Wednesday, April 27, 2016

100 Day Countdown to the Summer Olympics in Rio!

Today marks the 100 day countdown to the Summer Olympics in Rio and the excitement is growing! I woke up this morning and thought about the last 4 Olympics that I have been lucky enough to photograph. To commemorate today, I decided to post images from opening ceremonies from each of those big days.

The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was the first Olympics for me, and one that I will never forget. At that time, I was not able to get "up credentialed" to shoot the opening ceremonies, but I was able to get a premises pass that would let me shoot from outside the Bird's Nest.

Every Olympic year, there is a lot of talk about how the host city is not ready for the Games. Although I have found this to be a lot of hype, there is also some truth to it. I shot this photo of a Chinese man working on the Olympics grounds at midnight, the day before the opening ceremony.

Here is one of my favorite moments from the Beijing Olympics. Having a chance to see and photograph Michael Phelps in many of his competitions, I had a smile from my face for days.

Approximately two years later (2010), I was photographing the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And this time, I was able to get a ticket into the Opening Ceremonies and experience that for the first time. (Even press have to be ticketed for certain "high impact" events.)  

One part of the Olympic Flame failed to rise from the floor, but I didn't care. It was still beautiful, and made for a good story.

This fish eye shot was one of my favorites from the Vancouver Olympics. I was shooting (and continue to) for USA Hockey in the Winter Games and feel honored to do so. I love watching and playing hockey, so this is very natural for me.

In 2012 I was in London to photograph the Summer Olympics. Here is photo from their Opening Ceremonies. Ever time I look at these photos, it brings back memories for me. I remember having to be in the stadium for 7 hours prior to the start of the ceremony and the many hours of anticipation leading up to the event.

I was sitting in the "head-on" photo position, which save me a clear shot of each team entering the stadium. This photo was one of my favorites from the London Opening Ceremonies, as the home team entered for the first time. I still get chills when I see this.

The Summer Olympics in 2012 was my first time shooting for USA Water Polo and it ended up being an amazing experience. I really enjoy the sport, and more importantly I love the support people at USAWP and the athletes themselves.

Photographically, it was a challenge to get unique shots for the team, but the team was very happy with the results. So much so that we are working together again in Rio.

This photo was one of my favorites from London, because it was the first time I ever photographed a Gold Medal match for "my team". I am hoping that I am in the same situation with both the men's and women's teams this year!

My favorite moment from the London Games happened hours after this photo was taken. After hours of editing and posting for the team and their advertisers, I was invited to the team party. Not as their photographer, but as a part of the team. I remember talking to many of the athletes who told me that they could not wait to get back to the village after each game to log in and see the photos that I had taken. How cool is that?

And then there were the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, where I was once again photographing for USA Hockey as my primary team. For these Opening Ceremonies, I was sitting in a higher position, but still able to zoom in and capture Team USA entering the stadium. Chills once again!

As many of you know, Sochi had a lot of challenges for myself and the other media. But overall, I still think of those Games with fond memories. Heck, I came home with a ton of really crazy stories to share with all of you.

This photo shows one of my favorite moments from the Sochi Olympics when T.J. Oshie was called upon to make one shootout goal after another. It isn't often that I get to see and feel the game when I am shooting, since I am concentrating on getting good photos, in focus and at the peak of action. But this game was incredibly exciting, even for me as I was doing my job.

I took this night shot of the Olympic Flame towards the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Being one of the last shots taken at that Olympic Games, It is the perfect transition photo to the next Games.

After years of planning, I am very excited about my upcoming trip to Rio. I am flying there 5 days before the Opening Ceremonies, so that I can shoot and share lots of behind the scenes photographs with all of you!


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A little bit of China in downtown Portland, Oregon - The Lan Su Chinese Garden

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I flew up to Portland, Oregon to celebrate our 25th anniversary and see our daughter, who is currently studying at the University of Portland. If you read the last Portland blog post, you know that we spent a couple of days visiting the Columbia Gorge. While we were at the gorge, I took an iPhone shot of one of the waterfalls and posted it on Instagram and Facebook. (If you are not following me on Instagram and Facebook, be sure to do that, since I try to post a new photo everyday.) After posting that photo, a nice gentleman named Scott contacted me and welcomed us to his home city. He also said that he was the Director of Marketing at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and invited my family and I to stop by.

One of the great things about having all you blog readers is that I often get a chance to meet new friends wherever I travel!

It turns out that we did indeed have a couple hours free on our last day in Portland, and so my wife, daughter, and I stopped by to meet Scott and see what this was all about. And I have to tell you, we were amazed with this beautiful garden, right in the middle of downtown Portland!

(Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens at 45mm, ISO 640, f/10, 1/640 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
We parked close by to the garden, and walked towards the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Since the skies were overcast, I decided to leave my Tiffen HT circular polarizing filter in the car and just grab my Canon 5D Mark III and 24-105mm lens. But just a minute or two later, the skies cleared and we saw some blue through the clouds. Filter or not, I was happy to have something other than a grey sky to work with. I saw this reflection in the water and loved the mirror image effect.

At the front entrance of the garden, I looked up and saw this tiny little hummingbird perched on the dragon.

When photographing, I always look for interesting repeating patterns. When first entering the garden, we saw this amazing stone work. Scott told me that each of the large curved pieces was the same tile as used on the roof of the buildings.

(Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens at 24mm, ISO 640, f/10, 1/320 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
This was the first room that we entered. I loved the view of the garden through the ornate windows. I stepped back and shot this through the doorway. I metered for the outside and let the doorway and windows go dark. When editing this photo, I used the lens correction filter in Adobe Photoshop to make sure that all the lines were straight.

(Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens at 75mm, ISO 500, f/4, 1/30 sec)
Here is a detail shot of the woodwork in this first room. For this photo, I metered on the wood, since this was my "subject" and I wanted it to be exposed correctly.

(Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens at 105mm, ISO 320, f/4, 1/160 sec)
Also inside this room was a Chinese man who did these amazing paintings. My wife and daughter purchased a hand-painted piece with our last name.

It was fascinating to watch this talented artist work his magic with the simplest of tools. I got down low and took tight shots showing the details of his artistry.

I look at people like this, who can create art without a camera (like my wife) and think "wow - these people are truly talented!"

The painting almost completed.

After getting our painting and leaving that building, we entered the garden. Looking back, I took this photo, not because it was a good scenic shot, but to show you how the garden is placed right in the middle the office buildings in downtown Portland.

(Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens at 60mm, ISO 160, f/4, 1/100 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
Here is an ornately carved wood wall.

After walking through this circular entry, I turned around and shot this off-center.

I really liked the view from this location at the far end of the garden. There were a lot of people walking around, but I waited for all them to move on before grabbing this shot.

(Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens at 28mm, ISO 640, f/10, 1/640 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)
This is my favorite photo from the Lan Su Chinese Garden. I love the colors, the reflection, the bright blue sky, and the puffy clouds. I purposely stood in a spot where I did not see any of the office buildings in the background. All you see in the photo is the Chinese architecture and foliage. I have showed this photo to many friends and asked them where they think I took this. Every one of them thought this was taken in China.

To learn more about Lan Su Chinese Garden, check out their web site. And I would like to thank Scott Steele for the invitation and the hospitality!


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Wow! Something different and amazing!

About 20 minutes ago, I was sitting at my desk and finishing another blog post for all of you, when I got a text message from my daughter, Ali. The message was just a url, and I had no idea what the heck she was sending me. I clicked the link and what I saw and heard blew me away! So much so, that I am putting my other blog post on hold and sharing this with you all.

Here is the video:

This is my daughter giving her speech today at University of Portland. Ali has Crohn's Disease, which is an invisible disease which affects her stomach and digestive system. She has had numerous instances where she has used a handicap pass on her car. Because people see her walking from the car without any obvious signs of what we all consider "handicap", they pass judgement. I am not going to say any more, I invite you to be inspired by daughter.

You can click the video image above or click here to be inspired yourself.


One proud father...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A visit to the Colombia Gorge, just outside of Portland, Oregon

Last week was spent in Portland, Oregon, where my wife and I spent 3 1/2 days celebrating our 25th anniversary. Since our daughter is attending university in Portland, and we had not visited her in a while, we decided that this would be a good trip to take.

But we also made some time for just the two of us to get out and explore. On Wednesday morning, we got up and decided to head out to the Columbia Gorge. My first time and my wife's second time there.

It was pretty funny. The valet brought our rental car to the front of the hotel and saw my tripod in hand. Without any hesitation, he said "Do you want any information about the Gorge?" I guess we were not the first people to photograph this area. :)

He recommended that we get off the main freeway (at Exit 22) and take the frontage road to get a more scenic drive. This was an excellent suggestion.

This drive took us past the Vista House (which you can see here on the right). As you can see the weather was pretty typical for Oregon, with overcast skies and light rain.

When I took the first photo I figured that the hills and overcast skies would look better converted to black and white. So, after editing the photo, I took it into NIK Silver Efex Pro (which is now downloadable for free) and converted it.

Our first stop was Latourell Falls, which was my favorite. This first shot of Latourell Falls was taken right from the viewing area on the side of the road. No hiking necessary for this shot. I was actually happy to have overcast skies, since this made it easier to photograph the waterfall with a slow shutter speed. Since the primary reason for this trip was not photography (although I can't help myself) I brought a limited amount of camera gear. I had my Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm lens, Gitzo tripod and Acratech ball head. I set the camera to ISO 100, f/20, and used my Tiffen HT Circular Polarizing Filter to help block some more light. This gave me a shutter speed of 1/3 second. The slow shutter speed helps to accentuate the motion of the water.

We then hiked up a small hill and I took this photo of Latourell Falls slightly off center. I wanted to include the moss on the walls of the waterfall and the moss lining the trees. Again, having overcast weather made for better photos without harsh sunlight and shadows.

Here is a photo of my wife and I on our anniversary. I set the camera on my tripod, put it in 10 second timer mode and ran into the shot.

After hiking towards the top of the waterfall, we decided to hike down to the lower portion of the falls. I love isolating portions of waterfalls like this. Most people try to get the entire waterfall in the photo, but I often find that these photos are more interesting.

To get more motion in the water, I set the Canon 5D Mark III to ISO 100, f/16, which in this dark scene gave me a 1 second exposure. This was also using the Tiffen HT Circular Polarizing filter. The filter really helps, not only to block out some light, but to remove the reflections off of the rocks in the river.

We actually visited the Gorge twice in two days. On the second trip to Latourell Falls , we brought Ali and her two friends from college. Well...actually, her roommate this year (Gabi) and next year's roommate (Taylor).

We could not visit the Columbia Gorge without a visit to the iconic Multnomah Falls. On our first visit, which was early in the day, there were a ton of people visiting these falls. Annette and I enjoyed the site, but were overwhelmed by the crowds. On the second day, we went later in the day and most people were gone by the time we go to this location.

I took this photo on the second day, because I could not even get to this shooting location on the previous visit. I set up the camera and took this photo with a 1.7 second exposure. This creates a lot of motion in the water at the bottom of the falls.

Since I was doing my normal "Jeff is taking too long taking photos", Annette and the girls walked ahead and went up to the bridge. I saw the four of them looking back towards me and took a bunch of photos. Since I was shooting with a shutter speed of almost 2 seconds, I needed them to stay pretty still for at least one frame. This was the one I wanted. And for those of you wondering why I did not change the settings to get a fast shutter speed, I still wanted the blurred motion of the water in contrast to them and the bridge.

This last photo was taken by the freeway. There is a secondary parking lot that is located away from the falls. Even though we did not park there, I liked the view from far back. So...on our exit from the falls, I pulled into this parking lot to shoot a wide shot.

If you are ever in the Portland area, make sure to bring your camera and visit the Columbia Gorge. We look forward to going back and exploring more of this beautiful area.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How did Steve "Woz" Wozniak (founder of Apple) get me started in photography?

A couple of nights ago I posted a photo of Steve Wozniak (Woz) and I on Facebook and Instagram. We were at the San Jose Sharks game. I credited Steve for getting me into photography, and a lot of people said that they would like to know the story behind this. Well...back in 2010, I posted a blog about this.

Here is a repost from back in 2010 when I told the story.


Many people ask me how I got interested in digital photography and they are surprised when I tell them that it all started with Steve Wozniak, the founder of Apple Computer. Yes, the Woz himself!

I was fortunate to meet Steve more than 25 years ago, back when the Apple II was still in the Apple lineup and digital cameras were not available yet. We became friends back in the late 1980s. I think it was my love of technology and my "early adopter" mentality that formed that common bond between us. It clearly was not my level of intelligence or math skills!

On one of Steve's many trips to Tokyo, he came back with a couple of, at the time, cutting edge digital cameras, called the Ricoh RDC-1. This thing could take a digital picture at a whopping 640x480 resolution. That's right...not even one megapixel. :)

I think that the camera sold then for about $1500 and the LCD was an option. The camera used the old SmartMedia cards and I think I had about 5 of the 8MB (not GB) cards. Woz gave me one of these cameras and the rest is history. I was amazed at the immediacy of digital photography and used the camera often. After that, Woz and I would make numerous trips to Japan to shop for the latest and greatest digital cameras at Akihabara (electric town). Those trips were fun! is due to Woz's generosity and kindness that I got the photo bug.

A couple of years ago, my daughter had to do a school project on someone famous and she picked Steve Wozniak. What could be better than going directly to the source for a school project. While we were up at Steve's house, I shot off some images for her project board.

This was my favorite shot from that day, with Woz and his reflection.

Here is Ali taking copious notes for her school project while Steve patiently waited and answered her questions. He is every bit of the nice guy that you all saw on "Dancing With The Stars".

Not only do I credit Woz with my early interest in digital photography, he also ignited my interest in high-tech gadgets, cool cars and countless other fun stuff. Thanks Steve!

Oh - and Ali got an "A" on her report. :)

ADDED JULY 2, 2010-  RESPONSE FROM THE EVER HUMBLE WOZ: "Way too much credit. You did much more to get me into 'good' cameras and the like. And the skill is in yourself. The right thing is to thank friends for being along as you went in certain directions. "


As I mentioned, this blog post was originally posted in 2010. A lot has changed since then:

* Ali is now completing her first year of college
* I have upgraded to many newer cameras (from the Canon 20D all the way to the Canon 1DX)
* The blog gets a lot more traffic than 100 people a day. :)
* My photography skills have gotten much better (as I hope yours have improved)

And, kind to think of it, a lot has not changed:

* I still have the same amount of passion for photography (if not more)
* Woz is still an amazingly nice guy
* As much as the cameras have changed, I am still using some of my lenses from 8 years ago.
* I still love sharing my photos and stories with you all, here on the blog.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.