My Best Image From 2020-21, So Far

This is the best image I've shot so far in the past year. I took it 2 days ago, during the winter storm we had here in Seattle, at Post Alley near the Harbor Steps. The lighting, the glow created by the falling snow, deep shadows and lots of straight, converging all came together for this long exposure. I tend to be excessively modest about my photography, but this image stood out as soon as I took it and reviewed it in my viewfinder. 
To me, it's just hauntingly beautiful and perfectly encapsulates the feeling I had while walking through the 6 inches of dry, powdery, freshly fallen snow at 4am.
 Because of Instagram's image compression, you miss out on all of the subtle nuances that exist in both the diffused light and shadows. The gradation of both color and tone, the sparkle and texture of the snow, details in the shadows... none of this is visible until you see it in full, 16-bit, ProPhoto RGB color. Because of that, I'm posting it here in full, uncompressed, 16-bit TIF format. No watermarks or BS in the way so you can see it as I do and judge it on its merits. (Warning: this is a 330MB file. Click image for full size)
 Enjoy!

Back in the Saddle (Again) and the Return of Pier 62

Volunteered for Kate on a photowalk to the Seattle waterfront recently. After spending the past few months doing lonely portraits to practice using strobes in 1, 2 and 3 light configurations, it felt good to go out and do some of the type of photography I'm most passionate about. So, why did I volunteer and for what? Since Seattle is still under a pandemic lockdown that limits group sizes to 5 people, I chose to help by leading a group so more people could participate via proxy groups. Pier 62 reintroduces a location and perspective that's been missing since it closed for reconstruction. While somewhat pedestrian, the addition of new attractions and changes to the skyline have given it more value when compared with similar locations, both old and new. However, like those other locations, it offers a limited perspective and thus limits its overall value, long term, as a photographic location. It's one that will become over saturated by the end of the summer as a landscape and cityscape destination, even during a time of reduced foot traffic due to the pandemic, but will easily persist as a street, tourist and especially portrait photography location for years to come. Once the new waterfront master plan is completed, Pier 62 could become one of the premium destinations for environmental portraiture and street photography, due to its prime location, identifiable backdrop and potential for high foot traffic.

I Bought the oakie.photo URL and I Have a Plan

So, I bought the URL "oakie.photo" today. I've spent the last few months trying to decide if, and how, I'd want to monetize the 4-5 photos I've taken that seem to hold value for people besides me. Why "oakie.photo"? Well, it's simple. That's it, it's simple. Simple to remember and promote. Two words, one dot, and it makes for equally simple subdomains and links. I considered the ubiquitous, "Name Here Photography" for a split second and quickly canned it; just adding 6 more letters to type into an address bar disqualified it, along with being a flashing sign of having no creativity. Sure, you could argue my choice is equally uncreative, but it's efficient and easy to remember. Lack of pluralization may compromise elegance for efficiency but who knows?

Multi-shot Panoramas.

Single row panoramas have always seemed to thwart me. Either the scene was never appropriate or they wouldn't stitch for one reason or another. After getting the stuff I needed to establish the nodal point on a couple of my lenses, I decided to give it another go from Kerry Park.

My Theory to Selecting the Best Tripod for Your Needs

First, and most importantly, know what genres of photography you enjoy the most and if that genre requires a tripod. Then, buy the largest, highest quality tripod you're willing to carry that fits in your budget. Specifically in that order; do not put budget ahead of any other aspect of the tripod. If you go too cheap, you may very well end up with a tripod that meets none of your needs when you're forced to replace it due to instability or fragility. The adage, "buy cheap, buy twice (or more)" applies here.

Glazer’s Photowalk: Seacrest Park, and Breaking Old Habits to Create New Ones

Went on another photowalk, this one being a bit more fruitful due to the weather conditions at the start time. Why do I do this to myself? I'm generally asocial and not very talkative, especially around people I don't know, preferring to operate alone. Despite that, it's hard to learn without someone to learn from and it's difficult to be inspired by my coffee table, so I fight my urge to run away for the sake of education and practice. Regarding the setting, while it wasn't ideal for golden hour, the cloudy skies and convergence zone did make for dramatic views and a highly textured backdrop to the humdrum scene. I hit the shutter over 40 times, but the result was less than 15 kept, fewer still that I liked and only 3-4 that I've processed to completion so far. As for the evening, I took the Doc Maynard from downtown to West Seattle, meeting up with Kate Hailey and the attendees at Marination Ma Kai at Seacrest Dock. Two hours of rambling north, and then west, from the dock to Alki Beach as the sun set in the background behind a small convergence zone. Afterward, I jumped on the ferry back to downtown.

Review: Of “Systematic” Style Tripods, the Leofoto LN-324C

Out of the box, the Leofoto LN-324C made for an intimidating presence. Fully extended, it was clearly as tall as advertised and the weight seemed about right. Looking more closely, all the details looked right. Tearing it down exposed finely machined parts all around and a carbon weave that didn't betray it's "10 layer" claim; the weave was consistent throughout with no waviness or warping of threads and no pitting or cracks in the resin. All of the aluminum bits are finely milled with no tooling marks. Parts that may have originally been cast were finely machined to remove any casting seams and cuts into it were obviously milled. The anodizing is consistent all around and all of the included optional hardware is of similar quality. No flashes, splinters or metal shavings anywhere. Metal on metal contact points showed evidence of lubrication and glided through their movements smoothly.

Seattle Living Up to Stereotype (Glazer’s Queen Anne Photowalk)

Cold, wet... a lot more rain fell than originally expected when I left the house. It was an absolute mess but Fujifilm proved to me how well they sealed the X-T3. Combined with the 16-55mm ƒ/2.8, the combo remained water-tight in steady wind and rain with no attempt at protection. Because of the weather, I was obviously a bit low on inspiration, but figured I'd post what I got for the sake of others who took part.

Silent Night. #snowmageddon #seattleplayedout

Normally in Seattle, we'll get a couple of inches of snow per winter. This winter, the snow showed up both late and in force, dropping 5 inches of snow on downtown in a single morning. This is on top of a few inches earlier in the week plus a few more inches a day later. As the snow begins to melt from slightly warmer weather bringing rain in the 24 hours since, I've managed to get a few photos processed that reflect the views around downtown in the early hours, shortly after the snowfall stopped. I walked around downtown at 4am capturing the empty city streets and landmarks between Chinatown and Pier 66. While not very significant compared to other parts of the country, and even the region, the snow was one of the largest single accumulations in recent history for downtown.

Glazer’s Photowalk: West Seattle

It'd been a while so I decided to attend the Glazer's Photowalk on Sunday, Jan 13th in West Seattle. The weather cooperated despite being in the bowels of winter but it was a bit TOO sunny, creating harsh shadows and contrast for the outdoor exercise. I chose to shoot with my 85mm equivalent, the 56mm ƒ/1.2, allowing me to keep some distance between me and my subjects while permitting me to fill the frame with subjects should I choose to do so. The large aperture also allowed for shallow depth of field shots. To do so, I used a 6-stop ND filter, giving me the ability to shoot with a shutter speed that prevented motion blur despite the bright, cloudless skies. It also gave me enough leeway to add blur by drilling down the aperture only a bit.

out of hibernation and back for the new year.

finally went out to take some photos since the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closing for good this weekend. i ended up hitting the Pier 66 Rooftop Park at sunset then moved back to the Pike Place Marketfront location above the viaduct. finally, i went through Post Alley on the way home. oddly, it was through Post Alley that inspired the shot i liked the most from the set.

The Learning Continues…

So I've revisited a few photos from the past year and applied what I've learned in Lightroom since then. The hope was to take what I felt were good photos and try to make them better, possibly even worth printing, since I liked the views.

Bhy Kracke Park was a failure, Kerry Park less so

So I had this vision in mind: I wanted to get a photo of the Space Needle superimposed on Mt. Rainier. Now that I have the 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 lens from Fujifilm, I'm able to get this shot... if it's even possible. I've seen others who've composited the Space Needle onto a photo of Mt. Rainier, or Mt. Baker, and even Mt. Hood (uh, wtf?) and the results always look less than stellar, mostly because I've lived here most of my life and I know those shots weren't possible using the angles they'd chosen of either object. I wanted to do this for real, all in camera, so I consulted a map and looked around Queen Anne hill and settled on Bhy Kracke Park.

Feelin’ Monochrome

I went back and took a fresh look at some of the photos taken during my vacation in Long Beach, WA. Decided to process some of them with the Acros emulsion courtesy of Fujifilm and Lightroom. As a peek into my process, I normally shoot in the default Provia simulation but rarely use the OOC jpegs. My preference is to manually post process from a RAW file converted from the original RAF using X-Transformer. The first step in Lightroom is to add a Fujifilm emulsion, either Provia or Astia for portraits, or Provia or Velvia for landscapes. If the photo calls for it, I'll then return later and apply the Acros emulsion once all other adjustments have been completed.

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