Friday, November 30, 2007

Sunset Over The 710

This is not a particularly good photo, but I walked out of my office on Wednesday and this was right in front of me. It was beautiful and I had to capture it before it disappeared.

It Doesn't Look That Hot

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Color Me Beautiful

So I finished the post-processing of Christina and they came out great. I have a lot to learn about posing and such, but it was a great experience.

Here are a few more images from the shoot. You be the judge. The critic. Why? Because everyone seems to have an opinion. Even when we were doing the shoot everyone had their own idea how it should be done. It amazes me how much people 'think' they know about something. Don't get me wrong, I want to know what you all think. I just have to laugh at the people who have never picked up a camera and think they are Jill Greenberg.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

With Finesse On Top

Another photo shoot and another great learning experience. What did I learn today? I learned that my wife and I not only make a great team, but we have some amazing friends willing to help us in our quest.

One of Kymberli's co-workers and our friend, Christina Ross, mentioned to us a few weeks back that we should head out to Venice, CA and do a shoot with her. We graciously accepted and today was our date to test our skill and hone our craft.

Today I learned that having a beautiful model who knows what she's doing can really make a difference in how much you learn. I'll admit that I am good at landscape and nature photography, but photographic people has always been a challenge. I guess that's not totally true. I can take a picture of anyone, but to get them in the right pose is a challenge. Christina was a huge help in getting us over the 'posing' hump. She knew how to pose, have fun and give us tips on where she should stand. Thank you for all of your help, CR! The other amazing thing was that shooting Venice and Venice Beach is so damn colorful and cool. There is a plethora of shooting opportunities. You just have to open your eyes!

I am posting a few of my favorites from today. I am sure to post a few more during the week as a process these.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beach Front Photography

Today, Kymberli and I got to photograph a wonderful couple at Dog Beach in Huntington Beach. They brought their two dogs, Lilly and Jasmine, to be photographed with them. These dogs were tiny and so cute.

If you have never been to dog beach you have been missing out. The beach is huge where the dogs can roam. We saw over a hundred dogs out there. Some of the dogs decided to stop over and say hello to us and sometimes to the dogs.

Jameel and Emily were great sports and fun to work with. They wanted some photos for Christmas cards and to get the dogs in. The dogs were so good. They let the bigger dogs know they were not to be messed with, but when they weren't bothered they just sat there and wanted some love.

Here are just a couple of the shots I took from todays photo session.

Care To Rip It Up?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Be Ready For Anything

Today Kymberli and I had a photoshoot with her boss and his family. We knew it was going to be at their house, but we didn't know what to expect in the way of lighting or true scenery. My guess was that the sun at 9:30 am was going to be perfectly shining on the spot we needed to shoot in. Ummm... don't tell anyone, but I was so wrong. The entire area (except 10% or so) was in total shade! We did our best with lights we brought and our gear, so you be the judge.

I tell you what - this family has it. They had the looks, the form, and they worked well together in getting everything moving. They were good sports, too. I had to take the different shots (from a step ladder) and they obliged me. So, thank you guys.

Take a look and see what you think. Be honest. Comment on our blogs (my wife's is and let us know what you all truly think. It's the only way for us to get better at our craft.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving And Its Gift To Me

Now, I have only been here in SoCal for a couple years, but I feel like it has given me so much. What am I thankful for? My wife, God, my family, animals, nature... the list can go on and on. I am also thankful for a great job and an opportunity to share my photography with the world.

Since last year, I have mentioned to my wife that I wanted to give back to our community. So, I called around and found out that St. Anne's church in Seal Beach needed volunteers to help serve hot meals on Thanksgiving. Kymberli and I didn't know what to expect as this was our first time helping out with something of this magnitude.

Let me just say that today was one of the best days of my life. It taught me that the human spirit is strong, beautiful and best of all thankful. We started out by setting out silverware and putting paper on the tables to protect them. We saw parents bring in their kids to volunteer, the 'Tiara Girls" came (about 10-15 of them) and a gentleman who is 85 and just wanted to help share Thanksgiving with people. We met a few more new people and then waited for the people to show up. Most of the people were 'youngsters' from a local elderly community called Leisure World. They were not only happy to share the day, but boy were they characters. They wanted to put a smile on our faces as much as we wanted to do it for them. We brought them coffee or juice and they couldn't believe how polite we were being. (I thought to myself - I don't understand why people aren't like this more often).

*To make sure everyone knows, the food and drink is all donated by Seal Beach merchants who want to give back to the people who make their business work. One guy showed up with a vehicle full of loaves of fresh bread, donuts and other breads for each person to take when they left. Amazing.*

We met a homeless man that will forever change my outlook on life. His nametag said "Otis" and he was the sweetest man I have ever met. He sat all by himself at a table and radiated happiness. When we started talking to him he lit up even more. He told us of the bridge he lives under and that he hadn't eaten a meal in 2 days. Work had been slow for 4 days and he had been told by some friends that he should go to St. Anne's on Thanksgiving. He said over and over, "Thank you so much for having me." He said how thankful he was to have a place to go to get some food and best of all - kind words from people he had never met before. I kept shaking his hand and I told him that it was our pleasure to share a day with someone and to be able to share a warm meal. His outlook on life was something you had to hear to believe. Here was a man with no home, no job, with nothing but a backpack and a sleeping bag under a bridge and he didn't ask for a thing. He said he was thankful and that was all he needed. Now, I don't usually share my feelings like this, but damn - this man had nothing and didn't complain. I know that other families get together on Thanksgiving and instead of being thankful they eat the equivalent of 3 meals each at one sitting and complain about their lives, their jobs, their kids, and I could go on and on. Otis, you are one of a kind and thank YOU for giving me a new outlook on things.

We were called into the kitchen and given our tasks. Kymberli was on turkey detail and I was dishing out stuffing. The assembly line was great. Turkey > Yams > Mashed Potatoes > Creamed Corn > Stuffing > Gravy and then it was served. We served over 120 meals in less than 9 minutes!! That amazes even me, but we were cranking the plates out. Once we finished serving everyone we were given a plate and told to eat a meal ourselves. I felt a bit guilty eating because I remembered back to Thanksgivings past and how much I would eat. Gluttony - yikes. So I made sure to put a little bit of each thing on my plate, but not too much. We sat right at the table with the homeless and it was great to see the smiles and thanks for a warm meal. Even when we were eating we didn't want to stop serving them. We asked them if they wanted more and we got them more. Kymberli even got a plate full of food and wrapped it up for a guy named Angelo. Only when he got up to leave did we realize he was a veteran of the Korean War and had three medals on his hat. As we looked around there were more and more veterans there that were homeless. This makes me very sad. How can we send people over to war and not take care of them?

I am sitting here with watery eyes as I type this. When we finished eating we started cleaning up and helping where we could. From the kitchen I saw my wife talking with two homeless gentlemen who had just come in and sat down. She came in and asked me to help her get two plates of food for these guys. We loaded them up and brought them out to them. They joy in their eyes is something you will never, ever know unless you do something like this once in your life. I can't even describe it to you. I felt like we were doing something that we were meant to do. We watched them eat for a few seconds and knew they were hungry, so we went back into the kitchen to make a plate for them to take with them to go. When we gave them their plates, one of the guys looks at my wife and says, "I am about to cry." We told him that it was great to have him there and to eat up, enjoy it and make sure they got some pie. They both said thank you more times than I can count. I didn't need a thank you, but it sure felt good. It also felt good to take time out of my schedule and show others that they are loved and wanted and that we know that hard times can hurt, but if you keep an open mind you can find some warmth. Whether it be in a warm meal, a warm handshake or a warm bed, you can always find warmth someplace. If only more people would share it.

We cleaned up and said our goodbyes and everyone said they were happy we showed up and to please come back next year. You can bet on that!

So, the next time you say you are starving, or hate your job, or want 10,000 thread count sheets - think about Otis. He'll show you what starving means. He'll gladly take your job for some work, a paycheck and some shelter. He'll also show you that 10,000 thread count sheets might be nice, but they won't keep you as warm as a sleeping bag behind a tarp under a bridge when the wind is blowing. So be thankful for what you have and enjoy the people around you. Take a step back when you feel unhappy about the way things are turning out. You may as well be happy in what you have because at that particular moment nothing is going to change. Not unless you do something about it. No point in complaining - it won't help. Say thank you to the people around you. YOU might not think it makes a difference, but to the guy bagging your groceries or the guy cleaning the toilets in a public restroom it does.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Everyone should do this at least one time during their lives. It will change the way you think.

Traveling The Guided Route

Outside of the Seal Beach Animal Care Center last night. I wanted to do some night photos and found the airplane route fascinating. You can see the streak at the top where the planes were traveling. One of these nights I am going to do a long exposure near the airport to see what kinds of cool lighting effects I can see.

Summer Brings Love

More Portraits To Share

I finished processing the rest of my photos from last Saturdays shoot and I found 3 more that I enjoyed looking at.

Being able to edit in the RAW stage (only way I shoot) is far more productive than trying to edit a jpeg file. I would never recommend shooting in jpeg mode unless you have to turn something around quickly (for the web or something for quantity and not quality).

I had to post these three. I usually think posting too many images can be somewhat boring for the viewer, but that's just my opinion.

Family Photo Shoot

Last Saturday, my wife and I got our first chance to do some portrait photography. One of our good friends had contacted us and asked if we would be willing to take some family shots. Of course we agreed!

We set up the shoot at the Seal Beach Pier and it not only was a learning experience, but it was great fun. We had a blast working together. She got to do her shoot and then I would do a set up and so on. We knew we wanted to wait for the light right before sundown, but we also knew the kids would probably not sit still long enough to. The kids were actually really patient until the end when we realized we had been out there for two hours.

For our first shoot I would say we did well. We got some great photos and now they will be able to put some on their walls and have some to share with family.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos from the shoot:

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gathered Around The Water Shooter

Lucky for me, I usually bring my camera with me to work. Most times it just sits there, lonely, begging to be picked up. Wednesday was my cameras lucky day.

It was your typical day at work. Sometimes it was busy and other times you did everything you could to keep your head up from being drowsy. I am fortunate to have an office where I can see out into our parking lot. One of my co-workers starts waving at me through the mirrored window to come out and see what he is looking at. I figure it's another great blue heron that is stopping by for a gopher lunch. I reach into my camera bag and rustle out my camera and bolt for the door. He meets me halfway and tells me a tractor trailer decided to do a u-turn by our office and took out a fire hydrant. Sure enough, this is what I see when I walk outside...

The Long Beach Fire Department showed up really fast and we noticed that they had what looked like a newbie (rookie) who they sent out in bare feet and a raincoat. Once they sent him in he couldn't hear what they were saying. This cracked me up.

The water was pouring down and had to be freezing. I felt bad for the guy, but I also figured that it had to better than running into a burning building and risking your life.

The Water Dept. showed up and one of my co-workers yelled to him and told him not to rush. He looked at us and asked why and we told him the other guy was already soaked. So he drove over and by the time he got out the newbie had the water off. The water guy was all smiles...

To cap it all off, the officers handed the hero a washcloth type towel. Thanks guys! I have to admit I was laughing about it all.

The guy was a champ and deserves a big thank you. So, thank you LBFD newbie.

Nikon D3 ISO Samples

Ron Gilbraith has posted a wonderful summary on his site that were all shot with the new Nikon D3. In case you have been in a bubble, the new D3 can go up to ISO 25,600 <-- this is NOT a typo.

I was able to check out the D3 in action at the Photo Expo West a week ago and it is phenominal. Read Ron's blog and see for yourself!

Ron Gilbraith's Blog

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Around here we don't have much in the way of nature to photograph - or do we? As far as I am concerned it is always around and you can find fun things to photograph if you put your mind to it.

I went out to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve to photograph some birds this morning. I knew there would be a group of photographers already there shooting and chatting. I made sure to walk right up to them and start shooting. I am always impressed at what equipment the guys bring. one guy had a sweet 600mm and most were using tripods. I was shooting at ISO 400 at f8-f11 most times and I was on manual. I should have set it to shutter priority, but I wasn't thinking. I was happy to be out in the open ocean air and it went right to my head.

There were these terns dive-bombing fish when I crossed the wooden bridge. One was especially noisy and kept letting all of the other birds know he was boss. They didn't care though and they would dive right under him and snag his breakfast. It was funny to watch. Here are some images from today's shoot.

I had to take this one and call it "Beware of the Crocs Lurking"

One of my favorites today was of a gull with polka dots and he was beautiful.

But my favorite image came on my very last shot... I got up less than 2 feet from this gull before he took off.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All In A Days Work

For those people who have never had the privledge of driving in SoCal traffic... this is what it's like most days. Best part of this? It was 6 PM om a Saturday evening. Nothing special going on, just a lot of people out and about. You can all make fun when I talk about traffic sucking and being a nightmare, but until you get stuck in it... stifle it!

Photo Expo West 2007 in San Diego

A few weeks ago my wife came across a link to the Photo Expo West 2007 in San Diego. We talked about it for 10 seconds and knew we wanted to go. It was well worth going.

We got up early and took the drive down to the Del Mar Fairgrounds (not quite to San Diego) where they were holding the show. We were excited all week, but when we arrived and gathered up our gear we were ready for some action. We got to the building and there was a line that just curled around in a big semi-circle. They hadn't yet opened the doors, but you could smell the anticipation. We hadn't waited 3 minutes and they opened the doors and they invited everyone in.

Once inside we were able to fill out forms for raffle prizes and get a lay of the land. To be honest, the set-up looked a bit small and cramped. Everything and all businesses were in one large building, but it didn't seem too large. That did not discourage us and we ventured on. We had both gone with an open mind and just a thirst for knowledge. I also wanted to see what was new from Nikon.

We first sat in on a presentation by photographer Tony Corbell. He was very entertaining and gave us some good advice about how to shoot, but mainly to gather as much information as you possibly can. He also mentioned that you can never know everything about photography. You can always gain some knowledge and that he comes to these shows and he always learns something. Reminds me of a quote by Confuscious - "He who says he knows everything is a fool."

After Tony's presentation, Kymberli went to see a portrait photographer and I waited around to hear what was new from Nikon. I am amazed at what they showed us. The new Nikon D3 is the COOLEST camera I have ever seen. It shoots 9 frames a second, the ISO can go up to 25,600 <-- NOT a typo (amazing, huh?), and is 12.1 megapixels with 51 points of reference. AWESOME!! I want one so bad, but the $4999 price tag has me crying. It is definitely worth it, I just can't do it. I have to stick with my D80 for now.

We walked around afterwards and bought a few things. I finally got a right angle finder from Hoodman USA and I can't wait to test it out. It'll be fun to test it out with some of the dogs around town.

I went to see Jim Sugar speak just before lunch. His images have graced more than 50 magazine covers and he is definitely proud of it and he has every right to be! He has some great images. He discussed what it takes to get a cover and he described what he had to do for each of the shoots. Cool stuff. I have to say that I never imagined having a magazine cover, but he said once you get one you want them all.

We tried out some new equipment, saw some people from Bogen and Samy's Camera that we saw at the Bogen Café two weeks ago. They seemed very excited to see us and that just made us super happy. We talked shop and discussed a Manfrotto tripod that sounds great. Kymberli might get a new present for Christmas - but will it fit in her stocking?

Our last presentation of the day was from Mark Dimalanta who is from nearby Huntington Beach. He spoke about how he was in the medical field working when he was struck with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Long story short he had to quit doing what he was doing and he got into photography. He's a surfer and he decided to start taking surf shots. He showed his work and told us stories about how he shoots mainly with a 10mm fisheye and a 600mm. One of his shots was cool. This surfer looks really close to him and he told us that the guy actually brushed his cheek againt the housing during the shot. That is what I call getting up close with your work!

We were ready to leave after that and we got outside just in time to catch the sun going down. Twilight was growing near and out came our cameras. It was funny. We just looked at one another and told each other we were going to photograph something. Here are a couple of the shots I got when we came out.

Part of the Wyland Mural

Hot Air Balloons were flying over, too.

The sun setting and casting a beautiful warmth around us.

When we were walking out we saw some beautiful flowers. Out of the corner of my eye I spied a hummingbird drinking nectar... so I started shooting. Well, he got miffed and took off up into the tree. He was upset that I disrupted his meal and kept flying away and doing fly-bys overhead. I mentioned to Kymberli that we should wait a few minutes and he'd be back. Sure enough he came back - right next to me! My ISO was set to 1600, so the images are a bit grainy, but the best part was that I didn't have to use a flash. Here are some of the shots.

In the parking lot was this bike with the Pink Panther on the back. I thought it was great and had to shoot it.

So get out, get to some shows, take as many photos as you can and don't procrastinate. If you see an image you want to shoot - Shoot It! You may never get a second chance.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A New Look At Life

For those of you who don't know me, I am an animal lover. My wife and I volunteer down at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center in Seal Beach, CA and it's kind of our second home around here. Kymberli heads down there more than I because of our schedules, but I enjoy seeing the animals and experiencing their different personalities. The OC Register newspaper is doing an article on hard to adopt dogs and we were asked to photograph some of the dogs for the article. There wasn't even a question of if we would do it, but with the sun setting so early our shooting light was limited. We tried on another occasion to photograph the dogs with no luck. I didn't want to use a flash for all of the images because I know it frightens them so I wanted to make sure we found a day to shoot with plenty of sunlight. This is where it can get tricky because we are at that time of year when the sunsets earlier, the clouds seem to want to hang around more and I have to work, so getting down to the shelter was a challenge.

Fortunately, Kymberli and I decided to take off of work a bit early on Wednesday to make sure that we had enough light to get some good photographs. I was able to get down there and start shooting with my new 18-200mm Nikon VR lens before it got too busy, or so I thought. With 36 dogs at the shelter the volunteers had their hands full when it came to walking the animals before dinner. Here are some of the photos I took yesterday. Every one of these animals has touched me in some way. Whether it be a playful nip, not so playful nip or just a look of "Please love me." I love these guys. Hopefully we'll see some of these published in the paper.

Grover being Grover

Pearl showing off her good side

Sweet, sweet Emma soaking up the love

Simba the Great

Faith and Reba being ever so patient