Trading Fire, Trading Cameras

Trading One Kind of Fire (and Camera) For Another

I taught the hubs to photograph. It was a smart move. Really smart. Because not only do we get to go out and capture the world around us and marvel at how uniquely we each see the same moments… he also is really good at photographing people. At family and friends gatherings, Joe’s photos are always better than mine – and I mean by a long shot! What’s more, he took ALL the photos of me for this website. Very handy.

So one night in Santa Cruz, we headed out for some fresh air and a sunset on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. This shot was taken with my Canon 6D as sunset was winding down, campfires on the beach were revving up and long exposures were fun because you didn’t need filters to stop down the camera anymore. I love juxtapositions like that…

Trading the radiance of one sort of firefor the warm glow of another...

 

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Paris, 2015!

French Cravings

Do you ever get a craving that never goes away, no matter how much try to ignore it? It just tugs at your sleeve, clears its throat – loudly, hums a little French tune. No matter how many times you stage-whisper “Sssshhhhh!!”… it just smiles and keeps on humming.

Paris is like that for me.

I went there in 2010 for a voiceover job. I mean, how glamorous is THAT? For once, I can say it really was as cool as it sounds. It was a quick trip, not a lot of photo time… but the hubs and I made it count by staying out REEEEALLY late at night. We indulged in wine and chocolate at a romantic cafe on the Champs Elyssee at 2am one night after 8 miles of wandering – and photographing – our way through the streets of Paris. In December. At Christmas – in the City of Light.  Ahhh, the stuff legends are made of!

Understandably, I’ve wanted to return every minute since. But I’ve had Spring in mind… and wanted another Perfect Moment event. Hey, a girl can dream!

So when my friend, photographer Valerie Jardin (a native of Normandy, knows Paris like the back of her hand!) invited me to come along to her Paris street photography workshop in May, 2015, how could I say no? I mean, really… how COULD I?

You already know the answer…

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Moon Over Manhattan

Surprising – and Panoramic – Moments

I keep saying I don’t shoot panoramas, then I go and shoot another panorama. Like this one, of the Manhattan skyline taken from Queens. It’s not the hugest panorama ever created… 115,000 pixels across… but it’ll fill up a decent-sized wall nicely.

It happened pretty much by accident too, which is one of the best things about it!

A long lookAt a big city, where being Mooned only makes it more beautiful.(6 image panorama)

When Music Meets Photography

It seems like minutes ago that the hubs and I were in New York. But it’s going on a couple of weeks now. Sheeesh! Time flies!
One evening, we went with Joe’s kid Caleb – who’s a badass drummer – to one of his gigs over in Queens. It was fun, at the L.I.C. Bar. That stands for Long Island City, which I guess is technically where we were.

It was a lovely, warm night… and we’d gotten there early. Caleb was all set up and ready to go too. He looked at me and said “There’s a really cool view of the Manhattan skyline at the end of that road”… pointing to that road… “Wanna see it?”

I said “Sure!”, thinking “What does the kid know about great views?”.
So he walks us down to this little park at the end of the road and my jaw dropped. Dropped, I tell you! Hit the ground. Full on gapeage.
The sight was spectacular! Of course EVERYONE photographs the Manhattan skyline, but I wasn’t about to let THAT stop me!

I thanked Caleb profusely (my respect for his artistic eye skyrocketing) and set about capturing this breathtaking vista.
It was a little before sunset, so I had a chance to scope for a bit. Then I went to town.

Close up, Far Away – Covering the Gamut

I photographed wider first, then as the sun started to create cool reflections against the buildings, went for color block close ups like this, which I shot with my Canon 70-300 f/3.5-5.6:

June...Both the month and the girlWas utterly over Manhattan, each in different ways.

And generally covered every bit of the scene at different focal lengths, different compositions.

Then I hustled back to C’s gig. It was only an hour and I wasn’t about to miss it!

Random note: I discovered a beer at L.I.C. Bar called Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen that I absolutely fell in love with! I’m not much of a beer drinker, but lordy, I could get used to that one!

But Then… the Night. Yummmm!

Gig done, sun was down, moon was up; Joe and Caleb wanted to go get a beer elsewhere. We ended up at a really nice bar at that same park I photographed in earlier. And guess what I saw:

This, a single shot captured with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8:

ManhattanSkyline

and when I looked to the right, this (same lens):

Queens, NYSet anchor, rest a spell.You may be out of your element, but you're not out of your mind.So fill up, replenish.You can take the world tomorrow.

.. and then I thought to myself: “Self. This would look amazing on a wall BIG.”
Self agreed.

So we photographed that sucker BIG. Made a nice panorama, 7 images across… complete with the moon, the reflection, the river, even the plane with its long exposure streak. (I could’ve eliminated the long exposure streak. But I like it. It makes it so… that moment.). Used that trusty 24-70mm f/2.8 with my Canon 6D, which is phenomenal at night! (which was also the reason I brought it)

So, I don’t know what to say about panoramas anymore. I guess I do them occasionally! HehHeh.

Setting Sail from New York

It’s Time to Go

I voyage home today.
And I will be back.

New York has been amazing. No, make that beyond amazing.
Friends… family… new Chat episodes… food… scenes from all over the city… photography… sigh.
I covered SO much territory on foot that I’m in better shape now than when I arrived 2 weeks ago!
There was the day I did 26,000 steps. My UP band said that’s 17 miles. Then again, I haven’t calibrated it so I doubt it’s being accurate.

There was music. My stepson, Caleb Dolister is a drummer. So we went to some of his music gigs in places we’d never have seen otherwise. Like the spot in Queens where I captured this awesome moment. He said “There’s a cool view of the Manhattan Skyline at the end of that street. It only takes a few minutes to get there, want to see it?” And he took us to the most breathtaking spot, where that skyline showed off like a star in the heavens. (I’ll share the panorama I took of it very soon!)

We saw K.J. Denhert at the 55 Bar in the West Village. If you like outrageously awesome jazz singer/musicians… go see her some Saturday night! My husband Joe is a lifelong jazz bass player. Suffice it to say, he was over the moon with her band… and the entire music scene here.

There was so, SO much more! But now… I’ll be on my way to the airport in a little over an hour. Home late tonight. However, the memories of this trip will stay with me forever.

More awesome photos and stories to come!

Waiting... Yearning...For the chance to set sail toward adventures unknown. Till then...Waiting.Yearning.

 

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Shark Fin Cove

The Perfect Pirate Name

How can you resist a place that sounds like a pirates’ landing? From the moment I heard the name “Shark Fin Cove”, my hearty imagination had me hobbling around on a peg leg “Arrrr-ing” to passersby. Of course, I know the whole “Pirates say Arr” thing is a myth… but don’t tell my Hollywood imagination that!

In any case, we ventured out one day recently after some recent storms had passed through – and a nice sunset looked like a real possibility. The shark’s fin looking sharky… the water really wild and loud. Some of the waves’ thundering crashes startled me, even from my bird’s eye vantage point. This mountain girl views the ocean with a combination of admiration and suspicion. Tsunamis, rip tides, every 7th wave… you have to keep your eye on it at all times lest it wrest you from this life into Davy Jones Locker! But I digress…

SharkFinery

Filters: From “GAH!!” to “Ahhhh”

I’ve photographed Shark Fin Cove near Santa Cruz a number of times. I usually do something HDR-ish with multiple auto exposures. I usually like the churning water, the depth of color and textures – and being able to capture all the levels of light. Today, however, I was in the mood for something different.

I’m not much of a filter girl… I fumble with them, worry about dropping them, fuss over the time it takes to set them up. I have a Lee Big Stopper which I rarely use. It makes me nervous about breaking it every time I set it up… then I wrestle with the damn thing and when I finally get it all set up it only does the one thing: 10 stops down. It just leaves me wanting more. And I really don’t fancy carrying a quiver of colored sunset and gradation filters either; multiply the whole mess? Ack!

Then my friend Barry Blanchard introduced me to GenusTech Eclipse ND filters. They screw on the end of your lens, adjust from 2-8 stops and provide a ton of options to delight even the fussiest among you! Or me, since that’s who’s really fussy around here!

Approaching the “Done” With New Eyes

So I played with it that day. Wanted to make the incredible churning of the waters below seem more misty and mystical. Turn the absolute into more of a suggestion. Make a purely wild expression of nature seem more like a potential: sort of soothing and menacing at the same time. I liked it!

It also made the clouds seem more misty, adding to the mystique.

For this image, I used 2 images: one exposed for the sky at 8 seconds, the other for the ocean at 20 seconds. Both f/14, ISO 50. Blended them together in Photoshop and applied my mind’s eye vision of colors and gradations of light. For that, I used some NIK Collection goodness (Viveza, Pro Contrast, Skylight filter), as well as some Photoshop color fill layers and a pass with one of OnOne Software’s glow filters, brushed into certain areas. I’m thinking of making a short video showing the process. Should I?

I also made a panorama of the whole area; I’ll share that with you later. It was quite the day for doing things I don’t normally do! Plus it was a decent sunset to boot(y)!

A fine day all around, Arr!

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Small Men in Armor

The Armory at the Castle

The Castello di Amorosa armory – like the rest of the Castle – feels completely authentic. I always stare at medieval armor – even in Europe – because I can simply never believe that those fierce, iron-clad warriors of the middle ages were so small! Seriously… I have yet to see a suit of armor that looks like it would fit a typical 20th century man. I mean, they had such skinny legs!

How did they ride horses? Swing those broadswords? Go to the bathroom?

More importantly… how did it smell in there? :O

Yes, these are just a few of my musings whenever I visit an armory… it’s a world so foreign from my own.
It was no different the day we had the chance to photograph in this one at The Castle.

KnightLight
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Shooting in the Cellar

Castello di Amorosa, Redux

I had an opportunity to revisit Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley recently. WooHoo! This time I got to bring my husband Joe along. He’d heard all the stories from my previous visits, watched the episodes of The Chat with Dario Sattui (who created and owns The Castle), photographer Annette Biggers and actress Jennifer Freeman… seen all the photos… and his curiosity was right and duly peaked.

This time, though, we got to visit some new areas I’d never seen before!

BarrelingDownUnder
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Get The Most Bang For Your Buck on a Sunset Photo Shoot

If you’re shooting sunset at a location that lends itself to moving around AND if you enjoy photo processing, here’s a quick tip for maximizing the impact of an evening’s shoot: MOVE your butt around – and process each photo differently. The latter is if photo processing is your bag, of course. All the image in this post were taken during the same sunset photo adventure. I made a point of moving as quickly as I could through the time before, during and after sunset to snag as much variety as I could. I’ll show you some examples next – clicking on the images will let you see them larger if you like, too.

And for the curious amongst you, the next 6 images were all processed as HDR images…

TheSweep
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The Bonsai Rock Mission

Avoiding Bonsai Rock: “all that” or merely insecure?

Bonsai Rock on Lake Tahoe, Nevada side is an icon. An endless stream of photographers has been to this spot to shoot this very rock it seems; its wee stunted pine trees doing their mightiest to grow out of a crack in the granite. Just do a Google image search for “Bonsai Rock Lake Tahoe” and watch an endless scroll of photos populate the page.

I have a strong streak of rebellion that resists shooting places like this that EVERYBODY seems to need to photograph.
Or perhaps it’s insecurity masquerading as a mock blasé attitude so I can pretend it doesn’t really matter.
I mean it DOESN’T really matter in the grand scheme of things… right?

Taking the Leap

And yet… when my good friend and über fabulous photographer and teacher Matt Kloskowski came out to teach a Lightroom workshop in Sacramento, he made an extra day to shoot at Tahoe. He called me up and said he wanted to do Bonsai Rock – and of course, I said “I’ve never shot it either!” Like it just sorta happened that I never shot that stupid rock… or had just been SOOOOO busy (and don’t forget ‘important’) that I never had time to make it out there. Nevermind that in almost 20 years of living in, I only just figured out where it is this year! Granted, I wasn’t actively doing the kind of photography I am now most of that time, so that’s my official excuse… but still.

Personally, I think Bonsai Rock is a better sunset spot than sunrise. So we hit it shortly before sundown.

Even granite boulders have families, right?I'm going to imagine it just that way.
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Imagine

Church of Good Shepards, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. Special guest appearance by Milky Way.

Everytime she focused upon what her heart desired most, it seemed that all the forces in the Universe moved in unexpected and delightful ways to make it so.
She made it a point to imagine often.

Imagine

That’s how I felt when I was standing there with Trey Ratcliff,  Scott Kublin and  Curtis Simmons. I mean, you dream of things in your life… but so often it’s with the quiet after-whisper of “that’ll never happen”. I used to do that. And they never did. I guess maybe now that I’m older and have experienced actual miracles, it occurs to me that my past self simply never dreamt BIG enough. What was up with THAT? I mean, I even have a card I’ve saved for years that says “BIG dreams come true!” Perhaps I didn’t believe it. Or perhaps I just had to stare at it long enough to finally get the courage to go for it and really, truly… with great glee and childlike certainty… IMAGINE myself standing right there, staring up at the Milky Way on the other end of the world with three incredible friends and artists.

Because I did dream it
And it did happened.
And it was really, truly amazing beyond all reckoning.

Light Above Darkness

I’m still in New Zealand as I write this. And y’know, for all the epic landscapes and jaw-dropping Lord of The Rings vistas, there are also moments like this one. In Glenorchy, they’ve got The Boardwalk.  It’s a chicken-wired covered, raised pathway that wends its way through their marvelous wetlands. There are black swans in one of the ponds – and when we were there, they had babies.

LightAboveDarkness

We visited as the sun went down and shot until dark. You wouldn’t think this would be an ideal time of day… but the soft light reflections and ghostly shadows made this time of day an absolute wonderland! There’s something really appealing about allowing a sense of mystery to haunt an image. A leading question… a suggestion. Never an absolute answer. I love that. That night on the Glenorchy Boardwalk was all of that. Especially once it got really dark!

When it comes to mystery, leaving negative space is really important so you can ask; what’s down there? What if I fall? What is that lurking in the darkness. Ah yes, a fine mystery indeed.
Add an enlightened path as a single brushstroke within an infinite gesture… now you’ve got a mystery of epic proportions.

Just like New Zealand. 🙂

Single frame, shot with a Canon 5DIII and 24-70ii f/2.8.
Processed with Trey’s Lightroom Preset “The Dog” and OnOne Software’s “Broke Down Desert” Preset by Brian Matiash.
Plus a bunch of my own tweaks ‘n tugs in Photoshop CS6.