The Vine Studios: Blog en-us (C) The Vine Studios [email protected] (The Vine Studios) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:31:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:31:00 GMT The Vine Studios: Blog 120 76 Sunrise over Sproat Lake Sproat Lake Pano1 Sproat Lake Panorama

While in the midst of wrapping up editing and sorting our images from the summer, I came across a series Amy took (stitched together when she got home to make the above image) while she was up in Canada for her grandpa's funeral.

It's funny how we think of images because of when they were taken or where they are. This to me says a lot about life's beginnings and endings, the dark of death, and the hope of life - with some whimsy and mystery thrown in by the rising fog. There is also a deep peacefulness in the scene, that still of the morning that can only be experienced.

I have a few more to share to wrap up the summer, and then I will be (time permitting!) posting some of our work from last month and the fall colors. Till next time.

[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Fri, 16 Nov 2012 13:37:00 GMT
Getting back to blogging - finally!

This picture is like our life at the moment, bounding off into the waves, outcome unknown. A metaphor for photography trips too :-).

I'm slowly getting back to the blog and photography - I've had every intention of sitting down to write something and share a few pictures of our adventures over the last couple of months, but somehow it just never got done.

"Little" Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, main falls 

We've got plenty of images to post, now that I'm done post-processing them, and we also picked up some new gear that I'll be writing about. But for now, enjoy these images from our Canada trip!

Upper part of the main falls
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Mon, 22 Oct 2012 16:11:00 GMT
Trekking north again Jesse_Summer09-0219 Someone walked a mile in someone else's shoes?
Found these abandoned on a beach, just like you see them here.

 We're headed to Canada for a week!

Amy is originally from Vancouver Island, BC. During her summers growing up, she and her family would live out at their families lake property. We've been several times, and done some photography of the island, but never with the cameras we have now, and never for very long.

Next week, we will be there again, but this time we'll be doing some specific photography expeditions, and we'll have a little over a week. It is still mostly a trip to visit family, but I'm hopeful we'll come back having seen some of the sights and captured some unique experiences. Stay tuned!

A small part of Englishman River Falls,
a location we'll likely visit again this trip. See
the old granny face in the rocks?
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Sun, 12 Aug 2012 23:50:00 GMT
Summer wheat J_Spring12-9497

Driving home on I-5 a few weeks ago, we noticed how pretty the sunset was. So we started looking for a place to pull over so we take a few pictures. We found this field of still-green wheat near Salem, after wondering on backroads for about 20 minutes. These were taken on a tripod, with our 5D MkII and a 17-40mm lens. I wish I had had a graduated neutral densit filter to allow me to darken the sky and lighten the wheat in camera. Fortunately the 5D MkII has such a great dynamic range in its sensor that I was still able to get the exposure I wanted after I developed the image digitally.

For me, there is something spectacular about a wheat field. Maybe its that I love those shots of Maximus running his hand through the wheat in Gladiator, or maybe its the fact that wheat gets made into the flour that makes pastries and bread possible. Either way, I always find wheatfields fascinating, and it was fun to get to take a different view of a wheatfield rather than the classic field of gold.

[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Tue, 31 Jul 2012 09:18:00 GMT
Summer storm in Corvallis A_Summer12-7258 Mary's Peak at sunset from a field near our house


Late last week, Amy and I took Titus and started out on our evening walk. As we walked along we realized the light was really changing and becoming unusual, and as I looked at the clouds I had a sneaking suspicion we were about to see some lightning. Sure enough, off in the distant I caught sight of a flash and we decided we'd better head back and grab some cameras!

This first image we got driving out to a field where we thought we'd have the best chance to capture the sunset and the lightning. Because it was raining, the sunset light was reflecting in all the rain droplets, and so the sky all around us lit up that brilliant orange color.





It pays to know your surroundings in photography. I was able to get this image because Amy had explored months ago, and knew of this field that had an uninterrupted view of the coast range and Mary's Peak. While we were out here, the thunderstorm was continuing to drop lightning - we saw several big horizontal strikes out above Mary's Peak that were simply spectacular. And how I wanted to capture it in the camera!

Unfortunately, because it has been so long since I've shot lightning (we don't get many opportunities for practice here in the NW), I had the camera setup differently than I needed to get the lightning. So use your imagination, and pretend there is a brilliant fork of horizontal lightning above Mary's Peak in the above image :-). We saw several flashes like that while out, and even one vertical one that came down almost exactly on the top of Mary's Peak.

By the time we'd driven out to the field, setup cameras and tripod, and then taken some pictures, it was nearly dark. We needed to take the baby home, but I was still desperately wanting to capture some lightning strikes. Alas, it was not meant to be. I knew we had some good photos already, so the trip was worth it - but I wanted lightning! I took a few super long exposure images just as we were leaving, hoping for a big flash to drop into my frame. But it wasn't to be.

However, when I got home and began to do my work in Lightroom, I was able to do a black and white conversion on one of the last images. It made the movement of the clouds come alive, as well as enhancing the detail in the hayfield. This produced a unique image that wouldn't have happend otherwise. I love photography for just this sort of thing, you set out to capture something, but you may come back with something different and unexpected, but no less wondrous.


[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Wed, 25 Jul 2012 11:02:00 GMT
Pushing creativity (and B&W) at Lake Shasta Back at the beginning of July, Amy and I had a few days in Lake Shasta, CA on a family vacation. During the trip, some members of the family decided it would be fun to take a tour of Shasta Dam, which is the 2nd largest in the US.

Normally, industrial areas are not the locations I like to shoot. But I figured, well we'll take the cameras along and just try. I should know by now that being open to just trying has been the way many of our best images have been taken, but somehow it always takes a little bit of mental effort to be willing to get out of my comfort zone and try something different.

I don't think I got any truly breathtaking images, but the dam did break up our normal routine as photographers, and helped loosen up the creative muscles. Trying to crop and create contrast in an industrial environment is far different than nature photography and so I found myself trying perspectives and lenses I don't typically use. You can take a look at some of the images that turned out below the post.
So, the moral of the story is, in creative endeavors, just try! I know it is something we all know, but I think it is easy to fall into a mindset that "trying is the first step towards failure." Sometimes that is true, but more often than not it can be the first step towards success, and in the cases it isn't, trying is still the necessary ingredient in learning! So next time you (or I :-)) have the opportunity to do something a little different, let's just try it, and who knows, it could be a success!


J_Summer12-7076 J_Summer12-7067 J_Summer12-7073

J_Summer12-7191 J_Summer12-7107


[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:55:00 GMT
Silver Falls State Park J_Winter12-9423

Last week we met our friends Andy and Elisha (EAPstudios) for a hiking/photo expedition in Silver Falls State Park. I had never been there, despite being an Oregon native my entire life, and it did not disappoint!

My picture of everyone else taking their pictures

We hiked most of the Trail of the Ten Waterfalls. We had Titus with us in his off-road stroller, and then we used Andy and Elisha's off-road stroller for the camera gear (their 1 year old was home with grandma). Strollering the camera gear was really saving our backs and seemed like a brilliant idea (despite getting a few odd looks from passersby, one lady thought it was so funny she asked to take our picture) until we got to a large portion of the trail that was entirely stairs. There weren't any stairs on the map! After a bit of deliberation, we portaged the strollers down the stairs and soldiered on - which turned out to be a good choice, since there were no other unmarked stairs on the path.

Hiking with fellow photographers is an unusual treat, since they want to stop at all the same places you do, and don't mind waiting while you setup that perfect shot, or scramble around for the best camera position. Here's some pictures from the day...other eyes are always helpful, so leave a comment and let us know which you like best! Thanks!

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[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Thu, 21 Jun 2012 10:21:00 GMT
New Epson printer - Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts New Printer...

Recently our old HP 8450 decided that the HP cartridges we were using were no longer HP cartridges. Despite all my attempts to tell the stubborn device that they were really genuine HP cartridges, it refused to print using them. Frustrated and needing to print some documents, we ran over to Staples to get some new ink cartridges to see if that would fix the issue. Guess how much a new color and black cartridge for that 8450 was going to cost? Shoot high, you'll probably still underestimate, I know I did.

It was $75 for the new inks for an ancient printer! $75!? I can buy a new printer for that, and it comes with ink! So it got me thinking, and searching craigslist...
Now we still have an "old" printer, but it is a brand new looking Epson R2400.

I found it for $200 on craigslist, and it came with ink! More importantly, it lets Amy and I print our panorama shots at a fraction of the cost from our lab, and at a quality the old HP could only dream of, if it could have even printed that size in the first place. The design student that sold it to us also included a full roll of Epson premium luster paper, so it was a great deal.

Now I am busy learning all about file sizes, color profiles, and tweaking our photos to look their absolute best when we print them BIG! We both love black and white photography, and this printer was designed with black and white photos in mind, so it is great for us.

New prints, and a new venue for exhibiting them!

After getting it setup and learning how to make our prints look their best, we printed several panoramas to exhibit at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. We are headed up to the Portland area this weekend to go enjoy a day of looking at other artist's work at the Festival on Sunday. When we were dropping off our images, we saw some great work being entered in the open show, so stop and support your local artists if you've got time this weekend!

Below are the images that we will have on display at the show - the Crater Lake image is our centerpiece being 10" x 30", but the others are also printed big and look fantastic since we had them custom framed at our favorite frame shop,  Affordable Framing.

J_Yosemite-CraterLk_Pano J_OlympicPano1 J_Summer11-6662

[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Wed, 20 Jun 2012 09:11:00 GMT
Beautiful Blue Lupine Some of the best photos happen because you have a camera with you when there's a great photo op. Sometimes the best photos happen because you make a plan, consider the light, and come at the right time and place to take the image.

This collection of images embodies both principles. After church a couple of Sundays ago, we had the camera gear in the car, so we stopped at this patch of blue lupine that we'd seen for a few weeks, everytime we'd driven past on our way to the church. The dew had funneled from the leaves of the lupine into these really pretty jewels that glittered throughout the flowers at the center of each clump of leaves - cameras couldn't do it justice. We took some quick photos since we didn't have much time, needing to get going to meet some friends for lunch. But we vowed to return! We came back around sunset to get some softer light, and were rewarded by capturing the couple of images of the bumble bees busy pollinating the flower patch.

This lead to some reading up on wikipedia about bumble bees, and I never knew that they're one of the few bees  that is strong enough to use sonic pulses to pollinate certain plants. Some of these are pretty important to us, such as potatoes and tomatoes, as well as blueberries and cranberries. Apparently without a strong enough bee, these plants have a much harder time pollinating/reproducing. Almost like the bee and the plants were designed to work together...:-) So next time you're enjoying some fries and ketchup, remember to thank God for bumble bees, who make it all possible!

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[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Mon, 04 Jun 2012 12:07:00 GMT
North American Landscapes

Our goal is to do another video like this in a year or two, showcasing more of our travels and recent work. Let us know what you thought of our video in the comments, we'd love to hear how you liked it!

We recently got some really interesting pictures of polinating bumblebees and a wild patch of blue lupine, along with some photos that I've revamped from our archives. We'll be sharing these on the blog in the next few days, so stay tuned!
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Thu, 31 May 2012 23:23:00 GMT
Lightroom 4 Upgrade!
  • Better editing for highlights and shadows
  • New map feature means you can see a map of the world, then click on the picture icons and Lightroom will show you exactly which pictures were taken where
  • New processing technology gives greater depth and black detail
I wanted to show what a difference the new software can make, in case any of you are considering the upgrade, or want to see a little bit inside the process we go through to create our finished photos.

Lightroom 3 vs Lightroom 4 First, this picture of climbers on El Capitan I took last year in Yosemite I really liked, but I've never entered it in contests or printed it because of the noise and the plane lights that streaked through the image. Because of the noise and other difficulties in this picture, it really shows what a difference Lightroom 4 makes over 3. The old image is on the left, and new Lightroom 4 processed version is on the right (click on it to make the image bigger).

Zoomed in on the little red square area, you can see the extra detail Lightroom 4 can get out of an image. Also notice that the color noise is also better in the Lightroom 4 image, on the right.

Lightroom 3 vs Lightroom 4 - 3
 In the first image, you can see the streaks of passing plane's lights, just above the red square. The whole point of being in Yosemite is to get away and experience wilderness (though with the crowds these days that feeling is getting more and more elusive). To me, the plane's presence took that out of the image. I'd been avoiding moving over to Photoshop to do the editing I knew I needed, but Amy kept encouraging me to fix it, so finally, I did. Here's the finished image, which I call "Climbing the Heavens":
J_Summer11-7563-No Planes

Here's another similar image we took last summer. Notice how there are weird green splotches in the Lightroom 3 version on the right - and poof! they're gone with Lightroom 4's improved rendering engine.
Lightroom 3 vs Lightroom 4 - 2

This one didn't need the extra tweaking in Photoshop (since there were no planes flying through), so here's the final image, titled "Sentinel."
 So far, for my most difficult to process photos, Lightroom 4 seems like a winner. Of course the real test is when we go to print, and these pictures haven't printed very nicely when I've done them before. But so far, I'm really pleased with the additional features and better images I'm getting out of Lightroom 4!
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Thu, 03 May 2012 20:35:00 GMT
Winter is officially over J_Winter11-0914 Fading light near Sisters, OR. Well, now that all the ski resorts have closed down, I guess we can call winter officially over. Was hoping to get up one more time to the mountains before the warm weather hit, but we didn't get the chance. But the wonderful thing about photography, is there is always something to photograph, no matter what time of year it is. The only limit is your creativity!

But, back tot thinking about winter, I've been reviewing alot of our wintry pics from the last year or so, and thought I'd share some that haven't been published before. Part of why I'm excited to post these is that we also just upgraded to Lightroom 4, and it makes a big difference in developing photos, allowing more depth and detail than the previous version of the software (I'll post more on Lightroom 4 later). What this means practically, is that pictures that were too noisy or may have needed too much correction for me to consider as worth showing, can now see the light of day :-). Enjoy!

Passing snow storm on the coastal range
Sunset at Mt. Hood, after a fantastic day of skiing

[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Mon, 30 Apr 2012 13:51:00 GMT
No such thing as a bad camera? - and a few more from the tulip fields quite had to break out the air conditioner yet, but its getting close.

Naturally, we've been outside as much as possible. Which meant we were out walking during the stunning sunset we had Saturday night. At the start of our walk, I'd asked Amy if we should run back to grab a camera (one of the big ones) but neither of us felt like it so we headed out. That was a mistake, because about 1/4 of a mile down the road we were out in beautiful fields with the setting sun highlighting the clouds, and nothing but the camera on my phone to shoot with! DISASTER, or so I thought.

Having had digital SLR cameras for the last eight years, I am admittedly biased against cellphone cameras. Generally speaking, they take ugly, pixelated pictures. And up until Titus was born, I never really used mine for anything other than quick little snapshots. In my mind, cameras in phones are still back at the same level they were when they first launched over a decade ago. So, to me, they don't perform well enough for me to want to use them in any serious or creative photography.

But, necessity being the mother of all invention, I couldn't let the sunset go without at least trying to get a cool image. So out came the camera phone, at Amy's suggestion. And in the process of shooting the sunset, I have revised my negative opinion about camera phones. They are no longer "pointless" for serious photography :-).

One of the most limiting factors about most current camera phones is their low pixel count, and this was my biggest concern when trying to capture our sunset Saturday. Our 5d MkII SLR is 22mp, where as my phone is only 5mp, and that (along with many other factors) makes a big difference in the kind of results you get. Trying to think of a way to overcome this limitation, and having recently spent quite a bit of time with GigaPan's Stitch software, I wondered if I could handhold the phone steady enough to get images that the progrom could stitch together when we got home. This would mean I could get an image that would be much higher resolution, and give me greater opportunities in the digital darkroom, and allow me to capture more of the scene in front of me (when camera phones can shoot in RAW it will be awesome!). Holding my phone vertically, and setting it to scenic, I took a series of about 6 pictures in a couple locations. Then, at home, I put them together using Stitch, and then exported them to Photoshop for refinement, contrast, and reducing the noise in the image that is such a factor for camera phones. Here's the results I was able to get:
Cellphone GigaPan2

Cellphone GigaPan Sharpened

This process got me thinking, is there such a thing as a "bad" camera? Or is it just the limits of our creativity and determination that limit the images we're able to capture? More and more, I think great photographers will take interesting and dramatic photos, no matter what they're shooting with. That being said, I'm sticking with my DSLRs and next time, I'm running back to the house to grab one :-).

So what do you think? Is there such a thing as a bad camera? What piece of equipment do you find limiting, and have you figured out how to make in work creatively despite its weaknesses? Will camera phones at some point be the only picture taking device we need?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts, and don't forget to subscribe!

Also want to share a few more pictures from the tulip fields. Hope "summer" is being as good to you as it is to us!
J_Spring12-5418 A_Spring12-8432

J_Spring12-5433 J_Spring12-5700 J_Spring12-5532 J_Spring12-5411 J_Spring12-5495

[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:43:00 GMT
Back to the tulip fields - Wooden Shoe 2012 Like I posted about earlier, this past Saturday we went up to Woodburn to photograph the tulip fields at the Wooden Shoe. It was a spectacular day, warm, light breeze, and blooms everywhere. The kind of day that makes you feel like everything is in its place. A great day to relax and welcome Spring!

Now, while the outdoorsman in me was drinking it in and thinking this was fantastic, the photographer in me was having a much more challenging day. I had hoped to setup the GigaPan and capture some gigapixel images of the tulip fields. Part of what made the day so wonderful was the white puffy clouds dotting the sky, like sheep in a field. But that also meant they periodically drifted across the sun, which changed the light completely. And this in turn meant that any gigapan I was going to create would have been splotchy and funny looking, because as you stitch images together to make a gigapan, if the light is not very close or the same in each frame you capture, it ends up creating aberrations in the final image. Then, as the sun was higher and there was starting to be some consistent light, the crowds showed up and there was no way to capture the kind of epic shot I had in mind with out lots of people in it. So gigapanning was out, at least for that afternoon.

Frustrated that my initial idea hadn't panned out (get it? gigapanning, panned out, heh), I snapped some random images just to feel like something was getting created. But they weren't very good, and I couldn't get the close crops on the tulips that I wanted, because I didn't have a macro lens. Which led to more feelings of frustration.

About that time, Amy came out to photograph, having gotten little Titus squared away in his stroller. As is her usual way, she pointed out (after listening to me vent) that I had a choice to be frustrated and feel like the day was a waste artistically, or I could think of something/somehow else to photograph and still get good pictures, even if it wasn't what I had initially planned on. She was having no problems taking pictures that were visually arresting and satisfying to her, because she wasn't worried about all the technical things I was thinking about. She was just focused on finding someway to get good photos with the gear and conditions at hand. Well, duh....why didn't I think of that?

So that led to pulling out the 2x extender and our 70-200mm lens, which when put on our 7D that due to its APS-C sized sensor has some extra zoom, made quite a serviceable macro setup. Of course with a zoom somewhere around 600mm when all factors are considered, shutter speed and ISO settings became an issue in order to get sharp pictures handheld. That, and you lose a couple of stops of light going through the extender. Fortunately, modern cameras like the 7D have such low noise even at extreme ISOs, that I was able to get a fast enough shutter speed to handhold the beast of a lens and still get sharp images. Below are some of our results from the day. You can also see these, and more soon, in our Recent Work gallery on our website: D'Vine Photography - Recent Work Gallery

And I'll leave you with one last thought, having spent the day surrounded by flowers and examining them from all angles, to get photos. This verse kept just recurring in my head as I'd find a new variety of tulip, or the geometry of the petals and light dancing through them had me standing, sitting in the dirt, and lying down to get the shot.

"... See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Matthew 6:28-29

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[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Wed, 18 Apr 2012 12:30:00 GMT
The Wooden Shoe - Tulip Fields Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.

They say the next 2 weekends will be the best, so grab a camera and go for it!

I found that the reds in these tulips are so vivid, that even our 5D MkII's sensor has difficulty getting near to the color we see with our eyes. Many times in post-processing I had to resist the temptation to up the contrast or saturation because the images quickly became unrealistic, flat, and not true to the color of the real flower. So if you're processing on a subject like this, I recommend sharpening and adjusting your contrast before going to the saturation and vibrance controls in your editing software. Feel free to share your images (or a link to them) in the comments section! We'll have more of our images from this year up after this weekend.

Last year we didn't have nearly as much time as I would have liked, but we were still able to come away with some memorable images. What is amazing to see, is the detail in each flower, and no two are the same. It always fascinates me the details and intricacy displayed in creation.

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[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Thu, 12 Apr 2012 11:00:00 GMT
Spring is here!
But not this year! This year we're making it our mission to get out there and capture the extraordinary sights of spring. Here are a couple images from the past week, since we made this resolution.

Also, speaking of new life, I've included a photo of our son, who is now 3 months old. He's just now gotten to the stage where he is all smiles, and I think a baby's toothless grin is one of the best things you can capture with a camera.

Clearing storm lighting the fields of the Willamette Valley

Spring blooms near our home
Titus having a good time out on our walk
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Fri, 06 Apr 2012 14:12:00 GMT
D'Vine Photography is Art in the Valley's Featured Artist this month IMG_20120402_134837
We just finished hanging our show at Art in the Valley Gallery! We are the featured artist for all of April, and we are hosting a reception on Saturday the 21st from 2-4. The theme is "The Heavens Declare..." from Psalm 19. The pictures are of the West Coast from California to British Columbia. Come by and check us out at 209 Southwest 2nd Street Corvallis, OR 97333.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Tue, 03 Apr 2012 14:43:00 GMT
D'Vine Photography is Art in the Valley's Featured Artist this month

We just finished hanging our show at Art in the Valley Gallery! We are the featured artist for all of April, and we are hosting a reception on Saturday the 21st from 2-4. The theme is "The Heavens Declare..." from Psalm 19. The pictures are of the West Coast from California to British Columbia. Come by and check us out at 209 Southwest 2nd Street Corvallis, OR 97333.


The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4
[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Tue, 03 Apr 2012 14:43:00 GMT
Got to play with a GigaPan EPIC Pro over the weekend
GigaPan EPIC Pro

Tested out the GigaPan EPIC Pro pano head over the weekend. Check it out over at

These little devices were developed from the technology used to take pictures of Mars on the NASA rovers. The idea being that super detailed images are possible to do, but you need something really precise to take them so that software can stitch the composite together, other wise you have to do it by hand, which is very time consuming.

After a few days of testing, I have to say I'm impressed. It works really well, and provides for phenomenal levels of detail that are fun for exploring online, or if you want to reproduce a scene in a very large print (think wall or billboard sized, but with as much detail as a normal photo). Stitching them is easy with the provided software, and the EPIC is sturdy and straight forward to use (provided you watch the how-to video :-) ).

Check out the results I got here:, and I'll be posting more if the snow stops so I can go out without drenching myself and my cameras :-).

My very first gigapan, looking out over Newberg, Oregon

[email protected] (The Vine Studios) Wed, 21 Mar 2012 11:33:00 GMT