts. I thought I had to really slow it down but I finally realized that I wanted a bit of blur but not very much. Unlike previous efforts, this time I was hand holding the camera, not using a tripod.

Interestingly, the camera chose to change the ISO to 80, way down there. It closed the aperature to f8 as befits the shutter being open longer. However, the camera also decided to cut down the exposure compensation to minus 1/3. I don't quite get that. I know it has something to do with "fooling" the circuitry by telling it something not quite true so it will compensate accordingly.

When I saw the photo in the LCD screen I was pretty stoked. It's probably pretty basic to a lot of you grizzled photographers out there. For me it was like learning to use the friction zone on a motorcycle for low speed control. Another step forward in fine tuning my control.

Of course, just to keep me humble, this happened.

I was trying to set the shutter speed a stop lower and had a misfire into the grass! Once I got over that I snapped the last picture in the series.

The above shot was with a 1/4 second shutter speed. Still more or less handheld but the camera was resting on Elvira's trunk this time for a bit of extra support. The camera left the settings the same as they were at 1/8 second.

This shot still looks good but I think the shot at a 1/8 second shutter speed looks a bit cleaner. It's amazing how little it takes to make a discernable difference in the pictures.

There's no doubt that the magic is still in the camera itself, contained amongst the electronic circuits. Still, though, little by little I am putting the puzzle together. What a fun journey! On top of getting to ride the bike. Does it get any better? Well, I was only a mile or so away from a Starbucks and a chance to warm up with some hot coffee. That would make the third leg of the stool.

Miles and smiles,