Saturday, September 29, 2007

Holy Painting with Light Batman!

A few years back I met Adam West. If you don't know who Adam West is, then the title of this post won't make any sense. He charged me $25 to autograph a Batman PEZ dispenser and his manager made me take off my PEZ convention T-shirt before I had a photo taken with him. He was concerned I would use the photo to say that Adam endorsed the convention. I hadn't even been to the convention. Someone that did go had sent me a T-shirt and I happened to have it on (yes, if you didn't already know it, I am a PEZ collecting nerd) I had to borrow some ladies college sweatshirt for the pic. Sure was nice of her. There she was in the middle of a Toy show hanging out in a skimpy bra so I could use her sweater for the pic. Ha Ha, just kidding about the bra of course. Sure would have made the story interesting though you have to admit. I digress...That was in my film day's but maybe some day when I ever get caught up I will scan one and upload it here (yeah right..we all know I will never be caught up:)

What happens often when I blog late at night after a glass or two of Cab is I get sidetracked and start writing about obscure moments that initially had a point. I then forget the point and lose complete control of my own blog. Happens to the best of us right?

Ah yes..Batman. Well, Adam West would have been proud of me yesterday. Before the Zoo opened I was given access to the nighttime habitat at the zoo with the hope of capturing some nice photo's of the Bats. If you have ever been there, the lighting is non-existent during the daytime. Because the Bats are nocturnal they simulate nighttime during the day and daytime for the nocturnal animals to sleep during the night. I got there before they turned off the lights completely and grabbed a few photo's. The Bat Keeper was inside the Rodrigues Fruit Bats habitat cleaning and I tapped on the window to ask if I could join her. She said yes! It was so cool. I climbed in the cage and got right under this friendly bat to grab a few shots. The lights were pretty dim at this point so I bumped my ISO to 3200 on my Mark III and did the best I could. I like the result as you can see the bat, but there is a distinct nighttime mood to the photo.

The goal of my shoot was to play around with the bats in the complete darkness. I love to paint with light. What you do is pre-focus your camera (easier said than done in pitch black). Set a long exposure on the camera and literally paint your subject with light using a flashlight with a snoot on the end. With people it's not too tough. You tell them to stay still and for the most part they do and you get some cool, moody shots. With bats it's a little different. You tell them to stay still, then you shine a flashlight in their face and wouldn't you know it, they turn and look to see where the light is coming from which ultimately is not a good thing with your shutter wide open. In other words, the project was easier said than done. I did however manage to get some cool shots. One of my favorites I posted here. Just when I was really getting the hang of it an entire school field trip started to pour in. I still had all my gear sprawled around the habitat so I packed it up as quick as I could in the dark and called it a day. Let me know what you think of the pics here.


Saturday, September 22, 2007


My Uncle John and Aunt Vickie live just shy of an hour north of us in Mount Vernon, Washington. John and Vickie have adventurous lifestyles and travel to exotic locations around the world from time to time and we were lucky enough to live close enough to them to get babysitting privileges for their awesome little dog Jasper. There was a long list of people that wanted to watch him when they were gone but we always got first dibs. He was quite simply, a little furball of love. He always had a juicy wet kiss for anyone that would get close enough. He loved my girls and my girls loved him even more. My Mother-In-Law met him a year or two ago on a visit and was motivated to immediately seek out a breeder of Shih-Tzu's to get a puppy (Tika) like Jasper. His energy, enthusiasm and happiness was contagious and you couldn't help but smile when he was around. All the kids in the neighborhood knew when he was at our house and they would be knocking on the door all day long asking if he could come out to play with them.

He was hit by a car last Wednesday just a few hours before he was heading our way for a 5 day layover at the Hayward House. John and Vickie are in California right now and John had asked me to post some photo's of Jasper. These photo's were taken in October of 2005. He was part of the family and will be greatly missed.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A new slideshow

There are several very talented photographers at the Woodland Park Zoo. The main photographer Ryan Hawk was featured in an article in this quarters Zoo Magazine @thezoo. If you live up in this area I strongly recommend you buy an annual membership to the Zoo which qualifies you for an automatic subscription to the magazine and gets you access to the Zoo whenever you want to swing by (during business hours of course). Every time I visit the Zoo I see something new. Last week I found myself nose to nose with a couple of Giraffes. There is an amazing experience offered at the Zoo. For $5 you can climb a ramp and hand feed a giraffe. It is a unique opportunity to say the least.
The other thing I hadn't seen at the Zoo was my wife was walking along minding her own business when what had to have been a large, well-fed bird flew over her and relieved his bowels on her arm :) Picture Mr. Roper's grin after he says something funny about Mrs. Roper on Three's Company. That's the look I had on my face just moments before I ducked behind my camera and snapped a photo. Be sure to cast your vote for me as the most sensitive husband of the year!

All of the photographers are meeting later this week to get together and compare notes, observations, tips and tricks. Our assignment is to bring some photo's that we considered difficult to capture and to offer suggestions as to how to improve. For me, the most difficult area to shoot is inside the Orangutan exhibit. There is dim, green light behind thick uneven glass that truly makes it a challenge. I get my better Orangutan shots when they go outside. They are very photogenic so it's frustrating at times when they offer an expressive pose only to find it nearly impossible to get a properly exposed photograph.

The animals I find the most challenging to shoot...Up until last week the Sun Bears led in that category. My last couple of trips however I have gotten luck and found them offering some nice poses. Sun Bears are from Malaysia. They are the smallest species of bear and are very endangered. It is very rare to spot them as their display is so nice they have plenty of good areas to hide out. I stalked them out for several days in a row at one point and learned they are usually fed around 3:00. The keepers are good about putting their food out where people can see so the Bears have to poke their heads out for a few minutes at that time. Anyway, I've gotten some good shots of them recently so I think I'll take them off my list of most challenging.

The animals that drives me absolutely nuts there are the wolves. I have yet to nail a perfect shot of either wolf. It seems every time I head up the Northern Trail I see a wolf standing proud on top of their hill. I lower my monopod and put my eye up to the camera. By the time my finger hits the shutter the wolf runs off and I miss it...grrrrr. That's me saying grrrr, not the wolf. The wolf is saying hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Other very difficult animals to shoot...the bats. It's so dark in the night habitat it usually takes about 10 minutes for my eyes to adjust to see them. Even with my Canon 1D Mark III which currently is the best low light camera available on the market at ISO 6400 it's nearly impossible to get a good shot of them.

So, I'm going to bring some shots to our get together that represent my challenges there. I figured if I'm going to show off the shots I haven't been able to nail yet I should put together something that represents what I can do. I put a brief slideshow together of some of my favorite Zoo shots (including the shot of Lea with the bird poo). You can check it out here...

Zoo Slideshow

Friday, September 07, 2007

My little First Grader

It's hard to believe that Savannah is in the First Grade now. Yesterday was her first day at the new school. I was stuck at the Fish House so my ever-so-talented and amazingly beautiful wife Lea followed Savannah to school with one of my cameras and grabbed some pretty dang good pics in my opinion.

It was pretty cute because Savannah had told Lea at breakfast before she took even one bite.."I'm already full Mom." Full of butterflies is what her tummy was full of. She was nervous but excited. She's been reserved about the goings on at the school, but we know she likes it for sure. Last year we had applied for a variance to Mill Creek Elementary because we just weren't too thrilled about this school even though it is less than 1 block from our house. We were denied the variance this year and were pretty disappointed about it. Lea has met the new Principal and Savannah's teacher and has now given the thumbs up and says she really likes them. I haven't been able to meet them yet, but hopefully soon.

Have a good one!


Monday, September 03, 2007

Jay and JoAnn

Jay and JoAnn are two architects that are madly in love! The had a beautiful ceremony at Parsons Garden yesterday on a beautiful Sunday in Seattle. I had never been to Parson't Garden before. It is just a couple of blocks up the road from the best viewpoint of downtown Seattle Kerry Park. I've been up there many times for various photo shoots but never ventured past Kerry Park. Parsons Garden is a small park and across the street is a spectacular view of the Puget Sound.

I love small weddings. My wife and I were married in Maui and had 17 guests. Don't get me wrong, big weddings are a great deal of fun as well but there is something about the intimacy of a small wedding that creates an energy that is for lack of a better term...magical. The love between Jay and JoAnn and with their family members and friends was very apparent and I had that warm fuzzy feeling throughout the day and when there was time I kept calling my wife to tell her how much I love her as well.

We started the day at a cool Salon called Sublime Salon in Downtown Seattle. After that, it was off to Sculpture Park so Jay and JoAnn could see each other for the first time that day. It was an emotional moment and really set the tone for the entire day. At that time, it was really hot outside so we took a few quick photo's and headed up the wedding site where the weather was quite literally...perfect!

The reception was at the Tyee Yacht Club where no detail was forgotten. Hundreds of Candles lit the room with two long tables in the center to seat everyone for an amazing steak dinner. The view was amazing as the Club sat over the water. It was an intimate reception and I truly felt privileged to have been there to capture the moments.