Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Funny story from last night - They salute me on the radio

So...I am driving home last night and my son sends me a text message saying that I was on the radio. I am thinking, "I can't be on the radio since I have not done any interviews with anyone...
". But my son tells me that his friends have called him and told him that they heard something about his dad on the air. So I called the radio station and, sure enough, they did a salute to me on both KLIV and KRTY here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Click the link below if you want to hear the radio spots. Too funny.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Photographing My Niece's Wedding

This weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing my niece's wedding. As we drove to Sacramento, CA, we encountered some pretty heavy rain and I wondered about the weather conditions for the big day. Well...we woke up to bright sunny skies, which pleased everyone in the wedding party, everybody except me since this is not my preferred shooting conditions, but what can you do? Since I had not photographed at this location before, I got to the location early to find some good shooting spots. They had a morning wedding which meant that we would be shooting their pictures at high noon. Yikes! Bright sun, very little shade, no clouds to come to the rescue, and they had a couple of spots where they really wanted images taken (that were not ideal at this time of day.) Time for me to sweat a little!

Caitlin and her new husband looked great, which made my life just that much easier.

We started taking pictures from one of their favorite locations out in front of the Temple. I knew that this was going to be a challenge. Luckily I had brought along my Photoflex diffuser with me and my brother-in-law made for a great lighting assistant. For this shot, I had a diffuser over Caitlin (to shade her) and had my wife hold her veil out to side.

I did find a couple of spots with some shade, and this is one of my favorites. I used the California Sunbounce to put some warm light on them and used a little fill flash to separate them from the background.

The wedding party with my daughter, Ali at the far left. :)

Some people are going to look at this shot and think that I hired a model for this wedding pose, but nope, Caitlin just looked like a model!

Toward the end of the two and a half hours of shooting, I was playing around with Caitlin and asked her to hold her bouquet up to her face. I just love her eyes and thought that this would make for a cool shot. I took one look at the screen on the back of the camera and knew that this would be a keeper.

Caitlin and Adam have their first dance.

And my brother-in-law, James, looks like a proud father during their father/daughter dance.

Congratulations Caitlin and Adam!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I make the cover of the local newspaper - very cool.

After I returned from the Olympics, I was asked to meet with a local reporter to give them information for a story in the local paper. I met with them at my home office a couple of weeks ago, sat down and talked for an hour or so, and then sent them some images for their newspaper. They originally asked for two images and then subsequently asked for additional images, since they decided to increase the space dedicated to the story. Yesterday I started getting emails from people who saw the story, so I got online to read the story myself. Then...I got home to see that I made the cover of the paper (and they ran the images in color). Fun stuff!

The link for the story is:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Our Embarrassed Dog: Bailey

For those of you who know the Cable family, you know about our funny dog named Bailey. Not only is he a really good dog, but he is incredibly patient with us when we dress him up in costumes or make him do weird tricks. So...this afternoon when I got home from work, nobody was home so, I decided to use Bailey as my model for some shots. It was evening light which meant that it was low enough in the sky to not cast shadows and yet light enough for photos. I grabbed my Canon 5D Mark II and mounted a 150mm Sigma Macro lens, and started with a standard pose...

...and then I had an idea. It was time to pose Bailey for his famous "I'm so embarrassed" shot.

A couple of months ago, my wife taught Bailey to lay down on the ground and put his head flat to the ground whenever she said "Bailey - you are so embarrassed!" I grabbed a treat (since we all do crazy stuff for treats!) and had him go into his embarrassed mode. The treat was sitting in front of him for a good minute or two while I shot this. He kept his head low and just waited for me to stop shooting before he had his reward. I love the look in his eyes.

And then, after he had his treat, he came over to me and I was petting him with my left hand. I grabbed the camera with my right hand and shot some macro shots of his face. I like this shot the best because of the catch light in his eye, the "Groucho Marx" eye brows, and the reflection of the house in his eye. My first thought when I saw this image on the computer was "Our house through the eyes of a dog".

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hey - It's Almost Spring!

It's a far cry from shooting the Winter Olympics, and a heck of a lot closer to home. Yep, it's our backyard. While I was up in Vancouver, my wife and kids were busy planting new flowers in the yard. As we approach Spring, the flowers are blooming and the bees are out in force. A great time to break out the macro lens and the extension tubes. (Extension tubes extend the distance between the camera and the lens to allow closer focus on nearby objects).

I shot this image at the full resolution of 21 mega pixels with the Canon 5D Mark II. If you were to zoom into the full resolution image you would see each speck of pollen on the face and body of the bee. This guy was nice enough to stay still for a split second with the barrel of my 60mm macro lens shoved almost right into his face.

I was busy shooting the inside of some Daisy flowers in the backyard, but then stopped and noticed the lines of this bloom, not yet fully opened. What attracted me to this particular bloom was the way that the sunlight was just kissing the top of the pedals.

The weather in the Bay Area has been really nice for the past week (while the East Coast got slammed with huge storms - not to rub it in or anything). The Tulips are in full bloom.

It is so cool to use the macro lens and get really close to isolate the stigma of the flower. The colors of these flowers are so amazing. Photographing these images is not too difficult, heck, Mother Nature is doing all the hard work.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Clear Day In San Francisco

Yesterday we made a family trip to the Marin Headlands. As we drove into the San Francisco, we could see that it was a very clear day. For those of you who know the city, it is not often that you have a clear day with no fog or haze. The traffic getting through San Francisco was brutal, but once we made it onto the Golden Gate Bridge and headed over towards Sausalito, things eased up and we relaxed and enjoyed the day.

By the time we made it over to the headlands, it was 11:30am, not the best time to take photographs. But, since we were there and it was so clear, I had to grab a couple of shots from this vantage point.

For this shot, I climbed down the hillside until I came across a cluster of Golden Poppies so that I could frame them into my shot. Not the best shot, but at least it was different from the hundreds of people who were taking the "standard picture" of the bridge from up on the road. For those of you photo enthusiasts out there, try to include an interesting foreground in your shots to make them different.

This is a less creative shot, but I could not resist this shot since it is not often that I can get a shot like this with the city so clearly in the background of the bridge. Hey, sometimes we are allowed to shoot the "tourist shots" too. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lessons learned from the Olympics

It has now been more than a week since I have returned home from the Olympics in Vancouver and, as you might expect, I have had countless people ask me about the experience. The most common question that I get is, "Did you have fun?" in which I answer, "Yes, but it was also one of the most exhausting experiences that I have ever encountered".

It is now 3:45am in California and I have still not had a solid night of sleep in a month. Lots of things going through that little brain of mine. Things that either keep me from falling asleep or wake me up in the middle of the night. For some reason, this morning I woke up thinking about the lessons learned at the Olympics, and what I would do differently next time.

Lesson 1: Probably the most surprising thing about photographing the games, was the immediacy in which the photographers post their images. As you blog readers know, most of the time I was trying to edit the same day or the morning after each event. This is pretty much unheard of with event photography. I mean...who in the right mind expects you to shoot a wedding or Bar Mitzvah and have all the best images edited by the next morning, right? the Olympics, the big agencies have Ethernet lines run right to the photographer so that they can shoot, edit and post their best shots within minutes of the moment captured. This means that Ethernet cables were run to their seats at the hockey games, along the snow to their shooting positions at the half pipe event, and even up the slopes for the downhill events. Amazing! Shawn White would make his first run down the half pipe and minutes later, the USA Today would have an image ready to post online.

This cracked up the pressure on me. At the beginning of the Olympics, I would travel on the press buses with all my camera gear, but I would not bring my laptop, since it would add even more weight to my already heavy load. But, by the middle of the games, I realized that I HAD to have my laptop because 45 minutes on the press bus was 45 minutes of editing time lost. This was obvious to me when I saw everybody else cranking out images (using their cellular cards from their laptops) from the bus.

Lesson 2: I learned is that I need to edit less. That means that I need to go through the thousands of images and find the best 5 or 6 and get them done quickly. Typically I would pick 30 or 40 to edit. Too many!

Lesson 3: Don't over edit! I am really picky about my shots and want to make sure that they are perfect. I found out that, at the Olympics, there is no time for perfection. I need to get it done well and get it posted and not worry about the minutia.

Lesson 4: Be more careful when picking my top images. Since I was in such a hurry to get images selected, edits and uploaded, I sometimes missed key images. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed that I had actually captured a key moment in the first USA vs Canada hockey game. On the image below, I had an image of Kessler's amazing empty net goal, with the puck just coming off of his stick. I had edited the image before this one, that frankly was not quite as sharp and without the puck in the shot. It sure helps to have a 30" display to see these details (vs that tiny 15" display on the laptop)

I also skipped the key shot from the opening ceremonies, which was the snowboarder jumping through the hoops at the very beginning of the event. I knew that I liked, but since it needed a little more editing than the rest, I put it aside (and never went back to it until earlier this week - Ooops).
Lesson 5: Shut down the brain and try to sleep more. I am not sure if this is possible, but I think that next time I would rely more on Melatonin or some other sleep aid to try and sleep better. Speaking of which, now I am going to try and get back to sleep for a little bit before the work day starts. Good morning everyone!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Looking back at the last two and a half weeks of the Olympics

Wow! The last two and a half weeks of being at the Olympics have been a combination of hard work, great opportunity, inspiration and education. It was an amazing experience, being there for so many marquee moments of the games. People have asked me: "What was your favorite event to photograph?" and really I can't think of one event that stands out that much more than the others. The short track speed skating was really exciting, the hockey was filled with energy as expected, and even curling was interesting to watch for the first time.

Each sport had it's own challenges photographically. I had to determine the correct shutter speeds for each event to capture the essence of the game. I had to determine which lenses to use (and carry) to grab that moment of time, either really tight on the athlete, or showing the athlete and the surrounding environment. And most importantly, within the limitations of the venue, where to stand to get the best shots with the most interesting backgrounds. I had all of these challenges while dealing with the Olympic sized logistics (security, special clearances, ticketed events, transportation, geographically spread events, deadlines...). And of course, it was not easy being away from home for 2 1/2 weeks.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was an honor to be selected to photograph the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and it was an experience that I will never forget.

In those two and a half weeks, I covered more than 20 different sporting events, numerous press conferences, the Team USA party and even a small amount of site seeing. I shot more than 40,000 images, keeping almost 13,000 of them in the final collection that I brought back with me. Of this collection, I have 419 images which are my favorite edits and 178 that I feel are "the best of the lot".

I was really lucky. I did not have any technical issues with any of my equipment (cameras, lenses, memory cards, bags...) and for that I am really thankful. Throughout the frantic pace of these couple of weeks, the only item which I managed to lose was a lens cap for my fish eye lens (which I left in the cup holder of my seat at the hockey game). I can deal with that.

Now I am back home and getting ready to enter the real world again, back to the daily routine that seems so foreign already.

As I leave the Winter Olympics behind, and bid the city of Vancouver farewell, I will leave you with a couple of last images from this adventure.

A shot of Lions Gate Bridge at night. This is the bridge that leads from Vancouver to both Cypress and Whistler, so this was a bridge that I crossed many times.

This is a shot of the International Broadcast Center (taken from the MPC). You will probably recognize this building as the one that NBC was broadcasting from. You can see the Olympic rings in the background.

On my last night at the Main Press Center, I made it a point to borrow one of the press rooms to get this shot of me with the Olympic backdrop. It was the last image taken on my trip, so it belongs at the end of this Olympic blog, but I apologize to all of you for ending this portion with my ugly mug shot.

And now...back to reality...