Bohemian Waxwings in Black And White

Hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings flocked in frigid 20 below fahrenheit. I arrived unexpectedly on the scene and realized time was short.

I took five frames. Luckily I was at a very fast shutter speed, so four are nice and crisp. While all four images are fairly similar, they’re stronger as a set. Flowing patterns of birds in flight mixed with minimal tree reference and high contrast make complicated scenes and challenging composition.

In the day of digital photography it’s a great feeling to take only five photos and truly enjoy four. 

Click on any image to view in carousel.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Above: The silhouette of a tree creates abstract patterns as colors cascade across Green Lake in Seattle, WA.

Using layers effectively can be a powerful way to captivate an audience. The effect of taking a three-dimensional scene and rendering it two-dimensional can be greatly minimized by offering multiple layers as focal plains to create depth.

An easy trick to think about is having something in the foreground, mid ground and background. Shoot through objects like fences, window frames or tree limbs to instantly add depth. Clouds, fog and mist all help individual layers stand out from each other, and adding a reflection can quickly increase depth.


The edge of a window, clouds and shoreline make for three very distinct layers.

Reflections and multiple rooms with varied lighting create a confusing set of layers.

Multiple rooms with varied lighting and window reflections create a confusing set of layers.

Foreground, mid ground and background to create layers, with complementary colors to boot!

End Road

The scene begged to be pictured. A sign proclaiming the road is about to end with the appearance of nearly-infinite wilderness ahead. Yellow sky blending perfectly with the yellow traffic advisory.

Perhaps I could have included a little more of the road’s imminent end, but the composition’s subtle symmetry would have suffered.

In the end it’s nothing more then a little cracked asphalt, a sign, and a large field cleared for moose habitat. With striking juxtapositions.

P.S. There’s a new drop down “Categories” bar on my blog page. Picking any genre will show all the posts I’ve put in that category.

More Paris Street Photography

Above: Color and form first attracted me to the setting below the Eiffel Tower, then a fellow photographer in a too-see-through dress added some unique content.

The post title says it all – street photography from beautiful Paris. 

I really like how all the elements form an abstract nature: water jets slice through the frame, a young girl apparently in the path of large sliding figure, and the flat perspective give the viewer leeway in interpreting the image. 

Statues, sprinklers and fun in the sun.

Statues, sprinklers and fun in the sun. July 9, 2013. 

Cigarettes and coffee play an important role in French culture.

Intently writing and smoking in Paris.

Intently writing and smoking in a Paris cafe.

Sometimes a subject catches you taking the photograph. That happened when a lady standing in lovely light with great hair saw me snap my shutter. Perhaps my favorite element in the image is the suitcase-pulling pedestrian in distance. 

Getting the glare, July 8 2013, Paris.

Getting the glare, July 8 2013, Paris.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mt. Rainier Horizions.

Above: A riverbed in late fall offers little more then a creek winding into Mt. Rainier.

The horizon, like the end of a rainbow, is unreachable. Constantly changing – expanding and contracting, becoming more open or more obscured. Horizons inspire adventures and dreams, spawn stunning sunsets and create wonders. 

Horizon is also the weekly photo challenge. 

Paradise, located 5,400 feet up Washington’s Mt. Rainer, can supply spectacular views. As well as keep them completely hidden. I got a taste of both possibilities hiking there August, 2012. 

Clouds lift, if only for a moment, to reveal a expansive view.

Clouds lift, if only for a moment, to reveal a expansive view.

This time clouds descended to create a more abstract horizon line.

This time clouds descended to create a more abstract horizon line.

Again clouds create the horizon, no panorama today.

Again clouds create the horizon, no panorama today. Panorama Point, elevation 6,800 feet. 

Complementary colors crossing the street

Street photography is one of my least proficient genres. And judging by the amount of blurry pictures I took on my trip I  need to use a faster shutter speed or take more time. Likely the latter.

There is an old adage “f8 and wait,” referring to the f8 aperture which provides a fairly large depth-of-field (the amount of the imagine in focus.) This is a valuable tip, if you’re stationary. I think for me a fast shutter speed would be more valuable since I’m often moving with the subjects.

WIth all that said, this next shot literally passed me up, and I grabbed the only – almost sharp – shot I could.

Crossing a street in Paris a family of four, being led by the dad in a large hurry, hustled by. Without even bringing the camera to my eyes I shot a single, hip-level frame, which does a nice job emphasizing the children. Even without being sharp I absolutely love the complementary colors of  the kid’s clothing.

Color theory states warm colors – yellow, orange, red – will appear closer in the frame, even when in the background. So the pedestrian in the yellow shirt is a strong figure.

I like the shot, but 1/125th of a second was not fast enough.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus, on the Notre Dame Cathedral and roses.

Focus – a powerful concept that applies to so much more then photography. Naturally, when thinking of focus I think equally of the opposite, unfocused. The difference is apparent as black and white. Sharp or fuzzy. Crisp or cloudy. Clear or muddy. Focus is a powerful tool to draw the eye and attract attention. Focus is necessary in all aspects of life – from reading and writing to work and sports.

In photography focus is fairly straightforward. Often my first question when editing a photo: What is in focus? Little is more disheartening then finding a lovely composed and well-timed shot, then realizing the subject matter is out-of-focus. Worse, nothing in focus.

The following two photos are Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the background and roses in the foreground. The different focal point and shallow depth-of-field provides a dramatic difference in the images feelings.

With the roses in focus the image feels soft, almost delicate.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral. July 8th, 2013.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral 1. July 8, 2013.

The following photo, with Notre Dame in focus (perhaps almost in focus,) feels more grandeur.

Roses and Notre Dame 2. July 8, 2013.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral 2. July 8, 2013.

These are two images from six weeks I just spent traveling throughout Europe. I will continue to post images of my travels, many with history about the subjects. So please stay tuned!