Category Archives: Odds & Ends

Another Roadside Attraction

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Once upon a time there was a shop on the right side of the high road to Taos in the lovely land of New Mexico. A Roadside Attraction? Maybe not for everyone but it’s part of a photographer’s mind set… if it’s interesting, stop the car, right? Lucky, I guess, that most of the people I travel with are like minded. ;0)

Well, in 1996, this little shop was owned by a quiet man… a man nice enough to take the time for a conversation and a permission to take this picture. Right on the busy road, he seemed able to relax into the dusty light and show us around. Inside, the room was cool and dusky, full of various and beautiful bones… so many shapes. There was a bear skull and there were incredible snake skeletons. Anyone who knows me already understands the draw… been collecting bones and rocks since forever.

I scanned the old negative yesterday and have tried to make it right. The shop was empty last September when Opera Boy and I stopped. Santa Fe has a huge chunk of my heart even though I don’t get to go often anymore but I always thought I’d see this shop again. Stop while you can… Roadside Attractions may not be there the next time you swing through.

The Holiday Express

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As the Winter Solstice nears, there is a long and mournful sound that drifts across the river on December weekends. I usually stop what I’m doing to go stand on my front porch to listen… there is no sound like it!

Steam trains were an occasional treat in Virginia when I was growing up. My dad used to go looking for them whenever he heard they were going to be rolling through the valley.

Here in Portland, we have a great group of people who run the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and during the holidays, they run two trains from Oak’s Park to OMSI and back on the weekends… about a 45 minute ride.

I was all set to go yesterday with my camera but the skies turned a dull grey and the rain began to sneak in around the time I wanted to go. Meh.
Instead, I dug these out from December of 2006… I still have a couple more chances ahead and there is a different vantage point I want to try. ;0)

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If you decide to go, get your tickets ahead, grab your kids or friends and be sure to bundle up… it will be cold but I think you will have a great trip!

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I may try a ride next time but I love watching this slice of another time from the outside… trying to imagine it almost a hundred years ago.

If I have my facts straight, this is the Empire Builder and it is from 1929.

Road Test

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For me, road test is my description for taking a new camera or lens out into the world to see how it performs. It is the second step if you count the first step being the one where I shoot around my house in an utterly familiar environment. In the road test I try for something brand new… something I can’t predict too well.

The new camera is a Lumix GH4 by Panasonic… a snappy little camera with a lot of muscle under the hood. So far, I am very, very pleased. Yesterday found me at Fort Vancouver for the first time. I have been on Officer’s Row a gazillion times but never had a chance to go into the fort. This image was taken in the blacksmith’s shop in natural light and I couldn’t be more pleased. The only caveat here is that Adobe doesn’t support RAW files for this camera yet… the workaround for now is to shoot RAW + large JPGs and save the RAW files for later. That means that as nice as this version looks, I can’t wait to get my hands on the RAW file and see how it flies!

My unending thanks to Mark Toal, the Panasonic rep who has given me so much of his time and information… I have been looking for something small and fresh for a few years and he suggested I look at this line.

Ultimately, this little camera is going to take me places I want to explore… sure, I could pack my Nikon bag but sometimes it seems like too much to carry… like it’s too much work. Since play is what I’m after, I may extend the road test for awhile. ;0)

A Touch of Christmas

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As the days get downright gloomy, Christmas lights and over the top plastic displays start to sprout all over town… it’s fine for driving by but when I come home I prefer a little visual peace. Most of the time, we don’t do any decorating here… the cats would make short work of a tree in my small house and the outside is short on electrical outlets. ;0)

This year, my very talented friend Francoise Weeks was teaching wreath-making workshops… the conversation we had about that sparked a desire to have one, so I asked her if I could buy one of hers. She laughed at me and said no. Then she said she would make me a wreath on one condition… that I take some good photographs of it. My turn to laugh! Francoise is just one of the nicest people I have ever known and we have traded our talents for awhile now.

The textures in this piece are worth exploring… see what you think. Continue reading

Instagram and the New Age

Apparently, I am an easy mark for any technology, old or new, that gives me a way to see. This last Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a full day workshop from a very talented photographer, Jan Sonnenmaier. She is a woman I have known of for years and I am sorry I haven’t done more to get to know her before now.

Jan teaches an iPhone camera workshop. Keep in mind that for a few years, I have taken a rather dim view of the whole idea of camera phones. I just didn’t get what the fuss was all about. Until now. My new iPhone 4s has more than twice the megapixels of my first pro digital DSLR. Besides the whole file size issue, it also has some of the most nuanced options you might ever hope for. Jan introduces the best apps and goes into the guts to show you how it all works.

Long story short, I now have a small presence on Instagram @joeytallboy and a fantastic array of tools in my pocket… can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

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