Outdoor photographs

Every September, the Saturday after Labor Day, there’s a little bike race from Logan to Jackson, WY. Known as LoToJa, it is billed as the toughest one-day bike race in the United States. Over 200 miles, climbing 10,000+ feet over three mountain passes, that’s not an idle boast. We were at the start at 6:30 to see son Brad start his third race, twice as a single rider, once as part of a four man relay team. He finished under 10 hours, making his average speed over 20 mph. Here are some pictures from the start.

Tour of Utah


The Larry Miller Tour of Utah came through Cache Valley and ended with five laps around a roughly three-mile circuit in North Logan. Laps 1-3 were somewhat leisurely, but by Lap 4 things got serious because the end of Lap 5 was the finish. Just before the peloton came by my vantage point for Lap 4, two serious photographers showed up. One of them was hired by the Tour. The other works for Getty Images, a huge, worldwide photographic agency. I asked him where he was last week and where he would be next week. He said last week he was home but that was because he’d spent five weeks in France for the Tour de France. Next week he was covering NASCAR. At first blush it sounded like a great job but then I thought…… not so much if you have a family and this guy was wearing a wedding ring. They shot for maybe 90 seconds then packed up to head to the finish line.

A different kind of biker. She wasn’t in the race.


Outdoor photographs, street photography

Summerfest is Logan’s annual celebration of the arts, held on the Logan Tabernacle grounds. For three days every summer it’s a gathering place for artists of all types. This year I entered a photograph in the photography contest and was lucky enough to garner third place in the amateur category. This contest is unique in that all entries, whether photographs or paintings, must be of something within Cache Valley (they even give a map showing the boundaries) and it must be completed within a five day window immediately prior to the start of Summerfest. I had taken this photograph in May, and had to re-create it between June 8 and 12, get it printed, framed and delivered by noon on June 12.

Handyman special

Here are some other photos of Summerfest itself.

Creative Exercise #1: Smartphone Stroll

street photography

I recently came across a book of 52 exercises for creative photography and decided to try them out. Number 1 is called a “Smartphone Stroll.” Leave the DSLR or point and shoot camera at home, take your smartphone and set the timer for 1 minute. Go on a walk, at least 15 minutes, 20-30 is better. Every time the timer goes off, take a picture. Don’t think about composing the picture, just find something wherever you are when the timer sounds and take a picture. The idea is to help you understand yourself. Is there a theme in the pictures? Are they taken from the same vantage point? Within the length of the stroll, did a story develop? Study the pictures you took but don’t edit. What do you like? What could be better?

Yesterday I strolled around the grounds at Logan High and got these.

At the Border

street photography

We recently returned from a trip to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, for the quinceanara of our grand-niece. Getting into Mexico was no problem; we just drove through from Calexico, California, to Mexicali, Mexico. Coming back was a different matter all together. We were in a line of cars for two and one-half hours, snaking along the approximately three mile path where border agents verified we weren’t carrying contraband of any kind and that we were legally able to enter the United States.

This queue made a captive audience of potential buyers for peddlers of all sorts. It also made for some interesting photos. Here are some of what I call Scenes from Inside a Car.

Looking for someone missing

The wall. The other side is California


Papers, please

Collecting plastic bottles

L’abuela selling Chiclets

Probably a Haitian refugee. She ducked behind a car when she saw my camera

Almost there

Night Photography

Outdoor photographs

Last month (January) we had the full blood moon lunar eclipse. Like millions of other people I went out to see what I could capture in photography. About 8:30 on a 20-degree night I drove out to the western part of Cache Valley, away from the city lights, where the mountains and trees were far away. The moon came up, but it was cloudy. I watched from the bed of my pickup as the clouds flitted back and forth in front of the moon as the shadow of the sun crossed the moon’s face. I had my camera set up on my tripod. I don’t have a long telephoto lens so I was using the 50-200 mm lens that came with the camera. Because of the low light I used manual settings, with the aperture at f/8 for good depth of field and toying with the exposure, anywhere from 6-20 seconds. It was difficult to center the moon in the focus ring of the lens, so auto-focus wasn’t working. I was in full manual mode. Most of the shots weren’t worth keeping but one, after some elementary enhancement and cropping, turned out not so bad for kit equipment.

After the clouds fully obscured the moon, I wasn’t ready to quit just yet. I still had a little feeling in my fingers so I decided to try some time lapse photography of the road and passing cars. Focusing on the road was a lot easier than focusing on the moon. I got the picture framed and waited for a car to come along. Then I hit the shutter button and waited for a 7-second exposure.

Finally, I took one of the road I was on. The long exposure gave a ghostly quality to the scene.

Experimenting With the Camera


One of the great things about digital photography is you can click away without having to count the dollars every time you press the shutter. Back in the days of film, you got 12, 24 or 36 exposures for whatever the price of a roll of film was. I just checked, you can get 10 rolls of 36 exposure, 35 mm Kodak 200 color film for $32.99, or about $.10 per shot. Then there was the cost of developing. Plus, you couldn’t look at what you’d just done to make adjustments. It probably made for better pictures because you had to give some thought to the composition, camera settings, and all that before you shot, but it didn’t lend itself to experimentation.

With digital, you can do lots of fun stuff. If it turns out, great; if not, there’s the delete button on the camera or onscreen. Here are some experiments I’ve tried.

This first set is from a full moon, natural light shoot I did a couple of years ago. I didn’t have a fast lens, so the models had to hold their poses for up to 20 seconds to get the proper exposure. BTW, long exposure is why you never saw anyone smile in the old (1800s) photos: they couldn’t hold a smile long enough for a proper exposure.

This ghostly image was caused by a car that drove by during the shot

She enjoyed holding the pose. Him, not so sure.

One other thing you can play around with is the shutter speed to get blur or more ghosts.

If you look closely you can barely see the ghost walking through the picture

And digital cameras make street photography easier. Because you aren’t worried about wasting a $.10 exposure, you can snap away at any angle, which makes for some interesting shots.

Lastly (for now) you can take pictures of all sorts of weird stuff that makes people scratch their heads.

So have fun. Play around. It’s really quite relaxing.

A Winter’s Day

black and white, Outdoor photographs

“In a deep and dark December, I am alone” from Simon and Garfunkel’s I am a Rock. In the song, the singer is gazing from his room at empty streets below on a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow. It’s clearly an urban scene, probably New York from a walk-up apartment.

Here in Cache Valley we don’t have many walk-up apartments that look down on empty streets shrouded in freshly fallen snow. But we have plenty of silent fields. To me the song is in black and white, the colors of emptiness, loneliness and silence.