Aug 30, 2010

Getting down in old downtown

Yesterday morning I was in Cathlamet to shoot the downhill skateboard contest they were hosting for the second year in a row. I wanted to go last year but the schedule didn't allow for it. This time around I made sure to make it even though I don't know if we'll have a spot in the paper for any of them this week.
Perhaps the coolest part is that the race goes right through the tiny downtown, from the top of the hill near the high school, down a steep hill and really sharp corners to near the bank of the Columbia River.
These guys and girls were cruising super fast and it made for some spectacular wipeouts. Good thing they were all wearing leathers and helmets, but that made for some colorful streaks on the road.

If you wanna see more photos from the downhill race, see a little gallery I put together HERE
and if you were interested in finding out more about the weekend of longboard skating in Cathlamet, check out the events site HERE, which includes a pretty cool video.


Aug 27, 2010

Band de Camp

The drive toward the start of school next week continues as yesterday I was at IHS to shoot the weeklong band camp to get the students ready to play at the opening football game two days after school starts.


Aug 24, 2010

Thru the pinhole

Last Wednesday, after literally way too much online research on it, I made a pinhole camera out of an old DSLR I had on the shelf. I did so with a piece of a tin can, a crazy amount of black gaffers tape and a sewing needle. It was a fun little experiment, that paid off with some interesting results IMO.
I never made one all those years I was shooting film, though I did like shooting with a Holga, which is somewhat similar in that you're really guessing on exposure and composition. Wyse was nice enough to be my model, though he did get tired of it after while.
The fuzziness of the image gives some of the pix a very Monet-esque quality I thought. And though I was originally trying to come up with a different format for a portrait shoot, these are way too fuzzy to ever make it in print. So, instead they find a home on the blog.
My average exposure on these was somewhere around f64 (I think) and between 1 second and an 1/8th of a second at ISO 800-1600 (which adds some nice grain to it).


Aug 22, 2010

Foos ball is back

Last post I mentioned how this time of year is my favorite. Well, here's one of the main reasons, the return of football.
Last Thursday after hitting up the Wahkiakum County Fair I stopped off at NHS to catch their second practice of the season as the evening sun started to get low. And while last year I was more concerned with getting action pictures, like the old days, I think these pix reflect more of the style I will be returning to on the gridiron this year.

And then yesterday morning I got up early to catch Ilwaco's 8 a.m. Saturday practice and got to see not only them running stuff on the field, but also in the weight room and a team meeting.

And what better way to get the season started then having the Bear River Battle between these two rivals as the opening game? Too good.
If you wanna see more photos of the practices, check out the Friday Night Sights blog HERE


Aug 20, 2010

It's another pleasant valley Thursday

Right now (the end of summer and beginning of fall that is August thru Oct. here) has really become my favorite time of year. One of the things I look forward to each year is going to our tiny county fairs. They are beyond quaint in a very fine way in that they are simple and feel like an event from another time. Yesterday I spent a good part of the afternoon strolling around the Wahkiakum County Fair in Skamokawa and taking it all in. I have long had the feeling that fairs are aimed more at kids, but I think I'm starting to change my mind.
Said it before, say it again, I do love the valley.

And while I don't have a picture to share of him, it was very nice to run into my old pal Bill Wagner of the Longview Daily News there. I've known Bill for quite a while and always enjoy talking with him. He actually shared a story about the first time we met, which I didn't remember, from like 13 years ago at a baseball playoff game in Kalama when I was a young, antisocial punk kid. Wags had some very encouraging words that I am very appreciative for and hope its not another year before running into him somewhere again!


Aug 12, 2010

Count and Court

I think I've spent almost as much time at the Pacific County Courthouse in South Bend this week than I have at home. I don't mind so much, as I usually have pretty good luck when there. Today I was up to watch the county auditing crew open and count ballots for the primary election. Here in Washington it's all mail-in balloting, so they start receiving a few weeks before the actual election day, and so they have volunteer crews come in and open twice a week. In fact, come election night it takes them all of about two minutes to give the results after the polls close.

Earlier this week I was in Superior court to photograph Brian Brush's competency hearing. It has been nearly a year since he was arrested for allegedly gunning down his ex-girlfriend in downtown Long Beach. Today the judge ruled that he is in fact competent to stand trial and will finally be arraigned 8 days before the one year anniversary of the crime. Unlike his previous times in court, he was a lot more interested in looking around at who was in the court, which led to some different pix that I've gotten in the past of him. He looks a lot different from then, as he has lost more than 100 pounds (due to an apparent hunger strike during part of this last year) and a scraggly beard. The pic below isn't as sharp as maybe I'd like, but he has a rather ghostly look to him that I thought interesting.


Aug 9, 2010

What are the colors of photography?

“Black and white are the colors of photography,” — Robert Frank
“Color photography is vulgar,” — Walker Evans
“If you can’t make it good, make it red.” — Ansel Adams

Anyone who has ever read my photo blog knows that I agree with Frank, and can understand the opinions of Evans and Adams, as I too truly prefer B&W photography to color. In fact, almost all of the photos that I post on my blog are toned in black and white. This comes from a belief that a good picture is a good picture (color or not), and more so, if a good color picture is just as good in B&W than it really is a good picture. Too often what makes a good color picture attractive is the color itself and not the content of the photograph. Color can certainly be a piece of the puzzle in making a good photograph, but without other elements like composition, moment value, quality of light or correct subject distance, it’s just a color picture of, well, color.
Anyway, with all this in mind, I came across something the other day that caught my attention and made me somewhat question my feelings on this. As has been reported by various outlets this last week, the Library of Congress has a collection of some 1,616 color photographs from the latter days of the Great Depression and World War II era America. Taken by government funded photographers for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information, the photos depict life in the fields, the country, the cities, people working and people just being.
Now, granted color photography had been around since the turn of the century, though on a very limited basis, but most folks are far more familiar seeing the people of those days in good ol’ B&W. However, I found myself looking through this collection with great interest, as if seeing these glimpses of a very real time in history in full color kind of wiped away the nostalgic cobwebs a bit and made them feel a bit more realistic in a way. However, while it was the initial thrill of seeing this place in time in color, what I found was that many of the best ones still hit the mark on the other values of good photography and are indeed far more than just “color pictures.”
Below is a small collection of some of the photos that I particularly liked, and you can view the entire collection of all 1,616 photographs on the Library of Congress Website, HERE

I added the one below because it looks like Nahcotta today but was taken some 70 years ago in Conneticut.
Now, while in a funny way I kind of feel like I’m “cheating on my true love of B&W” with color now, no worries. I am already planning a pilgrimage to San Francisco this fall to see an exhibition of my favorite photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, that will be at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, from Oct. 30 through Jan. 30.

On a somewhat related note, in the last couple weeks I’ve been interested to follow the news of some old glass negatives that were found and thought to be that of the great landscape photographer Ansel Adams.
When it was first reported, people were saying that the negatives were worth upward of $200 million. But, come to find out a week later, they most likely were not Adams' the value thus dropped tremendously.
Not to discount the work of Adams, but anyone who knows photography probably knows that Adams real talent was in the darkroom and not necessarily behind the camera. It is what he did in his printmaking process that turned pictures of giant rocks into works of art.
So if Adams and, say, Joe Schmo took the same photograph, at the same time of the same said rock and then both made prints, it would be the prints that would look different and thus make one more valuable than another, not the negatives themselves. In the case of judging a landscape picture like this by a negative, it is somewhat like judging a half-finished painting. Unlike a photograph by say Cartier-Bresson, were the various elements that make the photo great are evident on the negative, an Adams negative is still a “work in progress.”
So here we find another instance of name trumping art. Is it good because it is good? Or is it good because it was taken by someone famous? In terms of art it should be based on its merits, but in terms of the art market, well I think we know the answer.

**ADENDUM: I just realized that I forgot to credit the genius photo editor Mike Davis with the sage wisdom of the "five pieces of the puzzle" of good photography. His blog is a great place to learn about the art of not only taking photographs but also how to find the best ones in your take.


More clay, Van Kley and rainy day

To round out the photo coverage for the clay artist exhibition preview on Life this week I spent some time David Campiche Saturday while he threw a few pots in his little studio in Seaview. As many of you already know David is a wonderful guy to spend time with and always makes for good conversation — and his pottery is beautiful.

Later on Saturday I went up to this little event at the elderly care facility Golden Sands. Local bikers from the ABATE group come once a year and give the old folks rides (if they want them). This lady was a little unsure at first but she was all smiles on the return. I was surprised at how many went out in a steady rain for a ride.

And finally, here's a little enviro port of the new Boys & Girls Club director Bryan Van Kley. I wanted to get him interacting with the kids so I took a ride on their shuttle as he was returning a group from a field trip.


Aug 6, 2010

Burn it black

Went to check out a couple local clay artists doing raku style firing yesterday in advance of a piece for this week previewing the clay artists exhibition coming up next weekend, where they will be demonstrating this firing style. They get the pieces super, super hot and then put them in sealed garbage cans with newspaper to smoke-em up before taking them out to cool.