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...