Nov 26, 2013

Alvey's Candies

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100. Photography's greatest gift is making pictures of chocolates!
When I was in high school, my pal Jenny and I spent our evenings after school working at Michelle's in Colorado Springs. We entered the cafe and confectionary shop at street level, meandered passed the candy counter, grabbed a taste at the ice cream counter, stole a fry from the kitchen, and washed our hands in the sink at the back. Then we roped up and rappelled down the stairs to the dungeon basement. Well, we didn't actually rope up, but the old stairs were so steep and slippery with chocolate crumbs and kitchen grease and ice cream toppings that it really felt like we should be lowered down on a winch for safety's sake.

Having descended into the very bowels of the city, we put on our aprons and hair nets and turned on the flickering light over our work table. In the next room the ladies were running the conveyor and dipping the chocolates and putting them on big steel trays to cool. Our job was to transfer them to boxes for storage until they needed to be packaged for sale. Our process was something like this: soak hands for several minutes in a bucket of ice water (mustn't leave finger prints!), grab two chocolates, put in box, grab two more, put in box, oops dropped one, put in mouth, soak hands, repeat. 

During the various seasons we specialized in different kinds of candies. We made a game of figuring out what the abbreviations were supposed to be. Ch'Butter was a favorite. Ch'Bacon would be a hit, we were sure. We also explored the truly creepy limestone caverns of the building and wondered what skeletons were hiding in the shadows.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Michelle's is closed now, but imagine my excitement when Alvey's Candies in Richmond, Utah called and asked me about making pictures for them to use on their website and marketing materials! We chatted and I was proud to know something of the production process and talk about how we could make the pictures look tasty. Finally, we made a date, and I headed to their facility in Richmond, with my pal Bob on hand to help.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

If my experience at Michelle's felt like working in a dungeon, then walking through the doors at Alvey's was like entering the Pearly Gates. It's a bright building, and though it's packed to the gills with milk chocolate and dark chocolate and cashews and peanuts and pecans and cherries and mints and creams and everything nice, it's also clean and well kept. The contrast with my experience was incredible, and it was a joy to work with the Alvey's team, too.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

We setup our studio in the shop and made pictures all day long. They just kept bringing out mouthwatering candy after mouth watering candy. I felt like I couldn't make a bad picture.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100.

Finally, we finished making pictures, and Bob and I departed with plates full of delicious samples ("Uh, I touched this one, too--better send it with us at the end!" ;). It was a good thing, too, since those candies kept me alert during the drive back to Lake Oswego, Oregon.

I hope you'll call Alvey's this holiday season for some of your gifts. They have some terrific boxes for companies, too. I mean, nothing says, "I love you" like a box of delicious chocolates.

This post corresponds with another on

Oct 31, 2013

The Painted Desert

The Grand Canyon, aptly named, is a revelation of hundreds of millions of years' worth of history. It's incredible to see and consider. Besides the geologic grandeur, the sun's setting painted a continuously variegating pallet of colors right in front of me this evening. 100,000,000 years of change before my eyes, and 10,000 Maniacs in my mind.

Nikon D7100, 70-200mm f.2.8 VRII lens @ 70mm, f/8, 5 seconds, ISO 400. Photographed at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA.

Oct 29, 2013

New Family

This little family was so much fun to make pictures with. She's due in February.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens, f/9, 1/200s, ISO 200.

Oct 17, 2013

Yellow Lightning

In case you've been living under a rock, Tesla makes electric cars...very nice electric cars. I'm not a car guy, but if I were, I'd be a Tesla guy. They are comfortable, and very spacious. They've broken ground in so many things. I'm really a big fan...maybe I am a car guy....

I recently met Sean, a manger at the Tesla store in Washington Square Mall, and made a picture of one of his cars during the Scott Kelby World Wide Photowalk. 

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @170mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 800.
Shortly thereafter, Sean introduced me to Scott, a Tesla owner who also runs, where his team applies protective wraps to all kinds of cars. Well, I heard he was wrapping his Tesla, and one thing led to another. These are some of the photographs we made this morning, with my pal Chris helping, too.

By the way, these are computer desktop sized, too.
Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/8, 1/5s, ISO 100.

Oct 12, 2013

A Horse With No Name

Jesse and I were heading across Utah to Delta to make pictures for USU a couple of months ago; it was a lot like this video. Jesse remembered a friend telling him about a ruins that was pretty cool and nearby. We found the old mineral kilns west of Santaquin right at sunset and had a good time hiking around them and exploring the graffiti. This was a favorite. 

Nikon D800, 14-24mm /2.8 lens @ 24mm, f/4, 1/100s, ISO 200.

Oct 10, 2013


Autumn is traditionally seen as the end of the growing season, time for harvest, pumpkins, falling leaves, turning over fields, and readying for winter. But not in Lake Oswego! Nope, around here we prefer to let the Fall colors become vibrant and warm, red and orange and yellow, and then sprout new growth right next to the discards of Summer. I love it.

This one is sized for desktop to make it large, then right click to copy.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro lens, f/8, 1/4s, ISO 100.
Velvia is a film that has traditionally been favored by landscape and nature photographers for it's vibrant greens and blues and saturated colors. You can just tell images that were made using it, and it's a classic. I have a process that also produces rich colors in my digital darkroom. Unfortunately, there're no songs about Velvia, so you're stuck with Kodachrome again, and that's not too bad.

Oct 6, 2013

Pacific City

I hate to do it to the locals, but the world must know: Pacific City, Oregon is incredible. The beach is simply a wonderful place with incredible surf (point break characteristics?), and the most splendid tide pools on the planet, plus luscious dunes and caves and enormous rocks. 

I spent an afternoon there last week, and I can't wait to go back. I got to go make pictures for a wonderful family from Idaho, and everywhere I turned there was a great image waiting.

Highly recommended and totally worth whatever drive it takes to get you there.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Macro VR lens, f/4, 1/1600s, ISO 100. Pacific City, Oregon's beach is stunning, and Lake Oswego is just a two hour drive away.

Oct 2, 2013

Midnight Motorcycle

I was visiting in Logan, UT a few weeks ago when my friend Bob called and asked for some tips for shooting a motorcycle. He was at the Fairgrounds, and I was nearby so I headed over to see if I could help. Bob's classmate was visiting from Chicago and had ridden this gem across country, including a stop in Oregon (which I missed). 

Well, here's what we ended up with. Not bad for the fairgrounds at midnight. One of my favorite things was our bucket brigade from the canal to get the street nice and shiny.

Nikon D600, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @85mm, f/8, 1/90s, ISO 800. 
We used one SB-700 speedlight in a 24" softbox and moved it around the bike making pictures with the light on various parts of the bike. Then we combined them together right there in the fairgrounds using this method I wrote about for We ended up using seventeen pictures to make this image.

Sep 30, 2013

Damsels Wanted! Have Hero, Will Travel

I gotta admit, this song has been running through my mind while I've been finishing this image; it's good to be I can get a different song in there. Making pictures with these kids was so much fun, and then drawing my monster in was a whole other fun thing to do. I can't wait to do it some more!

Tryon Creek State Park in Southwest Portland/Lake Oswego is a wonderful place to make pictures.

Sep 28, 2013


It's just what I needed. A relief. A pleasure, really. I got to photograph F. and her new little L., today. She's just a month old, but look at all that hair. Thanks a bunch for a fun time making pictures, F.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Macro lens, f/8, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Technical stuff. We made this picture on the side while making portraits for the Portland Urgent Care clinic where F. works. Effectively, that means I had the lights setup in a specific manner that helps ensure the portraits are all similar, which means I couldn't easily move it to make a piece of art for mother and daughter. 

I had a black backdrop, a small octabox up front, and a barebulb strobe with a reflector in the back. Without changing my light settings, I brought F. a little closer to the octa to wrap her and baby in a softer light (the closer, the softer). We made several frames here, but this was my favorite, shot with me on a chair so I could see from a little above.

Sep 12, 2013

Brothers Walking

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @135mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 1600.
I was fortunate enough to attend Photoshop world in Las Vegas last week, and also to lead a photowalk with a bunch of terrific photogs. Lemme tell you, Vegas is different from Lake Oswego, but photography is the same everywhere. It was 100 degrees at night and all we could do was keep walking and shooting. It was a blast.

As we walked, I noticed this bright, soft light shining on R.'s face, so I begged a portrait of him. He was a little reluctant, but incredibly patient as we waited for the huge sign overhead to cycle through different ads and different colors of light. I love happening on this kind of thing, and I love that R. let me make a portrait with him.

R.'s brother, R., was also along on the walk, the two of them visiting from New York. There's this wonderfully lit stairwell we passed, and I just had to have a portrait with R. Funny thing is, as we made a few frames we gathered quite a crowd of international tourists. Apparently, R. resembles one of Bob Marley's sons who lives in Vegas. Who knew?

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @112mm, f/5.6, 1/80s, ISO 1600.
Walking The Strip at night shows all the lights of Vegas, and it's really fun to see. However, most of those lights are not the best for portrait lighting. In situations like this I search for light to make my subjects stand out, and that often means the portrait will be a few highlights on a black field. I like that. It fits my mood. High ISO's are my salvation when photowalking at night.

Sep 11, 2013

Patriot's Day

I was in Taiwan, and I was a missionary. My co-worker told me he heard something about a plane crashing into the white house, and, thinking it was probably a Cessna of course, we went to sleep. When we awoke the next morning and walked out of the elevator to go to work, our doorman stopped us and showed us the small TV on his desk, and told us about the jetliners, and the Twin Towers, and the Pentagon. He said to be careful out there today, and to watch out for guys with big beards, and to know that all the Taiwanese people would be watching out for us. We were stunned, and a little incredulous and not really understanding the impact of everything: half a world away and spoken in Mandarin the whole thing was kinda cinematic and unreal. Still, it was good to know that we had friends even so far away, and that things would be okay. We had threats made against us, and some terrorist scares, but we came through alright. After two years away, I returned home a month or so later and my mom was so frustrated she couldn't come down the terminal to meet me. It's a new world since then, and we've all been impacted.

I'm thankful that while I was being taken care of in Taiwan, there were courageous people taking care of everyone here at home, too.

Nikon D90, 12-24mm f/4 lens @ 12mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 320. 
I made this picture in front of Engine Company 69 in Manhattan a few years ago while photowalking on my own.

Aug 24, 2013


Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens, f/8, 1/15s, ISO 400, Nik Color
Efex Pro 4 with Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

Man, I had a great time this morning with the Portland PAC (find us on Facebook) at Tryon State Park in Lake Oswego. Being new in town, I'm still getting to know areas, so I suggested we get together and go shoot in the woods. Tryon creek is such a beautiful park, and right in the middle of town, too, so it's super convenient. 

My pal Megan found us some willing models (more or less willing, anyway). As the day drew nearer I got thinking that something like Robin Hood would be a fun story to show. Then as we were sorting through clothes, this image came together. I'm reminded of the Jabberwocky, which I memorized in Mrs. Tuggle's class at Air Academy. It's supposed to be a retelling of Beowulf, which is one of the oldest English stories preserved in writing. I think I like Jabberwocky better, however. I really like the picture, and I really appreciate everyone helping me make it come together. I have some other ideas for finishing it, and if I pull it off well, I'll share it with you. 

Let's talk technical stuff, cause this picture is super simple, and it's totally a lucky happenstance that it...happened. See, when working with flashes off the camera, it's best to make the picture look good without the flash, then add the flash in the right amount for the subject. So, while doing my test shots I bumped the tripod, and it made the picture a streak. After I got the final frame of my awesome model, I combined the two with a layer mask in Photoshop. Super simple! I think it makes a dreamy, imaginary effect. Nik Color Efex Pro 4 helped with the finishing touches.

Light is coming from a single speedlight off to the left shooting through a white umbrella, triggered with Nikon's built in CLS. It kinda feels like a beam of light in the woods. Just the thing to make a vorpal blade pop. 

I love making photographs in Lake Oswego!

Aug 21, 2013

"Just Got Home From Illinois..."

The Chicago Skyline from nearby Navy Pier. I love Nightscapes like this.

I've been waiting four years to title a post for this song...

See, I spent last week in Chicago, Illinois, at Skip Cohen University's Sumer Session where I studied with the best photographers in the world to better my craft and make new connections for my business. It was a lot of work, a lot of late nights, a lot new information, and lot of fun. Stick with me a minute, and I'll lead you through some of my favorite pictures I made during the week.

Started it all with a venture downtown with my pals Sherry and Mark. Starting with a deep dish pizza at Gino's East, we spent the whole night shooting downtown. As we were shooting nightscapes, we met a man who's a broker for an international realty firm...and he asked to see our pictures! Needless to say, running into him shaped our evening's pictures and we started focussing more on the buildings in the neighborhood. That image at the top is a panorama I made from the pier looking back at town.

That was late night number one, but the walking and the shooting and the Pizza made it all worthwhile.

Next day we headed downtown again, this time with more people and we planned to wrap it all up by shooting the fireworks over Navy Pier in the evening. We started on the Mag Mile, a huge shopping district. Obviously, we didn't really make it into any of the stores...not with half naked skateboarders walking the streets and enormous panhandlers who wouldn't take 'No' for an answer.

Seriously, I saw some interesting light falling in the reflections from a sky scraper and asked the guy with the board if I could make a quick portrait, and he obliged. Next thing I know, this dude is telling me he can take off his shirt and run down the street and make an awesome picture...and it'll only cost me three bucks! Unfortunately, I didn't have any cash, but he said that's ok, other people will see how awesome it is and want to take his picture too, so my picture would just be the seed for a little street performance boom. Well, unfortunately, I didn't have the right lens for that kind of work. That's ok, says he, I'll just do some pull ups right here, then...and then Sherry walked up and said, "Let's do it! Let's see what you got!" So, there's me, the Reluctant Photographer, and Sherry shooting this dude in the alley. It was fun, to say the least.

What started that whole little exchange was the light I saw on this flower...

Which I thought would look great on a person. So I turned to Bob Coates, who I found to be a fine photo walking companion and incredible instructor at SCU, and asked if I could make a quick picture. See, I tested the settings on Bob before the skateboarder with the hairdo walked by.

We continued down the Mile, found a real Chicago style hotdog, and this guy waiting for custom at the pub next door. When I talked with him about a picture, he gave me the thousand yard stare that all professional tourist handlers have learned to adopt.

Fortunately, this officer hadn't quite perfected the stare, but was obliging anyway as we listed to this other fellow perform on the corner. The Police are important on the street corners of the Mag Mile: people are so often stunned by the sites that they forget to pay attention to traffic.


Also, Carlos Danger was walking with me, but he couldn't seem to hold still for a portrait. After hotdogs we headed back over to the waterfront to make our way toward the fireworks, and of course we stopped at Millennium Park to photograph the Bean. It's quite a thing.

I taught a class on Lightroom myself the next day, and we had another wonderful pizza at Giordano's. Monday kicked off with our class time with the incredible instructors. I chose to learn with Suzette Allen, and she opened my eyes to lots of new tools I'll be using to make my pictures and video really sing. In fact, we photographed a family of singers in her class.

We all spent Monday evening at the hotel, but that doesn't mean we didn't stay up late! We had a great time making friends and making plans. My Tuesday class was with Ryan Schembri, Australia's photographer of the year, and a hugely decorated artist, and I had a wonderful time and learned some things that I have never seen before, and that's not common. I should explain, also, that at this conference I got to choose two instructors to spend the entire day with, and there were fewer than 20 people in each class. That's unheard of! These are people who usually speak to groups numbering in the thousands, and I'm on a first name basis with them now. Skip Cohen has really put together a wonderful program, and it's truly the best education on the planet in the Universe! 

NO photoshop work here--isn't that amazing?!?! I learned so many new things.
I can't wait for the next program. It's going to be amazing, and I'll be sure to let you know about it here. Finally, here's a little time lapse video I made at the Bean...

Aug 19, 2013

Spaceship Chicago

Nikon D7100, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @15mm, f/8, 3 frame HDR, ISO 200, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2. Movie in Millenium Park...can you name that show?

Aug 1, 2013

Ephraim Canyon

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens @78mm, f/9, 1/320s, ISO 400, Nik Silver Efex Pro2.
I'm here in Ephraim, Utah shooting for Utah State University. I do love to make a couple of 'extra' pictures when I get finished making portraits of students, grads, and deans. I think...yes, I'm pretty certain: I love my job.

Jul 31, 2013

#800: "They Say That Love is Forever..."

Nikon D7100, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm, f/16, 3 exposure HDR, ISO 400, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2. I'm in Delta, Utah; doesn't Portland have graffiti somewhere?

This is my 800th blog post. Thanks for viewing. I love to show these pictures off, and I'm glad that you all have supported me for the last four years. I was privileged to have some time shooting with Jesse Walker this evening as we trekked to Delta, Utah, and we made this stop at the old TinTic reduction mill near Goshen. I think spray paint may be all that's holding this place together, and it's a wonderful notebook of poetry and pictures and tasteless tagging. Kinda makes me wanna put my hand to the can and see what I could turn out. I'll probably never do it, though. With my luck, the time I try it is the one time the sheriff would drive by; that and my Grandma Sim always says, "Fool's names, like fool's faces, always appear in public places," and that's pretty much turned me off from graffiti. Sigh.

Jul 26, 2013


Anywhere you go, anywhere in the world, anyone you show them to will know that bald eagles and buffalo are American. McDonald's, Mickey Mouse, and Coke may be more recognizable, but nothing is more definitively American than these two animals. We could certainly do worse than the Bald Eagle as a national emblem. I highly recommend observing them in the wild--find an opportunity. Same goes for Bison. You've never seen grace until you've seen a 1400 pound bison leap off a ridge and skip through the forest, or an eagle larger than your car skim the surface of the water.


NIkon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens, f/4, 1/125, ISO 200. I love shooting on Collage Campuses, and am looking forward to exploring those in Lake Oswego.
I love photographing families. Look at these boys, and you know how that shoot went: lots of energy, lots of fun, and lots of running around and climbing in trees and hills. Really had a good time. I think even mom and dad had fun. 

I'm available to make pictures for your family, too!

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens, f/8, 1/80s, ISO 400. These were the kind of kids who laugh when they're photographer is inflicting little bits of pain on himself...slapstick kinda stuff kept them laughing.
Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens, f/8, 1/125, ISO 400. Naturally, they behaved for mom...

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro Lens, f/8, 1/125s, ISO 400. But these laughs only came when the boys picked on dad a little bit.