Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ahhh - The Good Old Days

About an hour South of Mammoth Lakes, CA is a small town called Bishop. Within this town they have a very cool area where they have maintained old buildings, trains, tractors... I went out there with my photo mentor and friend, Moose Peterson. We both brought along our son's to capture their images along side us.

This shot was taken inside of an old store. There was a ton of old stuff in this building, but I like this shot because of the colors of the containers. There was glass in front of all of the displays, so I had to get my lens right up the glass in order to avoid glare.

Like the store, the printing building had a ton of different old printing presses and old typewriters. Shooting at f4 allowed me to key in on the old typewriter while still showing all of the lettering drawers in the background.

They had some old coaches, but I was drawn more to the old wheels which were up against the wall of the carriage house. I liked the intersecting circles and the different colored parts against the stone wall.

A view from outside which shows some of the old mechanical parts in the foreground and the snow covered mountains in the back. This shot gives more of a sense of place.

For many reasons, this is one of my favorite shots from the town. I like the old car and the old gas pump, but I also like buildings in the background and the cloud formations in the sky. As I learned years ago, most good pictures have an interesting foreground (car), mid-ground (buildings) and background (sky). This image was created using HDR (High Dynamic Range) which combined 5 different exposures to get the final image.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Having Fun (and Shooting) In The Snow

The family made our annual December trip to Mammoth Lakes, CA to go skiing, sledding and just relax. And, of course, I always look forward to capturing images in the snow. This is the only time of the year when I can easily get good images of our big black dog, Bailey. The snow acts like a giant light reflector and helps me light that cute face of his. And this time, like before, Bailey was joined by his "cousin dog" Ike for some canine fun.

A shot of Ike running at me. This was captured at 1/800th of a second to freeze the action. With all that light, I was able to grab this at ISO 100 at f5.6. I like the shot of Ike but I also like the reflections from the trees in the background giving more dimension to the snow.

Here is Bailey looking very regal. He did me a favor by stopping in his tracks by the brush (and leaving some nice clean snow in the background. Thanks Bailey boy!

Nonstop fun for the dogs which also meant nonstop shooting for me. I metered these shots at +0.3 to get a little more light on the dogs (since the cameras still get fooled by that white snow).

I love this shot because it shows my son being a good big brother and helping his sister get launched. I focused on my daughter but kept the aperture at f6.3 so that my son would be just slightly out of focus. The attention is drawn to Ali but you still see Connor helping out.

This is my nephew, Shane, being a crazy kid. He is absolutely fearless and was going off the jump and facing me to get a cool picture for his room. He was wearing a green jacket which was blending into the background, so being the bad uncle (but good photographer), I asked him to take off his jacket and gloves) so that his red shirt would stand out in the picture.

The snow is a great place to take group shots too!

I love capturing kids being kids. The trick to getting these pictures is to keep your shutter speed at least 1/200 sec (at the very minimum) and have your focus mode in Servo focus (as Canon calls it). This means that as you burst images and the subject is coming closer to you, the focus is changing with each shot.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More hockey? This Time It Was Connor's Team

Connor asked me to shoot his hockey game this weekend and, as a good father, I did this for him. It was also a good chance to try the Canon 1D Mark IV one more time before sending it back to Canon :(

The lighting in this roller rink is really bad and I had to crank the ISO of the camera to 4000. Yep - that is 4000, not 400! It was really the only way to capture the images in focus. I did use NIK Dfine (software for removing digital noise), but even so, the images were very usable.

For those photographers out there, you will notice that the white balance is different in almost every shot. This is partially due to the editing, but mostly due to the really weird lighting at this rink. The lighting will be much better than this in Vancouver, but it is still a very good test of shooting in a brutal environment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Trip To Vancouver: Preparing For The Winter Olympics

I am just returning from trip #2 to Vancouver and just got a tour of the new Main Press Center (MPC) which is still in construction. Although it is not as big as the MPC in Beijing, it is pretty impressive. All of the photo and print Press will be working in this modified convention center (pictured with the colorful "sails" above) and the broadcast Press will be next door in the International Broadcast Center (IBC). I was only in Vancouver for about 24 hours but I made the most of the visit. It rained for most of the time that I was in the city, but it cleared enough last night that I hopped in my rental car at 11pm and went back to Stanley Park (just across from downtown) and shot this picture. With each passing day, I get more excited to be able to photograph the events of the games! As the photo manager told me today, "You have the Golden Ticket for the Games."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A "Rainbow" Bar Mitzvah

As a photographer, we can try to control lighting, background, distractions, and the subject, but as much as we might like to, we can not control mother nature. Yesterday was one of those days where the weather changed every half hour. We had light rain in the morning, some sunshine during the service and then a mixture during the luncheon. This created some really nice rainbows outside the Temple. The Rabbi actually said a prayer for the rainbow which was a first for me. I never knew that there was such a thing! :)

If you look closely, you can actually see the rain drops falling in the background of this image, but the family was standing under the little cover that we had. I love the fall colors behind them.

And then it was time to move back inside to capture the rest of the images.

This is one of my favorite shots from the day since it shows a different perspective of the service. Focusing on the people watching the service, instead of the standard shot of the participants. I purposely shot this at an aperture that would blur the background just enough to give a hint of the service but still keep the focus on the girl and her father.

A wide shot of the Temple showing the cool wet weather outside with the warmth of the service on the inside. cap it all off, we had a great rainbow at the end of the service and I grabbed Ethan to come outside and get this shot.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Ready For The 2010 Winter Olympics

It is now exactly 2 months before I head off to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Since I am the primary shooter for Team USA Hockey, I thought that I better brush up on my hockey photo skills. As part of this "test", I was able to get my hands on the upcoming Canon 1D Mark IV camera. This camera is awesome! I can shoot 10.5 shots per second at 17 megapixel. And the performance at high ISOs looks very good. are a bunch of images that I captured last night at the Sharks / Kings game.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Family Portraits For Friends

For the last couple of weekends I have been busy shooting family portraits for a bunch of friends. I have refrained from posting the images because I do not want to show the images here before they are sent to their friends (since we share many of the same friends). But, I had to post this one shot because it made me smile. It is a really cute picture of one of the youngsters and it is a good picture to show a little of the Fall season.

For you photographers out there, this was shot on the Canon 5D Mark II set at ISO 1000, f6.3 at 1/100th of a second. I used a Canon 580 EXII fill flash cranked down by one full stop. I used a 70-200 2.8 IS lens so that I could stay back and just let "the kid be a kid" and capture a real smile. I always prefer real emotions to the canned smiles, and this shows you why!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pictures From The San Jose Sharks vs. Ottawa Senators Game

Here are some shots from the San Jose Sharks game on December 1st. This was a big game since it was the first time that Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek returned to the Shark tank against their former team, and former Ottawa Senator star, Dany Heatley. There were so many members of the press that I only had 15 minutes on the glass (in the 3rd period) to shoot close ups. Most of these are from that time period.

Hey, you can't post images of a hockey game without a good fight picture! :)

This is one of my favorite images from the night since it shows the concentration of everyone's faces and the puck coming into play.

I really like this shot since Dany Heatley was looking right at the camera with a big smile. This was a big game for him and he was in the spotlight all night. I was happy to grab this image.

Jumbo Joe Thornton being interviewed in the locker room after the game.

Patrick Marleau, sporting his new war wound, while talking to the press after the game.

Dany Heatley wrapping up the evening.

All shots were captured on the Canon 5D Mark II, using the new Lexar Professional 600x CompactFash cards.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too Much Time On My Hands

So here it is...a nice long weekend...and I am basically caught up on all of my work. So it was time to play a little. Once again, Ali and I broke out the gels and had some fun with remote flash units. I set up the camera and asked Ali's friend, Danielle to fire the shutter on command. (She made a great voice activated shutter release!)

We were taking different shots with me showing different emotions (just messing around) and then, as we were reviewing the pictures on the camera, it occurred to me that this would make a cool image by combining many of them together. I call it "Jeff's Mac Attitudes". You can click on the image above to see it larger (33 percent of the original size).

Just to review how I shot these:

1. I set up the Canon 5D Mark II (and PocketWizard Mini TT1) on a Gitzo Tripod
2. I connected a Canon 580EX II flash to the new Flex TT5 PocketWizard and gelled it blue
3. I taped a piece of white paper onto the screen of the Mac (to reflect the flash)
4. I put the flash on the Mac and pointed it towards the white paper
5. I pre-focused the camera and set it to manual
6. I sat down at the computer and asked Danielle to fire on command.