My college years were spent in Tucson studying at the UofA. Now, many years later I returned for 1.5 weeks to take a workshop, teach a workshop and enjoy all Tucson has to offer. Now, I’m a hiker so I discovered many new places one of them being Tanque Verde Falls. Fortunately, another workshop attendee and local Tucsonan joined me for the morning. After a short hike and scrambling over boulders we arrived at the lower falls. Luckily, clouds were intermittent providing softer and more even light. We ran short on time, so we didn’t scramble to the upper falls but it sure was great scouting a new location. Notice in the images below the difference of cloud cover versus direct sunlight?
Photoshop is not for every image, but I like to use it for compositing and making an impact. I decided to create a composite to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Using my Cognisys StopShot Water Drip Kit, I captured several drops and drop collisions. After reviewing the images, I noticed two that if combined would make a fun composite. Since, viewers commented that it looks like the character, “Tigger”.
Setting the camera on a tripod (a must with water drop collisions) gave me several almost identical images, the only difference was in the actual drops. To create the composite, I would need to utilized layers in Photoshop. The “Tigger” image was my base image. Then I selected the “tail” from the second image and brought the tail layer over to my base. Once the “tail” was in place, I added a mask to erase the part I didn’t need to create a believable Tigger tail. The final composite included two images and you may notice that I also erased a few of the extra water drops. The spot healing brush is an easy tool and blended the area nicely. This took me less than thirty minutes and I have fun creating it.
On the next image, I envisioned a drop in the shape of a heart. Well, that would never happen naturally, so I used Photoshop’s transform Tool to create the heart. First step was to cutout the heart onto its own layer. Then use transform (Ctrl +T, Cmd +T) to select it. With the transform tool active, a right click will offer additional transforming options and I chose warp. After dragging the sizing handles around, I designed a heart. The last step was to blend this with the original drop. Again, I added a mask to erase the top portion of the original drop and positioned the new heart shape to blend properly.
Photoshop isn’t for everyone or every image, but it is fun to use!
Creating water drop collisions keeps me entertained for hours. For the last year, I have been very busy completing and publishing the book, The Art of Macro Photography and my drip kit was neglected. So, I blocked a few hours and went to work in my make shift studio (spare bedroom). I kept the setup simple and started with single drops of water. I didn’t use any additives, just wanted to practice making drops and fine tune the timing of the flashes. After a successful single drop, I added the second drop.
In all the time I have been shooting water drop collisions, I’ve never seen the second drop hit next to the original drop as you can see in the image to the right. After several minutes problem solving, I tapped the valve and all subsequent drops collided. Why does this entertain me for hours? I love the challenge of focusing sharp and the varied final images. With a small change on timing of the flashes, I can achieve several different looks. The last image is of my setup for this series.
Stay tuned for more images next week!
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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:
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:
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!
Tomorrow morning, I drive approximately eight hours to Spokane. Tonight, I will eat out at the only restaurant in La Push!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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!
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.
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.
World’s Largest Frying Pan!
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.
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!
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.
As soon as I arrived in the Cannon Beach area, I went to Ecola State Park. It was a gorgeous day, wind was blowing and the sun was just breaking through the marine layer. Ecola offers many hiking trails, so I chose the one to Crescent Beach. This 4-mile round trip hike took me through an old-growth forest and to a beautiful beach only accessible by hiking. I returned to this park several times for early morning mist, paddle boarders and low tide. I also visited Hug Point Wayside. Hug Pont was quiet and calm even during the weekday. First light guaranteed minimal people on the beach so that’s when I went. The beach is full of many monoliths similar to the image above from Indian Beach. At low tide I was entranced with lines in the sand instead of the sea stars.
Walking along the beach, I spotted a sand dollar. This was quite a find because there have been so many broken ones along the beaches for the past 4 weeks, it was fun to find a complete one. The solitude of the beach and the time to relax has been unforgettable.
Not uncommon for this time of year is a lot of fog and mist. Midday the blue skies appear, but evenings and mornings are gray. This can be a little discouraging, but I knew this coming into the trip so I am making the most of each location. A real problem though: I wish I could overcome craving Mexican food. We eat a lot of Mexican food at home and I’m not sure restaurants in the Pacific Northwest will prepare the best chili relleno.
Between Seaside and Cannon Beach is Circle Creek RV park, I checked in to spot #10 and parked. I don’t want to brag, but this was my best parking job yet and the trailer was straight too. As I got out of the car I saw #9 on the post. I parked in the wrong spot! Will I ever get this right? So, I moved to my spot and within minutes my neighbors arrived in spot #9. I met Spud in this campground too. Spud is a cat with a harness on a leash. The owners trained him starting at 4 weeks old to wear a harness and he sits by the back door waiting for a harness to go out. He loved being outside with the family at the campground. It sure looked funny though.
Did I say zoo? Well, that is synonymous to Seaside. I couldn’t be in the area and not check out the town, so I went on a week day (thankfully), parked, walked to the beach and then left. Seaside is otherwise known as a tourist trap. The downtown area is full of arcades, ice cream shops and the like. Not my kind of place. I checked out Cannon Beach, a cute little town that was nice to walk through early morning before the Corgi Festival started. There were easily 100 Corgi’s on the beach! The crowds, people and Corgi’s don’t inspire me but I did capture my obligatory Haystack Rock photo and then returned to camp to join my neighbors for dinner.
The two “rigs” next to me were travelling together from Seattle. John & Lu, Joe & Cindy welcomed me and we hit it off instantly. Lu and John know how to cook corn on the cob! I spent two evenings eating dinner with them at the campground and it felt like family. Reminded me how much I miss my family. We had a great time chatting, drinking wine and sharing our adventures. They are finishing a 19 day trip and I have 2 weeks remaining on mine but after talking to them about the remainder of my trip, I decided to visit them outside Seattle and then see Snoqualmie Falls. (And possibly another glass of wine…)
Tomorrow I head up to Fort Stevens for my last days in Oregon.
I almost forgot, leaving Barton Park in Portland several days ago I got stuck in the shower. These showers were one-person rooms with a deadbolt on the inside. When I finished showering, I flipped the lever to unlock and the door would not open. It wasn’t the door handle, it was the deadbolt. I tried again and again. Then I started to get nervous. This was one time I didn’t have my phone – after all, why would I need my phone in the shower? After several more attempts, I started beating the door and yelling. A person heard me, but it sounded like they were in another shower. I went back to the lock and slowly rotated the lever to lock it and after an ¼” turn, the door released. I yelled to the person in the other shower that I was free and reminded myself to always carry my phone. The next morning, I heard another person trying to get out of that same shower. I talked them through rotating the lock correctly and she reported the issue to the park hosts.
For the Photogs!
When I returned to camp with my sand dollar, I placed it on mat board to capture the photo. I brought a 16×20 piece of two-sided (black/white) mat board for this occasion. Since it was cloudy, I set the board on my picnic table and started capturing images.