Category Archives: General
Recently while on a photography outing in the Columbia River Gorge we spotted a bird that we had never seen before, a Lewis Woodpecker. This got me thinking of starting a life list. Most serious birders compile a life list. It’s a list of all the bird species they’ve identified with absolute certainty during their lifetime. Being “serious” implies knowing about look-alike species and subspecies and the breeding/ non breeding plumage states. …
hmmmm Are we that “serious”??
For some of the serious birders that I know their life lists takes on all the character of stamp collecting. Just get a name, add it to the list and move on, ignoring the beauty of the birds and their habitats…. I guess we are more photographers than birders.
I found a definition of life lists… A life list is a list of goals you are fully committed to accomplishing before a specific date. This is different from a bucket list which is a list of things you would like to do before dying. The biggest difference between the two is the end dates, one you set the other you are never sure of. As I grow older I’m not sure which list to add things to but more of them seem to be ending up in the bucket list
Just for fun …How many lists affect your life?
- The honey-do list
- The Grocery list
- price list
- someone’s shit list
We were invited to go on a photo walk with our good friend/ photographer Ken Powell. We chose the Eastbank Esplanade and spent an enjoyable early afternoon shoot.
Named after Mayor Vera Katz, The Eastbank Esplanade is a 1.5 miles long, floating walkway on the Willamette River, extending north from the Hawthorne Bridge, past the Morrison and Burnside Bridges, to the Steel Bridge with connections to east-side neighborhoods as well as across the river to Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. At 1,200 feet, the floating walkway is the longest of its kind in the United States. Construction of the Esplanade began in October 1998 and was completed in May 2001.
It provides unique views of downtown Portland and the Willamette River in all seasons and is a must if you enjoy photographing cityscapes.
Shirleen found a segment on the Travel Oregon site that Grant McOmie does about the back roads of Oregon… We have wanted to do a road trip so we decided to follow in Grant’s footsteps and spend a day shooting wildlife and waterfalls along Hwy 30 with Astoria as an overnight stopping spot.
Our first stop was Sauvies Island, which is just outside of Portland as you head west. We have visited Sauvies Island many times before and this is a favorite spot for us to photograph. Almost immediately upon arrival we spotted a large flock of Sandhill Cranes …. and what is that large flock of white birds in the distance …and… and …
Sauvies Island is truly amazing this time of year, we spotted Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese, Common Mergansers, cormorants, Bald Eagles, Canadian Geese and Red Tailed Hawks within the 90 mins or so that we spent on the Island and we only traveled on the south dike road. Because we knew we had alot of spots to photograph ahead of us we returned to Hwy 30 and headed west.
Next was the Trojan Ponds, home of the now mothballed Trojan Nuclear Power plant. Usually the ponds are a resting spot for Canadian Geese, Ducks and Tundra Swans that migrate through the area this time of year. We saw a couple of the Swans at a distance but the only thing close enough to photograph were three domestic geese…they were so tame that they would practically climb into your car if you would let them … oh well, on with the trip.
Next on the agenda, A little more than four miles past Rainier, just after you cross Beaver Creek, you stay to the right and take the old Hwy, now called Beaver Falls Road. This old winding two lane road crosses Beaver creek several times with lots of scenic old bridges. Keep your eye on the left side of the road and you won’t miss the upper Beaver Falls. It is a small waterfall, only about 10 feet, but its right off of the road and easy to take pictures of. A couple of miles later is the main attraction, Lower Beaver Creek Falls, a beautiful fifty foot curtain fall. I took this shot while standing on a 4 foot, frost covered guard railing, shooting over an eight foot chain link fence.(probably not the smartest footing to take with expensive camera gear) I could see no way of getting down to the base of the falls and I was glad that the foliage was gone from the trees or a large part of the falls might have been covered. All in all a pleasant side jaunt… Thanks Grant ;^)
The last suggested stop on Grant’s tour was 11 miles east of Astoria, the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary. With a name like that you would think it would be a haven for photographers. We have stopped by this place several times and have never seen any wildlife. Perhaps early in the morning or late in the day there might be more activity but it has never shown anything to us.
Astoria – not part of Grants tour but it turned out to be a fun end to our day. We stayed at the Best Western Lincoln Inn. Right outside of our room was a nice paved walkway along the Columbia River. on the land side of the walkway was an old boatyard with lots of old work boats in various stages of disrepair. After making sure there were no “No Trespassing” signs we spent the last hour of light wandering around these old boats taking pictures of them. If they could only tell their stories I’m sure that it would be fascinating.
The next morning we crossed the Columbia River and headed home on the Washington side of the river (HWY 4)…. But that’s a story for the next blog entry.
Each year, Shirleen and I, with as many of our family that can make it, travel to Sunriver, Oregon to celebrate Thanksgivings and the beginning of the Christmas Season. It’s a wonderful time for us grandparents, a chance for real quality time with our kids and grandkids that a person seldom gets in our everyday life.
Memory snap shots:
Great food, adult beverages, laughter and games are always going on around the dining room table. The garage houses a ping pong table that this year hosted hours of ping pong tournaments… (We’re all getting better ;^) and out on the deck is a hot tub, a favorite of old and young alike. One of my personal favorite memories are of evenings when we all gathered and watched a family oriented movie, Grammie and I each with a Grandson snuggled on our laps.
As usual, whenever we leave home we pack our cameras. The Central Oregon, Redmond, Bend and Sunriver areas are full of photographic Ideas.
Northeast of Redmond is Smith Rock, a rock climbers paradise. Take a telephoto lens, it doesn’t take long to spot the climbers spread eagle on the rock face inching their way up one of the hundreds of bolted routes (Even from a distance it makes me nervous). Or take a hike through the Crooked River Canyon where you might see Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcons, Mule deer or River otter. West of Bend the horizon is set off with the sharp snow-covered Three Sisters Mountains in the distance. On a clear winter day it’s hard not to want to pull off and snap this beautiful panorama from several spots along Hwy 97.
This year we spent part of a day east of Bend visiting friends who were spending their Thanksgiving camping and riding dirt bikes in the Millican Plateau area. This area with its low rocky hills, sage brush and twisted Juniper trees has a beauty all of its own. Add to this scene motorcycles with top speeds only governed by the rider’s ability to hang on. We took several shots but probably the best way to capture the true feel of this activity is with one of the new light weight Go-Pro helmet cams. The HD wide angle videos produced by these cameras are a very good and gives you a real sense of being there.
Keep your camera handy in Sunriver too. You need to look no further than the back yard for wildlife… its common to see deer feeding just out the back window and the trees are full of squirrels and birds. This area of Oregon is part of the High desert, but with the generous sprinkling of rivers and lakes and abundant wildlife it’s hard to think of it as a desert.
South of Bend is the Newberry Crater, a dormant volcano, home to a couple beautiful high elevation lakes. Paulina Lake and East Lake are famous for their Brown Trout fishing but they are also beautiful photography spots in the early winter if you can get in before the snow gets too deep.
If you have never been to this area in Central Oregon we would recommend it….if you have been there you know of the beauty that we are talking about.
We Hope that your Thanksgiving provided you with as many memories as ours did.
For more photos from Central Oregon see this album
A Road Trip??
An acquaintance and fellow photographer Mike Kipp was talking to us one day and mentioned that he had seen and photographed Moose at the Turnbull Refuge. This seemed like a good outing for us so we set out on a couple day road trip. We stayed near the Spokane airport about 20 miles north of the Refuge and were up and on the road before full light. Signs were good on the way to the Refuge, we spooked up a flock of wild Turkey along the road, and a small flock of Geese flew over the car just a few feet up.
We arrived at the Refuge Just after full light and was greeted almost immediately by a beautiful doe, then everything seemed to stop… a few chipmunks and a squirrel or two were all that came within range of our cameras for the next four miles of the auto route. I was becoming very disappointed; we had spent the better part of the previous day driving to see a couple of squirrels??? Then just as we were driving down into a small gully with willow thickets on either side I noticed something large moving in the brush.
We had come across two young bulls that were feeding in the willows near the Southern end of Swan Pond. They didn’t seem to be concerned with us clicking away like mad and kept feeding. At one point (just like a couple of teenagers) they started head butting each other …neither seemed too serious but it was very exciting to watch. After a few minutes (and a few hundred shots) they walked across the road behind us and off over a low hill where we could no longer see them. This encounter made it all worthwhile.
We went on to see some Trumpeter Swans (and their almost adult young) and truly enjoyed the day. The Refuge is well maintained and has some beautiful hiking trails, but everything including the ponds is dry this time of year. I would recommend visiting this refuge during the spring migration. We spoke to a local bird watcher and she told us there is a lot more activity during the spring.
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately twenty miles southwest of Spokane. The refuge has 2,300 acres designated for public use. The refuge has abundant marshes, ponds and wetlands which makes it a high quality site for breeding and migratory waterfowl. Visitors are encouraged to experience Turnbull via the five and a half mile auto tour route and the many miles of hiking trails within the visitor use area.
“If I told you I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, I’d be lying, because I have no idea where I am right now “
This blog is usually about photography Since I retired (Aug 30th) the blog has taken a backseat to life in general. Even before I retired my mind was more on financial planning than on my usual obsession of photography. After the retirement it seemed (for a few weeks anyway) like I was just on a vacation. Now I’m beginning to realize that I won’t EVER be going back to work. What a release… but what now?? I can throw away my “Web Guy” hat, but what hat do I put on?
I used to chafe for the work week to get over so that I could go shoot pictures on my days off. Now every day is a day off. The last thing I want to do is to burn out my love for photography nor do I want to flood this blog and all of my friends e-mails with a barrage of mediocre pictures. One of the wisest retirement gifts that I received was 6 months training at Linda.com, an online service that provides training for Photoshop, Lightroom and other tools that I use in my craft. Hopefully this winter you will see an improvement in the quality of our pictures.
Another hat that I’m going to try on… Banjo! I have always wanted to play, now I have the time, equipment and training to give it an honest try. I don’t expect to entertain anyone with my playing but me, but it will be a definite check off my Bucket list.
Another hat…. Wood sculpture (sculpture sounds so much more important than whittling) This is a craft that I have enjoyed on and off for years but just haven’t had the time for recently ….now I have time. I started a set of theater masks several years ago… I intend to finish them before I start on a new project.
“When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income.”
During most of our years of marriage, while I was at work Shirleen kept everything at home working like a well oiled machine. Kids raised, house clean, meals planned and cooked, shopping done and balanced everyone’s schedule. Now it’s time for me to step up and take a more active part in our day-to-day lives. Time to put on a chef’s hat? Learn how to use the washing machine ? Lets see .. the fridge is the tall cool one and the stove is the short hot one. I can do this!!!
Yes, lots of new hats in my life and many exciting changes.
From the wifes perspective…..
I have always planned around Duane’s days off…being prepared with my responsibilities to be done so we could play on those days. Now wait a minute….everyday is now a play day, this won’t work. I’ve found myself struggling to find my work flow since he has retired. It’s been fun playing but without work and responsibilities it’s just not as rewarding. One isn’t quite as good without the other. I’m also realizing I have more free time now since Duane is learning some of my jobs around here. I just found iTunes University online today and it’s free! So many interesting topics. I now have a little more time to pursue the things I was already enjoying…..photography, yard, decorating, cooking, etc. but now hopefully just a little better.
Since retiring Duane has put many extra smiles on my face. I sometimes find the bed made in the morning when I go back to make it, dishwasher emptied when I go to empty it. He made dinner last night while I was taking our Granddaughter to the Orthodontist. All these little things I have done repetitively our whole married life, what a treat! I find myself saying…HEY, THIS IS COOL!!!!
Lot’s of changes, but they are good ones, no more concerns about cramming work and play into those two days off. There’s not the stress of having EVERYTHING done today… We’ve always been very compatible, my best friend and I…. life is good.
Our whole adult life we have enjoyed camping in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Some of our favorite camp grounds are Panther Creek, Beaver and Paradise creek, the three closest to Carson, Washington. One of our favorite pastimes have been visiting the local water falls in the area. Until this year we didn’t know about this waterfall. What a pleasant surprise. Set in a stand of mature fir it seems to be the poster child of what a healthy creek should look like.
From Portland-Vancouver Drive east on Hwy 14, turn onto Wind River Road (about 3 miles east of Stevenson). Travel on Wind River Road to Carson’s 4-way stop. Continue straight for 4.7 miles to the second of the “Old State Road” right turns, also signed for Panther Creek campground. Turn right there, then immediately left onto Panther Creek Road. Travel 7.2 miles to the falls. Look for a large gravel/dirt pull-out on the right hand side at the base of a large rock cliff. You’ll find the trail on opposite side of the road about 50 yards back. It’s a hidden gem that few people know about. The well maintained trail is only a couple hundred yards to a wooden viewing platform perfectly perched above this unique waterfall. Allow plenty of time to enjoy this gem of a waterfall.
Jutting into the Pacific Ocean, Yaquina Head is battered almost year round by waves, wind, and a fair share of rain. The headland is a lava flow of basalt rock which refuses to be worn away as quickly as the surrounding sandstone and other rock. The bordering sandy beaches have receded, while Yaquina Head endures.
Yaquina Head Natural Area is located at the north end of Newport, Oregon. This headland provides visitors with one of the most accessible wildlife and ocean viewing locations on the Pacific Coast and is visited by hundreds of thousands of guests every year. A couple of manmade highlights of the headland are the Interpretive Center and Lighthouse. The Interpretive Center features exhibits on Seabirds, marine and intertidal life, as well as human history on the headland. The Lighthouse was constructed in 1872 and is the tallest Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast – soaring 93 feet in the air… 114 steps in the circular stairway. Open for tours, daily. Check for times, as the tour times change with the seasons.
The real show for us was the wildlife. Spring brings 65,000 Common Murres, Brandt’s Cormorants, Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Western Gulls, and Glaucous-Winged Gulls to Yaquina’s bluffs and offshore rocks.
Of course this concentration of birds attracts the raptors. Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet! Early in the morning, Eagles and Falcons can be observed dining on seabirds near the Lighthouse. The California Gray Whale is commonly sighted just off shore and Harbor Seals were sunning on the rocks on the South side of the headlands the day we were there. If you time your visit during a low tide the tidal pools are accessible and full of life…. Sea Stars (Starfish), Green Anemones, Purple Sea Urchins, Mussels, Barnacles, Turban Snails, Hermit Crabs, small fish called Sculpins and many more.
Final thought, come…. bring your camera….enjoy.
Each spring, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds stop to rest and feed along the pacific beaches and the river estuaries of the Washington coastline on their migration northward. The peak in migration typically occurs the last week in April. This concentration of birds offer people the chance to view and with a little luck photograph several species.
With this in mind we headed for the Washington coast last weekend. Grays Harbor hosts a shorebird festival each year (this year it will be May 4-6th) which typically draws large crowds. We thought it would be wise to avoid the crowds and go a week or two early so we rented a motel room in Ocean Shores and planned to visit the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge a little before high tide the next day.
The day started great, nice weather and high tide not scheduled until early afternoon. We had a time to sleep in, have a nice breakfast and drive down the coast. When we arrived at the refuge things started going bad… first it was too warm to leave the dog in the car and he couldn’t go into the refuge so Shirleen decided to stay out in the parking area with him. I started off a brisk pace towards the Sandpiper Trail. Everyone I met had a long face and it didn’t take me long to realize why. There were no shorebirds to be seen that day. None… not any… a few seagulls so far out in the estuary that they were just white specks. Either the migration was starting later this year or all the birds were somewhere else. I returned to the car after a warm, fruitless walk around the refuge totally bummed. The only plus that afternoon was that Shirleen had gotten several nice shots of a Marsh Wren when she was walking the dog.
Low and behold on the beach right in front of our motel there was a flock of shore birds feeding.
Now on this part of the Washington Coast cars are allowed to drive on the beach and there were a lot of people walking their dogs, kids running, kites flying and well …. what do you think the chances were of us getting anywhere close enough to the birds to take pictures before someone scared them all away?
As it turned out, our chances were great. The flock seemed to be in a feeding frenzy, as you approached them they would run or fly away just enough to keep a safe 10-15 foot distance from you and then go back to feeding. We approached slowly taking pictures as we went and the birds just sort of flowed around us. It didn’t take us long to get right in the middle of the flock and shoot pictures to our hearts content. We were both shooting with 100-400mm telephoto lenses which worked out well, we could pull back to the 100mm to get groups of birds when they flew and zoom out to the 400mm range to get close-ups of the birds feeding. The late, warm afternoon lighting made for some great shooting and we came away with literally hundreds of pictures. Here is a few of our favorites.
If any of you make it to the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival we would love to see your pictures and hear about your experiences.