Sunday, March 30, 2008

Joys of Spring

I can't believe it's been over a week since Spring started and this is my first season related post. I've certainly been out quite a bit enjoying the warm weather and the sights and smells of Spring. Yesterday was very overcast; the perfect weather for taking pictures of flowers. I decided to make the trip all the way to my driveway and capture some of the beautiful roses that are blooming like crazy.

There were lots of little buggies and bees around too.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Sure I can do that"

A friend of mine called me up the other day and said he needed some headshots taken so he could pick one to put on his business card. Of course never having taken a headshot or even been around when one was taken, I said, "Sure, I can do that". I was doing this gratis of course, so he was going to get everything he paid for. I will say that any credit for the ideas that I had while taking the shots goes to Strobist. The guy who runs that site is just a wealth of information. Amazingly, the Strobist discussion group on Flickr is also incredibly helpful. The post processing I did on this image came straight out of the feedback I received over there.

Having said all that, it was a fun time and it was great to try out some of the tricks and techniques that I've been learning about. I never would have had the confidence to use a flash in this situation before and it really was the only way to get a pleasing image. Much love goes to my rock steady flash stand (my wife) who not only had her flash mojo on, but gave lots of great feedback and suggestions.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A funny thing happened...

Ok, so there's not much interesting about this picture. In fact I think the lens flare on top is pretty distracting and the composition leaves a lot to be desired. Not to mention it's lacking in contrast and some parts are kinda blown out. What is interesting about this picture is that it's the only one I got before the Metro "Security" lady kicked me out. She didn't come up and ask me if I had a permit, she screamed it from the other end of the platform. After I said I didn't, she made a grand pronouncement that I better be moving on; much to the amusement of her fellow "security" people. Yes I realize that I capitalized security before, but I'm less generous now. This is the platform that I spent an HOUR on last year photographing the trains coming and going. I'm not sure what threat I posed to the subway patrons, or why the guy at the top of the escalator with his point and shoot didn't pose a similar threat, but I packed up and left. And by packed up I mean I put my lens cap on.

Hey, look at me!

Today I'm featured over at Jason Moore's very cool photo blog. He maintains an ever growing list of photography and Photoshop blogs and has generally great info about all things photography. Definitely a site worth bookmarking and visiting regularly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Day 2

After the awesome time I had with the B-17, I couldn't stop talking about it once I got home. All this talk got my two boys worked up and they wanted to see it too. It was too late in the evening, so we decided to try our luck the next day. On the way to the airport we saw it circling, getting ready to land. The boys were shouting, "there it is daddy, it's right over us! hurry up!" I drove back to the same spot and we had time to get into a good spot before it landed. I took a few other short videos and you can hear my younger son screaming, "there it is, it's landing! daddy, daddy I see it!" It was so awesome to see him so excited. My older son was too busy taking pictures to think about being excited.

It doesn't look it in the pictures, but it was a bit chilly and the wind was really fierce. The boys never complained and when I asked if they wanted to leave they both said no, we want to get in the plane. It was a very different day than the one before with a lot more people and more an air show type feel.

Some people were getting in the plane, but they were asking for money and there were three of us, so I didn't do that. I decided that we would wait until the crowd thinned out and see if we could hop on for a few minutes. I didn't realize that the wait would take almost an hour and we would have to stand in the wind while they refueled and performed some maintenance. When I saw that they were going to close the plane up for the night, I asked someone if my boys could see inside and they were very nice about holding it open a little longer. The boys' repeated "Whoas!" were enough to show their excitement and appreciation to the crew.

I didn't get any pictures of them inside because it was so quick and they were checking everything out. I know that it made a strong impression on them though as they haven't stopped talking about it since. My younger son has asked every day since if we can go to the airport and see the B-17. He even claims to see it flying over occasionally and wants to go see it land. The matchbox planes have come out too and there seems to be quite a bit of debate over who gets the B-17. Good times and good memories.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The wait is over

Ok, so between my hard drive crashing, having to get a new version of Photoshop and just plain laziness on my part, these images have been a long time coming. I'm sure they can't live up to the hype now after all this build up, but here we go.

I went to the airport with hopes of getting some take off/landing shots of this B-17 that was giving rides to those lucky souls with the means to afford it. I had been waiting a few minutes when I saw it making a long loop to set up for landing. I got my camera all set up with pre-set exposure, the right focusing mode, legs in the proper position, and arms at their most stable. I was set. Just as he was making his approach he began to turn away and I realized that the airport had changed the landing pattern because of the shifting winds. So instead of the plane landing right in front of me with a overcast and moody sky, it was going to land about a quarter of a mile away against a clutter of dark mountains. As if that wasn't good enough news, just after I squinted to see the plane land the clouds opened up and it started to pour. I thought that this would be my only shot of the day.

Determined to make the best out of a bad situation, I decided to try and find a place near where the plane had parked to get some shots through the fence. Turns out it was parked behind a hotel that backs up to the airport and I could drive to within about 15 feet of it. I thought this was a fantastic result and was all set to start shooting through the fence when I noticed that most of the people around the plane seemed to be taking pictures and just generally milling about. Now I can mill with the best of them, so I just put on my best I-know-what-I'm-doing-here face and walked out onto the tarmac. No one questioned me so I just started doing my thing. It's at this point that I think I should mention my choice of lens. I had started this adventure with the idea of shooting take offs and landings so I had put my 70-200mm zoom on the camera and hadn't bothered to bring anything wider. The problem with this choice may not be immediately obvious, but when you think that "wide angle" is generally considered to start around 24mm (and go lower) then you begin to see how this could be challenging. As I had no other options I decided to make these images about the myriad parts and curves that make up such a large and beautiful aircraft.

After exploring the outside of the plane for a while I decided to really make myself at home and step inside. Again no one gave me a second glance and I was able to explore almost the entire interior. Photographing the inside was even more difficult with the afore mentioned long lens. I could only get tight shots of things fairly far away and that was if I could actually get the lens up in some of the tight spaces. I was in such awe of this piece of history though, that it hardly mattered if I got any shots at all. My grandfather flew one of these in WWII and it was such gift to be able to see things as he would have seen them and to sit where he would have sat. Truly an awesome experience.

I spent so much time inside that by the time I came out almost everyone had gone. On a day of unique opportunities I was presented with this final one; an opportunity to make some images of this beautiful aircraft that were completely free of other people. And as the icing on the cake, the sun broke through the storm clouds for the last 30 minutes or so. I don't know if these images convey the awe and wonder that I experienced that day, but I'm glad that I have them to remind me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I know, I know. I teased with the B-17 video and then didn't deliver. You see my main hard drive chose this week to bite the bullet so I had to order another drive and completely reinstall my system yesterday. All is well now and thankfully I had all my pictures stored on another internal drive (plus back ups of course). Anyway, all that to say that the B-17 images will be coming soon, for real this time. Here's a couple of panoramic images of the Hollywood Bowl where my family and I will be spending Easter morning. I took these yesterday morning while setting up.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Liberty Bell

Here's a little teaser for some upcoming photos.

And that was day 2. ; )

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Never know where you'll find...

These beautiful orchids were brought to the studio by my boss, who had grown them himself. I walked in the front door and was just blown away. It worked out perfectly that they were placed in front of the studio logo which is made of a white and red lucite material. The color really made them pop and provided a great backdrop. I used my trusty G9 to make a few images, and this was my favorite.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A good read

I recently read photographer Joe McNally's book "The Moment It Clicks" and I can't recommend it highly enough. The humorous stories interspersed with valuable tidbits make it entertaining and educational. This guy seems to have shot almost everywhere and everyone you can think of. His mastery of lighting and storytelling are apparent, but his humor and self-effacing style are unexpected and what set this apart from other photography books.

I wanted to to quote Mr. McNally on what I think perfectly encapsulates the purpose and power of photography. "The sweet sound of the shutter and the explosion that occurs in your head and your heart when you make the shot. The deal is the shot, you know. You make the picture and you know something just froze solid in a shifting world. Something stabilized, for all time. You just hung your hat on a moment that otherwise would be gone forever, and now you can go back and take a look at that moment, be it amazing or ordinary, any time you want."

Just awesome.