Photography really helps you understand a lot about yourself. I like to think I am very persistent person, but I am positive that I am not very patient. That shows I think in a lot of the raw photos that I take. I tend to take hundreds of pictures in a very short period of time and never stop for breaks when I am shooting something – that is my persistence showing. But also, many of those photo’s are poorly composed and not crystal clear focus – that is my lack of patience showing. Luckily in this digital age my lack of patience is forgiven as I just delete any of the photos that are not good – and there are many. I would say about 50% of my photos are discarded right off the bat, and another 25% deleted after a second go through. I focus on fine tuning the rest of those photos with PhotoShop and some remarkable software from NIK Software (a company based here in San Diego).
I took the shot below in Vinh Long Vietnam. For about 5 days straight I was trying to capture a good shot outside of Tu’s home there. Each day I ended up with an array of non-inspiring shots that didn’t really convey anything about the neighborhood. On the last day, I finally captured a photo I liked. Three girls on bikes were sharing a bike ride home during an outright monsoon. I mean it was pouring rain like you have never seen. The girls were laughing. What you do not see before this photo is what setup that shot. The girls were cycling by and they noticed a crazy white guy standing in the middle of the rain taking pictures. First off they probably rarely so white people in this town, and secondly they probably never saw anybody taking photos in the pouring rain. You would think based on this photo that they were having a laugh at the cow, but it was in fact me. This photo is a good example of you can get a good photo but it will oftentimes take a lot of patience and persistence. In this case it took me about 4 days.
The power went out in San Diego yesterday. I mean the whole city – 1.4 million customers and about 3 million people. The blackout started at 3:40 pm and went on all night. It made for quite an interesting day since most people had to go “old school” and just hang out and talk to each other rather than spending time on their computers and IPAD’s.
Tu and I went down to the beach for sunset and I took along the D3 that I have been renting the last week. I found a nice little place where waves were crashing over the rocks and Tu decided to pose for pictures. This shot turned out pretty interesting. She was sitting there posing when all of a sudden a huge wave broke over the rock and started to rush towards her. As you can see, she had no idea that the wave was headed in her direction. This is about half a second before the wave hit her and she got drenched.
Just got back from a very nice trip to Washington DC. I have been to Washington DC about 4 times for work but I had never had the chance to explore the capital during those visits. I was in for quite a treat as I had about 2 days to tour the city with my girlfriend Tu and her family. I must say it did not disappoint. The monuments were more grand and historic than I could have even imagined. My feet were quite sore after two days of walking. The only disappointment was the White House. It seemed so small and not at all something that the President of the US would live in. I later found out that we were looking at the back of the White House. I guess I must return to the capital at some point to get a proper view of it.
My favorite pictures from the trip actually had nothing to do with Washington but some pictures that I took of Tu. I took a single picture of her against a large tree and I was very impressed with the shape of the tree, the leaves and the way the branches set out from the trunk of the tree. I did various color schemes but I ended up settling on the black and white.
I just went up for a visit to my sisters Kathy. She lives in Central California along a beautiful stretch of beach called Pismo Beach. I am from a large family of 12 kids and Kathy was the oldest, although you would never know it since she looks much younger than I do. Kathy was a special person in the family. She just has a very dynamic and cheery disposition that draws everyone to her. I remember when we were younger and she left the house finally to go to college. We were left traumatized as she drove away as we felt the family would never be the same without her around the house. Well it was true – everything did change after she left. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the same without her there.
I had never really had the opportunity to visit Kathy in many years and check out her home or the area that she lived so this was a special experience. I am not sure how to describe what it is that Kathy does since it is so eclectic and original. I would say she is part collector, part stylist, part decorator and part food aficionado all rolled into one. She just has a knack for creating a feeling in places that she goes. Her house is an amazing collection of beautiful vignettes and pieces done more tastefully and originally then you might find in any place in the world. It is french shabby chic but much much more. I was lucky enough that she let me photograph the rooms of her house – something that she has not allowed anyone else to do.
Kathy let me take some pictures of her too while I was there. She was very easy to take pictures of because the camera loves her, but she even changed her outfits and let me take pictures of her in various settings. Kathy is pretty amazing and I really enjoyed my short but eventful time in her house.
Another day of monster waves in La Jolla today. TV crews everywhere (at least 5 stations by my count) covering not only the monster waves but the fact there have been multiple Great White Shark sightings in the last 7 days and the surf is cluttered with more surfers then ever. They had the breakwater closed as we watched 10 foot waves slam and the project upwards another 15 feet above the breakwater. An amazing and drama filled day at La Jolla’s Children’s pool.
When I heard about the big storm in New Zealand that was pushing monster waves towards the California coastline, I knew that there might some good photo opportunities coming up. While the biggest waves hadn’t come around – they wont until Friday – I grabbed my camera and headed down to the cove to watch some waves bat up against the rocks. While the waves were not as big as I expected I did find a place just south of Children’s pool where the water geysered up every time a big wave hit the rocks.
This was my last photo of the afternoon. As I snapped the picture, I realized I was too close to the edge and the wave came tumbling down on me and the camera. Now the D700’s are built rock solid with good proofing however I think I may have inflicted some long term damage on it. It remains to be seen. In any case, I got an ok photo of it. And if the camera does go kaput, I am looking for any excuse to upgrade to the D3.
One of the most interesting hikes we did at Yosemite was the short hike to Mirror Lake from Yosemite Valley. My friends Aaron, Lorie and I woke up at 4:45 am to make the short trek so that we could be at the lakes at sunrise. We hiked for about a mile and we came to what we thought was a creek that had a sign saying it was mirror lake. Based on some pictures we saw in a Yosemite photo book which depicted a large and wonderful deathly calm lake we were absolutely positive that the sign was a mistake. We kept trekking down the stony path for another 30 minutes until we came to a dead-end. Realizing our mistake we back trekked to the Mirror Lake creek. When we got back we realized that you had to actually follow the creek around and there were parts that the lake formed nicely.
We came to one interesting part of the lake formation where the mountains and sky seemed to have a perfect mirror image in the lake. There was this duck that was there floating when we got there. Aaron and I rushed for our cameras to capture the floating duck on the lake – the duck would appear on the lake where the mirror image of the mountains would be on the surface of the water but it would not be in the sky above. Well the duck got scared and swam off. We were disappointed. Aaron and Lorie left for a little bit and I continued to snap away trying to find the perfect image. It was hard because we were there too early – the sun was not light enough to light up the trees and landscape close to us, but it was too bright and would wash out the sky if we turned the exposure too high. All of sudden the duck swam back towards me, and got into exactly the position that I wanted. I snapped away, trying to capture a nice image. I did finally get an ok image, not tremendous but enough to satisfy what we were looking for.
Photography requires a lot of patience and you never know what you are going to get when you go out taking photos. It’s oftentimes not really up to you, its up to mother nature.
A few months ago, I convinced my nephew Charlie to let me take some photographs of him in San Diego’s notorious Chicano Park. For those of you not from San Diego, Chicano Park is located underneath the Coronado Bay Bridge and is home to the worlds largest collection of outdoor murals. The park is dedicated to the hispanic heritage, whose people make up a large part of the San Diego population.
The park area was originally known as Logan Heights and was formed by Mexican settlers that were trying to escape the Mexican Revolution. Over the years, the primarily hispanic neighborhood was decimated by the creation of bridges (Coronado), highways (The 5) and lots of industrial buildings. It stirred up a lot of resentment between the hispanic people that lived in the area and the City Council.
The San Diego City Council promised the community a park but instead secretly planned on building a parking lot. On April 22 1970, a boy named Mario Solis noticed bulldozers in the area where the park stands today and started knocking on doors to get the neighbors to start protesting. He was successful in getting a large congregation of people to go to the park. They ended up staying there and protesting for 12 days. The result of their effort was the development of Chicano Park and it is a place where hispanics of all countries congregate each weekend for BBQ’s, Events and to just hang out with friends and family. It is truly a remarkable place.
I like to photograph in Chicano Park because of the authenticity of the place, and because of the brightly colored murals that provide and urban and unique setting.