Thursday, May 31, 2012

Photo of the day: Kelsey at Walk MS 2012

I love buses. They're filled with windows that let indirect sunlight in on all sides, turning them into one large circular softbox with people inside. Great for portrait lighting!

In this case, Kelsey added to her attractiveness (from a photographic standpoint) by wearing a bright shirt that adds a nice splash of color to the picture, and by getting a temporary "walk ms" tatoo on her cheek to set the context of the photo. Frame the image tightly, use a shallow depth of field, and get lucky with a short enough exposure to freeze the action on the bumpy bus ride, and voila, a beautiful portrait!

Here's a similar portrait, under similar conditions, of my mother -- in this case, on the bus ride to the walk in the morning light.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Photo of the day: Double self-portrait

Mirrored sunglasses are an endless source of inspiration for photographers! This is at the annual MS Walk in Portland, Oregon, and features the self-portrait of not one but two photographers in my sister-in-law's glasses. I'll leave you to guess which photographer took this picture!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photo of the day: To walk without flagging

One of the groups that faithfully participates in the annual Multiple Sclerosis Walk in Portland, Oregon every year is the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers. They set up a pulsing rhythm to inspire the walkers as they come out of the city and onto the Willamette River waterfront, with a league of drummers backed by two flag-twirlers, who I always find strikingly picturesque in their vivid red and black costumes.

Here's the other flag-wielder -- I think the color is better in the first image, but I love the two flags in this one.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Photo of the day: On the Astoria waterfront

Along the Astoria, Oregon waterfront, we found this mural on the side of a historic building. The mural cleverly blends existing architecture with a depiction of what might have been there in eras past.

Here's a closeup of the image:

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Photo of the day: A scrapbooker's matrix

Sometimes you find an interesting subject of photography in the oddest places. This is a rack of pens in a scrapbook store in Warrenton, Oregon. As I waited for the others in our group to finish shopping, the colorful pattern caught my eye. I love the way it turned out on camera!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Photo of the day: Starburst in the Peter Iredale

At the wreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach at Fort Stevens State Park, I noticed that if you positioned yourself just right, the afternoon sun would make a nice starburst as it shown through a hole in the rusting hulk of the old ship. The key was to find the smallest hole possible, then to position your camera just right, and to frame the rest of the image in an interesting way as a silhouette against the bright sky. Even then, I encountered a great deal of variation in the quality of the starburst and the amount of lens flare around it. I think this one's my favorite, because the starburst is the most perfect in quality, and the hulk of the old ship forms an interesting pattern of intersecting iron ribs. Which one do you like best?

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo of the day: Run with it.

Run with it. by The Bacher Family
Run with it., a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

From David's last track meet of the season yesterday.

The action at a race passes so quickly that the best you can do is to compose a picture in your mind, frame the image as it speeds toward you, fire off half a dozen shots, and hope that one of them captures the moment you want. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't; and sometimes the camera captures a moment you weren't even looking for. Such was the case here.

My intention was to catch the handoff of the baton. But I instantly fell in love with this frame showing the moment just after the handoff. I've done nothing to edit the composition or crop of the image, only corrected the exposure slightly. And I never would have intentionally framed the picture this way, with the runner almost off the edge of the image and his eyes cropped anonymously off the top, with only the hand of the other runner visible on the other side. And yet, put together this way, it works. It takes the focus of the image away from the individuals and onto the act itself.

The caption is David's, who came up with it as soon as he saw the image.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photo of the day: The wild, wild sea

The wild, wild sea by The Bacher Family
The wild, wild sea, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Watching the waves come in, unceasing, can be hypnotic. Especially after a storm, when the waves kick up into a froth, churning up sand from the bottom and piling on top of each other as the tide comes in. I could watch the waves for hours, and love this image of the layers of water disappearing into the vast distance of the Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Photo of the day: Still life and bare foot

It's fun to walk along the beach, taking pictures of the many interesting details you see in the sand and surf. This is one of my favorites from our morning on the beach at Fort Stevens. The waves were whipped into a froth by a passing storm, and the foam on the sand contrasted nicely with the bare footprint of my son.

On a similar theme, here's a nearby grove of pussy willows.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo of the day: Distant storm

Distant storm by The Bacher Family
Distant storm, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
The morning light on the beach was spectacular, and the massive clouds in the distance added dimension to the horizon. As we were enjoying the beach -- all to ourselves -- someone came roaring by in a pickup. I thought that such vehicles were banned on Oregon beaches, but there it was, marking up the pristine sand with its ugly tracks. After fuming about it for a minute, I decided to put it to good use drawing the eye into an image of the beach disappearing into the cloud-capped distance.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Photo of the day: Portrait of my mother

The morning light on the beach at Fort Stevens was so beautiful! A short depth of field to blur the background and an off-center composition, and voila, a nice outdoor portrait of my mother.

Here's one of Daniel, looking the other way, with the light on his face:

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Photo of the day: 4th Beach

4th Beach by The Bacher Family
4th Beach, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Wading in the surf at 4th Beach in Fort Stevens State Park during Spring Break.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Photo of the day: The wilderness of the waves

There's something about confronting the vast ocean that is psychologically powerful. Nothing else on Earth -- even our highest mountains -- is as endlessly large in comparison to our small selves. I think that's one of the things I love about it so much.

It also makes for great pictures. This one's at Fort Stevens State Park, where Daniel and I spent Spring Break this year. The ocean was churned by a storm and in full froth as it crashed into the beach. The morning light was beautiful, and Daniel's tie-dye sweatshirt made a great counterpoint to the monochromatic waves. Add a reflection in the water, and pull it all in tight with a long lens, and I love the result: a child facing the wilderness of the world.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest photo of the day: Astorial architecture

Photo by Daniel, at the Astoria Column.

Daniel still doesn't take a lot of pictures, but when he does, he shows a good eye for composition. Sometimes I help out by adjusting the crop or straightening lines, but I do that for my own pictures, too -- the most important thing is seeing the picture, and that he is doing with increasing reliability. He's also begun asking me for feedback when we get the pictures onto the computer. "Why do you like this picture?" "I like this one better than that one -- what do you think?" This allows me to talk about composition, line, depth, and all the other things that go into making a good photograph. He'll be fun to watch.

Here's another photo from the Astoria Column -- this one, inside. Daniel liked the geometry of this one too, but didn't like the foot visible on the top of the stair. I think it humanizes the photo and draws the viewer into it. What do you think?

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This one's at Fort Stevens. I like the way the composition of the photo draws your eye into it.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Photo of the day: Oliver

Oliver by The Bacher Family
Oliver, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
When a cat shows an interest in you, you can't really say "wait here while I go grab my expensive high-tech camera." That's why it's awfully nice to have the option of grabbing the cell phone in your pocket and taking a reasonably good picture. Yes, this is an iPhone photo, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Oliver has such gorgeous big blue eyes -- and as a young cat, barely beyond a kitten, he's rarely still long enough for a sharp photo. I got lucky with this one. But if I'd gone to grab my camera, the moment would have been gone before I returned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Photo of the day: Randy and Sally III

Randy and Sally III by The Bacher Family
Randy and Sally III, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
A few couple's portraits at Lee's Island Party in April, 2012.

I love it when my "models" play around and show their personalities in front of hte camera!

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This one's slightly blurred, but it's so spontaneous that I love it anyway:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of the day: Crow

Crow by The Bacher Family
Crow, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
My good friend Crow, photographed at Lee's Island Party, April 2012. I'm pleased with how the light turned out in spite of the big floppy hat potentially creating big shadows on her face!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Guest photo of the day: Reflections and memory

For this Mother's Day, a beautiful photo by the mother in our family.

Of all the pictures Kelli took during her trip to Washington DC with David's 8th Grade class, this is the one that resonates with us most deeply. A simple image of David t the Korean War Veteran's Memorial, on the one rainy day of the trip -- and this memorial is so appropriate in the rain, with the statues of soldiers slogging through the fields in their rain gear, and the reflections etched into the wall supplemented by the reflections of wet granite. Add an array of colorful red, white, and blue umbrellas and clothing; and a young man -- only a few years younger than the soldiers memorialized in the monument -- connecting with our history both physically and symbolically; and a pair of converging lines drawing your eye into the picture; and it's a powerful image. Good job, sweetheart -- great photo.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Photo of the day: Kate

Kate by The Bacher Family
Kate, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Kids are so much fun to photograph, especially when they're willing to ham it up for the camera! About half my photos from this session ended up being of Kate or including Kate in the picture. That hat made it tough to get the light right without shadows on the face, but her self-confident smile more than made up for it!

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Here's one with her mom:

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Photo of the day: Kate in the middle

Kate in the middle by The Bacher Family
Kate in the middle, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

At Lee Taylor's "Island Party" at Longmire, her send-off to her new position as superintendent of San Juan Island National Historical Park, everyone wanted to pose with the island-themed props. This float made a great frame for young Kate as she posed between her mother, Lee Snook, and her friend, Lee Taylor.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Photo of the day: Old friends

Old friends by The Bacher Family
Old friends, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of the best things about working for the National Park Service (or any good organization, I suppose) is the friendships you develop over the years. Sometimes those friendships are in spite of the natural formality that comes with being part of the "chain of command," one person supervising another. Jim, on the left, is clearly the senior member of this pair, but Lee, on the right, is the career professional. Yet the fondness between them is unmistakable. They've shared far more than simply performance evaluations and personnel paperwork over the years, and their bond will last in spite of the distance created by new jobs and new addresses.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Photo of the day: Hayley and Lee

Hayley and Lee by The Bacher Family
Hayley and Lee, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
When my supervisor (and friend) Lee Taylor (on the right) left Mount Rainier National Park after ten years as our District Naturalist and, later, Chief of Interpretation and Education, headed for San Juan Islands National Historical Park to be their new Superintendent, we threw her an after-work farewell party in the grand tradition of our agency. There was food, there were speeches, there were humorous photos and heart-felt remembrances. For good measure, we set up the same exhibit backdrop we'd used for the Valentine's Day party and took photos, using my brand new studio lights. Everyone wanted their picture taken with Lee, of course. This one's appropriate to start off the parade: Lee and her daughter Hayley, on the left in this photo -- a pre-teen when I met her ten years ago, now all grown up and off to college.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Photo of the day: Aerie

Aerie by The Bacher Family
Aerie, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Looking down from the viewpoint on the east end of the Nisqually Canyon on Highway 7, you can see an eagle's nest perched high at the top of a dead tree, ensconced in a circlet of three spires like a tripartite version of Orthanc. On summer days you can often see bald eagles in and around the nest. The tree, tall as it is, tops out below the viewpoint by at least a hundred feet, so in the typical flat lighting of mid-day it disappears into the surrounding forest and is hard to see. This particular day, the evening sun highlighted the tree and its aerial platform, even as the spring rain poured down around it. The combination of rain and sun made a splendid picture. The only one around to see it was me -- and now, thanks to the wonders of digital photography, you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Photo of the day: Nisqually Canyon

Nisqually Canyon by The Bacher Family
Nisqually Canyon, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

It was pouring rain as I drove through the Nisqually Canyon on my way home from work. I pulled over at a viewpoint on the west end of the canyon, along Highway 7, and the clouds and mist and fog moving in and out of the trees in the distance created an awesome layered effect. It was still raining, so I used the car as a shelter from which to photograph the scenery. I just love the sense of depth the clouds give to this image, with one layer in front of another, fading away into the distance.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Photo of the day: David (age 14)

David (age 14) by The Bacher Family
David (age 14), a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

As a first test of my brand new studio lights, I set them up in my living room and shot a set of pictures of my son David. I only shot half a dozen images, and didn't work very hard at coming up with perfect lighting -- that's a challenge (and a self-lesson) for another day. Still, I'm pleased with the quality of the light. I especially liked this particular image, but unfortunately it showed every blemish on David's adolescent face all too well. So, I spent some time with a clone brush. Another lesson! And worth it, in return for David's generosity in posing for me!

I obviously have some things yet to learn about lighting and airbrushing. But in the meantime, I'm really pleased with this portrait of my son.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Photo of the day: JJ Murks ♥ Summer

JJ Murks ♥ Summer by The Bacher Family
JJ Murks ♥ Summer, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Yes, it's graffiti. In fact, most of the time I drive past this on my way to and from work and hardly take notice. It's faded and covered in dust from the road, and the view out over the canyon in the other direction is so much more appealing. But this particular day in the pouring rain the colors just jumped out at me, so vibrant on the red rock, and it made an otherwise ugly defacement... a little less ugly, in a neo-modernist or pseudo-anarchic or Jackson-Pollock or something-or-other kind of way. Anyway, it's fun to take an unusual subject and play with color and framing and see if there's a way to capture something artistic about it. I'm pleased with the way this one turned out; the balance of colors and tones just feels right to me.

Here's another I like just as well -- I especially like the broad expanse of rock with the blue heart at the top.

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