Oct 31, 2010

Colorado Characters

Labor Day in Colorado was very nice, and packed with interesting people. We started our adventure with a visit to Garden of the Gods Park: huge rocks, lots of people--draws photogs like honey draws flies. Like this guy, A., who was visiting and making pics of his friend. Always fun to hobnob with other photogs.

This fella was just cleaning the route his friend had led--too bad we were too late to catch the leader.

 The Garden is apparently comparable to Mount Rushmore; it was enough to draw this fellow and his family from South Dakota, and he was kind enough to be cajoled into a picture. The rocks are so red that there's red light reflecting everywhere in the garden. This is shot with the Nikkor 300mm f/4 ED lens (check out that bokeh!)

A few hours shooting at the Park really works up an appetite. After our meal at Popeye's there were several coworkers waiting for the bus near our car. The light in this dude's glasses made me do a double take, and I just walked up and asked him if I could photograph the light in his glasses (see, if people feel like they are just a background to the subject (the glasses) then they are not nervous and don't mind being photographed). He was a gem about it.

Same thing here. We made our way over to the balloon classic, where people were enjoying the fair-like fare. Who wouldn't stop to shoot those glasses and that drumstick?

Don't know why the sun glasses were so great this trip. Click through the link below for some more images, including one that may have inspired my Halloween hairdo. 

Oct 29, 2010

Week's Favs

Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.4 AF-D lens, f/2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 800.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @160, f/4.0, 1/125s, ISO 800.

Flower Friday

Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens @ 270mm, f/7.1, 1/250s, ISO 800. This was one from Hong Kong.

Oct 28, 2010

Old Friends

L. and I were class mates for, like, a hundred years when we were kids. She married A., and I moved away, but we got back together recently to catch up...and make pictures, of course.

Oct 24, 2010

Strange Things

We'd been sent to investigate some strange things happening at he University. Students seeing strange things, and then doing strange things. Like this guy, running his guts out over and over up a steep hill, and never seeming to tire, and not paying attention to onlookers.

Very strange, indeed. So, my team was assigned to document the strange things and hopefully find a cause so that this madness could be terminated. It's not an easy job, and it's not glamorous; but it's the kind of thing my team lives for.

The first strange thing we noticed was these guys. They were very cheerful, which caught our attention immediately: it was after five in the evening, and working late after a long day forming cement would have left normal people a little disgruntled and ready to go home.

 I think I actually heard them whistling the same five notes over and again. It was like the sun setting in their faces made them happy and upbeat. Very strange.

Click through for the rest of the story, but be warned: it's very strange...

Higher Learning

Nikon D700, 300mm f/4 lens, f/8.0, 1/5000s, ISO 400. The United States Air Force Academy turns out officers who receive some of the best learning available. And this is the view that greats them every time they walk out of their dorms. It's the roof of the Academy Chapel, which has sanctuaries and chapels for several different religions and sects. I think it's a beautiful building. These spires run the length of the entire edifice, suggesting the launch of a row of jets into the heavens; and if you graduate from here, you might do just that.

Oct 22, 2010

Hungry Hungry Hippos

St. Louis has this terrific tradition of free and inexpensive cultural and educational facilities. There's the Arch, the Art Museum, and, not to be missed, the Zoo. I remember visiting these places when I lived there as a small boy, and was hoping to visit some again while I was there this week. I only had a little bit of time before my flight home yesterday. I used a little bit of it at the Art Museum.

That was a good choice--probably the best choice I could have made. I saw an exhibit on photography commissioned by the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. There were some really moving photographs there, like this one by Marion Post Wolcott (click on it to see the biographical info).

The reason it was a good choice was that seeing some terrific photographs, not to mention paintings and sculpture, stimulated my own eye to start seeing some art around me. I walked around the museum and explored some very nice light pouring through high windows, but there just weren't very many people in the museum on a Tuesday afternoon. I was itching to see some living art.

So I walked over to the Zoo.

It's a great zoo, and it's all very modern and kids and parents alike enjoy visiting there. I asked the gal at the desk if there were likely to be any animals active at that time of day (not likely)...she just stared blankly back at me. I tried a different approach, "If you were visiting here at this time of day and only had about an hour, what would you go see?" The unhesitating answer: Zebras. She pointed me down the path and away I went.

On the way I talked with the docent at the insect house and butterfly-arium (the butterflies were a bit...flighty, but the flowers were pretty good (see Flower Friday below)). I also saw a couple of giant anteaters eating ants, and a cheetah, and a red hog. But they were all pretty lazy.

Then I came around the corner and saw an elderly lady's hair aglow as sunlight poured under the pavilion she was sitting under and lit her up like an octogenarian angel; then a giant pig swam by.

So, I cleaned my lens, but when I looked again the giant pig was still there.

 Are you a product of the eighties? I am. And it shows. There were lots of things from that era that just stick with a guy. So the whole time I was standing there watching these leviathans swimming about, there was just one thing on my mind.

Anyway, one couldn't help being enchanted by these big, lumpy animals with mysteriously dry looking skin. There is really nothing else like a hippo. Look at that jaw!

Fortunately, I wasn't the only one enthralled with the river horses, and these two images are the result of going to the art museum before the zoo.

 Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 1000

Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, f/5.6, 1/1600s, ISO 1000.

I never did find the Zebras.

Oct 21, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D700, 55mm f/3.5 Micro lens, f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 400.

Final Approach

This is the first effort at an idea I'm working on...

Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/4.0, 1.0s, ISO 1600.

Oct 18, 2010

Fall Is About To

Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens @ 135mm, f/11, 1/320s, ISO 400.

Oct 17, 2010


Enjoyed a shoot with the Cache Valley Photographers, yesterday. What a great bunch of folks they are! everyone has a different perspective, and a different skill level, and a different set of passions. The skill level doesn't even matter when you're together with them because an image the gal standing next to me--hunched over her tripod, squinting through her viewfinder--is making ends up being absolutely different from mine. Her subject, framing, lens choice, depth of field, perspective, even white balance choice make such a different image from mine, that it's like we aren't even at the same location when compare pictures later. Take these images made yesterday, for instance: it's like looking at another place when I view others' pictures. By the way, it's free to join this terrific bunch, so sign up while you're there.

Yesterday we toured the northern reaches of Cache Valley to see some really wonderful vistas and some very striking historic barns. We had three barns on the schedule, but I could literally spend three days at the first one alone. The fellow who owns the place, Wes, is 95 years old, and has lived there for ages. He has a terrific barn, and a few sheds, as well as an amazing home. All of it is in good condition...just old. 

And well used.

The patina that Wes' place naturally has couldn't be copied by the best in Hollywood. They should come here to learn what a working barn really looks like. Everything is in just the right place.
The only things newer than about fifty years on the whole property were the Dodge in the barn ('86, I think) the TV, and the satellite dish on the front porch (when analog broadcasting was discontinued last year, his neighbors convinced him he'd like it; and as I understand it, ESPN is on pretty much constantly).

Even Wes, himself, just belongs there. His look and attitude are precisely what you imagine when you think of lost agricultural heritage of the American West.

 Wes was kind enough to allow us to thank him for letting us come, and let us take a few pictures of him (lemee think here...16 photographers...82 pictures each...carry the 4...yeah, we took a few).

He enjoyed us enjoying the barn just fine; but he couldn't understand why we'd want to waste the expense of film on him. I showed the pictures on the back of my camera, and explained that there was no additional cost by taking his picture...

...he just snickered, and excused himself. The game was just coming on, you see.

Go Yanks.

Oct 15, 2010

Travelling Toes

Jenn had her toes done up before we headed out for Labor Day. They got around quite a bit this trip, and they saw lots of sights, those toes. It was nice to have them along for a trip for a change. Here they are at Helen Hunt Falls, which is one of the first places these toes ever met me in the hills several years ago. The stream was cruzin' along, and about two feet from the top of the frame it careers off the cliffside. Stay on the bridge, little toes.

Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/4.0, 20.0s, ISO 400, circular polarizer.


Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 82mm, f/4.0, 1/8000s, ISO 640.

The thing is, when you make a picture of a dark scene, you have to underexpose what your camera says should be the right exposure. This was actually very bright, with the rising sun shining through the balloon's silk. However, the camera's light meter calculated a considerably brighter exposure, which would have left us viewing washed out colors and a grey silhouette. By using the exposure compensation button on my camera (looks like a "+/-" symbol--even my cell phone has this!) I overode what the camera's meter calculated and got just the exposure I was looking for: the stretched silhouette of the kid walking by.

I can just imagine the wonder on this kid's face as he watches this enormous balloon come to life. It sure is fun to watch them change from a roll the size of two big suitcases into a flying flower.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 75mm, f/8.0, 1/1250s, ISO 640.

Oct 14, 2010

Flower Friday

Aechmea fasciata (Urnplant)

Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens @ 270mm, f/11, 1/320s, ISO 800.

Oct 12, 2010

Open to Opportunities

It's a door; they're everywhere, in every country. So why make a picture of one? What makes one door worth shooting over another, especially when visiting an ancient Asian Palace? Or, for me, worth waiting ten minutes to have the light in the right place? Well, that's it: the light. 

When making photographs, light is the only reason to fire the shutter. Photography is all about recording light reflected off of stuff. Sometimes it reflects in nice ways and creates interesting shadows and highlights. 

I love to read books. All kinds of books. Stories that are fictional, stories that are documentary, and stories that are funny. Sometimes, light reflects off of stuff and tells a story. I'd like to learn to find those stories, see them, record them. I want to make the pictures of people's stories--families, couples, individuals, kids. I'm not much for writing stories myself, but I reckon I could record the stories reflecting around me.

And that's why I don't have pictures of the whole sweeping scale of the Emperor's Palace. The story of the whole is pretty tough to record all in one image. So, I tried the technique of finding the small stories to hint at the whole--maybe like a preview for a movie; if it tells too much, then there's no reason to go see how the whole story plays out.

These are a few more of Ray that I promised to share here. Not a lot of story here, except for the hint about what kind of fellow Ray is: confident, East-meets-West, sharp. And of course, he's a lot of fun.

Still, we wouldn't see it without the light. This is every portrait photog's favorite light: soft and indirect. It's brighter on the right, but Ray's dark suit and hair frame his face very nicely in the light on the right, as well.

This one? Well, let's call high definition.
You can find more of Ray on my Facebook Page. Be warned: there are a lot.

Light here may be telling a story that's not quite accurate, however. These old friends met just moments before when I offered to take a picture of the whole group for these peppy Japanese gals. They were super grateful, and wouldn't let Ray and I go without taking a picture for us...and then they couldn't let us be in the picture without them! And, of course, five more pictures with each of their cameras, too. Taking pictures for people leads to some of the best memories you can ever have on vacation.

Oct 11, 2010

Street Sweeping

In China, if you're hanging out with a local photog, and he asks if you want to go street sweeping, don't grab a broom (which would be really weird, since the government pays a ton of ladies to sweep the nations streets by hand every day--really: I've only ever seen women doing this job. Sure beats the dole.). grab your camera, instead and hit the streets. Street photography is usually done in cities, and is usually candid. It's one of my favorite things to do on trips. I try to find things that show the culture I'm visiting and that would be interesting to people at home. I love that the Chinese call it "street sweeping".

This is one I made in Korea, recently. I like this capture of two guys chatting on the job site. I also like the reflective bands all the construction workers wear to keep their cuffs out of the way.

Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens @ 270mm, f/8.0, 1/1250s, ISO 400.

My favorite from my trip, I think, I made this one early morning as the whole city was walking to work. I sat across the street in front of this wall, waiting for someone to walk under those cool shadows.

Nikon D700, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens @ 165mm, f/8.0, 1/400s, ISO 400.

Tonight, my class and I walked around Logan a little. It's tough, however, to be candid when there are 14 photographers walking down the street with cameras on their necks. So, instead we were direct and asked people to take a moment and let us practice our craft on their visage. Haven't been turned down, yet!

Canon 7D, 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 400.