Tag Archive: Photography

Jul 05 2012

And the rocket’s red glare

Happy Independence Day!

This year, the 4th of July fell in the middle of my 10-day “staycation.” Fortunately, the weather in Seattle decided to cooperate, and it actually began summer a day early.  (By tradition, summer in Seattle usually doesn’t begin until July 5th.) And thus begins the 6 weeks of why I live in Seattle. To whit:



I mean, seriously. Tell me that doesn’t look glorious, especially to those of you…well…everywhere else.

Anyway, this 4th was nothing spectacular. I spent a few hours in the garden, took the dog to the dog park, worked on producing the “angry breakup” song that I wrote last week, grilled some hot dogs, and went out to the dock at my apartment complex to watch folks set off fireworks over the water.  Very nice, low key, and relaxed. 

This year, however, I took my camera out to see if I could capture a few photos of the fireworks.  I’ve never shot fireworks before.  It’s hard.  Also, I spent 45 minutes sitting on my ankles and had right right foot go so completely to sleep that it was 100% numb, and when I stood up to go back inside, my ankle was completely unable to support my weight, and I ended up nearly tumbling into the water with nearly $4,000 worth of camera equipment and an 80 lb. golden retriever on a leash.  Fortunately, the giant powerboat that I fell onto stopped any unexpected swimming trips, and gave me a nice place to rest for 15 minutes to try to determine if my foot would recover, if my ankle was sprained, or if I was going to need to have the entire lower half of my right leg removed to prevent necrosis. 

I think we’re leaning toward a mild strain at the moment.  It’s still sore, but at least I can put weight on it.  Thank goodness for those flexible ankles from all my years of dancing.

Oh yeah, and I also shaved my head. Not my usual close-cropped-with-clippers shaved my head that I normally do, but rather, the shaving-cream-and-razor bic’ing that shouts to the world, “YES! I’m trying to go bald gracefully, but my hair is taking too damn long, and I am tired of buying shampoo!”  Plus, now that I have a membership with http://dollarshaveclub.com, I get four new razor blades shipped to me each month for only $6, so I don’t have to worry about too much extra expense from shaving the dome.  I’m not entirely sold on the new look, I have to say.  I really do wish that I could have old hair back.  It’s really a shame.  Just about the time it changes color to a nice brown with hints of red, and about the time I figure out how to make it look pretty good, it starts falling out.  Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Anyway, here are my fireworks photos.  I hope you had a wonderful 4th!


Sep 13 2010

New Photo: Crossing the Adams Canyon River

Crossing the Adams Canyon River

My dad and my uncle Rich crossing the river at the top of Adams Canyon in Layton.  June 2010.

Sep 08 2010

Random Thoughts Edition – September 8, 2010

So, I can’t seem to muster the mental energy lately to write a fully-formed, well reasoned blog post.  Of course, most people would probably argue that I’ve never written one of those before in my life…but that’s another topic.  So, it’s time for another random thoughts edition of One Off.


Sad.  Sad, Sad, Sad.  Epic Sad.  Summer is over.  To Wit:


This makes me sad.  Our summer was so short this year.  And rumor has it that we’re in for another very wet winter.  The lawn outside my apartment is already a mud bog, and it’s only been raining for a week or so.  I, at least, hope that we get some snow this year around Christmas time.


Speaking of Christmas time, it’s been cold and rainy lately, and every time the weather changes like that, it makes me want to start decorating for Christmas.  I know, I know.  It’s only September.  And I may not be able to control my impulses when it comes to money, but I will refrain from decorating for Christmas until November.  I may not have a lot of self control, but I think I can manage that.  I bought my ticket home last week, and got my time off approved, so I will be down in Utah this year again.  I will be home for almost a full week this time, so I might actually have some time to meet up with friends while I’m there.  Especially if you’re available during the day time during the weeks.


I seem to be running into a lot of people lately who are capable of hearing only what they want to hear, and not what I actually say.  If I say, "Once we start the project, it will take a minimum of three weeks to complete," the person to whom I am talking will hear, "The project will be done in three weeks."  If I say, "We don’t do physical distribution of audiobooks, we only do digital distribution," the person to whom I am speaking will hear, "We do both physical and digital distribution."  Did I all of a sudden (or is it "all of THE sudden?") lose my ability to communicate clearly?  Did I ever have that ability?


I’m completely sickened by the jackholes in Florida who are planning a book burning of the Koran (Quran?) this weekend.  I’m so, so, so tired of ignorant people making offensive decisions without at least trying to understand what it is they are fighting against.  Sure.  We’ll burn the Koran because some terrorists are Islamic, but we’ve never actually read the book, so we don’t know for sure what it teaches.  Of course, some terrorists are Catholic, but we won’t burn the Bible, because those Catholic terrorists don’t reflect the point of view of all Catholics.  All of the hatred, ignorance, and anger that resonates amongst people has really started to affect me lately.  I just wish we lived in a world where those who are religious wouldn’t use their religion as an excuse to stay ignorant of the world and the people in it.  It’s possible to be religious and still be enlightened and aware of the greater picture. 


I’ve been feeling a little bit of…what’s the word…homesickness, I guess, for my old classmates and life at BYU.  I never felt like I fit in all that much with the MDT kids (despite my trying desperately), but they were a really fun group of people most of the time.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been mentally reliving the "breakthroughs" that I had when I was in school.  Landing a supporting lead in a mainstage play the first week of school as a freshman, the first time I got really good scores on my acting proficiencies, the time in my first acting class when I made the class laugh doing an exercise when we were only able to speak in gibberish, doing The Fantasticks with Korianne and learning, for the first time, what it meant to have a fully two-way relationship with your acting partner.  Choreographing a dance piece based on MacBeth with Nicole that the teacher still remembers eight years later.  Taking coaching with Dave.  Ballet with Richie.  As difficult as the MDT program was (and, as worthless as the degree is in the "real" world), there were a lot of good times.  I miss that.


I also miss some of my old former friends.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life when it comes to my relationships with my friends.  I’ve lately been wishing that I could undo what I did and go back to the way things were.  We’ve all moved on in our lives, and a reconciliation isn’t really likely (and perhaps not even recommended) but I still miss having those friendships more readily available.


On a more upbeat note, my dog is apparently part squirrel.  The acorns have started falling off the oak trees here at my apartment complex.  He likes to pick up the whole acorns (he won’t touch the ones that are cracked open) and carry them back to the apartment.  Then he deposits them in a pile under the dining room table.  He doesn’t chew them, he just carries and collects them, like he’s preparing for winter.  It’s really strange.


I have two new neighbors who moved in a month ago who happen to be brothers of one of the guys I went to school with in the MDT program.  They’re really cool guys, but they’re both built like brick walls, and always find ways to go around without their shirts on.  (Let’s be honest…if I had a body like that, I would too.)  My neighbors exacerbate my body image issues. 


And lastly, here’s another photo from my photowalk on Labor Day


This is the underside of an old, abandoned train trestle over the Sammamish river.  The slats across the top are actually the railroad ties.

Sep 06 2010

A Labor-Free Day

Sometimes, I think the universe just understands when I need a little break.  Like this weekend, for instance.

I’ve been, not busy per se, but erstwhile occupied.  I’ve been doing a lot of things I have to do instead of things I want to do and, as a result, I’ve not had much in the way of "down" time.  Work has been going along well enough, and I finally feel as though I’m starting to fit into my place in the company a little more than I have previously.  I’ve got my first 1-on-1 with my boss tomorrow, though, so I guess I’ll find out if my assessment of the situation matches his…

My audiobook company, Open Book Audio, has begun to change shape a little bit.  Originally envisioned as an audiobook production company, my business partner and I have started morphing the company away from a production model and toward a distribution model.  So, toward that end, I have been spending almost all of my non-work time in front of the computer designing and programming the new Open Book Audio store.  (I keep linking them here on my blog to help drive the search engines to the site, so forgive the repetition).  I’m quite pleased with the way the store has turned out, and the platform upon which the entire site, including the store, is built is an extremely flexible and easy to use one.  We’ve already started listing products from other publishers, and we’re hoping to increase that number significantly over the next couple of years.  We’re also in talks with the major retailers (Audible, iTunes, eMusic, etc.) to get our titles listed in those services.  (It’s like pulling teeth, but we’re well on our way.)

So, Friday night, all day Saturday, and almost all day Sunday, I sat in front of my computer immersed in CSS, PHP, HTML, and LMNOP.  (That last one is fake, by the way.)  Last Sunday night, I finally launched the work I’d been doing for the last month, and actually went to sleep not making a mental list of the things I needed to work on tomorrow.  It is extremely fortuitous that Monday was a holiday, otherwise, I wouldn’t have had much of a weekend at all.

This morning, although the weather was, shall we say, less than idyllic, I decided that it was time to have some fun for a change.  So I did.  I took Luke for a walk, and ate breakfast.  Then, after looking through a Facebook album of one of my friends where pretty much everyone in the group of people looked like Abercrombie and Fitch models (and wore about the same amount of clothing), I decided that I would go run on the treadmill for about 30 minutes.  I came back, took a shower, got dressed, unfriended my Facebook friend with the posse of buff gym rats, and then grabbed my camera.

I haven’t gone shooting in months.  Too many other distractions.  Work, Open Book Audio, the new piano…they didn’t leave much time for shooting pictures.  This time, I decided that, rather than drive all over the place trying to find some amazing vista to photograph, I’d stay within the city limit of Redmond.  I’m glad I did, because I found a beautiful little spot that I had no idea even existed. 


Right near the city’s campus (city hall, police station, senior center) there’s a river trail that runs alongside the Sammamish river.  Summer’s just starting to come to a close, so there are still some flowering plants, and everything’s green.  I can tell that it’s going to be spectacular when fall comes, though.  It was so isolated and quiet.  I actually climbed across the river on that old abandoned train track you can see in the photo, and walked back up the other side of the river where I found this guy just plodding along in the river:


If you will allow me to wax grateful for a moment:  I am so grateful that I moved to the Seattle area.  The first year and a half were very difficult for me up here, and there are moments (October through May) where I can’t help but ask myself what I’ve done to move to a place where the sun only shines 17 days out of a year.  But I love, love, love Redmond.  It’s so beautiful and peaceful.  It feels like a small town (albeit a very sophisticated one) with easy access to big-city accommodations.  It really is the best of both worlds.  Where else can you walk out your door to see a bald eagle or a great blue heron, and then drive five minutes to thousands of restaurants, art galleries, movie theaters, and more shopping than you can shake a stick at?  I just wish I could afford to buy a house here.  At the very least, I hope I never lose my job, because I never want to leave the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve lived all over the country, and no place compares with this gorgeous, wonderful place.

Once the very relaxing photo walk was over, I came home, took a nap, made homemade pizza, a loaf of bread, and a homemade razzleberry pie.  (Raspberries, Blueberries, and fresh-picked blackberries from the vines just outside my apartment).  Then I watched an episode of Bones (thanks Netflix!), practiced the Maple Leaf Rag on the piano,  and now here I am.  Oh yeah, and I played about an hour of Angry Birds on my iPad.  Fun game.

I’m the kind of person who, even when relaxing, has to be doing something.  The difference between relaxing and not relaxing is whether I’m doing something I WANT to be doing or something I HAVE to be doing.  And, honestly, many times, it’s the exact same activity.  I just have to be in the mood for it.

In fact, the only thing about today that wasn’t perfect was that I did the unthinkable: I let my cleaning lady go today.  She’s been picking up after me for over a year, and she was awesome.  Unfortunately, with the new piano and some of my other bills, I just can’t justify the $240 a month I spend to have her clean my house–particularly since I’m not a very messy person.  This will, unfortunately, eat into my relaxation time, but overall, I think it will be a positive change. 

I’ll be posting more photos as the week goes on.  I took about 400 shots, so I think I’ll have some good ones in there to play around with.  In the meantime, go to http://www.openbookaudio.com/store and buy an audiobook.  It’ll do you good.  And while you’re doing that, I’m going to go and scoop up a bit of vanilla bean ice cream and place it over a piece of still-warm razzleberry pie.  Happy Labor Day!

Aug 27 2010

New Photo: Can You Shake?

Luke Shaking Hands

I don't really know why, but I really like this photo.  It doesn't have the best composition, but it's just so stinkin' cute.  This is the foot and hand of my neighbor Brigette, getting Luke to Shake.

Apr 12 2010

Photography: Headshots of Monica

My first foray into semi-professional photography was through the art of the headshot…the 8X10 photo that actors hand out to auditioners when they audition for parts.  It’s a very specific style of photography.  While I was in college, I used to do headshots on occasion to make a little extra money, and I got pretty good at it.  I wanted to get back into doing some headshots again, so I asked Monica, a co-worker of mine, if she wouldn’t be willing to model for me.  She does community theater, and so I figured she’s get some headshots, and I’d get some practice.  I was quite pleased with the way this session turned out.  Monica (despite her protestations to the contrary) is quite photogenic, and the lighting couldn’t have been more perfect.  I did almost nothing to these photos.  I didn’t really even have to color correct.  Now, go out there and land a lead role, will you?






Apr 10 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like…April?

So, like much of the western portion of the United States, the Seattle area got pounded with a freak snowstorm this week.  At work we had about two hours of mightily impressive hail, and the mountains got quite a bit of fresh snow.  I missed not having any snow at all this year, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to go and enjoy the snow up in the mountains.  So this morning at 6:00 AM (!) Luke and I hopped into the car and drove 30 minutes up into Snoqualmie Pass and over to the Gold Creek Sno-Park area for a couple of hours.  It was absolutely beautiful, and Luke had the time of his life.  He saw quite a bit of snow his first winter when we were still in Utah, and he loved it, but there just isn’t much in the way of snow around here. 





It was a fun trip that wore me out.  The trip did teach me a few things, however.

  • I really need to get a new car.  A Honda Civic Coupe is not a good snow vehicle on unplowed roads.  I almost didn’t make it out.
  • I really, really need to spend more time outdoors.  It’s so beautiful around here, and I just don’t ever seem to take advantage of it as much as I ought to.
  • I am woefully out of shape.  Back to healthy eating and the gym.  *sob*
  • This was such a fun trip, and it didn’t cost me anything but the gas to get there. 

Next weekend, I think I’m going to go to the tulip festival again.  This is my third year here, and it would be my third time going back to to the tulip festival.  I think, though, that I’m going to try and go very early in the morning next weekend so I can get some great wide-angle pictures without tons of tourists in the middle of my shot.

Apr 02 2010

More Photography: Cherry Blossoms

The cherry tree outside my front door is in full bloom right now, which is actually unusual.  Most of the cherry blossoms have fallen off of the trees, but there are still a few patches of late-blooming cherry trees here and here, and the one outside my apartment is one of those I suppose.  It’s also unusual in that its flowers are so dark.  Most of the cherry blossoms in the area are white or the palest pink, but these are a deep magenta color.

I wanted to play around with lighting on these photos, so I clipped a small branch, brought it inside, and clipped it to one of my music stands with an oversized alligator clip.  Then I used a small desk lamp with a daylight flourescent bulb in it, wrapped the lamp in a cardboard cereal box I had cut open, and used that in a completely dark room to light up the branch.  Putting the branch on the music stand was awesome because it allowed me to the flexibility to rotate and tilt the branch easily, and instead of moving my camera, I could just move the subject.

Shot on the Canon 7D, 24-70mm f/2.8, ISO250, Exposure time of 1.5-8 seconds.  Developed in Lightroom (cropping, basic color correction.)




Mar 24 2010

So, am I Ouiser?

This picture just makes me want to go watch Steel Magnolias again. 



I snapped this a few minutes ago while I was waiting for the bread I’ve got in the oven to finish baking.  That’s right.  I’m baking bread at 12:33 AM and taking nighttime pictures of Magnolias.  My masculinity fled a LONG time ago.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a loaf of artisan bread to take from the oven.  Good day, sir.

Mar 21 2010

Boots Made for Walking

Thursday, I purchased the first piece of equipment that I’m going to need for my big Wyoming backpacking trip this summer…perhaps the most important piece of equipment: my boots.  I did a lot of research, asked my father, and settled on getting a pair of Hi-Tec Altitude IV boots.  (I almost didn’t buy them because part of me can’t abide a company that spells its name "Hi-Tec" but I figured that a 50-60 mile hike at 10,000 feet is not really a time to be sitting on my high horse about spelling and grammar. 

I want to break them in a little bit, so this weekend, I did a fair bit of walking.  Saturday, I drove about 2 hours, and also spent about an hour walking around taking pictures.  (See yesterday’s post.)  Today, I woke up and took the dog for a 3-mile walk.  Then I got home, climbed back into bed, and was just about to drift off to sleep when I got a call from my friend Bill, reminding me that we had planned on going on a hike to Cougar mountain in Bellevue.  So, I got up, strapped my boots back on, and we went for a, shall we say, invigorating six mile hike through the forest taking pictures.  Afterward, we decided to head over to Bellevue Botanical Gardens and, you guessed it, take some pictures, so we walked around for another mile or so.

Suffice it to say, my feet are a little sore.  It’s been a long time (i.e. never) since I’ve walked 10 miles in a single day. I’m exhausted.

But, I was able to snap a few pictures that I didn’t hate.  About 3/4 of the way through our hike out in the middle of the woods, we came across the corpse of an old car.  I have absolutely no idea how this car got there, because there is nothing resembling a road anywhere near here.  Most of the time, the path was only a 2-3 feet across.  The only way I could think that the car might have made it there was if it had been dropped by plane from the sky or something.  In any case, it was a pretty cool little chunk of metal in the middle of a very ferny and mossy forest, so, of course, we took lots of pictures.


IMG_0899 One of the things that my hiking companions mentioned was the color of the green in the forest.  For those who aren’t familiar with Seattle’s greenery, it’s a different shade of green than almost anywhere else I’ve ever lived.  It’s almost electric.  And moss grows on EVERYTHING.  (I didn’t adjust the color on the photo below at all…this is exactly how it looks.)  Even in Michigan, I never saw green like this.  I guess they call it the Emerald City for a reason. 


When I go hiking, I have a tendency to notice very small things on the ground since I’m watching where I’m going in order to prevent eating it in a giant mud puddle.  One of the more interesting finds (besides a boatload of snails and slugs) was this fungus. I’d tell you to taste the rainbow, but something about this tells me that the rainbow might just kill you.


This is the time of year in Seattle where EVERYTHING is in bloom.  A couple of weeks ago it was just starting, but now it’s really starting to go haywire.  The Camellia, Rhododendron, Tulips, Daffodils, Jonquils, Hyacinth, Cherry Trees, Magnolias, Dogwoods–they’re all in full splendor right now.  If you can combine those flowers with a sunny day and a blue sky, the flowers just sparkle.








So, all in all, I liked the way these photos came out far more than the ones from yesterday.  Just goes to show, I guess, that even when you have a bad day, you just keep on keeping on, and eventually you begin to find what you’re looking for.  Or something like that.  I don’t want to start crafting life-lessons from a simple hike through the woods.  If I start doing that now, imagine what a tome I’ll have to write when I get home from my Wyoming Trip in August.  And I don’t have time to write a tome. 

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