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A day at the fair Monday, August 27, 2007

People of all ages line up to enter the Oregon State Fair Aug. 26 in Salem. The 142nd annual fair celebrates the "Wonders of Oregon."

Sunday I visited the Oregon State Fair in Salem. I've never been to a state fair before, but it was pretty much what I expected—the standard midway, a big barn full of prize-winning (and -losing) pork chops farm animals, a large selection of carnival "food" and, of course, a talent contest. I didn't see the state's largest zucchini, Auntie May's blue ribbon peach pie, or Sue-Ann's championship penmanship sample, but I think they were there somewhere.

The 2007 fair runs through Sept. 3 at the State Fairgrounds in Salem.

Contestants in the Adult Statewide Talent Contest perform "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" as the Andrews Sisters.

Mary Swearingen, 2007 Marion County Dairy Princess/Ambassador, tells fair goers about the milking process. The Holsteins, she says, produce about 100 glasses of milk in each of their two to three daily milkings. Each cow drinks about 50 gallons of water a day.

Several of the sheep in the barn appeared to be ready for a KKK rally.

In reality, they were vying for trophies like these (left). The clothes keep the sheep clean as they await their turn in the ring (below).

The stock barn can be a noisy place (below), but that
didn't seem to bother some (below right).

(left) Overcooked mystery vegetables, undercooked rice, greasy chicken ... just right. A $13 fair meal.

OK, so crappy food is part of the fair experience—hot dogs,
over-fried fries, cotton candy, caramel corn. But Subway? That's not fair fare!

(left) The "fairlift" carries passengers right across the fairgrounds from the midway to the picnic grove: $4 for a one-way ticket, $5 round trip. (below) The midway includes all of the standard rides from the tilt-a-whirl to the zipper and, of course, a Ferris wheel. The best part, at least last Sunday—no lineups.

Portland Adult Soapbox Derby Saturday, August 25, 2007

The crowd cheers as the finalists cross the finish line in the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby Aug. 25 at Mt. Tabor Park. Team MICE/El Raton (no. 23) beat Lompizer (no. 19) and Landshark V to take the speed title.

Visitors to Portland might spot a black bumper sticker or t-shirt that reads "Keep Portland Weird!" in funky yellow letters. If they hang around town, it doesn't take long for them to realize just how weird it is. And if they stick around just a little longer, they might figure out why the locals like it that way.

The slogan is part of a campaign to support locally-owned businesses, but it could just as easily apply to a number of events held here every year. Such as the Adult Soapbox Derby.

Every year since at least 2001, a couple of dozen teams have entered cars in a soapbox derby on Mt. Tabor in SE Portland.
They have names like Dust Bunnies ("Honk if you're hairy") and Spirit of Zard ("Exterminate all Brutals in sector R"). Half of the cars are built for speed, the other half are more competitive in the "Best Art Car," "Best Costumes" and "Lame Duck" categories.

Hundreds of spectators gathered along the course enjoying the action, sunshine and, in many cases, adult beverages.

(left) Spectators ranged in age from toddlers to octogenarians, but most were in their 20s or 30s. (below) The Left Behind team had a Noah's Ark theme. Teammates not on the ark dressed as unicorns.

(left) Landshark V beats MiPL Your Ride (no. 38) by inches in a semifinal heat. Just after crossing the line, Landshark veered into the black car. (bottom) Drivers of Landshark V check on Tiffany Thompson after their accident. The car was severely damaged, but she suffered only minor injuries.

Hood-to-Coast Relay

A runner from team 803 heads down the Springwater Trail Aug. 24 near SW 7th St. in Gresham on leg 10 of the 2007 Hood-to-Coast Relay. Thousands of runners from across the country descend on northwestern Oregon every August to make the 197-mile trek from Government Camp to Seaside.

Every year, teams of 12 runners converge on Government Camp, Ore., for the start of the Hood-to-Coast Relay Race.

To give you some idea of the popularity of the event, organizers started accepting entries for this year's race on Oct. 17, 2006. They stopped when they reached their 1000-team limit on ... Oct. 17, 2006.

That doesn't count the 400 teams entered in the Portland-to-Coast walk, nor the 50 High School Challenge teams entered in the event. Add to that the volunteer race officials and other support teams and you're looking at a very large event.

The running teams leave Government Camp in waves of 20 starting at 8 o'clock Friday morning. It takes 12 hours to get all of them off the start line. They reach the finish line in Seaside sometime on Saturday for what is described as "the biggest beach party on the west coast."

The logistics of the race can be challenging, especially for out-of-town teams. Race official Peter Lowry (right) tries to help a member of a team from Italy contact his team after the runner arrived at checkpoint 9 and his team wasn't there. The confusion cost the team more than six minutes.

Look for more coverage of the race in today's edition of The Outlook.

Corporate golf tournament Thursday, August 23, 2007

A golfer tees off Aug. 21 on the 18th hole at the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club's South course in Aloha, Ore.

I spent the better part of Tuesday and Wednesday this week shooting this corporate event and
the next evening's charity auction.

It was fun, but a bit trickier than I expected. What the company is looking for is shots of players interacting, laughing with each other, etc. And that does happen, but it's very unpredictable.

The only time you know exactly where the players will be is the tee. And this (see first picture) is where my contact suggested I start shooting. She was right that the view down the 18th fairway to the clubhouse is a fantastic backdrop, and the light was pointing in the right direction. However, the action is all facing away from you. So after taking a few shots there, I thought I'd try to find a tee that had a similar view but with the golfers headed away from the clubhouse.

At the Reserve, that view is probably there from the 10th tee. However, by th
e time I got there, the last of the golfers I needed to shoot had just left.

So I went to the 18th green. On the green, of course, you can get a lot closer to the golfers, but they could be coming at the hole from any direction. Usually, it seems, a foursome will be spread out around the four points of the compass. And as they get ready for their shot, they'll joke and laugh with each other—from where their ball lies. Tough to make the kind of picture I was looking for.

And fairway shots... the golfers are even farther apart. So I made some big, wide-angle shots on the green, and a few fairway shots when the golfers were in range. But mostly I concentrated on tight shots on the green, like I might for a normal golf tournament, waiting for the reaction of the golfer when they make (or don't make) the shot. And once in a while you get lucky, when two golfers put their balls close together on the green, and joke with each other while the others make their shots.

Katie (or perhaps Katy) was selling mulligans around the course on behalf of the company organizing the event. She was kind/unfortunate enough to be on hand for an exposure check.

Superman on a bike Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Matt Jordan is the three-time defending champion of the Tour of Anchorage. The native of Damascus, Ore., has been one of the top cyclists in the Arctic Bicycle Club since moving to Alaska two years ago. He balances his time with Team Kaladi-Subway with full-time studies at Alaska Pacific University, a night job, his wife and one-year-old daughter.

This (left) is one of the less interesting portraits I made of Matt Jordan in a quick shoot last week. You can see the more interesting image in my recently updated portfolio.

I thought I was shooting the assignment for the Sandy Post, but I see it appeared on the Outlook's website today (they're owned by the same company). Maybe they'll run it in both papers.

I didn't have a lot of time to prepare—I got the call on a Saturday afternoon; Matt was visiting his parents in Damascus, but heading back to Alaska on Tuesday morning. So I made arrangements to do the shoot on a Monday right after I visited the Street of Dreams, because the two locations are only a few miles apart.

When I met him at his parents' place he was already dressed in his kit. There was a little grassy area with a backdrop of pine trees just down the road, so that's where we went.

I'm really happy with the shot that ran in the paper. It's probably been done before, but I couldn't find an example online. But writing the title to this post, I wish I'd had the idea/time/budget to do it again, with Matt in a Superman costume. Imagine, the same kinds of pictures, different outfit,
a big fan off-camera blowing his cape ... that would have been a portrait!

And if you're wondering, Matt must be Superman—read Michael Cade's article and you'll understand what I mean.

Tools for Schools 2007 Monday, August 20, 2007

Wells Fargo employees pack school supplies into backpacks Aug. 20 in support of Schoolhouse Supplies' Tools for Schools program. The backpacks will be given to children at Whitman Elementary School in Portland.

Every year at this time, various corporations send teams of employees to Schoolhouse Supplies to load backpacks full of school supplies for children in the Portland area. The backpacks are distributed to kids at the poorest schools in Multnomah County.

This year will be the biggest year ever for the Tools for Schools program, with 21 schools receiving kits of pencils, paper, rulers and more.

The Wells Fargo employees were challenged to beat the packing times set by other participating corporations. The 21 employees on hand managed to fill about 450 packs in an average time of 3.1 seconds—tied with Umpqua Bank for the fastest so far. Another 8 groups will be filling bags later this week.

I donated my time to photograph the action this afternoon for Schoolhouse Supplies and Wells Fargo.
You're trying to make photos that show the excitement of filling the bags, but it's a really tough assignment.

First, the bags are filled in a dark warehouse, with a wide open delivery door letting in a whole lot of light at one end. Then, you have two
shoulder-to-shoulder lines of people facing each other across a 30" table loaded with pencils, erasers, and notepads. And most of the time, they're looking down at the stuff on the table. The walls in the background are all cluttered with stacks of boxes and/or noisy posters about Schoolhouse Supplies fund raising efforts. Even the ceiling is cluttered with beams and ventilation ducts and sprinklers. If you crop in tight enough to cut the clutter, you cut out the school supplies that provide the context for the photo.

The photo above is the only one that I'm really happy with, and even it could be better.

And then the people start moving as fast as they can, joking with each other, but usually not taking the time to make eye contact. The guy on the right is a full profile, and it would be nice to see a bit more of his face. And the background is pretty messy.

Schoolhouse Supplies and the bank both wanted me to get photos of their President and CEO participating, but he didn't arrive until they were filling the last bag. He got in the group photo (light shirt in upper right).

Volunteers from Wells Fargo will be distributing the backpacks to the kids at Whitman Elementary School on Sept. 7. I don't know if it will be the same people or not, but I'll be there to photograph it.

I shot the packing part of the Tools for Schools campaign last year (see previous post), but missed the distribution day.

Vintage Base Ball at Fort Vancouver Sunday, August 19, 2007

Andrew Fletcher makes a selection from the collection of vintage bats Aug. 18 during a re-enactment of a 1860s base ball game at Fort Vancouver. The fort hosts two games every year between the Occidental Base Ball Club, representing the townsmen of Vancouver, and the Shermans, representing a team of soldiers from the fort.

Friday night I heard about this re-enactment that was to take place Saturday, and so I decided to go shoot it. The weather was grey and increasingly rainy. The 100-plus "cranks" (fans) that were there at the beginning of the game dwindled to a couple of dozen at the end. But other than that, it was a lot of fun.

The two teams (made of members of the 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry re-enactment group) have played at the fort twice a year for about 5 years. Naturally, they play in period clothing and with 1860s rules.

The rules are mostly the same as today, with two major differences:

1. The umpire doesn't call any balls or strikes. The batter can take as many (underhand) pitches as he likes until he swings and misses three, or hits one. (Fouls don't count as strikes either.)

2. Balls caught on the fly are outs, like today, but so are balls caught on the first "bound." That's right: you can let it hit the ground once and then catch it, and it's still an out. But you don't get a baseball glove.

The ball looks something like a normal baseball, but it's quite squishy.

You can see more of my photos from the game on my page.

Gresham High School 50-year reunion Saturday, August 18, 2007

Marian Tillstrom Caldwell (left, Class of 1930) laughs with Lillian Adams (Class of 1942) and Chester Nelson (Class of 1937) Aug. 11 at the Gresham High School reunion in Portland.

Every year, a group of Gresham High School alumni gets together for a reunion. But this gathering isn't open to just anyone who walked the halls of Gresham's oldest secondary school. You don't have to have played for a sports team, graduated with honors, or been a member of the drama club to get an invitation to this event. You just have to have graduated at least 50 years ago.

You might think that such an exclusive reunion would be small, but it isn't. Nearly 500 people were on hand Aug. 11 as the group welcomed the class of 1957 at the Portland Airport Holiday Inn. Marian Tillstrom Caldwell represented the class of 1930, the oldest in attendance.

You can read more about the reunion and see additional photos in the current edition of The Outlook.

(left) Diane Stoglin, left, and Donna Gifford, both of the class of 1957, reminisce with pictures in an old yearbook. (below) The hundreds of GHS alumni in attendance were seated by graduating class.

Thursday night races at the Alpenrose Velodrome Friday, August 17, 2007

Cyclists fly around the track in the Thursday weekly races Aug. 16 at the Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland. The track, one of just 20 in the U.S., is unique because of its particularly steep corners—about 43 degrees, 10 degrees more than a typical track.

I've been meaning to head out to the Alpenrose Velodrome for a few weeks, but hadn't found the time until last night. In the summer, they have some kind of action there every night.

Thursday night is reserved for the weekly racing series. This week was a "long points race" night—participants race 40 or 50 laps around the 268-meter track, with points going to the leaders at the end of each lap and double points awarded every fifth lap.

They also raced a "Madison," which is a two-person relay race. Team mates switch in and out throughout the race, catching a slingshot start from their partner every time they trade.

(right) Bikes litter the lawn as cyclists warm up for the Thursday night racing series. (below) John Schmidt puts air in his tires before hopping on the track.

(right) Category 2 rider Peter Drake pulls hard around the first corner in the Madison race.

(left) John Schmidt, right, throws teammate Terry Keele back into the Madison race.

(right) A spectator gets an overhead view of the long points race. (below) A couple enjoys a picnic at the Velodrome while cyclists compete.

(right) Patrick Wilder, left, and Karl Choltus watch the category 1/2 long points race from the infield.

Faithful readers may recall that I went to the velodrome last summer. You can see the blog posting from that visit here. updated Thursday, August 16, 2007

Matthew Ginn PortfolioI finally got around to giving the web page an update. It was a bit overdue. Time permitting, I may change a couple of the images again in the next couple of days, but I had to get something new online.

Many of you have probably seen most of the images before, but feel free to scan through them again. I'm always open to feedback, especially if you find a typo in a caption.

Mt. Hood Jazz Festival Monday, August 13, 2007

Christian McBride (left) and Ron Blake cast a shadow in the spotlight Aug. 4 at the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival in Gresham.

I haven't posted much recently, so here is a big posting.

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to
photograph the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival in Gresham. The festival ran two days, but I was only there for the final evening. What I saw was pretty cool, though, and the weather was nice for the outdoor venue.

You can read more about the festival here.

I spotted the image at left while I was standing in the wings of the stage. It could have been super
-cool, but there was so much clutter on- and off-stage that things got in the way—mic stands, sound equipment, lighting equipment, etc. Oh well.

Here are some other images from the evening.

Christian McBride (right) cracks a smile as he plays with Geoffrey Keezer (left), Terreon Gully, and Ron Blake (not pictured) at the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival in Gresham.

Of the three bands I saw, I liked the Christian McBride Band the best. Christian himself was awesome, and I was particularly impressed by Geoffrey Keezer on keyboards.

(right) Paula West performs on the main stage Aug. 4 at the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.

Paula West was on stage when I arrived at the event. Ph
otographing singers is always difficult because when they're doing their thing they always have a big microphone in front of their face. This was the best angle I could find, but Paula still has a big pole going through her head.

(left) At 10 months old, Jackson Kultala of Gresham was one of the youngest in attendance at the Festival.

(And they say the festival is having trouble attracting a younger audience!)

(right) Dorado Schmitt wowed the audience with his brand of gypsy jazz. He appeared with the Django Reinhardt Festival All-Stars. (below) One of the band members, Ludovic Beier, plays the accordina. He also performed on accordion.

Before seeing Beier play, I had heard of an accordina, but never seen one in person. It's kind of a cross between a button-accordion and a harmonica. It was pretty cool.

(right) Renowned French violinist Pierre Blanchard plays with the Django Reinhardt Festival All-Stars.

The picture of Blanchard is probably my favorite image of the evening. I tried something similar with Ron Blake (saxophonist with the Christian McBride Band) but it didn't work as well.

Flying home Friday, August 10, 2007

Christian Hammer catches up on his reading Aug. 10 in the business lounge at the airport in Akron, Ohio.

After a short morning shoot, Christian and I are ready to head home. However, we didn't know what time we'd be finished today when we bought our plane tickets, so we booked a 5:40 p.m. departure. We got to the airport at 11:30.

We checked, but there weren't any seats available on any earlier flights to Portland, so we're stuck here for a while.

Fortunately they have a nice, quiet business lounge available. I was able to check my emails and download the morning's photos . I couldn't burn a backup copy of the pictures, though, because the DVDs are in my checked luggage.

I like flying from smaller airports. They usually have most of the amenities of the large airports, but the lineups are shorter, the walks are shorter, the staff are more flexible and personable, and there are fewer people waiting at the luggage carousel. The only problem is that they don't necessarily have flights going directly to your destination.

From Akron, we're flying to Charlotte, N.C., to get back to Portland. Oh well.

Thunderstorm Thursday, August 09, 2007

A severe rain storm reduces visibility in the Akron area Aug. 9, 2007. Tornado warnings were issued for several counties in the area. The storm downed several trees and cut power to numerous customers between Akron and Canton.

Two separate lines of severe weather stormed through northeastern Ohio Thursday afternoon and evening.

The first hit Canton around 1 p.m. bringing light
ning, wind and heavy rain for about half an hour.

Another, stronger storm moved through the area around 5 p.m. The National Weather Service iss
ued tornado warnings for several counties.

(left) Rain beats off the windshield of a minivan parked under the carport Aug. 9 at the Quality Inn in Akron. (above) Christian Hammer wades through a 3-inch deep stream in the parking lot of the Quality Inn.


Christian Hammer takes a picture of the waterfront Aug. 8 near the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland.

Christian and I made the 40-mile trip up to Cleveland after work yesterday. We had planned to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but decided that it was too expensive. So after browsing the gift shop, we wandered around downtown with, of course, camera in hand. Here are some of the results.

Downtown Cleveland was more impressive than I expected. Most of it is fairly modern, with a few older buildings thrown in for good measure. The Cleveland Mall (photos with statue at right) is a really nice, three-block park that has a great view of the waterfront.