Friday, November 23, 2012

A Thankful Thanksgiving 2012 Food for Thought

     Well it's the day after Thanksgiving and yes we made it through another Thanksgiving, but not without quite the drama leading up to Thanksgiving Day 2012.
Lets see where do we start, how about reverse to about a week and a half ago.
I actually consider myself pretty computer savvy, I build my own computers, make sure I have the latest antivirus software and up to last week felt pretty untouchable by hackers, who would want to hack a nobody like myself anyways, well it happened and it turned my mine and my wife's life upside down for about a week.
To make a long story short hackers were key logging one of my computers and were able to gain access to our online banking, Paypal and Ebay accounts basically trying to transfer funds between online banking accounts then transfer that money to my Paypal account they hacked so the could pay for the iPhones and computers they bought when they hacked my Ebay account.
It is a scary situation helplessly seeing money transferred between accounts and not being able to do anything about it.
Fortunately were were able to shut and close everything down before too much damage was caused still the frustration and headaches of dealing with the bank, Paypal and Ebay really wears on one.
Moving forward as of the day before Thanksgiving we were pretty much back to normal new accounts no Paypal or Ebay for awhile for us.
My wife and I have become much more cautious on the computers now as well I installed anti key logging software and run spyware malware scans 2-3 times a day.
We have changed all our passwords and no email or other account has the same password.
Lesson learned nobody is protected 100% from hackers and being hacked, my personal suggestion is to be careful and suspicious constantly if one is going to conduct online banking or deal with Paypal or Ebay.
     Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day it usually is just my wife and I and our 3 kids opps I mean doggies, it is a long drive for my wife's parents so they do not make the voyage up to us anymore for Thanksgiving.
It usually is a crisis for us cooking The Thanksgiving bird as we can have it in the oven for what seems 12 hours and it is still raw. Well being the incredible griller my wife is this year my wife decided to cook the "Bird" on the charcoal BBQ, needless to say I truly was a little nervous and worried I have 100% confidence in my wife's grilling ability and skill but still a Turkey on the BBQ.
3 hours later my wife decided the bird was done the moment of truth and what a glorious moment it was, that BBQ turkey was the most mouth watering, juicy, tender turkey I have ever tasted in my life, my wife pulled it off like no other I can't tell her enough how good not only the turkey but the whole Thanksgiving dinner was, it was beyond the bomb. So after our tummies were nice in full doggies included we thought about the last few days and what we had gone through, yes it was no fun but we have so much to be thankful for we have my wife's mom and dad in their mid 80's and in great health, my wife and I have good jobs we have our health a house and food on our table on a daily basis that I'm truly thankful for as I know it can all disappear in a moment and that we should take nothing for granite
                                         My wife's masterpiece BBQ the Turkey this year the most
                                         Mouth watering, juicy, tenderest Turkey I have ever tasted
                                         Thank you to my beautiful wife for the incredible Thanksgiving              
                                         Our big man Malcolm sits in his chair waiting for his share
                                         Of the Thanksgiving turkey dinner and boy did they all enjoy
                                         While the turkey was on the BBQ I went out and tested the
                                          Sony Nex7 and the 30mm Macro 1:1 lens I have to say I
                                          Continue to be impressed with the Nex 7 and it's lens lineup

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Freeze and Skagit Geese

     Had our first hard freeze of the Fall on Saturday November 11 so figured this would be another good opportunity to give the Canon 100L IS f2.8 lens another workout attached to the Canon 5D Mark II. For me the freeze brings out such dramatic details, patterns and structure in the fallen leaves. The macro images are all 3 exposure blends, blended in photoshop CS6 along with Nik and Topaz filters.
     After the morning macro shoot my beautiful wife and I headed up to the Skagit Valley (about 60 miles north of Seattle) to see if the annual migration of Canada Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans had arrived. During the winter months in the Skagit Valley thousands upon thousands of Canada Snow Geese and hundreds of Trumpeter Swans from as far as the islands off  Russia take winter residency in the rich agricultural fields located throughout the valley.
     It truly is a sight to see and hear hundreds of snow geese taking off from a field together flying wing tip to wing tip in formation and yet never colliding into each other, it truly is a sight and lesson to be seen in communication and beauty.
     I can not recommend enough if you are in the Seattle area between Mid November and late February one really owes it to themselves to head on up to the Skagit Valley to witness first hand the beauty of the Canada Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans.

                                          A huge flock of Canada Snow Geese flying from field to field
                                          Looking for food during the winter months in the Skagit Valley
                                          Of Washington State
                                          Snow Geese keeping each other in check while feeding in the
                                          Rich agricultural fields of the Skagit Valley
                                          Many of the members of certain flocks are banded for tracking
                                          And other information gathered by biologists
                                          Incredible to see the perfect formation and spacing the Snow
                                          Geese keep while flying from field to field
                                          A Fern gives way to the seasons first hard freeze the frost
                                          Adds such a nice dramatic look and feel
                                                           The hard freeze brings out so many
                                                           Textures, patterns and structures in the
                                                           Fallen Fall leaves
                                          Hundreds of Canada Snow Geese flying from field to field in
                                          Perfect harmony in the Skagit Valley about 60 miles north of
                                          Seattle, WA best months Mid-Nov through Late Feb
                                          The fine details of the frost captured by the Canon 100L IS
                                           f2.8 lens almost looks like sugar coated leaves

Friday, November 2, 2012

Our Little Family

So today's Blog entry is going to talk a little about our family. Those that know myself and or my beautiful wife Nancy know we do not have any kids, well we shall say the 2 legged kids, see our family consist of three of the most beautiful kids anyone could ever ask for and yes they are the 4 legged kids. Our three guys (I guess I should mention their names lol) Malcolm our male Scottie AKA Malkie, Big Man, Little Man , he is the Alpha male of the group and does a great job at it. Next is Malcolm's sister Lucy, AKA LuLu, Lula Bell, Little Girl, don't let her sweet worried innocent look fool you she is one tough little girl that bosses our 80lb husky around like there is no tomorrow.  That brings us to our last kid of the bunch our 80lb Husky Nanook, AKA Nookie, Chunky Butt, Fatty, Big Boy, he is 80lb of pure sweetness he loves to be touched and messed with. Funny thing is Nanook can not stand to be separated from his brother and sister, Malcolm and Lucy. An example if a vet visit is scheduled for Malcolm and Lucy Nanook has to go along as well, I guess you can call it separation anxiety. So that his a brief synapse of our family. I know my wife and I could not go a day without have these kids in our life they truly our such a sweet, beautiful part of our life. If you view the video at the end of the post warning turn down your speakers it gets pretty vocal LOL!!!!!!
                                                    Lucy, AKA LuLa Bell our female Scotty. Don't
                                                    let her worried look fool you she is one little
                                                    tough girl
                                         Malcolm, AKA Malkie our male Scotty and Lucy's litter mate
                                         Malcolm is the Alpha male of the family of the family
                                         Malcolm and his favorite pass time playing with the ballie. He
                                         he really does need a 12 step program when it comes to ball
                                         No matter the time of year rain or shine Malcolm has to get
                                         ball playing in
                                         Our precious Nanook as a puppy such a beautiful boy
                                         Nanook with that regal look on a Fall evening always willing
                                         to pose for the camera
                                         Nanook enjoying an early Fall evening in the backyard
                                         In color and B&W Nanook is so photogenic
                                         A summer evening pose enjoying the warm evening breeze
                                         A very close, close up of Nanook and he never gets annoyed
                                         A bored and sleepy Nanook in his favorite place on the couch
                                                      Lucy listening to me talking to her I think I'm
                                                      asking her if she wants to play in the water she
                                                      Malcolm love to play in the hose
                                                    And the taking of the 3 Nanook is such a howler
                                                    I will ask them where is Mommy (my wife) and
                                                    this is their response just priceless

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Washington State Patrol Relationship

Looking back throughout my lifetime it really is amazing and ironic at the same time the way many of my friendships and acquaintances have become. A perfect example is my friendship my WSP Trooper Jim and my relationship with his detachment based in Colfax, WA
Without getting into a long drawn out boring read of how this special friendship developed I think a snapshot will suffice just fine.
As most know the Palouse region is one of my favorite areas for photography and on many trips in the past I have had fellow photographer friends join me. On one such trip a couple of years back professional photographer Don Hall joined me for a few days in the Palouse. On a scouting trip he took me to a view overlooking a gorgeous 900 acres of prime Palouse farmland. As we were getting ready to leave that night the owner of the land came out to greet us, upon our initial meeting the land owner was the most gracious humble individual I have ever meet he basically opened his land to us to photography. Thus the relationship starts the Land owner and Farmers name is Vic, a retired school teacher of 30 years. Where my Trooper friend comes into the story is that Vic is Jim's father-n-law, so if it wasn't for Don Hall or Vic coming out that night to greet us my friendship with Jim and the Colfax, WA WSP detachment probably would have never became.
Extending from my relationship, friendship with Jim and the WSP, I have been asked to shoot many different engagements such as DUI awareness campaigns, Detachment group photos, individual Trooper and Officer portraits.  One of the most emotional WSP shoots I did was the 2012 Fallen Officer Memorial and 2012 Trooper of the year award ceremony.
It was truly a blast photographing Jim receiving the 2012 Trooper Of The Year Award for his district, with that award he was presented with a cool awesome unmarked car it is Red and I mean bright, bright red .
So in a snapshot that is how my friendship and relationship with the WSP was started, I have to say I have the utmost respect for these Troopers putting their life on the line day in and day out, especially in the crazy society we now live in.
I hope you enjoy a small collection of images below of the WSP
                                         Twenty One gun Salute for the Fallen Officers of the WSP
                                         a very emotional event in that the WSP lost a Trooper in 2012
                                         This is the WSP Colfax Detachment a super group of hard
                                         working dedicated Troopers based in Colfax, WA
                                         My Trooper friend Jim posing with his brand new unmarked
                                         car which he earned for being named Trooper of the year for
                                         his district and yea it really is this red
                                         Jim and fellow Trooper Bruce posing next to their unmarked
                                         vehicles those are some fast cars right there
                                         Jim receiving the 2012 Trooper of the year award from the
                                         chief of the WSP at the WSP academy in Shelton, WA
                                         Another Colfax detachment photo that includes Karen the
                                         secretary for the Colfax detachment
                                                    Playing Taps on the roof of the WSP academy
                                                    during the 2012 Fallen Officer Memorial
                                         A WSP Trooper prayer during the 2012 Fallen Officer
                                         Memorial at the WSP Academy in Shelton, WA
                                             Jim and his wife Lisa along with the WSP Chief and
                                             Brad the former Sargent of Jim's Detachment                       

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall Color Macros 10/28/2012

Recently acquired the Canon 100L IS f2.8 Macro lens, so decided to test it out on some local Fall colors and macro-scapes ummm is that even a word. Have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the lens attached to my old trusty 5D Mark II. I should note all were shot handheld and bracketed at three exposures 3EV apart.
                                          I was pleasantly surprised with the color rendering with the Canon
                                          100L IS f2.8 lens really produced vibrant colors
                                         Focus attaining was very fast and accurate with the 100L no hunting
                                         for a focus point at all no micro lens adjustment was used
                                                              The Bokeh is very pleasing to the eye
                                                              nice and creamy almost as good as the
                                                              famous Canon 135 f2 Bokeh
                                         Very little distortion or Chromatic Aberration was detected on the
                                          100L IS f2.8 Macro lens
                                                          The Lens produced some very nice patterns
                                                           textures and details in the images
                                         Really liked the comp here with the spider web
                                         detail very prominent in the image
                                         The contrasting patterns in the wood and the wet
                                         look really made the Fall leaf pop very nicely

Monday, October 29, 2012

Steptoe Butte, Washington 10-23-2012

I always enjoy calling on my "regular" job accounts in Eastern, Washington and Northern, Idaho. For me it truly is some of the most beautiful and fascinating landscape in the country. A part of Eastern, Washington know as the Palouse is an area hundreds of square miles that encompass both Washington and Idaho. The Palouse is a rich farmland area but truly a special type of farmland it that it is all "Dry Land Farming" in that there is no irrigation used for the crops of Wheat, Peas, Canola and a few other types of crops. The rolling hills, patterns and textures are just an amazing sight to be seen and the Palouse offers such diversity in the landscape from season to season.
One of the main attractions of the Palouse is a Butte called Steptoe Butte, which is located about 10 miles outside of the city of Colfax, WA. Steptoe Butte offers a beautiful 360 degree view of the rolling and diverse landscape of the Palouse, There is a parking facility at both the bottom and very top of Steptoe. The road is a very narrow winding 3.3 miles from the bottom to the top one way and an elevation gain of close to 2000ft.
Most people drive up the Butte and there are pull offs for one to get out and view or take photos of the beautiful landscape.
For me hiking up from the bottom to top and back down is such a more intimate feeling and connection with the area stopping both on my way up and way down not only photographing the beauty but just stopping and listening, mostly listening to silence, solitude and the wind whistling through the butte, I truly recommend hiking the butte if at all possible.
So on October 23 decided to hike up and down Steptoe Butte with my trusty Sony Nex 7 and an assortment of lens but figured I would use the Sony 55-210 as my primary lens for the day. I should note the previous day I tried the hike as well but storm after storm caused me to turn back down about half way up.
October 23 looked like about a 40% chance I wouldn't get rained or snowed on hiking up the Butte. As I started out around 2:30 pm the skies looked threatening but still dry. The first 1.5 miles up were fine nice and dry with some great stormy skies that were casting beautiful shadows on the landscape. As I got close to the 2 mile mark I could see a intense squall was coming in from the west. I knew I was going to get caught in it but was hoping I could make it to the top before getting dumped on. As I made my way toward the top I could tell I was going to get swallowed up by the squall and that I did it started first as rain then sleet and then that white fluffy stuff called snow, it was just about a complete white out but I kept heading toward the top and was loving every minute of it. Within another 15 minutes I walked out of the squall to broken clouds up on top of the Butte and was greeted with some amazing stormy skies and photo opportunities I tried to capture as illustrated below.
                                                           A Fall Tree contrasting with the brown earth
                                                           Hiking my way up to the top of Steptoe Butte
                                             A Bad iPhone image of me caught in a snow squall while making
                                             my way up to the top of Steptoe good fun times
                                         The intimate patterns, textures, colors and curves of the Palouse
                                         A wider view from the top of Steptoe Butte after the squall had
                                         had cleared the the sun made a brief apperance
                                         Windmill Farms are just now starting to pop up throughout the
                                         Palouse some hate them while others love them as part of the Palouse
                                         The shadows of the Palouse playing off the rolling hills and stormy
                                         Skies was just gorgeous
                                          The last view hiking back down Steptoe Butte the splash of colors
                                           in the foreground gave such a nice intimate look and feel                             
                                                        My Wife Nancy and I have a special name for this
                                                        Tree in the Palouse we have named it the "Love Tree"
                                                        As it holds special memories for my beautiful Wife
                                                        and I            

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kayaking August 2012

My beautiful wife Nancy bought me my first Kayak for my 50 birthday in August. We have a quite small 150 acre lake located only a couple of miles from our house and what no better place to start my Kayak adventures during the evening sunsets. Such a peaceful and solitude feeling being out at water level in a Kayak. The lake is Lake Cassidy located in Snohomish County, Washington State
                                          Fading light view of shoreline from the Kayak. Shot
                                          with Canon G12 handheld
                                         Washington Statecloseup of one of many water lilies
                                         populating lake Cassidy in Western Washington State
                                         Shot with Canon G12 Handheld
                                          One of my paddle against the ripples of lake Cassidy
                                          Shot with Canon G12
                                          A paddle stroke against the fading light. Smoke from
                                          wildfires made for an interesting sunset. Shot with the
                                          Canon G12 handheld
                                         A soft glowing view of Lake Cassidy's shoreline. Shot
                                         with the Canon G12 handheld
                                          Final light on bow of Kayak and time to head to shore
                                          Shot with Canon G12 handheld
                                          A resident of lake Cassidy looking for dinner. Shot
                                          with Canon G12 handheld
                                         Another view of a water Lilly on Lake Cassidy. Shot
                                         with Canon G12 handheld