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The 2011 Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

This is one of my favorite events of the year. Great beer + delicious food + amazing bands + a good cause = one awesome evening.  This year the bands were Lost Lander, Hillstomp, Old Light, and The Builders and The Butchers.  If you missed it, you missed it.  But there’s always next year, and the trend has been that it’s getting better each year.

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare 2011

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare 2011

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare 2011

Check out the rest of the photos here.

PDX Adult Soapbox Derby

I’ve been meaning to get out to this event for two years now. It finally happened. It’s a great annual community run event, fun for kids and adults alike. Check out the official website to see how you can participate, volunteer, or just watch. Nothing official about this outing, just another day in Portland.

PDX Adult Soapbox Derby 2011

PDX Adult Soapbox Derby 2011

PDX Adult Soapbox Derby 2011

Check out the rest of the photos here.

Riviera

I got to hang out with Riviera for a little bit last week.  Great band out of Chicago, reforming here in Portland.  Check out their Facebook page for upcoming shows and to listen to some of their music.  Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to shoot some live shows and maybe get some in-studio shots when they record their new release in the Spring.

From their site: “After several years in Chicago, Riviera is now based in Portland, Oregon and firmly ensconced in that city’s thriving music scene. Riviera was called “one of the city’s top unsigned bands” by  the Chicago Tribune’s Metromix and has opened for Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Son Volt, Califone, Hem, The Radar Brothers, Brent Best (Slobberbone) and Kraig Jarret Johnson (The Jayhawks,  Golden Smog, Run Westy Run).

Riviera has found recent success in licensing their music for film and television. Most recently, their songs have been featured on the A&E TV show The Cleaner, starring Benjamin Bratt. Three songs were also featured in the award winning independent film, Riff Raff. The band is focused on licensing more material with discussions ongoing with music supervisors and producers.”

Riviera

Riviera

Scotland

I just got back from a trip to Scotland for a much needed vacation. I’d been planning to go for several years, but one thing or another kept getting in the way. I finally made it.

It felt great to not have any obligations—except getting up for home cooked breakfast every morning. I lugged my gear around Edinburgh, through the highlands, and all around Inverness. I spend more time just being on vacation than shooting photos, but I managed to come back with a few souvenirs.

Scotland 2011

Scotland 2011

Scotland 2011

Scotland 2011

Scotland 2011

Check out the rest of the photos here.

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

I stopped by the Cyclocross National Championships on a recent trip to Bend Oregon.  I wasn’t there on official business, so it was fun to not have an agenda.  The lack of pressure though was more than made up for in mud, mud, and more mud.  Keeping my gear clean was a chore in the rain and mud, but the riders were tough, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the event was great.

Next time, I’ll plan ahead and cover more of the event.  There’s a lot going on other than just the riding.  There’s race preparation, the inevitable exhausting  aftermath, vendors, and a huge cowbell slinging crowd.

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

2010 Cyclocross National Championships

Check out the rest of the photos here.

The 2010 Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Deschutes Brewery Street Fare

Wow, I might as well just call this blog Beer and Photography.  Most of my work these days seems to revolve around beer in one form or another: events, products, process.  It’s a tough burden to carry.

Let’s get right to the point of this conversation: as a photographer, should you separate work from fun?  The answer to that is going to be different for everyone.  The question is really about balance and finding the right combination of work and play.  At the extremes of the spectrum are places like total objectivity and complete immersion.  For photography, total objectivity is like shooting fish behind glass where where people and activities become examined specimens.  On the other hand, complete immersion can become a scary place if you forget to say, shoot the event because you’re so caught up in the action yourself.

It all boils down to understanding your subject.  In this case, the subject was the Deschutes Street Fare.  On the surface, an event is just an event.  It doesn’t get interesting and unique until you break it down into it’s components: food, music, beer.  But the devil is in the details, and we want to get much more granular by asking questions about these broader categories.  For music, these questions are important to me: who is playing the music, both individually and as a group?  How are they interacting with or affecting the audience?  How are they interacting with each other?  What piece are they in the bigger picture of the whole event?  Answering these questions with photos can make it much easier to figure out how to cover an event.

As a self-titled connoisseur of food, beer, and music, asking these questions and being immersed in an event event like this comes naturally.  With a connection already in place, it’s easy to fall into the rhythm of the event and seek out all of the aspects you want to cover.  This is the perfect scenario for me as a photographer.  It makes my job easier and hopefully I can translate my enthusiasm into great photography.

But what if you are not attached to an event?  Most of us can’t absolutely love every single assignment, but if you can still break it down into a series of questions that need to be answered, you can still get great shots of the next Guinea Pig Olympics for your client.  Is the event more about the owners or the animals?  How are the animals treated?  How can the competition versus comradery be measured?  Is there nothing more savage than a Guinea Pig owner and can you capture their essence?  Coming up with these questions and answering them with your camera can lead you through the whole event.

In the end, I was once again guided by the Ten percent Rule: I shot around 1000 photos, was happy with about 100, and really liked 10.  It’s still a low rate of return, but ultimately I’m happy with it.   You have to take some chances to get truly great shots, and with those chances there are a lot of mistakes.

Check out the rest of the photos here.

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

Dog Fighting Clinic -- Otto v. Rocky

Dog Fighting Clinic -- Otto v. Rocky

Dog Fighting Clinic -- Otto v. Rocky

Dog Fighting Clinic -- Otto v. Murray

Let’s face it, dogs won’t always do what you want them to.   In fact, when you need them to do something specific, at the right time, they usually do the opposite.   It doesn’t matter that your dog is calm, obedient, and reliable around the house when no one else is around.   Introduce other people or dogs into the mix and the rules can go right out the window.

But that’s precisely what makes dogs fun to photograph.   Well, as long as you haven’t put yourself in a situation that requires a dog to be costumed and sitting still in front of the family Christmas tree.  Don’t ever say yes to that.  Ever.  The spontaneity of a dog can be a wonderful thing to capture.   They may not always do what you want, but they sure will do things you could never get a human to do: run laps around the yard, play endlessly with a companion, bite and scratch for fun. And during all of that, be completely unselfconscious. Actually, I do know a few humans who do that, but this is not the place to name names.

Not having control over the environment or the subjects is a great way to push yourself as a photographer. When you can’t control any of the elements of a shoot, thinking on your feet and taking chances is all you have to capture the moment. Those uncontained moments are usually the ones with the most energy and emotion.

Mixing Beer and Photography Again

Oakshire Brewing Company, Eugene, OR

Hop Valley Brewing, Eugene, OR

Oregon Trail Brewery, Corvallis, OR

Hop Valley Brewing, Eugene, OR

Block 15 Brewing, Corvallis, OR

Wow, the first post of the new year and it already almost March! A lot of times, blogging and being really busy are inversely proportional and that’s the case for me. I try to strike a balance and post regularly, but when it comes down to paying bills, blogging is lower on my list of priorities.

Beer, however, seems to stay at the top of that list. So, mixing beer and photography is never a stretch for me. In mid February, I was sent to Eugene and Corvallis on a beer journey by: Travel Lane County, Visit Corvallis, and Travel Oregon.  My job: hang out with brewers and drink beer.  Sure, when you boil it down, it sounds like a breeze.  In reality, while fun, it’s also a lot of work.  Try this experiment at home: stand in a cramped space, surround yourself with giant metal tanks, turn the temperature down to 50 degrees, turn off the lights, take notes, take photos, hold and drink a beer, and change lenses.  You find strange places to hold things in these situations.

On the trip, I did six breweries over two days. Whew! I came back with over 10 GB of photographs. On Saturday, I hit Hop Valley Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing, and Oakshire Brewing. On Sunday, it was Oregon Trail Brewery, Flat Tail Brewing, and Block 15 Brewing.  I used this trip as an opportunity to rent a lens and I ended up with a Canon 35mm f/1.4 L.  Hot damn!  Great focal length for cramped spaces, and a wide aperture for all of the low light situations.  I shot with this lens for 95% of my trip, making it a good candidate to replace my ailing, if not broken 50mm f/1.4.  The price points for these lenses differ greatly, so I need to start replenishing my photography gear fund if I’m going to be able to add a $1400 lens to my bag of tricks…

I’ll be writing several articles on the trip at my other site: portlandbeer.org.  If you want to read about the details, you can start here.

Check out the rest of the photos here.

The ReBuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer at The ReBuilding Center in North Portland.  I spent about 4 hours at the center–one hour learning about what they do, and 3 hours sorting reclaimed moulding (different sizes, painted/unpainted, newly delivered, etc).  It was a simple volunteer experience, for a great cause:

“The ReBuilding Center, a project of Our United Villages, is a vibrant resource working to strengthen the environmental, economic, and social fabric of local communities. Founded by volunteers in 1998, The ReBuilding Center carries the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting the reuse of salvaged and reclaimed materials. Three hundred visitors come to The ReBuilding Center every day to browse the ever-changing inventory that includes sinks, tubs, tile, lumber, doors, windows, trim and much more.”

With so many types of materials available in large open spaces, I thought it would be great to document their location through photography.  While I found the shots I wanted, I also found the spirit of commitment, responsibility, and excitement in the people who work there and contribute to building a better community in Portland.  Please visit their website as well as their North Portland location, and contribute to the causes that affect our community in positive ways.

Hours:  Mon – Sat 9 – 6;  Sun 10 – 5
Phone:  503-331-1877
3625 N. Mississippi Ave.

Check out the rest of the photos here.

Dog Log

2009.09.11 -- Dog Log

2009.09.11 -- Dog Log

2009.09.11 -- Dog Log

I was trying to come up with a clever story for these photos. Every time I tried, it seemed that the plain old truth would do more justice here.

The story is pretty simple: we moved to a new house and there were some logs piled up against the fence in the backyard. Our dog Otto won’t fetch. He won’t play ball. But for some reason, our insane dog will pick up an entire log and run laps around the back yard. Over and over and over. He can barely lift it, and sometimes it drags him to the ground, but he won’t stop once he gains some momentum.

The great thing about dogs is that they’re usually pretty cute and they don’t mind if you follow them all over the place with a camera. They don’t always listen, so it may take some chasing, but five minutes in the yard can yield some fun photos.