FALL in NORTHERN CALIFORNIA / PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

So…. What do you do in the San Francisco Bay area in November? One might think that just because it’s November the summer’s over and the dreary winter is beginning. This could not be further than the truth in the Bay Area.

 Every fall, I conduct a photography workshop in and around the S, F.  Bay area. We usually travel from Pt. Reyes National Seashore to Santa Cruz in about 3 days (details can be found at www.jackgrahamphoto.com ). Though I always have a preset itinerary, we often change things due to the light and or weather conditions.

 

The fall is such a special time in this region. The crowds are gone, the slow pace in Napa is even slower and the weather is usually perfect. Those who have never been to San Francisco this time of year might not know that the late fall and early winter is usually warmer than the summer. My favorite days however, are the relaxed, kind of partly cloudy warm days in the Napa valley where the pace is just wonderful. Did you know that the grape leaves actually turn color, just like trees?

It’s a photographer’s paradise. It became a custom for my wife and me to take a drive through the Napa Valley almost every XMAS and Thanksgiving Day. We kind of had it all to ourselves!  

 

During the workshop, we usually spend a good part of one day north of the Golden Gate in Napa and the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco. From the Marin Headlands, amazing views of the ocean as well as some old Army buildings as well as structures used in WW II are plentiful. You can actually see dome of the bunkers built into the rock, where our military stood guard watching for possible enemy attacks during the war.

 

As migrating hawks fly over head, there are just endless photographic possibilities. Sunset looking down toward Pt. Arena and the point where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific is always rewarding.

 Another full day is spent south of the Golden Gate. Driving down HWY 1 features lots of hidden gems to photograph. But you have to know where they are! The landscape and scenes of waves crashing onto the rocks are plentiful along with other sites that I’ve found while spending 10 years in this area. It is quite common to see harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks, just off the coast.  Lunch in quaint Pescadero is always special for me. Sunset’s are usually fantastic!!!!

 

Yes, of course we’ll spend some time in San Francisco proper and shoot some of the beautiful sections of the city.

 

You can’t beat this area at any time of the year, but for me, November is the best time to get out and photograph. I have a few spots still open and if you have questions please contact me at:

jack@jackgrahamphoto.com or visit www.jackgrahamphoto.com.

 JG

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OHIO FALL PHOTO WORKSHOP / PHOTOGRAPHING the AMISH

              This October, I’ll be spending a few days in Ohio with Bob Kulon at the

            4th annual FALL in NE OHIO PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP. ( 10/23-10/27).

Bob has made some changes in the itinerary from previous years, so those of you who may have attended the workshop will find new locations and with all the advances in equipment, technology etc new information that will help you become better photographers.

 

The big hit of last years workshop was the time we spent photographing on an Amish dairy farm. Amish country is located about an hour or so S-SW of the airport in Cleveland. I know of no other workshop that features this unique experience.

 

Based on past years experience, our group will be split in two, for a morning and afternoon shooting session on the farm. This will afford you 2-3 hours to shoot right on the farm, not from the road! You will have the run of the farm, however, (obviously not inside the farm house.) Nothing is off limits. While one half of the group shoots on the farm, I will take the other half of the group into the Amish countryside to get some shots of some of the areas I know by experience, (kind of “Off the Road Places”). We will all gather together about 5:30PM for an Amish meal provided by our hosts in their gathering hall (included in the price!). The food is outstanding (I think last year there was a choice of 5 pies). The experience is something you won’t get anywhere else. I encourage you to register ASAP.

 

Bob has elected to offer this day in the Amish country, along with the other day’s events on an al la carte basis. (Quite generous of Bob!). Rather than me tell you about it, I have posted a copy of Bob’s latest mailing below. All contact information is provided.

I look forward to seeing you all in a few short weeks!  

 

 

 

                                                                                                                       Dinner at the Yoder’s

 

PLEASE — READ  MY POST HERE (after Bob’s info)……“PHOTOGRAPHING THE AMISH”. 

 I’ve photographed in this area many, many times. I hope I can offer you some tips and insight.

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 From Bob Kulon  7/29/09

You probably know I am inviting Jack Graham back to OHIO to join forces with me for a super Fall Workshop. OK, it’s high time I get in gear and start making some exciting announcements about our plans and how this adventure has evolved. Here are a few realities – no one else (to my knowledge) is doing a northeast Ohio Fall workshop. Centering this on Cuyahoga Valley National Park sort of ignores the rich palette of other venues we have within our reach.

 

What we have decided to do is extend this workshop to 5 days, available a la carte, each day concentrating on a different region know for fall opportunity. There is a bundle price which makes this workshop… oh so affordable. The hub of this workshop will be in Streetsboro, Ohio, central to all venues. Checkout out our plans:

 

·         Thursday 10/23 – Amish Tour and Dinner (Sugar Creek & Holmes County) – $120 a la carte

·         Friday 10/24 – Beaver Creek State Park (East Liverpool) – $75 a la carte

·         Saturday 10/25 – Mill Creek MetroPark (Youngstown) – $75 a la carte

·         Sunday 10/26 – Holden Arboretum & North Chagrin MetroPark (Wood Ducks!) – $75 a la carte

·         Monday 10/27 – undiscovered parts of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Peninsula) – $75 a la carte

 

Get This: THE BUNDLE PRICE FOR EVERYTHING IS ONLY $295! Comfortable transportation is available from the rendezvous point for $25/day (limited to 6 attendees) – first come first serve. Please contact Bob Kulon now at bkulon@hotmail.com or 330-635-7557 to make reservations. I accept check or Visa/MasterCard.

 

 

A RARE SHOT of somewhere in the CVNP ( any ideas? email me at jack@jackgrahamphoto.com)

 

 

 

©Jack Graham

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PHOTOGRAPHING the AMISH

©Jack Graham

 

Yes I live in Oregon, so why the Amish. Well, as many of you know I lived in NE Ohio for a few years and really enjoyed getting down to the Amish country either to make some images or just hang out and enjoy the leisurely pace of life.( The foods not bad either!)

 

Many folks have asked me when they see my images of the Amish “Isn’t it against the Amish religion to photograph them?” The correct answer is NO. However the Amish religion DOES NOT allow for the Amish to pose for an image.

 

It’s been my experience, if you ask an Amish person for an image, they will probably think you are asking them to pose and they will politely say “No”. Most of the other photographers I know, and Amish themselves have told me they don’t mind photographs as long as they are not asked to pose. I’ve seen some photographers (that give the rest of us a bad name), do things like stand in driveways, blocking buggies, or worse, with out permission just walk onto property and begin photographing. Most of the Amish I have met really don’t care if we photograph them or their farms as long as we are respectful and inquire first

 

There are many “orders’ of Amish. Some are more conservative than others. If it appears like you are being a pest, just leave and look for another subject.

 

Like everything else in photography, the difference between making a so-so image and a really great image can sometimes be very small. I’ll try and offer you a few tips based on my experiences to come back with some good images in Amish country.

 

1)     Don’t be afraid to talk to the Amish. They are really great folks. They love small talk and often will chew your ear off. Often this is a great way to find interesting locations. Just don’t be afraid to ask!

2)     If you are fortunate to live close to the Amish country, get to know the areas. Go there on “scouting” missions. Just like any other type of photography, you need to know the best times to be there to get the types of images you want. Horses, buggies, kids, horse drawn plows etc are all great subjects, but you need to know where and when they will be there for you to photograph. Also get to know what goes on in different times of the year, week and even day. For example livestock auctions occur on different days of the week in Kidron, Farmers town and Mt Hope. Amish schoolchildren play at recess during the school year. Sundays are not a good day to be there photographing. You might get some pastoral barn scenes from the road while the Amish are at church, but I usually avoid Sunday’s altogether.

3)     Avoid the often crowded town areas (especially on weekends in the summer and fall). For example, I know many roads around the busy towns like Berlin, Sugarcreek, Kidron and the like by heart. Travel the back roads when you can. However the folks in these more rural areas aren’t used to photographers as much as the town’s folk, so again be respectful and don’t take too many images of one subject. Sometimes you have to work a bit faster than normal. Expect dust, dirt, mud, bumps, narrow twists & turns. Do not travel in a RV. A GPS is extremely helpful and good maps are essential.

4)     Apply good photographic technique. Be careful not to get caught up in the moment and continue to watch your backgrounds, corners of the image etc. Forget the “I can fix it in Photoshop” theory. Work to get it right in the first place.

5)     Patience, patience, patience…. I remember waiting over an hour to make one image of an Amish farmer plowing his field in a horse drawn plow until he was just in the proper spot.

6)     Shoot both verticals as will as horizontals. I like verticals of windmills.

7)     Choose the right time of day to be there. Like anywhere else the early morning and evenings are the best times to be there. There is nothing like a frosty fall morning, a foggy spring morning or best of all the morning after a snowfall to get some great shots.

8)     I won’t get into equipment such the need for tripods etc….. Except for the need to bring long lenses. This affords you the ability to shoot fro distances that are respectful to the Amish.

 

CALENDAR OF PHOTOGRAPHIC OPPERTUNITIES

 

WINTER: Snow covered farms, buggy tracks in the back roads

                 Pastoral farm scenes, smoke coming from the Chimney.

          (Christmas is not what you think in the Amish Country—another subject for another time)

 

SPRING: Planting, plowing, lots of tractor and field activity

               Amish children playing in they school yards

               Wildflowers against old fences

AUTUMN: Harvesting, field work

                 Colored leaves and trees

                 Corn stacks in the fields

                 Pumpkin & Gourd shots

SUMMER:  Patterns of the hay in the fields ready for harvesting (late summer as well)

                  Livestock Auctions

                  Wheat stacking

                  Flower covered farm houses

                  Vegetable & Fruit Stands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO BE WARY OF:

 

Be very careful driving the roads in Amish country, especially the back roads. If you see an image, don’t jam on your breaks and stop short….sometimes it’s better to drive ahead, turn around and come back to photographic it. You never know what’s around each turn. Constantly check your rear view mirror. Park in the widest area along the road, not in the middle of the road and never park jus over the crest of a hill. Obviously the buggies and bicycle traffic must be respected.

 

Try to stay at least 30-40 feet from anyone you may be photographing. Usually if you ask a farmer, or the head of the house if you should take a shot of the house they will say yes. Sending them a print is a way to not only make new friends, but to get them to know you when you return. If you must, always try and shoot Amish folks from the side or behind. If an Amish purposely turns away don’t take the photograph.

 

If you follow these basic rules, I have no doubt you’ll come back with some great images. And if noting else, you’ll be a lot more relaxed after a day with the Amish.

JG

BACKING UP YOUR PHOTO FILES in the FIELD

FIRST:

 

This is my first crack at talking about photo related products. I don’t give opinions on products I have not actually used in the field. In addition, I receive no reimbursement from any company for these reviews. These are my opinions!

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MY PARANOIA:

 

Maybe I am a bit paranoid about backing up files. If you have ever lost any (and I have) I think you get this way. Here are 2 ways of dealing with the “backing up your files” syndrome in the field.

 

1) Use a portable backup device, copy your files to this device and retain the files on your memory cards until you get them home. (Disadvantage, –you have many memory cards     advantage—you don’t need to carry a laptop.)

 

2) Use a portable backup device, copy your files to this device as well as your laptop and reformat your cards (disadvantage, –you have to carry a laptop     advantage—you don’t need to carry lots of memory cards.)

 

In any event, you now always have 2 backups of your files in the event that one crashed before you get home. Yes, it happens. (Remember—erase your cards by reformatting your cards in your camera ONLY!!!!!

 

As we all know too well, backing up files is a constant necessity. In this relatively new digital world, I believe we all must develop a few good habits. There are two things that I do like clockwork every evening after a days shoot. One, is charging my camera batteries for the next days shoot and two, and most importantly, backing up my memory cards. Rather than carrying lots of memory cards around, it is easier and more efficient to use a backup device/photo viewer system. There are two major players in this arena, Epson and Digital Foci. I am especially keen on the Digital Foci system(s) for a few reasons that I’ll talk about, especially what the Digital Foci products deliver in relationship to the price.

(What’s even better about these types of systems, is that carrying a laptop, is really not even necessary any more!)

 

I’ve used 2 of Digital Foci’s products extensively this year and am extremely pleased by both. Here are my conclusions. Note that I also own an Epson P2000. Yes the new Epson P-5000 is supposed to be a big upgrade on the 2000, the functionality is basically he same.

 

 

“PICTURE PORTER Elite”, by Digital Foci:  www.digitalfoci.comThe first thing that impressed me was the speed of the operation system, (Lynux based) and how easy it is to navigate through. It seemed to me to be a bit easier than the Epson as well. This device handles every possible memory card available and automatically walks you through the data back up process when you insert the card. I really didn’t even need the manual. You can back up both video and data. The “PPE” as I call it, handled JPEG’S, TIFF, GIF, BMP and the all important RAW files we all work with. One main difference that I liked (though it may be minor to you, it was a big difference to me) was the joystick control on the Digital Foci PPE unit vs. the wheel type control on the Epson. One other minor note is that the Epson is a bit bigger and weighs 1 pound (vs. the Digital Foci PPE at 11 oz). Yes, the Epson’s screen is slightly bigger, but the size, weight and overall “fit in my hand”  feeling of the Digital Foci PPE was a lot more comfortable and made the controls easier to use.

 

What I look for in these type of units is ease of operation, fast transfer time and compact ability. The Digital Foci PPE has all three. Believe it or not, to me, the overall resolution of images is not that critical when viewing images on these portable devices.  I only really use the view screen to determine composition and other factors that would allow me to save or delete an image. Anyone who makes judgments weather to save or delete an image on a sharpness factor using anyone’s compact, portable digital viewer is making a big mistake. All critical decisions like this must be done using a good monitor at home, not on the road with these type devices.

 

I also liked the leather case that the Digital Foci PPE comes with. There are openings for the memory cards, and other connectivity (AC adaptor etc.).

 

It too just over 3 minutes to download a 1-GB memory card. You can transfer the files over to your PC or MAC directly from the Digital Foci PPE even faster.

 

The price points for the Digital Foci PPE are $499.99 for the 160GB unit (that’s 160BG!!!!!), $369.99 for the 80 GB and $329.99 for the 40GB.  (The Epson P-5000 is a whopping $699.99!!!)

 

BOTTOM LINE: The advantages to me of the Digital Foci PPE are:

 

1)      I really love the joystick control and operation system

2)      Ease of operation, screen prompt’s

3)      Ability to do some editing before the final download to my PC

4)      Light, overall size and how the Digital Foci PPE fits in my hand

5)      Speed of downloading ( backing up)

6)      Leather case

7)      Price point

 

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PHOTO SAFE by Digital Foci www.digitalfoci.com

 

 

I call this unit the baby brother of the PICTURE PORTER Elite.  This unit fits easily in my Lowe Pro Camera Bag since it’s only about 4 /2” X 3” and about ¾” deep. Again like the PICTURE PORTER Elite it supports almost all the memory card requirements. The LCD screen displays the status and all the information you need to know when it’s coping filed from you memory card to the hard disc. There aren’t any drives needed and the unit is recognized by your home computer as USB hard drive system. When transferring files to your home computer you just drag and drop them. Easy!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Photo Safe unit uses a Li-ion rechargeable battery. I actually transferred my 1 GB card 20 times (the specs say 18) before having to recharge the battery. You can carry a spare batteries (I bought one for 15.00) if you are going to be out in the field for long periods of time.

The graphics on the screen puts my mind at ease ( yes I am really paranoid at times) as it tell you the amount of space left on the hard disc, how much space is on your card, the rate (%) of copying being done in real time as well as the number of files copied.

 

 What I really like about this unit (as well as the PPE (above) is that each time you copy a card, a new folder is generated.

 

A neat feature is that at home, the PHOTO SAFE can be used as a card reader as well as an external drive for our PC or MAC as well.

 

The value is outstanding. The 80GB unit lists for $139.99 and the 160GB unit for $189.99. The Photo Safe system comes with a carrying case, one battery, and USB cable and battery pack.

 

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COMING SOON:  I’ll be reviewing the new

 

Image Moments 15 (IMT-153) by Digital Foci

15” High-resolution Digital Photo Frame

 

KEY FEATURES:

Screen Quality

15.0” XGA (1024×768 pixel) color TFT-LCD screen with 16.2 M colors

Superb, subtle color representation with high contrast ratio of 700:1

Screen brightness adjustable for optimal viewing

Memory Sources

450 MB internal memory: Can stores more than 2000 photos on the device

Built-in memory card slots provide native support for: CF, MD, MMC, SD/HC Card, Memory Stick, MS

PRO, MS Duo, MS PRO Duo, and xD-Picture Card (also supports mini-SD and RS-MMC with adapter)

Copy photos directly from memory cards to internal memory without needing a computer

USB 2.0 connection for transferring photos between your computer and device

Memory Source Select allows concurrent selection of a single or multiple memory sources for playback

File management features: Organize, copy, delete, rename files; sort files by name or date; create new

folders; copy between memory cards

 

 

 Please feel free to email me at jack@jackgrahamphoto.com if you have any further questions or comments.

THE MOUNTAINSIDE LAVENDER FARM, Beauty in the Oregon Hills

July 11,2008
While driving around the foothills of the Chehalem Mountains, roughly 25 miles SW of the airport in Portland Oregon, My wife and I discovered a hidden gem. We noticed the “You Pick Lavender” signs along the Hillsboro Highway, which runs north to south from Hillsboro toward Newburg. Nestled along the highway and up a long driveway is the MOUNTSINSIDE LAVENDER FARM a family owned farm, owned by Bill and Lori Carlson. We were greeted by their chocolate lab, Milo who is friendly and curious at the same time.

Mountainside Lavender
17805 SW Hillsboro Highway
Hillsboro (Scholls), OR 97123
website: www.mountainsidelavenderfarm.com

As a photographer, I was immediately taken by the scenic beauty of this farm. Not only is the lavender in full bloom (the purple & green is something to see and these images don’t do it justice!) but this location is breathtaking. Lori and Bill Carlson have more than 2,000 lavender plants in shades of white, pink and purple available for U-pick. On clear days Mount Hood, St. Helens, Rainier and the Coast Range are clearly visible along with the pastoral views of the Willamette Valley. Many painters and fellow photographers take advantage of this beautiful location with the permission of Bill and Lori.

Lavender is a native of the Mediterranean and thrives in  dry, sunny, rocky habitats. This location is all of that. Yes, it rains in Oregon, but typically between mid June and October less than 2” of rain fall. It’s sunny most of the time. And besides, England is not exactly a hot dry climate is it and England is also a world renowned area for growing lavender as well.

Here on the farm, Bill and Lori not only offer “You Pick” Lavender, but they do their own distillation. The “essential” oils from the lavender plant can aid in helping sunburn as well as acting as a mosquito repellent. Interestingly enough the oils also helps digestion. Most folks use it as soap and other fragrant uses. You can purchase lavender oils in their Lavender Store, as well as many other crafts from local artists ( web sales are also available)

This weekend is the OREGON LAVENDER FESTIVAL. (July 12th & 13th 2008) All the lavender farms (and there are quite a few) are open with music, food, and special events to coincided with the peak of the growing season. Check out www.oregonlavenderfestival.org . The MOUNTSINSIDE LAVENDER FARM is already decked out for this event. They are open 9 am to 6 pm both days

Weather you live here in the area or are venturing out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, don’t miss seeing the MOUNTSINSIDE LAVENDER FARM. And if you are not as lucky as we are to live close by, you can always contact them on the web at www.mountainsidelavenderfarm.com  to purchase their products mail order.

When you stop by, tell them Jack says hi!
JG / Sherwood, Oregon  jack@jackgrahamphoto.com