Friday, December 21, 2012

Blue Hour Again

It’s been a very busy day on the river, and I haven’t been able to take much of it in.

By definition, the “blue hour” had been over for at least 20 minutes when I made the shot.

You could fool me!


It’s the Sinar Kutai riding at anchor just west of the Mill Pond area.  I love that the water is brighter than the sky.  There was actually clear sky overhead.  The massive cloud bank topped out a few degrees above the upper edge of the frame.

105mm @ f/8, 4 seconds, ISO 200.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Prints on Display…

Two of the images that I’ve posted here (and seven other non-maritime photos) are currently on display at Astoria’s Baked Alaska restaurant.

The image area on each of the prints us roughly 12 x 18 inches, and all are professionally matted and framed.

Stop by and take a look, if you’re interested.




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Experiment Within An Experiment

This was shot several weeks ago.  Photographically speaking, it’s a tough set of conditions.  The ships’ lights are very bright unless you’re comparing them to, say, the sun in a clear sky.  The visible stars are faint by comparison, but when you’re standing there, you see it ALL. 

The camera’s sensor can, too, but not all in the same frame.  The dynamic range is too great.  But I just had to try.


The most frustrating part of this process is that last step… getting it presented on the web.  Even when reduced and optimized for web viewing, hundreds of stars remain visible within Photoshop when I make the final review.  But, as I look at the preview, only a handful show up.  I won’t know what will be visible after a click on the image until it’s actually uploaded to the server and viewed in a browser.

Wish me luck!

ISO 200, 18mm with the A77.  25 seconds @ f/9.  Noise reduction in LR4, optimized for web in PS CS5.

Post-publishing note:  Well, that’s disappointing!  It’s better than what Facebook does, but not by a lot.  Click on the image for full(er) effect.

I’m trying!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just Love It When Luck Smiles on Me

I saw the Pyxis (and yes, the ship geek in me knew that it was the Pyxis long before I could confirm it any other way) when I first hit the causeway to the Youngs Bay Bridge.

I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I saw that the timing might work out just right for me to be able to catch the pilot transfer from the 6th Street platform.

The sequence was much like the one I did after being away from the platform for so long, so I won’t duplicate it here, but I did especially like one frame, particularly for the light.  The Connor Foss is no Arrow #2 in terms of panache, but she still looks good and up to the task.

Connor Foss cuts into the Pyxis

A77, ISO 400.  70-300 G zoom @ 200mm, f/8 @ 1/1250.

No crop. Adjustments in LR4, optimized for screen in PS5.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Not Gone Yet

The Arrow 2 hasn’t seen a lot of work lately, what with the young whippersnapper Connor Foss getting set to replace her.

But, she’s still here, still working, on occasion.

This was from Sept. 10, taken from my front porch.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Angles and Curves Caught My Eye

I wasn’t lacking for things to do this evening, but when I glanced out the window and saw only the proud prow of this ship, I figured it was time to change lenses and head for the porch.

I’m not a naval architect, so what appeals visually to me may not make any economic sense, but the Ocean Hawthorn’s rakish bow made me think that “this ship means business”.  And she had a fair amount of style, to boot.


She’s a bit unusual in that she’s leaving the river “light”… without cargo.  Her AIS information shows that she’s heading from Longview to Vancouver, BC, though she’s still heading SW as I type this.

Her rakish profile would be evident even if she was fully laden, though.  That’s a seriously aggressive angle on her bow’s profile, and it’s accentuated by the bullnose that’s usually hidden underwater.

Before I could even head upstairs to upload the image shown above, another ship hove into view.  Up until a few weeks ago, I’d never seen this line, and now, it’s two in a row for ROROs in the evening for me.


This is the Terrier.  Norwegian flagged and heading for Pyungtaek, South Korea.  Just guessing, but I think there are more Hyundais and Kias in her future.

I would apologize for the omnipresent trestle in the foreground of so many shots, but I’m actually hoping to one day see an actual train on it.  In a perfect world, I’d be able to capture a steam locomotive making a transit.

But, I’m not holding my breath.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Kid on The Block

The Arrow 2’s days as the primary river pilot transfer boat are numbered.

After more than 50 years in service, she’s in the process of being replaced by the Connor Foss, a boat that more closely resembles its bar pilot cousins than the “Little Toot” outline of the Arrow 2.

Pilot Vessel Connor Foss

And for a little contrast, a shot from last evening, with the two boats together:


Both shots were from the catwalk at Baked Alaska, a perfect place for eating, drinking, merry-making and ship watching.

Incidentally, the “Connor” in the boat’s name is a real person.  He’s eight years old now, but his actual name is Connor Mitchell Hansen, a relative of the Foss founders.  If the boat that bears his name lasts as long as its predecessor, he’ll be well into middle-age when it’s finally retired.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cue the Bond Theme…

Sometimes I wonder why I ever look away from my front windows.

I’d bopped downstairs for some random chore and glanced river-ward.

“Holy crap, what’s that?”

As always, the first instinct is to reach for the camera, but… “The card’s still upstairs in the computer!” 

Very fast trip up and downstairs, fingers flying over the controls on the camera, out the front door and…

Meduse threads the needle

Whew!  I got it! 

Settling in as the yacht made its way seaward, I paid more attention to focus points than individual details.

It wasn’t until the upload was complete that I really saw what I’d been tracking.

Meduse Profile

In hindsight, the main rotor blades are nearly fully visible in the first shot, but I really didn’t see them.  I have no excuse for not seeing the helo until it was on my computer’s monitor except that I was focusing on, well, focusing.  At that range, with that light and that lens, there’s not a lot of room for error, and I didn’t want to miss it.  So I didn’t even notice the helo in real time.

I just think of the maintenance cost of both vehicles visible here and cringe.  Never mind the purchase price… the ongoing costs are staggering.  There’s clearly another reality afloat here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Really Hate

There, I said it.

For years, that domain has been pointing people toward this blog for no reason at all. There’s no contextual connection between that domain and this one.

In all likelihood, Dongo visitors who land here are disappointed, perhaps even pissed off, and I don’t blame them… I probably would be, too, but it’s not something that I have any control over.

If you landed here in search of vacation properties in southern Europe or Africa and found something completely unexpected… GET ANGRY!  But not at me… go after the webmasters at Dongo.

I don’t even know what their game is, but it’s not mine.  If you got pointed here and liked what you see, you’re welcome to be here, comment, browse, whatever… I’m happy for the accident.

If you landed here from a Dongo link and didn’t like what you found, I encourage you to raise hell with them, because I think you’re in the majority.

I want people to visit this blog because they want to, not because some freakin’ robot pointed them here against anyone’s will but theirs.

With great respect for your choices,


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Orange Seems To Be Very Popular These Days

Not every ship heading for the mouth of the Columbia is orange.  But nearly every time I get a chance to see another outbounder underway recently, it’s orange!

The Global Wisdom isn’t particularly unusual.  A Handy-size bulker with her holds filled beyond overflowing with logs.  But ships and cargos like these always catch my eye.  There’s just no keeping those contents secret… it’s another zillion board-feet of timber heading for somewhere in Asia, Japan in this case.

Maybe some of this wood will end up in the rebuilding effort after last years’ earthquake.

Global Wisdom

I don’t photograph every vessel that drifts past my front porch, but a big orange stick-ship loaded with massive sticks?  Yeah, I’ll take a few minutes to grab that.

A77, 70-300G.  ISO 200, 180mm, 1/400 @ f/7.1

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Opposite of Stealth

The Rose Festival fleet is starting to drift inland and the USS Dewey is tied up in all of her haze-gray splendor where cruise ships normally dock.  That class of destroyer is all angles and shades of gray… the better to deflect radar and confuse visual cues.

Contrast that concept to this:


The Tai Shan was cruising outbound a couple of hours after I observed the squids in dress whites ambling up Commercial.  This ship is whatever the Dewey isn’t.  It’s slow (by comparison), big, bright… just flippin’ obvious to any type of sensor known to man, including the Mark 1, Mod 1 Eyeball.  Damn… I could see this without my glasses on!  This baby just jumps out and says “I’m here!”

And, to the enlisted guys wandering around downtown (and probably looking for Annie’s), I feel for you… dress whites really suck.  They look the same and probably feel the same as they did 25 years ago when I was wearing ‘em, and I sympathize.  I would rather have worn dress blues in all of their woolen splendor in 90 degree sun than suffer the indignity of those crappy, impossible-to-keep-clean polyester clown-suits.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Surprise Visitor

…and an odd one at that.

This wasn’t here when I got home last night!  But after I’d uploaded all of the photos on the memory card I went back downstairs to find the ungainly-looking assembly at anchor off the front porch.

It was raining hard and the light was failing, but I had to make the attempt, once again bracing against the porch post to help minimize camera shake.

The tug Kokua and barge Haleakala:

Kokua At AnchorThe Shipfinder app indicated that she’s bound for Honolulu (and the names of the tug and barge both sure hint at somewhere in Hawaii!).

Given the worsening weather conditions, I thought that perhaps the crew had decided to wait for a more-calm bar, but when I came back downstairs to try for some better shots, I found her underway again, and rapidly heading out of sight.

Kokua UnderwayI can only guess at what had taken place, but given that the tug had tied up alongside the barge for such a short period, I suspect that the crew was making one more check of the barge before beginning the long haul to the middle of the Pacific. 

Many tugs don’t show up on the bar-pilots’ schedules, so there wasn’t any real warning that this one would make an appearance.

Both shots at ISO 1600 with the 70-300 G, shutter speeds focal lengths and apertures vary.  Post-processing (mostly for noise) in LR4

An Explosive Afternoon

Now and again, the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain ply through these waters and play at being ships of the line. 

Since I had some warning this time, I made it a point to be on hand when Sunday’s Battle Sail took place.


The Chieftain leaves the East Mooring Basin.


The Lady Washington sails downstream.


The Chieftain, shrouded in smoke from her own gun.


No shots were fired on this pass.  I’m no naval tactician, but I think somebody (or multiple somebodies) dropped the (cannon)ball here.


Another (tactical) missed opportunity.  I didn’t hesitate, to shoot multiple frames, though!


The Lady Washington, after loosing a salvo.

After tying up:



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big Splash o’ Color

From Monday evening.  The King Felipe was just about to pass under the Astoria-Megler Bridge (note the shadows on the house).


A77, 70-300 G zoom @210mm. ISO 400, 1/5000 @ f/6.3.  “De-noised” in LR4, optimized for web in PS5.

Monday, May 21, 2012

First Re-Visit

The observation platform at the end of 6th Avenue was reopened a few weeks ago, but I didn’t actually get out there until nearly a week ago. 

A year and half ago, the platform and the pier that led out to it were the only things left (nearly) undamaged after a pair of fires that destroyed two landmark buildings. 

The damage is still evident everywhere, and reminders of the disappeared businesses abound, but the pier and platform themselves remain in good condition and are now accessible to the public again.

Last Tuesday was a sparkling if very windy day, so I made it a point to stop on my way home to take in the anchorage, which was rather full.  But, almost as if on cue, another ship was transiting to Longview, and the proceedings upstaged the ships swinging on their anchor chains.  They’re still out there… but just as background.

Arrow 2 Fly-by

The Arrow 2 blazed by the deck at very close range, setting up her intercept course for the pilot exchange.


Nimble, and surprisingly quick, the little vessel and her captain dart into the navigation channel and merge with the inbound Pietro Benedetti amazingly quickly.

Pietro Benedetti and Arrow 2

Click on the image above for a full-screen view.  It’s very much worth noting that the time-stamps on the files in this sequence show less than three minutes from the first shot to the one that follows…

The pilot transfer begins

Again, click on the image for a full-screen view. The river pilot is already ascending the ladder. 

The process isn’t complete.  The bar pilot still has to board the Arrow 2 (very likely after giving a passdown of critical information to the river pilot)… so the pilot boat continues to run alongside for several minutes before disengaging from the inbound ship.

I’ve lived here for years, and I never tire of watching this ballet

Monday, May 7, 2012

Big Sunset Before the Big Moonrise

Quite a change from last week!


A77, 70-300mm G zoom @ 300mm, cropped for composition. ISO 200, f/8 @ 1/1250.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Somewhere Out There…

…there’s a cruise ship.

The Seven Seas Navigator spent some time in Astoria’s anchorage today, since the Norwegian Pearl was already moored at Pier 2.

Both ships’ passengers got a taste of Astoria at its fabled worst (in weather terms, anyway) today.  No, we didn’t have gales, but really consistent rain and fog brought the curtain down in a big way.


The presence of the retired pilot boat Columbia was a lucky accident.  Mariners-in-training from the Tongue Point center obviously had some work to do today.

A77, 70-300mm G @ 200mm.  ISO 200, 1/1600 @ f/5.6

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Strange One

I saw this ship slide past my window this morning, and my brain treated it like a puzzle. 

What the heck is THAT?

Naval architects don’t typically just slap together a wad of disparate elements willy-nilly atop a trim, but odd-looking hull.  “There must be a reason for this,” thought I.

I didn’t have time to reassemble the camera to shoot from the porch, so I decided to chase it down later, after lounging at Coffee Girl for a while.  There was no hurry… once it passed my neighborhood, it would be a good, long time before the ship would be easily accessible from the Oregon side of the river.

I had my mocha and a scone (I’m pretty predictable, ask any of the Coffee Girls) and then headed east. 

My destination was Jones Beach, even though I hadn’t been to that specific spot before.  Cross-checking the car’s GPS with my iPhone app made that look like the most logical place to set up and wait.

There’s no data coverage there, so old-fashioned patience and observation were in order.

Sure enough, the ship rounded the bend just upstream of the Wauna Mill.  I have no idea what the fishermen were commenting on, but wouldn’t be surprised if some paraphrasing of “WTF” was involved.

Wave Venture and fishermen

She’s a cable-laying and undersea-construction ship homeported in London.  She’s capable of laying cable and deploying ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles), though none were visible on deck for this trip.

As of tonight, she’s docked at the Swan Island shipyards, probably for repair or refitting.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Covered in Character


I was just rather taken by both the details and character of the Pacific Logger’s hull and the clouds and hills in the background.

I’m surprised at how much snow hung around at relatively low elevations today, as there was no new snowfall since daybreak.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

“Wicked Sky”

I posted this shot on Facebook from my work computer, which lacks Lightroom and a calibrated monitor.  From my vantage point at the time, I didn’t see the full potential.

My friend Molly said that it was a “Wicked Sky”, but I didn’t see it that way at the time.  From home, with the benefit of a calibrated monitor and LR to interpret it, I definitely do see that. 

I guess I was still remembering trying to frame the shot while being pelted with cold, driving rain being driven into my left ear, and didn’t really appreciate the intensity of the sky itself.


ISO 200, f/16, 1/30 second, 16mm.  Tones adjusted in Lightroom 3, sensor crud (dammit!) excised in Photoshop.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Break In the Gloom

In contrast to the flat, featureless light shown Wednesday, both sky and water had texture and variety on Thursday.


This is the Calm Seas, headed for Astoria’s anchorage a few minutes after sunset. ISO 200, 1/200, f/8 @ 85mm.  70-300mm “G” zoom.

The ship’s and my own course were roughly parallel, and as I tracked it to the anchorage, I noted a lifeboat making rapid eastward headway.  I had just enough time to change lenses and catch it as it entered the East Mooring Basin, readying for a crew change.


ISO 800, 1/30, f/2.8 @ 50mm.  16-50mm zoom.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blue Monday

Not in the Vonnegut sort of way… I mean literally.  The “blue hour” was really living up to its hue today.

After days of wind, rain and general gloom, today was mostly calm, sometimes sunny, though never warm.

Leaving the office late today, I was surprised both by the amount of light remaining in the sky and the overall hue… blue was the filter that fell on everything.

Genco Wisdom

The window of calm unleashed a torrent of outbound ships this afternoon.  I had just missed the tanker that I’d hoped to catch when I realized that the Genco Wisdom, outbound for Kobe, was just clearing the Astoria-Megler bridge. 

I had just enough time to scramble (call it “falling without hitting the ground”) to the waterline and set up. 

What struck me about the evening was the stillness that made both water and sky formless.  They were definitely there, but one could barely see them. 

ISO 200, 1/5 second @ f/5.6, tripod mounted.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First Full Moon of the Year

I’m usually pretty bad at planning shots.  I know a few people who would say that I’m pretty bad at planning anything, but that’s a (slightly) different thing. 

But, when the day started bright (and cold) and stayed that way (well, it warmed up for a while), I got really curious about the timing of the moonrise.  I knew it was full, as I’d caught glimpses of it, but I didn’t know for certain when it would rise.  As I’ve noted before (as  have many others, all of us in danger of copyright violation)… “there’s an app for that”.

Golden Pic let me know that moonrise as at 1637, exactly nine minutes before sunset.  Given that there’s a small heap of mountains between me and the eastern horizon, we’ll call it a draw.


What I didn’t know for certain was where on the horizon the moon was going to show up.  Given the season, I was guessing south-ish, like the sun, but the moon and the sun have different paths, and I probably sounded like a little kid when I saw the first arc appear just above the stack of the Lupinus.  “Oh, COOL!”

I made some fast adjustments to the tripod and started shooting.

There’s really only one place in the whole county where aligning a freighter and the moon was possible tonight, and that was at the Cannery Pier Hotel.  I’m glad they don’t charge me for tripod space.

Guests and other alert observers started filing into the parking lot, whipping out their cell phones, trying to take in the scene.  I heard lots of moans of disappointment.

And then some of the phone-pokers came over to see the previews on the back of the camera… “Oh!  We need THAT!”

A few minutes later:

Fully Risen

The color in the sky was fading fast with the oncoming clouds, but it was still interesting.

The ships were shifting on the current constantly.  It’s amazing how far they drift even when anchored.  I repositioned again after the last of the pink was gone from the sky.


All shots full frame unless straightening was needed.  All with the 70-300mm G, focal lengths between 200 and 300 mm.  All at ISO 200, tripod mounted.  Photographed in RAW, developed in LR3 prior to optimizing for web use.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On the Edge of the Front

Today’s forecast called for rain.  At least a 70% chance of it, which pretty much means that we should prepare to get wet.

But there were still a last few shafts of sun struggling through as the front moved in this morning.

The Lupinus had a few chances to show off her orange glow as the wall of clouds crawled up behind her.

Glowing Lupinus

And the Alimar’s big white house really stood out against the gathering gloom.  That last blast of sun was quite intense.  I had to underexpose the frame by two full stops to keep the white of the superstructure from being blown out.


These were shot just before 0900 this morning.  It’s been raining rather steadily since about a half-hour after that.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year’s Day

It looks as though I started the year with a blunder. 

I hope I’m wrong, but I might have destroyed the master copy of the video clip that I made of the foghorns last night on the Columbia.  Now it might only exist on Facebook.

I’m not a videographer, so the whole process is new to me, and I think I killed it.  The photographer in me always tries to remember to reformat the active card in the camera before beginning a new shoot… and I did that this morning.

Rumor has it that Terry from KMUN recorded it and will have it available at on Tuesday.

Live and learn.  If I find the file and a way to post it here, I’ll add it as an edit to this post.

I had an active afternoon of photography, but no ships were involved.