Saturday, 31 December 2011

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

2011 was a banner year for learning new methods of creative expression.  We look forward to expanding that knowledge and to the satisfaction gained from exploring new techniques.  We wish to thank our teachers and friends that have guided us on this journey.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Urban absrtacts

The holidays are great fun but aren’t they time consuming?  It was tough enough having work interfere with our creative efforts, but now that we have our letters off to Santa, the tree up and a menu planned, we can  get back to the really important stuff like our art and our blog.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We wish to thank all of you for visiting our blog and showing such an interest. During our first year of blogging we have made new acquaintances and renewed old friendships which have touched us.

May you all have a joyous Christmas, a Happy and productive New Year.  For us, 2011 was a year of learning new ways to generate artistic or technically enhanced images. We look forward to the New Year to build on those skills and we hope that you have a similar enthusiasm for your new year.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Abstracts of Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens, with all of its structures, provided extraordinary opportunities to create a variety of abstractions and unique images.

Fort Stevens

Near Astoria is Fort Stevens.  It is one of three forts establish to protect the entrance of the Columbia River.  Since the civil war, the Columbia has had significant roles in our nation’s various war efforts.  Fort Stevens was an artillery facility which means several bunkered cannon emplacements. 

Fort Stevens was the only facility in the lower 48 that was shelled by the Japanese during the war.  Fortunately, the only casualty was the softball backstop.  However, the incident created the inspiration a generation later to create the film, “1941.”

Now, the fort is a state park and a treasure of photo opportunities.  We could have spent several days here just exploring and shooting.  Here is a few of images.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


We got a little side tracked from our mission of sharing our photo experiences from the trip to Oregon.  After our great experiences with Carol and the group in Central Oregon, we took our time getting back to the airport.

After leaving Tillamook, we continued north along the coast toward Astoria.  The road often turned inland a bit, giving us a view of rolling countryside dotted with family dairy farms.  I became a bit nostalgic because the farms reminded me of the dairy farms of Wisconsin.  I was born on a dairy farm and my 1st memories are of life on the farm.

As we approached Astoria, fog & mist settled in making the area eerie and just a bit difficult to navigate.  The Astoria bridge suddenly appeared as an awesome apparition looming from the fog.  We found a place to stay, dried out a bit and headed out to explore Astoria at dusk.

We were enormously impressed with our walk through just a couple of streets of downtown.  Most of the older commercial buildings retained the tradition of named buildings.  Downtown has a comfortable mix of architecture from countless decades past.  For those uninitiated, Astoria is the oldest permanent community on the Pacific Coast. 
We know that this is an area that demands a revisit.

Pilot Boat Out of Astoria:  We learned that the waters are so treacherous, that two pilots are required to get the ocean going vessels up the Columbia River to Portland.  This pilot boat is taking a pilot specialist out to a vessel waiting in the Pacific to help it navigate from the ocean through the confluence of the Columbia River which is turbulent, fast moving and full of shifting sand bars.  Then the second pilot replaces the 1st at Astoria to pilot the ship up to the docks of Portland.
Walking along the Columbia River waterfront, we came upon this great set of rocks and pilings covered with an extraordinary bright green moss.

Garage with float collection:  A wonderful burst of color found on a day of heavy overcast gray lighting.

Honeycomb chinese lanterns and masks in a store window.

The Liberty Theatre in Astoria.

What a great building.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to explore the interior but it is certainly on our short list if we return to Astoria.

This theatre, built in a Romanesque, with light Italianate features and a Hacienda, tiled roof style, Greek columns, and a Chinese paper and silk chandelier in the auditorium.  On paper this sounds like jumble of epic proportions. However, in life it works.
 If you find yourself going to Astoria, include the Liberty theatre in your exploration plans. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Time spiral

I was trying to find a way to construct "Hockney joiners" type of photomontages but found something different and fun to play with. Click here to learn about Droste effect.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

As leaves fall, may you share in a great feast and the warmth of family and friends.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

We've got mail

Yesterday Laika and Julio got a package from Abby*. It was a very pleasant surprise – the package contained treats for dogs which were shared fairly, and toys which Laika doesn’t want to share with anyone. The dogs are sending hugs and kisses to Abby.

*Abby is the mysterious Carol L. cat, who knows how to turn on a printer, writes nice notes, knows the way to dog’s heart and, obviously, is familiar with Japanese calligraphy. She used a piece of fancy Japanese paper to wrap the gift.

Laika and Julio thank you for being such a good friend.

Laika’s personal goal is to train Elena & Russ as well as Abby has trained Carol. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Look what Followed Us Home

Just a few yards from our door is the Kiowa trail.  We walk this everyday (well at least 5 days a week.)  This is the trail populated by birds, critters including bobcats, and thanks to a couple of civic minded citizens, wonderful displays of wildflowers.

About 4 weeks ago, we were greeted by a new critter, a beautiful puppy with no ID and a huge personality.  It followed us for some distance and then did a 180.  We shrugged and figured it had its bearings and was returning home.  Elena looked back to see this sweet little girl in traffic and looking very scared.  Fortunately, she got out of the street and we walked on….

Russ, “I think that puppy was abandoned!” 

Elena, “She was so beautiful!”

Russ, “We really shouldn’t take on the responsibility of another dog.”

Elena, “We had 2 dogs and did just fine.”

Russ, “When we get home, lets go back with the car and see if she is still loose.”

Elena, “Good Idea!”  “This is for her own good.”

Russ, “We will make an effort to find her home.”

Elena, “Yep”

So we went back with the car and no doggie.  Okay, no doggie but we roamed around driving  very slow and looking very intently.  Just as we were about to give up, a lady flagged us down and asked if we lost a dog.  We said no, but we were worried about a dog that may have been abandoned.  It came to pass that the lady captured the puppy to get it out of the street but she had a large dog and really was looking for someone to take it off her hands.  Being good citizens, we volunteered.

We made a genuine effort to find the puppy’s proper home.  After a couple weeks, we declared her an orphan and adopted her.  Her name is now Laika.  She is a mixed breed and it appears that she took the best genes from her mixed bloodlines.  We suspect that she has papillon, corgi and daschund genes.

Now we take two walks a day.  One for ourselves and the other for Laika and Julio, our mix of chihuahua and pekingese - the world’s ugliest dog.  So we have the added health benefit of walking 2.5 miles a day while really enjoying the newest addition to the family.

Here are few family photos of our gang.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Walking in downtown Portland

I worked in Portland for too few years back in the seventies.  My office was in a theatre building right at Broadway and Yamhill.  You just couldn’t be more “downtown.”  Portland had the distinction of always having a vibrant central core, thanks to right thinking city fathers that in my opinion gave politics a good name.

Returning to Portland after too long an absence was a very pleasant experience.  Nearly everything discussed for the future of Portland in the seventies has in fact, come to fruition.  There is a blend of new and old in everything, architecture, population, wealth and not so wealthy, and personal space that really works in this city. 

Elena and I didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, but we took a great walk, ate from one of the many food booths located downtown and vowed that we have to return.  Here are a few random photographs of our time in Portland.

Probably at a purely emotional level, I have always admired the brass letters & numbers used in great buildings.  This brass 320 just jumped out crying “take my picture!”

A vibrant downtown has to be all things to all kinds of people.  This door caught my eye because of the discriminatory phrasing but also, the little parking lot was full of believe it or not, “mini-vans.”  Wish I had the time to see who is coming out of this place.

The joy of studying the buildings in a city is taking the time to let individual elements soak in to your vision.  I walked by several of these light fixtures until it finally sunk in just how interesting the light plays out from the fixture.

 This classic Portland building, built in 1890 has such a wonderful design and history.  Look it up in Google to get the history and overview pictures.  I found this over a side entrance and it seemed to me, to wear its history in all of the holes left by previous awning and sign installations.  This is the building that housed the agency that coined the Nike shoes phrase, “Just Do It”

This is a great old building left from the tear down of the block.  My curiosity was spiked by the window placement in a formerly covered wall.  Very whimsical.

 Downtown Portland near the waterfront, has a vacant lot that is full of little food booths.  Each booth specializes in a food type.  There were some duplicates but all in all, it is like a taste of Portland.  Office workers descend on this location for great food in the open air.  This sign was animated using LED’s and caught my eye.

 I couldn’t pass up the obvious discrepancy in the politically correct nature of Portland. The fire hydrant in the showy part of downtown is so perfect and bright. Then I came across the less than showy hydrant in the Burnside district which still needs a lot of renewal.

Unique fountain at Pioneer square.

Strong shadows and patterns.

Interesting neon sign.

Row of chairs. The shadows saying:"Place your buts here".

Geometrics of a bicycle.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Photography: An Early Social Media

For us, the seldom discussed blessing of spending time in new places, taking pictures of subjects different to our routine is meeting the indigenous people to these locations.  We find people everywhere friendly, open and engaging.  Who knows what they may have thought of us, with our cameras hung around our neck, dragging all sorts of gear, poking our noses into their workplaces, alleys, and landmarks at all hours of the day and night. 

Without exception, a smile and a reassurance that we aren’t as crazy as we look, gets a smile in return with a conversation directing us to something we may be interested in photographing.  We have been directed to many photogenic opportunities in this fashion.

We found coastal Oregon both familiar as our favorite pair of socks and as foreign as a jungle village in Central America.  The 1st oddity encountered was that you cannot pump your own gas in Oregon.  No one seems to know why but it’s the law.  This presents a location with 2 or 3 employees where you would expect only one.  One to take your credit card, one to pump gas and without exception, you found someone who had time to talk.  Several good leads came from gas stations.

Next, we learned that the folks in Oregon love their coffee just as much as the people in Washington state.  Coffee kiosks, bars and houses are found everywhere.  Elena was in heaven.  Strong, aromatic and hot; easily attainable at all hours of the day.  Unfortunately, these folks were too busy to talk.

We digress, most interesting to us, were the hard working, under difficult conditions but seemingly always in great humor are the fishermen of the central coast. These gentlemen are sailors in the greatest tradition.  Many have worked out ports all over the world and have fabulous experiences to share.  Most interesting to us was how many of these adventures play out in their faces and domineer. 

Here are a few photographic captures of those moments.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed the time spent, “on the waterfront.”
Class participants
Ira& Carol: Carol, “our fearless leader” and Ira sharing wisdom. Ira looks like he came from a casting call for “The Old Man & The Sea.” A perfect look for that day.

Deep water fisherman and his dog: You just know they have stories to tell.

Eldrid Hamrich & friend:  A sense of humor, warmth and hard work.

Haming it up: Eldrid demonstrating “shared labor procedures”
Fresh tuna every day.
Fresh Tuna: A cool dude…he had me wait until he found the perfect fish