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Chris + Gretchen | Engaged

Gretchen and Chris have almost been like good friends from the moment we met. Way back last year we sat down for the first time at Carly’s to talk about their wedding this coming May. A normal client meeting might last an hour, but we hung out for almost three and they showed me some amazing places downtown, like the Film Bar and the Roosevelt Tavern. Their knowledge of what is going on down there is extraordinary.

The wedding is going to be at The Icehouse and I honestly cannot wait for it. The place is sick. An old warehouse building with an open roof ceremony area. It’s going to be friggin’ great.

But before we ever get to that, they decided they wanted some photos taken in some of their favorite spots downtown. Starting off at Carly’s of course for a quick beer! Then we crossed the street to stand in front of a giant dude on a bicycle with flowers coming out of rear basket. It was only painted a few days before. Awesomeness.

We just explored some old hangouts of mine and some new places, like The Duce, where we stopped off for yes, another drink, and then continued on until we got that epic sunset sky that Arizona is so famous for.

I can’t even tell you how much fun we had during the shoot, and then grabbing a bite to eat afterwards at the Crescent Ballroom (yet another place I’d never been that they showed me!). These are just fantastic people and I’m so honored to be capturing their wedding on May 11th.

Thanks for dinner guys and thanks for an awesome time hanging out!

Almost Famous

The Duce Bus Downtown Phoenix

(Hat tip to the wife for picking the name for this one…she always comes through)

Another edition of Movie Title Wednesday finds us back in the 1970’s, riding along with Stillwater, the band that is the focus of the fantastic film, Almost Famous.

I remember loving this movie, and perhaps even getting choked up at the end. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, but it’s one of those films that comes along once in awhile that just hangs with you for years after seeing it. A young man tries to get an article written for Rolling Stones Magazine by joining the band Stillwater on their tour bus as they go around the country. Great cast…Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee.

One of the best moments of the film that still kind of resonates with me was when they all join in to sing Tiny Dancer while heading down the highway. Amazing scene.

If you haven’t seen it…check it out, definitely can’t go wrong if you love music, bands, a little comedy, a little drama and awesome writing.

The bus in the photo belongs to The Duce, an eclectic, unique place in downtown Phoenix. I shot this back in late December whilst on our first photowalk of the city. My buddy Ken and I both got shots of it, still haven’t seen what he did with it.

I processed this photo awhile ago…probably within a week of taking it, but was waiting to dump it on a Wednesday. This was one of the first times I used Focal Point from onOne Software and I absolutely loved how it isolated the front of the bus. I knew right away I’d make it black and white, because I find it really helps get rid of any distraction when it comes to background colors.

Drink at the Duce

This is another shot from The Duce, a hidden gem in downtown Phoenix that we discovered a few weeks ago. The inside is crazy…there is a boxing ring, restaurant, vintage shop, bar, bleachers for Suns games and more. While the inside probably demands some HDR attention from me down the road, on this night I was focused mainly on grungy walls and alleyways, and the west side of the building was calling my name.

I absolutely love the sign on this wall, right down to the font and layout of the name of the building. The way the light from behind the metal cutout shows you not only the name, but some of the brick details behind it is awesome. That light also helped illuminate the area below it and highlight a few other things. There is just so much about this wall I loved…the textures in the bricks and doorway, the sidewalk, the vertical “drink” and the specks of light coming through the square windows on either side (which you can see better if you view the larger version).

I definitely would like to head back inside the place at some point to snatch some shots of the awesomely quirky interior.  The boxing ring is kind of stuck in my head and I know I must capture it someday.

Shop 525

I may have written about it already, but last week I dragged my wife and kid out to explore downtown Phoenix with me right before the sun went down. As we drove around, we suddenly saw this old brick warehouse with the doors wide open, and there was a restaurant and a vintage clothing store inside with globe lights hanging everywhere. It was amazing because there really was nothing around it that was like it. No stores, no malls…it sits a few blocks south of US Airways and is called The Duce.

We checked out the inside, which is a collection of the most crazy stuff you’ll see…bleachers with a big screen TV, a bar, a clothing store, an old kitchen from a trailer, a BOXING RING and a bunch of crap I’m forgetting. It was the strangest, coolest place I’d seen since moving down here.

When we left, I stopped on the west side of the building and took a few shots. They have the words “Shop” “Eat” “Drink” on the outside walls and I wanted to capture them if I could. I liked this specific spot because of the dual lights kind of illuminating the “shop” text.

For those interested, I polished off this image using the onOne Perfect Photo Suite. I don’t have a tilt-shift lens nor will likely get one anytime soon, so I tried out FocalPoint on this and it was awesome to use. I wanted to keep the words sharp, but push the out-of-focus a bit on the outskirts of the wall. So a combination of PhotoTools and FocalPoint helped arrive at this finished product.

I have to say, I’m loving the software. I’m using it for urbex shots now of course, but I’ve also created some presets for my portrait photography as well and love the results. If you are interested in checking this software out, you can now use my awesome coupon code “OLBINSKI” to get 15% off. Just visit their site to get an overview.