Adventures in Architecture

There is personality in architecture, even in the suburbs. It’s counterintuitive, but the suburbs with its available land sometimes has the most interesting new buildings, albeit strip malls are not likely to win the awards. Some folks are left squeamish by corporate offices, but if you really look you’ll notice that some modern architects are at the top of their game.

Which brings us to old architecture, where personality meets history. Each is part of a novel that is a city, with individual stories and characters wrapped in each. I could go on about architecture photography technique and how much fun a PC lens is. I could write something about the artistry of lines and the geometry around us. But that is the surface.

Architecture, like any design, was someone’s expression and is the cultural identity of a community. Perhaps it is not so simple anymore. Not with associations, zoning, vetting this and vetting that, etc. A lot people just walk by and don’t notice. Yet it still manages to keep going and it’s worth looking at.

High Socks

Photo of Hillsboro Hops baseball player at bat

Baseball returned to the Portland metro area this summer in the form of the Hillsboro Hops, a class A short season affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The late afternoon, early evening natural light at Hillsboro Ballpark is a photographers dream. This is my favorite photo shot during a game I attended in July.

The interplay of light and shadows were appealing. Notice the woman in the stands using a program to block the sun while those just a few rows above her seem quite comfortable and many didn’t bother with sunglasses. Bright sun or not, the fans seemed in good spirits.

In sports photography intense selective focus is usually employed. On this occasion I was a fan in the seats and did not have the proper lens to blur the background at this distance. Sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules, and in this particular moment, the faces in the crowd are just as interesting as the game being played.


How would you edit this photo?

a trio of musicians play at the Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

My first thought when shooting this photo was for it to be a silhouette. But then I thought color and vibrancy was a good way to go so highlights were dropped and shadows boosted. A lot of photography and post-processing is subjective, so what would you have done with it?

Would you have opted for a silhouette? Would you have cropped out the violinist and focused on the two guitarists? Soft, sharp? Whatever choice you would have made, there is no hard right or wrong answer in my opinion. There are only guidelines and what looks good.

As for the trio you see here, they were a delightful sounding group at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro. Regardless if you’re into renaissance fairs or not (I had never been to one before), I highly recommend taking your camera to such an event. The people there lack photo inhibitions and the costumes are worth the time by itself.



Rebel poses for a portrait photo at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

“So what kind of sorcery is that?”

“I’m here to steal your soul,” I said in reply to this stranger dressed as a pirate.

“Aye, not without a fight!”

So this man named Rebel, in full character and accent, proceeds to walk towards me with the posture of a swashbuckler looking for a sword duel. In response I do what I enjoy and what he expects, and that is press the shutter button. It was spontaneous, fun, and it led to the fantastic shot you see here.

This was typical of my experience at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro last Saturday afternoon. The players and guests in costume were colorful in appearance and vibrant in personality. Everyone from the Wonder Wheel operators to the pretzel merchant stayed in character and welcomed the camera.

It was sweet and innocent. The photos came out wonderfully. As for Rebel here, he was simply great.

Balloon Darts

Washington County Fair Oregon 2013

Washington County Fair in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The Washington County Fair this weekend was an opportunity for me to capture some fun night photos using only available light. It seemed like a challenge to do it with only hand-held shots and if possible, to use a 55mm focal length or somewhere near it.

I used my press pass to soothe the nerves people might feel when they see me walking around with a DSLR. I’d say it worked. People were relaxed and themselves, which is my favorite form of environmental portraiture or candid photography. Others wanted to pose, including a hilarious and spontaneous photo-bomb from a Washington County Sheriff Deputy.

My focus, however, was on capturing the various lights of the carnival rides and people behaving naturally in a setting such as this.

giant slide washington county fair oregon

Good times at the Washington County Fair.

I love the first photo you see here because of the color and symmetry of the balloons. Also, the look on her face is priceless to me. The second shot of the giant slide was a stroke of good fortune. He was behind her most of the way down and at the last bump they were even as they entered the light. It’s good old fashioned fun for the two of them and I felt lucky to be there with my camera.