M is for Modeling: The Great Cookie Shoot of 2016

Over the last year or so I’ve joined up a couple of local photography groups. One of them, which meets in Layton once a month, periodically brings in some models from around the area for some hands on learning. This month I was fortunate enough to work with some really cool people. While I don’t really focus on shooting people, it is a thing I want to get better at since a lot of my crazy ideas involve having people in the shot.

Normal people in this situation would be making sure they have perfect outfits, make-up and they’d painstakingly arrange a model in a horrible array of torture poses to get that perfect shot. I however, am by no means normal. So after firing off a couple of “regular” model shots, I gave each of them a chocolate chip cookie and had them eat it while I snapped off some shots.




As you can tell by the progression of faces and laughter, these “pros” clearly didn’t understand my brilliantly creative plan (Read: I got busted for pulling this out of my rear at the last second and many jokes were had). Not to be deterred by the models desire for professionalism, I got two of them to fight for said cookie:


All jokes aside, these folks were super chill and an absolute blast to hang out with and shoot. Unlike other model shoots I’ve gotten to do where the air reeks of pretentiousness and a urine-like odor (from the assumed pissing contest that takes places between flashes of the lights), the Sundry models were exceptionally approachable and easy to work with. I never had to suggest a pose, or ask them to do something (minus the cookie incident), as they just knew how to do their thing and made it work.

Once we’d finished goofing off, we rolled over to the other set-up with used a gel-light rig. To be honest, I actually despise the look of gel photos. The red/blue hues are often too much when hit with a flash. I ended up getting a couple of things that worked but only after heavily processing out the colors and switching to a black and white look. I won’t be posting those images here until I get a release from the models on those. So if you’re really interested, be sure to keep an eye out for those! As always, until next time –Thanks for reading!

Being a kid again: The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

What kid doesn’t love balloons? My daughter, who recently turned six has an obsession with them. Any mildly important date of note whether it’s a birthday, Mother’s Day, Saturday, etc. all days deserve a plethora of balloons to float about the house and eventually become awkward volleyballs for living-room sports. The first of October brought us a similar set of circumstances, except that we couldn’t later take the balloons with us as most of them were larger than our home.

Having run for over 40 years now, the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival is the largest hot-air balloon showing in the world, with most years having over 500 hot-air balloons roll into the sky during the nine day event. Odd as it is, even though I had lived in New Mexico most of my life, I’d never actually made it out to one. So this year we packed up the Jeep and made the drive figuring it would make for a fun way to celebrate the kiddo’s birthday.

While I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I didn’t happen to really get a shot that “did it” for me. I had some decent ones, but over all the scope of the festival and my location left a little to be desired. I could have been down on the ground level which is where my wife and daughter were, but I wanted to get a slightly higher position so I could cat a good wide angle shot of the mass ascension (where all the balloons launch within a few minutes of each other). I though a view of the city, and the balloons spread across it would be good, and I didn’t want to take the same photo everyone else was taking either. In the end, here’s what I got, and while it could have been better photo wise, the weekend was enjoyable and relaxing and the Kiddo ended up having a great time. Which is really what matters.




On the ride back I happened to snap a couple of pictures I was a little happier with including this one:


I’m actually pretty happy with how that one came out, so the trip wasn’t a total photography bust. That’s all I’ve got for now. There are a few more things in the works, and as I get them together, I’ll be sure to post about them. Be sure to check out the storefront for prints if you see anything you’d like to own! As always, until next time — Thanks for reading!

Learning A New Trick: Spinning Wool

Last night was a blast as I got to head out for a couple hours with my buddy Zach (IG: @zacharyleroy). One of the primary goals was to try out spinning some wool for a cool shot. When he first mentioned it I had legitimately no idea what he was talking about, but once we got to work, it all made sense, and it made for some killer photos. I won’t go into detail into how it works here as I’m sure there are a hundred other blog posts or how to’s somewhere in the bounds of a google search, but what I will show you is the end result:


This shot was our very first attempt with only the theory available to us. Luckily, it was about as easy as it sounded and my friend was able to masterfully spin that wool like an old hand. After some discussion on where some other spots would be that would work out for that “perfect shot” we decided to put this on hold for a little bit and just wander the streets of downtown and see what we can find. Within about two minutes, we found a huge puddle from the rain storm the previous day with a gritty, ugly backdrop. Who knew we’d stumble into an excellent shot so quickly:


So of course, we had to take a shot at spinning here as well. Once again, Zach threw down some sick spins and we ended up with this beauty:


With not a lot of other options in the area, we took our stroll downtown and just snapped what we could find. I took a few more shots at the puddle prior to leaving it and ended up with one I am really happy with:


From there, I found a stairwell and some street art:


A few more puddles, one in particular with a pretty good reflection:


and of course, who doesn’t take two way selfies when presented with such options:


Photo Courtesy of @zacharyleroy

Photo Courtesy of @zacharyleroy

Great minds think alike eh?

There are still a few shots in mind we want to complete and hopefully we’ll get those together soon. In the meantime, that’s it for this post. If you like the shots, be sure to check out the sop in the top corner and help support my art making addiction. As always, until next time –Thanks for reading!

Exploring the Salt Lake Urban Arts Fest

Saturday night was a fun filled date night with the wife in which we had originally planned to grab dinner and hit up a Vietnamese Lunar celebration as it sounded like a fun photo opportunity. We did have a wonderful dinner, but instead of the Lunar Festival, we opted instead to pop into the Urban Arts Fest, which was right next to where we parked, so I could walk off the unnecessary amount of delicious food and drink I partook of.

Much like any other art festival it was set up with a couple of stages, and a ton of booths for people to sell off whatever art-thing they had made. There were a ton of super talented artists out there (I’ll have a list of links at the bottom of the post) and I recommend hitting up their websites and buying as much of their stuff as you can! Me however, I made it a point to focus on the stages and the large graffiti pieces being done at the show. I got a couple of fun shots of those works in progress:




I’m pretty interested to see how the last one looks when finished, so hopefully there will be a record of that since I wasn’t able to make the show today. As for the stages, one had a number of local rappers, DJs, and other musicians doing there thing, none of which provided the photo-op I was hoping for. Mostly it was a combination of bad lighting and them running about the stage like a crazy person. On the other stage however, there was a dance troupe called Samba Fogo. It was a fun show to watch with heavy drum rhythms, and leaping women. I happened to catch a pair of shots I was pretty happy with, but it would have been nice to get a little closer to the stage. Sadly, there were a number of people taking video of the set, so I figured I wouldn’t get in the middle of that and ruin someone else’s shot. Here’s the two shots:



Like every other art related event my wife and I go to, we bought a few small pieces to add to our already large collection of eclectic decor. I’m hoping that in the near future I can start making these types of venues an option for myself and maybe sell some of my work. Nonetheless, it was a good time all around. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about it, so I’ll end it here. As always, until next time –Thanks for reading!

Those links as promised:





Accidental Winners: Sometimes your best photo is unintentional

Saturday was an awesome and busy day for photo taking. One of the photography groups I am involved with here locally called “Ogden Wide” put together a fun 25 point photo scavenger hunt during the farmer’s market in downtown Ogden. I figured, given the size of the list, I wouldn’t get all of the images, so instead I would focus on getting a couple of really good shots instead. I’m delighted by both the quantity and quality of the shots that were taken by everyone who participated (which you can check out on Instagram by searching the hashtag #ogdenwide). Even better, one of my photos was selected as “Most Creative” even though my intentions for the photo were not at all what people were taking from it. But, I’ll come back to that later.

Of the 25 options I only shot about 8-10 (double dipping on a couple of the points) and snapped the following images:

A Handmade Craft Item

This was one of the first pictures I took in the morning. I set off from the booth after helping with the setup and within twenty feet or so of the #OgdenWide booth was this crazy looking chicken statue made of Hay and who knows what else. It was so weird and out of place from everything else at that booth I had to snap a photo.

The double dip: An Unusual Perspective/A Statue on 25th Street


So here’s the photo I won a prize for and the root of some of my agony. But first, a quick backstory:

When I was in college studying Philosophy, I was a part of the club called Sophia. We’d have meet-ups every few weeks in which a student would get up and present a paper or thesis they were working on and the rest of us would attack it like a pack of ravenous dogs. The purpose being to provide heated and valuable discussion on the merits of the work. You never saw anyone attack the person, or something petty like grammar or syntax (unless the paper was related to those topics) but always the underlying theory. So anyways, in one of the first meetings a guy named Vincent got up and presented a defense of Leo Tolstoy’s theory of Art. You can read more about it here. It stuck with me as a solid way of separating “art” from “not art” and has been something I’ve used in whole or in part for most of my life since.

Why all that is relevant, is mostly because when I took the photo I had a distinct “feeling” I was intending to transfer to the viewer with this shot. There was this awesome moment in which the little boy in green wanted to play the piano so badly, and even though the parents were trying to get on their way, the dad stopped and helped him up to reach, knowing that inspiring a sense of art and music is worth the 15 second delay in their day. From the angle of the photo, I wanted to show the statue as a silent witness to what is likely one of hundreds of times when something similar had happened. Because of the placement of the statue and the piano, the little wheelbarrow boy (which is what the statue is called, I believe) often gets to see the foundations of what may, later in life, become a healthy obsession with art. I was hoping for a feeling of hope or excitement about the future. What most people saw when looking at it, was a statue “checking out a guys butt”. That one stings a little, not gonna lie. Nonetheless, I am still happy I won a prize and that people enjoyed the image. I suppose to some degree, a “feeling” was transmitted to the viewer, even if it wasn’t the one I wanted. So by good ol’ Leo’s standard, I still made me some art.

Aside from all that bananas, after the farmer’s market, I went down to the “City Creek” shopping center in Salt Lake to shoot some street photography with another buddy of mine. I had a goal in mind of finding a stationary person and getting a long exposure of them with blurred people all around. What happened was a couple of shots that ended up working well.

The first, was lucky as there was a younger couple who was sitting on the bridge between the two halves of the center comfortably talking for about five minutes. This let me snap off a few dozen frames trying to get the perfect one. I ended up with two good shots, each one with one of the two people in focus. So I merged them together and got this:


I also like that because of the position of the sun, there was a harsher light on the back of the couple which made for a lot more dramatic shot.

The next one was pure happenstance. I had moved spots after the couple got up and wandered off and was just shooting for the motion itself with no real purpose in mind. Then, a cute little girl wandered into the frame while I was talking to my buddy and stopped to look for her dad sitting on a nearby bench. What I caught with the camera was this:


The shot just has so much going for it. If only I was talented enough to catch these things on purpose!

After that we figured we’d gotten lucky enough for one day and opted to stop at the capital building on the way out of town as I had never stopped by it before. I managed to get a couple of frames in HDR that worked out alright, although I’m not nearly as happy with them as I am the motion blurs.


The shot feels good and all, if not a little generic. The crop could stand to be fiddled with, but I’m not happy enough with it to put forth the effort.

So if there is any single take-away from this whole spiel, it’s basically: Better lucky than good.

As always, until next time — Thanks for reading!

Jazz at the Station: The Corey Christiansen Trio

Earlier this month, much like the past few, I got called upon to shoot another jazz group in downtown Ogden at the Union Station. This time, unlike the others was much more of what I was expecting when someone tells me there is a jazz gig being played somewhere. Classically trained and exceptionally brilliant on the guitar was a local Utahan whose been travelling the country and becoming a well known name in the jazz world. Corey, who got his start at Utah State University had been pitched to me by one of my buddies as one of the best Jazz guitarists he’s ever heard. He wasn’t kidding. It’s one of those things where you can’t really write about how good something is, you just have to show people. So I suggest you check out his site here or drop him a listen on Spotify as his new album is up there.



With Corey, was drummer Steven Shindo Lyman who may be one of the best drummer’s I’ve ever heard. Sadly, I can’t find a website for him, but if you ever hear that name or see it on a flyer, be sure to check him out as he’s an absolute beast. So much so I ended up getting a few more pictures of him than I usually do with other drummers. Here’s a couple:



Last but not least, jumping in on the keyboard was Ryan Conger. I’ve written about him in my last two Jazz at the Station posts, so I won’t go into a lot of that here as you already know about him.


All in all, the show was killer good, as they played a lot more of what I guess is now considered traditional jazz. I managed to swing some pretty decent shots out of the gig and look forward to whoever will be playing next month, as this is becoming a staple in my monthly calendar.

That’s all for this one, as always, until next time –Thanks for reading!

A busy week of decent shots

Last week the kiddo got the chance to spend some time with her Great Grand Parents which meant I had some free time to get out and shoot some photos and my wife got some time to relax by herself. All good things.

The week in question started last Saturday when my buddy Collin and I decided to try and go shoot some wildlife at one of the various birding spots. Unfortunately, they had decided to close and lock the gates early, so we had ended up driving there for nothing. After some humming and hawing, we ran a few errands and then I got convinced to do a midnight hike up Adams Canyon. Normally, I really enjoy the hike as it’s quite scenic and the stream is a great relaxer. However, it was dark and I was in flip-flops. Thusly, I was not in any way ready for this. In hindsight I’m glad he talked me into it as we got to the top and shot some long exposures of the waterfall with the stars in the background. Here’s the shot I ended up with:

Adam's Canyon at Night

I tried fidgeting with it to see if I could post in a Milky Way trail behind the waterfall, but none of those images looked very good so I decided to stick with the original.

On Wednesday, I was invited out for an impromptu photo walk as a buddy of mine Zach Leroy (IG: @zacharyleroy) was wanting to get some iconic Ogden shots for his upcoming gallery for next month’s FFAS (First Friday Art Stroll). I always enjoy following him around as he has an extremely unusual perspective by which he sees normal or boring things. I’d recommend check out his Instagram as there is a real sense of art in the mundane objects he shoots. I do think these excursions make me a substantially better photographer. Of course the trip wasn’t just watching someone else snap pictures, I managed to get a few myself. I was pretty happy with most of the keepers. Since I have been trying to work on my HDR skills a little more, I opted to shoot things that would push me more that way. My favorite shot of the evening ended up being the little coffee stop on the corner of Washington and 25th:


I also managed to get a few decent shots around sunset (which was the entire point of the trip) one of which had a funky painted van, and the other a nice shot of the Well’s Fargo building:



Aside from those, we stopped on 24th to snap a couple of pictures and swap IG follows with a few kids who were out skateboarding in the area. I’ve always liked snapping photos of skateboarding as the action shots are always super dramatic. If you catch someone mid trick (whether they land it or not) they always look like a bad-ass. Example:


The week wrapped up yesterday as Collin and I went out to snatch some more sunset shots from a place I visited a few years ago by accident with my buddy Trevor. Unfortunately, the mountains ran in such a way that we didn’t get the sunset hitting the valley we were in like I was hoping. We did however get to pet a couple of beautiful and sweet horses, which was nice.


Unlike with most photos where I really waver back and forth on whether or not to go black and white, this one was obvious from the start. Going Monochrome here just adds so much more texture and drama. I really loved this shot (even if it kind of looks like there’s a horse-centipede going on in the back).

Since we knew early on the valley was going to be a bust, we moved on as quick as we could in hopes to catch a sunset. The sky was cloudy and it was raining in various parts of the Wasatch front so we figured the sky would be exploding with color if we could just get high enough on the mountain to look out west. We ended up missing it by about 10-15 minutes, but we know where to head to next time. I did manage to get one more pretty solid HDR shots, and a couple mediocre ones. Here’s how those came out:




I’m not 100% sure I’m going to keep the bottom two in color. I’m not even entirely sure how much I like them. But, I figure I’d post them here and see what everyone else though and if they stink I can always dump them later.

It felt really good to be able to get out and shoot more this last week as prior to this, the last time I got to take a photo of something was around the 4th of July, and that is much too long to go without being outside and roaming about. I think that will do it for this one. As always, until next time– Thanks for reading!