From One Apple-Crazed State to the Other

Jones Creek Farms in the Skagit Valley region of Washington state.

Jones Creek Farms in the Skagit Valley region of Washington state.

Before driving across the country, the states of Massachusetts and Washington seemed to be worlds apart. Brought forth in entirely different times, forged by various people and industries that may have some similar mindsets, but they made very different states.

The culture of west and east coast in the U.S. has historically been polarized, but after having spent a few months in my new home in the Pacific Northwest, I’m finding they might not be so different after all.

One similarity? Apples.

People in Massachusetts love fall, understandably. Fall in New England is one of the best things I’d ever experienced, especially coming from a Southern state where fall just means fewer days to wear flip-flops and sit on the porch. When my partner and I were first throwing around the idea of moving out here, the thought of going without another autumnal wave of fall themed treats, brisk mornings and crunchy leaves seemed unbearable. The Evergreen State of Washington? No brilliantly painted leaves filling the windy afternoon air?

Gourds. It's fall!

Gourds. It’s fall!

But… that’s not all true. Although WA has plenty of trees that remain the same over the seasons, we were pleased to find that there are tons that go through the fall, dropping plenty for me to step on on the walk to work in the morning.

And that horrible gray season? While it’s almost here, we’ve gotten lucky to have crisp sometimes cloudless skies, moody fog, and nice chilly weather. It’s almost like we never left.

And just when it couldn’t get any more perfect…  (you probably guessed it from the title) apples.

Who loves apples more than the people living near a ton of great Central Mass. farms? Those living in Washington. According to the Washington State Apple Commission (yeah, there is one of those — that’s how crazy it gets), Harvest of Washington apples begins in mid-August and generally ends in early November. Each year, Washington harvests over 100 million boxes of apples, each weighing about 40 pounds. That’s a lot.

More apple “core facts” — 10 – 12 billion apples are handpicked in Washington State each year. If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times (wtf?!). Crazy.

Enjoy some photos of our trip to Washington’s Skagit Valley for some fall fun:

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Light At the End of the Tunnel

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One of the old train tunnels along the trek

Earlier this week, I took a hiking trip to the Iron Goat Trail — a journey into nature that taught me more than I usually learn exploring my new home.

The Pacific Northwest is a lush area full of many different types of landscape. You’ve got the beaches, sound, rivers, towering mountains, rainforests, and even the (not so lush) desert. Iron Goat Trail sits 60 miles northeast of Seattle along Stevens Pass Highway, an already breathtaking ride.

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The result of using my on-camera flash in dim forest lighting

After a short walk on the start of the trail, a snowshed appeared — a towering and crumbling cement wall right along the walkway. These snowsheds protected the Great Northern Railway… at least for the most part. According to the trail’s website,

In 1910, snowslides delayed two trains at the town of Wellington. A vast section of snow on Windy Mountain broke loose and crashed down, sweeping both trains off the tracks into Tye Creek below. Rescue efforts were quickly organized, but nearly one hundred lives were lost.

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Light At the End of the Tunnel

Old tunnels stretch along the trail, showing the engineering against the elements. Wooden barriers were put in place under concrete, to protect trains from the winter precipitation. All of this old architecture and beautiful mossy landscape made for amazing photos, but I had to break one of my main rules to photograph it well…

Using a Flash… For the First Time

I’ve been photographing pretty much non-stop for years. I’ve photographed landscapes, people, long exposures, macro… just about everything. One rule I abide by is never using the flash built in on my Canon Rebel xti. I’ve found that 99 percent of the time, it flattens images and leaves out the real, raw color and shadows that I love. But I found myself changing my ways!

In the heavily wooded areas with looming concrete and trees, photographing the low-lying details while not blowing out the highlights in the trees was incredibly difficult. But something clicked, and I gave in. Why not give it a try? And sure enough, with a little finesse, I was able to shed a little light on the foreground details, while still being able to capture those night natural highlights above. Lesson learned. Thanks, Iron Goat Trail!

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One of the snowshed walls left in the area. Used to keep massive piles of snow off the tracks.


See Foggy San Francisco Like Never Before

I found this video by Simon Christen a while back and have been mesmerized by it ever since. The Oakland photographer and filmmaker transforms the day-in-day-out beauty and mystique of the Bay Area’s weather patterns into rolling landscapes and water-like motions.

Adrift is a beautiful film that illustrates the magical effect time lapse work can have in making something ordinary into something otherworldly.

His other amazing work: Unseen Sea   Photography 


When “In with the New” Means Bringing Back the Old

The brass 1840s Petzval lens.

The brass 1840s Petzval lens.

The Petzval lens was developed in 1840. The brass fixture was pretty simple in design — especially compared to what’s available today — and its speed made it perfect for portrait shots. While it has been surpassed by many models after it and the digital revolution, Lomography has found a place for this oldie in today’s photo world… to the tune of over $1 million in donations to bring back the old.

So what does a lens from 1840 have to offer us now? Take one look at the results of this brass lens, and you’ll understand why some photographers still use some of the old models.

By flickr user Jonathan Wong.

By flickr user Jonathan Wong.

By flickr user Alan Butler.

By flickr user Alan Butler.

By flickr user hdll88.

By flickr user hdll88.

By flickr user micmicmor

By flickr user micmicmor

But Lomography has found a new crowdsourced way to raise awareness and funds to bring it back. The camera company recently launched a Kickstarter page to begin remaking this ancient relic for digital SLR cameras. The Kickstarter campaign currently has 11 days left and has raised $1,182,391 from 2,860 backers. Their goal was $100,000.

A New Market With this kind of a response, it begs the question — who’s pitching in? Where did this massive funding come from? Clearly Lomography has a sizable following based on their reaction from this project, but let’s think deeper. This kind of thing might catch on for other models and companies.

One of the most profitable e-deals in recent years involved the selling of a popular photo editing app, Instagram, to social media giant, Facebook. This merger solidified this trend’s potential, and Lomography’s Kickstarter campaign shows that it’s still growing strong.

An example of a typical Instagram photo with filter applied.

An example of a typical Instagram photo with filter applied.

Instagram appeals to anyone wanting to share photos, but specifically to those wanting to share photos that look like they were taken 50 years ago. The app’s photo filters allow the user to fake the look of an aged photo by accentuating colors or placing film borders around their iPhone snapshots. Why did this catch on? The same reason Lomography saw this as a viable crowdsourcing opportunity.

I’m Guilty…

It’s true. Even I have gone the way of Instagram. (The evidence: http://instagram.com/amklann) The app has been really denounced by a lot of photographers, but the tide is turning, and some are realizing that for anyone wanting to share their views, it’s worth trying.

The Future of This Trend

It’s no doubt that with the success of Lomography’s Kickstarter campaign, this trend will continue. The big picture: this shows there is major interest in old film technology being brought to digital world.

A fellow photographer on Deviantart who shoots with some old equipment suggested that the Kodak Aero Ektar lenses could be next. Not only are they cheaper than the reproduced Petzvals, but they have many of the same beautiful features.tumblr_ln5vhrgLV31qekrnyo1_500

Hey, we can dream! All of the photographers who either (like me) came about after the digital shift and were either too cheap or too lazy to pick up the old ways, or those who gave up their film equipment during the transition are no doubt excited for this opportunity.

What old equipment are you dying to use with your digital SLR?


My New Website – Wix.com

I recently delved into the realm of Wix website design, and for anyone who hasn’t used this platform yet, I definitely recommend it. It’s a free service, although upgraded versions are available. It’s extremely user-friendly, and no real knowledge of HTML is necessary. Check out my new site, and give it a try for yourself!

Wix allows for beautiful photo galleries timed by the viewer. Slide to the next one when you're ready!

Wix allows for beautiful photo galleries timed by the viewer. Slide to the next one when you’re ready!

They also have great contact options.

They also have great contact options.

My homepage

My homepage


Searching Seattle’s Neighborhoods

IMG_7406Living in a new city is incredibly exciting, and something that comes with time is getting the feel of that new city. Seattle is a place with a very well-defined neighborhood structure. Tons has been written about what separates each of these little enclaves, but getting there and seeing it for yourself is really the only way to understand it.

A quick lesson on Seattle geography... and infographics.

A quick lesson on Seattle geography… and infographics.

A couple weeks ago, Seattle’s International District (ID) was having their annual Dragon Fest. For $2 at each participating restaurant in the neighborhood, patrons get a generous sample of their fare and a chance to breathe in all the sights and smells of the ID. Having never been to this section of town, it was a lot of fun.

Multicolored dragons adorn the streets, Shimmering Chinese characters line the sides of buildings and archways over intersections. It’s amazing to feel so transported only a 20 minute bus ride away from our home.

After a few bites of steamed pork buns, dumplings, dim sum, and gelato, we found ourselves in a garden. Rows of ripening vegetables twisted around gravel pathways. We made our way up higher, past a pig roasting spit and beautiful flowers, to a Japanese garden. Above all the festivities below, with the gentle hum of the nearby I-5, we enjoyed some down time before hopping the bus back home.

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Freeway – HDR

Freeway - HDR

An HDR image of Interstate 5 cutting through the north side of Seattle. Shot with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens.

Usually Photomatix does a fine job of giving me the HDR effect that I like — surrealistic enough to make you wonder how it’s done, but not enough to make you question the scene’s existence. This time, I blended two tonemapped versions of this photo, one of the sky and background separately, with another of the traffic to get the prefect balance I wanted.


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