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James & Ayla’s engagement in Phoenix

Way behind with posting fun engagement sessions, here’s James and Ayla who got married in Tucson earlier this year. Had a blast with them in downtown Phoenix and then Papago Park for these engagement photos!

Never got around to sharing this engagement session between Ayla and James, but it was a blast. A drink at Carly’s before exploding some of downtown Phoenix and then hitting Papago Park!

Andrea & Chad’s engagement in Downtown Phoenix

These two. Hot, sweltering sun, but you couldn’t even tell. Loved them so much, can’t wait for the wedding!

Stay off my sh*t

(click to see a larger dumpster with a beautiful black border)

I shot this during my HDR Workshop back in February. I just love what the 50mm 1.4 does on a full frame with that wide aperture. No Focal Point or any other Photoshop effect for the depth of field…just good ol’ f/2.0.

Graffiti can either be awesome or, most of the time, just plain and basically ugly. It’s rare to find something that is just pure art out here. This is really nothing awesome, but the inspiration for the title of this post made me laugh. Kind of curious why the person wrote it. Did someone overwrite his previous crappy graffiti? Or does he perhaps sleep in the dumpster?

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

 

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 Lobby

This is the lobby of the dog track in Black Canyon City, part of the series I’ve been posting for the last few weeks. Broken glass, debris, dust, discarded items and this cushion litter the floor in every direction. The surface is made up of tiles, but they are warped, fragile and almost every step seems to result in loud, cracking noises. For this young urban explorer, it was the only time in my entire life I can remember being in a place as degraded as the dog track.

And it was awesome…of course.

Never having been on a shoot of a place like this before, I was kind of just wandering and shooting randomly when I started…almost like a kid in a candy store who has no idea what he wants. I felt like the longer I was there, the better my composition and framing became. I relaxed, started “seeing” better and was much more happy with the stuff I ended up with later in the tour.

The goal with this shot should be pretty obvious. Focus on something up close in the foreground, but use the wide angle to give an idea of the vastness of the space. I loved all the minute details of the floor and I kind of just scoured it for awhile before settling on this cushion to be my main element.

More to come…oh boy…lots more to come from the dog track *grin*

(exif: canon xsi, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, ISO 100, F5)

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.

The Departed

Yes, it’s Movie Title Wednesday once again, where I choose a movie title to go with one of my photographs. Although, in reality, it now goes something like this on Tuesday nights:

“Hey, Jina, come look at this.”

“What?”

“I need you to pick a movie title for this week’s image, I obviously suck at life when I do it. Far and Away? REALLY? Ugh…”

So now I run it by the lady in charge…because she is wise, keen and knows much more than me. She’s always been that way in many different areas, but now it spreads over to my photo blog. Her potential for helping me be a better person is endless.

The Departed. Wow…an epic mobster film from Martin Scorsese, Leo, Marky Mark (who is awesome btw) and a whole mess of good actors. It’s set in the Boston area (which I love) and involves undercover people on both sides of the law…the police and the Irish Mafia. I only saw the film once, I don’t honestly remember a lot of it other than some shocking scene of a guy getting blasted in the head with a gun. What I do remember is loving the film and being glued to the screen the entire time.

The title of the movie can be seen in this image on so many levels it’s not even funny. First off, it definitely has that South Boston, urban feel to it…it might work as a location in the film. Next up the sun is setting…leaving or departing for the day. Wow, can you believe we’re not done yet? Third it’s a train platform where people or products would end up leaving from on a journey to who knows where. FINALLY, it’s abandoned, unused and sitting alone…almost departed from relevancy in this world.

Although for a guy like me, it’s very relevant. It’s beautiful. Once again it was one of those nights where I pack Lyla up in the car, turn on Mickey Mouse and drive around looking for a good, grungy spot for a sunset. There was a road I’d never been down before and suddenly I see this ramp leading up to a long lost train platform. The tracks stop just left of the image at the platform, which I’m standing on.

Of course I was blessed with an epic sunset. Whenever I see one of these, I always like to place it in the best 2-3 of the year. But the fact is, we get these a lot more often than that. This state has unfounded beauty that I continue to discover on a daily basis, be it in the sky, the desert or the forgotten parts of downtown Phoenix.

(special nod to Brian Matiash for looking at this image last week and telling me to “pop” the graffiti a bit more)

One Man’s Trash…

…is another man’s treasure.

I’ve been holding onto this one for awhile…shot it back in August along with a few other sunsets I’ve posted since then. This was one of my favorite photos from the day and sometimes you just want to HOLD onto a photo and just wait for the right time to post it. I have no idea why this was the time, or exactly why I waited…but regardless, here it is.

This was just south of the I-10/SR 587 interchange…a road I had never been down before. I drove right on past this to grab the sunset, and on my way back I passed it again…and then I stopped, put the car in reverse and snapped some brackets.

It was actually spooky and kind of proves to me why I’d never be good at solo urban exploring. I’m too much of a chicken. Everything was so still and quiet here…and I wasn’t sure if perhaps someone might be staring at me from inside those dark windows.

I’d love to go back here someday though, perhaps get a closer shot of that couch, because it was just awesome. I’m not saying this photo is an amazing bit of composition, but it definitely felt like someone placed the couch there specifically for me to photograph it.

An old, rusty water trough

This shot is from way back in May of this year. Sometimes I take brackets, smash them into an HDR shot, they end up being removed from my laptop to save disk space and get lost on my backup drives until I stumble across them eventually. I was browsing my HDR library on the backup disk last night and found this little guy sitting there.

Yet another gorgeous scene from my trip to Northern Arizona. This was on the way to Grand Falls and I just had to turnaround, drive down a dirt road in the rain in my little two-door and hope I didn’t get stuck anywhere. My only wish looking back is that I had my 17-35mm for this and had gotten a little closer to the water trough.

At least, I think it’s a water trough…the little bucket in the front appeared to be able to hold liquid, there were cow prints around and it seemed to serve no other purpose. I loved the rust and graffiti on it in contrast with the sort of smooth terrain around it and the stormy skies.

An old water trough

Just another random find along the way to Grand Falls. This appeared to be a makeshift water trough for cattle I believe, but it was awesomely rusted and decorated with some great graffiti. Loved the look of it against the stormy skies.