Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year in the Life: Day One

Day 1: 31 December 2007
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
It's the eve of a new year ... the coming year is pregnant with possibility, and I wonder how it will show on my face, my body, my surroundings.

So, for the next 366 days, I will post a photo of myself -- or at least part of myself -- an image taken by me (helpers may assist with lights, etc., but may not operate the camera at all).

I've always been more comfortable on the dark side of a camera, something I'll need to overcome if this project is to be mildly interesting.

So, check it out here, and chide me if I start posting quick and dirty shots from my camera phone too often.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Holiday Season: Visual Dictionary Event

Twinkly in Westlake 01
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
So, the most recent "Subjective Matter" event was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and the Seattle Flickr team got together in the heart of the downtown shopping ecosystem to see what we could find.

There results are pretty fun to look at.

Here are the words we used this time around:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gimmee, gimmee shelter ...

A new stock photography site went live on Nov. 12 ... with any luck, editors and designers the world over will demonstrate their excellent taste and license my work.

The PhotoShelter Collection aims to be different than other stock sites (I haven't any experience as a buyer or a seller, so I haven't any baseline).

All photos have to pass muster by editors, which means the prices are higher than some other stock sites, but the quality of images, keywording, etc., should be better as well.

My page is located at

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Shooting the President ... With a Camera!

Bill Clinton Listening
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
This was my favorite, but the other three I've posted are OK too.

Bill Clinton was in Seattle for a recent conference by U.S> mayors on global warming. He's also promoting a new book on charitable donations called "Giving," and his visit coincided with the end of my company's annual Giving campaign.

Side note about my amazing company:
Microsoft matches employee contributions up to $12,000 per employee , per year. In addition (and I really love this) when I donate my time as a volunteer or board member for a non-profit, they "match" my time contribution at the rate of $17/hour. Amazing. This year's total (employee donations + matches): $72 Million (USD).

Anyway ... I got to the location where President Clinton was going to be speaking about 2 hours early, and secured a front-row seat (to his right) for the event.

No bags were allowed, so I had to decide early which lens to bring. I grabbed my 18-135, thinking I'd be close enough. I chose poorly, and was wishing for my 70-300.

Getting its first real test was my SB-800 speedlight. The ceiling was rather high, but it looked like I was getting better shots when I used the diffuser and bounced.

After the event, I was wishing I had used more direct flash, as I was about 20 feet away.

See more shots:
Bill Clinton Addresses Microsoft Workers
The President and CEO
A Drink for Bill Clinton

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mount Baker near Dusk

Mount Baker near Dusk
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
I can't believe how smoggy the air here is!

Which CAN make for good sunsets, but when I stopped the other day at this great park in Mount Vernon, the view from above was atrocious.

A couple of things I did learn:

- A descendant of photographer Clyde Banks saw it and commented on it. What an amazing artist Banks was. I've just spent some time poking around the Web reading about him Read more about Clyde Banks.

- The family member's Web site had a swell link on valuing your images for inquirers: I've been approached a few times now, and need to get smarter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Your Optics are Showing

Interesting effect here ...

Captured while shooting the sunset at one of my favorite locations. I'd attached my polarizing filter to capture some of the water/sky that can be so interesting in the light at that time of day.

Didn't expect much out of these shots at the sun, but I find the concentric rings appealing somehow.

I don't know if these are the result of my polarizer, or of the glass I was using (pretty sure it was the kit lens I got with the body, a swell 18-135 that I really like).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Credit where it's due!

It's flattering to have a photo selected for editorial use ... I just prefer a proper credit (though SOME credit is better than none).

Example: Gizmodo, a Web site full of leaks and breaking news for techies (I prefer their competition, Engadget) in August did a piece about a spate of upcoming technology products coming from Verizon (headline: "Verizon Readying a 15 Phone Barrage for the Rest of '07").

They cleverly overlaid the Verizon logo on the barrel of one of the guns at Fort Casey -- an image I shot about the same time.

My gripe is the lousy credit: "Image via Flickr."

Flickr? I took the freakin' picture. Image by Paul Swortz via Flickr.

At least they point back to my original and provided SOME credit, which is more than many do today ...

Their post.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Visual Dictionary: Subject[ive] Matter

Sharp in Marymoor Park
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
One of the best things about my new fascination has been the great people and community of shooters out there.

I participate in a Flickr Group that schedules two meetups each month, (but usually more).

I've had a lot of fun the past two months working on a "visual dictionary" project, where the participants have one hour to shoot photos of the same 10 objects.

The first shoot was in Seattle's urban SoDo district. The second was at a suburban park (where it POURED rain).

This photo was my definition of "sharp."

Click below to see some more "definitions."


Monday, September 24, 2007

Hog Heaven: Oyster Run 2007

Every year I look forward to the arrival of Fall.

While I love the warm days and crisp nights and mornings, the annual Oyster Run motorcycle rally has become one of my annual highlights.

This year, I brought my cameras, but as in years past, I frequently was so enthralled by the bikes -- old and new -- and the incredible diversity of people -- that I often forgot to take the shot.

And this year, I was able to make it over in time to see the AMAZING Seattle Cossacks -- a motorcycle stunt team that's been amazing crowds for some 70 years. Incredible.

Check out some more pictures on my Flickr site.

Cheers -- and ride safe.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Flickr Handle Changed

Featured on Explore!
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
Had to finally do it and change my Flickr name -- which I've had for a long time -- to Honu Photo. Have to be consistent or I confuse folks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Glass is Always Greener ...

Saw this on my way to meet friends for breakfast and couldn't resist a few shots.

This is inside the Bellevue Way entrance to an office building called Lincoln Square in Bellevue, Washington, USA.

The fountain includes a large glass pane with water streaming down -- that's what's behind sculptures.

Not sure of the artist or the title, but I think it's an interesting shot.

I also like the bit of red from a refracted automobile taillight --waiting for a traffic signal to change.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Windows Live Photo Gallery

Microsoft lately released a beta version of its new Live Photo Gallery. This is definitely getting Microsoft closer to competing with Google's Picasa2 product; the final product will have to get a lot better performance-wise, but it definitely shows promise.

It's going to look very familiar to anyone running Windows Vista, from which the UI was borrowed. But it includes some great features -- such as panorama/stitching, better color/saturation and exposure tools (including histogram) -- and more I haven't yet tinkered with.

A lot of people seem to really like the automated connection to Live Spaces as well. I have a Spaces site, but I do my publishing today on Flickr.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Subject[ive] Matter: A Flickr Visual Dictionary

Sharp in Seattle
Originally uploaded by Malama na Honu
One of the folks in the Seattle Flickr Meetup group had this great idea to hit the streets in Seattle's booming SoDo neighborhood and capture images to describe 12 words.

We had one hour (!!) to visually define:


This was a tough challenge to do in an hour, especially since most of us are accustomed to as much time as we need for our captures. Really helped me realize how tough it must be for photojournalists.

We're going to do it again -- same 12 words, but at the vast Marymoor Park in suburban Redmond, Washington.

Will be interesting to compare "Gritty" in Seattle's SoDo with "Gritty" in the park.

Next: Challenging other groups in other parts of the world to shoot the same terms. Stay tuned for the results!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Art is all around

Skyviewing Sculpture 02
Originally uploaded by Paul Swortz
The campus of Western Washington University is an amazing place ... for the architecture, the natural beauty surrounding it, and the sculpture there.

This is my favorite piece there; an amazing piece that doesn't feel as dated as some of the others, many of which were acquired in the 1960s-1970s.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Making a choice

Twisp River Barn HDR 02
Originally uploaded by Malama na Honu
One of the greatest challenges I've been facing since taking up this hobby is paring down the selection to the "best" image.

I realize this is one of those "eye of the beholder things," but I presume some set of criteria can be used on just about any image to assess quality.

I'm pretty good at the obvious ones (WAY under/over exposed, out of focus, etc.), but what qualities make sense?

In the example set below, I probably shot 75-90 images, and was able to whittle down to the top 12 or so, which I uploaded to Flickr. From there, it's a lot harder, so I've been e-mailing friends and others I know who have good photographic eyes and design sense, and getting their thoughts as well.

What do you think? Have a look, and let me know ...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I got "published?"

"Jurassic Park" trees
Originally uploaded by Malama na Honu
So, this company that produces a series of online travel guides approached me a couple of weeks ago about including this image in their guide to Kauai -- in the Botanical Gardens section.

I learned yesterday it's included in their third edition. Since I'm not being paid, and they're not paying, this is strictly a promotional thing for me, so we'll see how it turns out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sunrise reflection on Possession Sound

Driving through Everett this morning, and noticed the amazing colors on the water. Managed to catch a few frames before having to get going.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lots of Hot Air

Originally uploaded by Malama na Honu
I've been meaning to try and shoot these balloons, launched near Woodinville, Washington.

Saw one in the air on the way to work this morning, and chased it for about an hour, managing to get a few shots.

Made the mistake of trying to use bracketing to maybe build an HDR, but since the balloon was moving, and since I don't really know how to use this camera yet, they were awful.

I love digital photography -- easy to try, review, and trash the bad stuff.

More balloon pictures.

Lunar Eclipse: Ambient Light

My oldest daughter woke me earlier than usual today to go out and try to capture the lunar eclipse. It was one of those rare times when:

1) An interesting celestial event is clearly visible from my region and

2) It wasn't overcast.

Still adjusting to the camera, so while I shot a lot, I didn't get much worth keeping. This was kind of fun though.

One other lesson: When shooting outside in the pre-dawn cool, you have to check your lens frequently for condensation.

More pictures from the eclipse.