Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Deer

We are now 5 hours from 2009 and it is hard to believe how quickly we flew through 2008. It has been an unbelievable year for me and I truly appreciate everything that I have experienced in the last year. Amazing travel experiences, meeting inspiring people, a job that I love, a great family and friends. Now if we can just fix the economy, everything will be just dandy. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A week in Mammoth Lakes, CA

We just returned from a week in Mammoth, CA and we could not have asked for better weather. Clear roads for the trip there and back and a whopping big storm on Xmas day (which made a perfect excuse to stay inside all day and play with new toys). As I mentioned in the last blog, it was a great time to spend with family (lots of them) and the Peterson family for a couple of great dinners.

We made numerous photo trips to different areas around Mammoth. One trip was up to the old mine to look for a rare species of Long Horn Sheep, but we never saw any of them. Not that it was a waste of time. Nope!

We found some other great subjects, including this Road Runner which was sitting on a post right off the side of a small road. We pulled over and shot pictures of this guy for at least half an hour. He was very patient with us (creeping ever closer to him). As you can see from the pictures above, we also made time to photograph sites along the way. We stopped at this nice tree lined road and then the following day we went to Lee Vining Canyon and shoot pictures of the waterfall there. Sometimes I forget just how beautiful the state of California really is.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Spending time with the Master

Everybody has someone who they look to as a teacher and a mentor. For me, that person is Moose Peterson. I was lucky enough to meet him 4 years ago when I was as green as they come. Since then he has helped me hone my photographic skills, but more importantly, we have become great friends. Moose, his wife Sharon, and even his son Jake (who is an awesome photographer himself) are people you want to hang out with.

Here is a picture that I took the other day of Moose using his "Moose Cam" which is a camera mounted on top of another camera so that he can capture video tutorials for his blog. Very cool! Check out his blog at:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fun in the snow

This is a great time for my wife and I. I can not remember the last time that I have taken two weeks off. Fun - but - maybe too much time together! :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mammoth for the holidays

The Cable family is in Mammoth, CA (aka the land of Moose) for the holidays. We made the 8 hour drive from the SF Bay Area and beat the storm. We had clear roads for the whole way here, but it has been snowing ever since. This is a good thing, since they need every bit of snow (and water) that they can get here.

After being cramped up in the truck for that many hours, the kids and dog really wanted to get to the house and play in the snow. Nobody was more excited about the snow than Bailey, our giant dog that did not appreciate the cramped back seat. He jumped out of the truck, dove into the snow and proceeded to bury his face in the fluffy white stuff.

I love photographing Bailey here in the snow since it is one of the few places where I can light him correctly (using the snow as a giant reflector).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fisherman's Wharf for a Night

Taking two weeks off of work sure is nice. I can travel with the family and just hang out. Of course, I never leave home without my camera and could not pass this up. We went to dinner at Fisherman's Wharf with my family and my brother's family. Since my brother wants to learn more about photography, I made him return to the hotel and grab our cameras to return to our dinner spot to grab this shot. Good thing we captured this when we did since it rained all the next day and night.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis The Season

This time of year, I am busy shooting lots of family pictures for friends and neighbors. I enjoy doing it and they appreciate getting something better than the "Mall Chop Shop" photo of their kids with fake smiles and "one lighting setup fits all". I was shooting pictures for a friend of mine and we finished shooting at sunset. The light had come and gone and we were just chatting about photography. While we were talking, his daughter sat down and was relaxing under some stairs at the park. I popped on my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens to show him how I could capture images even in low light, and this picture was the end result. I love the angelic look on her face. What a cutie! It always amazes me when I get back to my home studio and one image out of the batch really shines above the rest. This was one of those for me (and the family loves it too).

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Next Generation of Photographers

I haven't had a chance to go out and shoot much in the last couple of weeks (other than lots of family pictures for friends), but the family did make a quick trip to the beach at Half Moon Bay, CA a couple of days ago. The weather was not great, so we basically relaxed and cruised around. My daughter and I scampered off to go shoot some pictures. I took this shot of her standing on the beach with her intently photographing the waves on the rocks. I love the fact that the camera and lens (Olympus E3 DSLR with an Olympus 100-400 equivalent lens) is almost bigger than she is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Photographing my son's swim meet

My son, Connor, is swimming year round now and we had a swim meet last weekend. Like most photographers, I was not about to leave my camera at home. So, along with cheering him on, I captured some pictures of him and some of the other kids.

I have always preferred photographing the Butterfly stroke because the swimmers come out of the water so much more than in the other strokes. This was just as true in Beijing for the Olympics as it was here at our local swim meet.

I loved it when the swimmers performed their turns in the backstroke. As they resurface, they are exhaling which makes for some pretty cool bubble patterns.

This is the first time that I have captured this type of backstroke entry into the water at this exact time of entry. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back home now

There is nothing better than flying back home after being gone for a week of traveling (even if the trip goes great). I was able to catch an earlier flight from NY and landed home in time to see the kids before they went to sleep. On my way into Denver, for the connection, the sun was low in the sky and created some nice light off the engine of the plane for this shot.

Moose Peterson and I saw these cool fire escapes off of Canal Street and I thought that it would make a cool picture by combining the different shots into one image. You can see his great shots at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Photographing NY with Moose Peterson

Photo by Moose Peterson

As many of you know, Moose Peterson is one of my mentors, and having the chance to shoot with a photographic wizard and great friend is a real treat. We shot some pictures on Sunday night and then went out again this morning. Today, we started off at Canal Street and just meandered from there. We ended up finding some really great areas to shoot. Since it is 1am here in NYC, I am going to post some images and get some sleep. I will add more later. Happy dreams!
Check out the moon over Radio City Music Hall

A very cool tile ceiling that we happened to find along our city trek.

I love the different levels of clouds that formed over this city today.

We ended up at the Brooklyn Bridge. This is the first time that I have ever walked the bridge during the day, and what a great day it was.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Finally got a chance to photograph Washington DC

I have wanted to photograph Washington DC for a couple of years now and I finally had a chance to do so. The weather was not ideal for shooting big city scapes (it was very overcast with some light rain), but made for some cool close up shots and night photography. Hey, if the weather is not ideal, find the ideal shots for the current conditions.

The following picture is one of my favorites from this short trip. This is a photo taken at the Korean War Memorial. The weather was really misty which added to the scene. I set up my camera on a tripod, left the shutter open for 30 seconds and walked in front of each statue and fired my flash to "light paint" each of them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pictures from the Helicopter Shoot (FINALLY!)

Flying over New York city was really amazing and provided a very unique view of the city. Here are a couple of images that I captured while hanging out of the chopper.

Check out the amount of light generated by the advertising signs of Time Square. Pretty cool (literally).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shooting from a helicopter over NYC

Tonight I had another great opportunity to take my photography to new heights...literally. I was shooting another ad for the Lexar "Focused on Photographers" campaign. This time I was harnessed to a helicopter (with the doors removed) and shooting the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Vincent LaForet while he was shooting photos of New York City. We hovered at 1300 feet over the Empire State Building at sunset and also flew over to the Statue of Liberty to shoot there as well. It was cold and windy, but very fun!

Before getting on the helicopter, we put on our harnesses and prepared all the camera equipment. I carried two camera bodies with different lenses since it is not advisable to change lens or memory cards in an open helicopter above the city (I actually did change one 16GB card - holding it in my teeth and them handing back to the assistant in the chopper). We were in the air for about an hour, from just before sunset until dark. If you haven't ever done this, I recommend it. :)

I actually prefer flying over New York as opposed to driving through it. The sites are better and there aren't any people in your way.

Taken after we landed, this is the assistant, myself, Vincent LaForet and the pilot.

My favorite part of the trip was after we landed and I called home to check in with the family. My daughter, Ali, answered the phone and after I said hello, she said "Hold on dad", put the phone down, and yelled "DADS ALIVE!!!!". :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots

It has been a long time since I have been to a SF 49ers game. Most of my friends who played for the team have since retired and I have not had much interest in returning to Candlestick Park. But since I had a chance to photograph the game on the field, I made the return trip. It was a perfect day to shoot, the weather was exceptional (especially for San Francisco) and this was the day that they retired Steve Young's jersey. Since I have never been a huge fan of Steve Young (long story), I didn't care much about seeing him, but it was great to see Keena Turner, Brent Jones, Junior Bryant and other old friends. The fans were thrilled to see Jerry Rice on the side lines for most of the game.

The 49ers played well but could not pull off a win against the Tom Brady-less Patriots. A couple of key turnovers and spotty defense didn't help. But, hey, at least the photographic opportunities were there for the taking.

To see more pictures from the game, you can go to:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympics in Beijing - One More Event Before Heading Home

Well...I have been in Beijing for almost 2 weeks and it is time for me to leave tomorrow morning. As much as I am looking forward to getting home to the wife, the kids, the dog, American food and drinkable water, I am also sad that I am leaving before the games are over.

On my last day, I did get a chance to shoot the woman's synchronized diving competition. Shooting this event was exciting and humorous at the same time.

The building would be very quiet while the athletes would prepare for their dives, and then just as they make their jump, I would hear the shutters of 50 cameras (mostly Canon 1D Mark IIIs which can shoot 10 frames per second) bursting away as we followed the divers until they were completely in the water. This same sequence would happen every minute or so.

It was really amazing to see the divers symmetry through a camera, when reviewing the images after each jump. I have no idea how the judges could see all of this in less than 3 seconds.

The American team did not do very well at this sport, but the Australian's grabbed silver. As good as the Aussies were at this sport, the Chinese dominated.

Now that I was done shooting this event, it was time to leave the Olympics grounds for the last time and head back to the hotel to pack. As I was leaving the grounds, I took one last look behind me and shot this picture of the Olympic torch above the Birds Nest. This is not my best image, but it has a lot of meaning to me, as my last Olympic image, after shooting more than 15,000.

Goodbye Beijing and thank you for making me at home for the last couple of weeks. This has truly been an amazing experience that I will never forget. J.M.C.

To see more pictures from this trip, you can go to:

Olympics in Beijing - The Best Day

Today was amazing. I showed up to the Water Cube just in time to catch Michael Phelps swimming freestyle for his 3rd gold medal. Man, is that guy fast! Trying to photograph him swimming freestyle is almost impossible. He rarely came up for air and when he did, he was so low to the water line that you could barely capture his face.

Luckily, he ended up swimming a qualification heat for the butterfly stroke not long after his freestyle win, which is a much better stroke to photograph.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics in Beijing - Fencing and Beach Volleyball

Today I went over to the fencing hall which is located directly across from the Water Cube and conveniently close to the MPC. Although I know very little about this sport, it was still fun to photograph this event. They turn the lights down in the venue and then spotlight the athletes, which makes for some cool high contrast photographs.

After shooting fencing for a couple of hours it was time to take a short rest before making the bus trip over to the beach volleyball venue. The bus trip took about 30 minutes, using the freeway lanes designated only for Olympic vehicles. I loved those!

Getting down on the sand level for this sport is key and provided some really great shots. Although I consider my photographs to be art, my wife has questioned me many times about the amount of images that I captured showing the back end of the girls. I stick by my original claim - it is art.

Enough said.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympics in Beijing - Opening Night!

They thought that it might rain tonight but that never happened. Although that was good for all of us, it did mean that the weather was very hot and humid this evening. Fighting a little bit of sickness (probably from something I ate last night - I'm not sure what that was!), I headed out for 6 hours of walking and shooting.

As the ceremonies continued for hours upon hours, I walked around and shot pictures of the performers and the building. I headed for my favorite spot on the bridge. This is the spot with the reflection of the Birds Nest. Since all of the photographers had seen images from the practice earlier in the week, everyone who was "up credentialed" and not inside the Birds Nest wanted this same shot. So...photographers got to this spot between 6am and noon and claimed their tripod territory for the midnight show. That is true dedication to get the image!

I, on the other hand, showed up at the bridge at 9:30pm and bribed a photographer from Italy (with a new Lexar 300x 4GB Professional CF card) to let me squeeze my tripod next to his. The weather was not as clear as the practice earlier in the week, but we deal with whatever weather we get. Anyways, I did get some shots of the fireworks but my favorite shot is the one with the lights coming off the office buildings to the left. Very cool lighting.

The final fireworks show was really intense. I had no idea that many of the firework cannons were placed 30 feet behind me, covered by a fence. For ten minutes we experienced the sounds of war. By the time the show was over, all 150 of us photographers (and all of our gear) were covered in gun powder and shell casings. I think that Canon and Nikon were busy cleaning cameras and lenses for most of that next morning.