Monthly Archives: June 2012

Oregon Trip – Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

At 3:30 in the morning the alarm went off. At 3:35 in the morning the second alarm went off. At 3:40 in the morning the third alarm went off and at 4:05 we were out the door and on the way to the airport. Such are the rigors of air travel with a paranoid traveler who images the chaos of missing a flight.

Despite all the paranoia was still managed to board the first flight late since we missed a last-minute gate-change made by the airlines. Eight hours of children with annoying toys, children travelling alone who had no end of stories, cramped seats and 2/3 of a book (something about air travel always makes me a voracious reader) we settled our rather tired selves into the Portland airport.

Easily accessible from Portland we made our way to the Columbia River Gorge for a rather brief tour. It should be noted by any observers that our travels seem to be much more about breadth than depth. One could very easily spend a month exploring the falls of the Columbia River.

the first thing that leaps to the forefront of attention is just how GREEN the world is up here. The dustbowl of the midwest is as brown as any L. Frank Baum tale this year so the Columbia river is like a Munchkin’s dream by comparison.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge
From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

And the critters that live in the dark recesses here are a thousand times more entertaining than those musty mites we must endure back home.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge
From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

Walking along the trail to Angel Falls, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my strong sense of vertigo when it enters my awareness that one missed step and I’ll be plummeting down a cliff like Homer Simpson trying to jump the Springfield gorge.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

But oh the eager reaching of nature here.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

and her humbly bowed head…

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

These are among the shorter trees of the region. In the next couple days we’ll head south towards the Redwoods, the real old men of the forest.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

Through a quirk of misnavigation (but then, when you don’t really have any plan for where to go, how do you tell when you misnavigate?) we ended up walking half a mile to Multnomah falls while the rest of creation parked 10 feet away. (Oddly, according to the signage it was .25 miles to walk TO the falls but .5 miles to walk back) It’s about all my 8mm fish-eye can do to actually take it all in at once

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge
From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

Worth mentioning that it’s not exactly an intimate location though.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

One can’t help but be struck by the forces at work here. Tiny erosive forces from a thousand tributaries meet up with an epic one in the form of the Columbia River. Of course the river wins leaving the tiny tributaries chip, chip, chipping away at their own foundations one flake of rock at a time. These will go on long after we’ve ceased to be.

From 6-29-2012 Oregon Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge

In a search for hotel options, we found it 50% more cost effective to take ourselves back to Portland rather than try to find an overpriced spot near the scenery. One local purveyor of such things boasted, “it’s got a big TV, if you’re into that sort of thing.” It’s easy to see why in such an area one might not exactly partake of the Farnsworthian muse with much regularity.

That was yesterday and so today we’re up bright and early (as the locals would judge it anyway) and since Oregon seems to be under rather a cloud today we’re betaking ourselves unto the south. Crater Lake and the Redwoods beckon. The weather promises to be less oppressive later in the week.

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Filed under Landscape photography, macro photography, nature Photography, Uncategorized

Beholders, and their Eyes…

As of late I’ve found myself rather lethargic.  Summer days slip by while my shutter sits silently in its bag.  When soon the winter comes I’ll lament the opportunities lost.  To combat my creeping sloth, I occasionally go looking for contests and photo ops.  To my joy the local community theatre answered my offer from months ago to do some photography for them so we shall see what that holds.  I also stumbled upon a photography contest put on by the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  I picked three of my own favorites and submitted them so we’ll see how those fare.

Click each photo to see my entry online and vote for it if you feel so inclined.

The Catch

One of those chance encounters with an instant of time after chasing a bird around the park for an hour.

Love found at the IMA

Admittedly a bit on the smutty side but nonetheless one of the most joyous sights of summer. At least if you’re a dragonfly.

The Gift

My sentimental favorite is a tribute left by the grave of a long-dead infant. I imagine a small child visiting other graves with her parents who feels sorry for the baby who was never old enough to even have a toy of their own.

If you want to see all the entries then you can do so here.

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Filed under Uncategorized

A Project in Memorial

I remember the whole thing with clarity.  The week of helpless worry, wondering why phone calls weren’t being returned; the moment of shock when the phone jangled and Laura dashed from the room.  The leaden haze when I approached to embrace her knowing that no matter how hard I squeezed it couldn’t take away her pain.  I couldn’t undo what fate had done.  All I could do was hold her and let her know that I was there even though Chris was not.

Laura’s brother died several weeks ago and in the weeks that followed I’ve done what any person does when someone near them is grieving.  Which is to say, I’ve stood by and reassured but in the grand scheme, I’ve been a helpless onlooker.  Grief is a dense and murky cloud.  Those around you can shout directions until their throats are sore but ultimately you have to walk out of the cloud bank on your own.

Chris left many legacies.  I can’t say that I knew the man well but I knew enough of him that I wish that I had had more of a chance to.  He spent his life traveling, connecting, getting to know people in an easy and friendly way that I can only fathom sufficiently to be envious of.  Everyone he met was a friend and a chance to learn something and a chance to give something of himself.  His travels were wide and free.  He was the sort of person one really wanted to know (and be more like if possible) but who passed all too quickly from our lives.

You may be wondering, about this time, what ANY of this has to do with photography.  Well, one of Chris’ legacies was a large number of photos.  From the mid 80s on he accumulated hundreds upon hundreds of snapshots of his travels.  Recently when Laura’s family was all eulogizing, the topic was broached of what to do with the boxes and boxes of photos Chris had accumulated.  Being ever game for a project of epic proportions, I volunteered my services to digitize the choicest of the lot.  Since that time I have devoted some part of each day to sorting and scanning and posting the photos of a man who I never knew nearly well enough, sifting through the experiences of someone else while the family looks on in anticipation.

In some ways it feels macabre, thumbing through these dusty relics trying to piece together someone else’s life.  In another way it feels a marvelous tribute to another person.  As a photographer I hope that when my time comes someone else will do me the same favor.  The threads of our lives are so delicate and tenuous.  Without care and tending they are cast upon the wind and lost forever.  It is my hope that I can tie enough of those threads together to make a strong and lasting tribute to the man who was Chris Castell.

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Filed under Philosophy, photography

From the Yard – 6-17-2012

One of my recurring themes is the idea that you don’t have to go very far for good photography. This last batch was all shot within walking distance of the house.

It was Laura who spotted these tiny birds outside our window first. Emotionally, they seem to encapsulate the idea of helpless yearning to a “T”.

From 6-16-2012 From the Yard
From 6-16-2012 From the Yard

Later I wandered into the yard where I found a tiny green spider just waiting to have his photo taken.

From 6-16-2012 From the Yard
From 6-16-2012 From the Yard

Later in the day, I found these wildflowers just a few minutes from my own house in the Zionsville park.

From 6-17-2012 From the Park

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Filed under Indiana, Lafayette, macro photography, nature Photography, Zionsville

Talbot Street Art Fair 6-9-2012

As I sit here on a balmy June day, I listen to the camera clicking away on the patio. Since 1:00 today it has been dutifully recording the sky at 2-second intervals. I’ve endeavored many times to time-lapse the sunset but something makes me want to do so today with complete perfection, to start with a turbulent and cloudy sky and to watch the Indiana horizon all the way until the proverbial ‘fade to black’.

I’ll admit though that being this lazy about my photography does harken me back to the winter. I recall with great vividness sitting in this exact same spot and being vastly annoyed that the weather was so averse to my usual summer pursuits. Now that summer is upon us, here I sit upon my ever-widening posterior being lazy. That is not to say that I haven’t taken ANY photos over the past week but it certainly hasn’t been a week of abundance that one would expect given my previous annoyance at my force lethargy only 4 months ago. Damn these temperate climates.

Last Saturday we traipsed off to the Talbot Street Art Fair in Indianapolis. For an entire weekend a whole section of the city plays host to hundreds of artists selling their wares. Laura and I debated briefly whether the people who actually live here enjoyed or despised the presence of these people. Whatever the case, the transformation is amazing.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I have learned, as of late, that artists hate to have photos taken of their work. As someone who casts his artistic progeny freely and widely into the public domain, I find this disappointing but I obeyed their desires anyway. Any “artwork” found in these shots is purely coincidental. My main focus for this trip was to capture the attendees and ignore anything of a material nature. I wanted to capture culture, personality, people.. all that intangible rot.

This woman is a sign of our age. She motors along with her child in tow (who is obviously unamused by the whole thing) while she putters with her phone. The yellow necklace and blue nail polish also say something but I’m not qualified to say what that something is exactly.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

So, a few words about this type of photography. Firstly, it’s REALLY hard. My intent in all these is to capture people candidly so there’s not really a whole lot of ‘aim and focus’ involved. You point your camera in the general direction of what you want to capture and hope desperately that it works out. The second that somebody KNOWS that you’re taking their picture the whole universe changes. Life lives on a knife’s edge and even the hint that you’re trying to capture it disrupts it. In this case, I liked the hat. It screamed to me 1960’s Parisian. Unfortunately, she’s out of focus. What *IS* in focus is the guy in the background looking on. I’ll save my more candid commentary on his person but I don’t doubt that you’re thinking the same thing I am. Whatever the case, I love the result.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I always take shots of these when I can get them because really, they are the epitome of childhood. Parents sacrifice to lift us up and as a result, we get a really grand view. In many cases, it’s a view that we will never, ever have even as adults. This is a grandfather I suspect.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

One of my goals in this session was to focus on strong personalities. This woman screamed personality and strength to me. Clearly the sort of person that if you came into contact with her you want her on YOUR side.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

Outside the concession area, we found these adults looking much like 10-year-olds enjoying their snacks. Oh how little things actually change despite the passage of decades.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I… well, I don’t even know what to say about this. Dude with shirt unbuttoned, looking on with his pizza in the upright and ready position…. Well, ok, I know what to say, but I’m not willing to say it in print.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

Some of the art was quite visibly alive, though it chose its moment of movement all on its own.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

So one tries to be candid. One tries to be subtle. One tries to just slide unseen through the crowds. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it doesn’t always work. This gentleman seems to peer effortlessly into the photographer’s soul. As I look at him, I wonder what his story is and ponder the possibility of inviting him to have a beer sometime.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

This hat… is dramatically huge. I say nothing more than that.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

And so we close with this face of childhood. As kids, we were all here. WAY too tired and don’t even want to WALK. As parents, we’ve all felt this but seldom actually see it in our children’s faces though we can feel it the small frames that we carry towards their rest.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

And with that, we close. And that was the Talbot Street Art fair.

PS: A while ago I took photos of the Superbowl crowds and against all odds I found that somebody from that crowd actually not only saw my photo but recognized themselves.  If you should see yourself in this blog post, then don’t hesitate to reach out.  Hopefully not with a subpoena.

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Filed under Indiana, Indianapolis, portraiture

Purdue Goes by in a Blur

During my last bout of time off I took a few hours to just wander around West Lafayette and let the shutter click away in a few different places. Clearly I got a bit wrapped up in the construction work there in the middle. All in all, a fairly representative sample of a bright and sunny Indiana day.

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Filed under Lafayette

Perch’ed Upon a Flower

Photo first, chatter later.  This is another shot from the Celery Bog in Lafayette.  It’s another of those that proves to me that good shots don’t require an exotic locale but rather just call upon us to be patient and look with persistence upon the world around us. This little guy was a mere 10 feet from the car.

From 6-5-2012 Celery Bog, West Lafayette, IN

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Filed under Lafayette, macro photography, nature Photography