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Monday, August 24, 2009
One hot day...
I was driving down a residential street on my way home from the gym. The weather was clear with temps in the low 90's.
As I rounded the corner, I saw a bright pink sign with a little girl shouting to "Lemonade!" to passers by. Something told me to slow down. I was thirsty, after all, and the thought of a lemonade sounded good.
and saw these four kids, two girls and two boys, happy and smiling; I could sense their excitement: "They had a customer! And he's reaching for his wallet!"
Their stand consisted of a folding table and a few garden chairs nestled beneath the shade of a blue patio umbrella. Not far from them sat a few of the parents in conversation, enjoying the warm day.
the young entrepreneurs what the would do with "all the money they were making today". "We're gonna split it!" they responded. I paid for my Dixie cup full of the cold sweet concoction and left them a generous tip.
The thought occurred to me to ask for a photograph, I'm not sure why, I never am... So I introduced myself to the parents and asked casually. Being a parent myself, I completely understand any hesitation to grant such a request. The world is just a different place than it was when I was growing up. Luckily, I got the approval and walked back to my car to get my camera.
I shoot with a Nikon D90 SLR with a 50mm f/1.4, which isn't all that big of a camera, but still can be a bit intimidating. Its not the average point-and-shoot, so it took a while before the kids started to loosen up.
In this shot
...you can see the differences among them; One is smiling brightly, while another is almost hiding under the table. I really enjoy the way that the camera is able to stop time. To freeze that moment with the push of a button.
I feel like I've made some new friends that day. Since then, I've sent the retouched images to their parents, and every time I drive by, I'll look for the Lemonade Stand and the young entrepreneurs that brought it to life on that hot day.... and I'll smile!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
On Saturday, July 25th, I had the honor of being allowed to photograph inside of a local fire station. It took some time to get permission, but once I finally reached the right person, things seem to move along swiftly.
for this self-assignment was to show the viewers a glimpse of what life is like for these brave men who risk their lives to protect us. Most of us only see these guys when its an emergency, and by then, its too late to exchange the pleasantries of introduction.
I wasn't sure what to expect
when I arrived. I had most of my lighting gear packed into the back of my little hatchback. As it turned out, I only needed one light stand some gels and two CLS speedlights. I was greeted at the door by the three-man crew and felt immediately at home. These guys went out of their way to help me create these images. I showed them the sketches of what I was trying to capture and they were more than willing to help.
In this shot, the Captain holds up an adapter for framing. He's lit from a straight speedlight at camera right (set to TTL). I like the hard light and the way it adds drama to this shot. His blue eyes add so much to this capture.
I asked this man
if he could tell me a story about when he felt fear in the course of his duty. He recounted a time when he was at an apartment fire with his partner. The floor was getting soft and some spots had already burned through. His partner was advancing and he was close behind. The call came in for them fall back because it was getting too dangerous, but his partner wanted to press on and try to put it out. He had to coax his partner out just before the place collapsed. "Most fire fighters that die in structure fires are killed by falling though something, or from having something fall on them"
This fire engine
is basically a pump on wheels and a very large tool box. The pump is capable of 1500 gallons per minute. That's an entire swimming pool every 9 minutes! Each of those aluminum roll up doors houses a compartment with hose adapters, hydrant wrenches, tools for getting access into burning building quickly, and paramedic gear for keeping victims alive until the ambulance arrives. Inside there are 6 seats. Where the men sit, is at the discretion of the captain. Near each seat it each man's own custom designed jacket and pants (or "turn-outs" as they're called because of the way they are stored) The men get dressed en-route to save time. Everything they need in in the engine so they don't forget anything.
All in all it was a great experience to meet these modern-day heroes. I have the ultimate respect for these guys and the difficult job they do so well.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I spent a wonderful week off
on Oahu with my family and am still basking in the "tropical glow" of maitais, sun, sand, and the pleasant natives we met along the way. I brought along my camera most days and captured as much of the experience as I could.
On one rainy
day, I traveled to the northern part of the island to an enchanted place called Waimea Valley (on Oahu, not to be confused with Waimea Canyon, on Kauai). Here there is a botanical garden sheltered by high cliff walls. The feeling in primeval with strange plants and flowers adorned with small droplets.
The light rain kept most of the other tourists away making this an experience that was very personal and profound. The garden path beckoned us to move onward up hill to the falls, strongly flowing. There will be no swimming today.
On the way down,
we were greeted by a pleasant native woman who offered to teach us how to make a small fish form the leaves of a coconut tree. My wife and I followed her careful instructions and were pleasantly surprised at how well our fish turned out.
The valley will remain one of the outstanding memories for us. the peaceful and serene surroundings along with the gentle rain and bright native smiles will be some of our fond memories from this trip.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I drive by
this place on my way home from work each day and love how the afternoon sun plays on the sides of these train cars. They've been there for months and I've had my camera with me but had never made the image, until today.
There is a point
along the road where you cant turn back, without a lot of hassle that is. I see the ore cars but by the time I think of making the shot, I've already past that point, so I drive on. But today was different.
I parked as close as I could which still meant a long walk in the coarse gravel alongside the tracks. Camera on my shoulder, risking the puzzled looks from passers by, some of them co-workers, no doubt, I walked in the dust. I am a photographer.
As I neared
the ore cars, their sheer size was daunting. The factory was closed for the day, the workers had all gone home, but still I obeyed the "No Trespassing" signs because I have yet to see the inside of a police car.
I started shooting. It was really windy and I had to brace myself against the train to steady the shot. I stood, I crouched, I knelt, I zoomed, framed and composed, and I shot. Twenty five images captured and I chose this one to share.
I love the way the cars arc off into the distance. The dirt road and tire tracks strengthen the lines in this image. The silo in the distance give your eye a destination.
Some one once told me
that all the anticipation an nervousness you feel before a shoot goes away the moment you take the first picture. This time I felt it. It was nice being present, tuning out all else, and just making images.
Many times in life, routine keeps us from opportunity. We get so used to doing the same things over and over again and don't bother with that which removes us from our comfort zone. When we take the time to stop it can be quite rewarding. We have an image, and a story to tell. To quote David duChemin: "Carry your camera and don't bemoan missed opportunities. Just chase new ones"
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Street shooting refers to one of the most challenging types of photography I've dealt with. It involves placing yourself and your camera in a public place and then...gasp...trying to get a stranger to pose for a portrait.
my assignment involved shooting at a popular shopping mall with a 50mm lens. This meant that I needed to get in close to people, so I'd definitely have to build rapport. I saw several interesting subjects walking around the indoor mall. I finally gathered up enough courage to ask: "Would you mind If I shot a photo?" My first few attempts went fairly well. I was able to take photos of a small dog, and a toddler. I snapped a couple of quick shots and thanked them for their time. Still, this didn't feel like I pushed myself far enough.
Women and Children
The most difficulty came with asking mothers if I could take photos of their children. Twice, I was promptly rebuffed in the way a mother bear protects it cubs. I apologized for the intrusions and scampered away with my tail between my legs. I felt a little ashamed of my self; I'm not sure why....
Then I met Roy
I noticed this guy hair. Its not something that you see very often, so I was intrigued. I walked by once, but didn't ask. I was still a bit shy from my last rejections. Still something inside told me to try again. I thought his hair looked really cool and I told him so. He said he'd had it cut in Vancouver where he's from. I asked him if he wouldn't mind as I pointed to my small camera bag and he said:"Sure! Go for it!"
He didn't seem to mind as I made a few images. Actually I think he enjoyed the impromptu attention. I handed him a card with my Flickr account, this blog, and my email address. He smiled and said He'd look it up when he got back. Roy's a nice guy!
I truly admire
those photographers like David DuChemin, who grapple with language and cultural barriers to produce some of the world's most stunning street portraits in far off lands. Having put myself through this exercise, I now realize how far I have to go!