Portland, Oregon

[/caption] September is looking more and more like July in the Pacific Northwest with 70 degree temperatures during the early evening. The only thing missing were the additional tourists flocking to the esplanade. However, there were enough local bikers, walkers, runners and boaters to give you the feeling that summer wasn’t ever going to end. It’s hard to imagine that wearing jeans and a short sleeve shirt was considered too much clothing at sunset. I can remember colder nights during peak summer or even colder days. I was also surprised to see so many boats on the Willamette river. Either the explosion of people moving to Portland has shown more on the river or the warm weather brought out additional locals to take advantage of the calm moving river. I’ve never actually seen someone wake boarding behind a jet ski under the Markham bridge or a paddle boarder paddling across the river. With another week of warm weather predicted, I’m assuming that it will continue to be busy along the Willamette in downtown Portland. I took this particular photo at about 6:00pm, which was about an hour before sunset. The suns glare was pretty intense during the last 2 hours of the day so I had to look for ways to prevent the glare from ruining too many of my photos. The sun was at a 90 degree angle and continued to create sun spots unless I kept the focal length well out of the sight of the sun and aimed in the opposite direction of the suns glare. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter in order to eliminate as much over exposure as possible. I made sure to use my tripod and bubble level and set the focal length at 54mm. Since the sailboat was tacking a lot I wanted to ensure that the shutter speed was pretty quick and luckily the bright sun allowed the shutter priority to stop at 1/128 second, even though the ISO was at 100 and the white balance was at -0.3. The aperture was at F-5.7, which also helped reduce the shutter speed but also allowed enough light through the shutter with too much overexposure.

Dahlia Flower

[/caption] Not all flowers are created equal and the Dahlia seems to make a pretty strong argument. If you look closely, you can look directly into the center of the flower and see how each of the pedals grows. It almost looks like a giant onion but only much prettier and colorful. I took this shot while using my Sigma 50mm prime/macro lens and was about an inch from the flower. This shot was taken at the Swan Island Dahlia farm in Canby, Oregon.

Portland, Oregon

[/caption] It may be looking a lot more like fall in other parts of the Country but in Portland, Oregon the weather has been calling for an extended stretch of warm and sunny weather. We have only experienced 1 rainy day since July and almost no cloudy days that I can think of. This is what you call global warming at it max. The last time Oregon experienced heat like this was just after the earth was born over 4 billion years ago. Some of the vegetation is already starting to show yellows, browns and reds but I can’t tell if its due to stress from the heat or the fall colors. Normally I would be photographing the change of colors high in the mountains of the Cascades but unfortunately the wildfires have turned me back every time. It’s hard to find a good photo opportunity when the skies are covered in thick brown smoke and most of the glaciers have been melting like a hot tin roof. I took this photo yesterday on 9/23/12 and the sun was at a 90 degree angle in the far left. I was hoping that the skies would have been more clear but a lot of the smoke from the fires have made it’s way into the city.

Seattle, Washington

[/caption] Overcast skies in downtown Seattle can be turned into a perfect photography opportunity. Whenever I’m visiting Seattle and the skies are overcast I tend to immediately start to brainstorm and think outside the box. Overcast skies over a huge city offers some of the most spectacular opportunities that you can imagine. This is especially true if you’re inside the city with the towering sky scrappers at your fingers touch. You will always want to shoot upwards in order to frame the buildings in front of the cloudy skies. This way you will be aiming your camera at around a 90 degree angle and the personalities of the clouds will be revealed. This photo is a perfect example, with the dynamic colors, formations and angles of the ever changing angry skies. The city just complements the clouds rather than the clouds hindering the city. However, the most challenging thing to remember is to always think outside the box and never underestimate the power of the clouds. If you wait too long, you may miss an amazing streaming cloud formation that can take the shape like the one in this very photo. Photoshop is also your best opportunity to take advantage of the clouds since you can separate each of the clouds from one another and really show the dynamic ability of them. I try not to rely too much on Photoshop but it offers some great advantages whenever needed. However, I always trust my settings on the camera as I’m taking photos as well as reviewing every photo on the histogram. You should never just rely on Photoshop since you can’t fix a bad photo and once you’re sitting on your couch, it’s too late. I actually took this shot on the boardwalk near the Seattle Aquarium. I wanted to include the water so I stood near the end of the pier and tilted the camera at about a 90 degree angle without cropping out too much of the water. Even though it was overcast and 7:15pm at night, the day was still pretty light out since it was during July. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to filter out the glare. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the FL at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0 since the glare from the clouds and water was too much for the lens. The aperture was at F-4 and the shutter speed was 1/64 seconds due to the low light and settings.

The beach at Ecola State Park, Oregon


Ecola State Park offers one of the most amazing and seldom visited beaches in Oregon. However, it’s not because it’s a long a stretch of Oregon that’s secluded and seldom seen. In fact, the area is one of the most visited state parks in the entire state but 99% of the tourists can only look down on the beach from high atop the viewing platform that overlooks the beach and Cannon Beach. One of the only ways that you can get down to the beach is by making the 1 1/2 mile hike that is fairly steep and rugged. However, it’s a pretty easy hike but most people either don’t want to take the time or are just plain lazy. The only other way to get to the beach is by waiting for a very low tide and quickly running around the rock that separates the beach and Cannon Beach. You will most likely have to get a little wet but I’ve been able to walk around a few times without having to get wet. Unfortunately, the tide very rarely gets low enough to allow you to avoid from getting a little bit wet. There actually used to be a short hiking trail that started from where the viewing platform is but the trail, stairs and most of the earth was washed out by a massive landslide several years ago and now only remnants of the trail exist today. This is actually good news since it now keeps hundreds if not thousands of people from overpopulating one of the most scenic beaches in the area. The hiking trail takes you through an old growth forest and provides beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. There are several resting areas along the trail and there are even additional trails that switchback around the park. There is also a waterfall that cascades onto the beach and eventually flows into the ocean.

The Needles at sunset in Cannon Beach, Oregon

[/caption] Beautiful sunset in Cannon Beach, Oregon with the Needles and low tide! September offers some of the most amazing sunset opportunities along the Oregon coast since the air quality is less than ideal due to the several wild fires that rage in the Cascade mountains during late summer. The Northern Oregon coast usually enjoys an Indian summer, which calls for sun soaked days and limited wind. The sun is also pretty intense, which also creates an amazing sunset with an explosion of red, orange and yellow colors as the particulates in the horizon dance with the sunset. This particular photo was taken just as the sun was setting at about 7:00 pm and the tide was going out. You can see the divets in the sand due to the tide quickly retreating out to sea. This creates an awesome photo opportunity. However, you have to keep a good lookout for any unwanted debris floating or lingering in the sand due to the amount of stuff that can be left behind by the fast moving tide. I normally just avoid any photo that has any debris in the photo or at least I end up cropping them out once I get home and upload them on my PC. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. This is especially true since I had the camera in shutter priority and opened the shutter for 2.5 seconds. I took this shot just as the sun was setting but kept it out of the photo since it was too far to the right of the frame and I didn’t want too much empty space between the rocks and the sunset. The glare was also very intense so I reduced the white balance to -0.3 and attached my ND4, warming filter and my CIR-PL.

Hawaii conditions at the Oregon Coast

[/caption] Hawaii like conditions along the Northern Oregon Coast with 82 degree temperatures, perfect swells and no wind! Not only was it warm for the entire part of the day but there was no wind at all and the water was as glassy and inviting as a tropical beach. September is usually the best time to visit the Oregon Coast since it’s normally experiencing an Indian Summer with sun baked days, dry weather and perfect swells. The sun also sets two hours earlier than during the summer so you don’t have to wait up all night to watch the sunset. I can honestly say that yesterday, 9/14/12, was one of the warmest days ever recorded at Cannon Beach as well as the most perfect beach day ever. Even the swells gave the impression that the Oregon Coast was welcoming a new tropical beginning with nothing but tropical weather here on out. However, reality struck when the temperatures dipped well into the upper 50’s as I stand along the beach waiting for the sun to set. I took this particular shot while standing on the viewpoint platform at Ecola State Park. It was about 6:00pm and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle with the sun in the far right. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any chances of having camera blur since I attached my CIR-PL in order to eliminate too much glare from the water and sky. The viewing platform is about 200 feet above the beach so I set the FL at 23mm so I could get a good panoramic view. I also set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 in order to avoid too much over exposure. The aperture was set at F-5.6 and the shutter speed as at 1/99 second. There are probably another 2 to 4 weeks of great opportunities along the Oregon Coast since September and October offer great sunset opportunities and the weather can be mostly dry.

Canby Dahlia Festival, Oregon

[/caption] This is another photo of a Dahlia that was taken at the Canby Dahlia Festival in Canby, Oregon. I was looking for a unique shot of one of the flowers with the blue sky in the background so I decided to crouch down on my knees and angle the camera at about a 90 degree angle. I wanted to get as much of the sky in the background without cutting off too much of the dahlia so I made sure to move close enough to the flower without losing any of the field of view. I was using my Sigma 50mm prime/macro lens so I wasn’t able to zoom. However, I was able to get as far away or as close as I needed to in order to get the perfect shot. I’m about a foot from the flower and the lens didn’t need much time to focus since the subject stands out like a battle ship. My Sigma lens doesn’t have IS and since I wasn’t using a tripod I made sure to remove the CIR-PL and keep a steady hand in order to avoid any blur or camera shake. I kept the ISO at 100 and played with the white balance until I was satisfied. Since I always check the histogram after every photo I take it’s easy to decide on which is the best shot to keep.

Dahlia flower

[/caption] This photo was taken at the Canby Dahlia farm, which is located in Canby, Oregon. You will find over 40 acres of Swan Island Dahlias and over 350 varieties to choose from. They also grow hybrid flowers, which make them some of the most unique and exclusive flowers in the world. I was literally salivating over the amount of flowers I was able to photograph. I spent over an hour in the same spot when I realized that I had to keep moving or I would be there until next week if I expected to get to them all. I had no idea that they took on so many shapes, sizes and colors. They are very photogenic and have some of the most amazing personalities, which allowed me to take advantage of their unique genetic makeup. I attached my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens and took several opportunities to get very close and also somewhat farther away in order to get the best shots. I didn’t use my tripod since I was in some pretty precarious positions and I didn’t want to spend all day setting it up and moving it aroundr To ensure that I wouldn’t have any camera shake or blur I made sure to remove my CIR-PL and attach my warming filter. Since each of the rows were either facing north or south, I took advantage of the suns position in order to avoid any glare of shadow. I kept the ISO at 100 but constantly changed the white balance until I got the perfect shot. I just made sure to always check the histogram as well as review every shot that I took. The website states that you can visit through the month of September so I will be going back real soon.