Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sea World Numero Uno

Our trip to Sea World was the most relaxing day I have had in a long time. We got to see all of the shows and snapped a lot of photos. The biggest challenge I had was shooting with my 18-200mm from a long distance. I was zoomed in to 200mm most often, but you'll see that the sharpness is lacking in many. I am bummed, but I also see it as a great learning experience. Fast Glass is what I need. I need to get my hands on a 400mm f/2.8 and do some shooting with that.

Here are some of my shots. I'll post a few more tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

First Trip To The San Diego Zoo

Another year older and a bit wiser. To celebrate my birthday, Kymberli and I went to the San Diego Zoo. What a great place. It always saddens me to see an animal caged, but I also try to think of the good it does for the species and I also think 'Why are they here?'.

I have decided not to bore you with all of the details, but would rather show you a few images from our outing. These are some of my favorites. The main thing I learned from this trip is that I need some fast lenses. My f/4 18-200mm VR lens was great for outside shots, but inside the viewing areas I needed a f/2.8 or even a f/1.8. Live and learn because that is what makes us better photographers.

Tomorrow I will post my images from Sea World!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Night Has Fallen On The Skate Park

Today was a lazy Sunday. I really had a great day of blogging, cleaning, chilling and watching football. After the Giants beat the Cowboys, I was ready to take some pictures. Actually, I was ready all day, but I wanted to watch football first. I decided to go back to the El Dorado Skate Park. This time in the evening so I could get some cool night shots. I shot these at ISO 3200 with a flash.

Again, I met some new people and saw some familiar faces. Jonathan Sandoval was back for more skate action. He made sure to say hi and I made sure to get some shots of him. He pulled this one off shortly after I arrived.

I then met a guy, Chris Stark, who gave me some great tips on skate parks around. Chris was there with his sons. I was amazed that his son, Jonathan, had enough energy to skate after playing in two soccer games. Oh, to have the energy of a 10 year old again. Jonathan is new to skating, but he has incredible balance. I was pretty amazed at how he flowed around. Here is one of him as he got some air.

Some of the other guys I met were doing some sweet tricks and putting out some serious energy. I was pretty impressed, but then again when I was that age I was playing backyard football for 5 hours and loving life. Now I am lucky to bike 7 miles and not get tired.

Here are some of the photos I got tonight. This one is of Jackson A. Sorry, Jackson. Stupid me can't read my own handwriting and I can't tell if it says Allender or what. You'll have to correct me. I played around with 2 photos to make this one. I am digging it. Jackson was the superstar of the night. He was trying trick after trick and every time he fell, he just got back up and did it again. The concrete was damp in spots and made for some tough going, but that didn't stop him.

Kirk Slaton was getting air all night. I followed him around a bit and caught him almost vertical.

The guy who was the most energized was Michael MacGillivray. This tattooed skater was non-stop in his quest to pull a tail grind. He also did a lot of other stuff and I have no idea what they are called. Here he is pulling the tail grind and another of him at a distance doing another trick.

Michael wanted to try one more grind and had built up some serious speed when another skater started eating his space. He maneuvered around him (quite sharply) and helped make this photo so much fun.

So there you have it. Another fun day at the skate park. What a great area SoCal is. I love it around here. There is so much to do and so many people to meet. Thank you to Jonathan Sandoval, Jonathan Stark, Kirk Slaton, Jackson A., and Michael MacGillivray for allowing me to photograph them. You guys were great. Another thank you goes out to Chris Stark for giving me some great pointers and locations of other parks. Great talking with you, Chris.

If any of you are interested in purchasing any of the photos you see on here, let me know. I have plenty of each of you that I did not post. I can always set up a gallery where you can view them and send the link to your friends and you can all buy them.

I will see you all again soon, I am sure. Have a great week!


Ever Hear Of Kodey Fisher?

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I was torn between going to Bolsa Chica and photographing birds or heading to the El Dorado Skate Park for some fun action shots. I think everyone would agree that I have posted plenty of bird shots, but no true action images. So I went with the latter and headed down the road to the park.

If any of you haven't done this, I recommend it. Not only will you get to test your skill and see some sick tricks, but it is a GREAT way to network and meet some of these guys. That was exactly what I did. A big Thank You goes out to all of the guys who allowed me to photograph them, Jonathan Sandoval, Anthony Gonzales, and Kodey Fisher.

I love watching someone grind a rail or get up 10 feet in the air and execute a tailwhip. I watched and photographed a few people who seemed to know what they were doing. I shot for a bit and moved around to get some better images. I really wanted to get a feel for everything and see who was cordial, who was a show-off and who might be there to cause trouble. Fortunately, no one was causing trouble and everyone seemed pretty cool. It wasn't until young Jonathan Sandoval broke the ice that I really got into it. He and his boys were skateboarding on the far side of the park. When I got over to him he had already locked on to the fact that I was shooting photos. He called out to me and asked me to catch him doing a trick. I told him to work his magic. His first couple were just a bit off because it was so crowded, but once it cleared he was able to land some nice moves. Here is one of my favorite shots of him. The color is straight out of the camera, I didn't tweak that at all.

As I was shooting Jonathan, another skater, Anthony Gonzales, came up and asked me to catch him doing something (sorry guys, my terminology is not up to par). I shot a few, but it again was too crowded, so we moved over to the rail. He wanted to pull off a trick and have me capture it. He got off to a good start and finished it well. This was one of the shots I like of him. He just lifted off and is about to make contact with the rail... but you can see that.

About this time I was standing behind a group of guys and girls that seemed to 'manage' the park. They weren't harsh with anyone, but everyone seemed to respect them and I figured they were the guys to talk to. I started showing some of my images from earlier of a guy who introduced himself as Kodey Fisher. This was one of the first images of Kodey on a scooter.

They all enjoyed looking at the first shots I took. Kodey dropped a few hints that he'd like to pull off a tailwhip on the far side so I told him to do it up whenever he was ready. I wanted to get some shots from far away and some up close. I caught a few of him across the way. They were cool, but I wanted more action. On his way back, Kodey made a jump right in front of us that was sweet. Here he is at the peak.

When Kodey pulled up to check out the shots, he made a recommendation to me. Now, many photographers I know would be tweaked at a young guy giving us tips on where to stand or do our job. I used to be one of them and still have a lot to learn, but I figured that Kodey knew his park, where he would land and how I could catch him in the peak of his trick. So I chatted for a few minutes and made my way to the far side and set up. I waited for a few minutes and then he got his chance. Kodey hit the pipe at near-perfect speed and this was the result. This move had finesse and you had to be there to appreciate it.

So if you haven't heard of Kodey Fisher, you have now and you will in the future. This kid will be up there. Anyone interested in sponsoring this young lad? He needs a sponsor for the circuit and you can help. If you are interested, let me know and I will relay the messgae to Mr. Fisher and you guys can work out the details.

I had a great time and met some cool people. Thanks you guys. I have more to post at some point. Maybe they'll get posted in the paper and maybe not, but you guys can count on seeing them up here. I may head back there today, so tell your friends.

If you or your friends need pictures for school, family or fun... look me up. My wife and I do senior portraits, weddings, family portraits and much more. We'll make sure you have the best experience ever.

Have a great weekend and aim high!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

First Photos With The D300

I decided to get right out the next day and shoot with my new camera. I went out to Old Faithful - Bolsa Chica. My challenge was that it was very cloudy and raining. When I got there it was pretty dark and gloomy, but I was determined. I shot a bunch of photos while goofing around and playing with the settings.

Here is my result. The only thing I did to this was crop it. No adjusting ANY settings. No Levels, No Curves and now Shadow/Highlight and absolutely NO sharpening. The best part? The best part is that I shot it at ISO 1600 and it looks great. I was more than 50 feet away from this bird and this is the result. I think I am going to like my camera.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's Finally Here!

After a long month, my D300 finally arrived last Friday! It is, how you say? AWESOME! This baby is packed with some stellar features and I have only scratched the surface of what it can do. In case you haven't heard about this camera - wait, tell me you have heard about it. Seriously, it is the best investment I have made so far (besides my wife's ring).

Here are some pics of when I got my new toy. My wife was cracking up at my faces and she got some nice candids.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation - Episode Quatro

Driving to Oregon sucked. Let me get that off my chest. Why? Because of the 363 clear days of the calendar year Kymberli and I picked the 2 days where it snowed... and hard. A normal 5.5 hr trip from Napa took us 9 hours. This day I took no photos. I was too busy cursing out the fact that I had to put chains on the tires in order to cross from Cali into Oregon. At least we got a good nights rest when we finally arrived at our hotel.

Day 2 of traveling took us more than the average time, too, but mainly because... yep, it snowed AGAIN. Now I see why I wanted out of NY. This stuff is beautiful to look at but to drive in it takes some patience. About an hour into our trip we stopped a few times for some shots. I love landscapes and this was one that just had my jaw dropping. It doesn't do it justice though.

When we got to my brother and sister-in-laws it was late, but awesome. We had a great dinner of steak, taters and salad. Thanks to Brian for cooking up one of the best ribeyes I have had in a LOOOONG time. I am savoring one right now.

The next day we went shooting. Yes, shooting and it was awesome. Getting your hands on a .223 is fun, but when I got to shoot the .45 I had a blast. I tagged the target a few times that I think surprised everyone, including me. I knew how to aim, but I wasn't sure of the kick. I handled it well. Not much kick to those weapons. Here are 2 shots of Kymberli shooting a .22 pistol. She was doing awesome! I had better never cross her!

We had to shoot quick and get on to our wine tasting. Well, we couldn't do both at the same time! On our way, my brother-in-law mentioned that we could look for some bald eagles. We found a couple and here is one of the shots of a youngster. He is beautiful. I wish I had a longer zoom and had adjusted my ISO better, but I still love the shapes of this amazing bird.

We were surrounded by dogs all weekend and this is Brian and Jamie's dog Deegan. He was cool in my book. He followed me around and played quite a bit. Such a fun dog. He sure loved laying in front of the fire.

At the end of the day I took a walk up the hill with Eric and turned around and this is what I saw:

I may not have liked the drive, but I loved the scenery. It's too bad on our morning out that I got sick. I was nauseous the entire drive back to Oakland. Let's just say the drive was long and a big thank you to my wife for driving the entire way back. It was a long 7 hours and she was a trooper. We got an early flight back, too - which was nice. I was so sick though. It was a long flight for me to say the least. When we got back I crawled into bed and slept for hours.

Now I am all better and psyched for the weekend. Enjoy the photos and be prepared for some new ones soon! Peace.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation - Episode Trois

Our next stint of our vacation was going to Napa Valley for some wine tasting and to celebrate Kymberli's birthday. Outside of our hotel room was this guy taking care of business.

By the office were 4 black swans and 2 white ones. We shot a bunch of photos of them, but they were boring to me, except for this one. I just like how the dining room lights hit his eye.

I had to stop and take a self-portrait.

For my Christmas present, Kymberli Q got us a wine tour by limo and it was so much fun. (Thanks, babe!) We both agreed that it was rushed though. Our driver was 15 minutes late, but that didn't deter us. We were ready to let loose! Our crew inside the limo was great. We all had a blast from winery to winery. The driver even opened a couple of bottles of champagne for Kymberli's birthday. Towards the end we were ready to party and they all had to get back to San Francisco. Here are two of my favorite photos from the tour.

We spent 2 days in Napa and then drove to Oregon. Let me tell you what... THAT was a long drive. We ended up with some great photos though. Episode Quatro shall unfold... tomorrow! Buenas Noches.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation - Episode Part Deux

*Begin Dolby Intro Music*

Vacation is a word that in the past few years I have come to love. Before my wife I hardly took vacations. I took a few with my brother that were great and even some fun road trips, but never a vacation just for the relaxing side of it. San Francisco was relaxing and I am definitely going to do it again and this time we will take more time to explore.

We took a double decker bus tour of the city because we wanted to learn more, but also just relax. Well, the first day it was like 70 degrees and awesome. Day two brought out much cooler temps and even my tubbyness was cold! I was sweating badly the first day because I was trying to be a boy scout and making sure I was prepared. I wore a nice warm jacket and a hat. Overkill. Da 2 I decided to go for the fleece vest and a hat. Not enough, but I digress. During the tour we saw many of the same landmarks and beautiful structures you see in all of the S.F. photographs. Here is one of a cathedral (St. Michaels, perhaps?) that I think is beautiful.

We decided to get off at Fisherman's Wharf because I love seafood and we wanted to grab a nice dinner. We had to stop and get coffee and hot chocolate because it was so chilly. Great little place called Boudin's had good coffee, but the best part was people watching and warming up. We shot across the street to a chocolate shop and I could quite possibly get lost in there. Well, maybe camp out for a few weeks. Such good chocolate!

We went over to Pier 39 and, in case you haven't heard, this is where the sea lions have taken over the floating docks. It's cool to watch and I did get some photos, but i wasn't as happy with the individual sea lions. i did get this image that i planned out and was psyched when it looked this way on screen. I only sharpened the image. There is no other manipulation to the shot.

A few steps from my position I was able to capture the typical Alcatraz shot. I have seen this shot many times. Mainly, my friend Sherif and fellow blogger Thomas Hawk. I like the shot just because I took it, but it isn't anything award worthy.

We turned the corner and on our way to dinner we spotted this street performer doing her thing. She was very entertaining with her commentary and mannerisms. I captured a few photos, but they didn't do her show justice. This was of her finale. She was juggling fire while balancing on top of two guys who were holding her up. Pretty talented if you ask me.

The best part of the day is something I can only share through words. I took the most amazing photograph that will win awards this year. My wife took the same one. This photo means something very special to me. The reason I cannot share it graphically is because I took the snapshot in my mind. We sat down to dinner at Pier 39 Market and we were blessed with one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever experienced. We had the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, the sun setting behind it and the city, the sea lions down to our right and Alcatraz off in the distance to our right. It was peaceful, romantic, serene and beautiful. I am so happy I got to share that moment with my wife. No one can ever copy that moment and resell it, print it or imagine it quite the way we did. I can't wait to see what Christmas Brings for us next year.

Want to go wine tasting? Tomorrow I will post some photos of Napa Valley! Ah, Sangiovese!!