Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best Of List--Number 7--Mount Washington

In August 2011 I foolishly agreed to hike up Mount Washington in New Hampshire, without any training. Man, that was a tough hike to the summit at 6,289 feet above sea level. About 4 hours with each step higher than the one before. It was like going up stairs with tricky footing for 4 hours. I was not prepared. About 1/2 way up we came out of the tree line and caught this beautiful view of a small lake and the White Mountains in the distance. I was carrying my small Nikon P7000 point and shoot and got this shot. Mount Washington is the highest peak on the east coast and the weather station at the top just set a record this week for the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the continental United States at -34 degrees and, with 100 mph winds, the wind chill was -89 degrees.

Climate can change rapidly at any time on Mount Washington as we listened to stories of hikers like ourselves getting caught and perishing in freak snowstorms, even in warmer months of the year. In August 2011, we found beautiful weather and a nice day for a hike. While I consider this one of the hardest physical achievements I have ever tackled, on par with a marathon, we were being passed occasionally on the way up by local residents running up the mountain and we had several teenagers and pre-teens with us who handled the hike with only a little difficulty at the end. Thank god there is a train up the mountain, which gave us a ride down. I had never been more pleased to see a train, even one as rickety as the Cog Railway. That would have been a killer hike to walk back down.

Not every stretch was this steep, but this is how I remembered it:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best of List--Top 20 Number 6- Fog under, Moon Over Golden Gate

Number 6 on the "Best Of" list might be a common occurrence in San Francisco, but in September 2010 it was the first time I have seen fog trapped underneath the Golden Gate bridge. I also caught the moon hanging in the morning sky over the bridge. Very cool to see in person and made for a nice capture with my old Nikon D700.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Best of List--Top 20 Number 5--Matthiessen State Park

Number 5 on the top 20 list is closer to home as I attended a photo walk back in 2010 at Matthiessen State Park in Illinois near the far more popular Starved Rock SP. Shooting with my Nikon D700 I was playing with long exposure photography, which helped get the silky smooth flow of the water coming over the falls. This shot was taken with a 10 stop neutral density filter so this is a 30 second exposure at a f25 aperture which helps get that depth of field in the shot. It was a cold, wet shot as well, as we were standing in the river with our tripods, but the water was only ankle deep. Several years ago, the trees finally fell away so the cross is no longer there.

There is a second shot at this same location that I took in 2013, which is not part of my top 20 that is still one of my favorites. I did an engagement shoot for Cheryl's cousin, Amber and her then fiance, Mike. They are married now, but back in 2013 I suggested this location for an engagement shoot as I knew that they lived out that way and unbeknownst to me, this is the exact spot where they got engaged. Talk about coincidence!!! I really like this shot of them looking at the falls so, I will include their shot as part of my 20 favorites.

Have to get back and shoot here again sometime as it is a fun place to shoot. In the winter you get these incredible frozen falls which is fun to see, like the picture below, taken in 2014 at the nearby Starved Rock SP. Great area to shoot in any season.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Best of List--Top 20 All Time Favorites--#4 on the list

Number 4 on my top 20 list is a shot taken during Stephie's and my trip to China to see the 2009 solar eclipse in Beijing. We had an amazing time and did get to see the eclipse through the rain. During the trip we got to many places in Beijing and Shanghai. My best shot of the trip is of these boats, used by the emperors at the Summer Palace. This large lake brought a bit of cool air during the summer months, which we felt during July when we were there. This was shot was taken with the second camera on my list, the Nikon D700.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

One More Cute Kid Christmas Shot

I swear I could do a shot of the day just following this kid around. Always a smile on his face. So, I will delay my "best of" shots for another day, and post instead a cute shot of Eckhart wandering through a pile of presents.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017 Family Photo

Only Eloise (our beagle) is missing from this family shot as Colby got in by a nose. Ama went for a green look this year. Great having family around. Merry Christmas to one and all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Best Of List--Top 20 All-Time Favorities #3--Hermosa Beach Pier

Although I shoot in color, occasionally a scene speaks to me in black and white. This stormy evening shot near the Hermosa Beach pier was one of those occasions. This shot is my 3rd entry for my Top 20 all-time list. Like my previous two shots on Shot of the Day, this was taken with my Nikon D200 back in 2010.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Best Of List--Top 20 All Time Favorites--Hancock Basin

Today is day 2 of 20 for my "best shots of all time" list. This shot goes back to 2008 and was taken with the Nikon D200, my first DSLR camera. I took a photo class in downtown Chicago and we walked around from before sunrise to sunset shooting various in various spots. This sunset shot was taken with a filter and a tripod to get a 30 second exposure using an aperture of f22 for maximum depth of field. I put the tripod on top of a parking garage on Navy Pier. Only got off a few shots before we were shagged by security. Samantha Wroblewski liked it so much she has it on her wall. So, this shot makes my top 20 list.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Best of List--Top 20 All time Favorites--Florence

Way back in 2006 I picked up digital photography after years and years of not shooting. Like most parents, I had lots and lots of pictures of our first born (sorry, Nina) and fewer and fewer of the kids that came after (sorry, Michael, Jono and especially Stephanie).

Prior to getting married, I was a "professional" photographer of sorts, although I didn't use that term as I shot weddings and events for a photography studio on the southwest side and even before that I was a photo editor of the college newspaper and did a little bit of shooting in high school. Anyway, I fell out of it and lost my skill set but, back in 2006 with digital, I started to come back and now, of course, I am quite obsessed (if I must admit it) and I spend much free time trying to improve my skills.

The three things that got me back into photography were travel, the grandkids and the ease of use of digital technology. I travel so much that I thought I should shoot all the things I was seeing as very few people have the honor of seeing so much of this country. While it is mostly city centers and office buildings, you can see a surprising amount of the country between meetings and driving from point to point, if you are aggressive about it. (Just ask one of out salespeople, if I have asked to do a 5 minute detour to stop here or there.) Of course, the grandkids (sorry, Lily, Clio and Eckhart) can't do anything that I don't want to photograph and with digital, you get the immediate feedback so that you can improve your skills if you pay attention to what you are doing.

Anyway, since I am not traveling (I hope) for the next month and since at this time of the year lots of "best of" lists come out, I thought I would post my subjective list of my top 20 best (non-family) shots stretching back from 2006 until last week. (Two shots from last month did make my top 20 best of list, bumping two older shots out of the list.)

This shot is from our Nuveen sabbatical trip to Europe (Nuveen used to give 6 weeks off after 15 years to take a sabbatical, an amazing benefit long since retired). We used that time to visit Nina in Paris where she was studying and continued on to Italy and other places in Europe. That is still our one and only trip to Europe and I would love to go back again. I loved Paris, Rome and London but Florence was the highlight of the trip. This shot was taken with my old Nikon D200 and I shot in jpeg back in those days as I was just picking up digital photography. Love that an old shot has hung in there to stay on the list.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Big Dipper over the Columbia Rive and Astoria Bridge

Shot is very grainy as I am shooting at 3200 ISO in almost pitch dark but I was still just able to get the 7 bright stars (at 1/8th of a second handheld), of the Big Dipper hanging over the Columbia River. This shot was taken right from Michael and my balcony at the Canary Pier Hotel in Astoria. Great one day road trip from Portland.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Oregon Beach Reflection--Hug Point

Caught some beautiful reflections off of the Oregon Beach between Canyon Beach and Astoria. Lot of great spots to get off the road and walk down to the beach. At low tide you can walk around that point (called Hug Point) and get to another beach with a waterfall on the other side.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Foggy Bottom Washington

The misty shot from the Oregon Coast of a few days ago got me thinking about this foggy shot taken this past spring at the reflection pool near the Jefferson Memorial. An early morning walk caught this lone loon in the water before the fog lifts and all the tourist start showing up.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Misty Oregon Coastal Forest

Caught some nice light rays through the mist heading on a short walk to the Oregon coast. Put the sun behind some trees. Add mist or fog and you have light rays which give nice depth and dimension to a 2D photograph.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Misty Oregon Coast

Got to this overlook on the north Oregon coast south of Canyon Beach just as the mist was blowing away. What a beautiful and dramatic shoreline. This is not far from where Lewis and Clark first saw the coast after almost 2 years of traveling and hardship. Just a couple of hours ride from Portland for Michael and me.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mount Adams and Mount Rainier

One last mountain shot as the plane headed east back home from Portland. The right side of the Southwest flight out of Portland has to be the best window seat view of any plane trip across the western United States. Just amazing views for the first half hour of the trip.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mount St. Helens Close Up

Mount St. Helens with its top blown off, in close up.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Clouds over the Cascades, Mount St Helens and Mount Rainier

There is a lot going on with this picture looking north on take off from Portland heading east. It is always a tough choice on Southwest which side of the plane to pick if you are going for a window seat. For years, I always went for an aisle seat, especially on a long flight. Lately, I have been picking the window seat and bringing a camera. In this shot we have clouds hanging over the Cascades in the foreground, Mount St. Helens in the middle and Mount Rainier up there in the north. Love the views of the mountains of the Cascade Range. These mountain tops are my favorites.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hug Point, Oregon

Did a weekend drive from Portland to Astoria and back down to Tillamook via Hwy 101 and stopped along the way at interesting views. This is looking south at Hug Point into a nice fog burning away as the morning sun started to rise. Such a beautiful beach.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Shipwreck near Clatsop Spit

This is the remains of the Peter Iredale, a shipwreck from 1906 on Clatsop Spit near the mouth of the Columbia River, just south of the wonderful little town of Astoria, Oregon. Very accessible from Fort Stevens State Park and not that far from the termination of the Lewis and Clark trail. Very cool piece of history.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Got to visit Cannon Beach during a recent trip to Portland. Been on my wish list for some time. Amazingly beautiful weather for a mid-December day. Caught this shot of a family walking the beach  and used it to give a sense of size for the Haystack rock.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Signs of the Season #3

I am trying to work myself into the Christmas spirit. If I keep finding shots like these, it might work. This is the Naperville Christkindlmarket Christmas Tree, with an almost full supermoon nearby. Not bad....

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Signs of the Season #2

Signs of the season #2. From Naperville's Christkindlmarket at Naper Settlement.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Signs of the Season

Title says it all.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mattheissan State Park Upper Falls

Just below the Upper Falls at Matteissan State Park is a series of smaller falls and this is one of them. Shot taken from a trip way back in 2009. Have to get back there soon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mattheissan State Park in the Way Back Machine

Going into the "way back" machine to pick a shot from 2009 taken at Mattheissan State Park in Illinois. You can't get this shot anymore as the trees forming the "x" have fallen down. Going to have to take another trip there soon to see what the falls look like in the winter.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hermosa Surfer in Silhouette

This is from way back in September of 2009. I have shot this surfer statue in Hermosa Beach a number of times in different light but never posted this shot with the surfer in silhouette. I thought it was a sunset shot but my metadata says it was early morning. Love walking the Strand at Hermosa Beach before sunrise. Easier to do when you get an extra 2 hours to wake up in the western time zone.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gingerbread House

A gingerbread house with an old time feel. Thanks to the Hacker family for throwing the yearly cookie party.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

New York Showing Her Colors at Night

New York City was showing all of her nighttime colors a few weeks ago on a previous trip to the city.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Nice Sentiment from Montreal

Still in the "way back" machine. Here is a shot from a 2010 trip to Montreal, Canada. Most of my travel is in the US but back in 2010 we were selling taxable munis to the Canadians. I thought this chalk message summed up my experience up north quite well.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Way Back Machine: San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in Blue and Gold

I am trying to clean up my catalog and go through shots that I haven't posted from the distant past. This is one that I missed somehow as it is one of my favorites from way back in 2010. The bridge was just coming out of fog as the sun was starting to rise. On the west coast, I am a morning person, at least for a few days before adjusting to the time change. I love the yellow and blue colors that naturally appeared as the sun started to rise.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Eckhart's First Good Portrait

I feel like I caught the transition here from a baby to a little boy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Seattle Space Needle

What do you do when you have a classic (ie, boring) tourist shot? The same thing you do when you are eating some bland food. You juice it up. You put some hot sauce on it. So here is a fairly boring shot of the Space Needle in Seattle, taken from a ferry on Puget Sound. Beautiful in person with the wonderful skyline and the mountains to the south but a bit of a yawn, photographically, in this view. Sun was up high in the middle of the day and not all that interesting. So, I put and little hot sauce in a filter and you get a more dynamic shot. Still not an award winner but, at least to me, a little more interesting.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Olympic National Park Dreamy Evening

Sometimes all you want is some nice light, a comfortable chair and a good book. Taken at Olympic National Park earlier this year.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Beautiful Mount Rainier from Puget Sound

Here is another shot that didn't make the blog this year. Beautiful Mount Rainier taken from the ferry to Seattle in Puget Sound.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

That's a lot of red

Wow. When you walk by that much red, you have to stop and take a shot. So, I did. This shot was taken on a trip earlier in the year out in Las Vegas. Restaurants need a lot of color to attract customers. I wasn't hungry. I just liked the red.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Baltimore Inner Harbor at night

Baltimore Inner Harbor at night is a very nice view from a Marriott across the street. Sometimes your hotel room has this view. Sometimes you get to see a rooftop with an air conditioner unit. This is better.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Always a good day waking up by an ocean

Found myself in Annapolis a few weeks ago and got to stay at a Marriott along the Severn River, which cuts through the city. A little touristy but a beautiful area with the Maryland State House serving (briefly) as one of the first capitals of the United States, just a few minutes walk from this spot. Very historic as the Treaty of Paris was signed here, ending the Revolutionary War. Always a good day starting off by an ocean.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Kildare at Live Wire

About a week ago, I got to shoot the band Kildare's official debut at Live Wire where Davern's Tavern bused a bar full of fans to watch Southside Jack (on the mic) and the Szlachta brothers, Matt (shredding the guitar) and Paul (the talented drummer) tear down the house. Quite fun being up past my 10pm bedtime and playing at rock and roll photographer.

Here is the link to the full gallery :

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Blackstone Ballroom

I got to shoot in the ballroom of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. An amazing room and I chose this shot as I loved the details in the lights around the room. Quite a beautiful place to shoot.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

National Cathedral

Caught the National Cathedral on a wonder blue sky day (with a contrail) out in Washington DC last week. Not surprisingly, you find this building on top of a broad hill overlooking Washington and Georgetown. Quite a bike ride on those city rental bikes to get there. However, the ride back down is quite fun, except my rental's brakes weren't the best. That was interesting.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ex Nihilo--out of the void

I don't like taking pictures of other people's artwork but this sculpture above the main entrance of the National Cathedral in Washington is stunning so I couldn't help myself. It was carved by Fredrick Hart, originally a mail clerk of all things at the National Cathedral who became a stone carver. Depicted here is Adam and Eve being born out of the void. Quite realistic male and female forms.

Here is a color shot from further away:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Men of Annapolis

I got the feeling last week when I was staying at a Marriott in Annapolis, Maryland, that I was being watched by 17 big, strong, strapping men--rugby men, who were very comfortable with themselves and didn't mind if you knew it. Not that there is anything wrong with that. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween

Sorta creepy.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A big o' mess of fall colors

Almost a Monet. If I could cut down the trees or get in the water and still get the reflection....oh, well. Just a big o' mess of fall color in Portland.