Thursday, June 28, 2007

Still fighting the man...

I got the great pleasure of photographing Ed Hendricks, the chairman of the Long Beach chapter of Surfrider. He is 80 and still alive and kicking. His current mission, which is no small task, is to see the breakwater come down in Long Beach and to bring waves back to our shores. Go Ed, go!

I should mention that I had an assistant at the shoot tonight too (thanks Dominic). Hard to hold a strobe with an umbrella, carry a conversation, take photos and balance on boulders at the same time without an extra hand.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Close to home....

Sometimes, I get really lucky and get an assignment close to home. This portrait was shot about two blocks from my apartment. It's a portrait of Talia, singer in a band called Katie the Pest, who was performing at She Sells CDs by the Sea Shore, a small music store down the street. The location was right in front of the store.

Not the most picturesque site (sitting on a bus bench on Broadway and Falcon), but the light was golden and at a pretty good angle. I was getting flare in my lens but decided to play with it. It creates a nice ethereal mood to the portrait. Luckily, I had some help. A friend of Talia's showed up and was kind enough to hold my reflector to bounce some fill in.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Portrait Kit....

I carry different permutations of gear for different assignments. This is my single person portrait kit. If I know I'm shooting just one person this is all I'll bring. Basically, the camera, a wide lens (17-55), a portrait lens (85mm), some light to give me more control (Nikon SB-800, SB-28 with pocket wizards), some light stands and an umbrella or softbox.

With this setup, I can shoot a nice available light portrait outside in the shade. A dramatic portrait where I over power the sun with a little help from the Nikon speedlights. Or I can also shoot inside and get a nice studio-ish portrait with the umbrella or softbox.

All this fits in my Xtracycle. Brilliant. I don't accelerate or climb hills as fast, but I can still move at a good clip (cruising around 18mph). Which means, I can get from my apt to City Hall in about 12 minutes, or to Belmont shore in about 15 minutes and seal beach in about 25 minutes.

This particular setup I took to shoot the Garden of Eva portrait (see the entries below) which is at the border of Long Beach and Paramount. It took me about 35-40 minutes via the Los Angeles River bike trail.

Dreams of Bike Touring...

Laura and I and two other friends are planning to escape the LBC for two weeks in August. The plan is to pack our bikes with clothes, camping gear and food and take the Amtrak to Portland. From Portland we're riding to Astoria (via Vernonia). From Astoria we go south to Reedsport and inland to Eugene, where we'll reluctantly take the train back to Long Beach.

The next two months will be a slow process of checking routes, getting in shape and acquring gear. Laura and I did a mini tour in Solvang so we've had a chance to break in some of our equipment, but we haven't done a trip this long, nor have we done a trip with the extra weight of camping equipment and cooking equipment.

I've made a wishlist and it's rather daunting in its cost. However, knowing that I want to do more touring, I'd like to get the top-shelf equipment right off the bat, rather than getting a poor substitute. Some stuff on the list:

Ortlieb Packer Plus rear panniers
Trangia Stove and cook set
Ostrich Handlebar Bag
Nitto Mini Rack

Time to start saving pennies and shoot more gigs!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Native Plants

On assignment today for the District Weekly. The location was a 10 acre wholesale garden grower in Long Beach (who knew?!), The Garden of Eva.

The light wasn't the best (1pm, summer sun beating straight down). I decided to put into practice what I was playing with at my brother's graduation. I put my flash on the TTL cord, set the camera to -1.3 and the flash to +2 and held the flash with my hand. The woman, Annika, was a great sport but had a wide brim hat. I had to angle the flash so the light would get under the brim and still create some nice sculpting.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Another Graduation...

This time it's my youngest brother, Andrew, graduating from middle school. It was good to see him graduate. He even won the school spirit award.

On a photographic note, I was playing around with the highspeed shutter sync of the D200 and SB800 combo. I've actually never really used it before and was pretty happy with the results. I had the flash off camera with a TTL cord. The last photo, I told the camera to underexpose by a stop and the flash to go over by a stop. The net result was a properly exposed subject and darkened background. Sweet.

Monday, June 18, 2007

CETMA Rack Pics 1/2

I recently purchased a CETMA 6 rail front rack. Lane, CETMa's owner and sole employee, is a bike messenger and handmakes each rack. I paid a little extra for the new powdercoated version of the 6-rail rack.

Delivery time was around two weeks, mostly waiting on the painting to be done. The rack came in a box and was wrapped with newspaper and had a plastic bag that contained all the mounting hardware.

If you've put on a Wald basket before, you'll know how to assemble the rack. I hadn't, so it took a little trial and error to get it just right. The rack is sturdy and inspires confidence. The stays are nice and beefy and won't be crumpling anytime soon.

So why the front rack? Sometimes I want/need a normal size bike instead of the Xtracycle to do a shoot. This front rack lets me carry a bigger load than a bolt on seatpost rack on my fixed gear in a supposedly more stable manner.

I've only ridden a few miles with the rack and a load so I can't make any definitive statements, but so far it has handled well. The steering is slightly altered, but much less than having a single full pannier in the rear....more impressions forth coming...

Here is the rack without a load and some details on the mounting points.

CETMA Rack Pics 2/2

Here are some pics of my new CETMA rack loaded with a Pelican case of camera equipment and a lightstand.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Eat (Dinner) At the Potholder

If you're a Long Beach local, chances are you've had breakfast at The Potholder Cafe at least once after a long night of sport drinking. The Potholder is a Long Beach icon of sorts and is known for their great breakfast menu and walls with photos of customers holding a sign "Eat at the Potholder" while standing in Hawaii, Mexico or Iraq.

I had the good luck of being hired by them to shoot some images for their dinner menu. We decided to play around with the customer-holding-a-sign idea. I shot some standard food shots, then a few lifestyle images of people hanging out, then I beg and pleaded with some of the customers there for a snap with the sign. It was a fun evening of shooting and I hope my images go a long way in promoting their business.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

LA River Ride!

Laura and I rode the Los Angeles River Ride today, which is put on by the Los Angeles Bike Coalition. It was only my second organized ride and our first ride together. The route starts at Griffith Park and goes to Long Beach. Some people opt to ride back to Griffith Park (70 miles round trip). We just wanted to do the half and rode the ride in reverse, starting from Long Beach and ending at Griffith Park.

When we got to the start, there was only one other "reverse rider," a man named Jerry on a recumbent. Luckily we rode about the same speed. So it was just the three of us riding from Long Beach to the end. At about mile 12 we crossed paths with the first set of riders going in the opposite direction. From then on, we would see other bunches of riders going in the opposite direction.

We made it to the finish, with no other riders passing us, so it really was a unique experience, as if we were riding our own personal ride with a marked course.

At the end, there was the long awaited catered gourmet BBQ (the real reason we wanted to do the ride:) There were some issues with the propane (not enough), so there was a bit of a hold up with the food. However, when the grills did get going the food was great.

Our total for the day was about 50 miles. After the BBQ we rode back to Union Station (10 miles), took the trains to Long Beach and rode home. It was a great ride and will definitely help us prepare for our tour this summer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tangerine Treehouse

I shot some photos for Tangerine Treehouse today. Laura, the maker, is inspired and influenced by nature and the environment. A lot of her pieces include actual bits of nature in them as well (leaves, flowers, seeds, etc.,)

The setup was fairly simple. Single softbox as main light source. Flexed matboard as the background and a small mirror beneath the jewelry as a kicker. This is my Macguyver-style product setup. Fast, simple and gets the job done with great results.

You can purchase Laura's jewelry here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Family Portrait...

I just finished the slideshow of a family portrait I shot last week. Here are a few snaps from the session. Click here to view the slideshow.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Cork/Shellac vs. Dead Cow

A few months ago I bought some really zoot Brooks handlebar tape. It's genuine high grade leather, the same stuff they use on their saddles. However, unlike their saddles, the tape doesn't age quite as gracefully (or I really have dirty hands).

The tape started out supple and had a beautiful golden brown color to it. I'll probably never own an Alfa Romeo, but it felt like what I would imagine a nicely leather wrapped steering wheel would feel.

In about a week, it turned into zombie flesh.

It lost a lot of its color and it became a little tough, despite a coat or two of proofhide.

I've always been a bit of a traditionalist. I still shoot with a pair of Leicas and a Rolleiflex. I prefer bar-end/downtube shifters to brifters. I like the classic look.

I recently ordered some new handlebars and gizmos to get ready for my summer bike tour down the Oregon coast. When I slap on the new bars, I'm going to try the old cork and shellac technique.

What it involves is using a natural colored cork tape, tying off the ends with hemp twine, then using amber shellac to seal the whole deal. A little time consuming, but beautiful to look at (just a pain if you have to change cabling). I picked up some shellac and did a test on the cork tape. In the picture it shows the nude cork tape, one coat of shellac, then two coats of shellac. The beauty of the whole thing is that you can layer coats to get it whatever color you want.

I'll post pictures soon of the process.