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Sunset over downtown Phoenix

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm, 17mm, ISO100, F16, six exposure HDR)

Phoenix sucks in the way that the freeway system tries its absolute very best to avoid the downtown area. I love how the bigger cities out there like Boston have freeways and large highway systems that gut the downtown area. In Phoenix, you have to try very, very hard to get any kind of shot with a freeway + tall buildings.

I had been eying this parking garage ever since I moved downtown and had been wanting for a nice sunset to go with it. It’s not the best spot in the world, but it’s one of the few with a bird’s eye view of Interstate 10, 7th street and central Phoenix. Gorgeous sunset on Tuesday for sure. It’s kind of fun to look at the late afternoon cloud, realize there is a great impending sunset and then go find a spot. I wont go back here, but I plan on exploring some urban areas up-close next time instead of doing a grand view of the city.

I’d click on the picture for the larger view, I think the bigger version looks better (that’s what she said).

Mirror to the Sky

Sometimes you can go light on the processing, sometimes you can go heavy…this photo of the Chase Towers in downtown Phoenix is a bit on the heavy side. There is a plugin called Topaz Adjust and I love the Exposure Color Stretch filter. It can take a good photo and add something unique to it. Most of the time I love the way my images look naturally, but on occasion, I like to shake things up!

I shot this over a month ago…just a few weeks after moving downtown. The exploration of the urban Phoenix area has progressed a bit since then, but mostly I’ve been doing photoshoots of people down there instead of bracketing old buildings and architecture. That changed last night as I took some time post-photoshoot to drive down some alleyways and peer under bridges to see what I could find.

I didn’t post this one earlier because I had already posted another shot of this building last month from a slightly different angle. I figure if you are going to blog more than one angle of a specific structure, you may as well spread that stuff out over a few months. Which may or may not mean I have a third one coming 🙂

Sunrise from the Ramp

Way back on October 19th we had a spectacular sunrise in downtown Phoenix after a rainstorm earlier in the morning. I don’t always take my camera to work these days, especially when there is nothing but blue skies all day long. But I had an inkling there would be a good one on this day, so I had my gear with me.

I set up just up the ramp to the 3rd level of the parking structure we use for this building. If I had my choice, I’d be 50 miles away from here with some amazing desert scene to shoot in conjunction with this sunset, but sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have. What I do love about this shot is the great reflection in the tallest building’s windows.

It’s amazing how reverse I am from the normal person, but these sunny day are gloomy too me. Yes, the temperatures are gorgeous right now, which is always awesome. But we had a brief rain storm the other day and it was like Christmas for a few hours. I constantly check the daily forecast looking for more storms on the horizon. Hopefully soon, I need me some fun weather to shoot!

World Market Center

Last week I posted a shot from the parking garage of the World Market Center, but other than me telling you what it was, you’d have no idea unless you knew the place. But it looked awesome from the outside, so before I left, I wandered into the outdoor “lobby” between a few of these buildings and was just struck by the awesome architecture, lines and especially the shadows highlighting the name of the place.

One of the highlights of taking this shot was that the security guard across the way never once bothered me or even approached me. And I was sitting there sprawled out on the ground to get as low as I could in order to capture the ground all the way up to the top of the buildings with my 17-35mm. I was sure someone would come ask what the heck I was doing.

But this is Vegas I guess…they’ve probably seen it all.

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*

On Top of the World

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, F8, five exposure HDR)

I’ve been to Las Vegas a lot over the last four years, mainly for my day job. We have a couple of clients there and on occasion they involve extended stays. While I don’t always pay attention to all the newest buildings and attractions, it had been so long since my last visit that there was a ton of cool stuff to see.

This parking garage is an 8-story behemoth that apparently serves an amazing set of structures called The World Market. The reason I even ventured up here was the view it had of the interchange between the 15 and the 515. As always happens though, the shot I wasn’t planning on became my favorite from the excursion.

The journey up here was a bit freaky. The garage was empty save a few cars at the bottom. The hallway to the elevators was barely lit on the first floor. I took them up to the 8th and ended up in a hallway with zero lights. But the sun was still shining a bit, so it wasn’t bad. But when I was done shooting and returned to the elevators…well, it was PITCH black. I had to pull out the ol’ cell phone in order to light up the room enough to push the elevator button.

It was a bit too quiet and a little creepy. It was like an old, abandoned building except for the fact that it was brand new.

I loved the parking garage though. It was newer, so everything had this clean, crisp feel to it. Really dug how the World Market building itself complimented the “parkade” and  stood out like a monolith against the evening sky.

Ah, but if it wasn’t for that arrow, I probably wouldn’t have liked it half as much.

On a side note, you might guess how sad I was that there were no clouds around to include in this image 🙂

The Fountains at The Bellagio

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, F16 (or F22, can’t remember), two exposures blended)

I was in Las Vegas this week for my day job and while I didn’t have a ton of time to explore, I did get out for a few hours each of the two nights and look around.

I just happened to walk out of The Bellagio just 10 minutes before the first water show started for the night and thus I had a nice, flat railing to put my tripod on to capture the event. If you’ve never seen this water show before, it’s definitely a MUST if you ever are in Vegas. It may not last too long (it plays to music, so when that song runs out…), but it’s majestic, inspiring and beautiful to watch.

If you are just there to see it, I recommend being in the front, which would be those roundish portals on the left side of this image. But from where I stood, I liked the lines and perspective on the left, the way the lights reflected off the water creating even more lines, plus the rising City Centre buildings in the distance. And if you look closely, there is a sliver of the moon on the upper right.

This is not an HDR shot, but just a blend of two exposures. Although recently I got into a debate about that, but I am fairly certain exposure blending is not considered HDR.

Westward Ho!

(Canon Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm, 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, 3 exposures)

As most of my many, many fans know (said tongue-in-cheek), I moved to downtown Phoenix last weekend, which opened up a whole new world of photographic options for me. But one of my passions is capturing the weather in it’s various forms, so being in a location with tall buildings and limited views off into the distance…well, it’s going to be a challenge for me. And that’s what I want this to be. I still want to scoot off into the desert to chase storms, but I’d also like take some risks and shoot stormy weather in the urban environment.

The last few days have been great around here for stormchasing…in fact, the last two specifically have been some for the history books. Tornado warnings galore, baseball-sized hail, damage, flooding, etc. They were storms you only see in the midwest during tornado season.

But on Monday I was driving back from picking up my daughter from the babysitter, so we drove the backroads and ended up driving right through the heart of downtown Phoenix. I’ve always loved this building and figured there was nothing better to use to frame the stormy skies with.

Now, I love this shot, but I plan on doing a lot more with it down the road. I was driving and snapping, so this was just a 3-exposure HDR, propped on my door with the window rolled down. I’m almost always doing six brackets these days, so this was stepping back a bit to get the shot.

My bucket list shot later on will be clouds like this, right at sunset, so I can get the building framed with the orange sky.

Hotel de Colse Hoeve

When I was in Holland recently for work, we stayed at the Hotel de Colse Hoeve. The rooms were a little sketchy…the hotel is built on old farm land, with farms on either side, so there are numerous bugs around, in the hallways and in the first room I was assigned to. I eventually moved and the next one was perfect. But as a stuck-up, pompous, city dude, fighting the bugs wasn’t my idea of a fun time at a hotel.

However, everything else was awesome. The staff was amazing, the restaurant right out of Top Chef and the location beautiful. The hotel itself was renovated from a very old farm house from 100+ years before (I believe) and was absolutely beautiful. This is a view of the long walk from the parking lot to the lobby entrance.

I’ll definitely never forgot my time in Holland (and Belgium) and still have quite a few photos I haven’t even shown yet on this blog. I plan on more down the road.

Postcard from Bruges, Belgium

By far…by far the place I loved the most on my trip over to the Netherlands, was the drive we took to see Bruges (or Brugge), Belgium. I had heard about it from the movie “In Bruges”, a fantastic, funny, dark comedy that came out a few years ago…and then had some friends tell me I needed to see it if I went there.

The town is old and has medieval architecture. The canals twist around, little bridges go here and there and old trees, paths and stone can be seen everywhere.

This particular shot was taken around 9pm as we were getting ready to leave. The sunsets in this area of the world tend to drag out a long time, so it was nice to have time to see the city in a lovely dusk color.

I was struck by the reflection of the buildings in the water, the details on the left canal wall, the color of the roofs on the right and the simpleness of the few clouds in the sky. I wasn’t carrying my tripod, so this was propped on the railing of another stone bridge to get. Three bracket HDR.

Definitely one of my favorite shots of the trip…because it will always remind me of Bruges. A quiet, peaceful, ancient and awe-inspiring town.

(More shots from Holland: My Holland Trip)