From Spring into Summer…

Living in the Rogue Valley (Southern Oregon) the weather here is generally mild… we get only about 20 inches of rain a year, and the weather resembles more that of California than what most people think of Oregon.  Nature can pull a few surprises though… and this late Spring weather contained a few, mainly in the way of thunderstorms.

While thunderstorms tend to be brief in regards to rain, they can sometimes stall or move very slowly, and if you happen to be in their target, it can be a torrential downpour.  Such was the case the last week of Spring.  We had one storm pause over us and dump rain to the point that caused some damage in our garage due to water spilling in.  Fortunately, the damage was relatively small (though we’ll have to get some repairs done).  On the good side, it left us with one of the most beautifully intense rainbows I’ve ever seen.

View looking southeast from our home after the thunderstorm had passed. This is a very wide-angle view (15mm lens setting).

The other big change…

There comes a time in life when you feel a change is necessary.  For me it was this last year.  I’ve worked full time as an Engineer for over 35 years, and while I love the work (and more importantly the people I work with), there were so many other life’s interests that I wanted to try.  In my case, spending more time on photography is one of the big ones… as well as music, travel, hiking, sailing, bicycling (I used to do a LOT of the latter) and so on.  Having reached my 60’s, there’s the realization that the time left in front of me is not as much as I would like, and it’s important to spend more time on these things while I still can.  So last week, I retired from the work I’ve been doing for so long.

It really hasn’t hit me yet that I’m retired… so many projects to catch up on (including a very long list of house projects).  I did promise myself that I would go sailing as soon as I could, and yesterday (my second day of retirement) I managed to get out to Applegate Lake (beautiful!) for some sailing there.  There’s something about spending time on the water that brings tranquility… After a few hours of sailing, all the pressure come off, and for the first time in a long time, I felt relaxed and at peace.  Its the best medicine possible…

The image above is from yesterday’s sailing at Applegate Lake (photo taken with the iPhone 8 Plus). This is a very beautiful lake on the north side of the Siskiyou Mountains not far from the Rogue Valley. The lake level drops during the summer, so late spring / early summer is the best time to go.



From Canon to Sony…

Ever since I was in College, I’ve been a Canon user starting with the AE-1 film camera. Not that I was a fanboy of Canon gear, it’s just that they had the right products at the right time for me.  When Digital Cameras emerged, Canon seemed to have a lead over Nikon, so I stayed with them.  It also was important as I had an investment in lenses by now, so changing would be difficult (and expensive). However in the last few years, Canon seems to have fallen behind Nikon… and now Sony.  When it came time to upgrade my camera (5D Mark II – which was now nine years old), it seemed that either the Nikon D850 or the Sony A7R III was the proper choice… either way it was going to be a difficult jump.

Both the Nikon D850 and Sony A7R III are great cameras, but I can’t afford both… so Sony was the choice due to the fact it was lighter (great for long hikes) and a bit cheaper for the equivalent setup.  Part of Sony’s weight savings is because it’s a mirrorless camera… less parts / smaller size.  The learning curve is a bit steep though… much more than I expected.  Not to say that it’s bad… it’s just there are a ton of options and configurations to get through. Once through it (and past a lot of image mistakes!) it becomes pretty intuitive to operate.  Technology has come a long ways in the last nine years, and I’m really impressed with what this camera can do.

In some upcoming posts, I thought I would offer some thoughts and impressions of what it’s like to switch from a traditional DSLR like Canon to a Mirrorless Camera like Sony.  No system is perfect… with some advantages being meaningful and important, while some disadvantages were surprising.

Sunset at Harris Beach SP (February 2018)

A ray of hope…

As you may have noticed, things have been silent for the last few years.  This was mainly due to the lack of time trying to manage full-time work, running a hay-farm, and life in general.  This is not to say that photography has stopped…. in fact quite the opposite… it’s expanded.  Now that I am in the process of retiring from engineering, there will be more time to work on this site.  There are many new things in the works… new photos, trips, and experiences along the way.  There’s also a back catalog of photos (a lot over the last few years) that will be added to the site… so many wonderful changes coming here… so please stay tuned!

The photo above is of Arch Rock at Harris Beach State Park… It was taken in February 2018 using the new Sony Ar7iii.

New camera added…

My main lens (a Canon 24-105L mm zoom lens) after 5 years of use, stopped working a few weeks ago and was sent in for repairs.  Of course while it was in for repairs, all kinds of photo opportunities showed up and I found myself really missing not being able to use a lens in the normal range (about 90% of the photos I take).  As a result, I decided to get a “bridge” camera… something above the normal compact/consumer cameras, but not as expensive as professional DSLRs (which would break the budget).  I ended up getting the Panasonic Limux FZ1000.

First impressions of the new camera are very positive.  The camera starts up fast, focuses incredibly fast, has good resolution… and mot of all can take 4k video (30fps) where each and every frame can be extracted as an 8 Megapixel photograph.  For sports and wildlife photography, this is a godsend.  No more missed opportunities… well… for the most part.  The images extracted are surprisingly good quality and have none of the video degredation that is normally seen with video captures (I always found them to be exceptionally soft and with a look that the photo was taken through a plastic window).  I’ve put an example below… still learning the process (i.e. I could have used a higher shutter speed on the video)… but it should give you the idea.

It’s a sea-change that’s coming to photography.

– Charles

A 4k video clip (and cropped on top of that!) from the new camera.

A 4k video clip extract (and cropped on top of that!) from the new camera.


We’re still here!

Despite that there hasn’t been much posted in the last few weeks, it is not an indication of lack of new material… quite the opposite!  There’s been a tremendous amount of work done recently not only in photos, but in video.  I recently purchased the GoPro Hero 3+ system, and have been experimenting with this extensively. Video is a completely different environment than photos… and the learning process is steep.  Some fun footage is on the horizon… but for now, I’ll leave you with a recent photo of a visitor at our bird feeder…


Overload on Spam…

Sorry to all of you who would like to post… but I’ve been getting way too much spam (hundreds per day) to keep up.  At first it was only a few, which was managable… but it quickly mushroomed to something that’s gotten out of hand.  I don’t want to ignore the real posts, but I can’t get through all of this and keep my day job.  I’ll look for some kind of spam filter I can use here, but in the meantime, the comments are off-line.  Those of you who would like reach me – please use the Contact page for now.  Thanks!

Best wishes to all,

Winter to Summer and back…

We were blessed with wonderful warm weather over the Easter weekend… sunny, temps well into the 70’s… almost 80 at one point…. Short sleeve shirts, shorts, bright sunshine and sunglasses.  Then the weather turned back to Winter again… snow in the hills, rain in the valley, cold weather jackets and windshield wipers running as fast as possible.  Spring weather always seems chaotic at best.  The photo below was taken on my way home from work this evening.  The Rogue Valley is a beautiful place to live, and this evening reminded me very much of that.IMG_8372

Springtime showers…

Some early Spring showers came our way in Southern Oregon early in the month… much needed as we’re still below normal by quite a bit as far as precipitation goes.  The snow in the mountains is almost nonexistent – very unusual for this time of year (April).  Mt Ashland had absolutely zero ski season this year… there was never enough snow to let people ski.  Still, with the rain, we’ll take what we can get… it’s a very beautiful time of year here.Spring Showers