Jul 25

Eagle Creek with Andrew and Patrick, 12-13JULY2012
This was Patrick’s first backpack trip. I figured that at 7 years of age, he was worthy of a good hike. So, with Andrew’s help, off we went to the Columbia River Gorge and the start of the Eagle Creek trip. The trail goes up 7.5 miles before diverting into several other trails. I wasn’t sure how far Patrick would be able to go, and so picked a trail that would allow for many possibilities to stop early to 7.5 miles. We made it up to 4.5 miles. Patrick carried a pack, including his sleeping bag and pad, and clothes, so he had proportionally slightly more weight per size that either Andrew or I. That afternoon, we walked another 1.5 miles up to Tunnel Falls, and then turned back. The evening was spent in the tent without a fly, and the weather was absolutely perfect. We decided to hike back the next day, aborting a day early, but spending time at the Punchbowl.

Patrick with Andrew, fresh and ready to start


The trail was created out of dynamite for about 1/3 of the distance. The dynamite used was of the native Indian variety, and not the synthetic stuff used by modern man to destroy nature.


Patrick still fresh


The Three Musketeers


Arrival at camp, 4.5 miles later


Tunnel Falls


Eager to go home


The Punchbowl in HDR


 
After we returned to the car, we drove along the old Columbia River highway to Crown Point and then back to Gresham. We are a few sights.

Crown Point


 

View of Columbia River Gorge from Crown Point/Vista House in HDR

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Jul 25


WestSide Road Mountain Bike adventure 10JUL2012
There is a road along the west side of Mt. Rainier within the National Park itself that has been closed to automobile traffic for many years now, because of road washouts. Actually, the washout is limited to the area across a stream as seen below. This is the first obstacle to the mountain bike adventure, as the road is limited to bicycles and hikers.

The road follows a stream up to a distance, and goes over two major ridges, so that there is much climbing to be done. The final length is a little over 14 km. Along the way are multiple trails that take off to viewpoints, but open only to hikers. It would be wonderful to be able to do a combined bike and hike trip.


Me at the Gobbler’s Knob Trail takeoff

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Jul 25


Adobe Illustrator CS6 Classroom in a Book ★
There are no authors given to this book, as it is presented as the Adobe official training workbook from Adobe Systems. Many of the Classroom in a book series are reasonably decent at giving the new user a first glimpse at the use and capabilities of whatever Adobe program is being presented. This book, in contrast, is very poor, though the scarcity of stars is not entirely the fault of the book, since Adobe Illustrator itself is a terribly buggy program that needs more work. For instance, smart guides would only intermittently work for me, with no explanation from the Adobe website as to the nature of the problem, and many others have complained on the website of this bug. This book starts with chapter 0 offering a quick tour of the capabilities of Illustrator. It was the most confusing chapter I’ve ever read, and the suggested one hour to get through the chapter took about 4-5 hours. Most of the chapters would take at least double the suggested needed time. I suppose they timed somebody entirely familiar with the program. Throughout the book, very precise details are offered, though they never build on previous chapters for shortcuts or easy ways to accomplish a task. Many times throughout the book, an important detail was omitted, or perhaps a detail was accidentally skipped 20 steps prior, and no means of correction were possible, save for starting over. The book persuaded me of the horrid inadequacies of the Illustrator program. I remember with sadness how easy it was to use Corel Draw, which is unfortunately no longer available for Mac users. My only hope at this point is to try another Illustrator instruction book, and see if it can make better sense of this crazy program.

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Jul 18


Malachi – A Prophet in Times of Despair, by Baruch Maoz ★★★★
I had reviewed another book by Maoz about the book of Jonah, and it was excellent. This book is quite similar. Baruch Maoz offers a distinctly Jewish perspective to his discussions of the text, often of which are quite informative. Maoz covers the basic themes of Malachi, as to how the Jews possess a religiosity, but they have lost their heart for loving God. Malachi offers prudent advice on returning to God, and the promises God gives for faithfulness to Him.  Maoz has a very Reformed form of theology,and this colors his thinking all the way through the book. The essential theme is that the OT is quite relevant for today. It is not made of lesser stuff than the NT. His final statement brings the entire book of Malachi together,
“As I hope you will see, the New Testament teaches the same principles as does the Old. It is not difficult to preach the Gospel front he Old Testament without resorting to spiritualization or any of the interpretational manipulations that are so common in modern Christian pulpits. If we will but allow the Old Testament to speak for itself, it will inexorably lead to the Gospel of Jesus, the Messiah”.
I couldn’t say it better.

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Jul 15


Guns 101 by David Steier ★★★★
Now that Obama has threatened to take guns away from us, it became time to purchase a few weapons. This book does a wonderful job of addressing multiple issues of gun ownership. Why buy a gun? (Not necessarily to kill people or animals!) What type of gun or guns should one purchase? What is the meaning to all of the sizes of ammo out there? How does one care for a gun, and obtain the necessary skills to use a gun? All of these questions are answered in very simple terms and heavily illustrated in this book. For the person purchasing their first guns, this is a great book to read before one lays down bucks on the counter. The only reservation that I have with the book is the author’s love for .357/.38 size ammo, and his preoccupation with competition shooting, most notably Cowboy Action Shooting.

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Jul 15


Photographic Multishot Techniques, by Juergen Gulbins and Rainier Gulbins ★★★
This book goes through a long list of types of photography that would utilize merged (but not composited) photographs to improve on the original photograph. Such examples include HDR photography, panoramic stitching, extension of the depth of field, and improvement of the resolution of the image. Each of these techniques are discussed in the context of various programs that are best at performing the function described. Thus, unless one had and were to use, for example, PhotoAcute for focus stacking to improve the depth of field of the photo, the book would not be as meaningful. I enjoyed the book all the same, since the Gulbins spent much time discussing the techniques for best obtaining various photographs. As examples, they discussed the use of the focusing rail for extended depth of field, and the techniques and equipment for rotating a camera for panorama shots. Always, they also emphasized the proper camera settings to best snap the shots. I enjoyed the book, and the photographic examples were superb. It also will probably guide me into downloading some of the stand-alone programs mentioned in the book. None of the stand-alone programs are cheap, and Photoshop has improved its act with subroutines for image merging and processing. Thus, I’ll drag my feet, and sort out how well Photoshop CS6 can serve me before rushing off and purchasing other programs. But, I’ve already started to use this book’s advice on photographic technique for HDR and panorama photography.

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Jul 15


Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography, by Ferrell McCullough ★★★★
Ferrel McCullough is one of the early masters of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, and his mastery of the subject is well displayed in this text. The text is short and easy to read, as well as heavy illustrated. McCullough discusses the art of identifying a scene worth recording for HDR, the equipment and technique necessary to obtain the set of shots that provide the base for the merged photo, and then the techniques for obtaining the finished product. The book was written in 2008, when the highest update on Photoshop was CS3, which has quite mediocre HDR subroutines, and so was not discussed much. Adobe has improved since then. The two main HDR programs discussed were PhotoMatrix and FdrTools, and he noted that he tended to use both of them, since they both provide different outcomes to the photo. McCullough includes at the end of each chapter an array of photographs from other photographers, which was a nice touch. This is a good book for the photographer starting in HDR.

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Jul 15


Digital Photographer’s Handbook, 4th Edition, by Tom Ang ★★★★
This is a delightful compendium of “how-to” in photography, and the advice is quite sound. Ang discusses equipment that one should use, photographic technique, as well as some photoshop and post-camera methods for improving the shot. The book is filled with many examples of photographic technique, some of the examples of which are rather normal photographs – something that would be found on a personal webpage and not in an art gallery. This gives the book  a more practical touch for the average photographer. There were many of his photos that I simply didn’t like. The beauty of the book is that there are so many examples of his work that one would appreciate the bulk of most of the photography in the book. The book was written in 2008 and thus is a little bit dated, for example, discussions on problems of dynamic range and the use of HDR techniques. There is a 5th edition book just out, which I’m sure brings the reader up to date. In all, this is a nice book of technique and ideas for the intermediate amateur photographer.

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Jul 05

The entire population of Lester with the booming town just behind us


My grandfather emigrated from Wittenberg, Germany to Lester, Iowa in the late 1800’s. Several years ago, I learned about a town in the state of Washington named Lester. Thus, my dream to visit the town of Lester. There were several problems with this town. First, it is now a ghost town. Secondly, access to the town is now severely restricted. The only possibility of visiting Lester was going to be via Stampede Pass on a gravel road. All other roads had been closed, since it is close to the water supply to Tacoma. Thus, we decided to go to Lester on mountain bikes.
 

Pete and Russ on the road to Lester, with Mt. Rainier in the background


Russ and me on the road to Lester. Still Mt. Rainier in the hintergrund


Once we were 1.5 miles from Lester, we encountered a gate across the road, absolutely forbidding bicycles from trespassing the gate, and that visits could only occur on foot. Thus, we started walking for the last mile and a half. We were not about to give up on our quest for Lester.

Riff raff on the main street, entering Lester


The town of Lester with the entire temporary population of 3


At one time, Lester used to have a population of over 250. It is now one of the few ghost towns in the state, compliments of the city of Tacoma. At one time, there was a post office, general store, public school, lumber mill, dairy, railway yard, and hotel in the town. Now, there is just us. No buildings remain. One can read about the town on wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester,_Washington ) and the cause of the demise of the town here… ( http://home.netcom.com/~whstlpnk/stampedemp.html) (scroll down a ways).
 

The main road leading into Lester from Stampede Pass on the right.
The city airport is on the left.


Two of the Lester population leaving town, but reminiscing on precious memories had while in Lester.


Unique wildflowers, only found in the Lester vicinity


The ride back up to Stampede Pass was about a 2000 ft elevation gain. The Garmin record can be found here… file://localhost/Users/feucht/Downloads/activity_196151711.kml
I can’t say that I’ll ever return to Lester (Washington), but it was great while it lasted. In a month, I’ll be in Lester, Iowa. Hopefully, Alex will stop the truck in Lester, so that I can get some photos of that town. Hopefully, the other Lester is not yet a ghost town.

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