Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some snaps from my bike vacation!

Laura and I did a mini bike tour this Thanksgiving. We made it from Long Beach to Sunland. Then from Union Station to Laguna Niguel, where we biked to San Clemente, jogged inland to Escondido, then back out to Solana Beach. It was a wonderful weekend and we covered a lot of miles, drank some great beer and had the time of our lives!

Here are some snaps from the trip. All of them taken with my new point and shoot, the Canon G10. It has proven to be a great little camera. I certainly took more pics this trip than others. I think part of it is that taking the DSLR out is a bit of a chore and it's heavy. I would ride with the G10 bandoleer style and take photos. They say the "best" camera is the camera you have in your hand. That is to say, if you don't take it out and use it, then it doesn't matter if you own a Hasselblad or a Leica or a Holga.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just snapping around...

I've really enjoyed having a camera I can bring with me everywhere (in case you haven't noticed). If anything, the G10 has reminded me why I like photography in the first place. Anyway, here's a snap from today. There was a great sky from the storm and it made the Vill (and Long Beach as a whole) particularly dramatic.

Monday, November 24, 2008

G10 Portraits...

A few more portraits I took today with the G10. These are for a mock PSA I'm working on that will promote cycling in Long Beach. Hopefully this concept will come to fruition. All the images shot using available light. Post-processing for lens blur, BW, corner vignetting and exposure adjustment to give it that Avedon look.

More thoughts on the G10...

I posted a few more thoughts on the G10 after three days of use on Epicurean Cyclist. I talk about ways to make it more Leica-like by changing some of the settings. So swing over there and take a gander!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Canon G10 + Vivitar

I took the G10 out tonight for a party. I haven't taken a camera out for a purely social gathering in a long time. I threw on a small Vivitar flash and decided to see how it would fare.

I put the Vivitar in Auto mode and guesstimated the exposure in manual mode on the G10. It came out to something like 4.5 @ 1/5th at ISO 200 or something. Not too shabby, I think. All things considered, the pictures are pretty pleasing from a point and shoot. Probably not a whole lot different than from a DSLR.

There was a bit of shutter lag and I minimized this by pre-focusing the lens to 4 feet in manual focus mode. It felt like my old rangefinder days where I would zone focus the Leicas. Ah...the good ole' days.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

After Dark slideshow...

I put together a slideshow from the LBMA event I shot last weekend. The music is by Erich von Kneip, the band pictured in the slideshow. They were awesome! I bought a CD and thought their music fit the event really well.

Papa's got a brand new Box! - Part 1.

I'm always searching for ways to streamline carrying things on bike. For most local shoots, I'll take out the Bilenky or the Xtracycle. However, some shoots require me to go multi-modal, using a labyrinth of trains and buses to get to my location (like my recent shoot in Palmdale!). When I'm using other forms of transit, it becomes difficult if not impossible to take my larger cargo bikes.

So what's a bicycling photographer to do?

Well....take a "regular" size bike and outfit it to suit your purposes. This is where the Ortlieb Shuttle-Bike comes in.

The Shuttle-Bike is essentially a semi-hard rolling suitcase that snaps on to your bike via an adapter for your rack. The case has casters and a telescoping handle for easy off-bike hauling. It also has really well-sealed zippers so you're covered in event of a downpour.

The Shuttle-Bike functions like any suitcase and offers some pockets and compression straps to shrink your clothing a bit. However, my interest is in using it as a semi-hardcase to put my camera gear in.

If you look on the Ortlieb sie, it has a few pictures, but none that really do a good job of showing how it works on a bike. So here are some snaps to show you how it all works!

Here you can see how the back of the case mates with the adapter on the rack. You mate the circular pieces and push down until you hear an audible click, letting you know it is firmly in place.

Another nice touch is the combination zipper lock. It's not going to keep a determined thief out of there but it will keep honest people honest (for a few minutes) and prevent accidental opening of the zippers.

I'll show how it fits all my camera gear in the next post!

New Camera!

Nope. Not a DSLR but a point and shoot! I walked in to the local camera store with the intention of buying the Lumix LX3, but came out with a Canon G10 instead. After playing with both, the G10 seemed the easier camera (for me) to use. Here's a sample portrait I took with it (not even 10 minutes out of the box).

I'm planning to use it on some assignments during the next few weeks to see if it really can replace my DSLRs!

Life on the 14th floor...

I had an assignment to photograph a meeting between Rev. Carter and Mayor Bob Foster the other day at City Hall. One thing I've learned with photographing public figures is that you have to be fluid. Schedules are always changing and being pushed back. Sometimes you have half an hour to shoot, sometimes five minutes, so speed is of the essence.

I've photographed in the mayor's office before so I knew that the big bank of windows would provide a nice big directional light. I opted for that instead of the conference room that has bright fluorescents but the lighting is sort of flat and blah...So I had a choice between bright and flat lighting, or directional but not-so-bright lighting.

I went with the low light/directional even though I had to push the ISO because I felt that it would make more interesting images. I think they turned out great. I love the reflections off the table. I was able to burn in the outside with Lightroom so the background wouldn't completely white-out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A 6 hour train adventure...of sorts

I'm beat. The map above represents my trip yesterday. The bike is in Long Beach and the little camera icon was where my shoot was, Palmdale. It's a long drive and even longer if you don't have a car. However, I was able to do it!

The assignment was to shoot some interior, exterior and some lifestyle images for a latino-specific T-Mobile store in Palmdale. The crew there was great to work with and made my job easy. The toughest part was just getting there:)

I loaded up my Surly LHT and used an Ortlieb Shuttle Box that contained all my camera gear. I also strapped down a heavy Manfrotto tripod to my Tubus rack. The rest of my tools and clothes I carried up front. It made for a top-heavy bike, but it was compact enough that I could maneuver the multiple trains I had to hop.

The commute looked something like this:

1) Ride from home to Blue Line in Long Beach
2) Take the Blue line to end of the line (1hr)
3) Transfer to the Red line to Union Station (15mins)
4) Purchase tickets at Union Station and get on the Metrolink Antelope Valley line and ride that nearly all the way to the end to Palmdale (2hrs).
5) Navigate through a NOT very bike-friendly city to the location.

What made the shoot particularly tricky was that I had to get a nighttime exterior shot and it gets dark around 5pm. The LAST train back to LA left at 5:59pm. So i had to shoot rather quickly, pack my stuff in a hurry then bolt back to the station.

Everything worked out great. The images came out great. I was able to traverse So. Cal without having to put my foot on a (gas) pedal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And some more food...

Kobe beef hamburger for lunch. Beef short ribs for a take home dinner. Gourmet egg rolls and a fillet mignon wrapped in bacon for a pre-dinner. Not bad in a days work.

The route today...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Food!

I'm was another long day riding from one end of town to the other to take food photos. Downside was I didn't get to eat anything since we were so busy. Here are some snaps from Mr R's in the Long Beach Marriott. Some good looking food (wish I could have tried it though!)

Monday, November 17, 2008


It's dining guide time for the DW! Which, for me, means a frantic week of running around the city taking photos of food for the issue. This will be the third dining guide I've worked on and I've finally got my system down solid. I can fit everything in a LowePro backpack and set-up a shot in about 10 minutes.

Today I rode out to Los Alamitos. Not terribly far, but somewhere I've never been before. The air quality wasn't as bad as it was this weekend, which was a good thing for me. I probably rode about 30-40 miles during the course of today.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

LBMA After Dark

It's my birthday (atleast for another 10 minutes). Just finished a quick edit of some photos from LBMA tonight. It was a pretty fun event with a killer band, Erich Von Kneip!

I'm 31 Today!

I have a toe firmly planted in my 30s. No going back now. It's been a busy day, though none of it birthday related. I photographed a hearing regarding a developer building on an indian burial ground. I was in a meeting regarding the upcoming BikeLongBeach website. And later this evening, I'm photographing an event at the Long Beach Musuem of Art.

It's busy, but I really wouldn't want it anyway. Things are slow for everyone and I'm glad I can still ride my bike and shoot. Plus, it keeps my mind off of growing old!

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making a Better Smoothie...

This was from a food assignment for the District Weekly and is a good example of some creative problem solving. The job was to shoot a fruit smoothie for a dining guide. Simple enough, right?

Well, there were some immediate problems.

Problem #1: The store usually served the smoothies in plastic cups which look terrible in photographs.

Solution: I brought some glassware with me just for this eventuality. I ended up not using what I brought but grabbed a colorful cup they had as a display in the window. Serendipity.

Problem #2: The store was small and outside of a small area where they make the juice, the space looked like a pharmacy with pill bottles on the walls.

Solution: There was only one real place to shoot. Right by the window. I moved things around so I could get to the window and set up there. I repurposed a bowl of fake fruit and a table cloth with a watermelon pattern on it and set them up so they would provide the background.

Problem #3: The drink itself wasn't very interesting looking. Purple and thick. Nice color but not enough texture.

Solution: Chop up some fruits, grab a straw and assemble the perfect looking smoothie.

The next series of photos, show the progression of the image.

Testing the composition with the empty cup while the smoothie is being made.

Adding the smoothie and some fruit slices. I think the smoothie itself is getting lost.

Jenny, the reporter with me, spoons in some more smoothie so it looks like it's flowing out.

I feel that it needs another vertical element to break up all the fruit so I add a straw.

The final image. Added berries for more texture. Post to make it snap.