A Walk in the Park

Whatcom Falls Park

I had to deviate from my Ireland posts to show everyone what a beautiful fall day it is in Bellingham, Washington…and also ask a question about HDR photography. Recently, I found the HDR Toning option in PhotoShop. I’ve used it on a few of my photos, with some manual fine-tuning. I’m not sure if I like the results yet or not. I haven’t yet tried the traditional method of taking several photos and using software to combine the images into an HDR image. Any thoughts on methods that work well or produce a good result?

Along the Lummi Shore

Some days I feel like I’ve thoroughly explored everything along the I-5 corridor with my camera, so when I wake up feeling shooty (to steal my friend Oona’s word), I often find myself wondering where to take the old Nikon.

I called my neighbor Andy on Sunday morning and asked if he felt like a photo walk, which of course he did. I was hoping he’d have some location ideas, which of course he didn’t. Brunch and several cups of coffee inpsired nothing, so we just decided to get in his truck and start driving.

We ended up on the Lummi Indian Reservation, which runs along the coast of Washington, just north of Bellingham. When most people think of beaches, I imagine they envision white sand and sunshine. When I think of beaches, I think of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer: rocks and clamshells crunching under foot, cold wind, and eagles perching quietly in the gnarled, bare trees above the shore.

I have more pictures not posted here (one of an eagle!) which I still need to look at. I have a four day weekend coming up, and I’m going to use some of that time to get caught up on photo editing. My Smugmug account is now permanently closed, and I have to work on re-creating all of my albums on Zenfolio. But, I consider that a good opportunity to purge photos I never really liked and to whittle down to only the best ones.



Self Portrait in a Minivan Door Handle

The distorted images in David’s minivan door handle quickly became my photo walk favorite today, although the purple abandoned building in the background did give me plenty of good material to post later this week. 

I also have photog tales of peril involving a hot roof, barbed wire, and a mysterious man named Dave aboard a rusted vessel named Rebound.   That’s for later, of course.

May Flowers

There’s that old expression, April showers bring May flowers.  Well, we got the flowers, but the showers decided to overstay their welcome.  I don’t think we’ve had more than a couple of days of pure sunshine this entire month!  Don’t be deceived by my sunny posts…those days were the exception!

My friend Sarah and I went on a photo walk (drive) yesterday after the sun peeked out again.  We found some beautiful flowers along the road to La Conner and decided to make a couple of stops.  I have no idea what these flowers are called, but Sarah’s post has a few descriptions, if you’d like to take a look.

A little blurry, but I like it!


Checking In

I stepped away from the dyslexic chaos I know as logarithms just before all of my grey matter unfolded this afternoon.   It’s a good thing, because I need it for my Monday night exam.  What?  I promised not to talk about Algebra anymore?  Oh, yes….my apologies.

I did treat myself to a photo walk this afternoon to unwind, which is also a good thing because I haven’t posted anything in a week.  The blogs I LOVE to read have been neglected as well, but I’m afraid I probably won’t get to them until Tuesday.  I’m so excited to have a few extra moments to check in and see all the pictures and stories I’ve missed. 

One thing I do want to share is that I watched Born into Brothels, the documentary suggested by a couple of readers last week about a project in India which helped children of Calcutta’s red light district get an education through photography.   The project was called Kids with Cameras, and through donations and partnerships, continues to operate today.   It’s a fascinating, sometimes heart-breaking story that’s worth checking out. 

That’s all for now.  I’ll check back in mid-week to finally get caught up!

Stuck on You

Did you know, there’s a gum wall in Seattle?   According to Wikipedia, it is one of the top five “germiest” attractions in the world.   Hordes of people were gathered in Post Alley to take pictures (see David, above!), gawk, or add to the gooey layers (see random kid below).

The gum wall was one of the many stops made today on the first ever WordPress photo walk.   It turns out, some of the bloggers I follow are from the Seattle area.  So, David had the idea (at least, I believe it was him) that a few of us should get together for the afternoon.   Emily, Mike, David, and I braved the cold winds on an otherwise beautiful sunny day to explore the Seattle!  I’ll be writing about it over the next few days, so stay tuned…

Whistle in the Dark

Northern State Hospital isn’t as much of a curiousity to me as it is the default photo walk place for a quick fix when I can’t think of anything else.  It’s relatively close to work, it is peaceful…

Correction, it was peaceful.  

There wasn’t a soul in site as I wandered the deserted grounds of the old mental hospital yesterday afternoon with the Canon.  It was the perfect reprieve until I crawled into the old kitchen (I’m guessing?), and a strange sense of loneliness descended upon me.  Water dripped from the moss hanging from the jagged edges of decayed wood above, and in the dark, silent expanse of an almost unidentifiable room I stood completely still except for the wrist that twisted to check the time.  

Something was wrong.  Choosing not to question what that might be, I slowly exited the structure and didn’t turn back to face it once I hit the dirt path.  

One might assume I’d just keep walking that path and leave.  I would have, but as I rounded the corner I spotted the old apple tree from my posts earlier this year and felt the urge to revisit it.  There was a moment of hesitation, but it was brief, and I walked cautiously up the hill to inspect the area. 

I dodged the thorny blackberry bushes and made my way to the basement, capturing the picture above.  As I framed the shot, I heard whistling. 


The whistling was close, but quiet like a breeze with no leaves to rustle.  It was sad with a note of malevolence.   Click, click…time to GO!

I later shared this story with David, who had a creepy story of his own.   And even though my heart didn’t race and my skin didn’t crawl at the time, my reaction was a tad different when looking at the pictures later.  I’m thinking I’ll call it quits on Northern State for a while…unless David comes with me.

This is unrelated to my story, but when I started editing the photos, I spotted these objects above the window.  Any idea what they are?

Chasing Waterfalls

It seems like every photographer has a smooth waterfall picture in their portfolio.   Andy has a few on his walls. Until now I didn’t really care, but then as we walked through Whatcom Falls Park yesterday on our group photo walk, I decided I wanted my own.  

David‘s advice, after lending me the Canon 40d I’m currently using, was leave the setting on auto then aim, focus, and look at what the shutter speed, aperture, ISO are.  That will help teach you what to use when you want to go manual.  That ended up being good advice, and I haven’t been in auto for quite some time. 

With this water fall, I manually set the shutter speed, but kept an eye on the auto settings for everything else.  Eventually, I figured it out, and this is what I ended up with.    The shutter was set at 0.6 seconds, the F-stop at 22, and ISO at 160.  The problem I noticed immediately with leaving the shutter open longer is that more light gets in, washing out the photo.  Lowering the ISO and increasing the F-stop look care of that.   Did I do this correctly?  I’m an amateur, so without taking a class I don’t really know.  But, the pictures looks like what I had envisioned.

One last thing (and I hate ever admitting that Andy is right), you MUST use some type of tripod when leaving the shutter open for a longer period of time.  There’s just know way you can be steady enough, and the parts of the photo you want crisp will be blurry.


Long past the days of hiding chocolate chip cookies from young children, this old tin now sits semi-concealed along the interurban trail in Bellingham, slowly being devoured by rust.   I took this a while back on a photo walk with Andy.  Sometimes, when I find something I like, I don’t tell him about it until after we leave the location so we don’t end up duplicating each other’s work.  Is that bad?

Ladybug, Fly Away Home

Well camouflaged in the corner, two ladybugs explored ancient barnacles at sunset.   I vaguely remembered some nursery rhyme as I watched them…something like Ladybug, Ladybug fly away home.  But, after that I drew a blank.  Later, I looked it up and discovered those lines lead into a somewhat grim poem.   In good company with such well-known favorites as “Ring around the Rosie” and “London Bridge is Falling Down”, this old nursery rhyme means something completely different as an adult than it did as a child.   

Ladybug!  Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

This is the American version.  There are others that use “Ladybird” instead of Ladybug.  For some reason, reciting this poem to a ladybug would make it fly away and perhaps bring you good luck.  Killing one, either purposely or inadvertenly, was of course very bad luck.

The Skies Must be Crazy

Was it just me, or did yesterday’s weather resemble a manic-depressive woman?  Sunshine, clouds, RAIN, sunshine, RAIN, a hint of sunshine, RAIN.  This made my photo walk difficult because my number one priority is protecting David’s Canon.   It’s no easy task trying to get a good picture while balancing an umbrella. 

Camera:  Canon 40d
Location:  Sedro Woolley, Washington