Musings on Photography


Posted in local color, Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on May 6, 2009


Well, I’ve returned from my long trip. There were some house issues to sort out – the boiler had died, and it took several days to get that sorted out. We once again have heat and hot water. You forget how nice such things are, right up until you don’t have them anymore. Then the lack drives you wacky.

It took my brain a while to catch up, too. Not much time shift this time, but it took us about 20 hours of being on the move before we were back home. Whew. As someone observed, the unpleasant part of travel is the travel part. Special hint for Avianca – it was not entertaining to watch your in-flight entertainment system reboot continuously for the entire flight. The first few reboots were amusing. After that, it just annoys.

Anyway, we have returned, and are back in the thick of things, since all the ‘out and about’ stuff which we would normally have done during April has been pushed back into the first couple of weeks of May, and there were already May things to do. As a result, I’ve decided this time to exercise the ‘fuzzy month’ and start my SoFoBoMo effort closer to the end of May than the start. This is convenient, since I am still clueless about what sort of project I want to tackle. I’m guessing I’ll unlimber the cameras, start making photos, and follow my nose.

I see there are (as I write this, but not much longer) 634 people signed up for SoFoBoMo. That’s a lot of people, and this is especially driven home when you look at that map with all the orange flags on it. Wow. And the registrations, of course, just keep pouring in. The upshot, here, is that in a few days, we’ll have something like 4 times as many registrants this year as we had last year. This makes the 3x increase I joked about in my April Fool’s day post look a bit tame. I hope the world is braced for what comes in the future.

I’m having a blast reading the blog feed. If you’re blogging, I’ll point out that this is a prime way to get a lot of eyes on your blog, some of which might actually stick as readers beyond the end of SoFoBoMo. If you are not reading that blog feed, you are missing some pretty inspirational stuff.

And on that note, I’ll point out that the PDF hosting/upload stuff has been turned on at So if you’re one of those people who has already finished a book, why, you can now upload it to the website, where it will be hosted for eternity. Or something. For a long time, anyway, long enough for lots of people to view your work. Go to it!

More later, when I remember all that stuff I wanted to write about over the past month.

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Posted in local color by Paul Butzi on January 8, 2009


Well, it’s warmed up. It’s no longer snowing. In fact, pretty much all of the snow that fell has now melted. Sure, we have the occasional stray pile of snow that hasn’t melted, but nearly all of the snow has turned back into good old liquid h2o.

And, of course, it’s now raining. It’s raining a lot. And all that rain is running into the streams, along with all that water from the melted snow. All this water in the streams has had a pretty dramatic effect. The little seasonal stream that runs past our home is no longer a little burbling stream. It’s now a Raging Torrent(tm). I step out the mudroom door, and it sounds I’m standing on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara. But louder.

And down in the valley, the rivers are already over the banks. Most roads into and out of the valley are under water – the predictions show the peak being the highest flood level since 1990. When we had flooding like this in 2006, Carnation and Duvall were entirely cut off, and I expect that will happen again this time.

I’m expecting the floodwaters will peak tomorrow, and by Saturday, we’ll be able to get out again. Again, we just took a delivery of propane, so even if the power goes out, we’re good. We’re about 500 feet above the valley floor, so we’re not at risk from the flooding, although it can be mightily inconvenient.

Unusually heavy snow. Unusually extreme flooding. Sheesh.

Update: noon, Thursday

From our house, we can drive into Carnation, but all the roads out of Carnation are closed. Floodwaters higher than 2006 by at least a foot. A lot more houses in town are flooded. Everyone is fine, but this is a heck of a mess.

sic transit 2008

Posted in local color by Paul Butzi on December 31, 2008


Well, we just got dug out. Main road plowed. Our driveway plowed. We enjoyed Monday and Tuesday, both with unfettered and easy access to the outside world. We still had big piles of snow, where it slid off the roof or piled up for other reasons. But we were ok.

About two hours ago, it started snowing again. It’s not snowing in the valley, just here at our house. I feel like Joe Btfsplk.

Oh, well. I’ve tried to identify some stuff I can work on without going out with the camera and without leaving home. And I’ll wander around with the camera when I get the chance, even if it means going out in the icky snow.

And Greg went out to start up the Prius and of course, found that some rodent had taken up residence in the trunk. Nasty, nasty.

What a way to ring out the old year. Fooey.

Donner Party no longer

Posted in local color by Paul Butzi on December 29, 2008


After having our driveway and road impassable all weekend, we finally got our driveway plowed out, and the road has been plowed as well. We haven’t tried it yet, but it’s likely we can now get down to town (to get mail) and the UPS guy can come up to us (to deliver the huge backlog of packages).

And, of course, the above photo is from quite a while back. There’s no snow on that roof today. But it’s raining like crazy. Going out with the camera will have to wait.

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Posted in local color, Photo Garden, whimsy by Paul Butzi on December 24, 2008




5D-081224-6930.jpg 5D-081224-6922.jpg

We’re buttoned up snug and warm. It’s snowing like mad, so although the forecast is for rain, I’m thinking we’re just getting more snow. I’ll head out in about six hours, to try to rendezvous with the UPS man and collect the metric boatload of packages he has that are destined for us. I’ve been driving the car down the driveway and back every once in a while, just to keep the snow from getting so deep the driveway becomes impassable (there’s no way we’re going to shovel 1000 feet of driveway!) At the rate it’s snowing the main road might be quite the challenge. The rendezvous point is about 2.5 miles away. Hmm. I wish I had a dogsled.

The snow has been mixing things up photographically. The familiar backdrop of the forest has been replaced with this white/gray field. A lot of the stuff I’ve been photographing has been buried under the snow. My photo garden has been transformed!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

The odyssey

Posted in local color by Paul Butzi on December 23, 2008


For those of you who were on tenterhooks, wondering if Greg would get home in time for Christmas, I’m happy to report that yesterday morning he got on a plane in Rochester, NY, and that plane carried him to Washington, DC. From there, he got on a plane that took him to Philadelphia, PA. He sat in the airport in Philadelphia for six hours, then got on a plane that took him to Las Vegas, Nevada. In Las Vegas, he never even got off the plane, and about 40 minutes after landing it took off again, and flew to Seattle.

He left his dorm room at 4am. We got home from the airport at half past midnight. Given the three hour time zone shift, he’d been on the go for 23 and a half hours. By modern standards, taking 23.5 hours and four plane flights to get from Rochester to Carnation makes it a the sort of journey where you expect to hear about Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, Polyphemus, etc. By the standards of not very long ago, it’s breathtakingly swift.

So much of our experience is a matter of perspective and expectation.

I was very much afraid I wasn’t going to get what I really wanted for Christmas. But Em and Greg are here. I’ve got everything I want, and we have yet to open any presents. Dr. Suess was right. Christmas doesn’t come from a store.

Much snow still on the ground, here. But last night the snow was menacing and intimidating and making me worry about getting to and from the airport. This morning, it looks like a lot of photographic activity. There’s that perspective and expectation thing again. I suppose there’s a lesson for me in there, somewhere.

Still Here

Posted in local color, whimsy by Paul Butzi on December 21, 2008


Nothing photographic to report. We’re still here, safe and snug. Power went out last night at about 1am, I got up and reported the outage to the power company, and then went back to bed – the generator auto-started (yay!) and so we all slept warm and snug. The power came back on at some point, I’m not sure when. It looks like we’ve got about five inches more snow on top of what we had left over from before.

We never got the high winds, thank goodness. As soon as I finish this here cuppa, I’ll venture outside (accompanied by the Trusty Canine Companion) and see what the road is like. Must go out today, I think, unless Greg’s flight is canceled.

More news later.


Greg arrived at the airport to find that United had no record of the reservation Expedia assured us they’d made. We’ve spent countless hours on the phone trying to get Greg onto a homeward bound plane.

If you work for Expedia, and you’re wondering why you’ve suddenly broken out over every square inch of your body into painful boils that erupt even more incredibly painful suppurating sores, the answer to your question is that my prayers are being answered.

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Posted in local color by Paul Butzi on December 19, 2008


Well, we’re bracing, here. We’ve gotten some snow. Roads are a mess. Emily and I went out today, and it took forever to get anywhere.

The weather forecasters are now telling us to expect: temperatures below 20F (unusually cold for us), more snow, and winds gusting up to 90mph. If we really get winds like that, I’m expecting it will take our internet connectivity out, and we’ll surely be without power. Based on past experience, in an extended power failure (longer than 24 hours) our phone service will go out. I’m more hopeful about cell service – I have backup internet connectivity using an EVDO modem, and we have cell phones, of course. But one never knows, really.

In that high winds/more snow scenario I expect to spend several days afterward pushing a chainsaw, cutting our way out to the main road and clearing the main road to town. Just a few days ago, I fluffed and buffed both saws, put nice new, sharp chains on both, and installed a new pull cord on the small saw. Both are full of gas, full of chain oil, and ready to go. Sigh.

And the generator was repaired just a couple of weeks ago, and has been happily doing its weekly calisthenics without complaint. It should be ready to go. We got tanked up on propane just this past weekend, so we should be ok there.

We’re even stocked up on food, and we don’t really need to peek our noses out until Sunday afternoon, late, when we need to go pick up Greg at the airport. He was supposed to fly home today but his flight was cancelled, and Sunday is the earliest we could get. Grrr.

Hopefully, all this preparation will turn out to have been unnecessary. But if this blog is quiet for a few days, you’ll know why.

Multiple Fronts

Posted in Blogroll, books, landscape, local color by Paul Butzi on January 16, 2008

Things have been a little slower in terms of posting because things have been a little more active on other fronts.

For example, in the ‘interesting things that have arrived’ front:

  • A short stack of different books on book design, which puts me even farther behind on reading (I got distracted by Extraordinary People, a murder mystery by Peter May). Comments on these books in a few days.
  • The L plate for the Powershot G9 finally arrived from Really Right Stuff, so it is now easier for me to do some serious image quality comparisons between the G9 and the EOS-5d. Hopefully progress on that soon.

Last night, I walked outside to get something from the studio and the night was very clear, with a more or less half moon illuminating the snow covered scenery. I was suddenly overwhelmed by that deja vu feeling that I’d seen this scene on Joe Reifer’s website, so I got out the camera, fiddled around for half an hour, and made one ten minute exposure. The clouds moved in and spoiled my nice star trails and I should have turned out the lights on the house, but the result was pretty interesting, and now I think I’m going to have to spend a little time fiddling around with this. It’s interesting in that way that indicates that perhaps I’ll spend more than a little time, actually. I will have to start paying attention to which places have those dratted ‘closes at dusk’ signs, I guess. This naturally provoked a sudden desire to buy some equipment.

On the subject of my musings on the photos not to take, I found this post on Mike Johnston’s TOP to be one of the best things I’ve read there. I’m not saying that Mike is right because he seems to agree that some photos are better not taken, or even that I agree with everything Mike has written. But I do appreciate the fact that people are thinking about it and that it’s being addressed by folks in places where the issue gets exposure.

My little community, a town of under two thousand souls, was recent stricken by a multiple homicide – six members of a family all murdered on Christmas eve. The event itself was enough to have the community reeling. Added to shock of the event was the impact of having all sort of reporters, camera crews, and photographers overrun the town. I stayed out of town for a week. It gave me increased sympathy for the plight of all those folks who lived near Nickel Mines, PA.

Other plans/Z3100 news

Posted in hp z3100, local color by Paul Butzi on December 4, 2007

Well, I had stuff planned for the early part of this week. Instead of doing those things, I had weather. We’re fine here, with no problems other than a plugged culvert that caused water to flow across our driveway and threatened to wash it out. That’s all under control, now. Not fixed, but under control. Amazing what can be accomplished with plastic tarps, eh?

But roads are closed all over, which might make it interesting to go into Seattle in a few hours. At least this isn’t like last November, where the entire world was cut off from the center of civilization (aka Carnation, WA). This time, it was other places that really got hammered, although when driving home last night I several times had to drive through standing water 4-6 inches deep.

The good news is that the printheads for the Z3100 arrived, I put them in, and the printer seems to be fine now. It chugged along nicely yesterday when I was helping a friend out by making some prints for him. The nice prints did a lot to take the bad taste of my horrid support experience out of my mouth.