Posts

Terry’s Bug

(image looks a wee bit sexier if you click on it to view in lightbox)

This bug was one of the first arrivals at a car show the morning of our February 5th Urban Phoenix Photowalk. The sun wasn’t even up yet when we wandered through here and there were quite a few of us grabbing shots of this sweet ride.

I’ve always had a fondness for Beetles even though I never owned one. I was friends with a girl in high school who for some reason had an awesome tripped out blue Bug that I got to ride in a few times. I always thought that thing was cool.

So a quick story about the Bug in the picture. The owner was standing around, but none of us got his name or information. When I was processing this photo, I zoomed into the little decal on that rear quarter-panel window and got the name of Wolfsburg Registry. Amazing resolution on this 5D.

Quickly I did a search, found the Wolfsburg website, clicked on photos and voila, there’s a shot of this bug. The caption under it read “Terry’s Rassy taking in the day.

No idea what a “rassy” is…I thought it was perhaps a special type of Bug, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m so very NOT a car guy, so perhaps one of you out there has an idea.

I tried to register on the site, but it’s pretty locked down, so I saw the name of the photographer, tracked him down to Facebook, sent him a message and haven’t heard back.

I’m just hoping he’s one of those guys who only checks Facebook once a month and will eventually write me.

I love this shot of his car. The Heritage Square area of downtown Phoenix is absolutely beautiful and he picked a perfect place to park his bug.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/4, iso 100)

The lamp post on Monroe

Another shot from the rainy evening we had back in late December. I was just hanging around this area using my 50mm to create some depth down long streets, sidewalks and walkways.

I loved how this little bricked path kind of “tunneled” itself though the trees and emerged at a lamp post/street light down the way. Some gorgeous “fall” leaves lay on the ground and the reflections from the storm added another element I dug.

I find myself fascinated with low shots like this, especially when using a 50mm or 85mm. You can get such distance when you are close to the ground, cool perspective, awesome lines and beautiful bokeh, especially when shooting wide open.

(exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/1.6, iso 100, 1/6 sec)

Swingers

There were two ways I could have gone with this image. One was the “or die” you see on the wall…but the other seemed to click the moment I saw this scene and thus it’s this week’s Movie Title Wednesday.

Swingers is my number one…yes, numero uno, all-time favorite movie. It’s hard to explain why, but to me this is one of the best guy movies ever made. First off you have Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Ron Livingston, all young before anyone knew who they were. Second you have Las Vegas, you have cool cars, awesome big band music, gangster references to Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Wayne Gretsky bleeding, guns, bears with claws and “This place is dead anyways.”

I can’t even mention all the lines I love in the movie.

“Mikey’s the big winner, Mikey wins!”

“Vegas baby…Vegas.”

“You’re so money.”

“Is he cute Mikey? Is he brown?”

“Hey! What’re you kicking me for? You want me to ask? All right, I’ll ask! Ma’am, where do the high school girls hang out in this town?”

And the one that inspired me to use the flick for this image in the first place:

“You always doubledown on eleven.”

This photo is another one from the dog track north of Phoenix. You can clearly see two number “11” seats in the picture. So not only do you always doubledown on eleven, but this photo has TWO elevens! And to top it off, all the chairs kind of “swing” up and down right?

It’s total kismet. I mean…yeah, I could have saved the movie title for an awesome picture of Las Vegas that I will undoubtedly get this spring when I find myself up there a lot, but I had to use it now. I dug how the row of chairs had dead weeds around it and broken seats laying everywhere.

Oh and I still have quite a few shots left from the dog track that I haven’t even processed yet. Ugh!

Swingers is wonderfully written, completely hilarious and ultimately a cult classic. It’s about your buddies, girlfriend problems and Martin Scorsese. It played at the Valley Art Theater in Tempe for about a year straight because every week, people still came out to see it. I beg you, if you haven’t experienced it, go rent it this weekend, sit back with a beer and try not to cringe at the voice mail scene.

Looking up

Lights Against the Sky

One aspect of photography that I love are people who see lines, symmetry and shapes in anything and everything. They can see a simple staircase and frame it perfectly so it looks like art.

I don’t know if I have that talent. I have no idea if I’ll ever develop it. I don’t necessarily “see” that way too well. Now, if you want to ask me how best to frame a storm cloud, I can help you out.

This is kind of a different image for me. Well, not kind of, it just is. No major post processing, no multiple brackets. I was outside practicing some fill-flash with my little girl when I looked up and saw these cool clouds that suddenly made an appearance. We have string lights up ever since Lyla’s 2nd birthday back in November and I just liked how they criss-crossed against the sky.

I get so consumed by waiting for the big storms, the big weather, the cool abandoned dog track…that I forget a picture taken just a few feet from my back porch can make me just as happy.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/3.2, iso 100, 1/5000)

Southwest Shakespeare Company Gala

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for a little exposure, a little practice and just a little bit of growing up.

The Southwest Shakespeare Company held a gala last weekend to raise money for their theater group. The cost was $100 a ticket, so it was a fairly ritzy event. A member of the company, Sara, asked if I wanted to help do a photobooth and hand out my business cards for a little bit of exposure.

I’ve been wanting to practice and get better at the whole one-light photobooth kind of setup, so I said sure I would. Plus it helps a good cause. While I don’t get out to shows or plays too often, I do enjoy them when I do.

So these are just a few of the shots I took that night. Sarah brought some props along to give it a cool, old office feel and I think it worked pretty well.

Used a Speedlite EX II off left with a light stand and umbrella. Flash was manual and power around 1/4. Canon 5D Mark II and a 50 mm 1.4 set at around f/5.0 and ISO 200. Backdrop was a giant drape/curtain I borrowed from church which proved perfect.

Definitely still learning, but for what we were trying to accomplish that night, they turned out pretty good I think.

Who holds the key?

My first thought when I saw this lock through the broken glass wasn’t what it should have been. There are at least two other aspects of this scene that are way more interesting than the question that went through my head at the time:

I wonder who has the key to the lock…or does anyone even know where it is anymore?

So now you may wonder, what are the other two things?

Both of them only occurred to me AFTER I embedded this photo tonight. Which means to me that I need to take my time more. But it kind of makes sense…because I found this abandoned water/power structure while on the way to Lake Mead while the sun was going down and I honestly was a little nervous being all alone. I was rushing to get shots quickly, composing fast, without really noticing what was around me.

Yet even during post-processing I didn’t see it. Not until now.

Okay, the first may not be a big deal, but the fact that the chain is going through the broken windows is kind of amusing to me. Obviously someone decided they needed to keep people out after they’ve tried to get in a few times.

The bigger thing is that the friggin’ door is OPEN. I mean, I don’t know how far I could have pulled it ajar…but maybe enough to get a camera slid inside to take a couple of brackets? Maybe it would still be too tight.

But the strange thing is that I just didn’t even notice.

Regardless of all that, I just loved this old door and I still can’t sing enough praises about using the 50mm on stuff like this. It’s just brilliant.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.0, iso 100)

Ugly Mug

This is what happens on road trips in lonely hotels…

Artificial light is something that I’m kind of nervous about. There is so much involved with it…umbrellas, softboxes, transmitters, receivers, stobes, speedlites, light metering…it seems overwhelming to me. I’ve learned a decent amount about a one-light off-camera flash setup for doing simple photobooth kind of things at events. My buddy Rick Young helped a lot with that. I am doing that again this weekend at a charity event and this time with my very own Speedlite EX II and Alien Bee transmitters.

I think it was Rick or Ken…but one of them told me to just practice. Photography is fun, and supposed to be fun…so enjoy playing and trying things out.

This is what you get when I practice 🙂

I dragged all my gear to Las Vegas last week, but left the umbrella and light stand at home. Figured I’d find a way to make it all work.

I had the camera on a tripod using a remote trigger. To the right of the picture was a giant mirror, so I decided to setup there and use that as a way to kind of bounce the light to the other side of my face. I held up the flash manually with my right hand, and used a white sock as a diffuser.

Yeah, a sock.

I asked my wife if I should even post this, she said totally. Maybe she hates me, I dunno. I also have no idea what face I’m making…I believe it’s a goofy, exaggerated wink that my wife and I sometimes do back and forth to each other to get the other person to laugh.

Either way, I wanted to have some fun on Friday. Hopefully this doesn’t give you nightmares tonight!

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, 50mm 1.4, f/10, iso200, 1/80, speedlite exii off left)

Sitting pretty

Dog Track Black Canyon City Arizona

We go back to the dog track from our December trip up to Black Canyon City (you can see all photos in the series here).

Again…one of my favorite things about the time we spent at this amazing, decayed and lost building…was the afternoon light. They aren’t solid, or in your face, but you can kind of see the shadows streaking from right to th left across the old, broken floor. In the foreground you can make out some square tiles that still remain intact, but most of them have fallen apart. In fact, you could hear cracking as you walked across the room where tiles broke solely from our footsteps.

I shot the image from a good 40-50 feet away I believe, using the 50mm to focus right on the chair off in the distance. I don’t think it takes much explanation to figure out why I loved this scene. Isolation is a key element in my compositions, be it urbex or storm chasing. Not always of course, but there is something beautiful about a singular object that is either different or somehow stands out from its surroundings.

(exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.2, iso100)

The Shadow

There was really only one choice for this week’s Movie Title Wednesday when it came to this picture. I actually don’t remember much about The Shadow other than it was a sort of old 1940’s superher noir kind of film and it had Alec Baldwin.

One scene that did stand out to me was that hidden building on some corner…the lot looked abandoned to anyone walking by, but that was just masking this giant skyscaper. I also remember thinking the Shadow’s powers were kind of cool…but darn it I’m writing this fast on the road and haven’t had time to get the plot refreshed in my mind.

This image was taken during this past weekend’s photowalk in downtown Phoenix. Part of the fun of a photowalk is just observing what’s around you and snapping shots without any prior planning. While I was paused taking a picture of a doorway, I looked over and saw this. In fact, I wasn’t the only one because I was asked by at least two other photogs to FREEZE in place so they could snap a few shots of my shadow.

Herbiette

If there ever was a Love Bug, it would be Herbiette, this fuchsia colored Volkswagen Beatle that we saw during our Urban Phoenix Photowalk on Saturday morning.

I was worried all week about this photowalk because the weather called for clear skies up until 5am that morning. When I scheduled the thing for that early in the day (6am), part of me is hoping we’ll get some amazing morning colors to shoot in the background of our city shooting. As luck would have it, we were all treated to a beautiful sunrise.

At the same time as our walk, there was an old car show forming at Heritage Square. It wasn’t starting until 9 or 10, but a few beauties arrived by 6:30, including this shiny VW Bug. What a combination of the car color and the sky behind it. The focal point is on the headlight at f/4.0 with the 50mm that I love so much. When I’m shooting in the city, I love getting low with the 50 and finding lines that enhance the depth of  my images. I unfortunately hadn’t shot around Heritage Square before, but it was an awesome place and I’m glad we swung by it on our tour of the downtown Phoenix area.

Speaking of the photowalk…we had a total of 18 people! What a blast too…met a ton of amazing photogs and great people. Some of them, like Trevor Dayley, I’ve become great friends with on Twitter/Facebook, but we had never met in person until Saturday (check out some of his shots here). We also had some portrait photographers who were a little nervous exploring the Phoenix alleyways by themselves, so were pumped to be able to do it with a large army of friends. Some of the guys from our first walk in December, like Rick (his first photo here), Ken, Chris, Ed, Chris and Denver, all showed up again. I also finally met John Stolarski (one of his shots here), who apparently worked at the same AMC theater I did in the 90s…only we missed each other by about a year. Crazy.

I’m thinking our next one will be in March and possibly explore a different area…like historic Glendale. I’ve heard it’s a nice place to shoot and I think I’d like to check it out sometime. There is also an upcoming opportunity at Vulture Mine Ghost Town, so we may schedule that first.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday and braved the early time and cold weather! Hope to see you all again!