Saturday, January 31, 2009

Backlight - First Look

I shot a wedding today as an assistant to my friend Amy Parsons. What fun to watch someone work that loves what she does.

As part of the program for the soon-to-be-wed, a "first look" was arranged, where the groom waits for his bride to walk up behind him and turn him to see her for the first time all dressed up for the wedding.

It just happened that she walked out of the sun and provided me with my back light candidate for today's theme.

Shot at 200mm, 1/400, f2.8, iso 200 - daylight.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Meal

Not many of us order jello at the drive through, is it even on the menu?

Today my mother had a "procedure" in the hospital. Dad & I sat on pins and needles in the waiting room for 52 days straight. Ok, it was 5 hours, but it felt a little longer.

She came through with flying colors and even had 1/2 the work done than was expected going in - more good news.

When the anesthesia wore off, she was allowed to choose anything she wanted from the menu. Sounded a little too good to be true - until we saw the menu. What a setup. Water, tea & jelly were the only options. Still, when one wakes up in such a place, a bowl of jello is a blessing.

Shot at 85mm, 1/30, f4, iso 400 in real window light.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Past Curfew

It's late and there's a limit to how late it's OK for kids to be out on the town.

Shhhh, whatever you do, don't get caught on the way in...

Shot at 17mm, 1/60th, f4, iso 100 with 430EX outside at 1/4 power pretending to be the porch light and another 430EX at 1/16th on a stand masquerading as the hall light.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Toss Up

So we're trying to decide on what to replace our kitchen counter top with. The choices are a little too broad: material, color, texture. Quartz? Granite? Concrete? How deep is your bank account? Should we go the other way and be willing to replace it in a few years? Can we set hot pots on it? Can we carve the turkey on it without making a mark? Which one resists bacteria and stains?

Yikes!? I just wish it could be distilled down to three: chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. Gimme door #2. We just have too many choices in America.

I better go get a latte and think about it. Yeah, I'll have a tall, no whip, 1/2 decaf, with a couple drops of vanilla flavoring. Not too hot, I want to drink it now...

Shot at 17mm, iso 100, 1/15th, f10. AB800 in softbox overhead, and 430EX set wide bounced off the ceiling.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Flame

//Edit: I realized (DOH!) that I'm probably the only one who knows what this thing is. I wanted to photograph something reflective, mechanical, and had some color to work with. What you see here is the main transmission for a model helicopter I've had on the workbench for a few years now. I've not made much progress on it in a while, maybe this photo will encourage me to get back to work on it.

Ok, not so different from my Old Flame post, I admit. I mean, they both involve operating something remotely. People nearly always walk away from any wreckage that might occur. And they both involve tinkering at home and staring at the sky when outside.

From there they diverge significantly.

The fixed-wing pilot will often wax eloquent about flight. She'll talk about the freedom and joy with utter amazement.

The rotor-wing pilot views the world a little differently. Some say they spend their entire time waiting for something to break, and will always be on the lookout for a nearby landing spot.

For me the airplane is a wonderful relaxation toy. Loop, roll and tumble for as long as you have fuel (and even when you run out as long as you have altitude & airspeed).

The helicopter is a challenge, meant to stimulate the frustration region in the brain. It's a little like riding a unicycle and balancing mom's fine china on the end of a stick at the same time (you're always looking for a soft place to set the china down).

Shot at 85mm, 1/125, f8, iso 100 with AB800 in softbox on camera left, white foamcore reflector camera right and a 430EX with CTO gel turning the background orange.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Think BIG

We had dinner out, just the two of us. Went to this cool little place downtown with atmosphere and a selection of fine wines. I'll tell you, they don't mess around in this place when it comes to the wine list.

I had to wait for the security guy to make his rounds before I could sneak down and surreptitiously grab a shot of his post in the wine cellar.

Shot at 1/100, f2, iso 400, 50mm under the dim overhead basement lighting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Under the Weather

I doan feel goodb, I hab a code. *snif*

Don't you hate it when a loved one is feeling poorly? I hate it when I feel poorly, but I really hate it when my wife or kids are sick. I just want to fix it. Push the liquids, pass the painkillers, lather the bag balm, bring the blankets, find a happy movie, read out loud, turn off the phone and let 'em sleep. Wake in the night and check the temperature of the house and the sick one and fetch another cup of water.

None of it works, they just have to let it run it's course and ride it out. Sigh. Get better soon, babe.

Shot at 50mm, 1/60th, f4, iso 100 with on-camera flash aimed at the ceiling. I tried a 3/4 CTO gel to match the lamplight, but decided that the sickly color of the wall was better without it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

B & W Portrait

Today's theme is "Portrait in Black & White".

I think I need to increase my pool of available models, it's a lot of work running from back of camera to the front again. The good news is I get paid twice as much...

Shot at 1/125th, f8, iso 200, 35mm - with AB800 in a softbox.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In Venus' Thrall

Not the goddess (I have one of those at home), but the planet.

It's amazing how little time you have with celestial bodies when you are trying to line them up in the viewfinder. Wander around thinking about composition, and arrangement of the various elements in the frame and before you know it, a planet can move on you. I swear that bright spot in the sky was 20 degrees higher in the sky when I started this project.

I guess it could be the tears in my eyes. It's cold out. Ok, for some of you 31 Fahrenheit isn't cold. Still, when you grab ahold of an aluminum tripod with bare hands it's a shock.

Shot at 17mm, f11, iso 200 for 15 seconds

Thursday, January 22, 2009

That Boat Again...

Another morning down by the bay, and there's that same boat that caught my eye on the 17th, still peacefully tethered to the anchor rode.

This morning the fog rolled in and out revealing and hiding as it went. During the hiding a new layer of frost would arrive too. During the revealing a little sunshine would spot here and there to tease the frost back into hiding.

Shot at 200mm, 1/200, f8, iso 400.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old flame

I'm one of those people that falls in love with something and can't get enough of it. I live, eat, dream, & love ___________

Fill in the blank.

In high school it was bicycles. After that, motocycles. For a while, a girl with a horse. And now, photography.

One of the longest affairs I've had (other than my wife - that's now a 24 year affair) has been model airplanes. I don't build 'em unless I can fly 'em, and I don't fly 'em unless I built 'em.

So here's to flames, old and new. The ones that light a passion, and even a little obsession.

Shot with 50mm 1.4 at f2, 1/80, iso 400, overhead room lights and a little flash bounced off the wall behind me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a new Day!

I had a project to shoot this morning. Had to be there before opening, which meant a 5:30 AM arrival time. I'm not often up at that time of day, but whenever it happens I'm almost always rewarded somehow.

I certainly was this morning! Man what a show. Perfect timing too, being inauguration day and all.

Shot at 1/250, f8, iso 200 at 17mm. 580EX in a softbox at full power to light me in the foreground.

Monday, January 19, 2009

One of these things...

I have been so taken with how much control there is with a flash. Pour a bucket load of light onto a subject and everything else disappears. So, I had to play with it some more. I set up a table in the middle of the room and covered it with a sheet. I scoured the cupboard for a variety of glassware. The trusty AB800 went up high with a 20 degree grid and off I went.

Shot with 17-35 at 35mm, 1/250, f8, iso 100

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Today is theme day and the theme is 'music'. Tim came up with the idea. Hey, he's a musician. I felt like a fish out of water. What do I know about music? I mean, I once played 'Smoke on the Water' on a guitar, but that's about it. Oh, and I could do chopsticks on the piano for a while - but the muscle memory has old-timers and it's all gone.

So I turned to the current family expert who plays the violin (and volunteered all by herself without bribing by me). She sounds good all by herself too - doesn't need the whole orchestra covering up for her.

Shot at 1/250th, f5.6, iso 100, 20mm with Tamron 17-35. Main light AB 800 with 20 deg grid. Background 'stage' lights are Canon 430EX speedlights with home made grid spots.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The sun came out today. Somebody must have opened their blinds and spotted it. Once they spilled the beans the word spread and the sneakers hit the trails, people formed lines at the coffee stands, and bicycles came out of garages whether the chain needed oil or not.

In short, the crowds hit the trails and parks.

Along much of the trail we walked (with the rest of humanity) the bay was visible . How quiet it was out there and how disconnected from the chaos on shore.

Shot at 85mm, 1/800, f5.6, iso 100. Contrast and light provided by the sun and cloudless sky.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It's time for a little guitar hero. Rapt attention required. I'll be with you shortly, I'm up...

Shot at 85mm, 1/30, f2, iso400, lit by the overhead cans.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Casablanca it's not

I love ceiling fans. They remind of exotic places that I've never been to. We don't use ours, but it'd be a project to remove and besides, we think we'd like to have the house ready to sell at a moments notice. I don't think we'll really move for another decade or so, but still, semper fi. Or carpe diem, or something.

So here's a shot of ours moving lazily in the light of the bedside lamp seasoned with a little blue from the 10 O'clock news.

Shot with an 85mm 1.8 while lying on the floor at 1/10th, f2.2, iso800.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Parafin Technology

I have a list of photos I want to make, many of them based on someone else's idea. This is a variation on one of those ideas. Hey, we all learn from those before us right? Besides, I'm flattering the originator.

I wish I could remember who the photographer was, as he created wonderfully simple photos that surprised. The one I'm working from here was a wooden matchstick that had burned part way, and been doused, perfectly placed over a knot in an old plank. The knot appeared to be the flame.

I couldn't find a knot in any wood in our house, so I looked at other patterns.

Question: What are those holes?
Answer: They're knot holes. *
Response: Yes they are!

Lance: I used Canon Digital Photo Professional & Photoshop to tweak curves, contrast and convert to monochrome.

Shot with 50mm 1.4 at 1/125, iso 200, f8, with 2 speedlights and shoot-through umbrellas at 1/4 power.

*Try it with 'not' as the spelling.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Caution Workers Ahead

It's high time we invested in our future. Nevermind that local and national infrastructure is crumbling, we need to pour our hopes and dreams into the education of our offspring.

And let them break things while they're at it. With eye protection, of course.

It's bridge building time! Hang as much weight on your construct as you can without destroying it. Put 10kg (22 lbs) on your 30g (~1 oz) and earn an A for the assignment. Hang more than that and you get an A. Uh, yeah. A local student managed to put more than 100 lbs on his before failure. Wow!

The weights await...

Shot at 1/200th, f2.8, iso 100, 85mm lens with an AB800 through a softbox at 1/32 power.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chuff, chuff

I pass this old train on the way to work almost every week. I've wanted to explore it with my camera for a long time, but it's had Christmas lights strung all over it. But on my commute today, I noticed that the lights had been put away.

Even in the cold and rain it was a great relic to explore on my lunch break.
Can you spot the missing piece?

Shot at 1/100, f4, iso 100, cloudy available light.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I've been had.

As a kid I remember encountering a cool little plant called a pussy willow. It was a wonderful find, especially for one who always wanted a rabbits foot to pocket, but didn't seem to know the right people to aquire one. Here was a whole shrub full of teeny-tiny rabbits feet! I was in heaven.

For years, my lovely wife has had a vase with a few pussy willow stems sitting on her dresser. I've been very careful not to knock them over, or go near them with the dust rag (how do you dust these little guys anyway?)

What better thing to shoot up close and personal? Get out the tooob and 50mm and see what they look like up close. So I carry them down the stairs vewy carefohewy so as not to do any damage. The lighting setup goes smoothly and I pop a few frames. Upload to the computer and check the focus and detail. Cool, a bit of spider web I didn't even see before shooting and it's in focus!

Wait just a minute - are these things fake?! Sigh, another little bit of reality blown out of the water.
iso 100, f8, 1/200, 50mm 1.4 on 25mm extension tube (genuine Canon, not fake)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Today's assignment is bokeh. When exploring such a thing, large aperture and close focus are your friends.

Since it's still quite wet around here, I'd originally thought raindrops would be a really good subject to play with. However, I do not have a ziplock bag raincoat available to keep the camera dry.

Then it occurred to me that I still have some film cameras kicking around in the closet, one representing each of the brands the original three '365' players shoot* with. Viola! Photo material.

Shot at iso400, 1/30th, f2.8 with a 50mm 1.4 lens. Real organic window light, not the fake stuff with hormones and pesticides and radioactivity.
*Tim actually has a Nikon, and the photo is of a Nikkormat made by Nikon.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Ah, the work week is done.

Time to settle in with the family with some home-made pizza and a few movie classics. None of those mamby-pamby chick flicks neither. We don't need anyone going though another box of kleenex blubbering over some emotional swill. We need a man's movie tonight. Something with a little action, surprises, and explosions. Really work the surround sound. Get the brain out of the cubicle for a little while at least.

You know, come to think of it, I did cry a little when Spock died.

Shot at 17mm, iso 400, 1/30, f5.6 with an AB800 at 1/24th

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dearth of Inspiration

Only 357 to go...

Uh, what to make a photo of? I need some ideas. Good thing I'm not a writer, I'd starve. It's still so wet out and I'm a wimp. Besides, what I really want to take pictures of is people, and everyone else in the house has something else to do. So who does that leave? Me, the dog, and the cat. And the cat & dog don't play well together. There's a "Funiest Home Video" in there somewhere waiting to get out.

Get out the books. Flip the pages. Sigh. All the books I have are about people photography. And there're no people around. Except me.

Can I get back to you on this one? I'm going to go make a sandwhich and grumble about how I ever got into the 365 photo thing in the first place. Harumpf.

Shot with a 17-35 Tamron at 17mm, f5.6, 1/50th, iso 400. Oh, and an AB800 in a softbox aspiring to be window light.

//edit ===================

So, today's assignment was "A River Runs Through It", though I didn't yet know that at the time. Ok, ok. It was sort of my idea. I suggested to my 365 buddies that we should do a theme thing now and then. Just tossed the idea out there. Wasn't sure it would connect. It did. Today. They wanted to do it RIGHT NOW. I already took a photo today. Can't do more than one, right? Anyway, I didn't have a vehicle, everyone in the house left me, remember? When one arrived home I commandeered it straight to Whatcom Creek where it empties into the bay.

Here's the result - a river running through it...

17mm on the 17-35 tammy, f4.5 1/25th at iso 400

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Never rains, but it pours

We're in the middle of a good soaking here in the Northwest. The underside of the house is our new swimming area (no diving allowed - there's no deep end) and the stream across the road is overflowing onto the street. Storm drains that normally drink all the water pouring down the gutter from the lawn are now vomiting it up to join the overflow from the creek.

Today's photo is an attempt at capturing a bit of it under the still powered street lamp. You never know when the underground electricity delivery will be shorted out. I'm just sayin.

Shot at iso800, f4, 1/8 sec with a 17-35mm Tamron at the long end.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Improv Night

I was a working photog tonight - if you don't count a paycheck, or lack thereof.

Our church hosted a "Middle School Ball" for the 6-8 grades. I was there to take pictures of the kids off in one corner. I dragged along my AB800 in a softbox which worked like a charm.

Part of the night's entertainment was a local improv troupe that got the kids cracking up more than a few times. I used the time to play a little by setting up a single speedlight up in the balcony at about a 45 degree angle to the stage. I set it on 1/2 power zoomed all the way to 105mm with a home made grid spot. A little shutter-dragging and I could practice balancing flash and ambient lighting (wonderful flourescents).

Shot at 1/40, f4, ISO400

Monday, January 5, 2009

Under the wire?

Not sure if this bodes well, but it was 11:29 pm and I still hadn't had my camera out of the bag today. Whew. Good thing I married a woman who can think quickly (and supports this whole endeavor).

I'd had a really full day of work, doctor visit with one of the girls, gathering with my wedding photo buddies, and movie night with more of my pals. Somewhere in all that you'd think there would be a photo op, right? I carried my camera bag with me, does that count?

OK, so it's 11:31 pm and Jan says: "Take a photo of the digital clock at 11:59 and post that". Not a bad start. I've been wanting to play more with my extension tube and 50mm 1.4 that I'd purchased to shoot wedding rings with (toooobz they're called) - why not try it out on my new watch that I got for Christmas?

Here's the result. Shot at iso 640, 1/20th, f2 36mm tube on 50 1.4

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Will walk for coffee

The best things in life are coffee! Well, for those of us that don't touch the stuff, it's coffee with your sweetie.

We walked in the wind today, from downtown Bellingham all the way to Woods Coffee in Boulevard Park. Man, what a gold mine. I bet those people at Starbucks that decided there wouldn't be enough traffic and passed up the location are kicking themselves now.

The snow started falling again so we fortified with a coconut treat and hot beverage, tied our hats down and worked our way back to town. Had we a sail it woulda been quicker.
Shot using window light and an 85mm lens at f1.8, 1/50, ISO400

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's Mountain Time!

January 3

Alyssa took me skiing today! Well, I did the driving (she's 14) but it was her idea. What a beautiful day to be on the mountain. Ok, so the light was flat making it a *really* good idea to keep the knees bent. Still, skiing is just an excuse to be out in the air working up a sweat. We ran more than a few runs and she gave me a hard time for talking to every stranger we shared a lift with.
I'd left the camera in the car, so I had to make my day's photo on the drive down from the hill. We learned that when you leave the ski area right after the lifts stop running you get to join the driving fray. We pulled off part way down to let a few of our fellow adventurers speed by. Coulda used a wider lens.
Note to self: always, always, always take the whole bag of gear with you.
January 2
I went walking early in the morning to see the light change. Too cloudy to see the sunrise, but the steady rise in intensity made it clear that sunrise was happening somewhere. My sweetie accompanied me and together we walked the new snowfall along Lake Whatcom. We happened upon evidence in the snow that we were not the early birds that day, though it had been a struggle to leave the warmth of the house as early as we did.
January 1
My friend, Lance, encouraged me to make a photograph every day of the year, 2009. I've taken up the challenge, though I may not be good about posting every day (that's part of the game) I do hope to keep up with it at least every few days. I do intend to meet the requirement of actually making a photo each day.

As you can see from the first post, I'm late already (though I DID take the photo on the due date)