Category Archives: Travel

Benefits of Photographing Alone

Photographing Fall Colors in Westfork

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/14, .5 sec.., Circular Polarizing Filter.

Benefits of Photographing Alone

Dried leaves

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/100., 8 image focus stack in-camera.

Not long ago, I spent a morning in Sedona photographing fall colors. Whenever I travel alone, I do check in with my husband at the start and end of my trip. Checking in with him is more for my benefit; knowing someone is aware of my location makes me feel better. My husband is very optimistic that I will be safe regardless. Photographing alone does require discipline, after all, hitting snooze on the early alarm is tempting, after all, no one is meeting up with me. But I stayed disciplined and left before dark to drive to Westfork in Oak Creek Canyon.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/8 sec.., Circular Polarizing Filter.

When I find a scene that interests me, I love working the scene for a while. Constantly challenging myself and looking for better angles or compositions. If there were people around me, they would hear me talk to myself saying things like, “what if I used that rock as foreground…” And then adjust my composition. Walking along the quiet path was relaxing and I didn’t feel a pressure in the world. I worked each composition for as long as I wanted with no time restrictions of leaving. I hiked up the side of the canyon along a small trail with awesome fall colors and scrambled down low when I found mushrooms. It was a fun and rewarding day. Sometimes, creativity is sparked just by shooting alone.

Michigan, Week 2

Manistee Beach

Manistee Beach. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/22, .5 sec., Singh-Ray 3-stop GND filter.

I’ll be honest, my trip to Michigan didn’t go exactly as planned. At the last minute, Rod had to cancel and I was ill prepared for a 2-week solo trip. You would think after a solo 10-week trip on the Pacific Coast, 2-weeks would be a cinch. It wasn’t. The Pacific Coast trip was planned out months in advance with extensive research and plotting of locations. For this trip, I scrambled to research all I could the night before each destination with limited phone service or Wi-Fi. After my first week in Munising photographing waterfalls and attending a workshop, I drove east to Grand Marais and then spent five days at a cabin in Manistee, Michigan. I learned to enjoy time alone and struggled a bit too.

Agate Beach rocks.

Agate Beach. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/100 sec.

Grand Marais

Sable Falls

Sable Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/22, 2.5 sec., Singh-Ray Bryan Hansel Waterfall Polarizer.

Grand Marais is a small community of about 400 residents and the only place to eat dinner after Labor Day was at the local Brewery. I dined on their famous whitefish dinner and chatted with a few locals. This Lake Superior town was cold, with a high in the 50’s and strong winds. I walked along Agate Beach looking for agates until my hands froze from the moist air and wind. With my pretty rocks, I returned to my B&B to research the next day’s photo destinations. In the morning, the B&B provided a family style breakfast with all the guests and I really enjoyed conversing with someone other than myself. I spent the morning photographing Sable Falls, Sable Dunes and hiking to a beach on Lake Superior before leaving the Grand Marais area for Manistee.

Manistee

Sand dune

iPhone photo of the sand dunes 1/2 down.

Lucky for me, my cousin Andy has a cabin in Manistee overlooking Lake Michigan. The five days in this small community with beautiful beach views and a historic downtown was peaceful. The cabin is a 15-minute drive south of Manistee in a small neighborhood of mostly summer residences and is a bit secluded, so it took me a few days to feel comfortable returning after dark. The highlight of his cabin is the view of Lake Michigan. The lake is a 100-foot drop from the cabin down a steep sand dune. I attempted many times to get to his beach, but only made it ½ way. I feared I wouldn’t be able to make it back up and was afraid of being stuck down there. The view was great from halfway down too!

Vogue Theater

Manistee’s Vogue Theater. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/14, 3.2 sec.

One evening the clouds broke so I drove to the 5th Avenue Beach to capture sunset. I barely made it. I ran along the beach with my tripod looking for foreground subjects. After sunset, I sat in the parking lot to watch the bi-monthly Mirrorless Minutes Podcast on YouTube. The host, Jamie MacDonald is entertaining and after spending a few days on his Meetup in Munising, MI, I enjoyed the image share of our workshop. After dark, I went downtown to photograph Manistee’s historic buildings including the Vogue Theatre. It was quiet and dark and I took joy in capturing the brilliant lights of the theatre.

Ludington

Ludington Lighthouse

Big Sable Lighthouse. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f7.1, 1/800 sec.

Ludington is a town south of Manistee with a large state park and Big Sable Point Lighthouse.  Getting to the lighthouse required a 4-mile round trip hike that was relatively flat until I climbed a sand dune to capture a better angle of the lighthouse. Before I returned to my car the winds picked up. So, I made my next stop Stearns Park in Ludington to photograph choppy waves hitting the pier and river light.

Crashing waves

Crashing Waves. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 40-150mm, ISO 400, f8, 1/3200 sec.

It was easy to keep myself entertained during the day, but at night the woods around the cabin were dark and I felt very isolated. I spent more time than normal on the computer processing photos and reading a book I purchased in town. At the end of the 5 days, I headed south to South Haven to visit family.

South Haven

Lake Superior

Lake Superior. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/10, 1/500 sec.

Several of my family members live in South Haven. Visiting this town where my parents went to high school has always been a special place. Now overrun by the tourism industry, it doesn’t hold the same memories for my parents, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Normally, I visit Sherman Dairy and Crane’s Orchard but I spent more time relaxing with my Aunt Lee instead. I did have the opportunity to visit Fenn Valley Vineyards with my cousins though! The only photos I captured in South Haven were for my aunt. She owns a rental cottage and needed a few new images. It was fun watching her straighten every crease in the curtains and fluff every pillow to capture the perfect image.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 800, f/8, 1/20 sec.

Before I left, we placed the new images in her brochure too. If you find yourself travelling to South Haven, check out The Retreat at Belvedere Beach!  https://www.retreatatbelvederebeach.com/

For the Photogs!

mushroom

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 60mm, 16mm extension tubes, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1.6 sec.

Mushrooms are everywhere in the Upper Peninsula. I see some varieties in Flagstaff, but we don’t have the same moisture as Michigan, so there are far more mushrooms and fungi everywhere. While at Wagner Falls, I spotted this mushroom. I enjoyed photographing it so much, I went back on day two to perfect my composition. Here is an image of the shooting scenario and the finished image.

Me capturing the orange mushroom. PC: John Thomas

Waterfalls of Michigan

Munising Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/14, 6 sec., Singh Ray Bryan Hansell Waterfall Filter

Waterfalls of Michigan

Munising Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/14, 5 sec., Singh Ray Bryan Hansell Waterfall Filter

Three days into my Michigan trip, I received a FedEx package from a good friend with a Waterfalls of Michigan book. A guide to more than 130 waterfalls in the Great Lake State. Of these 130 waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan there is only one in the lower peninsula, how will I photograph them all? Well, I am sure I won’t, but I will enjoy the ones I get to. For my two weeks in Michigan, I am spending a week in the Upper Peninsula, this is new territory for me and I love it. I rented a small AirBnB apartment in Munising and have six waterfalls within five miles! Originally, this trip was designed to be with my husband but last-minute changes didn’t allow it. So, I am off solo again travelling through the state where I was born in search of water images. I selected two waterfalls a day to

Chapel Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/11, .8 sec., Singh-Ray Waterfall Filter

photograph.

At Munising Falls yesterday, a sweet retired man said, “You look like a professional, can you help me? When I view my photos, how do I delete one?” Not that he really needs a professional photographer to answer that question, but I helped him with that and a few more questions on his digital camera. Then, I hiked 2.5 miles round trip to Chapel Falls. I think I stopped every 50 yards to photograph all forms of fungi. My macro lens got a great workout. Even other hikers stopped me and said, “I saw you photographing fungi on the way to the falls. Did you see these yellow mushrooms?” Michiganders are such nice people! He directed me to the yellow mushrooms and I spent 30-minutes capturing images with my tripod up as low to the ground as possible.

Yellow Mushroom. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 60mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/3 sec.

Today I drove to Wagner Falls, two miles from my apartment. There was one car when I arrived and they left soon thereafter. I scooted under the deck to get a few images from the rivers edge as well. Although it was raining, it is more on the misty spectrum than pouring; much preferred for photography. Tomorrow, I start a meetup through Olympus Mirrorless Adventures and we will photograph six more waterfalls in the area. I can’t wait!

iPhone capture of my setup.

For the Photogs:

So, what does it take to capture a “milky water” waterfall photo? Here are a few pointers:

  1. Do your research. Find out the direction the waterfall faces. If it is in direct sunlight, go early or late in the day so the sun won’t be on the waterfall. In Northern Michigan, the sky is graced with clouds frequently, so sun is not an issue.

    Chapel Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1 sec., Singh-Ray Waterfall Filter.

  2. Gear. In addition to your camera and len(s), don’t forget a tripod. The milky water is captured by using slow shutter speeds and a sturdy tripod is a must. Last, bring a circular polarizing filter and neutral density filter or get a Singh-Ray Bryan Hansel Waterfall Polarizer (combines polarization with neutral density in one filter).
  3. Try all angles. Some waterfalls have viewing decks, others are best viewed at the river’s edge. Regardless, look at all the angles. When I went to Munising Falls, there was the main accessible path then two paths that branched off. The path to the left stepped up 30 stairs and only 1/3 of the viewers when up to see that angle. The path to the right stepped up 100 stairs and had the best view of all! I had this view to myself for a long time, most visitors did not climb these stairs. Be careful if you are on a viewing deck any foot traffic on the deck will result in vibrations that move your camera.
  4. Take your time. When other visitors are at waterfalls also, I make a point of setting up my camera, tripod and filters in the background. When the crowd thins down, I step forward, reframe my shot and capture several images at different focal lengths and different orientations (horizontal & vertical). Then I step back again and review. I make sure all the other visitors have a chance at a good image too. I often take a moment and think to myself on what else I can do to make a better image. Then do that something different. I just keep shooting. That is the advantage of travelling alone.

Taking Photos on a Family Trip

Hayden Trailhead. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/1600 sec.

Taking photos on a family trip can be difficult. Fortunately, my husband and children are artistic and enjoy nature themselves.  I travel alone specifically for photography but for family trips, I employ a few strategies to make photography possible. On a recent family trip to Telluride, CO for the Imogene Pass Run, I applied these three tips and the result was a win-win for all!

Tip #1 – Don’t plan to photograph everything

Austin at the start of the Imogene Pass Run. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 40-150mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/500 sec.

After all, it is a family trip and when you are taking photos you are not engaged with the family. The Imogene Pass Run is a 17-mile run over Imogene Pass from Ouray, CO to Telluride, CO. These Rocky Mountains are stunning and the aspen trees had a hint of gold as they started their fall change. On race day, I had a schedule to follow but while waiting for runners to pass, I practiced “mental photography.” I scout where ever I go, knowing I can always come back in the future. At the start of the race, I hiked ½ mile onto the course to capture the runners and discovered Box Canyon. This canyon is huge with granite walls and a waterfall. I didn’t have my tripod, so, Box Canyon is now on my “to-do” list. I did

capture fun photos of the race both from the start and the finish.

Tip #2 – Divide and conquer

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 800, f/13, .8 sec., Singh-Ray Waterfall Filter.

When the race was over, Austin was ready for a nap and I was ready for photography. So, my husband and I hiked up to Bear Creek Falls south of Telluride. This 2-mile hike offered scenic views of the rugged cliffs and the waterfall was spectacular. It was late in the day so we didn’t have as much time as I wanted so, I added it to my “to-do” list.

Tip #3 – Involve the family

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/10, 1/125 sec.

Prior to the trip we discussed what to do the day after the race. Our son loves driving to Silverton so we added that to our plan. We also planned on finding a few spots with water for me to photograph. Austin did the research and took us to hot springs, mountain lakes, and waterfalls. At each stop, we all went exploring; me with my camera/tripod and them with iPhone’s.

The trip was a success. I didn’t capture the same number of photos if I had been alone, but it was a great compromise.

Bubbles. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/160 sec.

Water moving over textured rock. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 400, f/16, 1/8 sec.

Spokane

Spokane Falls

Spokane Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/18, .4 sec., Singh-Ray Waterfall Filter.

Clock tower at Riverfront Park

Clock tower at Riverfront Park. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/16, 25 sec.

Spokane is a city I visit often, after all, my sister lives here. I arrived a few days early from my big trip in need of people to talk to, a place to call home and to cheer her on in her 1.2 mile open water swim at Coeur d’Alene Lake. The first three days in Spokane were relaxing as I caught up on photos, played ukulele with my nephew (him on guitar) and became addicted to Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. I guess I should binge all the seasons before I go home since I don’t have Hulu?

Back to Work
Spokane Falls

Spokane Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 40-150mm, ISO 200, f/11, .4 sec., Singh-Ray Waterfall Polarizer.

When the weekday rolled around and everyone went to work, so did I. I spent hours photographing this beautiful river city. I went hiking in Coeur d’Alene with a friend from my days as a high school teacher but the smoke from summer fires around the state made landscape photography difficult. Most of my photographs so far are from the downtown area including Riverfront Park, Spokane Falls and downtown neon lights.

When my sister went downtown with me to photograph neon, I was in the middle of the street to capture an image of the street lights. She told me the road was closed to traffic. Well, when the bus came around the corner at me I realized she was wrong! I got the shot then cleared out of his path quickly.

Spokane's Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters sign

Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters neon sign. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/13, 2 sec.

Even though I have been to Spokane before, I haven’t always photographed it. So, I went to Google like I do in most cities. My sister drove me around to areas she thought would be strong subjects and then I added a few from my Internet searching. These scouting times are easily done in midday sun. I have one last morning to capture images and I can’t wait to go to High Bridge Park and Manito Gardens.

Downtown lights

Downtown Spokane Lights. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/9, 2 sec.

For the Photogs!
Spokane Falls

Upper Spokane Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 40-150mm, ISO 200, f/11, .6 sec., Singh-Ray Waterfall Polarizer.

When I am out taking photos, I love to look for textures and colors. That is what prompted this photo. Part of Spokane’s Upper Falls this riffle stood out to me from the opposing textures and color. I was on a bridge looking down at the water and used my 40-150mm lens. If you take photos off a bridge, watch for other pedestrians or runners. Every time one would cross the bridge, the bridge would shake. I waited until they cleared the bridge and stood very still myself when I took the shot. Like all my water images recently, I also used the Singh-Ray Waterfall Polarizer, Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 40-150mm, ISO 200, f/11, .6 sec.

La Push

James Island, La Push. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/160 sec., Using high-res mode creating a 50 mp image.

One last fun story from my trip. Throughout my trip I have spent many hours practicing the ukulele. Since I can now change chords quick enough to play a tune, I decided to practice on my last night while I waited for sunset. Normally, I practice when campers around me are away. As soon as I tuned the uke, my neighbor came out asking if I was a musician. Well, that is not what I would call my playing to be and I don’t sing. Well, he and his wife are musicians and they asked me to play with them. So, we had a jam session with a guitar, autoharp, concertina and my uke. Lauren traded off on the guitar and concertina (like an accordian), Shery played the autoharp. Good thing Lauren would tell me when to change chords. We played two songs and Lauren sang, he also kept the chord changes simple for me. Then, the fog settled around James Island and the sun began to set and I ran off to photograph my last sunset on the Washington Coast for now.

Enjoy this image from La Push, Washington. Oh, and one of the best meals from the entire trip was here in La Push at Rivers End Restaurant. I ate the Seafood Louie salad with shrimp, crab and smoked salmon along with a cup of clam chowder – delish. Excellent finish to an excellent trip!

Seafood Louie Salad. iPhone

Last Days Solo

Last sunset

Kalaloch Sunset, iPhone

Dry Hoh Rainforest

Dirt covered plants. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/8 sec.

My last days on the Washington Coast were at Kalaloch in the Olympic National Park and La Push just outside of the park on the Quileute Reservation. When I arrived at Kalaloch, I was eager to visit the Hoh Rainforest. Our family visited 20 years ago and it was spectacular. Of course, August is a dry month for the Hoh so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect to find 83-degree Fahrenheit temperatures and sunny skies. It was so dry all the ferns were covered with dirt and parking was almost impossible with the influx of visitors. I made a new plan.

Last Waterfall

Marymere Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/13, 10 sec., Bryan Hansel Filter.

The next day, I woke up early and drove to Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park to photograph Marymere Falls before the sun came over the treetops. This was an almost 2-hour drive and it was worth it. Walking to the falls a fawn and doe greeted me on the path. They were within 10-feet and didn’t run off. I enjoyed the moment instead of grabbing the camera. Even when my foot slipped in the water, I just laughed. Luckily, I had dry shoes in the car. After the falls I went sightseeing in Forks and La Push – don’t blink or you might miss them! La Push was my next destination, so I was happy scouting the area. I walked on the

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/18, 20 sec., Bryan Hansel Filter.

beaches and watched the fog banks come and go.

While driving back to Kalaloch, I thought about this trip from the first night in Tehachapi, CA to this point with only one last night in La Push remaining. It has been an amazing journey and as my stepmom said, “Empowering.” I can not agree more. Even though my seven-week (49 day) solo journey is complete, my sabbatical is just beginning. On August 20, 2018, I will not report to work at NAU but instead Boston with my sister. I will continue to blog about my travels and photo challenges as I continue to photograph water and waterfalls.

Things I learned:
  • last morning

    Kalaloch Beach, last morning

    How to build a fire with wet wood, thank you Firestarter.

  • Hiking alone is empowering and I don’t need to hyperventilate.
  • My only limits are when I limit myself
  • My husband is still my best friend.
  • Family still comes first and my future trips won’t be for this long away from them.
Things I will miss:
  • Doing what I want when I want. I only ate when I was hungry and didn’t plan for the next meal. Some meals were cheese and crackers, others more elaborate.
  • Taking naps when I’m tired.
  • The open road and all it offers. Many people asked me why I wasn’t traveling out of the country on sabbatical and I thought there are so many places near home I haven’t seen or photographed.
  • Being popular at campgrounds with the “cool teardrop.”
What I look forward to now:
  • Rialto Beach

    Rialto Beach. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/10, 1/1600 sec.

    Showering without wearing flipflops and taking showers without hitting the button to reset my 30-seconds of water.

  • Changing clothes standing up instead of in a W5’ x L8’ x H3.5’ bedroom. And just being in a room larger than this if it is cold outside!
  • Not having to plan for charging camera batteries/laptop in the car when I drove (not all campgrounds had power).
  • Washing dishes in a sink and/or dishwasher.
  • Not buying ice every 4-5 days.
  • The remainder of the year to continue photographing water, studying imagery, reading, learning new photo techniques and teaching workshops.
  • Learning new strumming patterns on the ukulele and a few new songs. I almost memorized the ones in my book.
  • Eating Mexican Food.
  • Sorting my photos to find the ones I overlooked!
Water reflections

Reflections. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/10, 1/5 sec.

Tomorrow morning, I drive approximately eight hours to Spokane. Tonight, I will eat out at the only restaurant in La Push!

Ocean City

ocean city beach sunset

Cloudless Night. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/20, .8 sec.

My tarp finally got rained on as I packed to leave Cape Disappointment. On the way to Ocean City, I drove through rain, fog and mist. It was beautiful. In Ocean City, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was only 80 miles from Cape Disappointment. What a difference. After setting up camp, I sat in the sun and read for an hour just to soak up some rays. The Ocean City campground was two blocks from the ocean so I shot sunset for two nights here. The first night without clouds and the last night with excellent clouds.

falls creek falls

Fall Creek. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/8, 6 sec., with Bryan Hansel Singh-ray Filter.

Ocean City is a short drive to Lake Quinault, part of the Olympic National Forest and there are many waterfalls. I was so excited to photograph there, I woke up very early and was on a trail by 7:30am after the 1-hour drive. My first location was Falls Creek which is on the edge of a tent campground and I was very quiet to not wake up any campers. It was a pretty fall, but I struggled getting a composition I liked. So, I hiked to Gatton Creek Falls. It was a mile to the falls and a bridge crossed over the top. The only problem with this tiered fall was access to it. I could not find a trail I was willing to walk down without going swimming so I headed back a little discouraged.

Even though I wanted to photograph waterfalls, I reminded myself how beautiful the trail was and tried to find other things to photograph. I came across chicken mushroom and moss growing on the side of a tree stump and pulled out the macro lens.

chicken mushroom and moss

Chicken Mushroom and moss. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 60 mm, ISO 200, f/9, 2.5 sec.

Mosquitos were buzzy around, but my deet must have worked as I survived without a bite. Capturing the macro shots reinforced my thoughts of the beautiful trail and improved my mood. I took off in search of more falls.

Waterfalls
willaby creek falls

Willaby Creek Falls Final Photo. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/8, 5 sec., with Bryan Hansel Singh-ray Filter.

The trail to Willaby Falls was non-technical and I didn’t feel that I was going to fall in. I stepped off the trail slightly to get a better angle and had fun capturing images here. In the photog section below, I discuss the first photo upon arriving at the scene to my final photo. When I am photographing beautiful falls like this, I try to remind myself to look not only through the camera but with my eyes as well. So, often I will pause and just admire without looking for a composition or changing an aperture. I just take in the beauty.

merriman falls

Merriman Falls Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/10, 8 sec., with Bryan Hansel Singh-ray Filter.

Lastly, I drove to Merriman Falls. The 40-foot drop contrasted with Willaby Creek Falls and required a different approach to capture an image. Next to the side of the road with only a pullout (no sign) this waterfall was magnificent. The entire falls were hard to photograph because by this time, other people were around. Another photog was there capturing couple’s photos as well, so I worked around them and captured small scenes of the falls.

Comforts of Home
Amy selfie

I’m waving hello! iPhone photo.

I watched Neflix! This campground had free wifi and I enjoyed it thoroughly: backed up photos, caught up on email and watched a few movies on Netflix. This was my first TV for almost 6 weeks. After six weeks, my car and trailer are dirty. Even though I was rained on, the dirt roads and sea spray have done a number on my car. It still surprised me when a total stranger said, “That is a dirty car,” to me at the gas station. Peer pressure worked and I drove through a self-serve car wash 15 minutes later. Of course, the sea spray hit again that night shooting sunset. After 4500 miles, what do you expect?

car on sand

Car on beach, iPhone photo.

Oregon’s beaches are public property and the state owns them. In Washington, it seems similar and they let you drive on the beach! So, I had get my Renegade on the sand. When I sent the photo home to Rod he was concerned that I would get stuck. But, I didn’t.

I spent an afternoon in Ocean Shores a few miles away and walked several miles along Damon Point. Damon Point has spectacular crashing waves, agates, shells and driftwood. I even found a marble that I’m taking home for our cats. I grabbed fried oysters in town to complete my west coast seafood checklist and headed back to camp to prepare for sunset.

For the Photogs!
willaby creek falls

Willaby Creek Falls First Photo. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/10, .8 sec.

When I photograph waterfalls, I like to start with a sample image once I am setup. I often use aperture priority mode and take a sample shot to help me view the scene. Once I take a shot, I am more successful on composing by analyzing if that is the story I want to capture. I say to myself, “what can I do to make this better.” With the image on the right, there is a lot to do to make it better. At first, I shot from the trail with the tripod above a bush. Then I noticed a dirt path off the trail and I examined what would be the best location to capture the photo. If your tripod isn’t as tall as you, make sure you view the scene the same as your camera. I often pull out my iPhone to “view” the scene at different heights to determine where to setup the tripod. Once I was away from the bush, I put on my Bryan Hansel filter from Singh-ray. Yes, I love this filter! I played with horizontal and vertical orientations until I found just the right composition. I knew before I captured the photo I would crop a small portion from the foreground because there was a distracting reflection that I could not avoid otherwise. View the final Willaby Creek Falls photo above in this post.

Ocean city beach at sunset

Ocean City Beach. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 12-100mm, ISO 200, f/10, 1/80 sec.

Cape Disappointment

Cape Disappointment Boat Launch. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/18 @ 1/640 sec.

Cape Disappointment
Light house

North Head Lighthouse. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/16 @ 1/500 sec.

It was a relaxing 40-mile drive from Astoria to Cape Disappointment. I ran a few errands on the way out of town (ice, food, gas, etc) and arrived at Cape Disappointment in time to check in and set up my trailer. Fifteen minutes later, I was ready to explore. The ocean was a short walk from my campsite so I checked it out. The view included the North Head Lighthouse but the weather was cloudy, and a lighthouse in the clouds wasn’t working for me, so I drove around the park to scout other areas. Slowly, I sunk back into a discouraged photographer. These clouds were not what I wanted to capture. So, I bailed on photography (sort of). I went to town, sat in a McDonald’s parking lot and streamed my favorite Mirrorless Minutes podcast from the McDonald’s wifi. Normally, I listen to it from iTunes, but this was their 100th episode and I watched it live. Karen, one of my friends from Phoenix was in the podcast chat too. I felt a little more inspired.

After the podcast, I got a text from Karen. Thanks to some fun discussions about photography and what to shoot, I flipped the switch to wanting to take photos and couldn’t wait to get back to the beach. Without phone service at the park, I talked to myself the entire time on the beach. Once I took a shot, I would ask myself how it could be improved. Initially, I thought I would photograph macro subjects that are perfect for cloudy weather. But as I looked at the sky, I noticed clouds with highlights and shadows. I saw definition in the clouds. Maybe it was there all along and I wasn’t noticing…either way, I was ready to capture images. I rotated between wide and long lenses capturing reflections on the wet sand. The tide was heading out, so I continued to creep up on the waves. My final images are abstract and I like them. Thanks Karen for the inspiration. The lesson I learned: there is always a picture to be made.

Cloudy Reflections

Cloudy Reflections. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 7-14 mm, ISO 200, f/16 @ 1/10 sec.

World’s Largest Frying Pan!
frying pan photo

Largest Frying Pan! 14 ft tall.

Day two at Cape Disappointment was spent sightseeing. I went to lighthouses, beaches and Long Beach. Long Beach had many unique finds: Cranberry Museum, Marsha’s Free Museum with Jake the Alligator man and the largest frying pan in history! How have I lived almost 50 years and not known where the largest frying pan in history was located? I found a taco bar and had a halibut taco – it was yummy! I took the evening off from photography and read a book. All in all a great day.

Cranberries on the vine. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 400, f/8 @ 1/200 sec.

My days are relaxing but lonely at times. I don’t over talk to people like I did my first week (good thing) but often want to talk more. Other than my daily conversations with my sister and husband I often don’t speak. Hopefully, this doesn’t have a negative side effect on my vocal chords….otherwise my family won’t recognize me when I get home.

My next stop will be further up the Washington Coast in Ocean City.

For the Photogs!

In case you are looking for a great solution to transfer photos to iPhones or iPads, a workshop participant told me about Sandisk’s iXpand. It is a usb drive with a usb on one end and lightning on the other. So, I save photos to it, put the other end in my phone and transfer images instantly. Works like a charm, thanks Pat!

Clouds with details

Clouds with details. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 7-14 mm, ISO 200, f/18 @ 1.6 sec.

When I saw the details in the clouds, I also thought this would make a strong black and white. So, using Nik Silver Efex Pro, I did just that.

Gray Skies

clouds, fog and fishing

Clouds and fog at Coffenbury Lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 200, f/11 @ 1/40 sec.

Clouds depress me. It must be from growing up in the Phoenix area and not seeing them often. Here in Astoria it’s been cloudy and misty/rainy for most of the time. I’m never sure which it is, rain or mist, but it is moist. They sky is gray without definition and I’m not inspired. Insisting I would “get over it” I went out shooting anyway. The images are nothing I plan to post, but it did relax me. Fog excites me. My first day here was sunny and clear and I hung out on the beach photographing sandpipers and waves. As evening settled in, the campground filled with fog, so I took off with my camera. Coffenbury Lake, near my campground, was covered in mist and fog and the icing on the cake came from the young men fishing. After that evening, it has been undefined clouds without fog.

fog and clouds

Fog on Coffenbury Lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 200, f/11 @ 1/125 sec.

Campground Etiquette
people in campground

iPhone photo of visitors through my camp.

It is so funny what people talk about in campgrounds. I’m not trying to eavesdrop, but some voices really carry in a campground. At one site, I learned how allergic a person is to Benadryl. At another, I heard a couple fighting about what they cooked for dinner. In Bodega Bay, two young girls walked right through my camp site to take a photo of themselves on the sand dune. The entire campground was full of sand dunes, why my site?

A few mornings ago, I woke up to a dog squeaky toy at 6:15 am. I couldn’t believe these owners would let their dog have a toy like at that time of the morning. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Then, I realized the squeak was a consistent pattern and stopped suddenly. I don’t think it was a dog squeaking…..

Bunnies

Bunnies in a Sroller

The campground I am in is the largest campground East of the Mississippi with 536 sites. That is huge. I didn’t see pet cats this time, but a woman came around with a stroller and her three bunnies! I heard the neighboring kids talking about bunnies and didn’t believe it until I saw them. They sat so still they looked stuffed. Apparently, they were raised to be show bunnies and sit still for long periods of time. Notice they are dressed in clothing.

Seeing some of these camping setups is funny. From the Instapots to the RC cars and plastic toys from home, and the monstrous RV’s to my little bed on wheels…I don’t know if this is camping or glamping? I know I sure enjoy a shower and my electricity to charge my laptop and camera batteries.

Waterfalls
Waterfall

Barefoot selfie in the middle of the river.

With the lack of sunlight, I did find a waterfall outside of Astoria to photograph. Youngs River Falls is 10 miles south of town and again I was the only person there. Luckily, I am much more comfortable with arriving alone. The 60-foot waterfall was gorgeous but lacked the foreground I hoped for; the rocks were bland and without moss. I took a few photos but kept searching out a better angle. Then I saw the “shot” would be from the middle of the river. I left my water shoes in the car, so I rolled up my pant legs and kicked of my shoes and socks. In I went. I was right, the best shot was from the middle of the river.

waterfall

Youngs River Falls. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II, 12-100 mm, ISO 200, f/18 @ 1.6 sec., with Singh-ray Bryan Hansel Waterfall filter.

After all these weeks and looking at what there is to shoot at each location, I realize I am most excited about photographing waterfalls. So, I went to the library to research my Washington locations and compile a list waterfalls, beaches and creek. When I booked my campgrounds, I created a rough list, but I like to refine it as I approach the towns. Since Washington will be more remote, I did most of the work today and if all goes as planned, I will photograph 6-8 more waterfalls!

Astoria Column with clouds

At the Astoria Column.

With the cloudy weather, I did seek out another waterfall 30-miles east of Astoria. But when I got 5 miles from there, the clouds broke up and I was in direct sunlight (not what you want for shooting waterfalls). I figured I would go look at the falls anyway, since I was so close. My book resource didn’t tell me this was a spring and autumn run off falls….and in summer the fall is not present. There was a trickle at most. Discouraged, I drove back to Astoria and ate a late lunch (fish and chips) at Bouy Brewing while sampling one of their small run beers. Of course, I had to walk up 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column too.

Making Music

One positive note to the cloudy weather, I printed more ukulele music and practiced for an hour last night. Ever since Rod visited, my practicing has been more regular. I’ll be ready for the jam session when I get home. If you aren’t aware of our ukulele interest, Rod has been building ukes for a few years now. He started production of six and has finished two. The remaining four are very close to production. These aren’t your run of the mill ukeleles either, these include custom wood with detailed inlays and precision construction.

Rod's ukelele's

Rod’s six ukulele’s early in production

For the Photogs!

Don’t forget to take a day off. Sometimes it is hard. I didn’t do that well at the start of the trip, but I have found it doesn’t do me any good forcing a photo. So, when I am tired, I take a break and then I have more energy when I get inspired. Even doing a load of laundry revitalizes me. It has been enjoyable doing some of the touristy things too. I often take my big camera to these touristy locations but sometimes only my phone and I just enjoy my surroundings.