Flower Photography at the Hood River Lavender Daze Festival

My daughter holding up her bag of ladybugs. Most of them had been released by this point.I learned about this festival just today, though my wife had been planning on attending for some time. Initially, I hesitated to join them in favor of cleaning my garage, but she told me one of the vendors had exotic birds so I grabbed my camera and hopped in the car. Upon arrival, I realized this place is a photographer’s paradise. The flower fields were in full bloom and the day was warm, clear and bright. While my daughter had fun releasing ladybugs and sipping a smoothie, I was in the flower fields, dodging busy bees and shooting everything in sight. After my camera card filled up, I was able to browse some of the vendors and ended up buying a Moroccan sandstone geode at The 3rd Rock’s booth. The festival was well attended and featured live music and great food courtesy of Solstice Pizza. [Read more…]

Fourth of July 2013 – Photos of Fireworks

We stayed home this year and watched our local city fireworks. Below are some photos. We had a great time and hope you did too.Fireworks [Read more…]

ARRL Field Day 2013 with W7RAG

As the sun sets the fun begins. Radio propagation is better at night.Since last year’s Field Day, I’ve upgraded my amateur radio license to General Class, but still haven’t spent any time on the air. Instead, I’ve been using my amateur radio privileges to down-link wireless video from remote control airplanes, so all is not lost. Field day is a great opportunity to get on the air and work the HF bands, making remote, long distance contacts from off-the-grid power and field conditions. Another great incentive for attending field day is conversing with other amateur radio operators (HAMs) about a variety of interesting and geeky topics. I end up learning a ton about amateur radio and other technical fields, so it’s always well worth the investment of time and sleep deprivation.

Immediately after arriving, I ran into another first person view (FPV) hobbyist who is also a HAM. He had a small quad copter with a wireless camera and we spent about an hour flying this little bird with down-linked video. Though it was small, it performed admirably in the wind. When the quadcopter’s battery finally died, he brought out his 20 meter mobile rig and used a slingshot with a fishing reel to string an antenna through an overhead treebranch. With so many amateurs competing in the field day contest, it wasn’t long before he made two contacts, one in Manitoba, Canada and another in Nevada. His entire mobile rig was easily transported in a hard briefcase and powered by a couple lithium polymer batteries, originally intended for powering remote control aircraft. I can definitely see myself with a similar rig, making contacts while camping on a remote mountain top.

As the sun set, we got down to business: eating junk food and talking about technical stuff. While there was a radio contest going on, we were too engrossed in our conversation about robotics, Linux, nanotechnology, processor design, etc. that we let hours pass before we finally sat down at the stations to begin DXing. I lasted until about 5AM after which my fatigue level left me mostly zombified. Every time I’m determined to pull an all-nighter with ease (like I did many times in college), I’m left disappointed and exhausted. I must be getting old! :(

Hopefully by this time next year I will have purchased my first HF radio and made some non-field day DX contacts. Time will tell.

Maternity Photos Take Two

Lost Lake Maternity PhotosOur new baby gave us an opportunity to take a new round of maternity photos, this time in the great outdoors. We headed up toward Lost Lake, stopping at a cherry orchard along the way. My wife had a few ideas for  poses that she found on Pinterest that  made use of the older sibling in the photo shoot. While Siena did cooperate for most of the photos, we had to bribe her with candy at least once. After the cherry orchard, we made our way up to Lost Lake, past the “road closed” sign and encountered a “resident” about 100 feet from the parking area by the lake. We were politely asked to “leave the premises” due to the imminent dangers posed by the ongoing snowplowing efforts. I scratched my head looking for imposing snow drifts and hazardous black ice, only to find bare roads and parked plows. Still, we complied with the request and returned a few days later. Our return trip offered us a chance to stop at the orchard again, with a different outfit . Our trip to the Lost Lake was successful this time as we parked and made our way to the shore. It was a gorgeous day and the calm wind almost made for a perfect refection of Mount Hood in the lake.

Return to the Trout Lake Fish Education Day

Siena and Daddy start fishingToday my family and I returned to Trout Lake for the annual fishing derby and fish education day. Unlike last year, we arrived on time and came prepared with an eager 4-year-old and appropriate fishing gear. The trout were plentiful and Siena caught her limit of four fish. We are all looking forward to dinner tonight when I prepare fresh trout sauteed in garlic butter and olive oil.

Last year, Siena  required a great deal of supervision and encouragement. This year she was engaged, patient and successfully landed two fish by herself. The other two required my assistance, but we got the job done nonetheless.  After we were satisfied with our successful fishing expedition, we took Siena to a nearby playground where I excitedly called my dad to share my daughter’s accomplishment. He quickly reminded me of our Tahoe Trout Farm trip when I was 8 years old, asking if Siena caught any “flying fish”. To this day, he still enjoys teasing me about the hasty and haphazard manner in which I landed my trout. While my father expected me to “play the fish” as a prerequisite for thorough enjoyment of trout fishing, I fortunately had no expectation for Siena. In fact, I believe the two trout I helped my daughter catch today could easily be described as “flying fish”.

Hiking the Horsetail Falls trail to Oneonta Gorge

Horsetail Falls (I can't choose which angle I like more)Horsetail FallsThis year for my wife’s birthday, we hiked the Horsetail Falls trail to Oneonta Creek. We started late in the day, which  limited our hiking time, but simultaneously provided gorgeous light for late afternoon photography. In fact, the Horsetail Falls Trail, when hiked its full length, passes by Middle Oneonta Falls and Triple Falls. I’m looking forward to returning in late Autumn to shoot Triple Falls accented by yellowing Bigleaf maples.

The trailhead is located fifty feet or so east of Horsetail Falls. This waterfall is adjacent to a parking lot, making it a popular destination for tourists passing though the Columbia River Gorge. After photographing the falls, we were warmly greeted by a steep switchback and a decent elevation gain as we started our hike. The switchback ended at a connecting trail about 2/10 of a mile from Ponytail falls. The trail followed a cliff that offered amazing vistas of the Columbia Gorge 500 feet below. The lush foliage began to transluce as the sun set, casting long shadows and bathing the Gorge in golden light. Here delicate wildflowers clung to their precarious perch overhanging the windswept basalt cliffs.

Our daughter was sitting this hike out, spending time with a babysitter she adores. Gabriel, on the other hand, was very content on this, his first outdoor adventure. He fussed a bit as we neared Ponytail falls, quieting down as Momma fed him. I used this downtime to photograph the wildflowers and river vistas that the elevated trail provided. A lone monument to a 14 year old hiker who perished in 1988 from a fall can be found here. Every year recreation in the Gorge leads to deaths or injuries, so it is important to be well prepared when venturing into the wilderness and to be aware of the potential danger obscured by the alluring natural beauty.

Ponytail Falls is a hidden gem. Erosion created a pocket behind the falls that provides a very unique perspective. The trail curves around the bowl and behind the cascade itself, leading through an echo chamber that makes conversation difficult without a raised voice. The green moss and cold spray make this spot a relaxing refuge on a warm spring day.
The photo seems peaceful but the cascade made plenty of noise

We followed the trail past Ponytail Falls until it started to lead west, high above Oneonta Gorge, a narrow slot canyon that makes for a memorable hike. We paused at the top of Lower Oneonta Falls, though it was completely obscured by the heavy fern canopy. At this point, with the sun setting, we decided to turn back, saving Triple Falls for another day. We ended our day at Pfriem Brewery and sampled their brews while reflecting on the hike.