sunflowers, sauvie island


Lee and I made our annual trek over to Sauvie Island today, to hike around a bit, soak up the fall atmosphere, and to grab the first pumpkins of autumn. We ended up, as we always do, at Kruger Farms, which is a lovely farm stand stocked with local veggies, pick your own flowers (like these sunflowers), a beer truck (Guided by Porches brewery), and good grub. (The farm stand is across the street from this inlet, which I photographed in January.)

The bad news was that it was too early for the corn maze, but I’ll take that over the crowds that will descend upon this poor island starting next week.

Vaux’s swifts


Every fall, during their annual southern migration, thousands of Vaux’s Swifts roost in an abandoned chimney at a school in Northwest Portland. They perform an intricate aerial dance at dusk, which lasts a little more than a half hour.

First, a small group of swifts–really, a dozen or so–appear and start circling in the sky. Then, magically, and a bit mysteriously, swifts start flying in from all directions, adding to a growing swarm. The swarm expands and contracts in diameter as it moves across the sky, always keeping the chimney in sight and range. After about 15 minutes or so, the swarm closes in on the chimney and a group of swifts peels off and spirals down inside. They then repeat the process a few times, with the group’s size gradually winnowing down.

The swifts’ dance by itself is cool enough to entertain multitudes of Portlanders through many September evenings, but, this being nature and all, you get added drama: hawks. Once the swarm builds to a critical mass, hawks will dive-bomb into it, trying to pull off a swift or two for dinner. Sometimes, a small group of swifts will break off and chase the hawk away, which is hilarious to see, and raises a cheer from the crowd on the ground. Sometimes, a hawk will get a swift, also to a rousing cheer. Then, at almost exactly the time it goes from dusk to dark, the last of the swifts dive into the chimney to a round of applause, and the audience packs up and heads off to their own roosting place.

It’s a lot of fun, and, if you live in Portland, it’s worth going to at least once in your life.

sunset, rocky butte


Rocky Butte [located here] is one of those iconic Portland view spots. Locals — myself included — are always taking visitors from out of town to this little hilltop for the panoramic view of the city, the river, and Mts. Hood and St. Helens. It is a lovely place, but it’s not an easy place to get a good photo of the city, at sunset, sunrise or any other time of day. Too many trees block the view of downtown, the view upriver is bland, and at either end of the day, the shadows are nothing but trouble.

Despite its photographic challenges, I do go up here quite a bit, more to soak up the altitude (or zip up on the motorcycle around a few fun curves) than to shoot. Larch Mountain, Crown Point and a few other places along the Gorge have more photographic resonance for me than this one. That said, last night, with a funky sky full of different cloud types, I hoofed up there quickly and took a bunch of shots, trying to get something that might work. I have a few, including a couple with the tilt-shift lens, but this is the one I ended up picking.

(And, for all my blather, I have a bunch of Flickr shots taken here, and you can see another group of images tagged with Rocky Butte here on this site.)

cane field, near wailuku


I didn’t get a lot of great shots in Maui this year. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but when I go over my library, I have some great snapshots, but little else. Lee and I did have a lot of fun with our daily Instagrams, and I think that was really my photographic focus when we were there.

This one, taken on one of our last days on the island, was a ‘quick, turn off the road’ shot. What you can’t easily tell is how windy it was — I squeezed off about 20 shots, but I was so buffeted by the wind that, even with a fast shutter speed, I ended up with few usable images. Had it been a little bit calmer, I would have moved around more, gotten the tripod out, and been more careful about composing.

As such, this photo gets the ‘revisit‘ tag…

where is this?

dusk along the Columbia


There was no “super moon” for +Brian Matiash and I last night on the Columbia, just the gorgeous blue of dusk after a long day wandering from Portland to Hood River and back. I’ve just started going through my shots from the day, but I see quite a few things that seem to have worked.

This photo was from the end of our day. Brian and I could have just kept heading home, but we knew that there were some shots left. He bitched quite loudly–as he is wont to do ;)–about the barge coming up the river, ruining his long exposure. I, who have long wished that I could ride one of these barge tugs up the river, just laughed. I am kind of surprised that I was able to capture it with such detail in so little light, but I like the result. And yes, it was that blue…

(Shot with the trusty Canon 24-105 f/4L, at 1/25th of a second, f/4.5, 1250 ISO.)

[where is this?]

in the mist


I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently shooting in the rainy climes of Portland and the Gorge. I’ve always been ok with carrying my camera around in less-than-ideal weather conditions, but I wouldn’t say that I actively choose to set up and shoot in the rain.

I have quite a few images from treks (trudges?) with Matt Kloskowski, Brian Matiash and Vincent Versace. I’m finding more throwaway shots (i.e. they get deleted immediately) than I normally see, but there are also quite a few that are instructive, whether in terms of composition, exposure, or focus, in a way that I don’t always get when I’m out in good weather. For example, I don’t know if all the negative space in the upper-left corner of this photo dooms this image, but I do know that I like the line of trees fading into the mist, and I like the vibrance of the greens in the moss and the trees in the foreground. The fact that I’m stopping, looking for shots, and then trying to make sense of them is valuable instruction for my long-term growth as a photographer.



Our kitchen has been under construction since the beginning of February, and we’re just about done — cabinet and drawer fronts, and a fix to the new range are all that’s left.

One of the things that kept us going was that the finish would coincide with the spring harvest at our local farmer’s markets. Today, the first batch of local asparagus was in, which along with the arrival of the daffodils and the tulips, is my harbinger that spring is finally here.