Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall in New York City

It was time for my annual October trip to New York for the Photo Plus show. Even though I was stuck inside for most of the daylight hours, I did my best to get out and shoot some images. The fall colors were almost at their peak and I was bummed that I could not see more of the foliage.

Myself and a great photographer friend of mine, Alicia Hansen, made a trip to Roosevelt Island with some of her photography students. It was the last couple hours of daylight which made for some nice images. I shot this looking across the river from the island.

This poster say it all. (Photo Tip: I like really like this image because of the patterns of the lights, but most importantly, the poster helps support the fall colors in the trees behind. Also, the text at the bottom of the sign reminds me and others of the location of the image.)

In this image, I lined up the setting sun with the lantern in the foreground to effectively "light" the lantern. Alicia saw this before I did, so I guess I need to give credit where it is due. :)

As I walked along this path, I saw this man painting in the distance and had to take this picture. The leaves in the foreground were beautiful and the park benches lead the eye right to the subject.

And then the sun made it final drop behind the skyline and I snapped some shots of the Chrysler Building peaking out from behind some other structures.

Alicia, one of her students, and myself were walking down a narrow passageway (to meet the other groups) when I saw this very cool light being reflected off of a building (across the river) and onto this wall. I asked Alicia if she would be my subject for some portraits here and she graciously accepted.

The following day, myself and a couple of other photographer friends made it out of the show just in time to catch the last hour of daylight. We took the subway over to Brooklyn and walked from the station. As we walked down a particular street I saw this tree and had to take a shot of the colors.

We walked over to the viewing area just in time to see this fireball of light behind the Statue of Liberty. 

As always, I tried some different techniques while working the scene. This was created with a two second exposure, waiting for the first second and then rolling the zoom.

After the sun had set completely we decided to try some portraits. So I changed lenses to my Canon 50mm 1.4 which lets in a lot of light. I added my flash, with it turned all the way down, and we took turns taking each other's portraits. My good friend, Bob, took this for me.

(BTW - this blog was posted from 38,000 feet on my flight home - too cool!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Studio shooting with one light

This weekend, I decided to break out the pop-up background and one studio light to have some more fun and to experiment with my new Sekonic light meter. I set up one studio light with a softbox to my left and relied only on that one light.

Here is a shot of my wife and her favorite warm blooded mammal (nope - it is not me). Obviously, they see eye to eye.

This is a shot of Danielle, my neighbor and my daughter's best friend. I love her big blue eyes and they really showed up great in these shots.

Bailey was looking up at Annette and I was able to get this shot of him. We love our big black dog but it is really a challenge to get a good picture of him.

This is my wife, Annette, being a goofball. Almost every time that I point a camera in her direction I get this type of reaction. I think it is a combination of not wanting her picture taken and me having the camera pointed in her general direction too often. :)

This is my daughter, Ali, who had just gotten her hair cut. She really liked the haircut, which was the original inspiration for setting up the backdrop and lights.

For those of you who are not photographers, you might be surprised that the backdrop was pure white. Because I was exposing the camera for the subject and not the background, and because they were 5 feet from the background, the subject is exposed correctly and the background starts to go dark. If I had moved them farther from the backdrop and closer to my light, I could have exposed the images to make the background go completely black.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nope! This isn't the Olympics...this is having fun photographing bowling!

I have photographed many different sports over the last 10 years but never once had the opportunity to photograph an event at a bowling alley. I was shooting images for a corporate team building event and had a blast capturing these shots.

I started shooting the standard images from behind the bowlers but wanted to try something more fun, so I moved to the front of the lanes and shot back at the participants.

I purposely shot the images at 1/25 of a second so that I would get some motion in the images. I knew that the flash would freeze my main subject, but this still gave me enough motion blur to separate the bowler from the background.

The teams were very competitive and I wanted to show that in my images. I shot this image of my friend Lauren (who was about to bowl) with two of her teammates watching intently behind her.

I created a slide show of all of these images to run before the meetings the following morning and everyone loved the shots.

You might be wondering how I got this shot of Ricardo bowling. Would I be dumb enough to stand in front of him while he hurled a 15 pound bowling bowl between my legs? Yep, that is exactly what I did! (I did remind him that I like my feet and legs and to be very careful in his form).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A motivational speech from Vince Poscente - Olympic Speed Skier

This week I was photographing the Worldwide sales meeting for Micron Corporation in San Jose, CA. On the first day of the conference, they had a motivational speaker come to open the meeting and get people fired up. The speaker was a gentleman named Vince Poscente and he did a great job. Who is Vince? He, at the age of 26, decided to take up speed skiing and in 4 short years made it to the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France.

Vince made a great entrance into the room, running down the center of the crowd, and jumped onto a chair on the stage. (Luckily I had just repositioned myself into the front row in the middle of the group and grabbed this motion shot of his entrance.)

He hopped up on the chair and took everyone on a speed skiing run with him. He talked about the experience of staring down a really steep hill and the challenge ahead of him.

He tucked himself into position and recounted his experiences on the slopes.

Reaching speeds of more than 130 miles per hour, Vince talked about the need to focus on the goal, while still enjoying the ride. 
Everyone enjoyed his presentation and learned from his experiences. I enjoyed the speech and also enjoyed capturing the different emotions that he portrayed during his hour long motivational presentation.

At one point, Vince talked about his motivation to become an Olympic athlete. He was a young child and saw the opening ceremonies of one of the Olympic Games on TV and thought "I want to do that." At that point, I thought "I totally get that!" as I thought back on my determination to photograph the Olympic Games for the first time with only five years of professional photography under my belt. Sure...different side of the action, and I was not marching in the opening ceremonies, but as a photographer, it was an Olympic moment for me!

If you want to learn more about Vince, you can go to his web site at:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

San Francisco Fleet Week 2010 - The Blue Angels Fly Above The Bay

Every year they have Fleet Week in San Francisco and the big draw of Saturday and Sunday is the grand finale with the Blue Angels. Yesterday, I made the trek up to the city with my kids (since my wife is out of town) and we watched the show once again. The weather was perfect and the show was great as always.

Before the arrival of the Blue Angels, they had a bunch of other performances, and this year, unlike the previous years, they had a low flight of a United 747 which was pretty cool. With the close proximity of the plane, it was easy enough to zoom in and get a full shot of the plane (which I did as well), but my goal was to get a picture of the plane low to the ground and this one basically met that criteria. If people did not know the story of this image, they would probably assume that the plane was "Photoshopped" into the Alcatraz image.

 And then it was time for a couple of biplanes to come in and entertain the crowd.

But, of course, the big draw to the show is the Blue Angels and they did not disappoint. Here are the six planes coming in over the Golden Gate Bridge. (For those photographers out there - it is always great to get tight pictures of the planes, but you need to tell the story and make sure to show the location of the action. Since the Golden Gate Bridge is iconic in SF, this was a perfect location for that shot.)

And here is one of those tight shots of the tight formation. This image was shot at 21MP and when I zoom into the image, I can see each pilot and even read the pilot's names under the canopy of each plane. (See below)

I love the symmetry of this shot. These pilot's are absolutely fearless and perfectly accurate in their precision.
This image shows you how low these guys are flying over the Bay. They have to make a "lane" in between all the boats to give them room for these types of maneuvers.

This is one of my favorite shots from the day because it shows the water vapor surrounding the wings of the #6 jet. I did not see this during the show. I only saw this when I was reviewing the images and was excited to have captured this at 400mm (with some cropping and zooming on the computer) for everyone to see.

And then, 45 minutes later, the Blue Angels made their exit with a tight formation right across the San Francisco Bay...

....and they headed back to the airport to rest up for yet another performance on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A different view of a Bar Mitzvah

Last weekend I photographed Alexander's Bar Mitzvah in Los Altos, CA. During the two hour service, along with the standard shots which I always get, I looked around for something a little different. It is my goal at every event to shoot unique images that help "define" that day. 

As always, I was in the back of the Temple shooting, since this is the only place where I am allowed to photograph. I saw this gentleman stand up in front of me and thought that his kippah (hat) was really cool looking. I changed my aperture so that I would get the background in just enough focus to see the people at the front of the Temple, but made sure to focus on the back of the man's head. I like this shot because it is a different view of the service.

And here is another shot where I purposely focused the camera on the grandfather in the front row, while showing a hint of his grandson in front of him.

And to do something totally different, I focused my 400mm lens just at the feet of the parents, while they were up at the front of the Temple. I like the image because it focuses the attention on the details, the shoes, the pants and the hanging tallit.

This is one of the "standard shots" but one of my favorites from the day. This is a shot of Alexander getting a big hug from his grandmother. I like the fact that you can see the big smile on his face.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I like to roll the zoom while doing night shots, but I have never really tried this effect in the daytime. In the same spirit of trying something completely different, I changed the ISO from 3200 to 100 and set the aperture to f22 hoping to get a long exposure. This gave me a 1.5 second exposure to work with. I like this shot because it shows Alexander twice; one image within the other.

Towards the end of the service, the rabbi asked everyone to get together to sing a song, and all these kids formed this perfect connection. I have photographed plenty of Mitzvahs, but I have never seen this before. I think that it really shows the closeness of these friends.

Friday, October 1, 2010

One very large panorama shot - Hong Kong at night!

We shot quite a few short video segments while in Asia, and one of those "tips and tricks" videos was instructions on how to shoot a good panorama shot. I wanted to create a really nice panorama image to insert into the video, and tried one from Kowloon during the day, but the sky was too hazy and it really didn't look that impressive. But, during my night shooting at "The Peak" in Hong Kong, I shot 4 horizontal images (overlapping them by approximately 25%) of the beautiful skyline, hoping to get a good usable image.

When I returned to my home studio and ran the images through Arcsoft's Panorama Maker 5 on my Mac, I was thrilled with the results. I used NIK Dfine 2.0 to remove the minimal digital noise in the sky and Photoshop CS5 to clean up the image, and sharpen the buildings.

You can click on the panorama above to get a larger view, but that is still only 9% of the original image!

I figured that this would be a good image to throw on the wide format printer, just to see how it held up, and wow did it come out cool! The resolution is so tight that you can actually see people in the windows of their apartments. I guess that is what you get when you combine four 21MP files into one large document.