Category Archives: Picture of the Month

Dancing on Water

July 2014

I first came across Clear Lake as a name while perusing Route 1 on Google Earth. Not to be confused with the Clear Lake in Oregon, this Clear Lake is really more of a pond. It took me awhile to find it, and it was actually by chance when I found it while riding my KLR650 in the area.

Seeing what a beautiful spot it was, I thought it would make a perfect spot for a photo shoot some day. The surface of the pond is usually quite still, providing a perfect refection of the trees and sky.

While photographing the Ferndale Dance Academy production this year, I heard that Sofia, one of their dancers, was moving to Washington soon. Sofia is one of the students who makes it so interesting photographing the FDA production year after year. She is one dancer who I’ve watched grow from a little girl, into a very talented dancer. Before she left, I really wanted to photograph her, and so the concept for Dancing on Water was born.

I didn’t want to use a Photoshop reflection for the photo, because that’s one of my pet peeves. Real reflections aren’t just an upside down image, they’re a different view. In a true reflection you’ll see the underside of areas that aren’t visible in the subject. So the biggest task was finding a way to do this that provided a real reflection, yet would keep Sofia safe and dry. It ended up being a very cost effective solution, after I dreamed of more expensive ways to do it.

Sofia ended up being a great model, and at the end of the evening, I was sorry I had to return her to her parents. They promised they’ll be back in October, so stay tuned, there might just be some more Sofia photos later this year.

Sofia, dancing on water

Once Upon A Time – Ferndale Dance Academy

June 2014

Last month’s Picture of the Month was a publicity shot for Ferndale Dance Academy’s spring recital, Once Upon A Time. This month I photographed the dress rehearsal, and then two days later, I sat in the audience and watched the show.

After watching the actual show, I’m always amazed how much I miss when my face is behind the camera. Even when I’m using a wide angle lens and focusing on the whole stage, I still miss a lot. I’m always sad to see people so caught up in filming their life that they miss their life. Fortunately this year all photography was banned during the show so parents could just relax and actually watch the results of all their child’s hard work.

And the results were spectacular! Every year Laura East has produced a better show than the previous years, a string unbroken since 2003 when the first one was held.

The number of dancers that were doing pointe this show was the highest ever, and it really added to the show. Sharon Harrison had a leading role as the blue bird, and her performance was outstanding, mimicking the awkward movements of a bird, all the while being so graceful as only a ballerina can. She made it all look so easy during the rehearsals, but at the end of one of them she looked like she was in absolute pain, I thought for sure she was going to need to quit. Yet at the next run through she was back out there on her toes, making it look so easy.

The complete set of photos from Once Upon A Time can be viewed, and prints purchased from the Ferndale Dance Academy gallery.

Sharon Harrison

Blue Bird

May 2014

While shooting the group shots for the Ferndale Dance Academy, I couldn’t help notice one dancer in particular. Not only is Sharon Harrison becoming a very talented ballet artist, but her peacock colored costume was very eye catching.

I asked Laura East if I could take a few pictures of Sharon after we did the group shots since I was set up with lights, and shooting in the dance studio provides the room for giant leaps that were always hard to do in my studio.

Laura had a lot going on trying to manage 60 young girls and their parents, and even though it looked like she didn’t need any further distractions she agreed.

So after the group shots I quickly shot Sharon in a variety of poses, some still, and some action shots, like this one of her doing a fantastic dance move, that I would provide the name of if I knew anything about ballet. Which I don’t, except that I find it amazing that these girls can do what they do.

You can see this year’s Ferndale Dance Academy production, Once Upon A Time, June 20 & 21, at Eureka High School.

Sharon Harrison showing off her ballet moves

Mill Creek Falls – Take Two

After my disastrous first trip to Mill Creek Falls, I knew I wanted to go back and complete my mission.

Fortunately, I found out that my equipment was well covered by my State Farm policy and there was no deductible. I had sent the D600 and the 24-70mm back to Nikon for repair. It turned out opposite of what I expected. They were able to repair the lens but the camera was damaged beyond repair. So I ended up buying a lightly used demo D600 off of Ebay that came with a couple of lenses including a 70-300mm, for less than it would have cost to buy a D610.

On my return trip, I made sure the D600 was firmly locked to my tripod. It’s still a precarious spot to photograph, because there’s little room to set anything down without the fear that it’s going to slide down the rocks and into a pool of water. But I managed to explore a few different angles and got some nice shots.

I’d like to come back sometime when the water is really running. It’s been a drought year, so not the best conditions for waterfall viewing.

But still, it’s nice to know that Humboldt County has at least one pretty waterfall.

Mill Creek Falls

Prehistoric Bowling Balls

It’s been awhile since I’ve hiked out to the beach at Octopus Rock. I’m not even sure if that’s the right name for it, but I remember someone calling it that once. Anyways, it’s the beach along Mattole Road, just before it turns back inland on it’s way to Petrolia.

One of the thing I like about this beach is the tide pools, and particularly, the rocks you find that collect in the larger ones. Many of them develop a pattern of holes that makes them look like Barney Rubble’s bowling balls, only they’ve eroded over the millennia.

Prehistoric Bowling Balls

Waterfall in McKinleyville?

It has always surprised me that an area like Humboldt with its ample mountains and rainfall, doesn’t have any good waterfalls. Sure there are minor cascades here and there, but until recently I had not heard any accounts of true waterfalls in Humboldt county.

So imagine my surprise when I heard about one in McKinleyville of all places. I haven’t explored McKinleyville much, my trips there have pretty much ended at Millers Nursery. But just off Turner Rd. you’ll find this waterfall.

Unfortunately, this is the only photo I got of it. The path down to where you can see it better was wet and slippery and I was using my tripod as an aid to steady myself. Somehow I managed to hit the quick release on the tripod, and to my horror, my D600 and 24-70mm did just that, released quickly.

In 35 years of photography, I’ve never had a camera fall off of a tripod. Of course when it did happen, I happened to be on a steep slope. The camera and lens tumbled down the rocks and soon parted ways, the lens continuing a bit further until it dropped into a pool of water.

I was able to retrieve both pieces. The camera is in pretty good shape, not even a dent in the body, but of course the lens mount is broken. The lens is in pretty good physical shape, no dents on it, but I don’t have high hopes for it after it got submerged. Both are sent off to Nikon, I guess I’ll find out in week or so what the damages are.

McKinleyville Waterfall

Ferndale’s Main Street, Christmas Night 2013

Ferndale’s town Christmas tree is the tallest living Christmas tree in the United States. When last measured, it was 162 feet tall, and every year, the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department decorates it with 19,000 watts of Christmas cheer.

For the last 12 years, as a member of the fire department, I have helped with the task of putting the lights up the first Sunday in December. I also like to get one photograph of them each year while they are lit.

Some years weather and scheduling make it impossible, but this year looked like it was just going to be cold, not wet. Cold I can deal with.

I missed out on a couple of really nice sunsets that I just caught the tail end of from home. I would have loved to get the tree photographed with one of them.

Then one night that looked like a good possibility, I got called out for a river bar fire that ended up being aa 30 minute drive on the river bar just to get there. By the time we had dumped our tankful of water, got back to the hall, and cleaned up, it was already dark.

I finally decided to try Christmas night. I figured stores and restaurants would be closed, people would be at home, and Main Street would be clear of cars, so you could actually see the little Christmas trees on Main Street too.

My assumption proved correct. Other than occasional traffic in and out of J&W Liquors, Main Street was clear. Traffic was so light I was able to get this picture standing in the middle of the road.

This photo, and other Ferndale Christmas photos can be viewed and purchased in the gallery.

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