Asking Why

Sometimes all that's required for adventure is to look up

Sometimes all that’s required for adventure is to look up

Tonight, I sit at the computer feeling a bit lost for a topic.  It’s 9:37PM.  The clock is counting down to bedtime while I flounder.  I have no new photos to share.  I find myself wondering what compels me to write 500 words every night and take and process enough photos each week to accompany those words.

My topic tonight has revealed itself to me:  why do I blog?

Creating adventure out of cardboard and gravity

Creating adventure out of cardboard and gravity

This is a question I have been asked by more than one person.  Some of my closest relatives have wondered what the appeal is.  It’s a question I ask myself from time to time.  The original intent was to use the blog as a way to keep family and friends up-to-date on our new adventures as we moved away from the place I’d spent the vast majority of my life and into parts unknown.

But then, several things happened.  First, I made the decision to post every day.  My main goal was to develop a habit of writing.  After all, to be a writer, there’s only one thing you have to do:  write.

Hiking where there are great views is always a satisfying adventure

Hiking where there are great views is always a satisfying adventure

But, let’s face it, not too many of us have exciting things to write about every day.  For the first six months we were in Chattanooga, we were treating our stay here like we were on a vacation every weekend–seeing and doing whatever there was to see and do within a couple hours drive.  That gave me material to string out throughout the week.

Next, my husband started a business in Chattanooga.  Not just a business, but a business requiring lots of heavy equipment that occupies a good-sized workshop.  Not exactly mobile.

This guy is always on an adventure--but it's always the same one

This guy is always on an adventure–but it’s always the same one

It’s funny how the knowledge that we had years to get to see the area vs months changed the weekend vacation attitude to one of “we’re at home.”  Suddenly, it’s not the top priority to go hike a new trail every weekend or hang glide off a mountain or learn to kayak in white water.  Now, we are accumulating the “some day” list of things we want to see and do similar to what we had before we moved here.

The idea of having an adventure to write about every day has gone out the window, yet the habit of writing seems to have stuck.

Taken a year ago, I realize how even spring is an adventure--no blooms on this hillside yet this year

Taken a year ago, I realize how even spring is an adventure–no blooms on this hillside yet this year

In parallel to these changes to our life plan, I got more and more excited about practicing photography.  I spent increasingly more time learning about the technical aspects of photography and more and more time shooting.  Having a “deadline” and a place to publish those photos helps me prioritize my time so that I make time to practice.

I feel more accountable somehow because I have a small, much appreciated, group of followers who click the “like” button.  This accountability helps me make time to do something I enjoy.  It seems counter-intuitive, but it works for me.

Maybe the answer is as simple as I like it.

The moon always makes me feel adventurous

The moon always makes me feel adventurous

Dog Walk

The "Happy Puppy" face comes through even in the Hipstamatic blur effect

The “Happy Puppy” face comes through even in the Hipstamatic blur effect

I discovered something about my dog last weekend.  At least I think I did.  I’ve always suspected he thinks he’s walking me when we go for our spins around the park.  He has good reason to believe this.  I take the approach that as a dog with no yard, his walks should simulate the experience of wandering around the yard amusing himself.

An urban dog's lot in life is to enjoy the outdoors while attached to his people

An urban dog’s lot in life is to enjoy the outdoors while attached to his people

Instead of expecting him to heel, I let him pick where he wants to wander within reason.  If he meanders off the sidewalk and into the grass because he’s suddenly caught a really good scent, I follow.

Is it time to go?  Are we going?  Now?  Now?

Is it time to go? Are we going? Now? Now?

If I get impatient, I whistle to him and say, “Let’s go this way,” in my high, happy puppy voice and move my body in a way that suggests play.  I hope no one has ever caught this on video.  Usually, he will come with me.

But when an urban dog is at home, life can be pretty luxurious

But when an urban dog is at home, life can be pretty luxurious

Interestingly, he rarely pulls on the lead.  When we’re in motion, we walk together like he’s been expertly trained.  The lead hangs so loose, I have to loop it to keep it from dragging and tripping one of us.  He walks at my side content until the next great scent piques his interest.

So, while on the one hand, he could have the impression that he is walking me, on the other hand, he stays with me nicely much of the time.  It’s a win-win and I’ve never really worried much about it–he and I seem equally content in our style of walking together.

Cuddling in a blanket next to Mommy seems to be the highlight of the day

Cuddling in a blanket next to Mommy seems to be the highlight of the day

When we went for our little hikes in the Prentice Cooper State Forest this past weekend, we let Tisen off his leash when we were on trails where we were unlikely to run into anyone and far from ATVs.  Because Tisen is the kind of dog that wants to have his people in sight all the time, we don’t have to worry about him running off (unlike an Akita we once fostered who seemed to think he needed to run 10 miles a day and that being let of the leash was an invitation to go do so).

Hey!  Where'd everyone go?

Hey! Where’d everyone go?

Tisen sometimes gets lost in a scent.  He forgets where he is, who he’s with, and goes blind as all of his brain becomes occupied with deciphering what message was left for him.  When we hike, we just keep going, figuring he’ll catch up after a bit.  If he doesn’t show up before we get very far, we call him.  Then, he usually panics and comes galloping back to us like he’s just had the daylights scared out of him.

The blanket is supposed to protect the sofa from Tisen--a point he seems to have missed

The blanket is supposed to protect the sofa from Tisen–a point he seems to have missed

This isn’t new behavior.  But, for the first time it dawned on me that he’s shocked to realize we can get away.  He forgets we’re not on a leash.  He expects to look up and find us standing next to him, waiting for him to finish.  I feel certain his panic is proof that he really does think he’s walking us.

This photo may be blurry, but it still cracks me up--Tisen is so determined to hide his face, he sticks his head in the crook of Daddy's arm

This photo may be blurry, but it still cracks me up–Tisen is so determined to hide his face, he sticks his head in the crook of Daddy’s arm

Not Snoopers Rock

Looking back up the trail, parallel to the cliff wall that makes up the bulk of Indian Rock House

Looking back up the trail, parallel to the cliff wall that makes up the bulk of Indian Rock House

On our weekend adventure, after going the wrong way and ending up at Signal Point, cowboying our way down a road made for ATVs rather than mini-vans and nearly removing our bumper trying to turn around, we headed towards our initial destination:  Snoopers Rock.

We made our way slowly back up the ATV-friendly road back to the long gravel road that traverses the Prentice Cooper State Forest.  At some point, I got a signal on my iPhone and looked up a map of the park.  True to the rest of the day, I realized we had passed the trailhead for Snoopers Rock and we turned around.  But, curious about what appeared to be a fire tower along the way, I asked Pat to stop, back up, and pull into the park headquarters to check it out.

Not the fire tower stairs, but still a little dangerous

Not the fire tower stairs, but still a little dangerous

When Pat put our trusty mini-van in reverse, something drug on the gravel road.  Pat got out and discovered the radiator shroud was hanging far lower than it should be.  I don’t know what a radiator shroud is, but was relieved that Pat thought we’d be OK for a few days as long as we stopped running over things with it.

The fire tower was open to the public with an ominous sign at the base of the terrifying stairs stating that if you enter, you have to assume responsibility if you get hurt.  I made it up the first two flights of steep, narrow steps (less than halfway to the top) before a strong wind shaking the tower reminded me just how afraid of heights I am.  I took what were, I’m sure, my best shots of the day of the tower.  However, they mysteriously disappeared, making me slightly less enamored with shooting with Hipstamatic on my iPhone instead of my DSLR.

Side wall of Indian Rock House shot with the color verison of tintype in Hipstamatic

Side wall of Indian Rock House shot with the color verison of tintype in Hipstamatic

We headed back to the trailhead, parked, crossed the road and headed down the trail, expecting to arrive at Snoopers Rock in less than half a mile.  Eventually, we saw a sign that said Indian Rock House was .9 mile away and Snoopers Rock was a couple of miles beyond.  I was quite perplexed.  We decided to head on down to Indian Rock House–we were nearly there.  Our day was destined to be a day of detours.

A more realistic image of the entrance to the stone door shot with the Camera! app

A more realistic image of the entrance to the stone door shot with the Camera! app

Indian Rock House has a stone door much like the one at Savage Gulf, but on a smaller scale.  The gap in the rocks leads down narrow, steep steps that rivaled the fire tower for hazardousness, but felt far more secure with the ground much closer.

The Rock House is a large indentation in the cliffside that provides a roof if you stay close to the rock wall.  I wouldn’t call it a cave, but it did provide shelter to indigenous people at some point in history.  It was pretty cool in any case.

Pat pointed out a "whale" in the end wall of the rock house--can you see it?

Pat pointed out a “whale” in the end wall of the rock house–can you see it?

By the time we hiked back up to the trailhead, we decided we’d better call it a day.  Some day, we’ll make it to Snoopers Rock.

I'm not sure why, but I find this image interesting with Pat blurred in the background and the foreground rock in focus

I’m not sure why, but I find this image interesting with Pat blurred in the background and the foreground rock in focus

 

Nearly the same shot as above, only with Pat in focus  instead

Nearly the same shot as above, only with Pat less blurred

Crater Lake, the Second

Crater Lake really is almost this blue.  Shot with the Color version of tintype "film" in Hipstamatic.

Crater Lake really is almost this blue. Shot with the Color version of tintype “film” in Hipstamatic.

From Signal Point, we loaded back into our trusty min-van, found directions to Snoopers Rock on Google maps, and headed back down Signal Mountain to drive around the base along the Tennessee River.  The drive was mostly beautifu–there were views of the river and the gorge much of the way.

Snoopers Rock is in the Prentice Cooper State Forest.  It is not only not near Signal Point, it is not even on Signal Mountain (see yesterday’s post).  But, it was a lovely day for a bit of exploring in any case.

The longest part of the drive was the gravel road from the entry to the park to the trailhead.  We happened to arrive on a day when ATVs were over-running the place.  We originally thought there must have been some kind of event there, but in retrospect, I suspect it’s just that popular to go driving around in an ATV here.

I'm not sure if I was shooting the plants in the water or plants above, but I kind of like the patch of sharpness in the midst of blur.  Need to figure out which Hipstamatic lens does this

I’m not sure if I was shooting the plants in the water or plants above, but I kind of like the patch of sharpness in the midst of blur. Need to figure out which Hipstamatic lens does this

Along the way, we saw a sign for “Crater Lake.”  Thinking of Crater Lake in Oregon, our curiosity was piqued and we decided to take yet another detour.  We turned down a road that was clearly not designed for mini-vans.  We drove slowly, going up and down bumps and through muddy puddles that spoke of the popularity of ATVs here.

We made it to a grassy parking area and I suggested we were at the lake, but Pat thought we needed to go further.

The road got bumpier, rootier, and muddier the further we went.  Of course, we had no cell reception to try to figure out where we were, either.  I had a vague feeling we were going in a loop, however, and suggested we turn around.

This one was shot with the Camera! App and was only slightly adjusted--this is what the lake actually looked like.

This one was shot with the Camera! App and was only slightly adjusted–this is what the lake actually looked like.

By this time, we all three needed to use the facilities.  Having quite a bit of experience with natural facilities, I worked my way through a few brambles to a bit of cover from view of the roadway.  I was glad I did when, just as I was finishing up, I heard an ATV approaching.

Pat was in the middle of turning the van around when I got back to the road.  He was also dragging the bumper over the roots at the base of a tree.  Fortunately, our van suffered more harm than the tree did.  But, tree-hugger that I am, I yelled “Stop!” as soon as I saw the bumper drag on the roots.  This was a good thing–I’m not sure our bumper would still be attached otherwise.

Pat posed for me in front of the lake.

Pat posed for me in front of the lake.

We eventually made it back down the road in the direction we’d come.  Although the couple on the ATV seemed to think we might be close to Crater Lake by going the opposite direction, neither Pat nor I thought trying to turn around again was a good idea.  As we arrived back at the grassy parking area, from this direction, the lake was visible through some underbrush.  We looked at each other and laughed.  I managed not to say, “I told you so.”

Tisen wasn't sure if he was hot enough to go wading in the strange looking water

Tisen wasn’t sure if he was hot enough to go wading in the strange looking water

Signaling Spring

Looking up the walk from the Signal Point Overlook to the parking lot

Looking up the walk from the Signal Point Overlook to the parking lot

Ahh, spring.  Winter teased us with warm spells followed by cold spells that seemed to get colder just when we thought it was almost over.  I found myself counting on those surprise warm spells about when they stopped coming.  While it’s premature to assume the cold weather is over, it sure was nice to have a sunny day in the 70’s on a Saturday for a change!

We decided we’d try something new and go to Snoopers Rock.  Reportedly, Snoopers Rock has the best view of the Tennessee River Gorge from Signal Mountain and it’s a short walk from the trailhead parking lot.  These were both pluses–my husband’s joints are suffering and he still isn’t up for more than a mile or two.

Revisiting Signal Point during the worst time of day from a lighting perspective called for Hipstamatic's Tintype kit

Revisiting Signal Point during the worst time of day from a lighting perspective called for Hipstamatic’s Tintype kit

Since Snoopers Rock is in the same park as Signal Point, we started driving towards Signal Point while I found directions on my iPhone.  We soon discovered we had passed the turn to Snoopers Rock.  Since we had most of the day, we decided to keep going, grab some lunch and make a detour up to Signal Point before heading on to Snoopers Rock.

Slightly different version of the same scene as above--I can't decide if I like it better or not

Slightly different version of the same scene as above–I can’t decide if I like it better or not

I switched apps to the Urbanspoon to see what food was available nearby.  We discovered the Southern Star Take-Out Cafe was right down the road.  I’ve heard of the Southern Star cafe–it’s supposed to have very good down-home fare.  The “Take-Out” is a second location that has foods designed to go.  We decided to give it a try.

We grabbed a couple cups of stew, a Waldorf salad, some sort of pea salad, and some of the sweetest sweet tea (even though we mixed it with unsweetened tea) we’ve ever tasted.

Leaning over the overlook rock wall, swatting flies, and shooting with the iPhone, I was happy I didn't drop my phone

Leaning over the overlook rock wall, swatting flies, and shooting with the iPhone, I was happy I didn’t drop my phone

At Signal Point, we sat in the car, overlooking the park, with the windows down eating our lunch.  The wind blew through the windows keeping us cool.  I smiled to myself as I ate, thinking how nice it was to need the breeze to keep from getting too warm.

Once our bellies were full (the food was yummy), we walked the 50 yards or so from the parking lot to the overlook.  I, of course, whipped out my iPhone, switched to Hipstamatic, set the “film” to D-Type Tintype style in black-and-white, and planned to take my time getting some images of the gorge.

In this shot of the steps up the hill, the steps in the foreground disappeared in the blur created by Hipstamatic

In this shot of the steps up the hill, the steps in the foreground disappeared in the blur created by Hipstamatic

This was about the time we discovered we weren’t the only ones enjoying the spring weather.  I’ve not been able to identify them, but they were something between a fly and a gnat and they were swarming everywhere.  They stuck to my clothes, in my hair, to my sunglasses, and even to my iPhone.  Tisen turned in circles chasing them and was quickly ready to go.

Pat and Tisen moved up to the gazebo in the hope of getting away from the bugs, but they were everywhere.  I ended up rushing my shots after all.  Tisen looked relieved when we headed back up the hill to the parking lot.

The Hipstamatic "lens" created a very shallow depth of field--only Pat remains in focus

The Hipstamatic “lens” created a very shallow depth of field–only Pat remains in focus (with his hair blowing in the wind)

Just Ducky

Sometimes black and white makes an otherwise uninteresting shots better

Sometimes black and white makes an otherwise uninteresting shots better, but not always

When we went to the Nature Center a weekend or two ago, we went to see the Red Wolves.  But the only wildlife we saw were these two mallard ducks.  Seeing a mallard is not exactly the most exciting birding event in the world.  According to several sources (including Cornell), they’re the most abundant duck in the world.

These two really did not want their picture taken.  They were paddling along serenely until I pulled my DSLR with the 70-200mm lens on it.  It’s as if they knew what a hunter with a gun looked like and were confusing me with one.  They made a bee-line for cover.  I rushed the shot, trying to get a nice close up before they got out of sight.

This is a "traditionally" adjusted version--just nothing to get excited about

This is a “traditionally” adjusted version–just nothing to get excited about

As a result, I didn’t get a chance to change any settings on my camera from the last shot I’d taken.  Having been shooting in the treehouse just before this, I had the camera in full manual mode and set for a pretty dark scene.  So, of course, my duck images came out pretty darn bright.

So, once again, I found myself playing with adjustments in Aperture to see what I could come up with.  Nothing like a bad shot of a ubiquitous subject to make you feel like you can go crazy with the editing.

Playing with the "blur" brush, I applied it to the whole photo and then erased the blur where the ducks were.  I'm not really a fan of this look.

Playing with the “blur” brush, I applied it to the whole photo and then erased the blur where the ducks were. I’m not really a fan of this look.

An interesting side effect of going crazy with the photo editing was that it really demonstrated the superiority of the female mallard’s plumage.  As I adjusted and twisted and played, the biggest challenge was keeping her from disappearing all together.  With brown speckled feathers, the female just kept blending into the background.

I would probably like this if the female showed up better

I would probably like this if the female showed up better

Surprisingly, as I did a little reading on the mallard–a species I have taken for granted since the first time I through them bread crumbs when I was about 4 years old–I learned that sometimes the male is just as well camouflaged.  As an “intermediate” birder (on a good day), I was a little embarrassed I didn’t know that the male mallard loses his flight feathers at the end of breeding season at the same time he molts into an “eclipse” plumage.  For about 2 weeks, he can’t fly.  The brown plumage provides cover while he’s vulnerable.

This was created mostly with the curves feature--but the colors just seem to compete with the ducks

This was created mostly with the curves feature–but the colors just seem to compete with the ducks

Every time I think I know something, I learn something new about it.  And when I’m sure I’ve exhausted all of the current information, usually new information is discovered if I wait long enough.  Good thing I like to learn.

Oops--I slipped with the curves adjustment.  But look at what happened to the male duck

Oops–I slipped with the curves adjustment. But look at what happened to the male duck

Tisen is an avid learner, too.  He has made more progress in his current hobby of “ground-dogging.”  I can’t recall him ever seeing a groundhog, so I’m not sure exactly where he got the idea to burrow under anything, much less blankets, but he’s now added snorkeling to his repertoire of blanket-burrowing techniques.  This is a welcome relief–sometimes when he gets himself completely buried, he starts sounding like he can’t breathe. I’m always relieved when we see his nose.

Tisen snorkeling from under the blankets

Tisen snorkeling from under the blankets

Loupe-less

Looking through a metal cutout on a treehouse door at an intricately carved post

Looking through a metal cutout on a treehouse door at an intricately carved post

Do you ever take a photo of something and think, “Oh, that’s really, cool!” only to be sorely disappointed when you look at the image on the big screen later?  This happens to me more and more.

I attribute this phenomenon to a combination of 1) improving pickiness and 2) diminishing sight.  I see what the image looks like in my head.  I look at the relatively small screen on my camera or phone and think it looks pretty good.  Then, I get home, look at the same image on my much larger laptop screen with my reading glasses on and think, “Oh, no!”

AU0A9586 - Version 2

This is one of those lessons I learned and unlearned.  After getting home with too many photos where I had missed focus and didn’t realize it, I invested in a loupe that is contained in a rubber “plunger” that goes over the screen on my DSLR.  The loupe magnifies the image and the “plunger” part blocks the sun so I can see the image clearly.

AU0A9586

I’d learned to use the loupe religiously.  While I don’t bother taking it with me when I’m shooting birds or other wildlife–by the time I figure out how the image looks, the subject is gone–I’d come to depend on it in most situations.

But shooting with the iPhone erased this lesson.  After all, am I seriously going to walk around with a loupe looking at my iPhone screen after every shot?  Suddenly, I found myself shooting with my DSLR much like I’d shoot with my iPhone–no tripod, casually grabbing shots, and loupe-less.

As a result, I visualized something really cool when I took this shot:

AU0A9586 - Version 4

But, when I looked at it with glasses on, I was sorely disappointed.

This made for a good time with the Aperture curves feature.  I still don’t have the shot I imagined, but I felt free to modify to my heart’s content since I didn’t like the image.  It’s fun to feel like a kid again.

While I wile away the time adjusting photos, Tisen takes cuddling in a blanket to new heights.  When we settle down for the evening, my husband and I each take our place on the sofa in front of the TV.

We sit down and Tisen stands on the floor and stares at us.  We call him up on the sofa and he blinks.  Then, when I pull the blankets out of the closet, as soon as I throw one over my husband, Tisen jumps up on the couch and immediately ducks his head under one edge.  Tonight, Tisen burrows his way under the blanket, up onto my husband’s lap and leaves only his tail end visible.

I cannot resist putting the Camera! app to the test.  Its flash feature allows you to turn the “flash” on so that it stays on while you frame the shot and shoot–really handy when trying to capture my ground-dog burrowing in the dark.

Tisen is in there somewhere--not sure how he's breathing though

Tisen is in there somewhere–not sure how he’s breathing though

Thrown a Curve

Getting crazy with the Aperture curves feature

Getting crazy with the Aperture curves feature

After playing with my Hipstamatic images for the past several days, I finally remembered that I’d taken a few shots with my DSLR the same weekend.  I pulled out the memory card and downloaded the photos.

I seem to have had some difficulty switching from the square frame of Hipstamatic back to the rectangular frame of the DSLR–there were many extraneous things in my DSLR images.

I thought about talking about how the DSLR images were technically better images than the Hipstamatic images, but really, they’re not from an execution point of view.  If you want to compare megapixels and talk about sharpness, well yes, they are.  But, that’s not better execution; that’s better equipment.

A more conservative adjustment

A more conservative adjustment

In any case, instead of trying to prove you can take technically better photos that still don’t look as appealing as what might be considered a flawed photo, I thought I’d try taking one image and doing a lot of different edits with it.  I chose a DSLR image because of the better resolution and because it’s in RAW, both of which help images stand up to more edits.

This is the Hipstamatic image that I spent about 30 seconds creating:

Hipstamagic

Hipstamagic

By comparison, this is the original image from my DSLR (no adjustments/edits):

AU0A9580 - Version 4

It’s not quite a fair comparison because of the differences in composition, but it’s the best I can do.

Now, what can you do with a not very exciting image of a treehouse?  Well, Hipstamatic has already done a lot of editing for me.  But I decided to push Aperture a bit to get a better idea of what kinds of things can be achieved in this relatively simple editing tool.

I don’t advise this exercise be started within 2 hours of bed time.  It’s addictive.

This is what happened when I started playing with the separate RGB channels in the curves feature

This is what happened when I started playing with the separate RGB channels in the curves feature

For most of the effects, I used only one adjustment:  curves.  I tweaked a bit in saturation, highlights, and levels.  But I literally spent an hour playing with dragging a curve around into crazy shapes just to see what would happen.

By the way, I didn’t sit down thinking “I think I’ll play with the curves feature tonight.”  This idea all started when I was adjusting an image and I accidentally pulled the curve too far in one direction.  The photo did something interesting and I liked it.

The curves feature is truly like coloring.  Maybe scribbling is more accurate.  Whatever it is, it’s fun.  I don’t often say that about photo editing.

Tisen cuddles Skunk on the sofa after a walk

Tisen cuddles Skunk on the sofa after a walk

Tisen has resurrected Skunk from the bottom of the toy bin lately.  This may be my doing–sometimes when he wants to take Big Dog or Squirrel on a walk (both of which trip him when he carries them), I make a quick substitution.  I think he had forgotten he had Skunk.  I like that the two of them together make a stripe pattern against a swirl pattern, but both in black and white.  Tisen seems to have discovered Skunk also makes a great pillow.

Hipsta Park

I like the rocks Hipstamata-sized.  The first time we saw these rocks, a guy had just fallen off of them and broken his ribs.

I like the rocks Hipstamata-sized. The first time we saw these rocks, a guy had just fallen off of them and broken his ribs.

Sunday afternoon, looking for something fun to do, we decided on an easy, short walk that Tisen could accompany us on.  Pat suggested Signal Point, but I felt the distance we could walk and the view we could see without any physical strain was too limited.  The easily accessible overlook is less than 50 yards from the parking lot.

Coming back up the steps from Ochs Overlook toward the New York Peace Monument

Coming back up the steps from Ochs Overlook toward the main loop

I suggested we head up to Point Park instead.  Point Park has what is probably a half-mile loop that’s flat and affords views from many directions.  Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama are all visible from Point Park.  The view of Moccasin Bend is hard to beat.  And, there are monuments, canons, and interesting rock formations that would all allow me to continue my Hipstamatic spree.

Pat agreed and we headed up to the mountain.  The one disadvantage of Point Park is that they do charge an entry fee.  I don’t mind paying the entry fee–I want to support the park–but it does add up throughout the year given the number of times we take visitors up there.  When we got there, I stopped in the Visitor’s Center to ask if they have an annual pass.  The volunteer on duty didn’t know of anything specific to the park, but told me about the $80 annual pass to all federally managed lands.  He told me it included access to Yellowstone and gave me a pamphlet.

Looking down the trail at the museum at Ochs Overlook

Looking down the trail at the museum at Ochs Overlook

While it was tempting to get an annual pass for all federal land, when we started trying to come up with a list of places we would use it in the next year, we couldn’t really think of $80 worth of places we would get to in the next 12 months.  We decided to wait and went to the park entrance to pay.  When we got there, there was actually a ranger staffing the ticket booth.  Usually you pay a machine.

I mentioned to him we’d thought about buying the park pass, but had decided to wait and he informed me that there is a $20 annual pass for just Point Park.  He called the Visitor’s Center volunteer for us and sent us back to pick one up.  When I got back to the Visitor’s Center, the volunteer was still on the phone with the ranger who was giving him instructions on where to find the pass.  We made it through the process, got our shiny new pass and headed back to the entrance.

View of Moccasin Bend from Ochs Overlook

View of Moccasin Bend from Ochs Overlook

The same ranger was still on duty.  When I handed him the new pass he had facilitated, he looked at it, looked back at me, and said, “We don’t take those here.”  Gotta love a ranger with a sense of humor!

We took a nice spin around Point Park, walking out to Ochs Overlook at the point and enjoying the spring weather.  The bright sunshine created an interesting haze in Hipstamatic.

Mocassin Bend doesn't actually fit in the iPhone frame from Ochs Overlook.  This is the "bend."

Mocassin Bend doesn’t actually fit in the iPhone frame from Ochs Overlook. This is the “bend.”

Afterwards, we headed home.  After a shower, Pat did a little more work on the computer with assistance from Tisen.

Tisen helping Daddy on the computer

Tisen helping Daddy on the computer

Hipsta-pick

 

Distant view of the bluff and Hunter's Museum from the Walnut Street Bridge

Distant view of the bluff and Hunter’s Museum from the Walnut Street Bridge

Choosing is the hardest thing about digital photography.  Because it’s digital, most people take far more images than they would shooting film, me included.  The more you take, the harder it is to choose.

Using the iPhone helps–I worry about my battery dying more with the iPhone than with my DSLR (and I usually have a spare battery fully charged in my pocket for the DSLR).  Taking a dozen shots of the same subject with my iPhone seems excessive and risky.  Had I been shooting with my DSLR, I probably would have shot at least 50.

Taking a dog on a casual shoot also helps limit the excess.  When Tisen gets restless, shooting becomes more difficult (because I’m holding his leash while I shoot) and it quickly becomes evident that it’s time to go home.

Hunter's Museum, switchbacks, and Silhouette People

Hunter’s Museum, switchbacks, and Silhouette People

Sometimes limits on the number of images you can shoot is a good thing (usually about the time you download all of the images to your computer and start going through them).  Sometimes it’s a bad thing.  Like when you are on your way back from a shoot and the sun does this spectacular burst through the clouds and you stop to shoot it and your battery dies.

Most of the time, I wish I had fewer images to choose from.  Sometimes the choice is obvious.  Some images just don’t work.  But often, there are subtle differences between several shots that make it excruciating to try to choose between them.  I often just close my eyes and point.

Hunter Museum and Silo-like thing in foreground

Hunter Museum and Silo-like thing in foreground

In today’s examples, I had a hard time picking between the image of the Hunter museum that shows the switch-back trail going down the slope in the foreground (one of the things about the riverfront I find amusing) and the image that includes the silo-like structure in the foreground.  I particularly like the silhouette people on the overlook at the Hunter Museum in the first example.  But the silo-thing is such a part of the landscape, it’s hard to resist.

I wanted to include a shot that shows the historical part of the Hunter Museum as well.  Since the word anachronism seems to be among my favorites of late, the museum itself is an example with its modern design surrounding a 19th century mansion.  But, I needed to cross the glass bridge to get a good angle of that and I didn’t think Tisen was up to it.

McLellan Island under Veteran's Bridge and a Surprise Duck Tour boat

McLellan Island under Veteran’s Bridge and a Surprise Duck Tour boat

The second subject is McLellan Island, split by Veteran’s bridge.  The surprise element (surprising to me) is the Duck tour boat (aka, DUKW) that suddenly appeared.  Truly, it must be spring!

The one subject I didn’t shoot with Hipstamatic was the sculpture “High Four” with Tisen.  I couldn’t quite get far enough away while holding Tisen’s leash to get it framed the way I wanted, but I’m happy I got a shot of the two of them together in any case–Tisen was very cooperative.  Next time, I will bring a matching scarf for Tisen.

 

Tisen being a cooperative model with "High Four"

Tisen, being a cooperative model, smiles with “High Four”