Occupy San Diego On It’s Deathbed
Back in December 2011 I photographed Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego because the Occupy San Diego movement was going on and according to what I had read online, it was a force to be reckoned with. Not so much. At the time I predicted that the movement would be dead by the beginning of the New Year. It did in fact die. The photos for this post were taken on January 9, 2012. This was less than two weeks after my initial post and as you can see, nothing was happening.
Goodnight And Good Luck
I’m not knocking the occupy movement but I am saying that it didn’t accomplish a damn thing. They should learn from two other organizations that always get what they want; the NRA and the AARP. There are never any marches, rallies or sit-ins for these two groups. You never see a gang of people with guns marching down Main Street any more than you see senior citizens shuffling down the road demanding an increase in their benefits. Why? Because the have the brains to know that marching does not accomplish a damn thing. They organize and vote! All you natural born citizens that stupidly wonder why your government can’t get 12 million illegal aliens out of your country is because their family members vote. All you do is complain about foreigners at a booth at Denny’s as you eat a meal made by the people you don’t want in your country!
Space Invader In Horton Plaza
Invader is an international street artist who, back in 2010 invaded the city of San Diego, California. He’s the guy that uses tiles to create 8-bit themed, video game inspired mosaics which he then sticks onto whatever public structure or building strikes his fancy. Space Invaders, the 1980’s video game from which he drew his alias and inspiration for most of his art has become a universal symbol for the artist. This has had the affect of combining his alias with what he does. He is a space invader, participating in one invasion after another. His technique for displaying his art is brilliantly simple; if he wants a city to see what he’s up to, he just sticks his art up all around that city! The hazy shade of illegal that street artists like Invader cultivate is a very good thing because of how it affects and encourages the people of the invaded cities.
Street artists transform urban landscapes into interactive adventures that will inspire you to get out and explore your city. Street art cannot be accomplished or observed from a couch; you have to get up off your ass and GO SOMEWHERE in order to see it! This adventure involves a lot of walking, smiling and photography.
Space Invader In Gaslamp District – San Diego, CA
When Space Invader was in San Diego, he placed twenty-one mosaic pieces on various buildings, overpasses and structures. Souvenir hunters and black market art collectors are starting to chip away at what Invader left behind, so I would very highly recommend that you do a little homework and then set out on a downtown San Diego walking adventure. Street art is not always easy to see, even when you know where to look, so keep your eyes peeled. What you will discover is that an adventure like this is a gift that keeps on giving because you will find OTHER things that you’ll want to come back and see some other time. When you go on a street art walk, it’s very different than going on a regular walk. Street art forces you to engage the city in a completely different way, and you will notice that right away. Cheers!
Most of the time I spent in Las Vegas, while covering CES 2012 was spent taking pictures. CES was unbelievably big and besides the physicality of the event a problem I had was finding a way to make all the cool things I saw at the show translate in a cool way in my photos. I failed and I say that with the utmost of dignity; being worthy enough to be issued a pass, being financed enough to make the trip and being experienced enough to survive five days in Las Vegas ended up being the nuts and bolts of my trip, so it was a resounding success.
I did take it upon myself to take some self portraits whilst walking around the Las Vegas Strip. While I was at Caesars Palace I came across the place of worship you see above. The Romans, the society responsible for the empire that paid for the original Caesars Palace were Pagans; they worshiped many different Gods and it was a Quid Pro Quo situation. I lingered at this place for a very long time, lighting & placing incense as I moved about the four stations of prayer. I asked for help and guidance with many things. The word I was looking for at the time was clarity and I do believe the time I spent contemplating at this shrine will give me the clarity I want to enable myself for the success I need.
I am a photographer that stays behind my camera most the time. Think of me what you will, but I see myself as a modern day gunslinger, so you will answer to my weapon before I answer to you. I really do love being a photographer, I love to travel and I love to show the world where I’ve been, things I’ve seen and things I’m going to do.
I’d like to take a break and talk a little bit about the public bathrooms in Las Vegas. They are awesome. Every casino, every hotel and every corner store has a bathroom and none of them will have any problem with you dropping a deuce or clearing your bladder at any time of the day or night. “The Bathrooms of Las Vegas” is probably the title of a blog post just waiting to happen and I’ll read it when it comes out but it’s just too shitty an assignment for me to personally take on at this moment in time.
Mercifully I had to get back to San Diego, so after 5 days and 4 nights in fabulous Las Vegas, it was time to get on a plane and get back to the real world. The photo you see above was taken with one of the last bits of strength I had, which was barely enough to press the shutter release button. I don’t remember any details after this shot was taken; I fell asleep and somehow made it from the airport back to my place without incident. After tending to all the bumps & bruises the laundry and the photos, I stand by my original assessment, which was that the trip was a five star, top shelf, resounding success.
Southwest Airlines is the airline I recommend for any air travel that begins or ends within the United States of America because their employees rock and their prices are the best in the industry. They’ll never hassle you about your carry-on luggage, they’ll let you travel with a small dogs or a cat and and they serve booze on their planes. No other airline is as cool as Southwest and that is a fact. I really do believe their business model is the way of the future and very much look forward to watching as Delta, American and all the other overpriced, baggage fee price-gouging airlines are forced to change how they operate, courtesy of Southwest Airlines. They photo above really was my last act and honestly, I don’t remember taking it, but it did seem like a great photo to anchor this post because travel always involves some form of conveyance and air travel is about the best there is when it’s on Southwest. Cheers!
MGM Grand Lion Glares At New York Across Las Vegas Blvd
Less than a year after attending the Nightclub & Bar Convention I found myself in Las Vegas again, this time to cover CES 2012. This was my first time at the show so suffice to say it was a lot of fun and just about as close to overwhelming as you can possibly get. Now that I’ve had a week to think about the show and edit some photos I do have a prediction that will merge some of the most impressive things I saw at CES:
Waterproof 3D Eye Controlled Touch Screen Technology will be huge.
I’ll elaborate on that in future posts. For now, it will be all about photography and the 8mm fish-eye lens that was my solo companion as I walked through CES and the Las Vegas Strip for 4 days and nights.
In Front Of Luxor Hotel Pyramid, Sphinx & Obelisk
For me the Las Vegas Strip ends at Tropicana Blvd. so I never make it to Luxor or Mandalay Bay unless I make a specific trip just for those two places, which is exactly what I did for this trip. I hadn’t been to the Shark Reef aquarium in Mandalay Bay for almost 10 years and I had never set foot inside Luxor so this was practically a new adventure for me.
Inside Luxor Pyramid, Looking Straight Up
Luxor is has more curb appeal than anything else, so I just did a quick run through the place. A pyramid has a lot of attic space that you just can’t do much with other than stare at so I was not impressed and due to its location on the strip, I recommend you stay somewhere else, farther north on Las Vegas Blvd.
Jellyfish at Shark Reef Predator Aquarium In Mandalay Bay
On the other hand, Mandalay Bay was an incredibly vast and visually appealing place to spend a few hours. My reason for going there was their Shark Reef exhibit, which I finally managed to see on my last day in Las Vegas. It is to aquariums what San Diego Safari Park is to zoos. The place is dim but not dark so set your ISO at 1600 or higher, aperture at f/3.5 or larger and shutter at 1/60th or slower for some amazing results. You don’t need a tripod for this but you will want to hold your breath and remain still while releasing the shutter. If you take a knee or lean against something while taking your photos, it will help out a lot.
Shark Reef At Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas really is a street photographers dream because there are so many people and you have to walk for miles, even after you exit the taxi or monorail. Seriously, don’t bother with a tripod, just crank up the ISO and have some fun. There are plenty of inside things to photograph, so don’t be afraid to practice some low light photography indoors before you start roaming around The Las Vegas Strip, or your own hometown at night.
Prada, In Crystals On Las Vegas Blvd
Here are two things you might not know about Las Vegas; you can take your alcoholic beverages everywhere and gambling is not the only thing to do on The Strip. Shop until you drop if you so desire or eat your heart out. The retail stores and the restaurants are second to none and just as willing as a casino to take your money in exchange for goods and services.
Fountains Of Bellagio and Las Vegas Blvd
As I mentioned earlier, I had a single lens with me for this trip and that was a newly acquired 8mm fish-eye which gave me a full 180 degree field of view. As a photographer, it’s really cool to have EVERYTHING in front of me show up in the viewfinder; it really is amazing how a new lens at Christmas can turn me into a kid with a camera. Thanks Santa!
Occupy San Diego Is Unoccupied & Dying
Occupy San Diego seems to be suffering from a lack of occupation during this holiday season. Civic Center Plaza had around a dozen protesters and one homeless man when I walked through the plaza a couple days ago. The lack of enthusiasm and excitement around what is supposed to be representative of most of us has me questioning the life of and predicting the death of Occupy San Diego and the parent Occupy Wall Street protests.
The Mantra Of The Occupiers
The Occupiers are mad and protesting because they believe the current system of capitalism is broken in a number of ways. In particular, corporations have been given the same rights as human beings. This allows a corporation to reap real-people benefits and deal with any legal ramifications that may arise from doing something illegal… INSTEAD OF THE OWNER OF THE CORPORATION!
For example, it’s illegal for me to walk up to you and punch you in the face. If I did physically punch you or hired someone to punch you or set a chain of events in motion that lead to you being punched, I’d find my personal, physical being in some hot legal water. But, if I own a corporation that is directed to perform any of those punches to your face, the corporation would take to fall instead of me. The owner of the legal entity that controls a corporation is not legally responsible for what that corporation does, legal or not. Nice isn’t it? There is a lot of potential for corruption and criminal activity with a system like that and that’s something the Occupiers claim; the corruption and crime are real, have been happening in the past and are happening right now, up to and including any of the Occupiers being arrested.
Freedom Plaza Is Free From Occupation
Corporations can be a good or bad thing, just like a gun. If a cop has a gun and uses it in the line of duty, that’s a good thing. If a thief has a gun and uses it to help him steal from another person, that’s a bad thing.
I like that the Occupiers are bringing attention to the fact that Wall Street based corporations stole from so many American homeowners that it caused a real estate bubble so large that when it popped it caused a worldwide financial crisis that somehow required those same corporations be given taxpayer money to shore themselves up… Because those corporations are too big to fail. Remember, in the eyes of the government and the law a corporation is a person. Think about that for a while. A crime committed with a gun has a flesh and blood person to punish while a crime committed with a corporation does not.
That brings me back to my original point which was what do I think of the life of Occupy San Diego and when do I think it will die? I think the life and message are great but I think it will be defeated by General Winter. Come spring, I hope to be proven wrong but as the photos and video above shows, Civic Center Plaza (Freedom Plaza to the Occupiers) was very unoccupied on this late December day. It was beautiful in sunny San Diego but the Occupiers seem to have vanished for the holiday season. I’m thinking that if they don’t come back right after New Years, all momentum will be lost and it will die; we’ll know by early next week. I hope I’m wrong because their message needs to be heard and if it is, real people will have to account for corporations that do bad things and maybe then corporations will keep their money the Hell out of politics. Cheers!
The Cast Of Fox TV’s “Fringe”
You don’t have to stand in lines at San Diego Comic-Con to see celebrities and you don’t need to use a flash when you take their picture either. What you do need are comfortable shoes and patience. I very much prefer a spontaneous style of human photography over posed and static, smiling portraits. Leonardo Da Vinci did such a great job with the Mona Lisa that photographers have forced every woman in the world since then to stop what they are doing, look at the camera and smile in a way that says something without talking. I prefer the moments that happen before and after the party starts, like cast of the Fox TV show “Fringe working out seating assignments just before a signing.
I don’t collect SWAG or autographs and I prefer to watch movies at home on DVD so movie screenings aren’t my thing either. I collect photographs at Comic-Con, mostly for use on my blog here. What that means is that I spend my time on the move, constantly. It’s exhausting, and on Saturday this year my body forced me to rest for about an hour, which was torture for my mind because it hates not to be in charge.
I don’t live under a rock but I don’t command a starship either so I really have to pay attention to the crowd and Twitter to find out where things are happening and who people are. Many of the photos I take, successfully or not, were taken not because I knew the subject but because of the stir around them grabbing my attention. Comic-Con is a crowded and noisy place so it’s not exactly easy to notice every single thing happening right in front of you, which is why the photo of Matt Smith of “Dr. Who” is mostly of the back of his head. I don’t watch Dr. Who so I didn’t know who he was. He had a clamor of people and a film crew following him around, but I lost a few precious seconds trying to figure out who he was or if he was famous, so I missed what would have been a great shot. Shoot first and ask questions later, especially at Comic-Con.
Kit Harington and R.R. Martin, Writer – “Game of Thrones”
The celebs do have the ability to put themselves in a bubble, which is a big help for me. Take Kit Harington and R.R. Martin for example, pictured above during a signing for “Game Of Thrones.” There were hundreds of people clamoring in front of them but they managed to ignore all of them, and that’s when I took the shot.
Danny Devito at San Diego Comic-Con
I have some ideas that should bring a whole new level of excitement to my photos and posts during Comic-Con next year. Since I roam around the entire time, I think I’d like to be a roving line reporter, bringing updates for all the lines with video, photos and tweets. Since I never have an agenda during Comic-Con, I think it would be an amazing story to embed myself with people that live their lives by the panel and screening schedules. I think the world is finally ready to see the seedy underworld Comic-Con, don’t you? I think back door deals, black market SWAG vouchers and organized line cutters are just the tip of the iceberg, just wait and see. Cheers!
Coronado Sandman At Spreckels Park
There is a man that decorates the land of Coronado with sand; Coronado Sandman. I met him at on a Sunday afternoon, just before the start of a free Rockola concert in Spreckels Park. Sometimes I see his work as I cruise around on my bike and I’ve seen videos of him on the net but I’d never even seen him in person, not even from afar. I guess it was meant to be because I was looking for something interesting to photograph when I ran into him creating some street art with, wait for it: Dirt. A spoon is not a fork, so if you are expecting one but receive the other you’ll probably ask why, which is what I did. It turned out that white sand doesn’t pop very well on the gray of concrete & cement so he opted for dirt, which is darker for these pieces of art. I joked with him saying that he couldn’t be Coronado Sandman if he didn’t have any sand, man.
Coronado Sandman Creating Street Art
That turned out to be my segue to chatting with him for a few minutes so he told me all about his recent history and a few of his philosophies on life. He wrapped up with a one liner and a question. He said, “There are three people in the world, God, the Devil and Coronado Sandman. Do you know who you friend is?” I answered him very specifically and then he told me I was right. So, I have that going for me, which is nice.
People Looking At Flowers At Imperial Beach Farmers Market
After wrapping up my third trip to the Imperial Beach Farmers Market, I’m ready to talk about it and post some photographs from my time spent there. The farmers market happens every Friday on Seacoast Dr. at the edge of the Imperial Beach Pier from 2pm – 7:30pm. The vendors at the farmers market are ever changing, which makes for both good and bad things. A good thing was that last week I had an amazing chorizo, potato and cheese tamale with jalapeño cream sauce… The bad thing was that the tamale selling vendor wasn’t around this week. That is the ever present rub with markets like this; it’s lighting in a bottle one week, amazing tamales the next and avocados on special the week after that. If you are at Imperial Beach Farmers Market and see something you want to eat or take home with you then you best buy it right then & there because next week it might not be there.
Girls At Imperial Beach Farmers Market
Imperial Beach Farmers Market is not big; you can walk through it in less than five minutes if you don’t stop to smell the roses. Realistically, you’ll need to spend about 20 minutes in the market, looking at what vendors are selling, tasting samples and just chatting with people. This is one of those uber-friendly events where sauntering, meandering and slow conversations are the norm so don’t be afraid to smile at or talk to anyone at the market.
A Lurking Man At IB Farmers Market
This market is not an outdoor version of your grocery store’s produce aisle; this is a gathering of people at the most southwestern beach in the United States with the common goals of buying & selling locally grown & created products. What does that mean to the layperson? Imperial Beach Farmers Market is a place to hang out and to see and be seen while eating some great local food, not necessarily in that order. The man above is a guy I see by the IB pier all the time, just watching people go by. Why is he here? I’ll tell you why; the wild women and the rippin’ & the tearin’.
Girls On The Imperial Beach Pier
Imperial Beach (IB) pier is the centerline thoroughfare for the farmers market, so if you go to the market, you should walk west, to the end of IB pier because it is the western most point of the continental United States. The women above were returning from this geographic Valhalla when I took this picture.
Kermit “Froggy” Brown – Wagon Man At IB Farmers Market
Kermit “Froggy” Brown is a disabled veteran that makes daily trips, back and forth (east to west) along Palm Ave. in an electric wheelchair. I’ve seen him on the news and all over Imperial Beach so it was really no surprise to find him at the farmers market with his wagons in tow, holding a munched on corn on the cob. This is a great farmers market!
Mirage Casino Volcano Erupts On The Las Vegas Strip
During my trip to Las Vegas last week, I had a loose agenda. To attend the Nightclub & Bar Convention with my friends and to take some fresh photos of Las Vegas. I did manage to get some good shots of the people I saw walking along the Las Vegas strip, but what I really wanted was to take some original shots of Las Vegas landmarks that were new and different. This was a challenge because every time I thought I was heading to an area or taking a shot I thought was unique, I inevitably saw other photographers in the area. So, relative to my other Las Vegas posts, this one will have the fewest number of photos because being unique on a strip full of cameras is not as easy at I thought it would be.
Fountains Of Bellagio
What I really wanted was to create some images that had a timeless quality to them. What I mean by that is I wanted some Las Vegas photos that were recognizable yet unique. I wanted photos that were obviously taken in Las Vegas yet didn’t necessarily scream when they were taken.
Pirate Show At Treasure Island
What that ultimately came to mean was that after four days and three nights in Las Vegas, I ended up with five photos of the strip that I’d like to show the world. Averaged out, that’s the equivalent of one keeper every 19 hours. And you thought photography was easy didn’t you?
Aria Hotel & Casino
The shot above is what I would consider to be my most original shot taken while I was in Las Vegas. This is the only photograph I made where I didn’t see any other photographers before, during or after I made it, so for now, I declare this the Mt. Everest of Las Vegas photos.
The Fountains At Caesar’s Palace
Way before I knew anything about Las Vegas, I knew about the fountains at Caesar’s Palace because of Evel Knievel. He had one Hell of a crash in 1967 when landing after trying to use a motorcycle to jump the fountains in front of Caesar’s Palace. He wanted to do something that had never been seen before, which is what I suppose I was trying to do as well, except I use a camera, not a motorcycle. It’s hard to gauge failure with stuff like this because it is very relative. Evel did jump the fountains but he fucked up the landing so he broke 40 bones and ended up in a coma for a month. Today in 2011, daredevils have gone the way of the Dodo bird, yet photography has flourished. In my head, that makes me the daredevil today and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. Heh heh… Good luck!
Traveling Clown Folk On A Footbridge Over The Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas can be as much or as little as you want it to be, no matter what you want to do. For me, for this trip it was about catching up with old friends and having some fun with my camera. I didn’t want to take the same old Las Vegas photos that everyone takes, but at the same time, I had no idea what I wanted to photograph instead. I had no idea how I would get shots that were or could be unmistakably Las Vegas yet be different from what has already been done a million times before. The people turned out to be the answer.
In Front Of The Mirage Casino
I did a lot of shooting from the hip for these photos, which is always fun and a little bit scary because it is so not the way I usually take photos. I’m used to my viewfinder so shooting from the hip is hard for me. I missed a lot, but the Las Vegas strip is a busy place so I ended up with a few that I liked. The moral of the story: Practicing helps out a lot, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not good at it right away. Eric Kim has a great post that explains how to shoot from the hip that is a great read that will help you out a lot.
Thanks to random timing and the position of my camera, the woman above will always be known to me as Jynn Palazzo. I wonder what the actual odds are of something like this photograph happening are, where the woman’s name actually turned out to be Jynn Palazzo. I tried search engines but came back with nothing so I don’t think a person by that name exists, but how celestially cool would that be if it worked out? Really cool!
A Chiseled Woman With Caesar’s Statues
There are so many different people walking up and down Las Vegas Blvd and it can be so crowded that it might seem paralyzing but I promise you this is a place where you can open carry your camera and take all the photos you want.
The Familiar Pose In Front Of A Fountain
What I like best about shooting from the hip is avoiding situations like what you see above. Looking right into the camera and smiling can be a good photo, I just don’t understand why people try for it so often right off the bat. I like candid and unposed photography much better.
The Deciding Couple
The sidewalks on the Las Vegas strip always have lots of people on them, so shots like the one above, with a couple that seems to have the place all to themselves is a rare treat. This is in front of The Mirage Casino’s volcano.
Waiting For The Bus & Missed The Spaceship
The architecture and shape of things along Las Vegas Blvd are like nowhere else. From the photo above we could imagine being in a spaceport and the woman is checking a space schedule for the spaceship looming over her head.
I don’t know for sure if it was his snake or not but the guy in the photo on the left happened to be walking in front of me so I stuck with him until he eventually set his snake down and just started hanging out, at which point I took his picture. Most people didn’t even notice the snake and the guy didn’t seem to notice any of the people so I’m not sure what his game was.
The fountain and the woman to the right are in front of The Monte Carlo. The wind was blowing water all over her, so she was turning away from a spray of water when I snapped the pic.
Me, Being Reflected In A Restaurant Window
I was pleased with the photos I made during my time in Las Vegas. I’m happy to say that my shots didn’t seem like ordinary, cliched postcard shots… They seem to be unique, so I feel good, and that’s what this trip was for in the first place.
Apple On The Strip
I was happy to be on an internet and computer-free regimen the entire time I was in Las Vegas, but others can’t do without, and the woman above was one of them. Anyway, that’s my take on people of the Las Vegas strip. I hope it helps to inspire you the way Vegas inspired me. I also attended the nightclub and bar convention, so be sure to see my post and photos from that event as well. Cheers!
Steam Powered Giraffe
What happens when you HAVE to do something you enjoy, but you don’t want to do it? Being forced to do what you enjoy should be, by definition, impossible. Oh, but it is NOT impossible! Elaborate this point in your own head. Do it. Do it now!
What A Difference Shooting From Behind Makes!
These face-painted space travelers named, “Steam Powered Giraffe” only managed to rapture the audience in front of them. From the rear, they had no color, super-powers or faces. They were reduced to mere people wearing worn out shoes on a hot day, carrying heavy objects and counting on charity from strangers to refill their water bottles. They enjoyed the front while I enjoyed to back. Only one of us can be right so, I’m right!