Saturday, January 31, 2009

More images from the Alaska trail

This pond was alongside the trail where we encountered the bear. It's hard to see but in the background you should be able to pick out some of the low-level fog that seemed to be with us for 80% of the trip. 

These photos from the trail were only half of the outing that day. From there we went to a port and boarded a rigid hull inflatable to search for some whales in the sound. We were lucky enough to catch a few humpbacks while we were out there. I'll put those images up in a post tomorrow.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Guy goes hiking, finds camera in river, recovers images, now looking for the owner

Pretty amazing story here:

From the blog:

While hiking in New Hampshire this summer, I found a digital camera at the bottom of a river. Although the camera was completely destroyed, I was able to carefully take it apart and safely recover the photos from its memory chip.

I once lost a phone while on a hike and had it returned to me a few months later after someone recovered it. At that point all I had lost were a few phone numbers and I was ecstatic to get it back. I can only imagine how happy the original owner would be to be reunited with these lost images and videos.

So, if you recognize the people in these photos show them this blog!

Alaska again? Found in the forest around Mendenhall Glacier

Two more things I encountered on the trail from the parking lot to the glacier. First was this mess of ferns and growth that looked ancient - I mean paleolithic ancient. A lot of the forest surrounding the path just had this old feel to it, even though the growth there wasn't all that old considering that less than 100 years before it was covered in ice from the glacier.

The next thing we encountered on the trail was a bit more animated. When we got dropped off by the shuttle there were about a dozen photographers in the group. In the parking lot we all got off the shuttle and a handful of people went to use the facilities. While they were in there the shuttle relocated about a 1/4 mile back across from the trail exit.

Turns out one guy misunderstood the way things were going to happen and he left his gear on the shuttle. A photo hike without your gear makes for a pretty pointless photo hike. So the guide sent him back to the shuttle and told him to head in on the trail via the exit point and eventually he'd catch up with us.

Fast forward to my group walking up the trail. We are casually making our way and I am next in line right after the guide. So she rounds a blind corner with me only a few paces behind her and immediately she freezes. She slowly turns around and says, "You guys are going to get your money's worth in about 10 seconds - everyone slowly step backward until I tell you to stop." So we all do and as we're backpeddling a black bear rounds the corner just plodding along.

He keeps walking up the trail toward us and we keep retreating. I am scrambling trying to change lenses to my 70-200 and eventually I fire off a few frames. They're shaky as hell, and would be no good blown up, but I did manage to get a few shots.

The bear eventually veers off course and leaves the trail heading into the woods. About a minute or two after the bear disappears the guy who left his gear behind starts walking toward us. Turns out he saw the bear a ways up the trail and was effectively flushing him toward us.

Had that guy not left his gear on the shuttle we probably would've never encountered the bear. Of course him pushing the bear toward us and effectively sandwiching the bear between two groups of people was a seriously dumb idea, and the guide wasn't too happy, but it made for a good photo.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Alaska returns - Walking around Mendenhall Glacier

From the parking lot to the observation deck (click here to see where it is on a map) you walk through some pretty dense forest. We were there in August so things were still very green. Along the path was this footbridge that crossed a pretty wide, slow moving stream.

For the most part Alaska is a very wet state, and Juneau was no exception. The sky was pretty overcast for the days we were there, and we got drizzle and rain on and off the whole time. Luckily the rain held off on our walk through the woods.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Alaska shot - Mendenhall Glacier

It's hard to desribe how massive this glacier looks in person. I wish the image below had some reference point to give it a sense of scale.

Even harder is to imagine is that since 1910 the face of this glacier has receded 1.75 miles (see here:

On the trail from the parking lot to the glacier observation deck there were stone markers showing the location of the glacial face for a given year. It was pretty remarkable to count them off as we got closer and closer to the deck. I wish I had taken a few photos of them. I'll post images from the trail (as well as an image of a friendly local we encountered while on the trail) tomorrow. Until then, here's a shot of the glacier itself:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More from Alaska (by way of Vancouver)

Getting to Alaska meant a stop in Seattle then a stop in Vancouver. When we hit Vancouver we stayed for a few days before boarding the boat. One regret about leaving the West Coast was that we never went back to Vancouver - I really liked it there. Not that it's inaccessible from Boston, it's just a whole lot closer to San Francisco.

The hotel we stayed in had a nice view of some new glass-encases highrise towers going up. The skyline was pretty enough.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I haven't even seen it, but I know I want it

I stumbled upon this brief book review at the RAW website (if you don't visit it already, you really should). It is a collection of 200 candid photos and interviews of jazz musicians compiled by an unsung hero of the American jazz scene - the book is titled Three Wishes: An Intimate Look at Jazz Greats.

Pannonica De Koenigswarter collected the three wishes of roughly 300 musicians over the course of a decade. Those wishes, along with the 200 or so images, make up this book.

I first heard about Pannonica (often cited as Nica in no less than 7 songs written for or about her) while I was watching the documentary Straight, No Chaser about Thelonious Monk. It was at her house in Weehawken, NJ on February 5th, 1982 that Monk died.

If and when I get the book I'll be sure to ammend this post with a proper review, but I am pretty confident that seeing the images alone will make me love it.


I went on a cruise to Alaska about two years ago, and was able to make it out on a photo safari for whales as well as a trek around the Mendenhall Glacier. This photo isn't from either of those spots though.

This was taken on the deck of the ship, during the early part of our trip north when the weather was incredible. We lucked out for the week - only getting rain here and there during a usually rainy time of year, so I can't really complain. This day was remarkable though.

I used a circular polarizer to take some of the glare out of the water and darken the sky to puff up the clouds a bit. It was shot at the wide end of a Canon 17-40 at f/11 for 1/500th of a second at ISO 100.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Two more from the midway

Two more shots from the fair, taken with the Yashica Mat 124g. I really can't wait to get a scanner so I can see more of what I've shot with this camera.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Final shot from that day

This is the last shot from my outing on MLK day. Incidentally this is the first shot I took on that day. On my way over to the coast I drove over a little stream that looked quite peaceful. I ended up stopping and taking a few shots on either side of the bridge. The south side of the bridge was definitely more interesting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Second to last black and white from the cold

This is the shot I took downstream - eventually leading to the ocean. I feel like i am going to be a black and white guy for a little longer. The snow+water+dirty makes for some interesting textures.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another from the brrr series

Here's a non b&w shot I took on the same day as the recent b&w shots. Same location, this was of the landing dock from lower on the landing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More winter

Today was a beautiful day, but the one thing on my to-do list went undone. Here's another of the shots I got yesterday.

Simple concept, beautiful execution

Simon Høgsberg photographed 178 people over 20 days at a train station in Berlin to create a single continuous print that measured 300 feet (100 meters) long. The plan seems simple enough, but its execution is amazing.

Click the link below to see the image.

"We're All Gonna Die - 100 meters of existence"

"This image is 100 meters long (100m x 78cm)

There are 178 people in the picture, all shot in the course of 20 days from the same spot on a railroad bridge on Warschauer Strasse in Berlin in the summer of 2007.

Only a few of the people in the photograph seemed to know I was taking their picture."

From The Online Photographer from Simon Høgsberg's website

Monday, January 19, 2009

cold, snow, warmer, cold, cold

We had a lot of snow last night. Around 14" of it fell in my backyard. Today was a relatively warm day though, and the snow quit in the early morning, so after clearing the driveway I decided to head out and take some pictures of the snow and ice on a nearby river.

I walked to the end of the launch and as I was setting up a flock of Canada geese flew right at eye level in front of me. They must've known I wasn't ready with my gear. So I finished setting up and got a few nice shots downriver when I heard the flock coming back higher in the sky. I swung my tripod around and fired off two frames. By themselves the images weren't very interesting, so I started to play with a tight crop of each and framed a larger shot I got by those long strips. You can see it below.

All in all I was pretty happy with the outing. I stopped at two locations and ended up with five keepers. I'll post a few more in the coming days.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finally a new listing on Etsy

I just added a new listing on Etsy, opening a new section that I hope to add a few more images to. The print I added is below (same one from a few days back) and if you click on it you'll be taken directly to the listing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

to darkroom or not to darkroom

When I was living in California (Palo Alto specifically) I took a couple photography classes at the SF Photo Center at the Harvey Milk Recreational Arts building (currently under renovation). One class was on creative night photography and the other was on B&W darkroom techniques. The creative night photo one was a bit of a bust, but it did give me an excuse to get out and take pictures. The B&W class on the other hand was a lot of fun and got me my first taste of working in a darkroom.

Now I am faced with a bit of a dilema. I have a couple film bodies that I am trying to use more - a Holga and a Yashica Mat 124g TLR. Both shoot medium format 120 film. So far I've only shot a few rolls of film and of those rolls only have been able to look at 36 developed frames (scans of the negatives that came with the processed film). The challenge with film, at least for me, is getting the images either into my computer for processing and printing, or getting quality proofs made then enlargements of the ones that I like. To get from negative to print I could either scan the images in (via a scanner at home or a high quality scanner at a lab) or I could take my B&W negatives to the darkroom and print them myself.

I found a darkroom nearby that I could use - it's in a community college and for about $350 I would have access to the darkroom M-F until 10pm and Saturdays from noon to 4pm. For roughly the same amount I could purchase a scanner and be able to use it whenever I want to, but I lose that visceral experience of the darkroom. I do gain the ability to shoot color film though, which is a plus.

Dilemas, dilemas...

Anyway, here are three images I took while waiting for my class to start at the Harvey Milk center in SF a few years ago.

Monday, January 12, 2009

JPG Saved?!

From the most recent post on the JPG Mag blog, it looks like a few potential buyers have thrown their respective hats into the ring. From their most recent blog post:

We couldn't ask for a better community. In the week or so since our last email, the outpour of support has exceeded our wildest expectations. Your efforts, such as starting, writing blog posts, commenting on Twitter and Flickr, and generally making your voices heard, have provided exciting new opportunities for us.

We're thrilled to say that because of you, we have multiple credible buyers interested in giving JPG a home. We will be keeping the site up after all, and hope to have a final update in the next week or so on who the acquirer will be. Thank you for making all of this possible.

This is great news. I only ever put one or two images of my own up there for their subscription themes. For me the reason why I like JPG so much is because it is a source of great inspiration. There are countless people out there who make some incredible images that will never get to be seen by the public. It's great that JPG will continue to be that rare place where the everyday photog can get his or her shots out in the wild.

There has been a lot of speculation as to who is throwing their money at JPG. I am hoping that whoever it is preserves the JPG brand.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

hanging up my stuff

I'm pulling some pictures out from the archives to hang up in my house - my wife wants to add some art to the walls. The three photos below were taken back in March of 2007 in the backyard of our house when we lived in Palo Alto. Don't ask me what kind of flowers they were - I have no idea, and they were probably ones that our neighbors planted that had crept across and under the fence. 

The large photo will be blown up to a 20x24 print mounted on foam, the two smaller will be cropped to 8x10 and put in frames.

I am thinking I might add these to the lineup I have at

Friday, January 9, 2009

I made the cut - help me get in the top three!

I made the cut on the RAW Photo contest for December. The theme was 'Tis the Season. I entered an image I took through the stencil holder I talked about in this post. You can vote once per day I think (maybe more) and I'd appreciate it if you voted for me, but of course only if you think it's worth a top-3 spot.

Here's the image I submitted, and you can click THIS LINK to get to the voting tool:


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cold Winter Picture

Taken of the Muddy River near the MFA in Boston. I was taking a stroll around the river with the twins after they decided that the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum wasn't to their liking. They're art snobs.

I need to shoot more, and poor old JPG mag - will it survive?

I am always forgetting to bring my camera with me. I really need to get in the habit of just keeping it on me at all times.

I also need to start playing with controlled light again. I did more of that in California. Here's a shot of my daughter's buggy with a high-powered flashlight in the foot well. Controlling light doesn't necessarily mean strobes.

I was able to take some shots of our house for Deb using some speedlights, but I really need to setup something in the basement that resembles a makeshift studio to try out more macro and controlled lighting shots.

In other news a magazine that I really enjoy reading is about to close its doors. It actually should've been done this past Monday (Jan 5th) but they were able to extend the life of the site "at least through next week" which would mean this Friday or Saturday.

A lot of magazines are going out of business these days. My wife is a budding interior designer ( ) who subscribes to a variety of home magazines and she's received notices so far from two of her magazines saying they're stopping the presses. Some mags are being acquired by other companies while others who are already part of a bigger publishing company are being folded into existing magazines.

With the increase in people getting their news and media from electronic sources and the state of the economy the reduction in print materials was bound to happen. It's just particularly hard to deal with when it impacts magazines and print materials you have come to enjoy and look forward to.

I'm hoping that JPG Mag gets picked up by someone - the concept is really a great one. With so many photogs out there and so few avenues for publication it was one of the only outlets for the casual artist to get his or her work published.

About 3 hours after I posted this a new bit of news was posted on the JPGmag website:

Some of you may have heard by now, but if not, the good news is that we have already received a couple of credible offers from companies interested in acquiring JPG. So that we can find the best acquirer for JPG, we put a Wednesday deadline on all offers, and we expect to receive more by then. We are soliciting all the credible offers we can get, and any negotiations from that point forward will be handled by Minor Ventures. This is an important part of the process, since any deal will need to be approved by our investors and they will be the only ones to benefit financially from an acquisition. All we, along with the rest of the team, are hoping for is that we can find the best new home for the JPG community.

So that could be good news! Have to wait and see at the end of the week if a suitor has been chosen.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tricks with cut-outs

I've seen this technique posted quite a few times around the web, so with the christmas tree up I decided to try out taking photos of pinpoints of light out of focus through a cut-out stencil. I made a tube to fit over my 50mm 1.4 Canon lens that included a small holder at the end into which I could slide pieces of cardstock that I'd punched or cut shapes out of. The slips of cardstock resembled slides, with a cut-out at one end. I made a snowflake and star cut-out using a paper punch tool I bought at a craft store, then I cut out a smiley face from a third strip using an x-acto knife. Below are the results:

Having the stencil about an inch from the end of the lens adds a nice dark vignette to the photo - none of these were touched, they came straight from the camera with the exception of a little exposure tweak on the smiley face shot which was also cropped a bit.

The star and smiley face were shot at 1/30th second and the snowflake was shot at 1/60th, all three were shot with the 50mm 1.4 at f/2 and ISO 1600 (it was pretty dark in there). I tried some outside shots, but it was damn cold out so I bagged after just a couple frames. I want to try this again maybe as I'm putting away the lights so that I can have a foreground subject in focus and throw the background lights out of focus to create the effect.