A Day at the Beach

It’s been hot here.  Even before the BC wildfires enhazened our skies, it was hot and kind of miserable.  So, we went to the coast.  To get to the Washington coast from Seattle, you have to drive around the Puget Sound, and that takes some time.  Believe it or not, I’ve never done this; I’ve never been to Washington’s coast, except for right on the border with Oregon.  This was not to be the trip to break that trend because we went to the beach of  my childhood – Seaside, Oregon.

First we had to leave The Island.  Since we were going south, we did the Talequah crossing into Tacoma.  There’s a great view of Mt. Rainier on this route, and the skies were clear that day.  Here’s a morning shot of our beloved mountain from the water.

The drive from Seattle to Portland is peaceful, if a bit predictable.  We stayed at my parents’ house in Fairview for the night and headed out early the next morning for the Oregon coast, which is a straight shot.

To my surprise, it was hot on the beach.  In fact, I found myself calling it the beach instead of the coast.  It was actually sunny and hot on the Oregon coast at Seaside.  Which is why this shot of Claire was a little tricky.

It was right around noon, so the light was intense, and the shadows were harsh.  This was one of the few times I used my popup flash for something other than to control other flashes.  Fill flash saved the day here.  Also, Seaside Beach is big and roomy.  There were plenty of people there that day, but we were all spread out pretty good.  This desolate-looking image was made possible by using the widest angle lens I had available.  It makes Claire look like she’s the only person in the world.

One of my primary goals for this quick trip was to introduce Tommy to kite-flying.  As far as I know, he’d never even seen a kite before, much less flown one.  I figured I could buy something anywhere in town, and I was right.  But, man, was that thing ever cheap.  It wouldn’t have lasted another few minutes in the air.  It eventually did disintegrate, but we were able to have a good time long enough before that.  Tommy got to fly a kite for the first time in his life.

He loved it!  He loved the whole experience, and I think he even enjoyed letting go of the string so his mother would have to run and chase it.  The rest of the day included bumper cars, a carousel ride, saltwater taffy, a trip to the Tillamook Creamery and a visit to Cannon Beach.  After a fabulous dinner at Mo’s I really wanted to get out to Ecola State Park to capture the great sunset scenery that is there.  The idea isn’t to capture the sunset itself, but rather the view back on the beach in the sunset light.  A few things went wrong.

One, the best lookout points were closed off due to recent storms and the erosion caused thereby.  The other issue was the cloud-cover.  There’d been no clouds the entire day, but now we had a thick layer right at the horizon that blocked all of that gorgeous sunset light.  By the time I got out to the best lookout I could reach, I’d missed my only chance to get the shot I’d been hoping for.  To twist the knife a little, Gabbie informed me that I’d just missed some great light.  All I got was this crummy shot of Cannon Beach:

You can see areas where the sunset light is trying to get through, but mostly it was flat light.  To make up for my disappointment at missing the really good light, I took one last picture of Claire.

She’ll be one year old next week.

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How to Photograph Fireworks

It’s that day again!  The 4th of July is the one chance I get all year to shoot fireworks.  This year I’m going to a new spot, so fingers-crossed that it is a good one.  You’ll know tomorrow.

Until then, I just published a somewhat verbose tutorial on How to Photograph Fireworks.  I hope you find it helpful or entertaining or at least tolerable.

have fun and be safe tonight!


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Springtime in Kaua’i

The big difference with this trip to Kaua’i was that we sprang for an ocean-facing unit.  The resort industry can be a little dodgy when it comes to descriptions of the view.  “Garden View” means you’ll be looking at the parking lot.  “Ocean View” means that, if you lean out over your deck or out a window and see a little piece of water, you have a “view” of the ocean.  We spent a little extra this time and got an actual view of the ocean.  This is what it looked like from our deck.

Since we’re on the Point at Po’ipu, this is pretty much a view to the south.  The way we were situated gave us some great sunrises each morning.

Of course no trip to Kaua’i would be complete for us if we didn’t walk down to the Grand Hyatt and, once again, discuss when or if we might ever stay there.  I’ve walked passed this place so many times that I actually have favorite rooms, and I’ve never even been inside.  Doesn’t this look relaxing and inviting?

We took another plane tour (see Soaring Over Kaua’i), and it was exactly like the previous flight.  That’s good, though.  There was a couple from New Zealand on our plane who thought it was kind of weird that we would do this same tour more than once.  We told them it was that good, that we enjoyed it that much.

I thought Tommy might enjoy it more this time because he was a little older, but the staff told me not to expect much.  They said that the motion and sound of the plane puts toddlers right to sleep.  Nah, I thought.  This is too exciting to sleep through.

Another attraction this year was supposed to be the whales, those mythical beasts that travel down to Hawai’i for only certain months of the year.  We’d never been to Hawai’i during whale-time, so this was exciting.  And we had our legitimate ocean view.  And I had a super telephoto lens with me – 500mm of whale-viewing goodness.  It was, however, not to be.  We might have seen a tail or something one morning, but it was far out, nothing breached, and it might not have actually been a whale, or even a marine mammal.  So here’s a picture of some people fishing from a cliff, shot at 500mm, in great sunrise light.

I think I was waiting for whales (title of my next album?) when I noticed this little tableau out in the ocean.  There were some waves forming and kind of crashing out in open water.  And the light here is not Photoshop tomfoolery.  This is really what it looked like, and I thought it was kind of cool.  So, here’s another picture of not-a-whale, captured with the super telephoto lens.

But it wasn’t all not taking pictures of whales.  We did wander around Hanalei, eat at some food trucks and drive around as far as we could in both directions on the highway.  It’s just that we really like the Po’ipu area, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures right outside our room.

And that sunrise every morning.  Wow.

There was one out-of-the-ordinary thing we did on this trip.  We spent three nights in a cottage on a plantation in Waimea.  That was definitely different and very cool.  The first evening when we got there was a little rainy, though, but we wondered out anyway and eventually saw this.

I didn’t have my DSLR with me, out in the rain.  That was captured with the camera inside my phone.

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Orlando This Year, Again

Every year my company puts together a conference for a week in some US city.  This year it was in Orlando, FL.  That’s the same Orlando, FL as in 2013.  This is the first repeating city we’ve had, but that’s okay.  Seattle is having the wettest year on record, and it was nice to get to sunny Florida for a while.

We don’t have a tremendous amount of free time during the week, so I try to make my outings count.  The Orlando Eye Ferris wheel was close to our hotel, so we took a quick Uber over there to check out the view.  My first thought was what view?

Disney World?  Universal Studios?  The ocean?  No, that’s the roof and parking lot for Lockheed Martin, with Universal Boulevard in the foreground.  And that’s the view from on top of the Eye.  A particularly loquacious Uber driver later in the evening (not our next driver, but the next-next one) confirmed that the city picked a terrible location for this attraction.  There’s noting to see except the Orlando Eye itself.

After the Eye, we got in another Uber and headed downtown.  Between the disappointment of the Ferris wheel and our discomforting second driver, we weren’t in a very good mood at this point.  All that changed when we arrived at Lake Eola Park right at sunset.  I’ve been told this hasn’t always been a pleasant place for families and those not looking to score drugs, but it was plenty comfortable when I was there.

Man, were there a lot of birds.  Swans (even black ones, which I didn’t know existed), geese of different varieties and ducks.  There was also a pigeon or two . . . million.  That’s one flock of pigeons alighting from a deck raining as I was taking the above shot.  It wasn’t planned.  This group of birds kept settling back onto the railing and then exploding off of it every few minutes.

The band this year was the Beach Boys.  Mike Love and Bruce Johnston gave us a private show that was very nice.  They’re getting up there in age, so there wasn’t a lot of dancing around, but they can definitely still play and sing.

Mike Love . . .

Bruce Johnston . . .

Modern technology gave them the opportunity to have the late Carl Wilson sign lead on one of the songs with the band backing him up live on stage.  I really should have made a note of which song that was, but I was so impressed with the synchronicity that I just stood there watching and listening and not really thinking.

I didn’t mention that the opening talk was given by Story Musgrave.  If you don’t know who that is, please do yourself a favor (really) and look up his life story.  You’d think it would be enough for a man to be a space-walking, Hubble-telescope-repairing astronaut, but he was also a neurosurgeon for over 20 years as well.  And those are only a couple of the interesting things he’s done.  Hearing him speak was inspiring and very motivational.  It’s with him that I took my first celebrity selfie ever.

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Quick Trip To Arizona

We started 2017 with a quick trip down to Arizona. The idea was to get away and take a break from the cold, wet weather in Seattle for a few days. Where were we in Arizona? Starting in Phoenix, highway 60 takes you east into Tempe. Tempe transitions into Mesa, and then mesa fades into smaller cities and towns as you move further east. It’s a multi-mile urban sprawl, and we went to the point where it almost peters out into desolation.  The road is called the Superstition Freeway at this point, and that was appropriate because we were traveling on, wait for it, Friday the 13th.

The Superstition Freeway takes you past the Superstition Mountains and the towns of Apache Junction and Gold Canyon. For the long weekend, we stayed at a house in the community of Peralta Trail, right in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains and perhaps a lost gold mine.

For this trip that was supposed to be a weather getaway . . . it rained. It rained hard and long. It was the divisional weekend for the NFL, so we did have a little something to do indoors. We got to see the Seahawks get knocked out of the playoffs by Atlanta.  🙁  Still, the temperature was about 10 degrees warmer than back home, and it was a nice change of scenery.

The nicest day was Monday, and that’s when we visited Lost Dutchman State park. The story of the Lost Dutchman (who was German) is an interesting one. From what I can tell, there is no fully-accepted story on missing gold, marauding Indians or Civil War-era intrigue. There are only myths and rumors and multiple rich stories that are probably just that – stories.

The park is very much a tourist destination, but it’s still fairly interesting and fun for all that. Our server at lunch was dressed like she just got off her shift at the bordello; you can buy all manner of knives, tomahawks and brass knuckles at the gift shops; and there’s a shootout with desperados every hour.

The highlight of the park, for me, was the Mystery Shack. Apparently the night before our visit, some people who probably spent too much time at the saloon broke into the Shack and sprayed the fire extinguishers all over the place. This made for an interesting smell as we toured the unsteady grounds and added to the, well, mystery of the place.  I really hope this is the first of many visits to Mystery Shacks around the world.  I want to be a Mystery Shack aficionado.

Although it was a short, rainy trip, it was still a good change of pace, and we enjoyed ourselves. Tommy can have fun anywhere, and he learned a good lesson about not playing with cactuses (cacti? whatever).  He learned that pointy things can be pokey and are not to be fondled.

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