Saturday, June 30, 2012

Photo of the day: Cooling off

Cooling off by The Bacher Family
Cooling off, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Cooling off at the International Fountain after the 2012 Pride Parade in Seattle. I love the simple composition of this image -- the woman off-center, the curve of the fountain, the cascading water. Her pose is such a dramatic one, too!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Photo of the day: Lane Peak

Lane Peak by The Bacher Family
Lane Peak, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

In my opinion, the rugged Tatoosh Range, south across the parking lot from Paradise, is at least as beautiful as the singular volcano to the north. This is especially true in winter, when the sun comes out over the fresh snow. The light on Lane Peak is gorgeous.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photo of the day: A trio of rainbows

A trio of rainbows by The Bacher Family
A trio of rainbows, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Without a doubt, the most interesting element of PrideFest, for a photographer, is the chance to photograph interesting people. For one day a year, some of the most colorful and unique and photogenic people in the city come out of their shells. I could literally wander among the crowd taking candid portraits all day, until I ran out of light or (in this case) memory card. Here is a trio of good examples.

This might also be a good point to mention that, as a photographer, I try not to insert any of my own biases or prejudices into my pictures. I'm personally more interested in capturing the emotion that exists among the subjects of my photography than interjecting my own. And if the people whose images I'm capturing are aware of my presence, I want them to accept me as a sympathetic observer, not an antagonistic one. These young men are celebrating life, and that's enough for me.

Here are a few more such favorites:

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Photo of the day: Repent

Repent by The Bacher Family
Repent, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I don't think this image needs much of an explanation. As a photographer, I was drawn to the ironic juxtaposition of the banner and the parade participants. So far as I could tell, everyone was ignoring this guy completely.

Soaring over Seattle II

Thank you to everyone for the suggestions about how to crop this image! In some ways I still do like the original image, because it shows more of teh context of the picture, but there's something to be said for removing context and just focusing on the concept itself, in this case, flight. It really does look like this fellow has taken flight over Seattle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Photo of the day: Soaring over Seattle

I was in Seatte for the Gay Pride Parade, walking around watching everyone get set up for the festivities. These guys were practicing on their trampoline, and I shot a few frames from behind, looking up at the sky, trying to catch them in mid air, with some success. The spotter in front of the trampoline, at the back of the pickup pulling the float, saw me taking pictures and said "hey, come up here, the view is better!" It indeed was, with better skyscrapers behind the jumper, and from that angle they were facing me. I took several pictures and then they asked to see them -- "that's your payment for coming up here," they said. I couldn't believe how good this looked in the camera, and am even more pleased to see how well it looks on the computer screen! Too bad it wasn't a bluer sky, but who am I to complain? It still captures the buoyant mood of the day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo of the day: Bright smile in the snow

Early May is still snow season at Mount Rainier National Park, so when we had friends visiting from Oregon, the "thing to do" was to take them snowshoeing at Mount Rainier! Snow, of course, presents all kinds of challenges for photography, because all that whiteness often fools the camera's sensors into thinking it needs to make the picture darker than it should be. The flip side is that, properly exposed, colors can be quite vivid against the light background. That's certainly the case with this portrait, and I'm especially pleased with the both the color and the detail in the snow crystals clinging to the knit cap.

IMG_3214_1

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Photo of the day: Once Wild

Once Wild by The Bacher Family
Once Wild, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
If you visit Mount Rainier National Park's southwest side -- Longmire, Paradise, or anywhere in between -- keep an eye out for our Cascade Foxes, a rare subspecies of red fox that tends to have a darker, sometimes almost charcoal-colored coat. These fellows will allow you to walk right up to them and take their picture; they practically pose for you as if they were on exhibit in a wildlife park. Unfortunately, they might as well be in a wildlife park, for they can hardly be considered wild animals anymore. This fellow acts aloof, but he's really hoping for a handout: potato chips, bread, cheese puffs, whatever you got. It's even less healthy for them than it is for us, but it's so tempting, just for that moment of feeling connected to that remnant of wildness still hiding in the human spirit.

Better to go hiking, folks, and see the real wildlife in its natural state, glimpsed fleetingly as it darts through the shadows of the forest, rather than begging for scraps under the picnic table.

Once wild II

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Photo of the day: Portrait of my right brain

Sometimes the most important thing about photography is that it's fun. Making good pictures is hard work, yes, but sometimes it's best to just let the right brain take over and not question the crazy tangent it's taking you down. This was a shot I put together literally without thinking about it very much, and right after I set it up someone almost stepped on my sunglasses so I didn't even have time to fret over getting it just right. One shot and done -- and when I sorted through the images at the end of the day, here was this wonderful little surprise waiting for me at the end of the set!

So, yes, that's my responsible, uniformed left brain reflected in the glasses, perfectly backlit by the sun; and that's my impish, creative right brain shadowed on the ground smiling back at it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Photo of the day: Brandi's Mountain

Brandi's Mountain by The Bacher Family
Brandi's Mountain, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

When I took this picture, one of my coworkers called it my "signature image." And indeed, I have to admit having a fascination with reflective surfaces of any kind, and especially sunglasses! But how can you resist pretty face, a cool ranger stetson, and the reflected image of one of the most majestic mountains in North America?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Photo of the day: A long way down

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A long way down, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Here's another example of a vertical panorama created by stitching many images together. At this point, the ranger on the gurney was about halfway up the cliff (compared to his farthest descent).

There's really no way to fully appreciate the detail in this image but to blow it up as large as your monitor permits. Turn your screen sideways if you have to!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Photo of the day: Rope Rescue Panorama

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Rope Rescue Panorama, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of the challenges of capturing rope rescue training at Mount Rainier National Park on "film" is recording the long vertical expanse of the ropes, when the rangers are working 50 feet down an 80 foot cliff. To address this, I experimented with some panoramic series -- taking multiple images and later stitching them together in photoshop. You can take one wide angle image and simply crop it tightly, of course, but you get more detail with a series of shot -- though you'll never get the full benefit of the effort unless you blow the shot up to a full, say, 8x32 inch size, in which case the stitched image would remain sharp while the cropped one turned pixelated.

I did learn one thing in this process, and that is to leave more room along the edges of the images than you normally would, so that the stitched images extend far enough out to allow for a good crop. In this image, for example, the rangers at the op of the frame are just a little bit more to the left than the ranger at the bottom of the rope, so unconsciously I shifted my composition a little bit to the left when I took the upper image. If I had not framed that image so tightly, I would have avoided the slight black triangle of missing information in the upper right of the stitched panorama--something I was forced to leave in the picture, lest I crop out part of the action at the bottom of the frame.

Here's another, longer panorama to enjoy:

IMG_3170-3171_1

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Photo of the day: Training in a May blizzard

How quickly the weather turns in the Pacific Northwest. Just a few frames ago we were conducting rope rescue training at Mount Rainier National Park under cloudy but dry skies, and now a few minutes later we're lifting the gurney and its two passengers over the edge of the cliff in the middle of an early May snowstorm. To get this shot, I positioned myself across the canyon with a 135mm zoom lens, a spectacular vantage point for capturing the action on the opposite cliff, and a strategy that also had the effect of foreshortening and thus magnifying the density of the snowfall in the intervening space. In my opinion, it just adds additional drama to the scene!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photo of the day: Over the edge

Over the edge by The Bacher Family
Over the edge, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Here's another favorite from my series of photos from Rope Rescue Training at Mount Rainier National Park. The snow had stopped for a few minutes, so for once you can see across the canyon and into the trees to all of the gortex-clad rangers monitoring the ropes. Everyone has a job to do, and only one of them is lying down on the job -- the one strapped into the gurney. Which, if it were me, would be the hardest job of all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Photo of the day: On the edge

On the edge by The Bacher Family
On the edge, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

I'm not entirely happy with the lighting of this image, but I do like the composition. As I was photographing our climbing rangers preparing for a second practice rescue over the edge of the canyon, this particular ranger walked over to the cliff and spent a long moment looking down at the river 80 feet below. It was a quiet moment before the frenetic energy of rope rescue began again, and I was pleased to be in a position to capture it, with the gear layed out in the foreground and the rope angling up to the climber.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Photo of the day: Climbing Ranger

Climbing Ranger by The Bacher Family
Climbing Ranger, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Climbing rangers always look so rugged. It's not so much their wild hair and Gortex-heavy clothing, though most of them qualify in both regards, or even the extreme gear (helmets, carabiners, glacier boots) they wear as comfortably as you or I wear tennis shoes. Mostly it's the look in their eyes: that attitude that a howling blizzard is a minor inconvenience, a 14,000 foot mountain a mere walk in the park, a deeply crevassed glacier on an active volcano the daily commute, and the rescue of an injured climber in the midst of all three merely a day's work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Photo of the day: The Eternal Hunt

The Eternal Hunt by The Bacher Family
The Eternal Hunt, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

I recently came across some Polar Panoramic images here on Flickr and was astonished to discover how simple they are to create in Photoshop (or, in my case, Photoshop Elements). Of course, I immediately had to try my own hand at it! Also of course, it's a lot harder to make a good polar panorama. Not every image works well, even those you might at first think would be a perfect candidate. I finally hit on a good one with this image, taken last fall on my way to work. I took some experimenting to get the right settings, and then for good measure I removed the distracting background and replaced it with a clear blue sky. A real planet, though, would be hanging in space, not in the sky, so I looked through my collection of cool astronomical images till I found this one to superimpose my "planet" on.

I love the result -- an eternal cycle of hunter and hunted, revolving slowly under the hooves of the Lakota warriors in the vast and endless starlight of space.

This image is featured on my photo blog, blog.thelightisall.com, on June 12, 2012; and on my website at thelightisall.com.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Photo of the day: Eagle in the Spring (Explored!)

Yes, this is a picture taken in May! It's Mount Rainier National Park, where the snow around the main visitor centers accumulates to depths of almost 20 feet most winters, then lingers until July or even August before melting off and starting over.

On this particular day, I was out shooting photos of our rangers conducting rope rescue training near Christine Falls. Between squalls of a spring blizzard, the clouds parted briefly, providing a spectacular view of the craggy summit of Eagle Peak across the Nisqually River canyon, dusted with fresh snow.

For those who know the landscape, that's Ricksecker Point in the mid-left, in my opinion one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the park.

This image is featured on my photo blog, blog.thelightisall.com, on June 11, 2012, and on my website, thelightisall.com. It was featured on Flickr's "Explore" at #158 on June 12, 2012.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Photo of the day: Rope Rescue Training

I got a call at my office on the 4th of May. It was Glenn Kessler, one of our climbing program supervisors, asking if I'd like to come out and photograph their team conducting a rope rescue session. I had a lot of work to do, but how can you turn down such an opportunity? There's nothing cooler than photographing rangers at work in the beautiful, vertical terrain of Mount Rainier National Park. As it turned out, it was even more interesting than that, as most of the training occurred in the midst of a spring snowstorm. I set up my camera on the far side of the canyon and shot through the snow, which gave the images an even more dramatic and atmospheric look than they would have had otherwise.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Photo of the day: A study in blue

A study in blue by The Bacher Family
A study in blue, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

I spotted this spectator at a Middle School track meet, and loved the simplicity of the image -- the girl sitting alone on the bleachers, watching the distant action. I also love the effect my zoom lens and wide aperture had on the image, causing the steps to quickly blur into abstraction behind her and isolating her within her surroundings. Throw in a nice balance of color -- blue steps, blue shirt, blue umbrella, blue eyes, and then those red shoes throw in for a splash of contrast -- and the subtle lighting on her face and hair, and I'm both pleased with the result and happy I was able to capture this magical moment before, a second later, she stood up and moved away.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Photo of the day: Waiting on the gun

Waiting on the gun by The Bacher Family
Waiting on the gun, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I really love the effect a prime lens sometimes has on photographs, especially when you're using a high focal length (85mm in this case) and very wide aperture (f/1.8 here). The narrow depth of field sometimes creates almost a halo effect around the main subject of your photograph, with a sharp focal point surrounded by soft blur. It does a wonderful job of focusing the viewer's attention on your subject.

In this case, that subject is one of our Middle School runners waiting for the starting gun at the beginning of his relay race. There's lots of action going on in the background and all around him, but he's a point of stillness in the middle of it all, poised, ready to spring into action at the sound of the pistol.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Photo of the day: The joy of competition

Another in our series of Eatonville Middle School track photos. I love this image because the runner looks so athletic! You can just feel the efficient power of his stride. His stance is perfect, the muscles on his arms stand out, the expression on his face is one of focus and determination... and, dare I say, joy? He's clearly happy to be there, competing on the open track with no competitors anywhere near him.

This relay team, by the way, just set the school record in the 4x100 at the District Meet this week.

Here's another image I like from the same meet:

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Photo of the day: A moment in motion

A moment in motion by The Bacher Family
A moment in motion, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Here's a more traditionally-framed image than the last one, but one that still shows a strong sense of action. All of the subjects in the image are caught off balance, leaning forward in ways that are possible only in a frozen moment of action. The curved lines of the track add to this sense of motion, and the converging, out of focus lines (and runners) in the background give the image a sense of depth.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Photo of the day: Moment of victory

Moment of victory by The Bacher Family
Moment of victory, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Looking through my photographs, it's interesting that, despite my efforts to get all the technical details perfect (perfect framing, level horizon, stopped action), often the ones I like best are those that are imperfect in some way. This photo, for example: my compulsion would be to keep the camera more level, widen the field of view a bit, and avoid the motion blur. Who knows -- if I'd managed all of that, maybe it would have been an even better shot than it is. And yet in spite of its flaws, I really like this shot, perhaps because its imperfections capture something of the spirit of the moment. it's a captured moment in time, a fleeting moment that went by in a blur, a moment so brief I'd have missed it with a blink, a moment that in real life looked just like this photo. And I love the way the ribbon flows backward from the runners toward the upper left corner of the photo.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Photo of the day: Synchronized hurdling

I just love the way these three runners are all caught in identical mid-jump! The symmetry makes for a cool photo, don't you think?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

on laughter-silvered wings

At the Eatonville Middle School track meet versus Pioneer, I caught a few images of Logan Moose doing the long jump. Just for fun, I thought I'd take one set of images with the camera held diagonally, to see if I could emphasize the idea of him soaring above the earth. That unaltered image can be seen here, in its original angled form. But what really looked cool to me was this image, with the image rotated back to horizontal and the world tilted correspondingly.

The quote is from the famous poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.:

"High Flight"

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I have trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Photo of the day: Dad at the Old Spaghetti Factory

After the annual MS Walk in Portland, our tradition is to go for lunch at the local Old Spaghetti Factory. This year we scored pair of big tables by the windows overlooking the Willamette River, on the second floor of the restaurant: a bit dim, but otherwise great light for photos! Here's my father, waiting for the dinner order at the head of the table, his own camera sitting on the window ledge behind him.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Photo of the day: Because we must

Because we must by The Bacher Family
Because we must, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I really have no idea what becausewemust.org is... it just made a cool urban graffiti image, and seemed appropriate given that we were in the middle of a 5K walk for Multiple Sclerosis! I like the combination of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines and the simple palette of colors. Makes an interesting shot!