Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thirteen Photos and a Thousand Words ( give or take )

Once upon a time I started a separate photo blog. Then came the brutal realization that keeping one blog going was tough enough so adding another one might not have been a great idea. I may streamline the plan for a while by simply posting photos there. With everything I have my fingers in right now I feel like one of those old Vaudeville acts. You know the one I'm talking about. Some guy has a bunch of plates spinning on a row of sticks. The act gets really interesting when the performer is running up and down the row trying to keep all the plates spinning. My fervent hope is that the plates don't all come crashing down on me before I take the time to prioritize better!

My pursuit of photography is getting much more serious. Not that the outcome is anything to write home about. However, I'm beginning to really understand how to work the exposure triangle to my advantage. Composition is something I know about on the surface but it hasn't become ingrained by any means, yet. There's still a long ways to go. Stuff like when to use spot metering versus center weighted, etc. The really good news is that I'm learning a lot. They say you learn from your mistakes, you know!

A trip over the mountain into Central Oregon was on the books a bit ago. For this post I just felt like sharing some photos and some comments.

One of the burdens I have to deal with is staying in fairly nice hotels. The favored place these days is the Riverhouse when staying in Bend. It's across the highway from the Hampton where Bobskoot and some of the gang stayed last year for our bloggers gathering.

This photo of the pool was taken with the G11. I also had the D7000 along. It's bad when when you take less clothing in order to carry two cameras. I finally figured out how to use the built-in ND filter. That, and a smaller aperature helped conquer the glare of the really bright sunshine.

The folks are kind enough to put me in a building in the back. It's very quiet and nice back there. Across the parking lot is a conference center.

The place looks ok during the day but looks a lot better at night, doesn't it? Who knew you could get cobalt blue skies with a camera after our eyes think it's all the way dark? A nice added touch is the light trails from passing vehicles.

After I played with a bunch of different shutter speeds and got a couple of shots I liked I moved the tripod off to the side but left the camera set up and on. It was nice to simply stand and enjoy the evening air. A very large Ford pickup drove into the parking lot towards me. Since the camera was already on and the remote shutter release cable was still in my hand, I quickly zoomed the lense to wide angle and pressed the button. Here's what the headlights of the truck looked like with a 30 second exposure. The photo itself isn't so great but it was fun to make.

Just on the edge of town is Pilot Butte. It's really just a big hill. The road winds around and around in ever decreasing circles towards the top. One evening I decided to ride up and try my hand at sunset photos. I find I'm not really drawn towards landscape photography although I do appreciate the wonders around us.

The small flat area at the top of the butte was surprisingly busy. There were the usual tourists, a group of guys making some kind of band / music video recording, and a wedding, of all things.

Here are the bride and groom. He seems more interested in his mobile communication device than he is in her.

The late evening light gave everything a kind of golden glow. It was pretty awesome, actually.

Somewhere around a dozen people attended the wedding. There was a woman in a black robe whom I presume was a Justice of the Peace or something. She performed the ceremony.

This couple were a part of the wedding party. The guy had a bottle of iced tea in his hand and was saluting everybody with it. I think it was ice tea, but who knows?

My tripod mounted camera was pointed to the West. The wedding was in the center of the flat spot, to my back. I quietly turned the camera around and took a few discrete shots. The girl noticed my camera and said something to the guy. He saluted me with the bottle. She looked a bit self conscious so I was considerate and turned the camera back around. It wasn't my intent to intrude uninvited on the wedding, after all. It was just a target of opportunity.

The photo is a bit washed out. Her face was in shadow since the camera was set on matrix metering. I had to put a lot of fill light on her face in Photoshop to bring it out. On the other hand, you have to see her face looking my direction to get the idea so it was necessary.

Here's the drummer checking everything out from his vantage point. The music wasn't connected to the wedding. The video crew was very considerate and stopped everything for the short wedding ceremony.

There were enough clouds hanging onto the mountains to mess with the sunset photography. I hope this guy had better luck than I did. None of mine turned out to be worth keeping.

One side effect of pursuing photography is that I've become really into light. Sometimes I feel like some hippy dude eating pine cones or something while expressing rapture at some new discovery.

"Man, have you ever, like, REALLY looked at the light?"

All jokes aside, it's amazing how much difference there is in light from season to season. For that matter, from hour to hour and even minute to minute. What looks like a fantastic picture can go away in a space as short as a couple of minutes.

Check out this photo taken of the river behind the hotel. It was taken very early in the morning as the sun just started to light the river. It's an okay photo but really lacks punch.

Compare it to a photo I took in late March from just a few feet to the right from where I was standing. The lighting comes from late afternoon sunshine with the sun lower towards the horizon. There's a huge difference in the "wow" factor, isn't there? I never appreciated the differences until I got serious about this picture making stuff.

I realized I had really tipped over the edge on the way home. This is back on the West side of the pass but we're still heading downhill. I passed this view and a convenient wide gravel spot on the side of the road without stopping. For the next six miles I wrestled with going back because the view kept getting more and more limited as I descended. Finally, knowing I would regret it if I didn't take the opportunity for a photo, I doubled back and pressed the shutter.

A polarizing filter added a bit more blue to the sky and brought out the dazzling white of the snow. The remarkable thing is that I actually did it on purpose. Maybe not really well, but kind of like an ape using a stick to pry ants out of a log, there was a purposeful act involved.

Of course, being parked beside the road, as well as actually standing in the road, one has to be on the lookout for traffic. Like this loaded log truck headed up hill.

Having finally figured out that a narrow aperature is another way to slow down the shutter speed, I left the aperature at f/16 which gave me a 1/10 second exposure. I thought it was a pretty cool effect.

It's becoming easier all the time to see the appeal that Steve Williams finds in riding a scooter. Making photos can easily become more addicting than riding. A thing I never thought I would ever find myself saying. Time to wrap this thing up. I have to shake it off and go for a fast ride!

Miles and smiles,



bobskoot said...


Imagine for a moment that it were 20 years ago when you were fiddling with your film based camera. That's what it was like when I was learning about exposures and light. coupled with the fact that I was also shooting Black & white film and doing my own developing using homemade developer mixed from powder. It wasn't that easy to capture the light as it would often take a week to develop and print a photo to see what you had. The learning curve was longer then. Today, results are more immediate and at nearly no cost. sometimes the basics are hard to explain to newer photographers. Obviously you get it, but others are not so quick to grasp the fundamentals.

Riding the Wet Coast

irondad said...


I can well imagine. For those of you who learned the old school way I have nothing but deepest respect.

You are a craftsman. I am merely a practitioner of the craft. I appreciate both the compliment and what you have shared with me over the years. It was you who provided me the education on reading a histogram, for example.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

I warned you Dan, that the hobby of photography would become addictive. You've graduated to a far better digital camera which is good. No more D40?
Results of the changes in your skill kevek are revealing are showing.
Sadly the past few months (now) have not been my friends. Serious illness in my lower gut limited virtually all activities of a mobile nature.However now finally home from the hospital after many weeks can sit in a chair, and observe the world passing fourteen stories below me.Purchased a new top of the line 80-200 zoom prior to my illness as a birthday gift to myself. So now when I am able, sit at the chair and use the new piece of glass to photograph the passing scene. No motorcycles this time around.

Charlie6 said...


A polarizing filter and snowy peaks.....nice! Must go find one and see how it helps.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

RichardM said...

Nice photos and I like the experiments with show shutter speed. I used to be really in photography in the olden days of film. Used to do a lot of B&W and color prints from slides. Once I moved up to AK, it wasn't as convenient as I lived in a dry cabin for a while (as many destitute students do). Sold most of my camera gear to pay the rent. Now I have started to get into it a bit more.

You're an inspiration as are the other photo bloggers. I see something and it gives me something else to try...

Allen Madding said...

I am thoroughly impressed with the photographer you are turning into as of late. These photos are amazing. You should begin considering a website selling prints of some of your photos.


david said...

I like the last 2, the snow obviously, it's just perfect. But the truck appeals more. I spent a lot of time hitch hiking in my youth, and that's exactly how it looks from next to the road.
Just intense MOTION that you capture really well.
peace :)

bluekat said...

Must be a guy thing. I don't think I'd ever sacrifice clothes for cameras. I'd toss out, oh say, tools for the bike...unimportant stuff like that. Priorities you know.

I'm liking the photo of the bride and groom. Great light and nicely exposed. I love the time of day when the light gets like that. The mountain shot is really nice as well. Bright white snow with details that haven't been blown out. Good job mastering the camera settings.

Great example with the convention center of how different lighting effects an image. I like the middle image best, with the lighted entry, and some color still in the sky.

karinajean said...

I love that you have got moto and photo content in your blog - partly because I like both types of material, and partly b/c I hope that my own nutters blog with moto and food and family and daily life content is acceptable to the more single-purposed bloggers out there. but honestly, it's enough work to maintain Tiny Choices, and I have a coblogger! I'm happy I can get any personal content up at

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Dan:

I know absolutely nothing about photography. I only had to know how to call a great photographer on the telephone when having a flawless picture was essential to a client.

You are the greatest advocate for rider training... It makes sense to me that anyone who would be so quick to realize the shortest distance between two points is training should immediately sign up for a college course on photography, join a photography group, or pursue an online course of photographic study.

There is always the question of finding time for something like this... But life is short, and a consuming passion for something should be addressed directly.

Forty hours in a classtoom would undoubtedly eliminate hundreds of hours spent in the trial and error approach to what works. I know a handful of very successful professional photographers. Oddly enough, they are as proficient with PhotoShop as they are with a camera — many shooting in "raw" to gather in the ore, so to speak, before smelting it into the finished product.

They say one picture is worth a thousand words... I try to pull it off in 789, in such a way that no one minds.

Photos #6 and #7 are the best in this current lot of yours. Why? Because this young woman is such a striking beauty that even a fast, stolen image of her face and smile is so much better than no image at all. In photo #6, the way she is looking at that barista says it all. (You can see the color of the sunshine in her braided hair.)

A stream is a stream... A mountain is a mountain. A moment captured on a woman's face is an unwritten poem being born. Sensing that look, then preserving if for all time is a public service.

This young guy has no idea how lucky he is... And how he will regret for the rest of his life the loose word or action that sends her spinning off. (It is inevitable.)

Please feel free to go back to the scene of that wedding and see if this errant burst of sunshine is still walking around the hotel deck.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

PS: It's interesting... In Photo #6, her hair is braided. In Photo #7, it is blowing free in the wind, and the couple has grabbed some potted plants. Did they pose the second photograph for you?


irondad said...


Yes, it has become somewhat addictive. I sold the D40 but kept the CD you sent me. I carry a D5000 on the bike and use a D7000 for the other photos.

Sorry you're still suffering. Fourteen stories up, eh?

Take care,


irondad said...


I'm told the polarizing filter mostly works to make the sky more blue in these situations. It does work that way. Not so much for reducing glare, as claimed.

Take care,


irondad said...


Experiments are exactly what some of the photos are, for sure. Some turn out good, some not! Always learning.

Glad to be an inspiration. I think we reach our full human potential when we come together to inspire each other to better things.

Take care,


irondad said...


You are too kind. I actually have sold a few photos through a stock agency but the money isn't real big these days.

Creating a web based gallery seems a bit daunting for a gear head like me. Guess it will be something else to learn, eh?

Probably old stuff to a guy like you.

Take care,


irondad said...


I got lucky with that truck. I had the camera on a tripod making a photo of the mountain. Down the road I saw the truck and had to make some quick decisions and camera adjustments. I almost missed out.

I'd like to say I planned to capture the truck leaving the frame to create more dynamic tension but that would not be true!

Glad the photo spoke to you. That's always the hope, isn't it?

Peace to you, as well, my friend.

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you for the compliments. They say even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

I can understand the clothes versus tools, etc, thing. Presentation is everything, after all. Besides, being well dressed while broken down on the side of the road makes it more likely somebody will stop to help, right?

Take care,


irondad said...


I'm always impressed by the fresh content at Tiny Choices. You do better than you take credit for.

Thank you for gracing my own site.

Take care,


irondad said...


Interestingly I am enrolled in a course that combines online training and correspondence type material. My goal is to be able to support myself from motorcycles and photography.

Despite the borderline lecherous nature of your comments, what you say about the girl is true. Which is why I find I am drawn to candid type people and street photography.

This photo was not posed by my direction. Right after I took the second photo she pointed me out to her boyfriend. That angelic look of hers turned to distaste like I was some sort of stalker.

Which made me feel right at home because that's how most women look at me. Thank goodness for telephoto lenses!

Take care,