(mostly) daily photoblog

Archive for August, 2011

Mind on the beach

Where I’m going to be in a week?  At school, back at work for the next ten months.

Where I wish I was going in a week?  Back to the sandy beach of the Oregon Coast.

I guess there’s always the lottery to make that come true.  Or, another 21 years and then retirement.

C’mon lottery…


Bragging? No. Really.

Tomorrow morning, at 8:00, I’ll be welcoming up to 240 9th Grade students to my school.  Along with forty-eight student leaders, I’ll be attempting to entertain and inspire these students to greatness in their first year of high school.  It won’t be easy.  It will be fun.  I will pass out when it’s all over.  This post ends now, because I have to go read the script you see above one more time.  And probably again.  And once more…


Weekly Photo Challenge, part two: Up (in the air)

When we bought the trampoline last summer, my son was at times curious about it, at times petrified.  The most he would do was bounce and only when no one was on with him.  This summer he seems to think that he’s Dick Grayson (the original Robin in the Batman comics) of the Flying Graysons.  He’s gone from terrified to a holy terror on the trampoline.

As a kid, I never had a trampoline, so watching my own kids is full of terrifying excitement for me.  I’m always curious to see what they’ll do next, with my thumbs ever-ready to phone 9-1-1.

Weekly Photo Challenge: UP!

The kids and I had a wonderful weekend, with a lot of activity.  This is but one.  It’s not the most beautiful photo from a technical standpoint, but it’s one of the most beautiful photos I’ve taken because it’s my daughter executing a possible broken neck over a sprinkler shooting through a trampoline.  Not a great backdrop, nor is it in the best focus, but it’s fun.

Oh, and she’s UP.


Black and White Flowers. Hmm…

I’m torn.  Flowers are great because of three things:  beauty, smell and color.  If I take a photograph of flowers the viewer loses all sense of how they smell.  If I process it black and white, I remove the color and now you, the viewer, are left with contrast and detail, but it’s missing two of the things that draw people to flowers in real life.  Hmm…

So, I have to ask you, dear reader of this blog, is it worth it?  Does their beauty, without color and smell, still captivate?


Photo Friday: Recreation(al reading)

I’ve had the chance to do a lot of reading this summer and very little of it was applicable to my profession (which makes it awesome).  Photo Friday’s challenge this week is Recreation and I couldn’t think of a better definition of recreation than the reading list that exists in this photo.  Please allow me to explain a couple of things.  I have a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in English Literature.  I am a teacher of 11th and 12th grade English, creative writing and student leadership.  I am an unabashed comic book fan.

My reading list for tonight, above, is indicative of all that I find fun, exciting and interesting about the offerings of literature.  Here’s what you see above:

1.  Image Comics Trade Paperback 1st volume of Elephantmen.  I’m going to caution you about this series.  It is incredible, but involves a great deal of disturbing concepts and visuals.  It involves a number of Animal/Human hybrids who were the brainchild of, from what I’ve deduced, a psychopathic geneticist who saw them as his greatest achievement and a weapon to use against humankind.  They rebelled, or were decommissioned, and are now trying to fit into general society.  They re-created their own purpose.  Interesting premise, if you can get past the violence.

2.  DC Comics Trade Paperbacks (Superman, Superboy, Batman).  I’m not even going to explain this one.  If you don’t know who these characters are, shame on you.  Recreational superhero reading.  Yay!

3.  Marvel Comics Ultimate X-Men.  Mark Millar reimagined (re-created?) the iconic X-Men back in 2001 and retold the original series in a modernized setting.  From what I gather, the series was re-created in Ultimate form in order to bring in younger comics readers who couldn’t keep up with the many iterations of X-Men that existed as of the turn of the century, so Millar put his much loved edge to the series and rebooted it.  Very cool.  Seriously.  I would love to have Magneto’s hair.

4.  Dark Horse Comics Star Wars: The Old Republic.  This TPB (trade paperback) collected comics based on a video game based on a fictional history based on the movies of Star Wars.  Yup.  If you don’t get that, smile, nod, and move on.  Pure recreation.

5.  Terry Moore’s independently-published Echo.  This is the first volume TPB of Echo.  It’s about a photographer named Julie who accidentally witnesses the destruction of a military experiment.  The result is that she is exposed to a high-tech metal that fuses with part of her body and the repercussions involved.  She realizes that her life has been changed, re-created, and starts to accept her new purpose.  Lots of humor and adventure.  I can’t wait to read more.

6.  Vertigo Comics Fables:  Rose Red.   This series, which I’ve only read in TPB format, is incredible.  This is the 15th volume and it centers on Snow White’s sister, Rose Red.  The entire series is based on the idea that there is (was?) a war in the worlds of the Fables and our most beloved of them move into our world and occupy a magical borough called Fabletown in the city of New York.  The vulnerability and power of the Fables themselves is based entirely in our knowledge and belief in them.  This means that Snow White, thanks to Walt Disney, is nigh unto invulnerable to any attack (in fact, she is shot in the head by Goldilocks and recovers within weeks).  Incredible writing; incredible visuals; even more incredible creativity re-creating characters with whom we are so familiar.

7.  Finally, Onward by Howard Schultz.  I’ve barely cracked this book and already I’m impressed.  I wanted to read this book after I watched Schultz speak, on Piers Morgan Tonight,  about his boycott on political campaign contributions and impressed me with his seeming integrity and forthrightness.  It seems to me that he is re-creating the American business landscape and I want to know more about him.  So far (the Introduction) it’s interesting and bold.  I like it.

So, that’s my recreational reading.  What’s yours like?  Who or what do you read during your leisure time?

Pinky Winky…not to be confused with a Teletubbie…Teletubby…whatever

When my daughter was little, my wife let her watch Teletubbies.  I thought it was like Sesame Street on LSD, but my daughter, in all her toddler glory, loved the show.  Plus, my wife was a full-time, first-time mother and needed a bit of downtime and the Teletubbies were there to rescue her from having to chase my daughter.  I should also note that my daughter decided at the age of 17 months that she was no longer napping at all and that we’d all pay a price if we didn’t take heed of her demands, so sleep and rest during the day was not happening around the Bergen household.

Anyway, there’s a Teletubby (or is it “ie”?) whose name is Tinky Winky.  I’m not sure if he…she…it was the start of the furor back about a decade ago.  The furor was around the fact that Tinky Winky, who was mistaken by conservative, right-wing media and parents’ groups as being a human male, was carrying around a big bag that resembled a purse.  Parents’ groups were worried that Tinky Winky was sending the wrong message about what it meant to be male.  Really?  Go look at Tinky Winky.  Does it look male, let alone human?  It looks bipedal with a head and arms, but that’s about where the comparison ends.  I don’t think it even has genitals, although I’m not looking it up to check.  Maybe that’s what that thing is on top, although it could be a communication device to talk to the saucer people.  Whatever.  Now, almost every grown male I know has a “satchel” or “shoulder bag” or “man-bag” and none of us are worried that we’re sending the wrong message to our kids.

So what does this have to do with the photo?  When I told my friends Josh and Karina that we had planted Pinky Winky Hydrangeas in the back yard, Josh looked at me and said, “You planted a Teletubbie in your backyard?”  Yup, we planted Tinky Winky.

Goodbye Batman, Hello Pinky Winky

So, the last couple of days have proven my geek-ness, what with both of them being Batman centered.  This morning I went out to water the flowers and the early morning light of the sun was catching the Pinky Winky Hydrangeas just right, so I snapped a few photos.

In less than 24 hours, I’ve gone from superhero geek to flower garden geek.  I still can’t shake the geek, but at least I’m not too narrowly focused.

Batman Geeks Unite! (again)

Here’s the deal.  Some of you know that I have action figures; some of you do not.  Here’s the confirmation that I have more collectibles that many of you have not seen.  And, again, it’s Batman.  I just love that guy.

And, yes, I know he’s not real.

I’m a geek! as if this is news…

These are my new shoes.  I am very excited about my new shoes.  Converse made my new shoes.  Batman is on my new shoes.  The Dark Knight.  The World’s Greatest Detective.  The Caped Crusader.  The protector of Gotham City.  My hero.

New shoes + Batman = greatest shoes ever.  EVER!


What happens when men play in a river?

The “dam” best day of the year.  Actually, my friend Ryan and his brother did the lion’s share of the work on this, but I helped build it a bit higher today.  There is little better in this world than using your bare hands to change the course of a natural force like a river.

Haha!  Manly!

Pinky: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This little beauty was sitting outside the local library, just waiting for me and my camera.  I like flowers.  I know that I’m a guy and that I’m supposed to buy flowers for my wife and not for myself.  I’m supposed to be watching my wife grow the flowers in the garden, not be worried about how pretty everything looks.

But I’m a lover of flowers.  Secretly, I love buying flowers for my wife because then I get to enjoy them as well.

I guess that’s not much of a secret anymore.



Photo Friday: Curvature

I’m not saying much tonight.  If you’ve perused this photoblog in a small way, you already know I have a thing for rails.  I love the mystery of them.  The great possibilities that lie waiting at the far end of a disappearing, curving line.

So, happy Photo Friday.


Beach + Children = fun parenting

This was the most fun aspect of camping in Oregon.  My kids love the beach, the water, the sun so camping on the Oregon Coast is dead easy.  We spent most of the days running in and out of the surf, lying on the sand, building sand castles and flinging floaty pieces of wood into the waves.  There was no need for discipline.  There was little need for parenting skills.  The kids never fought as long as they were on the beach.  It was awesome.  I need to somehow move a beach into my house.



Walking on the beach was never so mystical

I will try to write as little as possible for this photo, as I feel it speaks volumes on its own.

It was shot on film, not digital, media.

It was shot on a camera that is thirty-five years old.

It was shot on the Oregon Coast, near Manzanita.  It has not been touched by Photoshop; the only processing that occurred was at London Drugs Photo Center.

It has captured the mystical, magical, other-worldly aspect of the Oregon Coast and shows the main reason why my family will probably return to the coast for all of the foreseeable summer vacations.

Cue cheesy product placement…now!

For my wife and son, this may be the greatest reason to visit the north coast of Oregon: the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  I’ll admit, their ice cream is unparalleled and the tour of the factory, wherein one has the opportunity to watch fifty pound blocks of medium cheddar move on a byzantine labyrinth of conveyors, is pretty cool.  Even the cheese taste-testing, with its squeaky cheese and pepper-jack, is pretty great and the Peanut Butter Chocolate ice cream, and the Root Beer Float Ice Cream and…

You know what?  I think my wife and son are onto something.  I’d like to head to Oregon again.  Now.  Just for ice cream and cheese.  Anyone with me?




Parenting takes love and courage

“In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything.  You just need a lot of love and luck – and, of course, courage. ” – Bill Cosby

Above are my two beautiful children.  I love them more than my own life.  But they have spawned in me some complete confusion and inspired love.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

1. When we were traveling to Oregon only a scant two weeks ago, my children made me so proud.  The happily dealt with a full day of traveling, followed by five days of bliss.  They got along.  They saved small aquatic animals from death.  They found utter joy in throwing a stick in the ocean, only to chase it down the beach, rescue it from the surf and throw it right back in.  They comforted me when, in a fit of stupidity I thought I was younger than I am, I hurled myself into and over a railing, leaving a sizable dent in my shin.  They were stupendous.  And for a brief and amazing moment, I thought, “We’re amazing parents.  We should write books.”

2.  My children decided last night that they wanted to sleep in our basement in our original three-man tent.  At 10:00, my wife found them lying in the tent with the lights out but their Nintendo DS’s fully engaged when they were supposed to be fast asleep.  After a stern, but amused, talking-to, they went to sleep.  At 2:00 in the morning, my daughter came upstairs to the living room, where my wife chose to sleep so she could “hear the children”, to inform my wife that she could not sleep.  My wife made her way to the basement, where she slept in the tent on the floor so that the children could continue their adventure.  This morning, after a dearth of sleep, my children proceeded to fight with each other at such a volume that even I could not ignore it.  And for a brief and groggy moment, I thought, “What were we thinking when we thought we could be parents?”

In the span of two weeks I’ve gone from proud and maybe a little arrogant parent to a bewildered and short-fused parent.  I love my children, but this parenting thing?  Well, I can’t have one without the other.

Low-tide pools

When dusk hits the Oregon Coast, at least where we were camping, the tide goes out and leave these nice little pools all over the beach.  Now, some of the slower, less intelligent organisms get left behind on the beach and in the pools.  Jelly fish, starfish, little shrimp, all left behind by the retreating ocean.  What this process does for the photographer is leave an odd, asymmetrical pattern that reflects the light of the sunset, which is beautiful.


The ’57 Olds…beautiful.

This is beauty in car form.  This is the headlight of a 1957 Oldsmobile car.  It makes me smile.  The little rocket ships above the headlight on the fender make me smile even more.  I’m sure that some salesman back in 1957 used the line that these little babies make the car more aerodynamic, but I’m also sure they do nothing but look cool.

I bought my car in 2004.  As I drove it home, I thought I saw many other drivers driving the same car as I had just purchased.  It turned out that they all looked the same, but were made by other manufacturers.  They were all grey and boxy.  No curves.  No sex appeal.

The ’57 Olds?  Tons of sexiness.  The fenders.  The chrome.  The curve of the bumper.  The people who designed this car wanted Marilyn Monroe in car form:  lots of curves and big…uh… headlights.  I think they succeeded.

The entrance to the Pacific: Cannon Beach style

Cannon Beach is a beautiful spot on the Oregon Coast.  It is one of the many “entrances” to the Pacific Ocean along the coast.

Its major landmarks are the rocks and the beach you see above. What you see is “Haystack Rock” and “The Needles”.  Needles and a haystack – get it?  If this view looks familiar to you but you’ve never been to the Oregon Coast, then you’ve seen films like The Goonies or Kindergarten Cop.  Both films feature Haystack Rock.

Kindergarten Cop hobbles together a bunch of scenes that are all supposedly in Astoria, OR, but in reality are three different areas – Cannon Beach, the highway to Seaside, OR, and Astoria itself.  The Goonies also purports that Cannon Beach and Astoria are situated right next to each other.  Astoria and Cannon Beach, in reality are twenty-five miles apart (40 kilometers).  It’s as though Hollywood producers figure that most people will never go to the coast and will never be able to tell.

Silly producers.

Here’s another, similar view of Cannon Beach.  It’s a panorama put together from four different photographs.  Click on it and you ‘ll get a much wider view of the beach.

Whose steps will you follow?

As my son walked across the sand in front of me, I wondered, “Who will he follow?”  Will he follow his friends and not make his own decisions?  Will he follow his parents into education?  Will he put others before himself?  Will he lead and not follow?

I think these are pretty universal conundrums faced by parents everywhere.  I did not anticipate, before becoming a parent, that I would be that worried about how my children would turn out.  But now that my daughter is ten going on fifteen and my son is seven and a perfect combination of anxiety and over-confidence, I think about these things.  I think it was easier for me when I was their age because I was in the middle of it.  My parents, however, must have thought the same things I am thinking about my own kids.

I guess I’ll continue to influence them as much as I can and hope for the best.



A spot on the beach…I think it’s a girl

Photo Friday’s challenge this week was “Spot“.  When I was in Oregon last week I spotted this woman on the beach far below the viewpoint that Oregon nicely provides to travelers.  This beach is situated between Cannon Beach and Arcadia Beach.  Both are beautiful beaches and in order to get to the area that you see above you have to walk from either of those two beaches.  There is no direct route to this beach.

It looks like the perfect place to take a walk, doesn’t it?


Sunsets are always nice

I learned something about how my photographic habits have changed since switching from film to digital.  I took my Pentax K1000 with me to Oregon and snapped off a roll and a half.  I took my film camera up onto the dune and down onto the beach and snapped off some lovely photos.  And then there was this sad moment…

I snapped off my first photo and felt the familiar “chunk” of the camera’s mirror snapping back in place and then I pulled the camera from my eye and looked at the back of it to see how the photo turned out.  On the LCD screen.  That doesn’t exist on the back of the camera that was produced in 1976.  Hmm…that was an unforeseen stupidity on my part.  I chastised myself for having become reliant on technology to tell me that my photo was good.

I snapped another photo and once again looked at the back of the camera.  Twice stupid.  Yeesh…

Another photo.  Another look.  Oh, for crying out loud.

Over the next few days I snapped off the rest of the roll and must have looked at the back of the camera at least ten more times.

Oh.  The photo above was snapped on one of the evenings on my K1000.  Nice sunset, I think.  And below, that’s what I kept looking at expecting to see an LCD screen. Ha.

All right kids – voting time!

I took my Pentax K1000, completely manual, old-school camera and my Pentax K20D, super digital, 14.6 megapixel camera with me to the Oregon coast.  The diptych above shows the difference between the two cameras.  The photo on the left was taken with my K1000.  It was shot on Kodak 400 Ultramax film.  The photo on the right was taken with my K20D.  It was shot on a CMOS digital sensor.  I adjusted the contrast slightly on each in Photoshop (I had the film transferred to a CD); otherwise, these two photos were taken in the same place with Pentax 50mm f1.7 lenses on two separate cameras.

So, which one do you like better?  The one on the left, or the one on the right?  Film, or digital?

If you’re stuck and want to see them bigger, click on the photo for a larger version.


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