Friday, February 29, 2008


Was hired by one of my favorite local coffee shops to take some images for their new website and marketing was to be a mix of architectural and abstract images...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

importance of post-processing

When I send estimates to clients, I always do a line item of the services and include one that says "post-processing." I usually have to explain what this means, since most people always assume that things come out perfect from the camera (dont' I wish!). Here's an example.

The original is a pretty good photo.

But it could always be made better with some post. Here I cropped in a little more to bring the focus in. I also darkened the sky, removed the telephone post in the background and added some snap to the overall image. I also burned the edges in a bit to keep the viewers eye in the middle of the photo.

Portrait: LBMA Director

Got a chance to shoot photos of Ron Nelson, the newly minted director of the Long Beach Museum of Art. I tried for several looks. I scouted for about 10 minutes and did about 40 minutes of shooting.

Available light in the office.

In front of the Museum....Norman 200b to camera left as main...sun as rim light.

Available light..sun as for shadow side

Balanced Norman 200b to match outside ambient light...

Available light on the staircase...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No love from The Man...

I originally posted this on but thought it would be fitting here as well...

So I've been preparing my files for tax season and I remember reading something a few months ago about possible tax credits for those that opt for alternative modes of transportation. Digging around to find something that I can show my tax accountant, I was pretty disgusted at what I found.

First off, from BikePortland, I learned that the tax break I had read about did not survive it's initial introduction. Secondly, there's a Hummer tax loophole, that allows businesses to write-off the costs of luxury SUVs at a certain weight. WTF?!

From the MSN article:

Under previous tax legislation, business owners were allowed to select for company use one of several light-truck models weighing more than 6,000 pounds fully loaded and write off most, if not all, of the costs on their tax returns. The law allowed for an immediate deduction of up to $100,000. Sharp-eyed business operators were quick to notice that most of today's sport utility vehicles met the weight limit. Soon, Hummers and Escalades replaced sedans as the business vehicle of choice.

This may be old news for some, but I'm really floored by all this. The tax legislation was adjusted after criticism, but cmon! There were even credits for hybrids, but god forbid they give incentives to people who are doing something positive that isn't part of the industrial-auto-petroleum-government complex.

But, what can you expect when we have tools (and dull ones at that) like this in positions of power....

and this tool as well (bike-related at 4:28):

If these two guys were Park tools, the little blue rubber stamp on their foreheads would be AH-01 and AH-02 (email me if you can't figure out what the "A**" and "H" would stand for...).

I suppose what all this really boils down to is consumption. We as bike commuters just don't consume enough stuff to be on The Man's radar. Or, if we are consuming stuff, it's not the right stuff. It's not big motorized vehicular stuff that uses black oily stuff that puts a bunch of green stuff in the pockets of men with lots of stuff. What's a bike commuter to do to get some love from The Man?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cargo Bike Update!

Sweet. Just got an email from Stephen at Bilenky and the frame is suppose to be going to paint today. It's been tricky picking colors via the interwebs. We've been using Pantone colors as reference but apparently lots of the colors I have aren't in his book.

It's nice to see it coming along and I can hardly wait until it arrives.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Some snaps from another assignment. The story is about a waitress who has been at Haskell's Prospector in Long Beach for 25 years. The art direction was to shoot something that felt candid and timeless.

The interior was dark so I had to crank it to 1000 ISO and shoot wide open (50mm 1.8 and a 17-35mm 2.8). The light from the wall lamp provides a nice directional glow.

To sort of emphasize the candidness I shot using different things to frame the scene and give it some depth.

Art Theater

Did a portrait shoot this past weekend of the owner of the Art Theater in Long Beach and his son. I took some shots inside (right before the theater goers arrives) and some outside (right after they were seated). I was thinking about how to shoot it so it looks interesting and decided to do it at night so you get the lights of the marquee.

I thought it would especially dramatic if I had them turn off the carousel lights and just leave the box office lights on...a sort of somber image.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Long Commute...

Things have been a bit slow after the holidays. I have a bunch of projects in limbo and am waiting for them to come to fruition. Ah, the life of a sole-proprietor. Good news is, to supplement my income, I've started to shoot for the OC Weekly again.

Today was my first assignment with the new art director. It was a bit far (Santa Ana), but I'm trying to get a good relationship going on so of course I said yes. I spent a few days trying to figure out my route. There were more direct routes but they would send me through some bad parts of town. So, I chose a longer route, but one I knew that there were bike lanes throughout the whole stretch.

The ride went smoothly and I rode the first 25 miles in just under two hours. Not a bad time, considering I was carrying about 40lbs of camera gear. I did my assignments and rode back. That was the killer. I started back after noon and the winds were picking up. I was averaging a blistering 9mph down the river trail and was pushing hard to go downhill. Once I got on Slater I was still hitting winds though not so directly.

Total Mileage: 50
Ride Time: 4 hours

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 stats...

I've been geeking out and recording all my rides on If only the rest of my life was so organized!

My mileage for the year so far is 495 miles.

My mileage for the month of January was 392 miles, with an average speed of 13.3 mph. Not bad.

My goal is to ride out to Huntington Beach (30 miles RT) a few times a week to keep me in shape, so if I have a gig that's long distance I'll be able to make it there and back without bonking out.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Roadie-speak for dummies :)

One of my favorite bike blogs, BikesnobNYC, wrote a piece on "infrequently asked questions." These, I thought, were the best. I know a few roadies and some of them take themselves a little too seriously. I've also asked a few why they don't bike commute, since they seem like they would be the best candidates. I always get the same answer, commuting is "junk miles." I never quite understood it, until BikeSnobNYC laid it out :)

What is a “century?”

A century is a word people who ride Serottas and Cervelos equipped with mountain bike pedals and compact cranks use to describe what the rest of us just call a long ride. There’s also something called a “metric century.” Riders use the same type of bicycles, but a metric century is shorter and probably involves more camelbaks and helmets with visors on them.

What is a “training ride?”

This is how roadies describe what the rest of us just call a ride. It can be long, short, fast, or slow. It can also be intermittently fast and slow, which is called “intervals.” Roadies call rides “training rides” so people know that they race. In fact, roadies only do two kinds of rides: training rides, and races. Any other type of riding is considered “garbage miles,” or “junk miles.” Garbage miles include any miles ridden offroad, any miles ridden for purposes of commuting or transportation, any miles not ridden in full team kit, and any miles during which the rider has any fun.

RIP Sheldon Brown....1944-2008

Sheldon Brown, the internet bicycling guru, has passed away. I've never met the man or even communicated him, but I've learned tons from his site. He'll be sorely missed not only by his immediate friends and family, but thousands of others that have read his articles.

Harris page announcing his passing.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Video on Pelican site!

If you want the ultimate camera case that will protect your gear come hell or highwater, there's pretty much only one brand people use and that's Pelican. They're a little on the spendy side, but you get what you pay for. I regularly stand on mine during photoshoots to get a little height (since I don't carry a step ladder all the time and god made me short).

I blogged about modifying a pelican case for use on a bike rack a few months ago and made a Youtube video for about it recently.

Well, the video is now also on the official Pelican site. They're doing a series of user-submitted DIY jobs that show how people use and modify their cases. Check it out here!

Laura gets a new ride....

Took it home from the Bikestation on the Xtracycle, of course.

Laura finally got a new whip! The frame came in (a Surly Long Haul Trucker) and it's a definite upgrade from the Sirrus she's been ridding for the last year. She's put on about 5500 miles on the Sirrus in a little over a year. It survived our tour down the coast but it's a bit small for her, so it was time for an upgrade. She plans to paint on some designs and create a new headbadge for it and do the build herself.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Slow Coast! awesome bike touring videos

I went on a 32 mile ride today through the streets of OC, pretending I was riding down the Oregon coast again. When I came home I was looking at some touring sites that I visit when I get wanderlust. I stumbled upon this couple's awesome travel videos. Aside from being some great personalities, the videos have pretty high production value.

The funny thing is, we were touring the same time this couple was last year. In fact, in episode 6, they interview a couple on a tandem that we met in a campsite in Oregon!! The great little coincidences.

Here's a link to the first video (not a whole lot happens), be sure to check out the rest.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Voting with your wallet....

I wrote a review for BikeCommuters on my Swobo gloves. It led to an interesting discussion on why people should pay so much for the gloves when they look pretty similar to cheaper work gloves. Which in turn led, to a discussion about voting with your wallet.

I wrote a comment there that I think pretty sums up how I feel about buying things, so I thought I'd reprint it here:

I believe strongly with what Tim (from Swobo) says. We vote with our dollar and companies listen to that.

That is the reason we’re seeing “organics” in our food and now in our apparel. It’s also why you see all the friggin “green” car commercials (who the heck are they kidding? 28mpg is fuel efficient?)

If it weren’t for the potential profit, all the larger companies would give a rats ass about being green or environmentally friendly. It would be businesses as usual, making things as cheaply as possible without regard to people or nature.

That is why I am willing to spend a little more for a better product coming from a good company. I always try to buy my bike and camera gear from local companies first, because I know if I don’t, all that there will be left are Best Buys and Walmarts.

I’ll buy products from Planet Bike (25% to bike advocacy, solar powered building), Xtracycle (has a non-profit called Xaccess), Bike Friday (moved to greener building practices), Swobo (for all the reasons mentioned in the review), Patagonia (for being on the leading edge of responsible production), Rivendell (for their practical approach to bicycles) and I may even consider Trek now (their two wheels one world campaign…still not sure where that’s going :). I do this because I want to acknowledge and encourage what their doing, and also send a message to other companies that they should follow suit.

Yes, it may cost more sometimes. Yes, I’m fortunate that I have some financial flexibility. However, I have found that these things cost less in the long run because you don’t have to replace them.

I have a simple motto when it comes to purchasing: Buy it right the first time.

And “right”, for me has often meant getting something of quality from businesses that are as serious about their products as they are about their profits.