Category Archives: event photography

2014 Polar Plunge: Bend, Oregon

low res - Polar Plunge 2014 - Bend-47Had the opportunity to visit Bend this last weekend to shoot the 2014 Polar Plunge to support Oregon Special Olympics.  This was my second time at this low res - Polar Plunge 2014 - Bend-19event – and to be honest, it’s just a heck of a lot of fun.

This year, the rain broke just about the time plunger registration started – making for a great morning.  And, as expected, the water was a bit chilly.

Part of the event is the costume contest – though not required – it probably helps as a bit of distraction to the near icy waters.

Considered labeling this next one “More Beard!”.  Smile

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For this event – I have the opportunity to be in the water so as to photograph the plungers as they race in and race out of the very cold river.

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To stay warm – I wear extra thick socks and a very good pair of chest-high fishing waders (Thanks, Jim!).  They’re actually quite warm and keep me dry.  On the camera – I use a Kata rain bag and usually keep a lens cloth in my hand (in the bag) to brush off any drops that may get on the lens.

The Kata bag is a great cover and though it can accommodate up to a 70-200mm lens – I was using a 17-55mm for this event.

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There are also plenty of Search-and-Rescue folks out to help “just in case”.  This fellow was kind enough to wear one of the Contours.  In this photo – you can see that the camera is wet.  The cool thing about the Contours are that they’re water resistant to a meter and should be good with “incidental” water.  And though I do have a waterproof case for it – I was hedging that splashing plungers constituted “incidental”.  I’m still not completely comfortable using these camera yet – but the more footage I get – the more I dig them.

And what’s a Plunge without a Polar Bear?

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2013 Top 11 Photos

It’s always a great challenge to look back on a year’s collection and to trim to a list of the best.  It’s an exercise I recommend to every photographer out there.  That said, the extra challenge is to get that list to only 10 photos.  Well, I almost made it this year – I trimmed this one to 11.  Smile

So, in no particular order, here’s my 2013 list with a bit on each addition.

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This first photo is from a children’s church group singing at a convalescence home.  It was a very sweet moment with folks stepping out of their rooms to hear the children sing Christmas carols in the hall.

Best of 2013-1

Once I saw these two barns – I just wanted to figure out a way to get the photo.  This is one of those rare images where (if I remember correctly) I was thinking black and white from the onset.

Best of 2013-4

In 2013 I had the opportunity to shoot two Polar Plunge events for Oregon Special Olympics.  This next photo is from the Corvallis event.  Initially I was torn between two photos for this list: “dynamic splash” and “pink tutu’s”.  You can see which one I chose.

Best of 2013-6

This was from the 2013 Photo Walk here in Corvallis.  It’s probably safe to presume that it took me over a hundred images to get this one.

Best of 2013-7

In the very next moment, this bull fighter found himself in the air (but my very next frame only had the legs of the bullfighter visible – I was zoomed in too far on the scene to get all of him in the air).

Best of 2013-8

The Lover’s Bridge in Danshui, Taiwan.  This is one of those rare images where I actually pre-visualized the final result.  Some folks are really good at that – I’m not.

Best of 2013-10

Jiufen, Taiwan is a great little market town.  Fortunately while we were there we were treated to this epic rain.

Best of 2013-11

Street opera in Tainan, Taiwan.  I like how this image shows the proximity of the street to the opera.

Best of 2013-13

Hot air balloon festival.  Another image here on the list with strong architectural elements.

Best of 2013-15

Sheep nor shearing are typically on my list of favorite images.  But, I liked this moment along with the lighting, color, and texture.

Best of 2013-17

Mt Hood in the clouds.  It wasn’t long after this image that the mountain was completely obscured by the incoming weather.

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Help-Portrait 2013: Corvallis

I just wanted to give a shout-out to a very talented team that helped pull together the 2013 Help-Portrait event here in Corvallis.  This is the fourth year for the H-P event in Corvallis (and the third for me).  And every year it seems to get a bit better and this year was no different.

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And just in case you were wondering what was going on behind the curtain – here’s most of the team that post-processes and prints the images.

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Of course, an event this size doesn’t happen without a lot of folks behind the scenes.  In addition to the team above (and the folks who worked earlier in the day and missed the team photo):

This year, just for fun, I set up one of the Contours on a time-lapse with an image every 3 seconds.  So, if you’d like to see how the day went – here’s an inside look at the event compressed to just over 5 minutes.

If you’d like to learn more about Help-Portrait – you can find out more here – and if you’d like to learn more how you can connect with an event in your area – you can find out more here.

NW Art & Air Festival 2013: A Few Photos

iSoar - NWAA - 2013-8Had a chance to get out for the hot air balloon launches this weekend over at the NW Art & Air Festival in Albany, OR.  This year – I worked the entire weekend with only a 17-55mm f/2.8.  And yes – there were times I wished I had the fisheye and, yes, there were times that something a bit longer would have helped.   But it was a good challenge nonetheless.

By the way, been digging the VSCO filters.

And, yes, that’s one of those crazy “tiny planet” panoramas up there.  Over on the Camera 47 Facebook page you’ll find a few more.  I’ve been experimenting a bit with them lately.

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We’re not in Cansas Anymore: A Weekend with the X100S

cameras-8 Back in the day, you know – those days when we shot film – my favorite camera was the Canon GIII – a little rangefinder with a fixed 40mm f1.7 lens.  I picked mine up used after borrowing one from a friend.  A great camera with a lot of personality.  Was it ever my go-to camera?  No, not really – but I sure enjoyed shooting it.

When the wave of mirrorless cameras started, I had hoped that it might be possible to find some of that charm in the digital world.  And a couple of times, it was close – both the Olympus EM5 and the Fuji X100 inspired me to some serious review reading – but neither prompted me to push the big “Buy” button.cameras-7

The Fuji X100S is similar in size to the Canon GIII (Canonet QL17) rangefinder.

And it was more than just this romantic notion of a cool compact camera that kept me looking.  I also wanted to go out with the family without lookingcameras-9 like I was on  assignment.

Then the X100S charged onto the scene with a reported snappier auto focus.  X-Trans sensor.  And Adobe looked like they were catching up.  A few early reviews.  Pre-ordered.  Delivered.

Bottom line: I find the X100S to be a great camera.  It’s capable, delivers remarkable images, and though there’s been a bit of learning curve – I’ve really enjoyed shooting with it.

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(Just a note about the photos – they shouldn’t be considered straight-out-of-camera (SOOC).  They’ve been post-processed in LR 4.4 and a few of them have seen some Nik software.)

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For the last eight and a half years – I’ve pretty much only shot Canon DSLR’s.  And those tools have complimented my shooting style for action, event, travel, and portrait.  So, to be honest, shooting those first few frames in the backyard with the X100S left me a bit underwhelmed.  Zack’s whole “best camera ever” was ringing a bit hollow for me (though it’s got to be one of the most creative camera reviews of all time).

So back to the camera manual.  Review the menu system. What does this button do again?

We’re not in Cansas anymore.

Then a day later it was off to the tulip festival with the family and the X100S dangling around my neck.  Tossed a couple of batteries, an extra memory card, and a lens cloth (just in case) in the jacket pocket.  And that’s it.  No camera bag.  Felt kinda odd – but nimble.  I almost felt bad for those folks with photo backpacks and full sized tripods – except I knew they were having fun.

x100s test -3 The Mt Angel Sausage Company is a staple at the tulip festival.

x100s test -2 Every X100S review requires a B&W street-inspired photo.

x100s test-10 Trying some close up shots on a steam tractor that was parked at the tulip festival.

Still missed a lot of shots.  Blurry.  Blown highlights.  Under exposed.  Sigh.

Early next morning to Newport, Oregon.  After getting soaked by some morning rain and hail it was kinda nice out there.  But my photos weren’t necessarily following the nice weather.

x100s test -4 Early morning sport fishing boats waiting for departure time.

x100s test -5 A minus tide exposes the footings on this pier.

x100s test -6Stairs leading up to the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Then a quick afternoon outing with my daughter to Finley Wildlife Refuge (where it seems I test most new gear and lenses).x100s test -7

This barn at Finley makes an appearance in just about all of my gear / lens reviews.

x100s test -8  This oak tree should probably make it into more reviews.

And then another quick trip out to the Rogue Farm for a sheep sheering demonstration.  I still missed a few shots under some pretty tough lighting (the shot here is only at ISO2500 with 1/40 – but I tried some out at ISO5000 with 1/125 second).

x100s test -1 Sheering sheep at ISO2500.

A few notes:

Do I miss some shots having a fixed lens on the camera?  Sure.  But – as the adage goes – constraints drive creativity.

I’m still wrestling with the OVF and EVF.  I try to use OVF as much as possible – I find it brighter much of the time and I imagine it helps on battery life.  That said – there’s a need to remember to consider parallax when framing subjects that are close to the camera.

Battery life.  It’s nothing like your DSLR.  I bought two extra batteries straight away and I’m considering a third (I consider extra batteries and memory less expensive than missing the shot).

Lens hood.  Yes it sticks out and makes it less pocketable but it also makes it easier to hold while shooting (and likely helps with all of those other things that lens hoods are known to help with – such as flare and protection for that glass).  I consider it a must.  That said – the Fuji one is expensive.  Like surf-and-turf expensive – but it matches beautifully.  There are some other options out there.

I picked up a 49mm lens cap.  I highly recommend it with the lens hood as the spiffy cap that came with camera won’t work once the lens hood is attached.

One benefit of the fixed lens?  When I stop down to f16 – I don’t have to clean up the dust bunnies in LR.  :)

More notes:

The maximum shutter speed at f2 is 1/1000.  On a bright sunny day that won’t be fast enough (it’s a physics thing with the leaf shutter).  Cleverly enough – there’s a 3-stop neutral density filter behind the lens (inside the camera).  I have it assigned to the Fn button for easy deployment (it’s not located in the Q-button menu and I wanted it close at hand).

LR 4.4.  If you’re considering any of the Fuji X series cameras – you’ve probably heard the tales of how Adobe hasn’t quite been able to handle the raw files all that well.  Update your Lightroom to 4.4 and don’t worry about it (I shoot only in raw except for sports).

I kinda wish the ISO5000 shots were good cuz I’d like to have shown them to you (my fault – not the camera).  But, instead, you’re only getting the ISO2500.

Did I mention that this thing is quiet?  I’ve turned off all of the helpful audible camera queues and when out-and-about in the real world – it’s essentially silent.

The camera has a bit of heft to it without feeling like a brick.

When you work with a tool like the 100S it requires you to roll up your sleeves and make something happen.  I kind of like that.

I wouldn’t recommend this camera to most folks.  And that’s OK.  It’s simply not the right tool for every environment or for every shooting style.

Unless your a current X100 owner – read the camera manual.  Yeah – I know, seems obvious.  And after you’ve read it once.  Read it again.  Go shoot a few frames – and then read it again.

The X100S is not your DSLR.  It feels, handles, and shoots much differently – and it will likely require a bit of learning curve.  But I think that if you’re looking for a camera with a compact form factor, large sensor, sharp lens, high ISO performance, and stunning IQ – this is definitely one to put on your list.

Of course, there are more reviews out there.  Be sure to check them out:

Hope that helps (at least a little).  If you have feedback, questions, comments, and/or more thoughts – just let us know.

2013 Bend Polar Plunge

Two weekends – two plunges!

Had a chance to head on over to Bend this last weekend to snap a few photos from their Polar Plunge to support Oregon Special Olympics.  A great crowd!

This weekend I wore thicker socks and it made a huge difference in keeping my feet warm while wearing the waders.  :)

And just in case you missed them – here are a few from the Corvallis Plunge.

(Thanks, again, Jim, for loaning me the waders.  They worked great.)

2013 Bend Polar Plunge - Second Set- low res - JO-502013 Bend Polar Plunge - First Dozen - JO-152013 Bend Polar Plunge - First Dozen - JO-10

Rugby: CWU at OSU

rugby - osu vs cwu - 19 jan 2013 - low res-4Well – it’s been a couple of seasons since I’ve shot rugby – so I carved out a couple of hours on a chilly Saturday to go catch the Beavers and Wildcats.

Central Washington insured this wasn’t a close contest – but it was a good opportunity to go out and burn a few bits.

And if anybody has a good suggestion for photo-friendly gloves – I’m all ears.  :)

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