The Orange County Fair and the Thrill of Victory

I have been a competitive person for as long as I can remember. I like to watch championship basketball games and share vicariously the exhilaration of the players on the winning team. The same is true for the Oscars or the Emmys. Of course, I’m not Michael Jordan or Meryl Streep or Julia Louis Dreyfus, so, for me, the thrill of victory is a rare one.

As most of my readers will know, I’m an amateur photographer who loves taking pictures. I think some of my photos are nice, but I don’t pretend to be a pro. I also enjoy making photo books (sometimes called digital scrapbooks). It merges two of my loves—photography and book design—into one art form. I like selecting the photos, determining where to put them, what size to make them, whether borders or shading enhances or detracts, adding color to the backgrounds, inserting text—all with an eye to telling a story.

I had attended county fairs in the past and always admired the beautiful handcrafted work created by participants, oohing and aahing over the particularly spectacular ones. This year I decided to become a participant.

OC Fair 2

This is an “establishing” shot of the OC Fair. I didn’t take it, but I admire the work.

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Cambridge Reunion

In late August 1967, Dawn and I set off from Ventura, California, in our two-toned 1962 Plymouth Valiant, pulling a U-Haul trailer containing all our earthly possessions. Our destination was Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was to enroll in Harvard Law School. We had been married slightly less than one year; I was 24 and Dawn was 20. Our emotions vacillated between anticipation, exhilaration and apprehension.

Dawn, our Valiant, and our U-Haul in front of a motel in Lodgepole, Nebraska,
where we spent a night on our trek east.

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Colorado Trip

I just realized it has been several months since I’ve posted anything to my personal blog. This will be a quick photo-essay of my recent trip to Colorado during the week of May 28. My purpose in going was to attend a conference in Boulder titled “Aurora Multimedia Workshop: DSLR Filmmaking for Photographers.” I had recently acquired a Nikon D800 with video capability and wanted to explore the possibilities for creating video projects.

After the conference was finished, I took a personal day and drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ll show more photos from that day later in this post, but this was one of my favorites, so I’ll feature it here.

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My Visit to Granada Hills

I recently drove from Orange County to Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley to visit my old high school. Our graduating class, which we named “Pristians,” is having its Fiftieth Anniversary Reunion next weekend on Catalina Island. I have been working on a reunion book and will MC the dinner event, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a little research and see firsthand what the school is like today. I was quite impressed by what I saw. Scattered throughout this post are photos I took during my visit.

I met with Granada Hills Charter High School Executive Director Brian Bauer and got an overview of the current state of the school.

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Our Christmas (2010)

We had a great Christmas this year — all of our family were with us and what more could we wish for? (Well, maybe world peace and a cure for cancer, but I’m talking realistic wishes here.) Here is a photojournalistic glimpse of our Christmas season.

Matt’s birthday is three days before Christmas and a group of us went to dinner and a movie. We saw “True Grit” – I give it a thumbs up, “B” grade. We also were able to have our grandchildren with us for part of the day while Matt and Amy were out on their own. We acquired a third Razor scooter to go with the two we already had, so now they all could ride simultaneously.

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Northern California Photographs

During our recent visit to Northern California we had a chance to take photographs at several picturesque places. Dawn’s brother, Brad, also an amateur photographer, took us to Twin Peaks for views over the City, to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park and to Baker Beach.

Above: Brad and I lining up our shots over the City.

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Visiting the Ostlers

Last weekend we drove to the Bay Area to visit with my sister, Wanda, and her husband, Mark Ostler, and Dawn’s brother Brad Parrett and his family. We’ve had a great time, so I decided to post some photos. I’ll break them down into three posts.

Right: Mark, Wanda, Dawn and me at our pre-movie meal.

Our five star hotel was Casa Ostler in Pleasanton. It was our first visit since Mark and Wanda moved from Fremont and we were impressed with the beauty and comfort of their home. Wanda had warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for us and fed us well–lasagna the first night and filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms the second. The third night we went out to dinner (a nice restaurant called Baci Cafe in downtown Pleasanton) and then to the movie “Unstoppable” (with Denzel Washington). Mark and I thought the movie was fun; Wanda and Dawn were (to put it mildly) much less favorably disposed toward it.
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My First Photography Conference – Part 2

When I was nineteen I journeyed to Norway to serve a two-and-a-half-year Mormon mission. After arriving, one of my earliest purchases was an SLR camera. You could buy them cheaper in Europe than in America in those days. I immediately set about learning what I could about the art of photography. I studied the instruction manual and tried to learn what I could from trial and error.

Left: Near Bergen, Norway, Fall 1964. Van Johnson, Me, David Sandvik

I remember having been taught the basics by my father when I was a teenager—he always took photographs of the family at home and on vacation. In those days it was important to know what settings to use in what sort of light—none of the cameras were programmed. Before SLRs, you even had to estimate the distance from camera to subject in order to get the proper focus. And, of course, film and processing was expensive for someone on a razor-thin budget. It wasn’t as easy then as it is now to take good pictures. Continue reading