Family, History and Love

Wanda and I have been discussing, of late, the need to set down in writing some portion of our family history so that in the future our children and grandchildren will have the stories and tales of our lives direct from the source. The technophile that I am, I choose to do this online so that the what we write will be accessible and available for comment to our wider family (though I reserve the right to moderate those comments).

To that end, I have repurposed this blog. In coming posts, we will endeavor to provide an abridged story of our life (hey, everyone has their secrets). We're writing this for our children and their children and those that come later so elements of these tales will be familiar only to our family,

Monday, June 30, 2008

Infrared Photography

I've long been interested in infrared photography, but it's always seemed such as hassle to me. Back in the film days you had to buy special film, then load it in basically darkroom conditions. On top of that, certain cameras couldn't use the film because they used infrared beams in the body to count the frame advances. Finally, to shoot with infrared you had to use a special R72 filter to let only infrared light into the camera, which meant you had to pre-focus before you put the filter on and that your exposure would be extremely long compared to
a normal exposure.

In most cases, the advent of digital cameras didn't change things much really. While the digital sensor is, in fact, sensitive to both visible and infrared light, camera manufacturers place a filter over the sensor that among other things, removes the infrared light. So, while you didn't need to load the film in the dark, you still had to use an R72 filter to remove the visible light and exposures were still lengthy. Some cameras were much better than others at capturing infrared. The Olympus C2020Z, which I owned for a while, had a good reputation for IR photography, though I never actually used it for infrared.

What did change, however, was that the IR filter in a digital camera body could be removed and replaced with a sensor cover that did allow the infrared (actually Near Infrared) light to pass and all0ws for infrared photography without the use of an R72 filter and with normal exposure times. The image above is a test shot from my Canon 20D DSLR which has had this conversion completed. It was just returned from Lifepixel today (after about three weeks away) and this was taken in my back yard with a Canon EF 50 f/1.4 lens and converted to B&W. The image below was left in color and the red and blue channels reversed to make the sky blue vs. red.

This is going to make photography a bit more fun this summer, and I plan to use the converted camera extensively, but not exclusively, as part of my fairy project. It will also be fun to use it for some landscape photography along the Oregon Coast and for my planned trip to Crater Lake National Park.

Bad Knees and Photography

Bad knees and photography don't go well together. I spent 21 years in the US Navy, much of that on sea duty aboard submarines. Those years of climbing vertical ladders and standing for hours on end on steel decks left my knees in less than ideal condition. Of course, packing on the pounds after I retired hasn't helped much either. But, other than stiffness and the occasional arthritic flare up, I've been able to enjoy walking, hiking and photography with no issues.

For the last couple of weeks, however, my right knee has really limited my mobility. I didn't injure it, but suddenly it began hurting intensely - to the point where it was affecting my ability to sleep and inducing muscle spasms in my leg. Kneeling was virtually impossible, and I had to resort to using a cane to walk any significant distance.

Fortunately, I was able to get in to see my doctor the day I finally decided that it wasn't going to get better on its own. His diagnosis was gout! Gout? Holy Cow. My aunt and mother had gout and always talked about how painful it was. I know understand their pain. I'm currently on very strong anti-inflammatory meds and painkillers, but honestly, they don't help much. I just hope I can get this under control soon because we have our annual 4th of July cookout/party this Friday and I have several photo shoots I want to do over the next couple of weeks, and for anyone that has ever shot with me, you know how much I love to kneel and get low on the ground for a photo shoot.

Lately, it's been tough to even play with my granddaughter, and chasing her has been nearly impossible. Still, I can pick her up, hold her and hobble slowly over to the tree to let her climb. I better get this under control before the next two come along at the end of the summer, or I'll be in real trouble.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week. I owe several long e-mails to some friends, my to-do list seems to be getting longer instead of shorter, and it would be nice to get more than 6 hours of sleep in a night.

The week started out with a sick daughter and keeping the grandbaby all weekend and though Monday. I didn't mind that at all, but when they're two years old, it's all about them. You don't get very much accomplished beyond playing with the two-year-old. Actually, I love it and I'm not complaining. That was the best part of my week.

On Tuesday, though, I had to go on a three day business trip to California. I had several meetings during my stay there, but I managed to spend the first evening at my son's house. Since I wanted to spend some time with him, I really didn't do much work after the normal workday ended. I played Rock Band with him, then we went out to dinner with some friends of his, and then we came back and watched a Meg Ryan movie I've never seen before.

Although it only took me 45 minutes to drive up to his house from the San Jose Jet Center, it was a 2 hour commute back to San Jose the next morning for my meeting. The traffice was absolutely atrocious, and I had been warned that it would be. What I can't understand is how people put up with that. After my 8 years of a 4 mile commute to work and back, I certainly couldn't handle it.

My Wednesday meetings went well, but I still had much to do. I spent most of the evening working from the hotel. The internet connection there was terrible, though, and I had a heck of time getting much done. I didn't even try to work on any personal stuff. Finally I had to call it a wash and get some sleep.

Thursday meant travel back to Portland, and although the flight isn't that long, dealing with traffic getting back from the airport can be a real chore. Add to that, the cramped seating space aggravated my right knee and the arthritis in it flared up and I was barely able to walk. The rest of the afternoon was packed with meetings and phone calls as I tried to follow up on some time sensitive information that I required.

On my return Thursday, I discovered Wanda had a new "project" in mind which included me completely reworking one of the upstairs bedroom. She wanted to convert her craft room into a combination hobby room and kid's bedroom so we could have small guests over for the weekend without them having to sleep in the floor or on the couch. In fact, even as I write this, Ben's kids are sleeping on the floor and the couch in my family room after a long night of pizza, chips and Rock Bank.

Ben is, of course, my oldest daughter's boyfriend. The two of them had a work party to attend last night, so we agreed to watch Stephanie (13) and Trevor (11) both of whom are great kids. We also had our grandbaby again, so we had a full evening. My son had got me playing Rock Band, a music game for PlayStation 3, while I was visting his house, and I thought it would make great entertainment for when we have both kids and adults over for parties or just an evening with friends. It's quite fun and Stephanie, Trevor and I had a blast pretending to be a Rock Band. Makayla, the two-year-old, loves music and she was dancing all over the place. At some point during our play, Wanda got out the video camera and was recording us all. I'm sure that blackmail video will show up somewhere on the internet.

But I digress. Friday evening and Saturday morning was spent working on Wanda's projects. We finished cleaning out the garage, and then we went a picked up a set of bunkbeds for the room (which took a couple of hours due to evening traffic). On our return home, I spent much of the evening trying to copy all her files from her desktop over to her laptop, since part of the plan was to retire her desktop computer so she could use her small desk as a craft table in the closet of the bedroom. I also managed to find time to put together Makayla's new tricycle for her birthday today, as well as a Radio Flyer Wagon for her to use here at the house (and to carry my photo gear when I'm shooting out in the field - it's dual purpose toy).

Most of the day yesterday was spent putting an overhead light into the closet space so she would have light in her craft area. I'm wiring a combination switch and outlet so she has both light and power where she needs it. The problem is deciding how to route the wiring so that it remains primarily within the walls as it's an add on and I really don't want to crawl around in the attic insulation to make it happen.

Still, I did manage to spend quite a bit of time with Makayla yesterday. She led me on a merry chase through Home Depot when I went back to get some fasteners, and together we planted 25 Nasturtium seeds in peat pots so she can watch them grow over the summer.

And today is her birthday. We'll be going to a party later this afternoon and we have lots of presents to open, a Nemo birthday cake to eat, and games to play and pictures to take. It will be fun, but I don't know when I'm going to get to finish wiring that light!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Woodland Fairy Shoot

Woodland Fairy Quick EditAfter nearly a year and a half of not being able to shoot anything on my Fae Project, I have been lucky enough to shoot two sets of photos this week. I've already written about shooting Garden Fairy with London Andrews, and then on Friday evening I got to shoot Woodland Fairy with Lilly.

I did a test shoot with Lilly at the beginning of the month. I showed her the wings, the costume design and the shoot materials during our test shoot and we agreed that we would shoot during the next good weather day. That day took nearly two weeks to arrive.

Lilly had never modeled before, but was excited to experience her first shoot. We did the make-up (ferns stenciled on the legs and body jewelry around the eyes) at my home before we headed out to the rural location where we were planning to shoot.

We had wonderful weather and the drive out to the shoot location was through a wonderfully scenic part of rural Oregon. Lilly and I chatted on the way out and I learned she was planning to run a half-marathon the next day. As you can see from the image, she's a fit and lovely model and a great choice for a woodland fairy. Her dark hair, eyes and golden skin gave her a look that was both exotic and a natural fit for the forested environs where we were shooting.

Though it was her first shoot as a model, she did quite well. We kept the costume changes and adjustments to a minimum and concentrated on integrating the poses and facial expression with the scenery on the hillside where we were shooting. Lilly was game to try most poses and was willing to pose among the ferns, tree stumps and various other vegetation. She did get cold toward the end of the shoot when the sun got lower and the breeze picked up a bit, but we shot just about everything I had planned and I was very pleased with our first shoot together. I have lots of images to work with and the one you see above was a very rough and quick edit of a random shot.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden Fairy

I got to shoot with the most amazing model yesterday. London Andrews was everything I had hoped for and more. She was extremely professional. She could self-pose with exceptional proficiency. She even did her own makeup and hair. And to top it all off, she was intelligent, fun to talk to, and a lady in all respects.
I wished she lived in Portland so I could use her as a model more often.

She was orignially scheduled to be my Summer Fairy and I was going to shoot her out in the woods in Gaston. But the weather was just too chancey, so we wound up shooting in my backyard, which is small but quite photogenic.

We went through several costume changes (and three sets of wings), and she was game for just about anything I asked of her. She's definitely a lady in all regards, and I'd recommend her to any photographer who wants a classy model for a photo shoot. Even the test shots for exposure came out great (see the image above and to the right).

I'm more than willing to shoot with her again, bu alas, she tells me that she's retiring form modeling at the end of this year. What a loss for us those of us with an interest in glamour photography!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Test Shoot with Lilly

I did a test shoot with a new model on Friday. Lilly is a lovely, slender girl with long dark hair and beautiful brown eyes. She has agreed to be one of the models for my fairy project and I think she's going to make the perfect woodland fairy.

We did our test shoot in Cathedral Park under the St. John's bridge. It's one of my favorite places to shoot, and I've shot several models there including Sierra, Autumn and Gabriell. If offers a great variety of settings which include a small beach along the river, several wooded areas, park benches, a dock, willow trees, an open fields, a concrete pavilion, and the bridge struts itself.

Since Lilly was test shooting for a woodland fairy, we stuck to the wooded areas and primarily concentrated on how she self-posed, how well she took directions, and how her skin and hair tones stood up against the wooded background. I have to say that everything was excellent. She also got into character and worked at showing me some fairy moods (curious, reflective, frightened, etc.). Her skin and hair tones stood out quite well against the green backdrops and complemented the dark brown of the tree trunks and limbs. She has a natural ability to pose, and can get into character quite easily provide a variety of expressions. She also has the ability to express emotions with her body language, which will help a great deal as we get into the actual shoot.

I brought all the costume materials to show to her, explained how we would proceed through the project, i.e. how the materials would be used, what kind of makeup would be involved, how we would progress from the fully covered shots to the final artistic nudes and got her opinions on the make-up and costume materials. She told me that after seeing the materials I had accumulated for the project, she was quite excited about moving forward with the shoot. Now it's just a matter of location, weather and timing.

My daughter's boyfriend has offered the use of his mom's property for my projects. His mom, a very lovely and nice lady name Shannon, has a lovely home on property out in Gaston. On the hill behind her home is a trail that leads through a heavily wooded areal with old trees, stumps, ferns and everything else one would need for such a shoot. Additionally, she has a large cleared area on her property that would work well for some other projects I have in mind.

There are other options too. There is a large wooded plot of land across from my house that might work well too, though not was well I think as the property in Gaston. Additionally, I have a friend, Mark, who lives up on Bald Peak, and I have permission from him to use his property for several shoots as well. In fact, the first fairy shoot (Autumn Fairy) was shot on his property. Another friend of mine, Dave, has offered me the use of his land as well, and I'm sure there are a couple more friends who would be willing to allow me the use of their property for a photo shoot. So, I'm lucky in that regard.

My only problem right now is a location for my water fairy shoot. I need a shallow steam of water that's fairly isolated. I have a spot in mind, but it's a distance away and is near a state campground, so it's not as isolated as I would like, though I have shot there in the past. You can see an example image from that location directly above. During the shoot where this shot was taken, the model and I were undisturbed and the closest people were three fly fishermen several hundred yards downstream. They didn't notice us at all during the shoot, or if they did, they sure didn't seem to mind. So, I'll probably go for a drive, despite the high gas prices, and make sure the area is still suitable before actually shooting there, but it would still be nice to find someplace closer, if possible.