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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Professional Images: The end of an era?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Two things happen this week that touched on a significant change in the creative world and how photographic images are made and who profits from their sale.

First came an e-mail message from a very talented designer of outdoor gear who asked if I'd take a look at his photo website and offer a critique of his work. "I'm trying," he wrote, "to find a way to make money as a photographer."

I looked at his site and his work was exceptional. But was it exceptional enough for him to make a decent living as a photographer? I doubt it because as things are now similar images to his taken with a cellphone and manipulated to death by clever software jockeys are being sold for next to nothing.

So as to the "trying to find a way to make money," I was tempted to write back something along the lines of : "Good luck. About every photographer who used to make money is trying to figure out how to do it again and are not having much luck."

Instead I let a New York Times story entitled "For Photographers, The Image of a Shrinking Path" do it for me.

In that story, writer Stephanie Clifford tells how the market for photographic images has swung away from professionals and become, by in large, a market dominated by images taken by amateurs who are more than happy just to see their byline next to a photo or receive a small check for the use of one of their images.

The culprit is the digital camera revolution, or as one person in The Times story put it the importance of knowing how a camera worked and how to create images in the film era has given way to just shooting away and fixing everything up in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of Photo District News, notes that, "there are very few professional photographers who, right now, are not hurting."

The president of the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers group, put it to me thus earlier this year: "A few top end photographers are going to continue to do well because of their names and reputations, but the vast majority of working pros are having a very difficult time staying in business."

A well-respected local professional photographer offered: "I think there will always be that one percent of photographers making it big time more because of their chutzpah and/or marketing skills, the rest of the gang are going to teach workshops or find another job and join the ranks of us who make a few bucks selling our services for professional rates. I can't imagine photography remaining a potential sole source income for the very reasons cited in The Times article."

On the surface, this new state of photography looks like the most dramatic change that's ever happened to photo business. It isn't. In fact, it's history repeating itself.

Back when I first started into making images I had the good fortune to live next door to photographer Milton Halberstadt. Hal, as he was best known as, was the premier food photographer of his generation, a man called one of the most influential photographers of his time by Black and White magazine, and an associate and good friend of Ansell Adams.

After years of success, Hal's career started to falter when the 35mm SLR camera became popular. For a large format camera, make one or two shots in a day person like Hal, the speed at which new photographers could turn out work, and do it so much more cheaply, killed much of his advertising and magazine work.

He turned to teaching with stints at the University of California Berkeley and at the University of Oregon.

Fortunately, he held onto his 5,000-square-foot studio on San Franciscos's Telegraph Hill eventually selling it for a hefty figure that allowed him to live out his life comfortably.

His eldest son, Hans, went into photography, but was smart and picked a niche that very few others have shown interest in -- photographs of historic battle fields. Sounds arcane but he apparently does very well by it.

But even that highly specialized field may soon be taken over by image makers who hold down good paying day jobs, shoot on the side and are very talented at image enhancement.

The new generation of image makers are, I suspect, probably much like the woman I met at the Cascade Cycling Classic a couple of years ago. Armed with absolutely the latest and greatest gear, of which I was very envious of, she fired away with the working photographers. When I asked her whom she was shooting for, she said, "Oh just for fun. I'm a supervisor at (insert name of well known Central Oregon employer)."

Close to $6,000 in gear in hand and a desire to get published were enough to make her happy and for me to first realize that the days of getting paid for professionally made images was fast coming to a close.

And it's not a bad thing. Times change and soon the give-the-images-away crowd will be replaced and digital will become passé and who knows, there might not be any magazines or newspaper left to publish outstanding images.

Until that time, I'll sit in my office with file cabinets filled with images and good memories of what may be looked back on as photographer's golden age, the time when you could actually make money at photography if you knew how to make good images in the camera.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Final Four: A victory for fans outside of New Yawk

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Easily the best thing about this year's Final Four is the absence of a New Yawk team, or some other big East Coast metro college team, and all the attendant hype that they invariably get from Dickie V and all the talking head experts on ESPN who refer to the game being played as "basketbawl". Thankfully we won't hear a lot of: " Hey, I love Jimmy B and da Cuse and he'll have the big ones taking it to the rack and the small ones hoisting up trifectas," blither. The extreme hype about eastern basketball and the Big East conference, now known as the "Big Least", is over.

This is the year those basketball experts who hardly ever watch a game outside of the East and Midwest time zones look pretty foolish with their tournament predictions. Of course, I'm no expert and my tournament predictions don't look any better.

But then I don't get paid to talk about "basketbawl" and tell the world how the games is played best on the playgrounds of New York and Philly and that anything played west of the Rockies is, well, not worth covering. Tell that to retired coach John Wooden and get his reaction.

So now we're down to the Final Four and just prior to Duke getting into that group the "basketbawl" guys were moaning that the semis and finals were blighted because there was no "blue chip" team or a number one seeded team.

I have a feeling most real basketball fans really like this year's Final Four. You have Butler whose home gym is where they filmed the movie Hoosiers. Now that's a great touch. And you have the greatest living college coach in Michigan State's Tom Izzo who once again has taken a group of "no-stars" to the semifinals. Duke is certainly the thinking person's team. They play intelligently and seldom get flustered. Coach K is a masterful leader of young, and as he proved in the last Olympics, and older star players.Then there's West Virginia with coach Bob Higgins known fondly known in basketball circles as "Thuggins". Enough said.

If Butler meets Duke in the championship game, you'll have two teams with almost 100% graduation rates. Compare that with Kentucky, the team everybody thought would win the tournament, with its below 30 percent graduation rate.

If Michigan State moves on it will be with the headline news today that the University of Phil Knight in Eugene plans to offer him a gazillion dollars to take over the head basketball coaching job.

Just say no, Tom.

Meanwhile, I've been waiting for the Fox News-heads to chime in on the tournament. I was sure that sometime during the past two weeks we'd hear my boy Beck telling listeners how: "The great American game is being infiltrated, that's right infiltrated, by extremists who are out to take over this country. Look at the names of some of the players in this year's tournament - Ali, Kareem, Farouk and Omar. These players are not here to put up three point shots and dunk the ball but to do much worse, like take away our freedoms", etc, etc ad nauseum.

The game of college basketball and "basketbawl" is safe and the play at this year's tournament has been terrific. Give me one or two more games like Kansas State-Xavier match up and I'll mark down the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament as one of the best ever.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Teamwork: On Becoming a Pilot Butte Greenwave Hoops Fan

Posted By on Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 4:44 PM

After close to 40 years of participating in, writing about and photographing individual self-propelled sports, I recently developed a passion for a team sport. Not any team sport. Girl’s basketball and one team in particular: the Pilot Butte sixth grade girls park and rec basketball league team called the Greenwave.

In the beginning, I figured my role would be one of dutiful grandfather, delivering and picking up my granddaughter to and from practice and games. But as things developed, I found myself watching the practices and getting involved in the games.

Soon I was photographing the Greenwave in action and found myself slipping into the role of the worst possible male on the planet: the little league granddad. Luckily, a sharp reprimand from a ref after I loudly protested what I though was a bad call shocked me back into the role of calm observer. That was only on the outside. On the inside, I wanted the Greenwave to win.

Frankly, from the outset things were pretty much stacked against the Greenwave. Most of the girls, like my granddaughter, were new to basketball. Yet they came to the practices full of verve and energy and gave it their all.

But for all their work, they were the original gang who couldn’t shoot straight. They tried hard but got beaten badly their first three games.

The team sunk into a collective depression.“We suck,” several of the girls told me.Their body language betrayed their emotions.

And then something magical happened. The Greenwave players forgot about winning and losing and started playing for fun. Every girl got playing time and all seemed to enjoy just being on the court.

The losses continued, but the Greenwave really started having fun.

The girls all took on distinct playing personalities. One of the point guards played with a constant grin on her face. When she blundered she’d laugh it off and keep going with that grin even wider.

Others learned how to scramble for loose balls, how to set picks, how to steal the ball from a high dribbler. They even started getting their hands up on defense and making a few stops.

The Greenwave stayed competitive in two games and came within one point of scoring 30 points in a game at High Desert MIddle School. Thirty is the margin they were usually beaten by.

Still they played on and the chemistry was obvious to everyone who watched their games. It was so infectious that whenever the Greenwave scored, everyone in the gym would cheer them loudly, including opposing teams' fans.

Finally it game down to the last game against Seven Peaks.  As the game moved into the third quarter, Seven Peaks eased into a four point lead and I wondered aloud if the Greenwave could come back for at least one win.

Hearing this, the Seven Peaks coach told me that her girls had also gone without a win.

Now I found myself rooting for both teams; it became apparent that Seven Peaks and the Greenwave shared something special. They were playing for fun and were having a good time.

Seven Peaks won, but the Greenwave treated the game like a win, as well. It was an insight into what team sports can be—if we leave it to the kids to find their own way.

Go Greenwave. You made my winter season much more enjoyable with your fine play.





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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bragging Rights: Thirty years of bracketology

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 10:34 PM

It started just over three decades ago when a friend and fellow sports nut asked me who I thought would win the NCAA basketball tournament. I told him. He replied something along the lines of: "You gotta be kidding, they don't stand a chance."

His retort got under my skin so I asked him whom he'd picked to win the tournament. This led to some back and forth and a bet on the entire tournament. You do your bracket and I'll do mine, and may the best man win.

The way we structured it, points were awarded for every team that advanced. One point for every team that made it past round one, three points for those who advanced to the next round, etc. That way you might pick the overall winner but still not win the bet because the other person had racked up more points with his more of his picks advancing through the rounds.

The tournament was then a 48-team affair and my friend and I started small with a $1 bet on our prognostications. That, and the promise to watch the championship game at either his house or mine.

And so ensued years of good games, last second buzzer beaters, Bird and Magic, West Texas State, Jimmy Valvano and NC State, you name it, and always accompanied with beer and eats.

Twice over the decades, I was out of town for the championship game but on the phone to my friend before and after the game. In both instances I was on assignment in British Columbia. The first time I watched Indiana win the 1987 title over Syracuse at the buzzer following a day of heli-skiing . The second time I watched Michigan win the 1989 title over Seton Hall in a motel in Revelstoke, BC the night before flying into the mountains for a week hut-to-hut ski tour.

As our bracket battle wore on, now with 64 (65 with the play-in game winner) teams, the bet changed. The loser would buy the winner dinner at a place where we could view the championship game. That led to dinners Cheerleaders, the Pine Tavern, Bend Brewing, assorted sports bars and other bars. One year we took a break from eating out and I ordered in a pizza and made martinis to celebrate my wretched bracket picks and the loss of the bet.

This year may be the worst year ever in the history of our bracket picking rivalry. I'm using an orange highlighter to mark off my losing picks. Currently, my bracket looks like a pumpkin field just before the harvest-a field of orange.

My friend is on vacation in Hawaii and has yet to send me his bracket sheet. From what he's told just before leaving, I think he's taken as many losing hits.

But like all bracketology fans, losing the annual bet is just a sidebar to rooting for the small schools, the underdogs and the where-did-they-come-froms. That's the joy of the tournament.

So as the Sweet Sixteen is played out tomorrow and Friday, I for one am rooting for an Elite Eight that has Cornell playing Washington, Purdue playing St. Marys, Michigan State playing Ohio State, and Butler playing Xavier.

Of course, it won't work out that way but it's fun to dream of an Elite Eight without any top seeds.

Come April 5 at 6:20, my friend and I will sit down at some restaurant to watch the game and to celebrate our thirty-first straight bracket battle. It's a tradition we both look forward to every year-win or lose.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ride On: Changes coming at both the Maston and Horse Ridge

Posted By on Sun, Mar 21, 2010 at 4:13 PM

The first day of spring tuned out not only to be a glorious one weather-wise but also one that proved a good news day for two local mountain bike areas on BLM lands-Horse Ridge and The Maston Allotment.

First to how the good news was delivered. Coordinated by Eric of Trinity Cycles in Redmond and COTA trail building and maintenance maven Chris Kratsch, a work party was organized to work this past Saturday at the Maston Allotment. When the thirty volunteers gathered for a pre-work safety session, they were greeted by BLM partnership coordinator Greg Currie who led off his remarks with the announcement that the new trailhead parking area at Horse Ridge was near completion and would be opened later this week.

Currie has a set of photos posted on a board showing the new lot and he indicated that further additions would include two concrete picnic tables.

The announcement came as a surprise to most of the volunteers many of whom have been led to believe that nothing would be done at Horse Ridge until the BLM's Cline Buttes recreation plan had been completely implemented.

Obviously completed well under the radar, the Horse Ridge trailhead is now a reality and for those new to riding there it's located about a quarter mile west of where people now park along the roadway.

The parking lot is situated close to the bottom of the San Canyon road/trail. A new trail links the new lot to the present-day trail starting point.

Following that news, the volunteers got the word that, thanks to the stimulus funds that allowed work to proceed at Horse Ridge, work was going to heat up on the Maston.

Included in that work will be a new trailhead parking area just west of the current informal trailhead. The trailhead will include plenty of parking and quick, easy access to the singletrack trail.

Also going up soon is fencing that will run from the corner of Newcomb Road and the Cline Falls Highway to the new trailhead and beyond all the way to private land close to the rim of the Deschutes River Canyon.

Further fencing will be installed along Cline Falls Highway.

A new, smaller, trailhead will be constructed at the red cinder road off the Cline Falls Highway and that road will be closed to motorized travel.

Ambitious plans indeed but ones that will turn the Maston area into a first class mountain bike, hike and equestrian destination.

Between now and the completion of the proposed trailhead parking lot and the fencing, Saturday's work crew accomplished much including, installing directional signs on the trail, installing trailhead signage that informs people that target shooting is prohibited and what uses are permitted, and clearing the new trailhead area of years of garbage, litter and target shooting debris.

The latter job looked pretty straightforward until those collecting the garbage and started running into old garbage dumps packed with rusted cans and yard-upon-yard of old barb and chicken wire.

Meanwhile, across the highway, Jim Karn and a crew of four pulled a truckload of trash just off the top of Cline Buttes.

Considering the long neglect of the Cline Buttes and the Maston Allotment, Saturday's efforts were the first major step in a significant change to both areas.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dispatches: Is Palm Springs the new Joshua Tree?

Posted By on Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 12:38 AM

Editor's note: Frequent Source contributor Bob Woodward has been on the road for several weeks travelling and vacationing in California. Expect to see new posts to his blog by next week. In the meantime, Woody filed this dispatch from Palm Springs where he is gathering sunshine and a pleasant cocktail buzz to share with Central Oregonians.

Ten years ago my wife and I headed south to escape the dregs of winter that had spilled over into March. Starting in San Diego, we decided to wander the Southern California desert. In doing so, we discovered Joshua Tree. Not the small town by that name but the National Park.

The serenity of the place with its spectacular jumbles of impressive granite boulders and ancient Joshua Trees was amazing. We wanted to settled in the Park for weeks but had to settle for a short stay there doing some hiking and bouldering.

There were a few other boulderers, climbers and hikers in the Park but walk fifty yards distance from them and you were on your own.

It was mid-March and it was 65 degrees and sunny. We were in t-shirts; the Californians were in down sweaters

I had such fond memories of this short sojourn to J-Tree that I leapt at a chance to spend some time with friends there at the end of February last year.

Again the weather was in the mid-sixties with a light breeze and under azure blue skies. We climbed, we bouldered, and we hiked. It was a wonderful day topped off by a dinner at a one time local biker bar turned natural foods restaurant on the way back to Palm Springs.

That day fueled a desire to get back to J-Tree this March. We did, arriving on a Friday afternoon expecting to be ahead of any crowds and able to easily secure a campsite.

Wrong. Every campsite was filled, make that packed with tents and camping gear. It was like a cramped camping suburb had sprung up among the rocks of J-Tree.

After a night in a motel in nearby Twenty Nine Palms we headed back to the Park and started off on hike up Mount Ryan. The trail climbs 1,000 feet over 1.5 miles and is somewhat of a grunt.

We met one hiker coming down the trail and were joined at the summit by a young couple. It was cool on the wind-whipped summit but the 360-degree view out over the vast expanse of the Park was spectacular especially since Mount San Jacinto to the west and the other desert mountain ranges were blanketed with snow.

The couple joining us on the summit turned out to be from Boulder, Colorado and on a similar get-away-from-the-cold-at-home expedition. They'd been able to camp in the Park and weren't too happy about the experience.

"It was like living in an outdoor tenement last night," said the young woman. "The noise and the partying didn't stop until well after two a.m. and then people started getting ready to climb at 6."

Were they staying on and climbing as they told us they'd originally planned to?

"No," replied the male, "we're going into Palm Springs and do some hiking in the canyons."

And so did we. And the surprise part is how much good, and interesting hiking there is in Palm Springs and environs. In fact, according to a popular local guidebook, there are 140 hikes in the Palm Springs area alone.

And despite what many people think about Palm Springs, the town is a far cry from the toned gated golf communities that stretch to the south. Palm Springs has soul and if you stay near the heart of town, you can be on a hiking trail in minutes.

And if you have a car, you can be at dozens of hiking trail opportunities in about the same time.

My wife hiked with a group from the RV park - no we don't own one, but camp in our mini-van - that we stay at in the heart of old Palm Springs. It's an amazing place with roadrunners and hummingbirds as frequent guests at our allotted space and coyotes serenading us to sleep.

Early one morning on my mountain bike heading to a trailhead, I ran into Mr. Coyote loping through a neighborhood apparently on his way back to his daytime hiding place. He looked at me for a split second and then kept to his appointed course.

While I tried to find mountain bike opportunities my wife hiked east of Palm Springs through a lush oasis and then onto a prominent ridge before descending through another oasis. I joined her for a hike in yet another lush oasis in one of the Indian Canyons just south of town. Here vast groves of palms grow along the banks of streams fed by snows high on the peaks above.

The streams tumble over gigantic granite boulders and there's this sense of being in an air-conditioned haven while all outside of the oasis is boiling in the sun.

While the hiking proved good, the mountain biking isn't. To get to the local trail system involves a 1,000-foot climb in just over a mile. It's a lung buster climb and once you get to the trails they're enjoyable, albeit mostly technical, but totally exposed to the blazing sun.

Luckily I was able to find a locals-only type trail 15 minutes from the RV park. The trail, cut in along a dry wash by years of hikers and runners, is a skill builder demanding all your attention and technical skills. A loop takes twenty minutes and feels like it takes an hour.

Arriving back at the RV park one evening after a ride on the wash trail, I met three young Austrians who had moved into the space next to mine. They, as it turned out, were on their way to J-Tree to climb.

As we talked, I gave them the heads up on the crowds, the camping, and the competition for good routes.

"It's always the same," offered one of the Austrians, "a climbing area gets written up in all the U.S. climbing magazines and then in the European climbing magazines and then the hordes come. It's too bad, but ten years from now, the climbing mobs will have moved on to something new."

Or maybe something old like Palm Springs, which people are just beginning to look on as a hikers' paradise - and so far not a very trendy one.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Riverhouse Kayak Race Returns

Posted By on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 7:51 PM

A whitewater park in Bend may still be a few years out, but that isn't stopping paddling enthusiasts from celebrating their sport this month. Paddlers announced this week that they are preparing to host the second annual Riverhouse Run slalom championships on Sunday, March 28. The contest begins at 10 a..m outside its namesake venue on the Deschutes in Bend and is expected to draw competitors from around Oregon and Washington.

"The Riverhouse is such an amazing venue to have a race like this because spectators can watch the paddlers up close," said Bert Hinkley, who, along with Alder Creek Kayak owner Geoff Frank, helped to revive the Riverhouse Rendezvous after a prolonged absence.

The one-day race is part of the Northwest Cup slalom series,  a free race competition which is sponsored by the NW Whitewater Racers For more information on the race, contact Geoff, at , or Bert at

On the subject of local whitewater, here are some great images from the Middle Deschutes that were recently posted on Yahoo's bendpaddler list serve.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

A Hairy Situation: Waxless skis make an Olympic showing

Posted By on Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 3:05 AM

During the first week of the Vancouver Olympic Games, daily e-mail wax updates from the Swiss ski wax maker Toko noted that the waxing for the cross-country races was relatively easy. Competitors were using a mix of klisters. Klister is loosely translated as "glue" and klister waxes are best suited for grip on ice, crust and slush.

As week two started and the bright sunny conditions gave way to funky conditions, Toko's first daily e-mail message of that week noted that the waxing was getting more challenging and that, "some skiers are using waxless skis."

Whoa, is that waxless skis as in what 90 percent of American recreational skiers use? Is that skis with patterns cut into their bases underfoot?

No, waxless in this case means hairies, skis that have been roughed up under foot in their grip zone. The roughing up with an abrader produces small hairs of polyethylene base material that stick up off the base. They grip the snow surface when the ski is kicked downward but stay off the snow (because of the ski's camber) when the ski is in glide mode.

Hairies date back to 1983 and were made famous in international ski racing by two American skiers-Bill Koch and current MBSEF head cross-country coach, Dan Simoneau.

At the 1983 Swedish Ski Championships another U.S. Ski Team member, Jim Galanes, heard that the Swedish team had been experimenting with abrading their skis underfoot to see if they could get grip in classic (0 degrees C/ 32 degrees F) waxless conditions.

The Swedes gave up on the idea but offered one of their Sandvik abraders to Galanes. The U.S. Team prepares some hairies for the thirty-kilometer event.

Former U.S. Ski Team coach Marty Hall picks up the story. "Who was going to be the guinea pig? Dan Simoneau who was the number two starter for the day would come into the stadium after one kilometer into the race and would let us know how they were working."

Simoneau skied through and his response as to how the skis were working, according to Hall was, "yahoo."

The rest is history. Koch opted for the hairies based on Simoneau's enthusiastic reaction to them and he and Simoneau placed one-two in the race, the best U.S. performance ever in an international event.

There's a famous picture of Norwegian coach Magne Myrmo bending over trying to look up onto Koch's ski bases as he passes by trying to figure out what his secret wax is.

A couple of months later at the annual John Craig Memorial Ski Race up to the top of the old McKenzie Pass from the snow gate on the Sisters side and back down, Simoneau was on hand.

The waxing conditions were impossible. But just before the race, Simoneau motioned to U.S. Ski team member Leslie Bancroft and me to grab our yet-to-be-waxed skis and follow him to a place well away from the crowd.

There he pulled out a Sandvik abrader and started roughing up our ski's grip zones underfoot.

Both Bancroft and myself were going on blind faith and trust. And that seemed misplaced as we slipped badly the first mile of the race. Then the snow conditions changed and the next thing you know we were passing just about everyone.

Simoneau won the race handily with Bancroft and myself in the top five. Her placing was on shear talent and great skis. Mine was on getting lucky to have Simoneau fix my skis.

Now 27 years later, it's nice to see that the hairies still retain their place as go-to skis in hard to wax for conditions, especially in the Olympics.

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