Global Dance Festival 2016

October 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Red Rocks and Denver Skyline at Global Dance Fest GDF 2016

Global Dance Festival 2016

    There are a few places and events I’ve been to many times but never blogged about. Right now will manage to kill two of those birds with one post by telling you about Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. Red Rocks is not your typical concert venue because it’s carved out of the side of a mountain and overlooks Denver. Many years ago a very good friend of mine said that standing in the bowl of the amphitheater feels like you are in the hand of God. Cup your hand and hold it in front of your face. The bottom of your palm is the stage and the top of your fingers are where I was standing when I took the photo you see above. Those lights on the horizon are Denver.

Dancing at GDF 2016

Dancing at Red Rocks During GDF 2016

    I would guess this was my tenth time attending GDF since 2001 but it was my first time bringing my camera to the show. GDF is held in the middle of summer, which means the weather is perfect for tailgating, people watching, dancing and partying. My friends and I get there early and leave late.

Masked at Global Dance Fest 2016

People at Global Dance Fest 2016

    The music plays nonstop for about six hours and you will be dancing, in one form or another for at least that long. Global Dance Fest is the world heavyweight champion festival of electronic dance music (EDM) and since it lasts for three days, just about anyone will be able to attend at least one day, no matter what your work schedule demands of you.

PLUR Peace Love Unity Respect GDF 2016

Peace Love Unity Respect

    What it comes down to is love. In a world with where it can seem enemies and stress are always at the gates, GDF is an oasis of peace, love, unity and respect. PLUR. PLUR. Peace, love unity and respect. Those are all things we can use more of and they are all free. You can produce, receive and project all of those things with less than the flick of a wrist. Cheers!

NASA Social OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Event

May 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Osiris Rex Clean Room Launch Position

OSIRIS-REx Inside Lockheed Martin Clean Room

    NASA Social is a program that invites the social media followers of NASA to get up close and personal with what is going on with our space program, learn about missions and meet the people that make a living from science. This particular event was a chance to see the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-collecting spacecraft. This is a craft that will be blasted into space on an Atlas rocket, transit to a 540 yard wide asteroid named Bennu, collect a sample from the surface of the asteroid and them bring that sample back to Earth for analysis. Yeah, we have people right here in Denver that figured out how to do all that and I got to photograph their work and talk to them! The photo above shows the clean room where the craft is assembled and prepped for launch. The spacecraft is on the right, in the position it will be in when it is launched.

Osiris Rex Clean Room Scientists

Lockheed Martin Scientists & Engineers

    I’ll do my best to explain what the craft is, who’s building it and what it mean to us humans to get a look at a pristine sample of a 4.5 billion year old piece of matter. First, the name of the mission is: OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission. OSIRIS-REx is an acronym that incorporates the mission’s major concepts and goals.

    O – Origins

    SI – Spectral Interpretation

    RI – Resource Identification

    S – Security

    REx – Regolith Explorer

Osiris Rex Spacecraft Model

Demonstration Of Asteroid Touch & Go Manuever

    Lockheed Martin has built the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and that includes the sampling system and the sample return capsule at their campus in Littleton, Colorado. The science instruments come from various space agencies and universities. While the timeline from launch to sample return will take 7 years, the actual sample collection will only take a few seconds. What you see on the photo above are 3D printed models of the craft and the asteroid (not to scale) as they will appear when the craft gets ready to collect the sample. The small arm you see extended from the craft is the only part that will touch the asteroid. It is called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM for short. It will touch down, a puff of inert gas will move surface material into the collection vessel and then the arm will deposit the vessel into the return capsule. All of that will happen in less time that it took you to read this sentence.

Osiris Rex TAGSAM Sample Return Capsule

Up Close & Personal With TAGSAM

    In the photo above there are a few cool things you’ll want to notice. In the foreground you see an actual size model of the sample return capsule. On the inside of the lid there are three clips around that small circle. It’s those clips that will grab and hold the sample recovery vessel as the TAGSAM presses it into place. The gentleman above is holding the hose that will puff the inert gas into the round recovery vessel that is sitting on the table. On game day, that small vessel will be maneuvered by the TAGSAM into that circle in the lid of the capsule. After that the capsule lid will close, detach from the craft and then make its way back to Earth, to the deserts of Utah to be exact. You may see that the part sitting on the table there, the part that will be touching the asteroid and collecting the sample looks like an air filter from a 1969 Pontiac GTO. That is because the basic principle of an automobile air filter is being used on this craft. Stones, pebbles and dust can enter one side of the filter but can’t get out on the other; simply brilliant. Notice how the wall back there is dark and rocky, kind of what you might think an asteroid might look like? I’ll explain that in a bit.

Osiris Rex Sample Collecting Spacecraft

Sample Return Capsule

    Here is a view of the actual sample return capsule atop the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The craft will be in this orientation when it’s launched but it will be flipped around so the capsule and all the instruments are facing the asteroid while in orbit and as the sample is collected.

Asteroid Wall Training Room NASA Social

Spacecraft Testing Facility

    There is a giant structure with a 45 foot tall mockup of what they believe the surface of Bennu will be like. They call it the asteroid wall and the tracks you see in the photo above are used to maneuver special machines that hold the spacecraft components while they are tested on the asteroid wall.

NASA Social Asteroid Wall Group Shot

NASA Social Group Photo At The Asteroid Wall

    We all posed for a NASA Social group shot in front of the asteroid wall. Of course I jumped out so I could get my own shot. I really have to hand it to The employees at Lockheed Martin that showed us around and kept us entertained for the entire day; they made all of us feel important a showed us things that most people will never see. OSIRIS-REx is going to track an asteroid that will be moving at 63,000 MPH, touch it, shoot a capsule full of asteroid back to Earth and show us just how far back our family tree goes. I found out about NASA Social and how to apply from Laura Keeney, an ex-journalist turned Lockheed Martin employee in Denver, Colorado. You should follow her on Twitter.

Osiris Rex Clean Room Lockheed Martin

Full View Of The Clean Room

    The first shot for this post and the one above were both taken from the observation deck that looks into the clean room were the spacecraft is assembled and scientific instrument are attached. While I was in there, the craft into launch position and that is shown in the video below. It took about three and a half minutes in real time but is compressed into 23 seconds, making it a little cooler. You love space, you love what NASA does and you want to own a spaceship right? Well, your foot in the door to seeing stuff you love and stuff you want to own is the NASA Social website. Look at the upcoming events and if you can travel to one of them do it! You will get to see things that will blow your mind and you’ll get to take pictures of things that most of the world will only know through YOUR photos. You write about your once in a lifetime experience and post photos on your blog and that how the rest of the world will know about it. Everything you blog about will be read and looked at for many many years.

OSIRIS-REx Rotating To Launch Position

    Get in touch with and follow NASA Social and Lockheed Martin at the following places:

    NASA Social Website

    NASA Social on Twitter

    OSIRIS-REx on Twitter

    Lockheed Martin on Twitter

    Apply for an event, travel somewhere cool, take photos and then post. We were made for this!

Mercury Transits Across The Sun

May 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mercury Transit 2016 Double Exposure

The Transit Of Mercury

    The orbits of Mercury and Earth lined up in such a way on May 9, 2016 that Mercury swept directly between the sun and us. From sunrise until just after lunch, those of us with the optics and equipment were able to watch Mercury, as a small black spot, move from one side of the sun to the other. For you photographers out there my settings for shooting the sun were: 1/4000th of a second, f/32, 100 ISO with a 10 stop neutral density filter attached to a 200mm lens. The photo above has two images taken that day, separated by just over two hours of time. Mercury is the lower of the two black spots you see on the sun. For all you fact checkers and history loggers, the left one was taken at 8:20am and the other at 10:36am Mountain time, from just outside Denver, CO. Cheers!

Photographing the Sun

December 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sunspots Nov 2014

Sunspots Over Denver

    Back in October I posted some photos of the partial solar eclipse the occurred over Denver. In that post I lamented not being able to capture the event very well because the sun is, duh, too damn bright. What I needed, and thus came to want(ed) was a neutral density filter; sunglasses for my camera. Guess what? I got one! Of course it’s been cloudy most days since I bought it but I’ve still managed to mess around with it a little.

    My camera has a cropped sensor so my 200mm lens gives me the reach of a 300mm lens on an actual 35mm camera. For the laypeople out there, my camera’s sensor is smaller than a 35mm negative by a factor of 1.5 so that smaller size gives me 1.5 times more reach than if I had a full size (35mm) sensor. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on what I’m trying to do. My cool 8mm fish-eye lens is not as wide as it should be because with my camera it shoots at 12mm. When aiming at the sun or birds of in the distance, my 55-200mm zoom gives me 100 extra millimeters on the far end (300mm). Are you still awake? Well, even if you are not, I’m going to continue.

    With the sun being so bright, even a neutral density filter needs help so the photo above was shot in a way that allowed the least amount of light to hit the sensor, whether the ND filter was in place or not. The same settings were used for the shot below during the eclipse; 1/4000th of a second, f/32 and an ISO of 100. Beyond that the only difference between the two is the ND filter, which lets less light pass through the lens and onto the sensor.

Solar Eclipse And Bird In Flight In Denver

Solar Eclipse Over Denver

    If you use your imagination, you can see where the moon is blocking the top portion of the sun but you might not see that if I didn’t tell you about it. At this point, the sun was very low in the sky which made for a very dramatic eclipse but still had me struggling to photograph it. The top photo was taken when the sun was a full two hours higher in the sky and yet you can see sun spots even a fleck of dust on my lens. The fleck I’m referring to is the big spot you see at the 8 o’clock position on the sun. Anyway, my point is that I’m pleased with this ND filter and once I’m done pointing it at the sky I’ll get to some slow shutter speed stuff of rivers and waterfalls. Bor-ing stuff. Cheers!

Colorado State Capitol Building

November 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Top Of Colorado Capitol Dome In Denver

Colorado State Capitol Building Model

For the first time in about 15 years, I went inside the Colorado Capitol building. The gold dome has gleamed over Denver for a hundred and ten years and it was just refurbished so it looks great. While I did walk all over the place I had one actual thing on my agenda; to get to the top of the dome.

Ground Floor Of Colorado Capitol Building Looking Up

Ground Floor – Colorado State Capitol Building

If you don’t work in the capitol, there are two options for visitors to enter; the north or the south side of the building. There are very polite security guards that will have you walk through a metal detector and place your bag in an x-ray machine. It’s similar to going through security at an airport but you can keep your shoes on and you only need to take metal objects out of your pockets. After that, you can walk all around the building.

Grand-Staircase-In-Colorado-Capitol-In-Denver

The Grand Staircase

The place if filled with vintage art and stained glass windows that are worth spending time admiring and photographing. That being said, I didn’t admire a whole lot because, as I said before, I wanted to go to the top of the dome.

Emily Griffith Stained Glass In Colorado Capitol In Denver

Emily Griffith Stained Glass Window

Normally, a stained glass window is an actual window. What I mean is that they are on the outer wall of a building in order to let light in and showcase the colors. There are a few of them in the capitol building that are on interior wall and lit from behind with electric lights. This likeness of Emily Griffith is one of them.

Colorado State Capitol Chambers In Denver

Colorado State Legislature Chambers

While the restoration of the dome is complete, there are still interior chambers getting a facelift. This is the part where I have to tell you that I don’t remember exactly what this room is but I think it is the state legislature chambers. I do remember that it was on the west side of the building and that it has some great stained glass windows. I also remember the information poster outside this room said that in the 1950s acoustic tiles were placed on the walls, covering the original gilded walls. Those tiles are now being removed and the original walls are being restored, which I think is awesome.

Hall Of Presidents Colorado Capitol In Denver

Looking Down From The Hall Of Presidents

Up and up I went, looking at the architecture whilst resisting the urge to open random doors. While the actual footprint of the building is rectangular, each floor under the dome is round; I think that would make these areas, if not the entire building itself a rotunda. This is perfect for a wide angle lens since it distorts straight lines into a curve.

Hall Of Presidents Looking Up In Colorado State Capitol In Denver

Looking Up From The Hall Of Presidents

One of my last stops before finding the stairs that lead up to the gold dome is this room filled with portraits of every American president. Some of the portraits are missing because they are being cleaned off site but it was still a very easy way to put faces to names that haven’t made it on to our currency. I am a modest student of early American history so at this point I have to say that Benjamin Franklin should have his portrait up here because I think he should have been president.

Top Of Colorado Capitol Dome In Denver

After a hike up a final set of narrow stairs, I was right underneath the gold dome. The spiral staircase you see in the photo above is off limits to the public so where I was standing is the highest point a regular dude like me can go; the same place I stood 15 years earlier.

Civic Center From Colorado Capitol Dome In Denver

Civic Center Park

Once out on the veranda of the rotunda I set to work taking photos of my glorious Denver skyline. All these photos were taken on November 5th so the fall colors of Civic Center Park were on full display and there were just enough clouds to give some depth to the sky without blocking out the warmth of the sun.

Denver Skyline From Capitol Dome

The Skyline Of Denver

It was about four in the afternoon when I was up there; access to the dome is only granted during daylight so you will really have to get the timing right if you want some sunset shots. This is one of those instances where having a high placed friend would come in really handy. If there was a photographer with a friend that could grant him access to the top of this building after hours that would be awesome. Maybe there is someone that doesn’t personally know a photographer but after reading a post like this could arrange for a photographer to get some night shots from The Colorado Capitol. I’m just saying.

Colorado Flag And County Building In Denver

The Skyline Of Denver

For those of you that have been reading my blog over the last half decade, you know that I try to write the way that I talk. It’s not easy because I have no regard for punctuation or AP Style when I speak. I think, I speak, I type and then I read what I’ve typed aloud to myself. That’s how I do up a post, that’s my process. I love Denver and I love Colorado. Any sort of anything that has made me the man I am today has its roots in the centennial state. I was in this landlocked state when I enlisted in the Navy and it was Denver that I returned to after sailing around the world. Cheers!

Union Station Denver – Amtrak

July 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Union Station Sign Denver Amtrak Platform

Amtrak Platform – Union Station In Denver, Colorado

    Two months ago we all said, “Goodbye Market Street Station!” when our beloved cave, Denver’s only underground was closed. I was and remain all right with that because it forced me to examine my relationship with Union Station. Back in the day when the light rail opened I’d take the C line out of there and I partied Lotus a few times but I never used it as a train station. I never had to jump onto an Amtrak train as, “All aboard!” was shouted or watched my girlfriend chase my departing train down the platform, blowing kisses at me as she knocked people and stuff over in a way that made it seem like it was in a movie. As she ran along after me I would be smitten with her physically exhausting display of affection for me but as soon as I pulled my head back in the open window, I’d be laughing at whatever comical way she would have finally tripped and collided into something. Without a defining moment like that, do you even have a relationship at all?

    I wasn’t sure so the other day I went to Union Station in order to explore this new hub of bus and rail. I was there to take pictures and to see what the station could offer me beyond the light rail. By the way, in San Diego they call it the trolley. As in, “I’m going to take the trolley downtown.” Saying I’m going to take the light rail downtown makes me think of beams of light like a light saber from Star Wars. There is no heavy rail or dark rail or whatever the competition of light rail is. It should be rebranded as The Denver Trolley.

Amtrak Platform Denver Union Station

Police On The Platform

    For reference, the people you see in the first photo were waiting to board an incoming train so I walked down the platform and was politely stopped by the policeman you see above. He asked if I was catching the train so I said I was not; I was taking photos and was heading to the old looking Pullman in the background. He said I had to stay back past the bridge, also visible in the first photo. There are no signs to that effect but at least he was only concerned with where I was and not what I was doing, which was taking photos.

Amtrak Train Union Station Denver

People Waiting For The Train

    When the train arrived it backed into the station and people become to jostle about as the excitement of imminent travel began to take over.

Amtrak Train Pulls Into Union Station Denver

The Timeless Train

    Watching a train roll in to a station is a timeless experience because standing on a train platform today is exactly the same experience that it was 150 years ago. If you are in the vicinity of a station and you hear a train whistle you are drawn to it, if you are in a station and you see a train pulling in you are drawn to it. I was. My goal was to photograph the underground portion of Union Station but once I found out a train was arriving I headed over to the Amtrak platform.

Amtrak Train Window Washing Union Station Denver

Washing The Windows

    When the train was parked, window washing caught my eye. I had never thought about train windows being washed before; you never see it happening in any Cary Grant movies from the golden age of rail, where I learned most of what I know about trains so this was a neat thing for me to see for the first time. Also, this is my favorite photo from the day.

Amtrak Train Platform Union Station Denver

People About To Board The Train

    There are so many stories going on in the world at any given time and a train station helps bring a bunch of them together in a very small space. This is how I interpret the photo above:
The couple on the right is full of uncertainty; the woman on the phone is explaining to someone that she is literally about to step on a train and leave while the guy she is with is worried that whomever she is speaking to will talk her out of leaving.

    The couple on the left have everything worked out so they don’t have a care in the world.

    The guy in the peach colored shirt is just a photobomb.

    A few minutes later an RTD transit guard and that same policeman from earlier came up to me. The transit guard did all the taking and asked if I was getting on the train, what kind of photos I was taking and told me they are concerned for everyone’s safety. Then he told me something unexpected. He said I could call RTD customer service at 303.299.6000 and get a permit to take photos around the station. He said it’s easy to get and it will allow the security and police personnel in the station to know I was there and what I was doing. I was in the station for just as long as the people waiting for the train so it was ultimately the amount of time I spent in the station that lead to our conversation, not my taking photos. He never said I couldn’t take photos or to put my camera down but getting a permit would just put everyone on the same page. Fair enough, I’ll check it out and report back.

    In the meantime I do recommend you check out the station, with or without a camera. I’ll do an entirely separate post on the underground portion because it is rather grand so I need to spend some more time down there and take a few more photos before I present my assessment to the world. Cheers!

Coronado Then and Now

March 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Coronado Village Theater Under Construction 2010

Coronado Village Theater – December 2010

    Three years ago I was on a bus that took me through Coronado and over the Coronado Bridge. I took a couple photos on that trip that are already turning into a neat little time capsule, even after such a short amount of time. First, while on Orange Avenue I passed by the old Coronado Village Theater and saw that it was being renovated. It used to be that whenever I would look at old photos showing what a skyline looked like 100 years ago or an iconic local landmark under construction I would think about how fortunate the photographer was to have been around such a long time ago to photograph history being made. I didn’t yet realize that history was happening all the time, all around me. Every photo I take will one day be old and all the intentional compositions and accidental objects in the background of all those photos will show just how lucky I was to be there at that particular time. A little research told me the theater would open in six months so I returned to take photos of that event, one of which is the last photo in this post.

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship And Coronado Bridge

Carnival Cruise Ship “Splendor” Under Coronado Bridge

    The bus wound through Coronado and came to cross the Coronado Bridge. On the way over, I had a great view of B Street Pier and the Carnival Splendor cruise ship as it sat disabled due to an engine room fire. Cruise ships do not normally dock here so it was very huge and conspicuous.

Coronado Village Theater June 2011

Coronado Village Theater – June 2011

    The photo above was taken six months later, in June 2011. I included it here so you can see what a difference six months makes. Three years have passed since I took these photos; where does the time go? Below is the video I shot during the grand opening of the theater. Cheers, my old friends!

Black And White Photography

November 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

black and white tree

A Tree Under False Moonlight

    I was very fortunate to grow up in an age when film photography was the only way to take a picture. Truth be told, I wanted to be an artist that worked in the mediums of paint, charcoal or pen and ink but after a couple years of classes I still wasn’t any good at it. Way back in 1987 I was in 8th grade and that was when I took my first photography class. That was a galvanizing moment for me because the workings of a camera and the methodology of photography were something I was able to understand right away. Aperture, exposure, shadows, highlights and film type were all things that clicked in my mind just as fast as my camera’s shutter. Add to that the Zen of spending time in the dark room to develop my film and make prints and there was a recipe for pleasure that I’ve been using ever since.

black and white mini blinds

Vertical Blinds

    My dad was a photographer in the Navy back in the 1960s so when I started to develop in interest in photography in the 1980s, he broke out a bunch of photographic equipment that I never knew he had. In a tiny corner of the basement of our house he set up a darkroom for me. The trays, enlarger and even the red light bulb were all vintage things he’d kept since HE was a teenager and were now being used by us together. When I had an assignment in school, I was able to develop my film the night before it was due in my own darkroom and even produce some prints to see if I’d exposed the film correctly.

black and white dirty handle

Dirty Handle

    Another thing my dad was able to do that helped me out very early in my photographic career was to buy film for me in bulk. There was a fee for the photography classes I took which included a finite number of rolls of film. Back then you would normally buy film in rolls of 24 or 36 exposures that you would take to a store to have developed and printed. Film and processing was an expense that added up very quickly, especially for a 13 year old with no income. Buying film by the foot, rather than by the roll was something my dad introduced me to. He had reusable film canisters and the cost of chemicals to develop 100 rolls of film was cheaper than the cost of having the store develop six rolls of film so that is where my allowance of $20 per month went for the next 4 years.

black-and-white-robe

Looking Up A Bathrobe

    I enlisted in the Navy and was a film photographer during my entire four year hitch and for about six years after that. In 2002 I picked up a digital camera for the first time and even though the 1.3 megapixel quality was shit, I saw the potential for a photographic revolution. I had a job photographing products for a company that sold stuff on eBay and I was learning to use Photoshop so I felt like I was on the cutting edge of the next big thing.

black and white styrofoam

Styrofoam

    Christmas of 2005 is when I received my first digital camera. It was a Panasonic DMC-FZ4 and I toted it around with me like a movie starlet totes her Chihuahua around Los Angeles. All the photos in this post were shot by me within the first week or so of receiving it so by looking at these photos you are literally looking at the beginning of my photographic career. Cheers!

Stop And Smell The Roses

November 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Wine At Sunset In Anza California

Pouring A Glass Of Wine At Sunset

    With all the hustle and bustle we have in our world today, I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone just how important it is to take some time for yourself once and a while. We have to commute to work where we have the constant pressure of looming deadlines and when we are not at our jobs there is pressure to create content and update our status for every aspect of our personal lives. I’ve enjoyed cultivating this blog for over four years and I am a fan of Twitter as well but sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in either one. There is a lot of information out there that interests me and there are a lot of words and photographs I’d like to present to the world so sometimes I can forget about everything else for days or weeks at a time. We must stop and smell the proverbial roses. I think Ferris Bueller said it very well when he stated, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.”

    The photo above was taken earlier this summer in Anza, CA. I was with my cousins for the weekend so I had the pleasure of having a glass of wine with them as we watched the setting sun. It was such a pleasant change of pace to enjoy something just for the sake of enjoying it. There are so many things to do that don’t require a laptop, smartphone, television or electricity. What I’m saying here is that it is very important to get back to basics by remembering that life did not always revolve around digesting and producing as much information as possible. Go play outside and get some fresh air; you’ll feel better if you do. Cheers!

I Used To Be An Artist But Now I’m A Photographer

April 6, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Yoga Art

Yoga By Candlelight

        There was a time when I looked at a camera as if I were looking at a bucket of paint or a stack of lumber. Back in the day my camera was a pile of stuff to do a job. Things have changed since then because now, my camera is a weapon, a friend, an employer and journal. The really weird thing is that I used to look at one of my photographs as a raw canvas that would become a work of art after I ran it through Photoshop. It’s different now because rather than using bullshit post-production techniques to fake a great photo, I use actual photographic experience to make a great photo. Photoshop has now been relegated to being nothing more than a tool in my box, just like a flashlight or a hammer.

        The photo above is an original piece of art I created in 2007, and let sit on an unobserved shelf since then. At the time, for some reason I was trying to decide if I was an artist or a photographer. Defining what I was seemed more important than actually doing anything. There is a great line from a late 1990’s song called, “Steal My Sunshine” by the band, Len that I repeat to people around me today:

“And of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done, so I missed a million miles of fun.”

        I was introduced to that line of lyric at just the right time. At the time I was less than 5 years removed from an epic journey through South America and barely a year from an amazing, self-destructive path I’d cut through North Africa. Not to give anything away, but details from both those adventures and the time in between have already been sold and are being made into a Hollywood movie. I would be more excited but… Meh. What is soon to be new for the population of the world was old news to me 15 years ago.

        Still, watching a 17 year old boy on vacation with his parents in the Virgin Islands that signs onto a Greek cargo ship as an able-bodied seaman that takes him to Brazil were he sails up the Amazon River to the foot of the Andes mountains only to be deported and flown back to America where he joins and serves 4 years in the Navy, hops a ship to Morocco, then heads east to Syria where he had to flee the country at night to avoid having his hand amputated for stealing oranges might have some appeal for American cinema folks. What do you think?

I Travel With My Camera To Improve My Photography

April 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Utah Canyon With Snow During Golden Hour Sunset

A Beautiful Golden Hour Scene In Utah

        Somewhere in the wild blue yonder of Utah, in a location I would really have to struggle to find again is the canyon you see above. Seeing an unspoiled view like this, identical to what the pioneers saw hundreds of years ago keeps the spirit of exploration in me alive. Traveling is good, and I think the tiger inside me has awakened and wants to roam around. The tiger inside me wants to travel.

Standing in front of NO LOITERING sign

No Loitering! This Is A “Traveling Only” Zone.

Utah canyon snow blue sky golden hour

        I want to take quick, inexpensive outings like the trip I took to Las Vegas last month and I want to take them regularly. Going to new places is fun and since I take photos the whole time I become a better photographer, which enables me to make more money which enables me to travel more. This helps me to improve my photography because I take more photos while traveling than while at home because the inspiration and excitement I get from traveling to a new locale causes me to click the shutter way more often then when I’m in a familiar place. Traveling with your camera is a win-win situation for everyone… New places are seen and photographed, those photos are shared and inspire a whole new group of people to travel or pick up a camera.

Balboa Park Gardens

June 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Balboa Park Flowers

Flowers In Balboa Park

        Across the street from Nate’s Point Off Leash Dog Park is where I happened to be when I took the photo above. You’ll find the dog park on the west side of Cabrillo Bridge.

Alacazar Garden In Balboa Park

Above Alacazar Garden

        You will want to, over time, visit all the gardens in Balboa Park. I’ve been to all of them but I don’t have a large collection of photos taken inside them. I’m not sure why, but I plan on fixing that ASAP.

Alacazar Garden In Balboa Park

Inside Alacazar Garden – Balboa Park

        I think a series of posts or one big post that have to do with the gardens of Balboa Park is on the agenda now, so stay tuned. Subscribe to my feed or follow me on twitter to to be notified when I post something new.

Reflecting On Beautiful Things

March 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Imperial Reflection at 12th Imperial transit station

Photography Helps Us To Reflect

        After all, we are human beings and not vampires. With or without a mirror in front of us, we should be able to reflect with impunity. I believe that photography enables us mere mortals to do just that. Ever since 1826, we have been able to reflect on events that took place before our birth and reflect on places we have never been… All thanks to photography.

Iceplant Flowers

Iceplant Flowers

Balboa Park And The Loch Ness Monster

March 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Honey Bee In Balboa Park, San Diego

Honey Bee In Balboa Park

        Balboa Park is a 1200 acre park, between downtown San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, and it is just awesome. There are 15 museums 13 places to eat and 20 gardens so you need several visits to properly explore the park. For me it’s all about the outside things like the trees, plants, shrubs, flowers, trails, gardens bugs and people. They don’t allow cameras in the museums, so… Yeah, I usually stick to the outside stuff. Balboa Park really is grand, and the very mature trees are huge, the gardens are all different, vibrant, colorful and attract lots of docile bees and butterflies. People perform, sing and play music on the main thoroughfare, and there are helpful maps to guide you and there is even a live theater venue called, The Old Globe Theater.
        The problem I have is that I haven’t been able to capture any of that grandness with my camera. 4 years I’ve been taken pictures in Balboa Park, yet I don’t have any show-stopping shots. Come to think of it, I don’t have enough decent shots to even HAVE a show that would feature Balboa Park. So, this post will be me critiquing shots I took inside the park on March 16th, 2010. They are images that had potential in the viewfinder, but have mistakes made at the moment of capture, so they are not great shots. I’m going to explain what went wrong and how it can be fixed the next time. My D5000 was not to blame, I had setting wrong or composed improperly, and I’ll explain with my photos.

Cello Playing In Balboa Park, San Diego

Playing The Cello

        Musicians playing in Balboa Park are the pleasant, ever-changing chorus of sound that gives you one more reason to stop and listen while you are in the park.
        The shot above is blurry and the background is distracting. Also, the shot would look better from a more frontal point of view so the classic and powerful cello shape can be seen. The composition and background can be fixed by moving to a different location. The blurriness of the pic is not because of a bad focus, it’s from camera shake. I was all the way at 450mm, but my shutter was 1/80th, and I was hand-holding the camera. When you are not using a tripod, you shutter speed should not be any slower than your lens mm focal length. In my case at 450mm I should have used a shutter speed of 1/450 or faster.

Park Bench Dedication, Terry Lee Stone

Park Bench Dedication, Terry Lee Stone

        There are many concrete benches in Balboa Park and all or most of them have these brass plates with tombstone style inscriptions.
        This shot just does not tell a story. If you know the inscribed person then this might be nice to have but it does not invoke emotion because there is no context. You can’t tell that the plate is on a bench in a beautiful park overlooking a wooden bridge and staircase that descends to the Palm Canyon Trail. It’s just an inscription on some mildly interesting texture and color. A better position that shows off the bench AND it’s location would be a much better choice next time.

Raven In Balboa Park, San Diego

Blackbird On The Bowling Green

        The crows and ravens in San Diego are definitely at the top of the food chain, right below people.
        This shot had potential because I did some things right. I was almost at eye level with the bird, which is good and the exposure (1/250, f/11, 200 ISO) is about spot on too. What I’m not liking about the image (besides the color of the grass) is that there is no scale at all. You can’t tell that this bird happened to be HUGE! A better shot would be with the bird in the frame with something else, preferably smaller than the bird, like flowers or another animal. This blackbird was abnormally large, but the photo lacks anything to convey a message about the size.

Alcazar Garden In Balboa Park, San Diego

Alcazar Garden

        Situated between the Art Institute and Mingei Museum and modeled after the Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain, there are 7000 annuals planted every year in this garden.
        I like the composition and depth of field in this shot, and the exposure is about right. The subject is just too busy. It’s such a mass of green stems and since the flowers are not fully in bloom, there is not enough purple to break up the green. Do you know what I mean, jellybean?

Balboa Park Fountain, San Diego

Balboa Park’s Fountain

        This shot just has too many distracting things in it. The light bulbs that run through the center, light poles and signs break up and distract from the people and the fountain.
        So, I am still searching for that great Balboa Park shot. There has to be a single, great shot that anyone who looks at it would know they are looking at Balboa Park, and want to go there. *sigh* Someday.

San Diego Needs Me To Take More Pictures

February 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Construction In La Mesa, CA 2010

Chop Chop Dig Dig

        As you see at the lower right of the photo above, terra cotta pipe is being dug up for something a little more 21st century. This area of La Mesa, CA was constructed in the 1950’s, and is very hilly and densely populated.

Spraying For Nothing

Just A Random Group Of Men In The Desert North Of Tijuana

        I have no idea what these men, dressed in HAZMAT attire were doing out here. My companion at the time remarked that it was like a scene from the end of the movie “E.T.” We were just wandering around the desert when these guys showed up. What the hell are they doing?

Construction In La Mesa, CA 2010

Still Chopping Still Digging

        Out of a 24 hour day, 13 of those hours have me dealing with my job as a photographer. Incredibly enough, this timetable is hindering my personal photography. I am starting to realize that being paid to partake in photography for 9 hours per day is 9 hours LESS that I have for UNPAID, personal photography per day. Couple this statistic with an UPSTAIRS manager that knows nothing about what I do or the business that I’m in, and a DOWNSTAIRS manager that for some reason, despite being the REAL boss doesn’t do what is best, I am dying.

My List For 2009

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Macro shot of paper & ink

My Final List For 2009

        As the final day of 2009 has less than 7 hours left, I made sure to write a list of personal things I want to remember. A small portion of this list is above.

Photography For Fun

December 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego Sunset

Sunset As Seen From Downtown San Diego

        Just to the south of my subject lies the Hilton, and immediately to the north is PETCO Park. The sun was just above the frame of the photo, so a tiny aperture and a shutter speed of 1/1200th was necessary to capture this particular moment in time.

Arteries

Blood Vessels Under High Magnification

        Macro photography is a favorite style of mine because it makes small things look so big! With macro photography, people get to see something totally new and relatively different.

Alien life form extends it's hand

Alien Visitor Attempts To Make Contact

        There are two things you should do when dealing with a life form that is not from Earth. First, do what they say. They’ve traveled very far, and don’t need to deal with your attitude. Second, don’t be afraid. The distance traveled by an alien is inversely proportional to the likelihood of them probing your butt.

The Sun Posing As The Moon

Fast Shutter & Photoshop Make The Sun My Bitch

        The orb in the photo above is the sun. I have opted to cross-dress his highness as a lunar queen because… As the title says, the sun is my bitch.

San Diego Trolley Station

December 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

12th & Imperial San Diego Trolley Station

San Diego Trolley Station – 12th & Imperial

        My short term goal is to get a shot of trolleys going in both directions, blurred by a long shutter. The scene above is a two second exposure, so I think it is doable, if I just keep my eyes open.

South Bay Power Plant

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

South Bay Power Plant, San Diego

South Bay Power Plant On A Colorful Night

South Bay Power Plant

South Bay Power Plant

        The southeast area of San Diego Bay is the home of South Bay Power Plant. It is not a desalination plant. Somehow, back in October I got it in my head that this facility removed salt from seawater. I took a night picture of it and wrote a blog post about it, titled, Night & Day With Salt & Dinosaurs, but it turns out it was factually incorrect. Oh well. This new and better information called for a new and better photo. The shot on the left is the image from the post I just mentioned.

        I like the colors and the composition of the newer shot are much better than the first. I was still over a mile away, from the power plant , so you have to give it up for the super-zoom! This was a 10 second exposure, with my camera sitting on a thick fencepost made of brick.

        Some slow shutter speed photography tips are: Turn off any anti-shake features on your camera, use a tripod and use the 2 second shutter release delay. If you don’t have your tripod, then set the camera on a firm surface. Multi-second exposures can not be hand held!

Silver Strand Car Accident

November 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Ford Mustang In The South Bay Nature Preserve

This Guy Drove His Mustang Into Southbay

        It was an action packed half hour in Southbay San Diego on Sunday! About a half mile south of the South Bay County Biological Study Area, just north of the point where Palm Ave. meets up with Silver Strand Boulevard, some poor soul drove his mustang into the Southwestern tip of San Diego Bay. A San Diego Police helicopter circled overhead, a tow truck arrived, and most users of the Bayshore Silver Strand Bikeway stopped to see this intruder into the bay. This guy was driving way too fast, lost control, and spun out into the bay. Technically, I think he ended up on the nature preserve at the extreme south end of San Diego Bay.

Southbay-Intruder

Waiter, There’s A Car In My Bay!

        All things being equal, how often do you see a mustang, police, sheriffs AND a white heron all in the same photo? What a bummer though, right? I would also make the assumption that the driver is in the military because some MP’s showed up a little later as well. A tow truck pulled the car out without incident, and a San Diego Police helicopter supervised from overhead for a few minutes. After that, things returned to normal, and a cloudless sunset followed.

San Diego Police Helicopter

Excitement At Southbay County Biological Study Area

        Watching this helicopter swoop, dive and circle overhead reminded me that I have always wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter. Of course, I could be wrong, but to me they seem like the motorcycles of the sky. Motorcycles of course, being way cooler than cars.

Silver Strand Sunset, San Diego, CA

About 3 Miles North & 3 Hours After The Accident

        As the final sunset of the weekend approached, I hustled north on the Bayshore Silver Strand Bikeway, towards downtown San Diego. I was on the East side of Silver Strand Boulevard, so the fence that denotes the Eastern edge of Silver Strand State Park was in my way, but the sunset was still very easy on the eyes.

Balboa Park And Random Photography

November 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Bee On A Cactus Flower, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky

        Balboa Park is not exactly a spooky Halloween place, at least during the day. What seemed to me to be a unique combination of sunlight, flower and insect prompted the pic above.

cactuspuffs in Balboa Park, CA, San Diego

Cactus Needles Backlit By The Sun

        Wow! Cactus needles backlit by the sun. No one has ever done that before! I’m not kidding, you are seeing a marvel of modern photography!

Orb Spider, Balboa Park, San Deigo, CA

This Is A Great Shot Of A Waiting Orb Spider

        This spider was milling about about The House Of Poland in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.

San Diego Sunset & The Bridge To Nowhere

October 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

San Diego's Bridge To Nowhere Over harbor Drive

$26 Million Bridge To Nowhere & San Diego Sunset

        I really have no idea why this bridge is being built. What you see in the foreground is the mast that the pedestrian bridge will be suspended from. It will span the trolley tracks, over Harbor drive in downtown San Diego. $26 million dollars so that residents of Paris Hilton’s hotel can get to Petco Park without having the pesky inconvenience of walking all the way to 5th Ave. to cross the street. It will shave about 800 feet of distance for these glorious people. Considering the price tag and taking simple math into account, we the OTHER people are paying $32,500 for every step the Hilton folk are taking. So, Harbor Drive In San Diego has a very impressive bridge to nowhere that is, kind of expensive.

San Diego Trolley Police Were Wrong

September 21, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

Trolley Police Have No Right To Prohibit Photography

        The proof is in the pudding. The video above was broadcast on Friday, September 18th, 2009 on San Diego’s local NBC News affiliate 7/39 at 11pm. What more can I say other than this is a very distinct victory for photographers’ rights. We are allowed to shoot video or take pictures at trolley stations, and San Diego Trolley police have NO RIGHT to ask or make a photographer stop.

        The entire statement, made by Ken Moller of Heritage Security Services is as follows:

“We have no right to tell people they can’t shoot (video) down there. My officers were wrong in telling him that. And I put the word out as soon as I saw the video. It’s a public place and people can certainly shoot video down there if they want to.”

        So there you have it. Here is what I have learned from this experience. If an authority figure challenges you while taking photos or shooting video, be polite. Ask them if you are violating any law, and KEEP ROLLING during the transaction. As a photographer, I hate to say it, but this would not have made the evening news if I wasn’t shooting video, so make sure to switch to video mode as soon as you see an authority figure approaching you.

        Now we know why video mode is important to us photographers… Not to add a bullet to your wedding photography resume, but rather to protect yourself and to show in HD quality just how your rights are being violated.

        Below you will find the video that started it all, and above will you find the video that decided it all.

Crab In La Jolla Tidal Pools

August 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Sunlit Crab

Colored But Not Forgotten

This tidal pool crab, brightly colored and lit on his face, but with hind-quarters drenched in shadows, demonstrates one of the many quagmires of photography;  Whether or not to push the pixels in the digital darkroom.  You know the darkened, rear parts of this crustacean’s body are there, but you just can’t quite see them.  Do I make this a perfect image by pulling out those details?  Nope, not this time.  Just look at the colors on the face and claws of this sea creature! Who cares about these particular shadows anyway?

We Come In Peace

June 28, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Pac-men

Luminous Beings Captured On Infrared Thermal Film

        It is not every day that you get to photograph something that is not from this planet. These beings, shrouded in light that was invisible to my naked eyes, beamed to life in this infrared image. I had been hunting something completely different, yet equally elusive as extra-terrestrial life, so I was already camouflaged to an obscene degree. That’s when I saw them.

        Facing west at about 2:15am, while standing on an uninhabited island off the coast of California, I had no idea these beings, or the debris strewn ramp on which they were working were there until I happened to look in that direction through the viewfinder in my camera. It was pitch black to my human eyes. Through the camera’s lens however, they gleamed so brightly that it was just impossible to pull any detail from the blown out highlights. I managed to remain completely undetected by these beings while capturing dozens of images of these being while they prepared for what turned out to be their departure. Images of these aliens, moving objects around, blasting huge plugs of infrared light in to the sky, and what I believe was one being of light being disciplined with what is best described as a floating stream of water, controlled by an unseen force. When the floating device touched the alien, it was like throwing bacon on a hot griddle. None of these shots were composed to my liking though, and were subsequently destroyed.

        While taking the images, I felt no worry about being discovered, because I felt that even if I was, I wouldn’t be probed. I believe probing by aliens is a stereotype that would not apply here. In my opinion, these, aliens, not the entire race of aliens, but these particular astronaut aliens would be more into gaming than probing. I would think that controlling flight between galaxies is like playing an XBOX Infinity. These aliens might be looking for uranium or platinum, so nothing inside me would interest them at all. Bringing the zoom all the way back out, and switching to regular light film, revealed a different scene altogether. I’m not sure which I like better, but at least you can see where the inspiration for one lead to the other.

Reveal