Tuesday, January 26, 2010

OLYMPIC PREPARATIONS - Two weeks and counting!

Here it is, T minus two weeks until I leave for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and I am in full blown planning mode. One of the biggest challenges is getting all of my gear on the airplane and over the border. LowePro has the perfect solution for me with their Pro Roller x-200.

This is a really nice roller bag (really more of a suitcase for my gear) that also converts to a backpack. Why would I want to carry all this on my back, you might ask? Well...if United Airlines decides to restrict my carry-on, I can check the suitcase portion of the bag and carry on all the gear. So far I have managed to fit 1 camera body, 8 lenses, two flashes, chargers, batteries, filters, and over 100GB of Lexar CF cards into this bag. Once I get to Vancouver I will most likely switch to a smaller bag for more mobility (depending on what event I am shooting and how much equipment I need).

Last week I went through the Olympic schedule and tried to map out my plan of attack. My goal in the 2+ weeks is to photograph as many different events as humanly possible, while still keeping my obligations to my work and USA Hockey. Below is the first pass at my schedule. I am sure that a lot will change once I get up there. And...of course...much of the latter part of the schedule depends on how well Team USA does in the playoffs.

Stay tuned...more to come!

Friday, January 22, 2010

San Francisco - A different view (again)

Let's face it, I grew up in San Francisco and have spent a lot of time driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. One might think that this drive becomes old or mundane, but actually on almost every trip across the 1.7 mile span, I almost always think about the fact that this bridge helps to define the city and is a major tourist attraction. What really makes the bridge and it's surroundings interesting, is that every trip has a different view. Sometimes the bridge is fully visible, other times it is totally blanketed by the fog...rarely is it ever perfectly clear. As a photographer, I love the variety of images that this provides.

On this particular visit to the Marin Headlands, I was with a large group of photographers, many of who had never been to this vista. I was happy to be shooting (since a bad day shooting images is still better than a good day at the office), but had shot images here enough times that I needed to find a new perspective, as much to keep me interested as capturing something for the portfolio. So, this time, I decided to zoom in tighter and just show a hint of the bridge while focusing in on the city.

I walked to different vantage points, finding spots where the wires of the bridge would help frame the Transamerica building. Could I have shot an image showing the city in the background with more of the bridge in the foreground? Sure. But I think that this shows enough of the span to get the point across and make people think a little more.

As we waited for the sun to set, most everyone had their cameras and tripods facing East, watching the last bits of sunlight reflecting off of the bridge, but I was waiting to get this shot. A silhouette of all of them lined up for the "big shot".

And this shot looking towards the West, as the sun sets amongst the incoming fog.

And even though I was looking for more unique shots, I still grabbed some images from the "typical" view of the bridge. I really liked the blanket of fog resting just above the skyline of San Francisco. (15 second exposure, ISO 100, Aperture 4.5, 35mm)

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's official - I got my Vancouver Winter Olympic CREDENTIALS today!!!

It is now three weeks away from the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and I just received my credentials from the USOC and Team USA Hockey. Reality hits!

I am getting prepared. Trying to figure out the best way to carry all my equipment ON the plane and thinking about all the logistics once I get there. I plan on blogging every day that I am there, with new images from the day and some behind-the-scenes stories. I encourage you and your friends to join my "Jeff Cable Photography" page on Facebook to get the updates.

And...the fun begins soon!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

No shortage of poise and personality here!

Yesterday I had the good fortune to photograph Hannah's Bat Mitzvah and the party in the evening. As her dad said after the service, "She nailed it!". As I steadied the camera and captured the images, I had a hard time believing that this girl was only 13 (well...technically still 12). She was so confident and articulate. And the best part for the photographer, she never stopped smiling for 2 hours!

Within minutes of arriving at the Corinthian Event Center, I saw Hannah spinning on the dance floor. I asked her to do that once again and caught this image. Actually, I captured a number of images during this spin, but I like this one the best due to the positioning of her hands, dress and feet, and best of all the smile on her face. It is images like this one that make me glad to be a photographer. I captured an image that, I think, defines her poise, her confidence and her pure enjoyment of the day.

This was one of the nicest party venues that I have worked, and the people were amazingly well organized. Since I was not feeling very good yesterday (combining a messed up stomach with broken ribs), any help was greatly appreciated! This image, which provides a very cool overall shot of the party, was taken from a balcony area three stories above the party.

I took this image on a tripod so that I could drag the shutter of the camera (1/5 of a second) to get some of the motion of the dancing. I combined this with a diffused flash to add a little light to the image. Whenever they beak out the glow sticks, I try to get a fun image like this.

Before the party started, I was messing around with the camera and trying some fun tricks and grabbed this motion shot of Joy and her two daughters. Again, I combined a slow shutter speed with an on-camera flash. The trick to this shot is to move the camera as you shoot. The flash will freeze the nearby subjects while the slow shutter will drag enough to distort the background. I think that this is a much more interesting (and fun) image than the straight mother/daughter shot most people would take.

Friday, January 15, 2010

San Francisco Fire Department - Firehouse #34

Earlier this week I had a chance to shoot images with my good friends, Moose Peterson, Joe McNally and Laurie Excell. All great photographers and really good people! We made a trip to Firehouse #34, which is right by the Cliff House area of San Francisco. This station is unique in that they have a rig specifically for water rescues. And growing up in the city, I would always hear about people getting swept to sea from the cliffs. They do keep busy!

We wanted to capture images that showed the uniqueness of this firehouse, so we had them position this truck in the station with much of the gear showing. Trish is a firefighter who works this particular rig and we had a great time capturing images of her in front of her rescue tools.

And this is a picture of the Captain of the station. I positioned him to the side of the firetruck so that I had good colors behind him. As you can tell, I used the rotating emergency lights from the truck to give me interesting lighting behind him. The trick in this image was shooting at the right time, so that the lights were part of the background and not pointing right at the lens of my camera (which caused lens flare).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pictures from the John Legend Concert (with a special appearance by Stevie Wonder)

Last week I was in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. I was not feeling great, so I basically took it easy when I was not doing my work at the show. But on my last night there, I was offered a ticket to Monster Cable's concert, featuring John Legend and I took advantage of that offer. I grabbed my camera (since it was a private party with no camera restrictions) and headed off to the Paris Hotel.

All of my best lenses were at home in CA and I only had my Tamron 28-300 variable aperture lens for this trip. I pushed the ISO of the Canon 5D Mark II to ISO3200, but I also knew that for good shots I would have to get in close. Plus, I was not content shooting images from the back of the room. So I worked my way past the three levels of security and found myself a couple of feet from the stage. While I was there, I took full advantage of the position and fired off a bunch of shots.

I really had fun keying in on John Legend while taking advantage of the stage lighting in the background.

I like this shot because it shows the throng of photographers at the front of the stage (before they kicked us all out of the area). And then I started moving around, to get some different perspectives.

I stood in the back of the room (on a raised platform) and shot this image. I wanted to get a wide shot showing the full band and some of the crowd. Even though the close-up shots are really cool, this image helps show the whole environment.

And then...when we thought it was all over, they announced a guest appearance by Stevie Wonder. At that point, I was at the back of the room, but this was too great an opportunity to pass up, so I had to make yet another trip past security to get this shot!

And then, about an hour and a half later, the show was over and I headed back to my room to download and see what I had captured.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another image of the Las Vegas Strip

I took this picture from my room (in the Ballys Hotel) on Wednesday night. I saw this really nice sunset unfolding in front of me and quickly set up the tripod for this shot. The trick to this shot is to get close to the glass, turn off all the lights in the room (to avoid reflections), and try to hold something dark behind the camera to further reduce any glare. On this shot, I did all those things but still had a bit of a reflection in the upper left hand side of the image. Using Adobe Photoshop, I had to do some repair work to remove the distraction.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trying to find some beauty in Las Vegas

Honestly, there is very little that I like about Las Vegas. I am always here for conventions and get really tired of the cigarette smoke, loud noise and crowds. Not to mention the 27 mile hike from the lobby of the hotel to my room.

But amongst all that frustration, there are a couple of sites which I do appreciate. The fountains at the Bellagio Hotel really are cool, and make for some great photos. Since I am staying across the street and had a free hour last night at 10pm, I walked over in the cold and shot images from 3 of the shows.

The great thing about these "performances" is that there are almost endless possibilities when it comes to photos. Every second provides a different scene to capture.

This shot above is a combination of two exposures so that the fountains did not completely blow out the image. I have one exposure for the hotels and a second exposure for the fountains. How did I do that with moving fountains? I processed the RAW image twice and layered them in PhotoShop.

I really like the patterns created by the fountains in this image.

And here, I decided to crop out the fountains and just show the spray coming up into the skyline. I think that the symmetry of the lines makes this more interesting without the fountains and water. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Just messing around in a museum in Santa Cruz, CA

We made a quick trip (and I mean REALLY quick trip, we are talking about 30 minutes here) to Santa Cruz on Sunday. We were nearby and decided to stop by and the see the model train setup at a local museum. The model train was disappointing to the kids (and us) but we had fun checking out the rest of the museum and grabbing some shots along the way.

This is a picture of my wife's cousin's daughter (whatever that makes her). There was a rather interesting display of hanging "banners" from the ceiling. I had her walk into the middle of the display and shot this image. My goal was to show the artwork but also draw attention to her very cute eyes.

I shot this hanging over the edge of the staircase. I was trying to get a shot of some other hanging sculpture, and this little girl happened to walk into the perfect spot and peer up at the right time. This would have been a throw-away shot if it wasn't for the little girl looking up in wonder. (I also like her shadow which helps to fill the emptiness of the floor.)

This is my son Connor and my two nephews (Philip and Sean). I really liked the blue wall behind them, so I went down to a different level and shot back up at them. I took some images of them looking directly at me, but liked this one better. If they only had a band, this could be there CD cover image. :)