Vista House – Thursday Lingering Look At Windows: Week 7

Following Cee’s lead at  I’m presenting a series of photos I’ve taken of Vista House, a landmark visitor’s center atop a mountain overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

Vista House

Vista House 1

Vista House seen from the Portland Women’s Forum Overlooking Vista House

Vista House 2

Inside Vista House Looking Through The Windows

Vista House 3

Travel Theme: Bridges

I have a lot of bridge photos but this is, by far, the most instantly recognizable bridge I ever personally photographed. It was during my vacation a few years ago. I got out of a San Francisco tour bus with the rest of the tourists and took this shot on a perfect, clear day. I didn’t have a choice on the time of day so the sunrise, sunset shots will have to wait for a future life.

Golden Gate Bridge

Building New Frames

Frame Design 101I’ve mentioned before that I take a lot of photographs intending to use them for other things besides pictures. Textures, backgrounds, screens and frame materials are just a few. When I see old wood, whether on the side of a building, ship or just a tree, I use it later for all sorts of things. One of the uses is designing and building picture frames. Since I can easily size them in Photoshop later I start with a generic size and let my creative juices flow. It’s fun while also being very educational. For example I only today learned how to snap a straight line between two points of my choosing. Sounds simple enough yet it’s important if you want to create mitered corners in a frame. The more tricks and shortcuts I learn the faster my workflow. The first time may take an hour. Subsequent variations using shortcuts then might take 10 minutes. Below are samples of a new custom frames I designed just a few minutes ago. I’m still refining it but feel there’s a special photo just waiting for this frame.

New Frame Test

Frame 35

Nail Salon Lady

I use nail salons to get my diabetic foot needs met. Rainbow nails has done my pedicures for years. I was their very first customer when they bought the shop from the previous owners. This young lady was their first employee. I’m sorry I no longer remember her name. She has moved on so she no longer works their. I believe she opened her own shop.

Lady 01I pride myself in the ability to take nice portraits anywhere, anytime. The essentials of the correct lighting and expression are all I care about. The background is inconsequential. I love the soft lighting effect I produced with this portrait, causing the viewer’s attention to be drawn to her beautiful eyes and face. The subtle vignette frames the head while gradually  blending into the earth toned background. It’s a pleasing effect that shocked the young lady as well as Nicole, the shop’s owner. Of course I gave the young woman a disk withe the portrait file aboard. The shot was made handheld without flash in the middle of the busy nail salon.





. Nicole – Rainbow Nails Owner on The Grand Opening Day

Nicole 02


Snack Lady

This is one of my favorite candid portraits. It’s of a total stranger in the cafe at the Evergreen Space Museum. I had just purchased my 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 VRII lens for my Nikon D90 DSLR. I shot this handheld at 1/25″ set at ISO 1,000. The old rule of thumb for handholding shots was that you shouldn’t drop your shutter speed below the focal length of the lens you’re using. That translates to 1/200″ to match the 200mm setting I used for this shot. The VR or Vibration Reduction did its job at stabilizing the shot to produce an ultra sharp shot at a slow shutter speed. Granted, I’m very experienced at hand holding a steady shot in available light situations but this was an extreme case, at an extended distance, with a long focal length. I was amazed!

Snack Lady

National Pride

I find it interesting that I carry my iPad everywhere I go. Basically all my social contacts know me and ask to see my latest photos. I just had this happen at a Winco Grocery Store in the deli department this morning.

One of the shots that grabbed their attention was this framed version of an eagle I photographed at the Portland Zoo. They actually have two eagles that generally stay away from the visitors perch but the day I went early I was the first human they saw and they flew just 10 feet from my location as I captured this shot, the best eagle photo I’ve ever taken.

Eagle 01 Framed

Motorcycle Camping In John Day, Oregon

I’ve always been the adventurous type. I suppose that contributes to my love of motorcycles and motorcycle touring. I’ve ridden over 500,000 miles since 1980 when I bought my first bike, a 1980 Honda CM400A. The “A” stood for Automatic as it had no clutch but had, instead, a 3-speed automatic transmission. Even on this small bike I took off cross country on a 1500 mile round trip from St. Louis, MO to Aiken, SC to visit my sister. It was 765 miles each way. That was the beginning of my addiction.

Since then I have ridden everywhere, in every kind of terrain, weather & climate. I’ve ridden in -7 below zero and 105 weather. Hailstorms, high winds and frog strangler downpours were on on my “been there done that” list. I could talk for hours about all the crazy experiences I’ve encountered both alone and with friends. The memories come flooding in as I type. I have a broad grin on my face right now.

One such fun time was had on a 3 day BMW motorcycle rally in John Day, Oregon. It was early July when our weather traditionally switches from constant rain to dry as a bone for 3 months. The weather was spectacular for the whole rally with just one brief shower Saturday night. My tent is the dark blue variety in the top photo with the chair alone the side of the tent. The rain was hardly worth mentioning to an Oregonian. 🙂

Motorcycle Camping

Welcome To Snow In July

When I moved to Oregon in May of 2006 I was over 3,000 miles from my previous home in South Carolina. Talk about culture shock! Most of South Carolina is flat and downright boring when it comes to natural features such as mountains, waterfalls and most anything over 10 feet talk. There, I experienced blazing heat 8 months of the year, uncountable variety of nagging bugs and humidity that was oppressive.

I arrived in Portland April 26, 2006. I was in a rental truck with all my worldly possessions. The day I left South Carolina it was already 95 degrees and raining very hard. When I pulled into the parking lot of my new apartment it was 40 degrees and I was shivering. The next few days before I started my new job with Intel Corp. I got an opportunity to ride around the countryside to experience my forst impressions of my new home in the Pacific Northwest. A few months later, in July I took this ride to visit Mt Hood for the first time. It was a record high 100 degrees, super rare around here, yet the snow was still found on the shoulder of the road I was on and clearly visible atop the mountain. It was a bizarre experience to put it mildly, snow in July with the temperature at 100 F. That was almost 7 years and 70,000 motorcycle miles ago. It’s been fun!

Mt Hood 03

Portland Food Carts

Portland, Oregon is unique! Our motto is “Keep Oregon Weird”! We like to be different. We have butt naked people riding bicycles in downtown parades. We have a legal right to kill ourselves, and we are staunchly liberal in all things political. Republicans need not apply.

One of the interesting things you’ll discover in downtown Portland is food carts, all sorts of food carts. Every ethnicity is covered. You can get a 3 course meal from Fiji or Sauerbraten from Germany. All the carts are lined up next to each other with their owners hanging out their front windows hawking passers by to partake of their particular specialty. It’s just not fair to go to an exotic tea shop that sells loose tea by the ounce and then walk out on the street where the fragrance of dozens of yummy dishes is waved in your direction as an advertisement of good food made just for you.

I love eating at these carts when ever possible. You know the food is good and the service is great because these mom & pop businesses make their living on the quality, quantity & price of their wares. They’ll go out of their way to custom prepare you take home lunch or dinner.

Food Cart