Monday, June 16, 2014

Bear on the Doorstep

Spires of Tallinn
Spires of Tallinn, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

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One sound guideline, especially if you're an eastern European country in this era.... don't trust Russia. Watch that big bad bear closely. More importantly, be wary of shady cab drivers. There's a whole army of them inside your country's borders as I type, and they're sneaky bastards, making a bad name for all the honest, hard working and helpful drivers out there.

My fiancée and I had just cleared customs, and traveling lightly with only carry-ons, went straight to the taxi rank. "Are you looking for a taxi?" asked a smartly dressed gentleman waiting just outside the sliding glass doors of the arrivals hall, smoking, thick Russian accent. "What hotel?". "Yes", I reply, and I tell him the name of our hotel. "Okay, I can take you there. Come with me." Before I've even left the curb, my fiancée has already crossed the road, close on his heels, right past the twenty or so other travelers queuing for what appear to be normal taxis . "Come on honey! Let's get to the hotel."

It was one of those moments that just didn't feel right, but did I say anything? Of course not. I catch up, crossing the road, past the taxi rank and the other travelers, to this driver's sleek, black, shiny Mercedes. Still not able to place my finger on the problem, we get in the car, and we're off into the night, onto the roads of this completely unfamiliar city. "It's only five, maybe ten minutes" the driver tells us. Definitely Russian, maybe Bulgarian? Romanian? Hell, I don't know. Maybe I should give up trying to guess accents, and quit buying into stereotypes. Maybe I should ask, but I'm just not feeling at ease. I try to relax and look out the window, hoping to spot some interesting landmark to photograph later.

I turn to my fiancée with a somewhat forced smile, only she's not smiling at all. She's staring wide-eyed toward the dashboard. "Honey, do you see that?"... "What?"... "That!"... and she points to the meter. I look, and sure enough, the red number on the meter display was quickly getting larger as Euro upon Euro piled onto the rigged meter.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Honor your father and mother

Chain Lakes
Chain Lakes, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

One of my favorite places to photograph is tiny Chain Lakes on Eastern Washington State's Little Spokane River. The best way to see it is in a kayak early in the morning before the wind picks up and disturbs the glass-smooth water.

I'm fortunate and blessed to have a good father. Not a perfect father, but a role model I can be proud of, who taught me invaluable life lessons, whose example and wisdom I can draw on time and time again. Some traits my father instilled in me are a constant curiosity, a love of nature, and respect for the world's wild places. He taught me the virtue of self-reliance while demonstrating how to balance internal strength of character with an outward humanism. He's a tough act to follow, but Lord willing I can pay his love forward.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Swans on the River Stour

Swans on the River Stour by right2roam
Swans on the River Stour, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.
It seems so long ago. I had just bought my first digital camera, a second hand early generation Sony Cybershot. I was having so much fun trying out all of its bells and whistles, and I was instantly addicted to my new ability to see my results and process images without waiting.

At the time, to me, digital didn't offer many advantages over film, but seemed like more of a trade off. This camera was rated highly for its class, but sometimes the colors just didn't seem quite right. Greens and yellows didn't appear natural. The camera didn't offer a RAW file option, dynamic range was lacking, and the low resolution and graininess compared with today's equipment left something to be desired. One technique I played with and found somewhat effective was using the camera's black and white preset while holding a yellow or orange filter in front of the lens.

This morning I "rediscovered" the folder where I archived all of these images, and enjoyed the flood of memories from travels and experimentation with that old fossil. This is one of my favorites, and I'm considering posting a few more, perhaps as a small portfolio of my earlier photography. Then you can be the judge as to whether or not my work has gotten any better over time and with better equipment.

I wonder where that dinosaur is now and if it's still being used.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Frosty Contrast

Frosty Contrast
Frosty Contrast, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

Sometimes you just have to look a little closer. Most of my portfolio consists of landscapes, but I'm always on the lookout for interesting patterns and textures on a smaller scale. I came across these frosted leaves while hiking in the Bavarian Alps late last Fall.

This morning reworked the full color version of this frame into several editions. In this monochrome conversion I applied a little dodge and burn to intensify the highlights and shadows, accentuating the textures and patterns in the leaves.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Silver Streams

Silver Streams by right2roam
Silver Streams, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

I don't consider this photo to anything spectacular, but I'll share it anyway. The direction I'm going with this is a little different than my usual posts. I don't have access to the RAW file for this image, but I thought I'd process anyway, in jpeg. Yeah, yeah, what a waste. Right? Maybe you're right. Not surprisingly, the jpeg file just doesn't contain enough detail to really make this scene shimmer. Maybe the RAW file doesn't either, but when I get home I'm going to re-work this and hopefully see a significant difference in quality. I'll share the result here soon.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day's End - Sfinari Beach

Day's End - Sfinari Beach by right2roam
Day's End - Sfinari Beach, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.
First of all, Happy New Year to you all. Wishing you a peaceful, prosperous, and blessed 2013.

January 1st brings me some long overdue down time, and I thought that part of the pause should include a long overdue post to Right2Roam. For anyone who has been following this, thank you for taking notice. Comments and feedback are always welcome.

In my last post I mentioned that I would be going to South Africa for my 1st photo safari. Unfortunately I had to cancel the trip, but certainly not remove it from my bucket list. In fact, I've been on the road a lot lately, but without my good camera. Travel highlights include a short stopover at beautiful Chain Lakes. The downside of traveling so light: I'm now very low on quality new material. The plus side: I've had some time to study new post-processing techniques and practice them on old material. Purists don't worry. I still haven't tainted my work with HDR techniques. Traveling light means added challenge as lately I've been working only with my now 5-year old notebook computer, but with good results. I'm still sticking to basic masks and layers, with a little dodging and burning added in. Natural and subtle are the key words here.

Here's a shot that I took back in 2009. I was fairly pleased with the original, but in this version the foreground and sky are better balanced, and I was able to subtly bring out some details in the rocks.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 16 mm
Aperature: f/20
Exposure: 1/5 second
ISO 50

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Flippers and Whiskers

Flippers and Whiskers by right2roam
Flippers and Whiskers, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.
Does anyone else smell that? If you've ever been up close and personal with a sea lion colony, you probably know the dizzying... ummm... aroma that I'm talking about. But then the sea lions probably think the same thing about smelly human photographers.

On today's agenda... a trip to the zoo. It appears that my bucket list African Safari vacation is becoming reality. South Africa's Kruger National Park is expecting me, so time to practice turning my lenses toward God's creatures.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 510 mm
Aperature: f/10
Exposure: 1/200 sec
ISO 320