Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Door to another world

doorway to another world - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens, all rights reserved
This amazing door adorns the home of friends. It's as old as it looks, imported from India to its new locale on the moist Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. The wood and old nails and hardware give it amazing personality, no?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Autumn from the Inside Out

Autumn from the Inside Out - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
Walking along a nature trail recently, I found myself looking out over a river through multicolored maple leaves. It's been a great year for fall color, with surprisingly little rain and no hard freezes yet, both of which tend to mute colors or strip the leaves from the trees. And that means good shooting for photographers! I love the layered look of this photo, as the eye follows the branch out toward the light and the multicolored leaves.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Where Blue Angels Get Their Wings

Where Blue Angels Get Their Wings - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens, all rights reservedWhen the weather turns wet and blustery, it's time to come indoors and play in the macro studio with what few flowers remain, and other fun objects. More macro studio shots coming soon...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Macro Family

Family - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
Test product shot for a local artisan (can you guess who?). Experimenting with depth of field using a macro diopter. I'm pretty happy with this for a quick experiment; I'll post more of these when we do the final shoot, along with a link to the artist's website. Consider this a sneak preview.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Red Waves, Blue Waves

Red Waves - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
Blue Waves - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
I've been seeing light recently, even as the sun wanes in the sky with the autumnal cycle. On separate occasions in the past week, I've found light reflecting off water in interesting ways, and only after posting these did I realize the similarity. Sunlight - water - bold colored wall. Colorful balm as the gray clouds set in for the start of our rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It' ain't easy bein' green

Pacific Chorus Frog - photo ©Scott Allan StevensThe Pacific Chorus Frog is the official amphibian of Washington State! This critter was found when picking blueberries. The scale of the blueberry leaf should give you a sense of his diminutive stature. Usually they are heard more often than seen, but I managed to track this one down for a brief photo sessions. A few more photos of this frog can be seen here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Moonrise - photo ©Scott Allan StevensTaken from my front porch. Sometimes a great scene just comes and finds you where you're at.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Heart of Dog - photo ©Scott Allan StevensYou've undoubtedly seen the speeded-up TV ads in which people paint with light, creating all manner of objects and movements. The same thing can be done with still photography -- all it takes is a dark location (a closet, or a location away from city lights), a long exposure, and some creativity. This is a 15-second exposure done indoors, with creative canine stylings by L. Hardison. I'm looking forward to doing some outdoor light painting as well, 'cause it's just so much fun.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Magic Watercolors

Magic Watercolors - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
One of my favorite spots to catch great water reflections is at the very southern tip of Puget Sound -- the place where Budd Inlet meets the Deschutes River (well, the outflow from Capitol Lake). Depending on the weather, the time, the seasons, a whole variety watery effects can emerge. This is an afternoon reflection I caught while lots of other people were milling around the same area watching the migrating salmon take their last breaths of saltwater before heading upstream to spawn.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A 3-hour tour?

SS Catala - photo ©Scott Allan StevensNo, it's not the wreck of the SS Minnow. This is a 1970 photo of the SS Catala, an equally ill-fated ship that, after a long life as a steamship, served as a floating hotel in Seattle, a floating restaurant in California, and finally again a floating hotel ("boatel") near Ocean Shores, Washington. This was her last port of call, as a freak 1965 storm grounded her and the ship's carcass was largely swallowed up by the sands. Recently some of her metal has been emerging from the sand along with -- less romantically -- some reamining oil. Scan from a recently rediscovered slide, retouched in Photoshop.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Classic Lines

Classic speedboat lines - photo ©Scott Allan StevensWalking along the Portland, OR, waterfront recently I ran across a classic boat show. Beautifully restored speedboats and cruisers lined the docks, looking like they'd just been launched yesterday with their gleaming chrome and perfect woodwork. Pinstripes like those in this picture seemed to be a common design element of the period, and I had fun shooting this picture and others including this. Groovy, no?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A tiny beach mystery

ladybug on beach - photo ©Scott Allan StevensIt was a cloudy day on the Washington coast, the breeze blowing the sound of the waves up the wide expanse of beach. Past the part of the beach that you can drive cars on(!) it was relatively quiet between the surf and the red cliffs. Lost in conversation or my own thoughts, I never would have noticed this unusual scene if my companion hadn't pointed it out. A single ladybug (ladybird, if you wish), was slowly walking along the sand. If you look closely, you can even see the trail it's leaving behind it. What brought it there? Was it in love with a sea turtle? Did it need a break from the rat-race of chasing aphids in the garden? It didn't say.

Monday, August 4, 2008

reluctance vs. determination

Reluctance vs. Determination - photo ©Scott Allan StevensA little experiment with Photoshop focus blurring. I went to the county fair over the weekend, a place awash with kids and critters and great for photographers. Some of my favorites are the photos I took (and which I'll post soon) of the bird show put on by a raptor rescue and rehabilitation center. The llamas were also great, awash in sunlight and, in this case, being coaxed onto a stand by a young handler. The background of the shot was busy and distracting, however, so I did some experimentation with layers and focus/blurring to come up with this dreamy image.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seasonally ambiguous

Mist Lift - photo ©Scott Allan StevensSki lifts? Thick fog? Could this dark atmosphere really be what July looks like? It was, on a recent hike in the Cascade Mountains. The mystery of season seems enhanced by the lonely chairlift, creating an otherworldly season that's not winter, but not really summer either.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Carnival Love

man and tiger - photo ©Scott Allan StevensI'm not much for the cotton candy and garlic fries, but I love the people watching that carnivals, fairs, and festivals provide. Got down to Olympia's annual Lakefair last night, and had a great time. So did this guy, apparently.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

iPhone, here I come...

iPhone with Portland Oregon photos - ©Scott Allan Stevens
I love technology, but I'm not an early adapter. And while I love Apple stuff, I have neither an iPod nor an iPhone. Yeah, I'm a walking, photo-taking contradiction. But those of you who do have an iPhone or an iPod Touch may find some of my photos showing up in your pocket. Not only are some of my photos being used by the Washington State Tourism folks, others have recently been added to Schmap Portland Guide -- tailored for iThings as well as ordinary old computers. Among them are the two images above -- one of the Sassparilla Jug Band performing at the Portland (Oregon) Farmers Market, one of the Portland Cello Project performing at at Portland's Mission Theater. Click on the image for more of my pics from Portland.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Nights

Summer Nights - Olympia Marina - photo ©Scott Allan StevensTook a stroll about an hour after sunset along Olympia's Percival Landing, and the calm waters and waning light over the Olympics were simply enticing. A reminder that the night is a great time for photography.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On the march...

potatobug sowbug invations - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
A macro shot of the residents in my wormbin. Interesting photographs are where you find them!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Lakefair fireworks over Capitol Lake and the state capitol dome, July 2007.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A gift...

just one drop - photo ©Scott Allan StevensAs if the early morning light wasn't gift enough, just as I was framing up this picture, some tiny insect made a tiny splash on the mirror-perfect surface of the lake, and I caught the concentric circles. All that, and there's no wrapping paper to throw away...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Runes? Hieroglyphs? The shadows cast by an ancient tree aligned with the summer solstice? Naw... just some fascinating early-morning shadows on the steps of the magnificent state capitol building in Olympia, Washington.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Iron Constellation

During the recent Fremont Fair in Seattle, pedestrians had the rare chance to take over the Fremont bridge, a wonderful piece of ironwork with great photographic interest. The Fremont Bridge was opened on Friday June 15, 1917 at a cost of $410,000. The first of four city bascules to cross the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Fremont Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is also a designated city landmark.

One of my favorite comments about this photo is: "Like an iron map of constellations, with two flying saucers."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sometimes the world strikes a pose

crow pointing - photo ©Scott Allan StevensI was walking along looking at the sunrise and other things this morning, when I saw these three crows. When one of them stuck out a wing, I knew I had an interesting photo! Seems like he's giving directions to the others. "Really, I saw a gigantic juicy roadkill right over there! With a spilled container of french fries right next to it!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is a photo of a piece of art a piece of art?

I've been retained to sell some artwork on eBay, and it's been interesting learning to photograph objects with wildly different characteristics to best capture their personality (and, yes, make the best impression to get the best price). I've been shooting in my macro studio, and finding that highly reflective glass objects are very difficult. Here's one that I have just listed on eBay -- I used several lights to minimize any one major reflection, and even stuck a tiny LED behind the vase to show the transparency of the art. I'll post photos of some of the other objects soon, including some very interesting masks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Photo Fun in Fremont

marionette man - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
The Fremont Parade and Fair in Seattle last weekend provided a prime photographic outing. Sure, the parade is known largely for the procession of naked bicyclists, but there's a lot more to it, including this marionette man, samba drummers, and even a group of chefs and women dressed as 10 foot tall pink layer cakes. See more of my Fremont photos here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Clouds of June

Street Party - photo ©Scott Allan StevensThe cold, cloudy weather we've been having this spring may not be great for gardening, but there have been some great afternoons for photography. The above photo was taken last week in downtown Olympia on part of 5th Avenue that was closed for a street party, part of a celebration/fundraiser for KAOS radio (celebrating its 35th year on the air). It was also my first chance to photograph the Capitol Theater since the marquee was removed, exposing those little round stained glass windows that were hidden beneath.

Below is another cloudy shot, a bit more post processed. And I'm also spending more time experimenting with indoor studio shots in this weather, so despite what the wimpy tomatoes may say, it's not all bad. Still, I'm ready for a little more warmth and sunshine...Modern Beanstalk - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Monochrome Jazz

LaVon Hardison - photo ©Scott Allan StevensJake's Bistro in Steilacoom is a pleasant little place and they have great food, but their stage lighting leaves something to be desired. I took a number of shots in the dim red light, and wasn't pleased with the result. But a little work in Photoshop to desaturate the image, and this shot of singer LaVon Hardison became something much more interesting. A little grainy, but full of the energy and style she exudes in her performances. I suppose the black & white also evokes a time past in some now-forgotten jazz dive...but I don't miss the thick layer of smoke that would have overlaid that scene.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lost Surprises

Voigslander Vito B Camera ©Scott Allan Stevens, www.earball.netI was experimenting with my new $2.09 macro studio last night (about which, more soon), and one of the subjects I used for test shots was this old German film camera. It's one my dad gave me, and I used for several years before getting a more "modern" film camera.

It brought back memories of photographic surprises. I wasn't a prolific photographer, and sometimes a roll of film would stay in the camera for months before I finally finished it and had it developed. So when the images came back, they often contained surprises I'd forgotten about.

With digital photography's instant feedback, such surprises are few these days. Not that I'm complaining...just a little nostalgic for that lost element of being truly surprised and delighted by something a second time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

...Make Lemonade

Dandelion - ©Scott Allan Stevens, www.earball.netBefore you say anything...yes, I know that lemonade is made from lemons. But this equally yellow flower brought to mind that saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." The lemons in my back lawn are dandelions. I don't really mind them and I don't work on making my lawn picture-perfect. Or rather, I guess I consider the oddities of my lawn the very things that do make the yard picture-perfect. The weeds, the moss, the white petals falling from the Gravenstein tree. Because really, who wants to look at photos of a uniform green lawn?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Borrowing Art

I've been having an ongoing conversation about the ethics of photographing other people's art. Clearly it's one thing to take a photo of a public piece of art and identify it as such, while it would be clearly less ethical to take unauthorized photos in a museum or private gallery or home, even if the photographer gives the artist credit.

I'll stay away from that dicey territory here. Although I don't know the name of the Tacoma artist who did the work above, I appreciate their vision in turning an ordinary fire standpipe into a piece of colorful folk art. For a wider view of this, click here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

From the vaults...

I've been scanning old photos, slides, and negatives to reduce clutter in my basement, and have run across a few real gems in the process. Like this photo, take at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo (I think) in the mid 1980s. Scan is from a color negative. I laughed when I saw this, and that seems to be others' reactions as well. Something funny about shortening one of the tallest critters on the planet. Or maybe they're playing hide and seek.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Then and Now

Shooting hummingbirds on the deck, 1974
Self-portrait in teapot, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

fingers of spring

The subtle unfolding of a fern caught my eye the other day. It's not the symmetrical wonder of a fiddlehead, but it has its own charms.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Arts Walk Exhibit

Olympia Spring 2008 Arts Walk photography display - photos ©Scott Allan StevensOlympia Spring 2008 Arts Walk photography display - photos ©Scott Allan Stevens
Olympia Spring 2008 Arts Walk photography display - photos ©Scott Allan StevensImages from my photography exhibit at Olympia's Spring 2008 Arts Walk. Thanks to everyone who dropped by to look and chat! I had a great time and got some very helpful comments on the pictures and presentation. Also sold a few pieces, so special thanks to those people!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Procession of the Photos

samba olywa - procession of the species ©Scott Allan StevensThanks to everyone who came to my debut photo exhibit during Arts Walk! Downtown Olympia was teeming with people last weekend, and I had some great discussions with many of them (you) about photographs and other things. People seemed particularly interested in my Planet Olympia image and other miniplanets, so I'll keep working on more of those curious creations.

Above is something simple and pink: a small part of the great sea of flamingos known as Samba Olywa, the culminating group in the Procession of the Species.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Oly, here I come!

Alley Wall Still Life - ©Scott Allan StevensGot the Arts Walk exhibit set up this evening, and I'm all a-tingle with anticipation. I'm eager to learn what people like (and, yes, don't like) so I hope you will drop by. My display is at the Christian Science Reading Room, 120 4th Ave E. in downtown Olympia, WA.

I'll be there much of the time Friday and Saturday evenings, except perhaps when I'm out looking at other folks' work, and except definitely for 4:30-5:30 pm Saturday, when I'll be enjoying (and taking photos of) the Procession of the Species. I will NOT miss that!

This image was taken in a downtown Olympia alley. Something about the subtle shades of paint on the way contrasting with the rust and red of the pipes. Also, there's a funny red-nosed face in the pipes, but don't look for it if you're afraid of clowns.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Taiko Intensity

Bruce Robertson of Fubuki Daiko
I may be scrambling to finish last-minute details before this weekend's Arts Walk here in Olympia, but that doesn't mean I don't have time for fun. Got up to Tacoma to catch the show by Fubuki Daiko, who are both musically talented and photogenic. Bruce Robertson (who, according to the band's website, "enjoys jumping around like a monkey...then laying inert for long periods of time afterwards") gets the most intense look on his face when playing. This photo captures a bit of his intensity.

More pictures of the show here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Planet Olympia - photo & shirt ©Scott Allan Stevens - available at CafePress.comSome cities feel self contained. Well, what about the concept of a city as its own planet? I've been experimenting with the idea, and creating some miniplanets from ordinary photos. I hope to create these for other cities as well, but for now you can trumpet your Olympian-ness, or become an honorary Olympian, by wearing this shirt. Available at

Image detail.

Want one of your own city? Let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Building an onion

Orton Lily - ©Scott Allan Stevens
I recall a story I read once about a disgruntled court artist who created a portrait of the king that looked fine on the surface, but made everyone uneasy for some reason. Turned out he had created it through a process of compiling many layers, more than a few of which showed the king in some embarrassing position or with an unflattering expression.

I recalled this story this morning when trying a new photographic technique, called the Orton effect. It does something similar, building a finished image from disparate parts. In this case, several layers of the same image that are exposed differently, or with differences in focus. This image is my first attempt, and I'm fairly pleased with the results.

Traditionally, this was done with two different film exposures. Today, of course, I'm using Photoshop to Ortonize things.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


One of the most unusual attractions in Victoria, BC, is the Victoria Bug Zoo. Inconspicuously located in the heart of the city, the Bug Zoo is not for the squeamish. It features an elaborate ant farm with tubes running through several rooms; many displays of giant, odd, and even dangerous creepy-crawlies. Guides even let visitors handle some of the bugs including a foot-long black millipede.

The crowning attraction, however, has to be the giant spider exhibit. Protected by thick panes of safety glass, even the arachnophobic can enjoy the antics of the mammoth birdeater spider, which in its native habitat of Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela actually catches and dines on birds. (Oh, they can live for up to 25 years.) I love this image of a father and son fascinated by the spiders.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Photos in Public Places

4th Avenue Bridge at Night - photo ©Scott Allan Stevens
Just saw this announcement, of interest to photographers:

Photographic Center Northwest, 900 12th Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98122
Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

SEATTLE— Venkat Balasubramani will discuss the legal rights of photographers who take photographs in public locations. Incidents of law enforcement harassment of photographers have increased over the past 6 or 7 years, principally in response to perceived threats following 9-11. The seminar will discuss:
· Recent incidents in the Northwest and other parts of the country
· What legal restrictions exist on photographing public property/infrastructure
· What to do if you are approached by law enforcement
· When law enforcement involvement may cross the line

FEE: In advance: $35 Attorneys and Paralegals; $10 Artists and Students. At the door: $40 Attorneys and Paralegals; $15 Artists and Students

To register, visit Brown Paper Tickets, , or phone 24/7 at 800.838.3006. To pay at the door, RSVP to Washington Lawyers for the Arts at 206.328.7053. Please note that the event is subject to cancellation; visit or call 206.328.7053 for more information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seeing Differently

I've shot photos most of my life. But it was mostly vacation snaps, or perhaps an assignment for a class, or family or friend shots. Only in the last couple of years have I gone looking for images. And the other day when I was waiting for a meeting in downtown Olympia, it struck me how much my vision has changed as a result.

Instead of cooling my heels in a cafe waiting, I strolled through alleys. The rain gave way to a wet sunshine, and the light was magical. I shot some buildings, some sky, some details. Then I looked down. At first, I saw only the puddle. In an instant, however, I saw that it was a doorway to another view, an upside-down planet where I saw buildings and sky through the old bricks beneath the thin veneer of pavement.

Yet another reason not to take me on walks, if you're in a hurry to get someplace.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gifts from Nature

I spent a couple days in the small seaside town of Sequim this week, visiting friends. Taking advantage of a break in the turbulent near-spring weather, we walked along the narrow 5-mile-long arc of sand known as Dungeness Spit. I kept stopping, despite the dull gray overcast, to take photos. Which meant I was constantly playing catch-up with my friends. They were the talking tortoises, I suppose, and I the photographer hare. We all finished the walk at the same time; perhaps the real winners were some photos I got of various bits of driftwood, rocks, and other beach flotsam.The Claw - photo by Scott Allan Stevens

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Images of Music

Vocalist LaVon Hardison asked me to design the artwork for her latest CD, which has just been released. It's entitled Everyday Gifts and she gave me the challenge of finding visuals that represented the inspirational nature of the music without falling into cliches. We settled on a field of flowers for the main theme, which is used in several places. Inside the booklet is a complementary photo, an almost-abstract image of long grasses.

LaVon Hardison - Everyday Gifts - photos by Scott Allan Stevens
LaVon Hardison - Everyday Gifts CD insert - photo by Scott Allan Stevens
You may notice a certain song credit within. Yes, LaVon and I co-wrote one of the songs on the album, which was a wonderfully fun collaboration. The photography/design also was engaging and challenging, and leaves me eager for more. Do you need a cover for your own CD? Let me know.

You can find out more about LaVon and her music at