It was a beautiful night in San Diego last night; an almost full moon, wispy clouds and temperature in the mid 60’s. I decided to get the camera and tripod out and take a trip down to the Bay to see if I could improve my night photography skills. Shooting at night is a bit difficult because you have to allow for longer exposures and have to carefully compose your shots so that you are not bringing in too much or too little light. For example, you might see a great shot but smack dab in the middle of that shot is a street light with blaring light that will drown out everything else with obnoxious lens flares. Anyway, you can take some very nice photos at night. I prefer to shoot along the water because you can get nice reflections and the steady ripple of water flattens and smooths out nicely on long exposures. It can be a lot of fun after a night photo shoot, taking your camera home, uploading the pictures and seeing if any magic happened during the night. This is one picture I took right near SeaPort Village near some boats. Not a perfect shot but we’re getting there with practice.
I spent a day with one of my very good friends, Maryann, and her boyfriend Lee in a part of Brooklyn called Williamsburg. Williamsburg is a super trendy and hip area where everything is original – you won’t find a Starbucks or McDonald’s anywhere near this area as they seemingly only support local merchants and goods. It is truly unique. So Maryann and I have been good friends for many years as we share the same passion and career – we’re fraud consultants and our aim is to rid the world of fraudsters, scammers, cheats and liars. We have collectively traveled to most places in the world to consult banks on how to stop fraud (although she more than I), and have fought fraudsters from Taipai to Toronto, from Norway to New Zealand. And to state without reservation that if there was ever fraud in the Arctic Circle we would be there too (which would be cool since I am dying to photograph polar bears someday). You might notice Maryann is wearing a big RoboC0p/Terminator boot on her foot- well she just had surgery on her foot so she is wearing that boot for protection and to help her foot heal. It was a great day visiting my very good friend Maryann and meeting her super cool boyfriend Lee. I decided to edit the pictures in black and white with selective color since Maryann’s favorite color is orange. Great day in the hood.
There is a new commander at the San Diego Yacht Club and he needs a photo. So my brother, his friend (a professional photographer) and I went up late this afternoon to take some beautiful pictures of him with his wife cruising their boat along the city view of downtown San Diego. What a beautiful sunset it was as my brother kept the chopper at low altitude allowing us to snap some compelling pictures. As is typical, it is a bit frightening sitting in the chopper with the doors off cruising a few thousand feet above the ground. We take the doors off so we can snap pictures without the glare of the glass – the pictures turn out so much nicer that way. Great afternoon for pictures again here in San Diego.
I just got back from New York and had a chance to photograph Occupy Wall Street which is situated in Liberty Plaza of lower Manhattan. Since the first time I visited New York many years ago, I have always felt like it is one of the centers of the world where most progressive ideas in politics, fashion, food, media and public opinion are shaped and formed. If it makes it in New York, it can make it anywhere. The Occupy Wall Street movement is an example of just that type of progressive thinking and the movement has perhaps grown faster than any other political movement ever and is now supported by close to 60% of Americans.
I have decided to photograph as many Occupy camps as I can in the next few months to help capture what I do believe will be one of the biggest populist movements in US history when all is said and done. What struck me about Occupy Wall Street was how well organized and cooperative it was. Everyone was working together feeding each other and even creating electricity by charging batteries with stationary bikes that everyone took turns riding. The people in the park were very well informed and while everyone might have had there own take on the problem and what they wanted to see changed they all agreed on one thing – economic injustice. While I was there, I was asked to follow a small group of protestors and capture their march on Wall Street. They all carried brooms and dust pans and where symbolically and literally sweeping the dirt off the streets up to the Stock Exchange. They carried a bin of brooms and solicited others to join them along the way. The group started off small but soon there were over 50. The police noticed and pretty soon there was an armada of police following the protestors making sure that they did not take a single step out of line. It was a very interesting day and as always I learned a lot.
I haven’t had a chance to update my photography blog recently because I was in New York for the week. I did not bring a computer. I regularly do not travel with a computer anymore just my IPAD – it’s lighter and allows me to check email and watch movies which is enough for me. So this was a business trip which meant that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to take pictures which is unfortunate because to me New York has got to be one of the best places in the US to take pictures. The city is vibrant, full of activity and unique characters. I did get a chance to take some pictures of Times Square and Occupy Wall Street while I was there, as well as some portraits of my good friend Maryann and her boyfriend Lee. I will post those later. I really cannot wait to go back to New York and spend 3-4 days just taking pictures of the different boroughs. I got a chance to visit Brooklyn and Williamsburg which was amazing – the character of the neighborhoods there is like nothing you have seen in any other city in the US – you really feel as if you are going back in time. The attached photo is at one of the busiest places on earth – Times Square. The rest of the pictures will be up in a gallery which I will setup soon.
HDR Photography is a relatively new type of photography that uses multiple exposures from very light to very dark exposures to make sure that every element in the photo is exposed correctly. The darkest and the lightest areas are all lit up so you can see everything. It’s called HDR because it is high dynamic range photography. Cameras can only process about 4 stops of light but your eye can see about 11 stops of light. Have you ever taken a picture and it looks nothing like what you see? Well its because most of the range of light is lost in the camera.
I just started testing HDR photography this weekend. Take a look at a regular picture and then a picture enhanced with the use of HDR and some photoshop. Big difference huh?
Without HDR Method
With HDR Method
We had a great night carving pumpkins, eating hot dogs, sitting around the campfire and face painting over at Patrick and Moni’s house in Bonita. The highlight for the kids was when Camille painted their faces. I got a neat picture of Geno seeing his face paint for the first time as he looked in the mirror. You can almost sense what he is thinking in his mind – what it feels like to be transformed into a completely new person.
I learned something today, and because of that today was a good day. This afternoon I headed down to the Civic Center to check out how the Occupy Movement was progressing there and to inform myself a bit more on what it stood for. It was a typical 70 degree sunny and warm San Diego day and the plaza was filled with a pretty diverse crowd. Occupy San Diego is comprised of 8-10 camping tents, about 150 or so protestors, 15-20 police officers and 10-15 tourist – everyone seemingly getting along in what appears to be a very cooperative culture. For those of you that know me, you know I support the Occupy Wall Street movement because of the greed fraud and corruption that I witnessed first hand working as a fraud consultant to the industry. I support the movement because one of its central philosophies is that the government and big time wall street executives have a relationship that is too cozy.
What I learned today was just how difficult organizing a movement that represents 99% of the population of the US. The economic grievances that US citizens feel is so pervasive, so widespread that there are literally hundreds of different causes and groups that should have a voice with the movement. Quite literally there is so much economic inequality between the mega rich and the rest of us that it touches just about everything in our lives. What I did see today was that the people protesting were interested in including each and every single person and listening to what they had to say – the drunk, the homeless, the destitute, the unemployed, the forgotten, the left behind. Now people might criticize the Occupancy movement for not having a targeted agenda – but what they did stand for – at least what I saw was treating all people as equals no matter how much they made or how little they appeared to contribute to society.
One of my favorite signs that I saw said. “This piece of cardboard is the only lobbyist I could afford”. To me that said it all. Corporations spend millions to put politicians in their back pocket – a capability and luxury that no individual in the 99% can afford. This movement is that piece of cardboard – the message on the sign. The occupy movement is the populist means to lobby are government officials and tell them what we think. We may not have millions to donate to their campaigns but quite honestly should we. We may not own the newspapers or media outlets that the wealthiest in this country own but that does not mean we don’t have a message or a voice. About 60% of Americans now support the occupy movement, and that support has not come through main stream media but through blogs, word of mouth, Facebook and other alternative forms of social networking. Not surprisingly the same way that many of the successful revolutions in the middle east were started in the past year.
Take a look at the gallery pictures to get a sense of what is going on with Occupy San Diego. I am actually pretty proud that we have people that stood up and did this in our great city.