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Good luck

I’ve been posting a lot of black and white lately, so I didn’t want you guys to think I was totally devoid of seeing in color.

This is another image from our Phoenix photowalk we did back in late December. We have another one coming up this Saturday and the group size is around 15 people…although I expect the chilly temps and 6am start time will end up trimming our numbers down when it’s all said and done!

Another photo from my 50mm 1.4 renaissance that week…I loved using this lens to find the subtle, cool little details instead of the wide angle approach to everything. It’s seems hard to train your eye to see both at the same time. While it’s obviously not horrible to shoot wide angle…if you are so focused on one that you can’t see the other…then you miss out. I myself still have a hard time with it. That’s why that morning I intended to go out using nothing but the 50. If I left the 17-35 on, I’d probably get in the wrong mindset.

This weekend I hope to go out and see it all at the same time. Of course, now you have to throw in the new full frame to really add a challenge, but I can’t wait.

Oh…so you  may be wondering what the heck the title of this blog post means. It’s simple:

You want to get some water from that spicket?

Good luck!

(exif: rebel xsi, 50mm 1.4, f/2.0, iso100)

One man’s trash…

Downtown Phoenix Urban Trash Can

…you know the rest.

Taken after I took in a Suns game with my old man…dropped him off at his car, I stopped in quickly to see if anyone was still up at home, no one was, so I grabbed my gear and went out into the rain-soaked downtown Phoenix area.

Not too many wet spots in this scene, although you can see some puddles here and there. This bricked area has a large cover over the entire area, although it’s probably more of a screen than anything else.

Shot with the 50mm once again, I knew I wanted to capture the light and shadows playing off the bricks and leaves, plus isolate the focus on this lone garbage can standing watch over the whole area. There is something magical to me when I see fall leaves strewn about cobblestone, pavement or bricks…it’s hard for me to look away and not want to snap a million photos. Perhaps without them, this image wouldn’t have demanded I capture it…who knows.

Hoping to find a few more scenes like this on our early morning photowalk coming this Saturday.

The Shawshank Redemption

Bars Urban Urbex Downtown Phoenix Windows

I was scouring some of my images last night looking for the right one to post for Movie Title Wednesday. Usually I save my best work for these days (in my eyes of course), but the ones that I really, really loved just couldn’t be connected to a movie for some reason. But then I saw this one, thought “Shawshank” and immediately knew I had today’s photograph. And I actually really like this image.

What can I say about The Shawshank Redemption that most of you wouldn’t know already? I mean, it’s in a lot of people’s top 10 favorite movies list (including mine), it was nominated for 12 Oscars (I’m amazed that it didn’t win any now that I look back) and it had one of the best little plot twists in recent memory. You got emotionally tied to the characters…and end up feeling their struggle when it comes to suddenly being in the outside world after 30 years in prison. But the message of hope was key to me…it’s something that no one can ever take away from you. What a great scene that was between Andy and Red:

Andy Dufresne: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.
Andy Dufresne: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
Red: Forget?
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What’re you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.

Gives me chills just reading it again. What a fantastic film.

This image had the feel to me of an old prison…mangled bars, fading metal mesh…stained, dirty glass…worn and weathered bricks. Shot this back in late December during our downtown Phoenix photowalk. Once again, it’s an image using my 50mm 1.4 and I played around with it in live view to find the place I wanted to focus on the most. It wasn’t too hard to quickly spot the kind of “cross” in the middle that appears to be bound together with a piece of rusted wire.

Excited to go explore the urban areas of Phoenix once again…the February 5th photowalk is packed with people, we’re up to 13 and if you are interested in joining us, check out this blog post.

(exif: canon rebel xsi, 50mm 1.4, f/2.5, iso100)

Inside Out

Dog Track Black Canyon City Chairs

After wandering around the dog track for an hour or so, I ended up coming back to the rows of seats with a new perspective and a new lens on my camera. As I’m prone to do, I started with the 17-35mm because I wanted to capture the vastness and enormity of the place. But later I realized I was missing out on the subtle nuances everywhere you looked.

One of them was the weirdness of standing inside a building but still feeling like you were outside. All the giant windows were broken, bushes were growing inside and occasionally a breeze would float through. The panes of glass would wobble from the wind…a few ropes hanging from the ceiling would swing…you get the idea.

My goal here was to use the 50mm 1.4 to focus on a small area of the row of chairs, but still capture the way the windows beyond led right to the desert outside. Probably my favorite element of this shot is the low angle of the sun and the way it highlights the top portion of the chairs. Now I know I haven’t explored tons of these urbex locations, but I can’t stress enough the importance of natural light in places like this.

I think this is one of my favorite images from the trip. And while I don’t tend to talk about the processing as much these days, I just want to point out how great HDR is for situations like this. You get to see the clouds in the distance despite maintaining the light and shadows on the chairs. It wouldn’t be as easy to get all of this in a single shot without possibly a few filters and even then you may do exposure blending in Photoshop.

And despite some of my urbex shots where I take liberty with the processing and stylizing…this one has to be as close to how I remember it in person as any HDR shot I’ve done.

Must

Rainy Reflection Downtown Phoenix Road

There are a lot of “musts” in this photo…all traffic must turn right…you must not park here…you must stop ahead…and of course at the time I thought “I must take this photo.

What is it about me and the weather? I mean, first it was lightning, then it was photographing awesome monsoon clouds across the desert and that was followed closely with wanting to chase storms in the midwest. On this night, it was the thought of rainy, reflective roads that got me out shooting around downtown Phoenix until midnight. If it hadn’t rained, I wouldn’t have been out there, that much is certain.

This image is part of my continued love affair with my 50mm 1.4 and the amazing fun I have shooting low to the ground, opening up the aperture, using Live View and manually focusing to find that sweet spot.

(exif: rebel xsi, 50mm 1.4, f/1.6, iso100, 1/4sec)

Outside

My daughter is two and she’s always wanting to explore the world, never satisfied with where she is right now. If we’re inside…of course she wants out.

“Daddy….owwwwtside!”

Once outside, she wants to do more. If she’s in the backyard sitting on the patio steps with me, she wants to climb the stairs to the guest house. If we’re on the side of the house, she runs up to the gate in the picture above and wants me to open it. If I open it and we go out front, she wants to run down the sidewalk. You get the idea.

I used to be able to give my wife a break by bringing Lyla with me on little photo excursions. Put on a DVD of Toy Story and she’d sit there, happy as a clam while I’d pull over, set up and take some storm shots, or whatever.

Now when I get out, she wants out. Makes things a bit harder. Because she wont just stand there watching a sunset with me. She wants to move.

It’s exhausting to say the least. The girl runs so fast, even a brisk speed walk on my part is not fast enough to keep up with her. She’s super-independent, would rather walk everywhere and anywhere instead of behind held or chained to a stroller. And I say “chained” because I’m sure that’s how she feels about it.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Would I change that about her? Absolutely not.

Even running down the street after her, knowing I need to give her a little talking-to for not listening to me yet again…I smile. I love who she is and the crazy desire she has to constantly be learning and moving.

I can’t wait to see what she does with all this energy someday…I bet it will be something amazing.

(Exif: Canon Rebel XSi, 50mm 1.4, f/1.4, ISO200, 1/800)

Missing

A shot from our downtown Phoenix photowalk back in late December. We’re doing another one on February 5th in case you missed it, you can find out more information right here.

Doing a photowalk is such a great way to just observe your surroundings and look for those subtle details that might look good as a picture. I think we oftentimes have huge goals in mind like getting to that crystal clear lake for a sunset shot, or some amazing waterfall, or the Grand Canyon, etc…because we get it stuck in our brain that we need something awesome like that to make a good photograph.

But you can find something to shoot anywhere…at anytime.

There is not much too this photograph. It was an old wall of bricks and I just noticed one was missing out of literally hundreds and hundreds and it moved me enough to want to shoot it. What I did do that day that is now carrying over to other things is I used my 50mm 1.4 a lot more for doing HDR images. And what I found a heck of a lot of fun was to setup a shot on my tripod, frame it, turn on Live View and then play with the manual focus to kind of see where I wanted my main focal point to be located in the scene.

For this image, I found putting that focused spot right on the corner of the far side of the empty space was perfect for what I was trying to do.

Tarantula!

What, where is the tarantula??

Okay, nowhere…but sometimes I have a hard time coming up with titles and this one especially. But to show you how my mind works, when I looked at this image…and saw the kind of miniature looking saguaro cactus, it made me first and foremost think of an old movie backdrop or set in the 1950s, which then reminded me of the movie Tarantula that I saw at some point in my childhood. More than likely because of my dad…I mean, when you’re 9-years old, who else but your dad is going to make you watch a film that came out 20 years before you were born?

So in reality, it has nothing to do with this photo. I actually named it “Saguaro Valley”, but ugh, it’s just boring and my mind isn’t working well today.

I took this image back in late December when we had the ice cold weather and snow in the high desert elevations. Because of the distance to these snowy peaks, I decided to use my tack-sharp 50mm 1.4 to shoot some of the hills instead of my wide angle.

This photo is kind of an experiment in a way. You’ll notice the blurred tilt-shift effect going on, which I never and have never done before on a landscape shot. But while the normal image was fine and okay, I felt like it was just another picture of a desert mountain with snow. So I whipped out Focal Point from onOne Software and played around.

I liked the effect of making these saguaros stand out a bit more. You’d think the mountain with snow on it would be the main interest here, but I kind of dug how the cactus got framed and the clump of them on the left, so making the mountain a secondary feature worked for me. I linked the image to the larger version, because I think it shows off this image a bit better than this scaled down one.

In Bruges

Something a little bit different for Movie Title Wednesday this week…you don’t get one image, you get a BUNCH of images! Yay!

My portrait photography business has been ramping up here in the last few weeks so my time out shooting brackets has dwindled. Not to mention putting that photobook together has really sucked down my time. So now appears to be the right time to bust out these shots from Bruges, Belgium that I took this past July.

And what better movie title than In Bruges could you possibly use for this? I dare anyone out there to find one! If you haven’t seen the movie, you should rent it…of course, be prepared for a dark comedy with foul language, violence and midgets. This is one of my most favorite films of all time.

When I was there in Bruges back in July, I immediately knew that the big square in the middle of town with the giant church was the same from the film, and it was kind of awesome to stand in the same place that they filmed part of the movie. Maybe because I never thought I’d go to Bruges and suddenly I was standing there.

The thing about Bruges is that you honestly can’t take a bad picture. I could have shot for weeks and probably not gotten all the subtle nuances of this medieval city. Most of the images you see above were all shot with my 50mm 1.4 and I couldn’t love them more. I had been using the 17-35 for most of my time there and decided that for the last few hours, I’d switch to the 50mm and see the city in a new way. It’s amazing how much different everything looked to me through that lens.

The photos above are mostly of “the city”, but I have another slideshow planned for another day of “the people”…random shots of life in Bruges. If I could open up a thriving portraiture photography business anywhere in the world, it would probably be there. In Phoenix, you look for cool locations to do photoshoots…in Bruges, the ENTIRE town is a location. You could shoot people anywhere and it would look amazing.

I hope you enjoy these few photos. We actually printed off at least 5-8 of these from the slideshow and put some of them up in the house.  I know a few of these grouped together would make for some great wall art in YOUR house too *grin*