Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Colors at Silver Creek Falls


I know a lot of you consider fall to be the best time of the year.  I'm not quite convinced that any time of the year is better than any other, but I'll allow that fall is beautiful and has a lot to offer.  I think it's probably the best season for photography, since it offers great colors, more rain, and a much better selection of evening skies.


Since Fall is really kicking in here in Oregon, I decided last weekend to head down to Silver Creek Falls.  It was supposed to be raining all day with no wind, so I figured it would be perfect for some great wet shots of the trees and creek and whatnot.


It rained for a lot of the drive down, which was fine. I like driving in the rain, I feel so warm and comfortable in my car, and it's always like "Take that nasty weather!  I'll show you."  I'm not sure what I am showing, other than my ability to make a car payment.


I always seem to think I can find a better way to get to Silver Falls, and inevitably I end up getting lost.  There are a lot of back roads crossing the valley between Portland and Salem, and it seems like I have determined that I will drive down each one of them.  On this trip, I wanted to replicate a drive I had taken the last time I visited, and planned out with a map before I left.  I was to take Hwy 213 from I-205.  It's so simple, I didn't even need to write it down.


I'm not really all that familiar with the exits on I-205, since I basically only use a small section of it to get around town.  So I was trying to pay close attention, in the rain, in somewhat heavy traffic.  Suddenly there was a slew of highway offerings.  212.  224.  So many to choose from.  But no 213?  I must be confused and need 212.  224 is too big.

Then, as I get off the freeway onto 212, I see a sign for 213, just the next exit up... since it's about impossible to get back on the freeway, I figure I can just drive south on surface streets.  Ah, to be so optimistic...


I won't bore you any more than I already have, suffice it to say I spent a half an hour longer than I wanted driving around some very pretty back roads before I finally found my way back to 213.  It was beautiful and frustrating at the same time.  I didn't arrive at Silver Falls until almost an hour after I had planned, and of course by then the rain had all dried up.


I quickly revised my plans for the hike based on my late arrival.  It didn't really change much... I've hiked along the North Fork of Silver Creek plenty of times and know how far I can get in what period of time.  I also know all the spots from which to take photos, so it didn't require a lot of critical thinking on my part.  I just had to hustle.


So I hurried down the path and made it to my turnaround point at just the right time.  I know I keep mentioning it, but 365 has really shaped the way I think through my photography, and I found it second-nature to make specific plans for each of my shots as I was walking down the path.  That was really cool.  All of these were planned out as I passed through the first time... and they all came out!


I even learned from previous trips and made it to the north end before it got too dark for any photos.  As you should be able to see, it was a close call!  I probably should have moved a little more quickly, or skipped one or two of the more boring shots.  I think there was one vantage point from which none of the shots made the final cut.  Should have skipped that I suppose.


As it is, I was very happy with the results.  I hope you are too!  Happy Fall!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Time Lapse Photography: Las Vegas Fountains

First off, I want to offer no thanks whatsoever to Windows Movie Maker. Unfortunately, the longest time lapse video I can seem to get out of it is about two minutes. Anything longer, and it just freezes up every two minutes.

So I guess you can thank that program for keeping this a more reasonable length. It's probably for the best.

I shot these in Vegas during my time between tournaments. I thought the passage of all the people on the strip might be interesting, but I wanted to be able to catch people stopping and doing things too. As I was looking for a suitable background, I came across a fountain where people were sitting and kind of just waiting around.

Well, it didn't take too long for the two ideas to come together, and here you go.

If I feel like battling Movie Maker some more, there's another one of these to come from my trip...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Las Vegas Photo Dump

It's funny to think that it was only a week ago that I came back from Vegas.  It sure seems like longer than that!  Unfortunately, I don't have any particularly interesting stories to tell about my trip, so it's been kind of tough to think of a narrative to accompany the photos.


For the volcano shots, I did a lot of scouting around before the first show.  I picked out two spots where I thought I would be able to get a clear view of the excitement.  I didn't bring a book or my headphones or anything, so it was pretty dull waiting around and holding my spot for the two shows, but I dutifully stood at the fence waiting for thirty minutes before each show.


At one point (still at the volcano) a couple standing behind me (who arrived five minutes before it started) began complaining about my tripod.  Which I had carefully set to only stand as wide as my shoulders.  It's not like the tripod was any wider than I was, but people still complained.  I just don't get it.


Have I mentioned how difficult it is to take a picture of a black building at night?  Well, it is.  Thank goodness they have those white lights running up the side.


This is the multi-billion dollar "Project City Center" that is slated to begin opening this winter.  It's amazing to think of all those condominiums that they are still building in Las Vegas.  I wonder what they will do with them?  It's not like they have a hotel or apartment shortage.  I have a hard time thinking this place won't lose some guys in Dubai a ton of money.


Another change since my last visit.  Still a very difficult hotel to take a decent picture of, the setting sun at least gave me some cover by shadowing the ugly street part up.  The Encore looks nice, but Wynn isn't much to visit, especially as far north on the strip as it lies.  So I didn't take any time to head down there and settled for this better-than-nothing shot.


I don't think there are a lot of opportunities to get dramatic clouds in Vegas.  I guess you'd have to be there the two or three days a year when storms roll through.  I'm glad I don't live there, because I'd get pretty frustrated waiting for them.


One of these days I'll actually cough up the dough to stay at Caesar's.  I don't know why I like this place so much, but it still is my favorite spot on the strip.  It's just got the nostalgia of old Vegas but with a completely modern and sophisticated feel. 

Their casino is huge and they really do a lot to maintain their status as a high class place.  They have a pretty good poker room, which is a plus for me.  Finally, my grandpa spent a lot of time in Caesar's during the sixties and seventies, so the emotional link is there too.