Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Artists, Photographers and Winemakers Face Fear

At one time I lived in the drawing and painting art world. (I even ended up with a Master's Degree in Fine Art.) During that Painting Period of my life and now with photography, I noticed that after a very successful painting or gallery show, some artists (myself included) would fear to continue. A chilly inner voice whispered: "How can I do anything that good again?" So it was safer to continue using the same "successful" technique. For me that meant death to strong new work.

I wonder if winemakers experience the same "fear" after a successful wine? And worse yet, winemakers only get one chance a year. At least for me, when I do a bad photo, the next exposure is a new opportunity.

And how can an artist, photographer or winemaker get past this fear?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Photoshop and winemaking

Is making wine like using Photoshop?

In their book, The Creative Digital Darkroom, Katrin Eismann
and Sean Duggan write: "...it is common for students to focus first on the details of how to do something in Photoshop rather than focus on the image itself." They contend: "Before you even
start pondering whether to use Curves of Levels, you should take a good look at the image and see what it tells you."

Listen to the picture.

So is making wine similar? Do wine makers listen to what the wine tells them?

Winemaker Forest Klaffke and his team at Willamette Valley Vineyards set out the wine they will taste this day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Landscape in a Glass

Many ask how I did this photograph in my latest book, Oregon: The Taste of Wine. It's a vineyard landscape (Sunset over Adelsheim's Bryan Creek vineyard) in a Oregon Pinot glass made by glassware maker Rydel.

It's actually quite simple. Here's what I did:

1) Pour some deep red wine a clean Oregon Pinot glass.
2) Then comes the part requiring discipline: don't drink the wine.
3) Set it on the railing of our back deck.

4) Use my Nikon 60mm Macro lens to photograph the glass, ensuring that a nice landscape is seen in stem. Yes, that landscape is the part of view that we get from our deck.
5) Load the image into Photoshop to drop in the landscape in the dark wine. Set the landscape layer to Blending Mode: Lighten
6) Use the Liquify tool to give the landscape a swirl.

Nothing hidden here. Here are the actual Photoshop Adjustment Layers showing exactly what I did to achieve the Landsape in a Glass photograph.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Value of a Life: David Lett

Yesterday I had a humbling experience while attending the memorial service for David Lett, known to some as Papa Pinot.

About 250 or more people packed the McMinnville Community Center auditorium. A quartet of string, flute and piano played Beethoven, Bach and Mendelssohn. Two former governors attended, including Barbara Roberts, who gave one of the personal eulogies. The current governor declared it the David Lett wine making day. At the end, we were each given cuttings from one of David's original vineyards.

I measured my own life while I heard how David went to meetings of parents with autistic kids, how he work on land reform and had the vision and courage to plant Pinot noir and Pinot gris in a place most people declared it impossible to mature.

I found myself feeling small compared to David's accomplishments.

David Lett looking at a cluster of Pinot noir from his famous South Block vineyard during the 2007 harvest..

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are They Wine Makers or Wine Growers?

“I am the wine grower rather than wine maker. I think it’s a bit arrogant to say I make the wine. It connotes a philosophy of the person who is in control of everything. My philosophy is a bit different. I certainly have ownership and accountability. But Mother Nature has a big part in this as well. It’s the vine and what takes place in the vineyard. I’m just the janitor and shepherd of the process.”
Scott Shull, owner/wine grower/general manager Raptor Ridge Winery

“Don’t trust a winemaker who doesn’t have dirty feet at harvest time.”
Bob McRitche, Ph.D., retired winemaker/professor

“Every year is a different year. That’s Oregon. It’s like photography. Ansel Adams said that the
film negative was the score to the music and the print was the performance. It’s the same thing with grapes. Every year Mother Nature gives you this negative. Okay, we’ve got these grapes; here’s what you’ve got to work with. Then you take them into the winery and create the performance.”
Dick Erath, Winegrower, founder of Erath Vineyards/
Prince Hill Vineyards

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oregon's Best Vineyard Site Hasn’t Been Planted Yet

“We’ve just scratched the surface of great vineyard sites. People are experimenting with higher elevations and steeper grades, and we’re certainly looking to double our vineyard acreage in the next five years, all on what might be the best vineyard site in Oregon. We don’t know. I think that’s exciting.

“In Burgundy all the sites are taken. There you can make your little area as good as you can make it, but there’s certainly no chance of finding a new site. We have planted so little of our potential great vineyard sites in Oregon. The best vineyard site in Oregon probably hasn’t been planted yet.”

Adam Campbell, owner/winemaker Elk Cove Vineyards

Monday, November 24, 2008

You can't pour Oregon Wine into wood barrels

Bob McRitchie, Ph.D., recalls the early years of the 70s and 80s:

"While I was winemaker at Sokol Blosser, the Oregon Department of Agriculure had this dairy mentality, the idea of cleanliness being next to godliness. We had one inspector who vowed he would get barrels out of the cellar because you can't pour wine in wood. It's just not clean."

I wonder if the inspector had ever tried French wine?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Exactly how did Oregon Wine become World Class?

Jim Maresh still remembers the exact day in 1968, when Dick Erath came up the driveway and convinced him to pull out some of his orchard to plant Pinot noir.

Jim Maresh then recalls a conversation with Dick at a celebration for Erath's twenty-fifth crush:
There were about two hundred people and we're drinking this great Oregon Pinot. Dick and I were sitting under a tree, and he said to me, "Jim, did you ever think it would be this big?"

I said, "No."

He said, "Back in 1970, we sure didn't know what we were doing."

I said, "You told me right in front of your crusher you knew what you were doing; now twenty-five years later, after I had pulled out all my orchard, you tell me different?"

And he said, "I didn't have a clue."

So, exactly how did Oregon Wine become world class?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will Oregon Wine Country become a Theme Park in the Future?

For the Oregon: The Taste of Wine book, I asked winemakers, winery owners and vineyard managers what they thought the Oregon Wine Industry would look like 50 years from now.

Ed King from King Estate Winery replied:

"We see Portland growing rapidly. It's under great pressure to accommodate a huge influx of people who recognize it as a wonderful city. It's maybe the top American city today, at least in the top three or five, in terms of livability and quality of life. While we have a significant number of land use restrictions, if we were to add a half a million or a million people to the current Portland urban growth boundary–I don't know that anything is sufficient to withstand the influx of that many people. Many of those people are going to explore every nook and cranny to find a place to live out of the city.

"The wine industry is going to have to fight all along the way. Economics won't protect the vineyards. We've seen valuable vineyard land in Napa that is still more valuable for houses. The same is gong to be true around Portland, if we let economics run the game. You could see the vineyards of McMinnville, Dundee, Carlton, Eola Hills all overwhelmed by the demand for housing.

"You could end up with this kind of vineyard in a terrarium, with a little glass dome over the cute little winemaker's old pickup truck and his dog. You drive out and pay your fee to see them. It's like a visit to the zoo."

What do you see in the future?

Winemaker Doug Tunnell with his red
pick up at Brickhouse Vineyards

Winery in the Willamette Valley,

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why start an Oregon winery?

After spending hours hearing about all the trials that Oregon wine pioneer Myron Redford had through the years to establish his winery, I wondered why would a person possibly want to do a winery?

For Myron, it was obviously an incurable passion.

He told me about another motive:
"There was an ad in Sue Horstmann and Willamette Valley Wineries Association's bulletin from a guy who wanted to buy a winery. So just out of curiousity, I called him up. He was very honest, 'Oh, this is an ego winery.' The guy wanted to buy a winery. He didn't care whether the brand was established, all he wanted was a small facility with a small vineyard so that he could hire a winemaker and make wine. He just wanted to be part of the wine scene."

And he probably couldn't afford Napa.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My new book is out; but how do I know it's any good?

Finally, after driving all over Oregon to interview and photograph wine/vineyard people, editing 3000 photographs down to the 150 that ended up in the book, choosing quotes from 200 hours of conversations, weaving those into a narrative text and then struggling with the designer, Oregon: The Taste of Wine book finally hit the bookshelves today.

It's out there for all to see. The Graphic Arts Publishing staff hopes it will turn a profit so that they can feed their kids, get married or take vacations. For me, as the creator, it's much more personal. It's a little like a son or daughter growing up and going out on their own. I did the very best I could as a parent. Then he/she/it takes on a life of its own.

But how do I know my book child is any good?

After the dust of initial excitement settled, something inside says that it reached the mark I set for myself.

The photography: After years of self doubting myself, I'm finally confident with my photography. After all, my early boot-camp training came with organizations like National Geographic. While I didn't have time to do all of the creative things I imagined, I'm absolutely confident the photography in this book is strong.

The text: I knew my limitations. I wasn't an Oregon wine expert. And I didn't want it to be a history of Oregon wine. So I went to the experts, the Oregon winemakers, winery owners and vineyard managers. I also know how to be real with people. I wanted the book to be about people and be very personal. So, when about 3/4 of the way through my very first interview, Dick Ponzi said, "You know I telling you things I haven't shared before," I knew we were on the right track. David Lett had a honest conversation with his son Jason they never had before while I was recording. Jason asked for a copy of the interview as a memory after his father recently died. Even thought I had to leave lots of great quotes on the table, the narrative is strong.

It also helps when people like Brian Bushlach, co-host of KXL's Vine Time radio show wrote: "My friend, it is a spectacular work of art, both visually and in the literary sense! You captured the soul of the Oregon wine industry, like I’ve never seen it, nor experienced it. I’ve never been so in love with book about wine."

So on a personal level, I feel very good about this book child. For that I need to thank the One who created all the light and owns my every thought and breath. I hope the book can bring joy, adventure and maybe a bit of inspiration to readers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Creating the Vineyard Landscape Photograph

For me, creating an image for publication or print is more than shoot and print. I call the process image optimization.

For example this photograph, Fog and Fall Colors over Willamette Valley Vineyards, was originally taken on 645 Velvia film, scanned and optimized. I usually complete the optimization adjustments in the following order: (Vineyard in foreground is Bella Vida and background is Knudsen in the Red Hills above Dundee, Oregon.)

1) If the image is not already in the Pro Photo RGB color space, I will convert it. I want all of my Legacy Images in this larger color space because in the future we will have the technology to take advantage of the additional colors.

2) Create a duplicate background layer which I spot for any dust. I like to have this duplicate layer in case the background layer somehow gets corrupted. I had one group of images where the background layer was corrupted by a bad Firewire cable connecting the working hard drive to the storage hard drive.

3) Begin with global adjustments, usually Levels and Hue Saturation.

4) Although I didn't do so for this image, then I usually duplicate the dust spotted background, make it a smart object, and do a shadow/highlight adjustment.

5) Then I usually make fine adjustments to the image, beginning with large areas, continuing to smaller and smaller areas. Check out how monor adjustments affect the final image.

I'm not sure how clear this will be on some monitors, but I've darkened a selected area with a Curves Adjustment Layer.

6) Often I will use Select>Color Range to select and adjust specific color areas.

7) Finally, I'll duplicate the background (with the shadow/highlight adjustment if I've used that), make it a smart object (again if I've used shadow/highlight) and sharpen the image for the specific size it will be used. Notice that I've masked some of the sharpened layer so that not all of the areas are sharpened equally. By making the sharpened layer a Smart Object, I can change the amount of sharpening for each output. Remember that a 20X24 image for print needs more sharpening than a 72 ppi web image. With the Smart Object layer I can sharpen to size and need

8) Obviously I've saved the image as I work, but finally I save a Master File. This final master file needed to be saved as a PSB file–yes, that's PSB not PSD. With all of the layers, the 16 bit master file is 2.04 Gigabytes. Photoshop requires anything over 2 GB to be saved as a "Large Document Format" filed, thus PSB as in Photoshop Big.

9) I save the Master File on at least three separate hard drives, two in the studio and one which is stored off site.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oregon Wine in 50 years: Burgundy or Disneyland?

For my upcoming book, Oregon: The Taste of Wine, due out this October, I asked winemakers, winery owners and vineyard managers what will the Oregon wine industry look like in 50 to 100 years. Here are two responses:

I think that the Willamette Valley grows a variety in a style which appeals to a very narrow part of the palate. Where southern Oregon and eastern Oregon have climates and growing conditions that serve a much bigger part of the palate, the Cabernets, Syrahs, and Merlots. So in a hundred years, the Willamette Valley might become a little Burgundy, and the rest of Oregon might be where the action is, where the economic and industry growth takes place. It’s very possible that the center of gravity will change.
Jim Bernau, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Economics won’t protect the vineyards. We’ve seen in Napa valuable vineyard land that is still more valuable for houses. The same is going to be true around Portland, if we let economics run the game. You could see the vineyards of McMinnville, Dundee, Carlton, Eola Hills all overwhelmed by the demand for housing. You could end up with this kind of vineyard in a terrarium, with a little glass dome over the cute little wine maker’s old pick up truck and his dog. You drive out and pay your fee to see them. It’s like a visit to the zoo. Ed King III, King Estate

What do you see in the future?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oregon's Biblical-sized grape glut

Ancient cash register along side an original bottle of wine from Hillcrest winery, said to the be the oldest estate winery in post-Prohibition Oregon.

"'What we have coming,'" said Bill Hatcher, managing partner with A to Z Wineworks in Dundee, 'is a grape glut of biblical proportions.'

"Hatcher estimates that by 2012 the amount of acreage planted in pinot noir grapes will be almost double what it was as recently as 2005."

Hatcher's statement in the July 2, 2008, Oregonian surprised me after interviewing more than 80 Oregon winemakers, owners and vineyard managers for the past 8 months for my new book, Oregon: The Taste of Wine.

The Oregonian article continues: "That result, if realized, could drop the bottom out of the state's wine industry. Profits could fall precipitously, and a number of Oregon's 400 wineries, particularly those locked into pricey, long-term grape contracts, could find themselves facing disaster."

For one of the chapters of my Oregon Wine book titled The Future, I asked what the Oregon wine industry will look like in 50 years. While I neglected to interview Hatcher, I got a totally different picture than his vision.

I'm very curious what people in the Oregon wine industry think. I would really appreciate comments. (I'm getting lots of personal email comments, but readers seem to be reluctant to respond on the blog. Come on, stand up and be counted. I really want to hear your view.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wine, a luxury item in Ethiopia

The night watchman watching the sunset in front of the Awash Winery vineyard near Ziway, Ethiopia. In one month he earns less than Americans pay for a single bottle of wine.

When I'm in the most remote corners of Africa on another photographic project I've been working for the past 9 years, often I reflect on our American lifestyle. I do these comparisons. The tribes I stay with have no running water (except for the river or perhaps a well several miles away). They have no electricity. Most have no doctors that are even close. The average life expectancy among some is 48 years. If I were part of their tribe, I would already be dead for 12 years.

Then I'm back in the United States doing all of this vineyard/winery work where a single good bottle of wine might cost $35, even $200. Often I think about what $35 could do for an Omo tribe in Ethiopia. We sponsor a child in Zambia for $35/month. That's the cost of a single bottle of wine that will last one evening. It's a separate reality. Even after all of these years, I'm still not sure how to deal with those separate realities.

But then even Ethiopia has a winery.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Name Winery and Win Wine #4 & rules

This "Name the Winery and Win Wine" has been informal to this point. And truth be told, more people have emailed me personally than have posted on the blog. So here are some slightly more formal rules:

We will take the correct answers every month or two, draw a name for the winner of a fine bottle of Willamette Valley Vineyards wine.

And here's another possibillity. The photo is of Rollin Soles, the winemaker of the next Name the Winery and Win Wine. The winery is in Dundee, Oregon. Should be easy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oregon The Woodstock of Wine?

When I interviewed Josh Bergström at Bergström Wines for my new book Oregon: The Taste of Wine, he succinctly summed up Oregon's post-Prohibition wine history:

"Oregon really started out with a bunch of well-educated hippies sitting around in meadows passing around bottles, critiquing each other. No bias about sharing information. It was all about sharing information. That spirit is still alive today–take Oregon Pinot Camp."

back to the studio past David Adelsheim's winery, I thought about how he said he had started planting grapes in "the Whole Earth Catalogue period". As I turned on the oldies radio station–Jefferson Airplane was playing–I wondered if Oregon just might be the Woodstock of America's wine industry.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can you taste the dirt in wine

A number of years ago when I finished a photo shoot at Bethel Heights winery in the Eola Hills, Pat Dudley offered me a taste of their Pinot noir. First she poured some Pinot from the Flat Block part of their vineyard. mmm.... good. Immediately afterward she poured Pinot from the next block over–the Southeast Block. "Wait a minute, these taste different," I said tentatively. So the two vineyard blocks are separated by only 20 feet. Otherwise the two wines were made the same way, same winemaker, same everything, except the vineyard block.

So what could make them taste so different?

Winemaker Terry Casteel explained that the soils of the two blocks were formed by separate volcanic events. He conjectured that there must have been one volcanic flow, followed by another which didn't cover the first. So in fact, the soils were slightly different. What a taste bud awakening that was.

(You will be able to read about these volcanic flows out of eastern Oregon–probably the greatest geologic event of its kind our earth has ever seen–in my upcoming book:
Oregon The Taste of Wine due out in October.)

One of the people I interviewed for the book, Scott Burns, geology professor at Portland State University, claims that he can taste whether a Willamette Valley wine was made from grapes grown in either of the two major Willamette soil types: Jory (volcanic) or Willakenzie (ocean-bottom sedimentary).

Jim Kakacek, winemaker and general manager at Van Duzer winery, is a bit more skeptical about tasting soil types in the wine. He says that the taste differences might reflect factors like soil water retention. He does concede that the science is still out.

So can you taste the dirt in wine?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

One health benefit of wine

Just received this from my Aunt in Napa.

As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop. (that's over 2 pounds).

However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit .

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information--I'm doing it as a public service.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Making a Wow Photograph

Image straight from camera

Photoshop layers
showing what it
took to optimize
the image.

Sometimes people ask me, "Well, aren't you shooting digital?" Within that simple interrogative comes an assumption that I just snap and print. Yes, that's possible. But I'm interested in making my photographs sing. When I'm finished creating an image, the reaction I'm hoping for is "Wow, that's a great photo."

So I just wanted show the work that goes into the making of a single photograph. The screen shot shows the Photoshop layers that went into creating the above simple photograph. And just to give you a sense of scale, most of my digital capture images end up being about 450-500 MB, with some exceeding 2 GB.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Name Winery, Win Wine #3

I just happened to have this photograph on the hard drive from a recent trip. This isn't a winery, but rather a wine growing region about as far from my nearest town of Sherwood, Oregon as you can get. Yes, those are palm trees along the road between the vineyards.

Avoiding the deer-in-the-headlights portrait

This is Cecil Zerba, of Zerba Cellars, one of the wine growers/vineyards profiled in my new Oregon: The Taste of Wine book.

First thing Cecil told me when I arrived was, "I hate to have my photograph taken." And worse, since his wife knew I was coming to interview and photograph Cecil, she laid out "nice" clothes for him that morning. Well, fortunately for me, Cecil disregarded his wife's wardrobe and put on his regular clothes, which was just fine by me. I like the editorial, more natural look.

When we started with the photography, with a little interaction he would flash an easy smile. But he stood there like a deer-in-the-headlights as seen in the photograph to the left. Nice smile, nice clothes, nice Rembrandt lighting on his face, but no cigar.

When I gave him something to do with his hands, continued our chatter, a much more relaxed photo resulted. To put a little sparkle in the eyes, I usually use a slight strobe, often on camera.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Name Winery, Win Wine #2

Here's the second Name the Winery and Win Wine challenge:

This is the winery seen from the vineyard rather than the visitor's parking lot.

This sign is seen from the driveway to the winery.

Just in case you missed the May 15 posting, here's a review of the rules:
Periodically, I will post a new photograph(s) of a winery or vineyard somewhere in Oregon or possibly, the world. After a period of as-of-yet undetermined time, a select group of highly-regarded judges will choose one person who has guessed at least some of the wineries/vineyards correctly as the winner.

The prize: a bottle of fine wine from Willamette Valley Vineyards.

The rules are loose, but hurry before I drink the prize.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wine god Dionysius and Jesus

Warning: This posting might be controversial for some.

While doing some research about the origins of wine, I came across Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. Check out what Wikepedia has to say: "the inspirer of madness, and a major figure of Greek mythology. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences.

"He was also known as Bacchus and the frenzy he induces, bakcheia. He was also known as the Liberator, freeing one from one's normal self, by madness, ecstasy, or wine. The divine mission of Dionysus was to bring an end to care and worry. Scholars have discussed Dionysus' relationship to the 'cult of the souls' and his ability to preside over communication between the living and the dead."

Now check this out: Some compare Dionysus, the Greek wine god to Jesus. Both were said to have been born from a mortal woman but fathered by a god, to have returned from the dead, and to have transformed water into wine. Some argue that Christian notions of eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus during communion was influenced by the cult of Dionysus.

I'm amazed on how much has been written about this controversy. Just Google: "Greek wine god Dionysus and Jesus".

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do winemakers from Venus have it over Martians?

Winemaker Sandra Oldfield works with one of her all-female staff at Tinhorn Creek Estate winery, Okanagan, BC. Here she pours grapes into a basket press at the winery.

So, does the wine made by an all-woman team taste different than if men were involved?

I had never thought about it before. Then it dawned on me while doing the photography
for my first book Pacific Northwest, The Ultimate Winery Guide. There I was photographing winemaker Sandra Oldfield and her all-woman wine production team at Tinhorn Creek Estate Winery in the Okanagan, BC.

Does wine made by winemakers from Venus taste different from that made by Martians?

After all, aren't women different. Ask radio star Dr. Laura. Aren't women crafted to be nurturing mothers?
But can you taste nurtured wine? And aren't those from Venus suppose to have more sensative taste buds? But can that carry over to making wine? One writer thinks so. She recently wrote Women Winemakers: A Natural Advantage. But then can a woman writer be objective?

While interviewing and photographing for my second wine book, Oregon: The Taste of Wine, I asked a number of female winemakers their perspective on the subject.

Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash's (from Penner-Ash Wine Cellars in Oregon's Willamette valley) reply really stands out in my mind:

"One time there were a bunch of us that were having dinner with a gentleman who
I’ve been raised to believe is the foremost authority on what wine is all about. He told me that I wouldn’t be a great wine maker because I was too focused on my family and I needed to prioritize, either it’s going to be wine or my family. He’s eighty nine years old and he’s telling me this.

"I was so excited to meet the man and I was just so thrilled to be in his presence and he says that to me. He didn’t say it to any of the guys at the table he said it to me.

I was just destroyed, I came home and cried."

Here's what winemaker Luisa Ponzi from Ponzi Vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley has to say:

Luisa: "But I think women probably are more sensitive to aromas and tastes. I know from the women winemakers I know it seems to be that way."

Janis: "Now is that an actual an innate thing, a biological thing, or is it something that can be learned."

Luisa: "Well it can be learned. Of course it takes practice to fine tune it. But that’s a huge part of being a winemaker, getting your palate so you can taste. I know plenty of men that have wonderful palettes and can describe the wine. In fact, my husband describes wines better than I do. But, overall, I think there’s more of an intuitive sense for women."

Remind me to tell you the different replies I get from women in other cultures. I'm actually working on a book on the subject.

So, can you taste the difference?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Name Winery, Win Wine #1

The challenge: Periodically, I will post a new photograph(s) of a winery or vineyard somewhere in Oregon or possibly, the world. After a period of as-of-yet undetermined time, a select group of highly-regarded judges will choose one person who has guessed at least some of the wineries/vineyards correctly as the winner.

The prize: a bottle of fine wine from Willamette Valley Vineyards. (Full disclosure, WVV financially supports the Oregon Wine book I’m currently doing.)

The rules are loose, but hurry before I drink the prize.

Hint: this winery is near Turner and Oregon's capitol and is mentioned in the post copy. Just guess as a comment to this post.

This is the view from the Mystery Winery's vineyard during 2007 harvest.

Oregon Wine book photo possibilities

These are some of the photos being considered for my new Oregon Wine book that will come out October of this year.

Would love to hear your thoughts? Which should make the cut and which left on the editing table? And why? Go easy on me now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Power of Photography

Konso tribe village of Busso at the edge of the Omo region of Ethiopia.

Village woman holding print of photo I had taken 6 years ago.

Son holding photo of his deceased father I had taken in 2001. When he first saw the print, he cried.

This has to do with another project I'm working on.

Last year I returned to Africa for the fifth time to complete a personal project I call Africa’s Undiscovered Myths where I interview the chiefs, shamans, storytellers, witch doctors and elders of Africa’s most remote tribes about their myths and archetypal dreams. I’m the only person to ever record these oral stories. Then I create photo illustrations of those myths and dreams.

While the work is very satisfying, it’s the human interaction that moves me most.

For example, when I returned to my favorite Konso village of Busso on the edge of Ethiopia’s Omo region I was surprised at the number of tourists there compared to my 2001 visit. In fact, the villagers now charged an entrance fee and a per-click fee for taking photos of any people.

While the chief and elders remembered me and heartedly approved the myth work I showed them, I was most touched by the reaction to the photographic prints of images I had taken during the previous trip. When the mother who I had photographed holding her infant in 2001 saw her photograph, she ran to get her 6-year-old to proudly show me. When I handed a print of an old man I had photographed on the previous trip to his son he openly cried. The old man had died. I had just given him the only tangible thing he had to remember his father.

They actually made me feel like a hero. After taking a group photo of the whole village, they gave me the equivalent of a gold key. I could take photographs anywhere and of anyone, no charge. The Power of Photography.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Your opinion for book cover

What do you think about one of these possibilities for the cover of my next book on Oregon Wineries and Vineyards? Please note that I'm a bit defensive, being a pro photographer and all, as the photos are unoptimized proofs.

The book is about people. I interviewed at least 57 Oregon winemakers, owners, vineyard managers, cellar rats and mice to get a very personal look at the state of the Oregon wine industry.

Oh yes, we're also debating on the title:
Oregon: A Taste of Wine
Oregon: A Different State of Wine

Really would appreciate your thoughts.

We go to production the last week in May. Book will be printed overseas and in book stores this October.

Unexpected inspiration while crying

Inspiration comes from unexpected places. Late last week the music leader of our church unexpectedly died. She was only 44 years old. Incredible singer and musician. During the funeral service, it seems at least half of the people were openly crying, including me. Our pastor said that sometimes there is a twinge of doubt where the person is going after they die, With Shari, there was no doubt.

During upsetting moments in my life, I try to look past the emotion or adrenalin to see what lessons I’m suppose to learn. During that funeral service I clearly saw two. First, live every second of my life so that it has a positive impact on those I come in contact with. Second, use the little basket of gifts I have for the good of those around me and the world. Even little things matter. Shari and I were going to do a music/visual show together. I got too busy and kept putting it off. I regret that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Infrared look-a-like in the Vineyard

This is the "straight" photograph of a remote experimental Zerba Winery vineyard near Milton-Freewater that will be in my new Oregon: The Taste of Wine book.

While working on some fine-art prints for a show at Argyle Winery–check it out in the heart of Willamette Valley Wine Country, Dundee, Oregon–I wanted to create a different look. Remembering way back to the infrared photography unit I taught as a high school art/photography teacher, I wanted to recreate that same look and fee. After quite a bit of experimenting, here's the infrared-look-alike result. Through masking, I did allow a bit of the original image color bleed through the clouds.

What do you think?

This is the same Zerba vineyard photograph with the Photoshop-induced infrared look.

This is another view of that same Zerba vineyard. Check out the tumble weeds blown against the Cabernet vines. At sunrise when this photo was taken, there was a slight refreshing dry breeze that was a welcome start to the 100 degree day. Coyotes howled in the distance and hawks soared overhead. Located at the barren foothills of the Blue Mountains, the vineyard sits on a gentle north by northwest slope on the old Jon Cockburn Ranch.