2017—Charming Roadside View

On our second day in Oregon, we stopped at a lookout over a small cove on Hwy. 101  about 12 miles north of Brookings. My Google map didn’t identify the cove but it was just north of Arch Rock, which we did not photograph.  Even though I don’t  know the name of the cove, this charming view was a delight to find on the highway.  The pattern of the waves on the sand is intriguing, almost like a giant footprint (Moose called it Big Foot) and the small grove of evergreens look as if they have impossibly sprouted from the rock.  I processed this photograph using Luminar 2018 but decided it would look better in black and white so I used a Tonality preset to convert the image to black and white.  The preset I used emphasized the trees by diffusing the clouds behind it.

Roadside view.jpg

2017—Stormy Day At Bandon Beach

The rain and cloudy skies that defined our days in Oregon earlier this month suggested black and white photographs.   Indeed, the rain, clouds, and fog made it almost unnecessary to convert our color photographs  because what we were seeing through the viewfinder was, in fact, black and white.  There was almost no color in the skies or the sand or the rocks.  This image, however, had to be converted to black and white in order for the dark, stormy feeling to emerge.  In the original RAW image, the clouds had parted briefly and there was just a bit too much blue sky so the image looked a little too cheerful for the emotion I wanted to convey.

I edited this with MacPhun’s Tonality which, I understand, is being retired and will be incorporated into Luminar 2018.   I used my Nikon D5 and 14-24mm lens at 14mm for this shot.  I’ve learned that if the clouds are going to be the focus of the image, a super wide angle lens is the better choice.

Bandon Beach Storm Clouds.jpg

2017—Fascination With Corks

After many years, Bobo, my Red-lored Amazon, has suddenly decided that the giant bowl of wine corks I have on the counter behind her cage is her toy box.  For the past five or six days, at some point every day, she walks up and inspects the bowl, selects a cork, plucks it out of the bowl, and tosses it so that it hits the floor, bounces, and rolls around.  She watches carefully as each cork hits the deck, peering over the edge of the countertop.  It looks to me as if she is assessing how she well did.  Then she repeats this activity until about half the corks are out of the bowl.  If  I  pick them up and return them to the bowl while she is still at her task, out they come again.  She indiscriminately picks and tosses corks but, the cork she selected in the second photograph happens to be from one of my favorites, Ghost Pines Zin.  But, since the bowl resides on my countertop and since the majority of corks in the bowl are from wines I’ve drunk, it stands to reason that most of the corks are from one favorite or another.

I had my D500 set up with the 300mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter because I was hoping to get some bird photographs in the yard.  So that camera was at hand when Bobo began to toss corks Sunday afternoon.  I was about 6 feet away from her to get these closeups.

Bobo peering 2.jpg


Bobo cork


Bobo looking down

2017—The Buena Vista

On the day before Thanksgiving, my friend Jesse and I drove to San Francisco to pick up crabs I’d ordered  from the Alioto-Lazio Fish Co. on the Hyde St. Pier for Thanksgiving dinner.  Before facing the two plus hour drive home we decided to stop in at a San Francisco landmark a block away, The Buena Vista, to enjoy a hot Irish Coffee.  The Buena Vista is famous for its Irish Coffee which was introduced there in 1952 by the  bar’s owner and Stanton Delaplane, a SF Chronicle newspaper columnist.  As we waited to cross the street, a Segway tour group passed by as an uncharacteristically empty Powell-Hyde Cable Car inched up Hyde Street.

Buena Vista SF.jpg


2017—Thanksgiving With The Agnews

It’s been a while since my family has been able to get together and it was great to share a Thanksgiving dinner with my brothers, my sisters-in-law, and my niece and her husband.  The meal was non-traditional for Thanksgiving—Dungeness crab —but the antics around the table were typical Agnew, including brother Arthur hanging the crab and a spoon off his nose.  John found it amusing.



agnews thanksgiving


Art spoon




When I returned from my trip to Oregon a couple of weeks ago, I was pleased to see that most of my rose trees and shrubs were covered with blossoms.  The warm weather in late September and October gave all the roses a boost.  As I walked past the roses lining the driveway after SuperShuttle dropped me off, one particular bloom caught my attention because it has very rarely performed well.  My JFK rose tree, that features a creamy white flower with a heady fragrance had several blossoms.  Most were past their prime but one was perfect.  I dropped my luggage in the foyer, picked up my clippers from the garage, and headed back out to cut it.  I immediately placed it in a vase with water and the next morning, when it was not quite as perfect as when I cut it, I photographed it.  I set the vase on a piece of black matte board in the north facing bay window and poised the camera overhead, facing down.

Because the rose is named JFK, for John Fitzgerald Kennedy, I decided to post this to commemorate the 54th anniversary of his death.


2017—Very Ugly Hats

My friends Pat and Berit came for dinner Saturday.  I decided to serve Cappellacci alla Zucca, a butternut squash pasta dish that literally means “ugly hats with squash” in Italian.   I bit off a bit more than I could chew, though.   I hadn’t made the dish for a few years and it’s been a couple of years since I have made fresh pasta so I followed the instructions from a pasta class I once took.  I should have followed the instructions for making the pasta in the Il Fornaio Pasta Book with the Cappellacci alla Zucca recipe I was following.  I missed the step that tells how thick to roll the dough.  Because it’s going to be filled and shaped into the “ugly hats” it should be about 1/8 inch thick.  I rolled the dough way too thin.  This photograph shows the last pass through my KitchenAid pasta attachment.  It’s probably only 1/16 of an inch thick.   The dough was too thin to fill and form the hat shape.  My ugly hats turned out to be very ugly, misshapen, and leaky hats.  I was so disappointed in their appearance that I didn’t even bother to take a photograph of the end result.  Pat and Berit were good sports and didn’t mind being served very ugly hats.   And, at least the dish tasted good.  The pasta dough is made from butternut squash puree instead of eggs and the ugly hats are filled with butternut squash, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and nutmeg and served over a savory tomato sauce and topped with browned butter with sage.

ugly little hats.jpg


I had a breakthrough of sorts on my second day in Oregon, after my first relatively unsuccessful attempts at burring the clouds and water using multiple exposure the day before.  When I first tried multiple exposure, I failed to adjust exposure to get slow shutter speeds which, when all images were combined, would blur the water and clouds.  The water in my shots was only partially blurred  and the skies yielded tack sharp birds flying through in multiples of ten, which just happened to be the number of shots I took that the camera combined into one.  My breakthrough occurred when I used my new Breakthrough 6 stop neutral density filter the  next day.

There are a few steps I had to follow for the successful use of the Breakthrough 6-stop ND filter.  First, before attaching the filter, I had to determine the proper exposure.  I first set the ISO to the lowest setting on the Nikon D5, which is, in effect, ISO 50, and the aperture on my 24-70mm lens to f/22 and noted the resulting shutter speed.  Then, after I attached the filter, and changed the exposure mode from Aperture Priority to  Manual, I entered the shutter speed into the handy ND Timer app for my iPhone.  The app calculated the new shutter speed required to get the proper exposure with the filter attached.  Anything over 30 seconds requires that the shutter speed be set to Bulb or Time and the ND Timer App will time the exposure.  After I reviewed several exposures, I discovered that I preferred a darker exposure so I increased the shutter speed to a faster 25 seconds.  This is the image that resulted.

The clouds are streaked with considerable movement in the 25 second exposure.  The occasional rain drop landed on the filter while the camera was exposing the shot.  They show up like small dark dots on the image so I had to remove quite a few of them in Adobe Camera Raw.


2017—Slow News Day

The old riddle when we were kids, “What’s black and white and re(a)d all over?” came to mind yesterday when I turned the page in my Friday morning edition of the Sacramento Bee and found nothing.   Just white pages.  The black could not be re(a)d as there was none.  Thursday must have been a slow news day.


2017—Beaujolais Nouveau Day

On a whim Thursday evening while shopping at Whole Foods, I bought a bottle of  2017 Beaujolais Nouveau.   Seeing it brought back fond memories of my trip to France three years ago with my friend Charleen when we traveled by river boat and train tasting wines throughout France. The release of the year’s Beaujolais Nouveau is a big deal in France and as I recall, we missed it by a couple of days there, although we did some tasting of it.   I don’t think a day or two could possibly make a difference with this very young, very delicious wine.   But, it turned out that Thursday, November 16, 2017, was Beaujolais Nouveau Day this year.  What serendipity!  I had no idea when I bought the wine and neither did I realize that Beaujolais Nouveau is shipped to the US so that we can participate in Beaujolais Nouveau Day with the French.  By the way, it paired well with my dinner of leftover grilled chicken tenders and cauliflower rice.

beaujoilais nouveau.jpgalut to Beaujolais Nouveau!


2017—On The Beach

The Oregon coast features dramatic surf and dramatic skies and the rocky spires known as Sea Stacks that jut above the water add even more drama to Oregon seascapes.  Moving just a couple of feet toward the surf or away from the surf or just a bit to the right or the left and zooming in or out with the lens can make a huge difference in the emotional impact of a photograph.  I took these photographs just a couple of minutes apart with my 14-24 mm wide angle lens. By including more of the foreground in the first shot and with a slightly longer focal length, the scene seems to invite the viewer in.  By contrast, the second shot, with a similar sky and reflection but without as many rocks in the foreground and using a slightly shorter focal length, has a distant, isolated, lonely feel despite the vibrant colors of the sky and the reflections.   I like  both of these photographs but they evoke very different emotions in me.

On The Beach


OR Day 4 177058-1


2017—Angry Sea

The waves at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon are massive.  We were there before they crested but they were still very impressive.  The waves there are so massive and dangerous that the park closes at 5PM so that on-lookers won’t be swept away at the height of the waves’ fury.  I chose black and white for this photograph to emphasize the angry nature of the waves.

Angry Sea.jpg

2017—Smiling At Sunset

Yesterday I posted a photograph taken at Oregon’s Sunset Bay with a Fisheye lens, placing the horizon dead center of the view finder to create an undistorted view.  In contrast to the photograph in yesterday’s post, using the same camera and lens, I got maximum fisheye effect by focusing on the water in front of me so the horizon is very rounded and the wave approaching my feet is also curved instead of straight.  The foamy upward curve of the wave makes it appear to be smiling for the lens.


OR Day 3   176025-1.jpg

2017—Sunrise At Sunset

Sunset Bay north of Bandon, Oregon is serene and beautiful with tree-topped sea cliffs.  We were there just after sunrise in time to capture some of the golden reflections of the rising sun behind us on the clouds, the water, and the sand.  I used my Nikon D500 and my 10.5mm Fisheye lens to photograph this scene.  I learned that if you center the horizon line in the viewfinder,  the characteristic exaggerated  curvature of the fisheye is mitigated and there no longer is such a dramatic distortion.  Sometimes the fisheye distortion works well in a photograph but in this case, I think the more normal wide-angle view is more appealing.  My biggest challenge with this shot was keeping the other photographers out of my photograph.  The 10.5mm is such a wide angle lens that unless I stepped forward if anyone was beside me, that person would appear in the edge of the photograph.

Sunrise At Sunset 2.jpg

2017—Mock Cairn

On Friday morning as we drove north along Highway 101, we stopped at Whale’s Head Beach and practiced long exposures again.  As we worked our way up the beach and waded through rivulets of water washing over the sand, this carefully stacked cairn atop a large boulder caught my attention.  It isn’t really a cairn, which is a pile of rocks that is assembled as a monument or landmark to guide travelers.  This is more beach art than true cairn, for it really has no meaning other than whatever it meant to the artist.  I was curious about it because I noted several on the beaches during our brief visit last week to the Oregon Coast.  And apparently these odd pieces of “beach art” are an annoyance to some who consider building cairns where none are needed to show the way is directly opposed to the philosophy to “leave no trace” in our wild lands.  Some would argue that even though the rocks used are natural and the pile will eventually fall, disturbing the rocks in the first place could have an adverse effect on the ecology of the place.  Until I saw the rocks, I’d never thought one way or another about this practice and I don’t really think stacking a few rocks will really cause harm to the environment, but it does make one think.    When something manmade like this appears in the midst of an otherwise pristine landscape, even as relatively  unobtrusive and expertly crafted as it is,  some of the magical feeling of being in the wild is lost.

Beach ARt.jpg