Oregon Lifestyle – 2

On the recent trip to California for a family matter, I saw California is not as brown as it used to. The snowfall has passed down south, and water enriched the land.  Interstate 5 is the primary channel to connect California and Oregon. I barely used my camera inside California, but when the scenery began to change, and I constantly had the urge to raise my camera, I know I am closer to home in Oregon. This time instead of going all the way I-5 north, we decided to take Hwy 97 north… and pretty soon, my camera battery was exhausted.

Born as a Chinese and cultivated as one, I have a strong tie attached to the culture and am so easily attracted to that smokey and dreaming ambiance in a traditional Chinese brush painting. We could not stop at the freeway, and the windshield is filthy. The wind blew hard, an attempt to open the sunroof failed. So I began to shoot through the window.

I like things to be natural, authentic, and less man-made.  The above picture has a blue hue out of the camera, and the image below is almost black and white.

It came the sunset time, the golden tone was coated on everything. So pure and so original.

We love to photograph birds because Oregon has so many of them. The region we drove by was frozen solid, but Raptors are aggressive predators, and they were almost the only ones around besides a couple of Bald Eagles whose white head stood out on the snow.

I hang out with many seasoned birders, but I have to confess that I don’t make efforts to identify the birds or keep track of the bird count. I simply enjoy them and care mostly about how the image turns out.

Basketball – candid shots

Action and motion. Speed, spirit, and sportsmanship.  These are the elements drew me into sports photography at the beginning.

Not a sports fan of any kind. I know basic rules of each game, but my mind is mostly set on capturing the moments of action and excitement. The facial expression of the athletes is what interests me. Under pressure, determined to win, never give up till the last minute. When there is time to shoot a basket, there is a chance. The players have no time to fake a smile or sneer, and all we see are honest and natural expressions. When the background is often crowded with people, black and white seem to illustrate the content better.

Before and After

I took this picture five years ago at Butchart Garden, Victoria. It was the beginning of my photography adventure. I did not know much of anything. It is a sharp picture from a quick walk-by snap. Below is the original, completely unedited. I like the colors and contrast, but it is not my style, and it does not illustrate the cold and gloomy winter day.

And yet Winter does not need to be downcast and lifeless either. When all the bright colors are released, to me, the image does not lose its luster either. I can ‘smell’ the fresh ‘snow ‘, and the ‘wash-down’ exquisite details seem to be contrarily rejuvenating.

Art is created to play your mind, and so mine is played by myself, too.


At a Wedding – story telling

I photographed another wedding over the weekend. Hard work, I am still recuperating a week after.  A load of fun, the photographer is the orchestrator, and you tell them where to stand and what to do. I am glad that I am not the professionals who charge big bucks and work under tremendous pressure.  A wedding is (normally) a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we all try to capture the most precious moment at our best in spite of the variables.

Perfect posed portraits are the tradition although the trends go to lifestyle and illustrate modern living and environment. This wedding was on a private ranch. Other than acres of fields, barns, haystacks, horses, beer barrels and farmhouses are the backdrops.

The bride is in a pure white wedding gown adorned with a red-laced draping on the back which ties in with her red shoes. No tux’s for the groom and his boys, they are all in cowboy hats, Levi’s and western belts. The guests wear casual dresses, trousers, and jeans. Casual, Natural and Free-spirited.

For privacy concerns, I intend not to post any people pictures on this blog though I have lots of favorites. Just grab a couple of fun shots here.

The moment when I spotted this cake decoration, I could not let go of it. On this day of the union of two hearts, the guests are invited inside the tent to celebrate and give their best regards to the newly-wed. With this thought in mind, I took this picture.

The tent structure and chairs offer a bit of architecture background. The table flowers are my main subject while the man and the beer help me to tell the story. Men & Beer vs. Women & Dog was what came to my mind…

I love the shape and the sculptured lines of this piece. Used it to play a little more. While multi-colors are often more striking, I like the black and white version of this one. It’s the purity and subtlety that I like black and white images.

I wanted to shoot the cute little heart-shaped tea lights on the table, and I also liked the sunset light shadow in distance. Besides, it is an event and people need to be in it.  ‘Heart’ is not clearly shown here, but I seem to like the negative space of the image. People and the row of chairs do tell the story…

Farewell to Summer

September steps in fall, but the weather is still gorgeous. I however started to feel the chill early in the mornings. My flowers are pretty much past their prime period and the immigrated birds are ready to head south soon. I think it is about the time that I send summer off. Time to forgo flower close-ups and birds shots.  A bit of forlorn and a bit of reluctant to let go, but season changes and our life goes on.
Bright and vivid summer colors are stunning and exciting. I also think that I should not let season changes impact my good spirits and therefore I decided to shoot and show a few black and white images. Although I have not done many B&W pictures, I do have a special liking for them. Black and White images appear to be simple but their impact seems contrarily deeper.

For colored images, I found my attention is on colors. And, for black and white images, I am drawn to details and in some cases, emotion.

This cornflower (Double Scoop Bubble Gum) is one of my favorite additions this year. The color is beautiful and the blooming time is long. The original color image is striking and I like its dainty pedals.

When there is no color distinction between the upper scoop section and the lower long pedals, I begin to see a bride’s bouquet, or an award ribbon. Instead of glamour, I see elegance.

White Corals
If not for the simple tonality, these Lantana would not look like the white corals adorned with diamonds. They are originally yellow and creme two-tone flowers which look like buttered popcorns. I am not using the best resolution pictures for  web posting; otherwise, you would enjoy the crystal clear ‘diamonds’ even better. Between popcorn and diamond, what is your pick?
the Tradition
As I just mentioned in my last blog, Chinese tea set designs look more subtle and understated. With the colors removed, I think the image fits even better to portrait that old traditional and solemn look.
It reminds me of a traditional living room with a pair of honored and wealthy parents as well as their sons and their wives. The seatings are in a U shape. Parents sit in front followed by two rows of next generation who all carefully follow their tradition: tea to be served to the older first and parents have absolute power over the children.

There are authority, ranking, respect, and rituals involved in the scene. You surely would not hear any loud laughter or see kids running around. It is a very disciplined and controlled environment.  Wanting to know why Asians tend to be more well-mannered and quieter? There is a long and hard tradition going around for thousand years.

cottonwood seed pod
Claradendrum is a fast growing flowering tree. We were given a starter by a precious friend. Just about 6 months period, it has grown to 7-8 feet high. Not only that, this tree has been putting out lots of babies. Flowers are small but a whole cluster of them. Multitude of anything cause distraction. I originally aimed for this single flower, but the tiny cottonwood seed pod suddenly flew into the scene and became my subject. If not for the black and white, it would be buried in the colors. 
Bathed in Sun and Drew

I cannot identify this flower any more after it has been growing in my yard for 16 years. Just like Claradendrum, its roots grow aggressively and expand speedily. The deep peach color is quite dramatic in fall, but I seem to enjoy it even more when they are secretly hidden under the maple tree and quietly sucking in the morning drew. 

I have taken quite a few shots of Great Gray Herons, but they have always been too far away from me and too sensitive to my existence. But not this morning at Delta Pond, he was waiting to fetch his prey in the pond. Very slowly and cautiously I walked towards him, but he did not make any move.  To play safe, I started to shoot from distance and moved in closer till it was about 30 feet away. There was no more foot room and this is the best I could do.  To my surprise, I did capture his eyes, clear and vivid. And, I see he has no fear. 

If it is a color image, the gray heron will blend in with the murky pond water and ‘disappeared’ in the scene.  Besides, the black and white presentation makes the image resembling an impeccable pencil drawing. It conveys ancient and more a traditional Chinese heron painting that I used to see. This image concludes a great summer for me and I am looking forward to the next one and the next.