Five Favorite Images of 2018

I think it’s good to review things every now and then, and I like the idea of sharing my favorite images from the year that was… so here’s the 2018 version. I didn’t take all that many pictures this year, at least compared to a “normal” year for me, but I think I did take some quality images when I got the chance. I know on a few occasions I took my camera with me but never got it out of the backpack, so I guess you could say that part of that low image count was due to limited opportunities, and some was due to self-selection… either way, here are a few from 2018 that I enjoyed.

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Above: Oregon Dunes, January 2018.

I’m particularly happy with this image. I’d been thinking about the Oregon Dunes and how to photograph it for a while before I actually got a chance to drive down there and wander around with camera in hand. I had a pretty specific idea of the kind of image I wanted to capture, something showing the sparseness and texture of the dunes. I hadn’t really thought about black and white or color when thinking of the image, and after playing around in post-processing, I really liked how the black and white version turned out, although I do like the color version too. On this day, the cloud cover was working in my favor by adding some more character to the image. I had a fun day hiking around the dunes, grabbed a few other pictures I like, and it was well worth the long drive to get there for a daytrip.

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Above: Seagulls and sunset at Seaside, OR. March 2018.

This image I like mainly because it was a kind of impromptu thing, and reminds me of a few nice, almost relaxing days in the middle of a very busy and fairly stressful spring. I was at a work-related training event in Seaside, and my hotel was only a few blocks from the beach. I took advantage of the nice weather we had for a few days with my first few beach jogs (found out I love jogging on the beach), and got a glimpse into what an Oregon beach town looks like during the winter off-season. I hadn’t brought my large camera setup, but I did have my Olympus and so when the sunset looked decent one night I walked down to the beach and hung out for a while. These two seagulls seemed like they didn’t mind being the subject for photographers, and they made for a nice foreground subject. The next day the weather turned back to the winter “normal” of wind and rain.

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Above: Foggy black and white sunrise on the Oregon coast, looking toward Florence. October 2018.

Like I alluded to before, I didn’t take nearly as many images this year as I wanted to, and there was a pretty long period in the summer where I just wasn’t taking pictures. I was carrying my travel camera with me, but just wasn’t seeing much to photograph, or if I was, I wasn’t in a situation where I could bust out the camera and start snapping photos. I was working on the last big aviation project of the year on the Siuslaw NF when I took this picture. I  was using my Olympus, which has some unique image properties when used in low light conditions, namely that the image gets a little noisy or grainy. While the sunrise I captured in this image was colorful to the naked eye, I really couldn’t reproduce it with the camera. But to my surprise, when I started playing around with image in post-processing, I liked how it looked in black and white. The lack of color and the grainy character just do it for me. It’s not a great image, and it’s not one that will likely end up on my wall, but I do like the way it turned out. It’s also one of the few images I have of the Oregon coast country that’s not at the beach, which is good for variety. The stark feel to it, the layers of haze and fog in the foreground leading to a vacant horizon, and the combination of stumps in the clearcut with the heavily forested hills in the middle of the scene just resonate with me.

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Above: Winter waves at Cape Perpetua. December, 2018.

On the last day of 2018 the weather cooperated and I went for a daytrip to the coast. I haven’t explored much of the Oregon coast yet, but of the parts I have seen Cape Perpetua is my favorite spot. I absolutely love watching the sunset from the Devil’s Churn side of the little cove there, and on this evening the tide was rolling in and the low winter sun was illuminating things in a way that just caught my eye. Something about the way this images captures the layers of waves, and the texture of the colors really does it for me. This one is already up on my wall, and might be one of my favorite images regardless of year.

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Above: Starry skies over Devil’s Churn at Cape Perpetua. December 2018.

This is the second image I’m sharing from the last day of 2018, and one that while I really didn’t nail it (focus is a bit off, exposure could be better), I still like how it came out, especially considering I thought it was going to be a bust until i got it into post-processing. I’d had it in my mind for a year or so to try and get some night sky images from Cape Perpetua, and it took a while for conditions to line up with me having the time to run out there. On this day I had no idea where the Milky Way was, so it’s a happy coincidence that it’s in the frame. At sunset, the clouds had looked to be building and moving in where I wanted to frame the shot, but after a few hours it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My major challenge turned out to be the light shining into the foreground from a building at the parking lot behind me in this image… I hadn’t thought about there being a light that could disrupt my image until I got there. Fortunately, some creative editing  mellowed out the effect, and the end result was acceptable. Now I’m looking forward to trying again sometime, maybe with a better night lens and some luck.

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Above: Bonus image of sunset at Devil’s Churn. December 2018

Bonus round! I snapped this image a little after official sunset on December 31st, mainly to see how the framing might work for the star image above, and I actually liked the colors and motion in the ocean waves. Not my best work, but a very nice unexpected result.

Until next time…

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2019… starting with a not-bang

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Above: Seals basking in the sun at Seal Rock, OR. December 2018.

So, here we are. Three weeks into 2019, and about time for me to try and get back into writing more frequently, or at least once in a while…

In a lot of ways not much has changed since my last blog update in March of last year. I’m still pretty busy, and writing for recreation has remained pretty low on my list of priorities. I’m still pretty firmly entrenched in a job where I spend most of my time in the office, or the driver seat of my government rig. My trips to the field have pretty much been reduced to quick visits and daytrips to check on things, and to occasionally help out for an afternoon on special projects. During the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons, I didn’t go on  a single fire assignment, on or off unit. Sure, my job entails a lot of fire-related coordination on the local units during the summer, more than enough to keep me busy in fact, but it’s different. I’m not complaining by a long shot, but it has been a pretty significant change in roles and responsibilities that’s taking some time to fully embrace.

Anyway… fire season 2018 in a short review. It was a busy summer and fall for me in some ways, and not so busy in others. We had a relatively slow fire season in my zone, although it was pretty busy in neighboring areas. While conditions were primed for a repeat of the crazy 2017 season, we never really saw a lightning event, and for the most part our human starts where are all places where the fire crews could get to them quickly. There was just enough activity, and more importantly, potential for activity, that I never really felt comfortable taking more than a day or two off at a time, and definitely didn’t feel comfortable leaving the zone for a fire assignment. So while it was way less stressful than 2017, and I’m incredibly thankful for that, it was still a lot of work that kept me hopping from July until mid-October. Just getting around from point to point in the huge area I cover proved to be a large workload – by my rough documentation I spent something like 350 hours driving almost 20,000 miles in my government truck in 2018. On the plus side, since I was busy with local responsibilities, the number of nights I spent away from home dropped significantly in 2018, and I’m pretty happy about that. From 2014 through 2017 I was spending 100-150 nights a year away from home, which was becoming a bit tough to sustain, and I’m pretty happy about that number becoming more reasonable this past year.

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Above: Black and white sunrise over a foggy Oregon coast, near Florence, OR. October, 2018.

On the personal side of things, work and grad school kept me busy enough that I really didn’t do much of interest in 2018, or at least much that I want to write about. It was a challenging year for parts of my family, with my last surviving grandfather passing in February, and my last remaining grandmother having a health scare complete with multiple surgeries and a short stay in a nursing home in November. Shoehorn in a delayed memorial service for my grandfather in May and a knee replacement surgery for my dad in October, and it felt like there were a lot of stressful things happening with the Montana side of my family this year. With the way family stuff and fire season kept me busy, I took fewer photographs this year than I have in any year since I started getting into photography in 2010. I did manage to get some images I’m happy with, mainly at the beginning and end of the year, and I’ll share those in a separate post soon. I also didn’t manage any kind of backpacking trip this summer, day hike or overnight, which was moderately disappointing.

And in other news… 2018 ended with a government shutdown that continues to this day (day 30 as I type this on 1/21/2019). I’ll probably post about that in a separate post as well, but I’ll just say it hasn’t exactly been a fun experience.

That being said, here’s what I look forward to in 2019: Some better alignment of my workload and my personal life goals; some more time spent on photography; the chance of getting a fire assignment or two to work on open taskbooks I have; and the chance to spend some more time exploring western Oregon and Washington. I think 2019 will be a good year, despite the rocky start work-wise, and I’m going to work at making it a good year, come what may.

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Above: Last sunset of 2018 at Devils’ Churn, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.

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Remembering Cramer

In the Salmon River Breaks of central Idaho, fire is a frequent visitor. The area has a somewhat legendary status in the pantheon of wildland fire, known for the steep slopes that rise seemingly without end from the Salmon River to the timbered ridges high above, where bighorn sheep mingle with rattlesnakes, and firefighters know to take extra care at every step. The Breaks play a role in the stories of many fire managers, some amusing, some somber, all taking into account that this is a place where firefighters must take care, or risk being broken by the land.

In late July 2003 I was a young and ignorant seasonal firefighter on the Swan Lake RD of the Flathead NF in northwestern Montana. On the hot afternoon of July 22nd, in a fire cache a few hundred yards from the cool shores of Flathead Lake, I heard about the two firefighters who had perished in the Cramer fire. Surprisingly, perhaps, it was the first time I’d really thought about firefighter fatalities in my young professional career. At that point in my life, fire didn’t seem all that hazardous compared to what I’d grown up around in a rural logging community. To be honest, it seemed more safety-oriented than anything I’d done previously, so I hadn’t given it much thought. Up until then I’d mainly worked small fires in the relatively wet and heavily timbered Flathead country, where fires mostly stayed small, and IA involved long hours of exceedingly slow work  cutting through thick dead and down trees, dense brush, and digging line through feet of duff and the nemesis of many a high-country line digger, beargrass. It seemed like the standard escape route briefing was “down and out to the rigs,” regardless of where I was. More often than not, there wasn’t enough burned area to make the black a valid safety zone, and the openings in the timber were few and far between. It didn’t seem to matter much though, since the fires I’d experienced to that point had mostly moved slowly. Fast-moving fires in light, flashy fuels on steep slopes hadn’t been entered into my mental slideshow of experiences just yet, although they would eventually.

Given my lack of fire experience, as well as my general lack of life experience, the Salmon River Breaks might as well have been on the dark side of the moon that sweltering afternoon in the fire cache. I’d never been farther south than Lost Trail Pass in the Bitterroot, and had certainly never thought about fighting fire in the hot and dry Breaks country south of there, where flames could move faster than I could. At that point in my career, assignments to neighboring Districts, or to Glacier NP for the occasional lightning fire in the Park, were rare and sought after on the crew. Assignments off-Forest to the west side of the Lolo NF a few hours to the south seemed like a grand adventure. Firefighting in a place like the Salmon-Challis NF, then, was beyond my ken, and would be for some time to come. Still, it gave me pause for a few moments to think about those two nameless, faceless firefighters who’d died on a lonely hillside far away.

A few summers later I found myself as a rookie helitack crewmember for the BLM in southeast Montana, increasingly worried that my experience with slow-moving fires in Western MT hadn’t prepared me at all for working on fast-moving grass fires in the rough and tough badlands of the Tongue and Powder River Breaks. I’d read John Maclean’s Fire on the Mountain the winter before, and during the early weeks of settling into the singlewide trailer that was our barracks, the thought of those BLM helitackers who had died on Storm King was forefront in my mind. As I got to know my fellow crewmembers, I discovered that two of them had just come from the Indianola Rappel Crew, and had been among the new hires after Cramer. I didn’t really dwell on it at the time, but I do remember a few conversations about how strange it was for them to have started on that crew so soon after tragedy had rocked that organization.

As I’ve forged ahead in my career, I’ve worked with a few others who were part of that crew, or sister crews on the Salmon-Challis. I’ve fought fire on neighboring forests, and have gained an appreciation for fire in that kind of country. Each time I think about what those folks went through, and what was lost, it becomes more powerful, and it becomes more evident that we can’t let those memories and lessons be forgotten.

I was sitting in a fire refresher this spring, on the wet west side of the Oregon Cascades, when the instructors presented the Cramer video and case study to a class of mainly young and inexperienced militia, most of whom were ignorant of the ferocity of fire in places like the Salmon River Breaks. Much like me 15 years before, the idea that someone could get caught in a situation like that was a good bit removed from what they knew of working in fire. Lacking much in the way of guidance from the instructors, who through no fault of their own had no personal connection to Cramer, the students reviewed the events and focused on details and lessons. While what they discussed was important, it probably wasn’t what they really needed to take away from the exercise. I shared my thoughts as best I could, based on my experience in similar places and with similar people, and hoped that somehow I’d said something that would stick in their minds as they went into what was looking like a busy fire season.

That experience, of seeing the generational knowledge gained in the aftermath of the event drift away, made me feel sad. A large slice of a generation of fire and aviation managers was influenced by Cramer, and it changed how a lot of us thought about fire in many ways. To see those lessons fade, however slightly, from our cultural memory, is a melancholy thing, because if we fail to remember our past we are doomed to repeat it, on some other lonely hillside, on some other fire that would otherwise go unremembered.

Never forget Shane Heath, Jeff Allen and the Cramer fire. Be students of fire, in all the ways that you can.

(photo credit: Wildfire Today via the Wildland Fire Leadership blog)

Cramer Fire Six Minutes for Safety

http://www.wlfalwaysremember.org/incident-lists/114-cramer.html

Lessons Learned Center Cramer fire page

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Seagulls, sunsets, and jogging on the beach

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Above: Seagulls at sunset in Seaside, OR. March, 2018.

(In the spirit of being a bit more productive on the writing front, and also because I had a photo or two to share, I’m back for a late March entry.)

The past week found me on the road again, for the 6th week in a row. It’s been a busy month and a half, with some unexpected personal travel in mid-February, and then a whole bunch of work travel in the weeks since then. This particular road trip was a bit more mellow than the previous few, as it involved a drive up the Oregon coast to Seaside, OR, for the yearly Forest Service PNW new employee orientation that’s held for all employees new to the region, the agency, or both. Somehow I was invited, and thought since I was new to the region last year, it would be nice to attend.

While the orientation was pretty generic for the most part, complete with bland presentations from most folks, it was good to see just what kind of folks are coming to work for the agency these days. Somewhat surprisingly to me, most of the 125 or so people in the room had been with the agency for less than three years… while I know it was “new employee” week, for some reason I expected to see a higher percentage of people like me, who were just new to the region, but not new to the Forest Service. Surprise number two came when a presenter asked folks to raise their hands if hey’d ever worked for the agency as a “1039 or temporary” employee, which at least in fire is a large part of the workforce, and how many people, if not most in some regions, gain the experience that they need to earn an entry-level permanent position. When asked, less than 25% of the room raised their hands to indicate they’d ever worked as a temporary, which meant that most had gone directly to a permanent position… seemed strange to me, but perhaps I’m a bit out of touch with how folks are hired these days.

It was nice to see some new parts of Oregon as well. I hadn’t been to that part of the state before, and my hotel (and the conference center) were only a few blocks away from the beach, and I’ll admit I took full advantage of the proximity almost every day. Funny as it sounds, I’d never gone jogging on a beach before, so I made sure to get in my daily PT with a jog on the beach three of the four days I was there. While I can’t say that I jogged particularly fast, it was enjoyable pounding out some miles on the beach instead of the pavement for a change.

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Above: Seagull and waves at sunset, Seaside, OR. March, 2018.

Two of the evenings I was there we had clear skies and colorful sunsets, and I had brought along one of my cameras just in case I had some time after work to wander around a bit. While I ended up not having a huge amount of time to hunt for good photos, I was able to get to the beach one evening just to see what I could see, and what I saw was seagulls. Since there wasn’t a whole lot for clouds in the sky or big rock formations like a little farther south, I was forced to look for other interesting things to work into the images, and the seagulls cooperated quite nicely. I’m pretty happy with what I got for images from maybe 20 minutes worth of shooting in the cold-ish stiff breeze that was blowing.

The town of Seaside I didn’t quite figure out in my short time there. Being as it’s still the off season for tourism, the town was pretty quiet mid-week, and it was nice to go out to eat at the local brewery without having to wait or deal with crowded streets as I walked around town and the promenade. On the flip side, it was pretty obvious that the whole downtown was targeting tourists with lots of gift shops and gimmicky eateries, and I have a feeling that during the busy season it’s pretty packed with folks from Portland and surrounding inland areas heading out for a weekend beach experience. Regardless of what it’s like during the busy season, I had an enjoyable time while I was there, and I think I’ll probably have to go back at some point as a tourist instead of on a work trip.

Until next time…

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A Short Update

So, here I am yet again… chronically late when it comes to writing. I had the best of intentions of writing at least once a month this year, but that got shot up pretty early. Maybe I’ll change that goal to something that I can still achieve, like writing 12 or more blog posts this year… Anyway, here’s the news that’s fit to print in my world, mid-March 2018 edition.

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Above: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, January, 2018.

Since the last update in January, a lot has happened, but I’ll be brief. Shortly after the first of the year my parents came to Corvallis for a visit, and I toured them around a bit, and had a short but good weekend with them. After they left I took a short day trip down the coast to the Oregon Dunes, and managed to snap a few images that I was happy with while hiking around on the John Dellenback trail. I’d had a few ideas of composition rattling around my head for a few months, and it was neat to make it come together. I haven’t done much photography around here yet, but the few times I have gone out I’ve been pretty happy with the images I’ve captured and the places I’ve seen.

After that early January visit I had about two weeks with not too much happening, which I’ll admit was pretty amazing after the summer and fall I had. The weather was pretty mild by my standards, and I was fairly productive at work. That changed in mid-February though, when my sole remaining grandfather took ill and passed away, which prompted a trip home to MT and a shifting of work schedule that meant what had been a steady but not too busy February and March turned into a marathon of back-to-back travel. In the past month and a half or so I’ve only been home for a few full weekends, and have spent most of the time in travel status either for work or family visits. Busy busy…

Above: The Washington Monument and the National Mall, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, March, 2018.

On the positive side, the past week involved a work trip to Washington, D.C. for a meeting/training event that was the capstone for a professional development program I participated in at work. I hadn’t been to D.C. before, so it was an eye-opening and humbling experience for sure. Some things were as I expected, with the D.C. culture at the Forest Service headquarters being one, and the overwhelming number of things to do and see being another. Some things weren’t quite like I thought, the sheer size of the Lincoln Memorial for one. Although I’d seen it in images and on television many, many times, somehow that didn’t even come close to preparing me for just how massive the monument really is when seen in person. Also a bit surprising to me was how easy it was to get around by foot in the area where we had our meetings and hotel… between the Metro and plain old-fashioned walking, there was an incredible number of places to go within 30 minutes or so of the hotel, which made for a smooth visit. We had a packed schedule, and packed even more into the evenings, so there’s a lot more that happened than I’ll share here and now… maybe later.

I’m sure I’ll post up some more thoughts about the past month or so when I’ve had more time to reflect, and frankly when I’m not so tired (5 weeks of steady travel with a death in the family, and a time change with cross-country travel in the middle, plus another week on the road starting tomorrow will do that) I’ll be better prepared to talk about it all. In the meantime I thought I’d better get something out while I had a short moment.

Until next time…

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Favorite 5 images from 2017

I didn’t get to do as much photography as I’d like to last year (2017), but I still thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the pictures I did take. So here’s an impromptu look at five of my favorite images from the last year or so… in no particular order, and for no particular reasons…

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Above: Milky Way over the Snake River Plain, July 2017.

I like this image for a few reasons. It was the only time I got out for a night shoot this year, and wasn’t really planned. I had rented a copy of the new Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens for a potential hiking trip into the Sawtooths, and when I ran out of time to do that (it was my last week in Boise, and making sure the move went smooth took precedence), I took a random drive into the desert south of Meridian one night when the skies looked reasonably clear. I drove around a little while, and after getting a wee bit sketched out by an abandoned car at the spot I’d though of trying, ended up pulling over at a random side road. Once I stepped out of the truck I realized that not only was I far enough from Boise to avoid most of the light pollution, but the Milky Way was also shining clear and bright. I spent maybe 15 minutes taking some different shots (with my Canon 6D), and called it an evening around midnight. Given the mostly random way it unfolded, I was tickled that I was able to capture a pretty neat image, and only about a 40 minute drive south of my apartment. I still haven’t brought myself to purchase a copy of the lens for myself (it’s a pretty specialized tool), but it’s on my “to-get” list for capturing these kinds of images.

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Above: Passenger jet taking off from Newark, June 2017.

When I went back to Grey Towers (in Milford, PA) for a USFS training session in June, we flew in and out of Newark, NJ. On the night before my flight home, we stayed at a hotel airport, and I got lucky and had a view toward New York City from my window. I woke up early, unable to sleep too well for a variety of reasons, and was treated to some neat light as the sun rose. I didn’t have one of my “big” cameras with me, just my Canon G7 X point and shoot, but I’m still happy with how it turned out. This was my first real trip to what I consider “back east,” as until then the only places east of the Mississippi that I’d visited had been in the south… Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida, and while they are “east” by most geographic standards, don’t quite have the same vibe as the Northeast.

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Above: Mt. St. Helens from Coldwater Peak repeater, October 2017.

I’m not quite sure why I like this image more than some of the others I took that day that are probably “better” in a technical or artistic sense, but I do. I think it’s something to do with the fact that it’s not just a “normal” landscape shot, but shows some of the “behind the scenes” of the spot… in this case, we’d flown up to the peak to install the radios in a new building for the USFS, USGS, and local SAR group radio repeaters, and you can see the three radio techs, the building, and the various short towers and solar panel arrays that are on the site. In this shot, the new building isn’t completely finished: the antenna hasn’t been raised, and the solar panels haven’t been put on top yet. As my job-related roles and responsibilities have changed in the past 5 years, I’ve really seen a huge decline in the number of times I can actually get into the field and do neat things with helicopters each year, so I have to be sure to slow down and enjoy each project and flight I do get to work on. I used my Olympus E-M5 and 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO for this shot… It’s becoming my “travel” camera and lens for those times when I don’t have the space to bring my Canon 6D and the big lenses (which is most of the time when I’m working), but do have room in the line pack or flight bag for something more than just a pocket camera.

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Above: Totality during the eclipse, August 2017.

It wouldn’t do for me to have a top 5 list without including one of my few eclipse photos. The eclipse was a big deal in this part of Oregon, and having it occur during the middle of fire season made for a lot of extra work for just about everyone involved in fire management, including me. Needless to say, I would have liked to made some big plans, but the busy fire season, plus the move a few weeks before mean that I was lucky to just have my camera handy, and by in a spot where I could see the eclipse. In all honesty, I failed pretty hard on the prep for this… my tripod was somewhere in a pile of boxes and other stuff in my new apartment, and I was lucky to even remember to grab the Canon 6D with a few lenses as I walked out the door that morning. I didn’t do much research into how to photograph the event, and only had a few moments to snap a few images with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 and Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art. Probably not an ideal shot for a wide angle (I used the Rokinon 14mm), but I’ve got something to remember the eclipse with, so I’d call it a success, all things considered.

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Above: DC-10 drop testing at sunrise, Fox Field, October 2017.

Just as things were starting to wind down a little bit at the new job in Oregon, I got a request to go help with an airtanker drop test that some of the folks from my last job were working on, and so I found myself on one last little work adventure with them as October came to a close. I didn’t really have time for much in the way of taking photos, and I’d again traveled with only my Canon G7 X point and shoot. In hindsight I could easily have brought either of my “big” cameras and had enough time to snap a few pictures, but I’m still pretty happy with how this one image, snapped quickly, turned out. It was yet another one of those work experiences where I feel pretty lucky to have been able to participate in it, even though it was a week of long days that left everyone pretty bushed, mentally and physically. I only hauled out the camera a few times, but it was definitely worth it when I did.

So there you have it… my five favorite images of 2017. Maybe not my five best images, but the five I feel I like the best, for whatever reasons. I didn’t have a huge sample to draw from, but there’s always (this) next year!

Until next time…

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Hello 2018, Goodbye 2017

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Above: Waves at Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast, December 2017.

And here I am, at the start of a new year, pounding away at the keyboard, fueled by coffee and music, after another two-month break in posting… so much for my 2017 goal of writing at least once a month.

As is usual, the change in calendars makes for a good opportunity to step back and take a measure of where I am and where I’m heading. I think most obvious is that a year ago I had no idea I’d be where I am today… While I was actively pursuing professional opportunities, this one, in this place, wasn’t even a blip on the radar. To be honest, a year ago I probably would have had to pull out a map to see where, exactly, Corvallis was in western Oregon. I knew in general terms where it was, but that was the extent of it. I also knew at some point I wanted this kind of job, but I thought that it’d be a decade or so before I got there. Professionally I made some great headway this year, and I’m excited to see what the coming year brings.

At the start of 2017, I was  burnt out, fried, frazzled, and stressed out from an extremely trying year and a half. I really wanted to lower my stress levels, both at work and at home. In this regard I didn’t even come close to meeting my goals… if anything, I was more stressed out for most of the year. Lots of work travel, a major personal and professional move, and an incredibly busy summer pretty much blew up my plans to reduce my stress this year. I wasn’t able to to get any hiking trips in, and definitely didn’t do as much photography or writing as I wanted to. So personally I came up a bit short in my goals for the year, and while I’m not too happy about that, I’m heartened by the potential for 2018 to provide more opportunities for being less stressful.

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Above: Sunset over the Pacific, Cape Perpetua, Oregon Coast, December 2017.

So where will 2018 take me? I’m not sure, but I know I want to make more time for family, photography, reading and writing, and fun than I did in 2017. I know I’ve got a lot of “work” ahead, as I’m still getting settled in to the new place and job, and it’s going to take some time before it starts to feel like home (I’m still a bit unsettled by not having snow on the ground around here as January starts). But I feel optimistic about things, generally speaking, and while I’m sure that I’ll be unsettled for a while, I’m thinking that good things are yet to come.

Happy New Year, and may your 2018 be all that you hope.

Until Next Time…

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