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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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

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

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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!
-D

Admiring the Night Sky (again!)

Since the kiddo is spending the month of June with my parents out in Kansas, I tend to have weekends free to drive and do a little more for myself. And since there isn’t a bedtime involved, that means getting out to shoot the stars on clear nights! Since the summer time is usually the best time to view the Milky Way, prepare to be inundated with a multitude of posts about it! Since I have covered shooting the stars in at least three other posts previously, I’ll do you a favor and keep this one short and just post the images from this last excursion. I feel as though the stars themselves are much better in these shots than some of my previous ones, but the foregrounds and other incidental stuff in the frame is much worse. I’m not entirely sure if this is just the trade off I have to make, or if I need to start doing a lot more composite work in Photoshop to get both. Either way, here’s some pictures:

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I’m sure there will be at least one more post like this over the course of the summer, so if you’re ready to see the same picture 3, 4, maybe even 5 times get pumped! I know I’m excited! As always, until next time — Thanks for reading!
-D

Street Shots of the Temple Lights: The Prominence of Camera Phones

Last night my wife and I went out to check out the temple lights and snap some photos. While I had originally gone out with the intention of capturing some wide sweeping panoramas of Downtown Salt Lake City, I ended up getting a lot more street photography style shots. It’s becoming an unhealthy obsession. Something about the way in which the Christmas lights are seemingly vomited randomly into the trees and shrubs kind of threw me off this time around. I had dozens of shots where all the trees would have lights on them and then there were one or two next to those that were just blank and dead. It’s as if someone either forgot to do them, or at some point simply shrugged and caled it good enough. This is a good example of it:

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As you can see, the center trees are filled with lights, while half of the trees on the outside of the frame aren’t. This shot makes it look a little more uniform than it really was. Once you got up to them, it was fairly haphazardly done.

Nonetheless, I did get some pretty cool shots of people, most of which are using their phones in some way or another. I’m not entirely sure why, but I have grown a fascination when I’m shooting of catching people who are locked into their phones and ignoring the world around them. Part of it I think, has to do with the fact that I am often times one of those people. If I don’t have my camera on me, or I’m not on a specific errand, I’ll simply wander about with my face in my phone. I’ll either be playing a game, or scrolling through a social network, but I am largely oblivious to what’s going on around me.

I mean, I get why people do it. This isn’t entirely a judging thing. In a lot of cases your errands are boring. Who wants to wait in line at the DMV or some store in the mall and just creepily stare at the back of the person in front of you’s head? Nobody. So instead you can bury into your phone and entertain yourself for a few minutes while you wait.

However, while I was wandering around shooting everything I could, I noticed just how much I would be missing in the world. For example, on our way out of the temple grounds, I had contemplated checking my phone to look up the score of the Saturday night football game, but as I was about to do so, I noticed a guy get down on one knee. While I didn’t quite get the “money shot” of this proposal, I did get the “post-yes hug”, and had I been on my phone, I’d likely not have noticed it happen at all until his friend yelled out to the crowd her acceptance. Here’s the happy couple:

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As an aside, I tend to get mildly annoyed when people see me setting up a shot and just wander in front of my camera. If I was on a phone or something sure, you can’t really tell if I’m texting, or snapping a pick; but when I have my bag open next to me, with tripod out and I’m measuring angles – it’s pretty clear I’m in the middle of something. Move.

Of course, in this singular case, it worked out alright as I got not only the shot of the temple I was going for, but the guy who rudely wandered into the shot actually made it better. Who’d-a thunk it?

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Aside from those I snapped a few other I am happy with. I attempted two fairly large Panoramas, but due to my position regarding where I shot them from, they just didn’t work out. However, I did learn something valuable in that endeavor so hopefully I can get them fixed for the next time when I go and shoot. As for those shots I mentioned, here they are:

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That should do it for this installment. As always, till next time, Thanks for reading!
-D

Welcoming in the Winter Season

Last night was the kick off to the winter season with a multitude of festivities and a complete and utter lack of Fahrenheits. Let’s just say that by the time I was heading home, I was about 80% sure I would be down a toe or two. Nonetheless, the family had a great time and we got to participate in some neat stuff. Primarily the breakdown of the day consists of:

-A Santa Claus run
-A Parade
-A bunch of sleazy politicians making speeches to curry favor among the masses
-Fireworks
-Lighting up “Christmas Village”

One of the coolest things about Ogden is that in the winter season until around the first of the new year they run “Christmas Village” which is a huge model city made of 4’x 8′ “houses” for a variety of local groups/businesses. They arrange them around City Hall on historic main street and light up the tress and buildings in the most Christmassy way possible. Normally, I’m a bit of a Grinch around this time of year as by all accounts I’ve been having to hear Christmas music for at least a month already at my retail job. But something about this place takes me back to my younger years when I was slightly less salty about everything.

Growing up, we had a thing in Clovis, NM called “Shots.” It was some guys house/yard that he went bananas decorating every year. It was like the spirit of Yule threw up all over the place. It was also however, the coolest thing in the universe. Why? Well aside from the petting zoo, and the little train you ride around his property, people were just happy and decent when they were there. There seems to be substantially less asshole behavior when you’re being smothered to death with yuletide joy et al.

So Ogden’s local “Christmas Village” is about the closest thing to that one can really get. And what’s better, I happened to have some photos of it!

The evening started around 4:30 with the “Santa Run” which is a race of some distance which I would guess is a 5K given the winning time was around the 14 minute mark. From what I understand there were between 7-900 Santa’s running in the race which seems reasonable given the line of them three blocks long towards the start. Behold the madness at the corner of 25th:

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There were of course a few over achievers. My buddy and I called them the Cross-fit Santas and like we expected the three of them ended up being the first few to finish. Figureing they’d be done pretty quickly I got positioned so that I could snap some shots of the first few people who came through the gate and was pretty happy with how they came out.

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While this gentleman wasn’t actually the first to cross the line, I believe he was the actual winner as the first fella to cross skipped one or two of the turns and came in at an insanely fast time. I will credit him with this: He was pretty sure he skipped a leg of the run and went back to do it correctly, fessing up to his mistake. Good sportsmanship was in full force. However, the fella above who won the race had the advice of “Don’t ever do this.” to a few of his buddies at the finish line.

Of the 3 Cross-fit Santas, one of them who was probabaly no older than 17 managed to come in a solid third:

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Sadly all of my shots of the second place finisher, a young lady we’re pretty blurry or had a staff volunteer dive in front of my camera. So if you’re reading this, contact me and I’ll take your picture!

I wanna take moment as well to share a photo of a younger runner who really impressed me. By the 3 block point they seemed to be struggling pretty hard and started dropping layers. Their form was awful and I thought this evening was going to end pretty poorly for them. Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. They ended up finishing in the top ten and I couldn’t be happier to have seen it happen. So whoever they are. HUGE props to them for their effort:

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Of the other runners, there was what looked like a father/son team that came in right before the large groupings who made for an awesome photo finish of their competition. You could tell that the last block they were both hustling to beat the other and it made for a pretty cool shot:

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After the Santa run was the parade which was both awesome and long. I always remember parades growing up being fairly short lived with a dozen or so floats and a mess of disappointment. This one however was quite the opposite. Most of the shots were fairly blurry or the lighting was bad, but I did get one of one of the horseback riders I was pretty happy with:

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After all that was said and done, we sat around for a bit by a heat lantern to warm up and listen to what felt like every mayor and city council person within a 300 mile radius take turns wishing us a Merry Christmas and asking if we were cold. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, it wasn’t gonna be funny on the 12th either.

After some banter to get the kids involved with a spiel about the Grinch stealing the lights, Christmas village was brought to life under a sky of fireworks. It was pretty sweet. I managed snag a panorama of the west side of the village. I do apologize for the mediocre quality on the stitch. I’ll probably have a better one up and running tomorrow evening. So if you feel like it, drop by my Flickr and take a look.

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All in all, it was a great night and we had a good time even through the bitter cold. As always, until next time, Thanks for reading!
-D

The Little Details

They really do make all the difference.

I got the chance to get out and do some more street photography in Salt Lake City last week, and I thought I’d try and apply a few things I’ve read/learned from some actual street togs and see what I could come up with. What all does that entail exactly? Well, to be honest a lot of it was just some interesting tips and tricks on how to interact with people so it wouldn’t be so awkward as I take their photo. Here’s a few I tried out that went OK:
– by continuing to look past someone after snapping their face, they often assume you were shooting something else entirely, so they don’t even ask about it.
– Ask to take someone’s photo then pose them in a few ways
– Snap first, then if they look upset or confused, compliment them on something they’re wearing. The compliment instantly eases tension and makes the subject feel you were more interested in their shirt/hat than their face.

Applying these tricks went mostly well. There were a few cases in which people were still taken aback by me shooting their picture on the street. This one in particular:

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After firing off a few quick shots and moving on as the moment looked pretty personal and I didn’t want to be too disruptive, the guy called out asking if he could at least see the pics. His tone was fairly annoyed. So I tried to compliment him on his suspenders which was a miserable failure. He wasn’t happy about the photos at all. The girl he was with started discussing how they’d just lost a friend/co-worker and so I sat and chatted with them for a few about the guy named Niko who had passed and gave them my condolences. They seemed slightly more at ease as I left.

Unfortunately, this image is just slightly out of focus, or I think it would have been an incredible picture. Part of the goal as a street photographer is to capture that “human condition” or raw emotion on the faces of everyday people. This was perfect opportunity but given the lens I was using and my distance from them, I didn’t get the shot as well as I would’ve liked. Case in point about the little details. In this case, having my focus point set to 3 feet instead of 6 feet caused a blur in the guys face, detracting from the shot.

A similar case of that could be found in this photo as well:

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In this case, the couple had no idea I was snapping their picture, but I was in too much of a hurry to make any sort of camera adjustments. As such, there are some awkward glare spots, and the sales clerk is exceptionally blurry. I would argue the clerk isn’t so big a deal as she wasn’t the focus of the image. The primary focus was to show the guy’s face who had clearly been drug out for shopping by his girlfriend/wife and had no desire to take part in selecting what color bath soaps they should get. It was a classic “Every man’s nightmare” scenario of being drug out shopping. My hope is I can fix some of those things with a little more post work, but the time being I felt I’d leave them as it ties together with the point I’m making.

Finally, the last image I got from that night that came out rather well, was of a young lady closing up the hipster tea place in the downtown mall area. What I didn’t notice on my first pass through the photos was some of the finer details of the image that weren’t her. For example, I ended up snap accepting this image since she was in good focus and the picture came out how I’d hoped it would.

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All in all a fine capture, but on the second look through the images I noticed a couple of things in a similar photo. 1) SHe was still mostly in focus; 2) The register had the full “Have a nice day” printed on it; and 3) the lighting was just ever so slightly different that when I went through and messed with it in post, it actually looked even more like she was closing up for the night.

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Those couple of small finer details I think produced a much stronger image overall. More likely than not I’ll be converting these over to black and white once the final work on them is done. In the meantime, I hope they did a good enough job showing you the difference in what taking those few extra seconds can mean for getting that perfect shot.

That’s all for this one. Until next time, thanks for reading!
-D

A Busy June.

My goodness! What a month it’s been since my last post. I’ve driven almost 4,000 miles, snapped some sweet photos and got a lot done on taking the business side of things further! Within the last month I’ve made a trip to Denver and a trip to Kansas as well as a few out to the Spiral Jetty. The first two were to drop off and then pick up the kiddo from her grandparents. The Jetty trips were just for more night sky shots! While my crowdfunding campaign hasn’t raised any money yet, I have managed to put some serious hours on the road and catch a few pictures. Here’s a few:

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Jetty Sunset

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As for the business side of things, I’ve managed to book a booth at the first ever Ogden Pride fair, where I’ll be selling some prints and hopefully booking some weddings! I’ve also been told there will be a booth sponsored by a few of the churches to do some wedding ceremonies and I should be posted up right next to them. So business should be good come the first of August.

More Astrophotography ( I swear I’ll stop after this)

I know a lot of my posts lately have been of my attempts at taking pictures of the stars. It’s become a bit of an obsession with me as of late. I also imagine it probably gets old and boring for you guys, so I’ll make this the last of these post types for a little while.

However, for this post allow me to say I am PUMPED! Aside from shots of the stars, I’ve had a somewhat bucket-list of pictures I’d like to take which includes but isn’t limited too:

– An oncoming train
– One of those street shots with a bunch of people blurred around a single in focus individual
– Lightning
– My cat doing something ridiculous (need that internet fame, ya know?)

Well on Sunday night, I went out to shoot the trestle outside Taggart again, but this time I went at night expecting it to be fairly dark and give me a shot of getting some really good star photos. Lo and behold, I got very lucky and not only caught some stars, I can scratch the moving train image off my list too:

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Funny story (although it may be a “you had to be there” kind of funny), I was just sitting around talking with my buddy Trevor (@theteege2) when he asked if I heard a noise. I mentioned I hadn’t and just sat quietly for a moment hoping it would come again. As I was about to say something along the lines of him being insane, I see the back side of the tunnel light up and hear the train horn blast. I was so excited at the prospect of catching the shot I almost forgot to actually go over to my camera and take the picture. I was too busy fist pumping and dancing that the moment had come. I did luckily, quickly realize that I needed to take a photo so I rushed to my camera and started snapping. Unfortunately I was on Astro settings: 30 seconds, f 3.5, ISO 1000. So that picture came out awful. However, I readjusted and tried again and this time, caught the train moving. By using the flashlight app on my phone to bounce off the reflectors, I was able to create that ghosted image of the train above the lines of light.

Once the train had passed, we looked through the pictures and saw the one above. We joked about photography being all luck and no skill and then opted to move on to the next location. Before rolling out though, I snapped a few more of the trestle for good measure (hoping I could get a good skill shot and not just a lucky one). I ended up with this:

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After leaving that area, we went back towards State Canyon park outside Morgan. It was about a half hour drive but once we decided to stop, we got out of the car along the 65 and saw nothing but white dots and darkness. We snapped a few shots of the road before agreeing it was “losing the feeling in your toes” cold and opted to pack up and call it a night. In hindsight I should have probably packed it in a little sooner since I had work the next day, and a pair of energy drinks barely got me through my shift. However, one of those road shots ended up alright so it wasn’t a total waste:

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All in all, it was a great night for shooting. I look forward to doing it more, but I plan on discussing something else on the blog for the next little while. I appreciate you all putting up with my obsession and hope you’ll continue to follow me as I work on learning a new style of photography: Abstract. My next post will likely be on that.

On a final note, I’m thinking of putting together some tutorials on how I get my shots. Do you all think it’s a good idea, or is there too much of that already out there in the interwebs? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And as always, Till next time!
-D