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The missing leg

There is something magical about natural light. I’m still so young in photography, especially portraits, so sometimes using light is a challenge. But I know it’s something that can add an element to your photos that you can’t get otherwise. One guy who kind of inspired me a bit with the above photo and others I took on this day is Jacques Gude…who runs a blog called “Exposed by the Light.” When it comes to urban exploration, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better photographer who knows how to use light in these kinds of environments.

The idea of getting some of this light out at the dog track north of town was why I was kind of pushy about heading out there in the afternoon…because I knew which way the main windows faced.

I used the 50mm 1.4 on this shot, something I’m doing a lot more of lately. A lot. I love being able to setup on a tripod, click into live view, frame the shot and then play with the manual focus to see where I want my focal point to be and what kind of depth of field I’m getting.

Speaking of chairs…my  buddy Rick who was out there shooting with us posted his own chair shot today, one that I actually also photographed from the opposite angle. That image will drop at a later date. I love Rick’s image, he creates an awesome focal point on the chair itself, making it the center of the image where your eyes immediately get drawn to.

Also, I’ve gotten an amazing amount of comments and positive feedback on my “Window to the End of the World” photo from earlier this week. Thank you all so much for that, it’s been amazing. My buddy Scott Wood, who was also out there shooting with us, snagged a photo of me taking that Window image! It’s a great image, and kind of fun to see yourself in action, so check it out when you get a chance!

Watchmen

This week’s Movie Title Wednesday was one I really didn’t need to consult the wife on for what film to use. Although…I was still a taaaaad bit nervous. Kidding. Sort of.

Watchmen…which is foremost a graphic novel turned movie, for you younger people. Although I say that tongue-in-cheek because I really didn’t pickup comic books until around 2-3 years ago. The first thing I read though was the Watchmen graphic novel. Long, full of story, violence and awesomeness. There was even a story within a story. I was hooked on comics from that point on and still get them each week from Heavy Ink, an online comic book store.

The movie though was almost as good. It’s hard for a film to copy a book as precise as Watchmen even with a few minor adjustments. Lord of the Rings was kind of the same…minor changes, but it kept the essence of the story and the plot. I loved the film, thought it not only followed the story, but also the feel of the art, the characters and the music. Brilliant job by Zack Snyder.

This image is another one taken from the dog track north of Phoenix. This room is off from the main building and was full of mostly chairs and squishy carpeting that had a lot of bird crap on it. A LOT. Was slightly concerned that the “squishy” was entirely birdy droppings, but I tried not to think about it.

I don’t always talk about my processing habits, but this year things have changed a bit for me when it comes to my HDR images. I’m embracing shadows a lot more than I used to, which is sometimes contrary to what HDR is all about. The goal of HDR is to capture the entire dynamic range of a scene so you can see everything, even the darkest corners. I’m kind of over that. At least, on some images. Like my sunset photo from yesterday…the chairs are fairly dark and you don’t see much detail other than the highlights from the sun. Or my Four Peaks snow shot last week…I purposely kept the cactus darker than I would have done in the past because in reality, that was the scene.

So this image has some darker areas where you really can’t see inside the shadows and I love it. And I honestly am kind of excited about where this change is leading me, especially with other photos I’ve processed this week.

Window to the End of the World

Black Canyon City Abandoned Dog Track Sunset

This is the first of many, many images from the abandoned dog track north of Phoenix near Black Canyon City. I made the trek up there with my good AZ photog buddies Rick Young and Scott Wood. The place hasn’t been used as a dog track since 1982 and after that it was a swap meet until closed a few years later. Now it sits there waiting for explorers to venture inside in search of hidden treasures…which for us are photographs.

There was talk that we’d go in the morning, but I pushed for the late afternoon hours, having told Rick that the seats and windows face West/Southwest, so the light coming in will be amazing while we’re there and maybe we’ll get a sunset out of it. Of course, I’d never been there really, only saw it from the road once. This was Rick’s second time.

Well, he doubted me, saying the mountains were too close for a good sunset, but we decided to get out there around 3pm anyways and spent a couple of hours wandering the place until the sun finally did set and gave us one of the most magnificent shows in awhile. Rick called out to me from across the bleachers area, “See Mike, told you the sunset would suck.

But even if the show was good, there was nothing like sitting in those old chairs, in eerie quiet, watching this amazing sunset framed by huge windows which themselves were framed with whatever remaining glass they had left. I can’t even describe the feeling…part of me wanted to just sit there and watch, and the other (more commanding) part scrambled around to find the perfect way to compose the shot.

I’m thrilled and excited to bring you more images from that trip…it was an amazing place of course, but also the very first true indoor urban exploration for me and I relished every moment.