Birth of a photo





People ask me, how do I know what drop shape to aim for?  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  A lot of the times it’s a fortunate accident.  Serendipity. Here is an example of how this worked, in my last photo session.

I started out with this background, not sure what I wanted, just dropping drops and experimenting. I got this drop, which reminds me of a person, with their arms folded.  So I kept going, and got the next photo, which looks like a martini glass to me. I quickly changed out my background, and kept going, working on getting the same timing. I got another photo, but the glass needed more depth.  I wanted the drop shape in the foreground, to match the background more.

I kept going, and got a better shape, but a little off kilter.  Finally, I ended up with the final photo, which I call “Cocktails for Two.”  I also added red and purple gels with my flashes, for a little bit of color.  The end result, is the photo you see below.

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PIR-Cruise In, Where the Fun Lasts All Summer Long…

It is with sadness, that I watch the cruise in’s at Portland International Raceway come to a close this month (Portland, Or).  This week, the weather was perfect, and the cars kept rolling in.  I took a few quick pics, but mostly just enjoyed hanging out with friends.

Bird on the Water…Made of water

Bird on the Water

So…I’ve been talking about Worthington jets this past month, and experimenting with capturing these on my camera.

This is what I got, purely by accident.  A third water drop has landed on top of the first two, but you can see it landed off center and is sliding sideways, which creates the “beak” of the bird.  This is a good example of one of the
“surprises” I get regularly, working with water.  The white highlights that make up the eye of the bird, are the flashes reflecting in the drop.  It looks like a glass sculpture to me.  Fun stuff!  The colors in the background are from colored gels over the flashes.

Of all the ones I’ve captured lately, this one is the most popular, by far.  Thanks to my friends on Facebook, who gave me feedback as it being their favorite, I realized that maybe I should print it and frame it, for an upcoming festival.   It sold in the first few hours of the festival.  It is difficult for me sometimes to figure out what to print.

I’m wondering what other animals I could get.  A lion or a zebra would be fantastic!

Eeeeeew!!! Gum wall, Seattle, WA.

Gum_Wall_always_openrszdwmSo I’m planning another trip to Seattle, and I was thinking about this photo of the gum wall.  The gum wall in Seattle has been named the most UN-hygienic tourist attraction there is.  The last time I was there, I remember “seeing” this scene as a good photo opportunity, and wanting to get closer, but also grossed out at the same time.  There is a windowsill, where the gum hangs off the edge, like forgotten crayons on a hot summer day.  My photography self won out–I got close enough to take the photo.  It was also evening, I didn’t have a tripod, so I was hand holding at the lowest ISO I could manage.Jly-702rszdwm

My efforts paid off.  This photo won the title  “Best commercial photo of the year” by OPPA (Oregon Professional Photographers Association), at the last annual awards banquet.  I got this beautiful glass engraved trophy, which is awesome.

Next time you’re in Seattle, check it out, if you’re so inclined.  And no, I didn’t add my gum to the wall!

Having fun–Worthington jets

Rainy daySo back in the latter 1800’s there was this very smart physicist and professor by the name of A. M. Worthington.

He is best known for his work on fluid mechanics, especially the physics of splashes.  From observing those, he pioneered techniques of high speed photography. He also proposed the slug as a unit of inertial mass, and the pound-foot as a dedicated unit of torque.  That in itself is pretty cool.

Well, one of the papers he wrote (one of many), was titled  ‘On the Forms assumed by Drops of Liquid falling Vertically on a Horizontal Plate’ (Proc Roy Soc, 1876-1877).”  It’s actually not too bad of a read.  Anyway, they named Worthington jets after him.  A Worthington jet is a water drop that is very tall.  Up to eight inches tall.  Mind you, most of the drops I capture are an inch tall, at best.  So these are quite different to me.  And they behave differently.

What’s fascinating to me about these drops, is it’s a lot about timing and how hard or soft the water is.  The physics of water are really cool.  When a single water drop hits the water, it forms a crater.  That crater pushes the sides out into a crown or coronet shape (like milk splashes you’ve seen in ads), then it comes back in and rises into a column.  So a jet is when a second drop is closely following the first drop and it hits the crater that the first drop has formed.  Which makes a crater with more energy behind it.  They both make one crown shape and then all that energy shoots up to form a tall column, fast and tall like a roller coaster.  If you can get the timing down, a third drop then falls on top of the tall column.  Most of the time it doesn’t land right on top, it’s off to the side.  You can get a wide variety of shapes from these.  It’s more difficult to get a tall drop from hard city water.

More on these later.

You can read more about AM Worthington here:

my website, here:

Once a tour guide…

Large, mature leafy trees

Tree lined sidewalks

Last weekend, on a beautiful sunny day, I stood in a strangers home, giving tours.  The 33rd Irvington home tour is an annual community association fundraiser event, where you walk thru leafy tree-lined streets, map in hand, to tour beautiful, early 20th century homes.  The Irvington district is Oregon’s largest historic district, with over 2800 properties.  Of those, 85% are considered “contributing,” and retain their original appearance.  Upper middle class Portlanders built substantial Irvington houses in the styles common to the period — Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Prairie Style, and Bungalow.

The home I was assigned to was the Thomas Young house, completed in 1911.  It was one of six quality “spec” homes, built by the firm of Gates and Young.  The principal in the firm liked it so much, he lived there the first ten years.  Box beam ceilings, latticed and rare arched leaded windows, and a sheltered, shady porch are just a few of the cool features of the home.

For photos of the entire tour, check out their website for Jim Hueur’s excellent photography:

It was long, long ago that I was a tour guide for Middleton Place Plantation in Charleston, S.C.  My tour guide training kicked in; it was like I had never left…

Come a little closer

Cars-6fsCan you hear me now?  How about now?  I recently had the privilege to speak to the KCCC (King City Camera Club) and the Portland/Beaverton Nature Photographers Group, about my water drop photography.  About 45 people attended, and thankfully, the club had a microphone for me to use!  I have a soft voice, I don’t think I could of reached back row ears, without one.

I touched on topics like timing, basic set up, shooting methods, camera settings, stages of a water drop, drop photography challenges, plus showed a whole lotta photo samples.  I also threw in a little humor and fun cartoons, to break up the technical information.  Here are some of the wonderful comments that were posted after the event:

“Excellent as usual…Dana gave a great presentation ..I now understand how she captures the photo, but I could never achieve the same effects. It is truly her artistic talent….”

“Great presentation Dana! I could have looked at those photos for hours!”

“Dana’s work is amazing and so creative. This was an excellent and informative presentation.”

“Inspiring and informative presentation by Dana, Thank you.”

I really appreciate everyone taking the evening to come out and listen to me talk about what I love to do!  I know there are many other things they could of done that night, instead.

Thank you also, to Linda Palmer, for my photo.  Have a great week, all!


Of course, I have to take a picture of the crowd! Always the photographer…


Keep Calm and Do Burn Outs

“Drag Racing–smoking the tires is for the fans.  Smoking the guy in the other lane, that’s food for the soul.”

Oct-100flIn Woodburn, Oregon, we have a great drag strip that has two snack bars, camping, ample bleachers, and grassy fields to walk on.  It’s fun for everyone… These are photos from the last drags of 2014.  I love getting up close to the action, and being just feet away from the starting line, taking photos–you would have to be in a car to get any closer!  My favorites are the alcohol racers, which I haven’t got a decent picture of them in action yet!  Too darn fast.

In March, the drags start again.  Count me in!

Dog on Duty

Police dogDog + costume + plus old police car = just too cute!  This dog is the sweetest dog, he’ll lick you up and down repeatedly.  He doesn’t even flinch when the siren goes off.  He loves people.  This is the third car show I’ve seen him and his owner at.  Classic cars are pretty darn cool, but add sweet, cute dogs and its even better!

Hot Rods to the End of the Earth

I was reminiscing on the cruise-ins last summer, and here is one of my favorite.  It is simply…awesome.  “Rod Run to the End of the Earth” is a weekend event that takes place annually in Long Beach, Washington. There are slow drags each evening, through town, where residents and visitors alike, set up lawn chairs on sidewalks, in the back of pickup trucks–wherever they can find, to get a great view of the fabulous hot rods rolling slowly through town.  It was like stepping back in time. Everywhere I went, there were classic cars of every make and model. Gotta love that!

It’s on my must attend list for next year!