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2011: Year in Review

Jake Reinig, portrait photographer

Yes, yes…I know I’m late. Rather than bore you with words, here’s a small selection of 2011 photos from a myriad of different shoots. Apparently, I spent a lot of time on various beaches.

In 2012 I’ve got trips planned to San Antonio, New Orleans, London, Paris, Kiev, Chernobyl, and more, so make sure to check out the site from time to time.  You’ll only be mildly disappointed!

 

 

 

 

 

I took this next picture the day my friend Bobby Villanueva died. He was a good man who brought a lot of light to many lives. He’s still missed pretty badly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I haven’t mentioned him elsewhere, I’ll mention him now: this is Dave Beck. He’s an all-around great person, cancer survivor, and soon to be an esteemed published author. You should buy him a beer sometime if you get the chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that book entitled “The Monster at the End of this Book,” starring Grover? Well, just a heads up that in about 4 pictures there’s a photo of a lovely young woman that implies nudity. There’s no actual nudity, but since you might work at the Vatican or be looking at this post with your grandfather with the weak heart, I just wanted to give you a heads up. I think it’s worth scrolling past, but I don’t want to be responsible for murder.

 

Yes, we spelled “Death Valley” wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

 

Hopefully you’re still with me. If not, I hope the Vatican pays you well, although I suppose if you’re not still with me you won’t know that I hope this.

This is my friend Dave, a world famous linguists specialist. Although this isn’t my best photo ever from a technical  standpoint, it is a nice photo of Dave. And because it’s a nice photo of Dave and because he really is world famous, this photo is my most published one to date. It’s even appeared in a newspaper article in Estonia.

 

 

 

 

 

This is another one where I think I could have done better, but people seem to like it. Of all the photos I’ve ever taken, this is by far the most popular. I think it has something to do with parents connecting to a memory of their kids at a young, magical age. Before they had boyfriends or cars or credit cards, they let their parents push them in a swing.  In life, moments like these are over in a flash. Make sure to enjoy them while you have them.

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Not Being Mauled by a Dog -or- How I Learned to Hate Driving in New York

Location: Pennsylvania, Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street

Subjects: ruins, living people, dead people, protests, waaaay too many words, other jazz

Thanks to Mark, Bruce, Charlie, and Toby for putting up with me for a week, and to Joann, for the wonderful home cooking and the lovely carved wooden toys she made for me to use in my studio.  

For the third time in about a year I found myself in Scranton, PA. I worked during the week but had, as my only necessary photography target to get at some point, this building:

This is the outside of the Scranton Lace Company’s factory, in operation for over 100 years. They closed down in 2002, abandoning the factory and leaving the place as a living museum. I was salivating over the opportunity to photograph the interior, but alas, it was recently acquired for redevelopment and is no longer abandoned. I tried contacting someone with the new company but apparently I wasn’t important enough for a return phone call. Oh well.

In any event, there are now a lot of perimeter cameras and shiny, new looking “Beware of dog” signs at various places on the exterior. While I have no problem walking into an abandoned structure, I generally don’t trespass, especially when there’s a threat of being some dog’s chew toy.  I left Scranton a very sad panda.

For some beautiful photography of the site, I highly recommend a taking a glance at Tom Bejgrowicz’s work from a few years ago. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, plus a cool video.

I had all of Saturday and part of Sunday to myself, so I decided to drive into Manhattan and visit Occupy Wall Street to see what was going on. Some quick observations:

  • I was surprised at how relatively small the park was.
  • I was surprised at how many people, both protesters and visitors, were at the site (walking inside the park meant being crushed basically).
  • I’ve never seen so many police officers in one place before. The protesters didn’t seem to be causing any trouble, so mostly the cops were just hanging around and talking to each other.
  • I’ve never seen so many people with cameras, and I’ve been to the Academy Awards. I have a thought about this, including why #OWS made me angry, but I’ll save that for the end of the post so that you don’t get bored.
Here’s a general shot from one side of the park.  Tents and people were everywhere.  I didn’t take many photos of the people themselves, as most of the ones I could have easily photographed I largely found annoying and not worth photographing.  Instead, I tried to find personal touches on the living spaces, some of which are shown below.

 

 

I had tickets (required) to see the 9/11 memorial, so after visiting OWS I headed over. I should thank the protesters for occupying a park so close to the memorial, as it really allowed me to maximize my time.  So…Thanks!

The memorial itself is quite pretty, although it didn’t feel particularly sacred yet. The amount of security you have to go through to get in coupled with the huge amount of construction surrounding the site made it hard to lose yourself.  That will change as things come to completion.

Here’s one of the pools situated where a tower previously stood.

I saw this sign just outside the fence at an adjacent construction site. I think it’s funny when signs are written in the first person, as they remind me of the old–and often silly–propaganda posters from World War II.

I’m a very tactile person and like to touch things. I’ve been known to walk through Barnes and Noble just to feel the embossed book covers. I made it a point to walk portions of the memorial without looking at them, and instead let my hand simply feel the names. It’s a different way to appreciate the sad fact that all we have left of these people are carved letters.

I came to a name and was puzzled by how long the unbroken string of letters was. Looking down I saw this reference to a lost pregnant woman and her child. All of the names are tragic, but the addition of a child made me think about the process of life, and how easily it’s interrupted. This woman probably had a baby shower planned in the not too distant future.

I think i saw 3 flowers on different names at the memorial. Lots of people stopped to photograph them, realizing what a powerful shot it would make. I wanted to take the photo too, but I didn’t want to be part of a parade of tourists taking bad photos of a very intimate display. I walked around and felt the names for a little while longer and thought about the photo I wanted. I decided that reverence was the proper approach, and took the photo whilst on my knees.

I tried to get myself onto a helicopter to shoot the area from above, but didn’t have luck. I hoofed it over to the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and took a series of mostly bad photos. I have the uncanny luck of having nice weather when shooting bridges; why can’t I ever get clouds?

I went back to OWS for a bit, which seemed to come to life as the evening got going. I then discovered the special hell that is driving out of lower Manhattan. 2-lane streets become 3-4ish, lights don’t work in unison, the Holland tunnel converts something like 12 lanes into 2, and if you’re really lucky like I was, there’s significant construction on the other side of the tunnel.  It took me over an hour to go about 1/2 mile.

I, Jake Reinig, 5th Duke of Holland, do solemnly swear never to drive in Manhattan again unless my life depends on it. I’ll think about it in the event that yours depends on it.

I stayed in Pennsylvania Sunday and pursued some targets my friends Mark and Bruce proposed. I got up super early one more time to try and get over my worries about entering the lace factory but decided not to. Wuss. :)

Here’s a shot of an old building and bridge from the late 1800s on Lake Scranton.

I haven’t looked it up, but I think Lake Scranton might be part of a water control district, as there were important looking buildings spread around the outside. I came to this gate and couldn’t help but laugh. What’s the point of putting barbed wire on the gate if you can just walk around it?

For some reason, I got an image of a British buddy/burglar comedy while looking at this scene. Imagine the two bungling guards from the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.

Russel, whispering: “‘Ey Willie. Why are you usin’ a ladder to climb o’er the fence? We can just walk around it right ‘ere!”

Willie: delicately working his way over the barbed wire: “If we wasn’t meant to climb o’er the fence, why wouldst they ‘ave put barbed wire at the top?”

Russel, scratching his head: “Good point ol’ chap. That’s usin’ the ol’ bonce!”

I got lost in Wilkes-Barre and happened to pull over into a random, secluded parking lot. This awesome and quite large sculpture greeted me.

As it turns out, I was nearly across the street from where I wanted to be, which was an old train station turned abandoned multi-car train restaurant turned stray cat hotel. I’ve always thought that if I knew a real person with a silly name like “Banana Joe” that I probably wouldn’t like them very much. Apparently, no one else liked Banana Joe and his Island Party either. In the reflection is another of the cars, now left to the cats.

I took a number of photos of the train station and other cars, but they turned out just sort of…blah.

 

While driving I came across two neighboring cemeteries in Wilkes-Barre. Both were beautiful and both had some very old graves. One of them looked abandoned and in pretty bad shape. Large parts of it were overgrown and graves were knocked over and worn.  Near the river behind the older one was a large ruined building that I wanted to photograph. As I approached it I saw smoke, which I’m pretty sure was coming from a homeless person’s lunch. I decided to leave them be and to come back another day.

In addition to studying computer science and photography, I spent 6 years of my life studying history. Thus, I have a very strong affinity for cemeteries, leaving myself to wonder what life was like for these individuals. These particular cemeteries held people born in the 1700s and possibly earlier, which for some reason is just fascinating to me. Add the melancholy of abandonment and I’ve got the makings for a very personally interesting shoot.

I’ve not seen this elsewhere with this frequency, but throughout the parks were many headstones that only had single word titles on them. I’m not sure if this was from lack of money or lack of interest. Seeing a tombstone simply inscribed with “baby” on it made me sad, as that was probably a heavy loss to a rather poor family.

 

A hill in the abandoned cemetery.  As an aside, even in the abandoned cemetery someone still went around and put flags on veteran’s headstones. Despite many of the markers being so old that the inscriptions were completely gone, and despite many being overgrown or knocked over, this person or group still found them to provide a small tribute.

My last shared photo. How’s this for a nice place to spend eternity?

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More thoughts on Occupy Wall Street:

As I mentioned earlier, I found myself frustrated with the OWS crowd. Although the Arab Spring got the ball rolling, they’re on the vanguard of what is perhaps the most important spontaneous political movement of the last 50 years.  The Occupy movement has spread to something like 1,500 cities around the world. And yet, what I saw at the park was typical disjointed American protest. Lots of people hawking junk merchandise, trying to educate people about this environmental cause or that anti-government project, and just in general being out of touch hippies. I have no problem with these individuals holding these beliefs and being passionate about them. I generally agree with a lot of them and wish more people did too.

However: for whatever reason, the country and world has decided that the time is right to give these people a stage. They may never have a chance like this again, and they can’t agree on a single guiding principle or goal to trumpet.  They have literally thousands of tourists coming by each and everyday to see what’s going on. A marketer couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to drive home the key points.

If I had even the least bit of sway over the group, I would try to organize around one goal and then run with it. Talk to every tourist about it. Put it on all of our signs. Talk to the media about it. Get it into the evening news and make it sound legitimate so that regular Americans can agree. The vast majority of Americans are unhappy with the state of our nation, but they simply can’t relate to some college kid with dreadlocks talking about composting or legalizing marijuana.

I’ll admit that I laughed when I saw a sign that read “We’re here, we’re unclear, get used to it.” Funny stuff, but so very, very frustrating.

I’m not the first person to suggest this, and I think most of the protest groups sort of understand this, but the single biggest message should be about a constitutional amendment stripping businesses (and other non-human groups, like unions) of the ability to act as political individuals. That is to say, businesses should not have the ability to spend any money on politics whatsoever, and they should not have free speech rights in the way humans do.  The conscience of the nation’s people can’t compete with the power of our largest companies to buy politicians.

Everything else can be worked on once this has been accomplished, and this one is relatively easy. There’s no way this will get done by the Federal government, but it can be started at the state level.

Near the end of my visit to OWS a guy stood up at one corner and announced to the OWS crowd that there would be a teach-in on some random government installation doing chemical testing or something. In the time that speech would happen, hundreds or thousands of tourists would pass by. How much better would it be to turn around and educate tourists on a single talking point that they can take home and get angry about? Instead, this guy was going to preach to the choir. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

In their defense, I’m not camped out, so really, what room do I have to criticize? I just wish they would take this opportunity to unify and achieve, rather than be disorganized and just make noise.

Maybe I should get involved and get ish done. Vote Jake Reinig for President in 2016, would you?

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World War Tour

Location: Tustin, CA Subject: Abandoned military base MCAS Tustin

I’ve lived in Tustin for a little over a year now and frequently drive by Marine Corps Air Station Tustin. The facility was built during World War II for airships (blimp)  before being turned into a helicopter facility later.  It was an important facility through its closure in the late 1990s. Today it still serves as a temporary facility for commercial blimp operations.

I had been trying to track down the caretaker for the base for some time, as I had wanted to get on the property to get some photography in. As luck would have it, I’ve now made his acquaintance and will hopefully be doing some sunrise and sunset photography in the near future. As luck would also have it, the north hangar was open to the public via the Tustin Preservation Conservancy this past weekend. A modest donation and I was in. Hooray!

These aren’t the best photos I’ve ever taken, but I was glad to have been there. On to the photos!

This is a friendly reminder to the numerous helicopter pilots that used to operate here. This sign is enormous, although it’s hard to judge by this photo.

 

 

 

A contingent from the SoCal Challengers car club was on hand. It was nice of them to line up for me. ;)

The turnout to the event was pretty good. Here, the caretaker and a few guests speak to the crowd.

The tiger figured prominently on a number of places around the north hangar. I forgot to ask how it tied in specifically, but I’m guessing it was the unit’s “mascot,” so to speak.

My brother, reviewing his photos in one of the side rooms.  Note the helicopter art above the windows. 

Another side room. Boring shot I guess, but I liked the red door. 

Despite a lot of things being pretty boring, a number of items in the building had really cool color like this.

And here’s my last photo (for now): The north hangar is something like 1,100 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 200 feet tall. It was huuuuuuuuuuuuuge. Behind that tarp at the end was a project that the air force was working on.  With lots of cool buildings on the outside, I’m hoping my next visit will be more productive.  

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Rocky Mountain /R/oad Trip

Long overdue for a break from my day job, I took a 4-day weekend to visit friends in the Denver area. And, thanks to the good folks over at /r/Denver I had a plethora of ghosts to chase down. Weather worked against me a little, but I worked against me more. I mis-timed arrivals, couldn’t find landmarks, left needed filters in the car, and just generally avoided finding my groove. Fortunately, Colorado’s a beautiful place, so it’s virtually impossible to come away empty handed.

The advantage of nature and travel photography is that even on days when you get it wrong, you’re still amidst nature and enjoying travel. If nothing else, it’s research for next time. Not a bad way to spend time….

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Day 1  was a calm one: lunch with Brian’s in-laws (great guys!), coffee with Brian, Tracy, and new friend Kristen, and then a barbecue with more in-laws to celebrate a birthday.

Day 2 found Brian and me on the hunt for the ruins of abandoned mines, but alas, we were skunked. On the way up to the city of Idaho Springs we happened across the grave of Western icon Buffalo Bill Cody. Three thoughts came away with me:

  1. His grave was not particularly attractive as graves go.
  2. “He was a Free Mason, really?”
  3. It felt odd in this day and age to read on his grave that he was an Indian fighter. What a different world we live in.

As mentioned, we didn’t find much in Idaho Springs to photograph (besides touristy ruins), primarily because I did far less research than I normally do on an area. Fortunately, Brian introduced me to a pizza parlor that gives you honey with which to dip your leftover crust. Oh, and we also found this waterwheel and waterfall across the street, so that’s cool.


On the last day of my trip, we went to a Renaissance Fair not too far from the house. I found this guy on display at a booth for Colorado’s predatory birds.

The Idaho Springs graveyard: difficult place to drive a wide vehicle; lovely place to spend eternity.
We headed south to try and catch sunset at the ruins of the Castlewood Dam, which burst in 1933. Alas, we started the hike from the wrong spot so we didn’t make it to the dam. However, we did enjoy hiking along the bottom of beautiful Castlewood Canyon.

Day 3 found us in the neat little town of Estes Park before heading into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). This place is a real gem, so if you haven’t been I’d encourage you to go. Elk (?) are quite abundant throughout, and I spent some time stalking them. Here, a group enjoys an evening snack.

One of my favorite subjects is moving water, whether it be at the beach or in the form of a waterfall. High on my list of targets was Alberta Falls, near Bear Lake in RMNP. We got there late and the still abundant amount of snow on the trail made it a race to beat sunset. In my rush to get the shot I didn’t notice the copious amounts of mist on the lens, dust on the sensor, and the vignette resulting from stacking filters. It also didn’t help that the exposure is too dark! This is a junk shot, but it was a lovely hike and a nice way to end the evening, so I present it anyway in all its junk glory. :)
Whilst walking around the Renaissance Fair looking for subjects I paused at the numerous shows. The performers and guest in the foreground were supposed to be the real focus of the show. However, the little one in the back (did she belong to the performers?) caught my eye as she repeatedly wrapped herself in the banner and tried to stay out of trouble. How rad are the red and zebra-striped tights?

I enjoy shooting architecture as well, although I didn’t have much time on this trip. One of the shots I did want, based on recommendations from Reddit, was the skyscraper at 1999 Broadway. A desire to retain the historic Holy Ghost Catholic Church resulted in the office building going up mere feet from the church.

I wanted a high angle of the buildings, so Brian and I scouted out nearby parking structures. To get this photo, I had to climb up and stand one-legged on the skinny outer wall of a structure, some 7-stories up, and then shove my camera through railing. I was less afraid of falling than I was of someone calling the police on me as a jumper, so I climbed down post haste. An unintended consequence of shooting through the rails was a sort of fake tilt-shift effect that I didn’t notice until I got home.

Note the tiny little church just to the right of the center tower.

Here it is from a different angle. Even from this side you can’t really appreciate how close together the two buildings are.

Bear Lake. It occurred to me just now that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a frozen lake. Weird.

Local, RMNP.

Castlewood Canyon again. 

I wasn’t expecting snow on this trip, and there was still a lot of it throughout RMNP. We found this guy hanging out at around 11,000 feet at the Forest Canyon overlook.

My good friends Tracy and Brian, who put me up (and put up with me!) for four days.

Finally, another shot from Castlewood Canyon. Bloody ‘ell is that place great for photography. I’m looking forward to another trip, which will definitely need to be longer.

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Time Travel: Evil Edition

Whilst reading Reddit recently, I came across an article on Murphy’s Ranch. Built by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s, this compound in LA’s Rustic Canyon was designed to protect its inhabitants during the eventual fall of America at the hands of Germany.  Later used as an artists’ colony, the property was abandoned in the ’60s and suffered significant fire damage in the ’70s.  The wooden structures are mostly gone, but significant stone and metal ruins remain over a wide area.

My brother, cousin, and I set off on a fire road from our car with instructions to go down a huge set of stone stairs, but took a turn too early and ended up south of the compound. Although this made the trip significantly more difficult, it was more than worth the detour. A single track trail winds along hills, streams, and through overgrown glens before delivering us to the hidden edges of the village.  Continuing through the forest we come across various structures that most visitors probably never see. Eventually we arrived at the main driveway and the larger structures, now well covered in graffiti. Continuing a little further, one finds a large collapsed structure, and beyond that, an old barn.

If you’re ever up there, the trip down the driveway is an easy walk, although its a decent elevation loss and gain. For the more adventurous, wear pants or long socks and take the wooden stairs for a rare Los Angeles adventure.

Jonathan, exploring the inside of a large metal structure.

Nate takes a quick break.

I went to look through one of the windows and almost put my whole face right into an enormous spider web. Fortunately, it was occupied by a tiny spider, so had I made this folly my nightmares would have been slightly less horrific.

The back side of the power station, just below one of the large cisterns.

This cistern was maybe several stories high and mysteriously, was violently bent inwards. I attempted to climb it but stopped when it became an inverted climb.

Me on my way up before retreating in shame. Photo by Jonathan.

North of the power station was a large steel structure that had been badly damaged. Just beyond it grew what looked like wild orchids. Throughout the compound we found a number of plants likely brought in by past inhabitants. On our way out I spotted a lonely bird of paradise nestled amongst an ocean of very different neighbors. 

A book I just made up says that this machine was used to extract Fraggles from the ground below.

More orchids?

Finally, the interior of the power station, complete with fresh paint. The holes in the ground were full of what looked like decades of spray paint cans.

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Random Jazz: OC Edition II

Below is a collection of photos I’ve taken throughout Orange County over the last 4 weeks.

One note and then I’ll shut up: During weekend forays along random OC back roads, it surprised me how many memorials there were. Driver safer people; operating a motor coach isn’t rocket science.










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Adventures in the Magic Kingdom I

I bought an annual pass to Disneyland back in December (I think) and have ignored it until recently.  Having gotten past my apprehension about going alone, I now prefer it: no boring my friends whilst I pause repeatedly to take photos.  Since I’m on a long exposure kick these days, the pauses are longer than they might be otherwise.

Rather than bore you with more blah blah blah, here are some photos. More to come in the next 9 or so months.

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An Uncut Weekend

My weekend started off with an early trip to photograph the US Uncut protest in LA. Unfortunately, the group never got very large while I was there, so I opted to take off and didn’t take any photos.  On the way home I stopped off in Long Beach to take photos of my friend’s puppy Gnocchi, and then met my cousin towards sunset to capture OC from on high.

My associate and friend Bruce arrived from the frozen lands of Scranton, PA Sunday morning. Whilst in the LAX area we drove to the Getty museum followed by the Huntington Beach pier so that he could tell his friends that he’s been to Huntington Beach. Also, to take photographs at sunset. Without clouds the pier sunset was sort of boring, but it was nice to be outside and not in the office.

This first shot is from Lemon Heights.

A view from the Getty.

Shooting puppies is more difficult than shooting hyper children. About the only time you can get a still portrait is when they’re too exhausted to continue. Here’s Gnocchi, dreaming of baby tennis balls.

Without much variety in the sky, I made my own. This shot has a slight shutter drag.

A resident at the Getty.

“Buildings on Mars.” An attempt at the unusual, looking inland from the shoreline in HB.

Lemon Heights again.

You got seashells in my pier photo. No, you got a pier in my seashell photo! (Sigh, I know I’m not funny.) My favorite of the weekend.

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San Francisco, [A]Bridged

I turned 33 today and decided that I should be out of town for my birthday weekend. My day job is still too hectic at the moment to go anywhere too far away, so I took advantage of my cousin’s generosity and that of his wonderful wife Laura and crashed at their San Francisco condo.

Before heading up I made a list of subjects I’d like to cover, much of which consisted of urban exploration. That is, abandoned buildings, train stations, etc. Unfortunately, with limited mobility and time this was not to be in the cards. So, with the help of websites like this one by Thomas Hawk I reduced my list to a manageable size and prepared to be selective and patient, neither of which I particularly care to engage in very often.

Previous trips to San Francisco had resulted in tough shooting conditions, or basically “every day” in San Francisco: cold weather, fog, rain. As luck would have it, this past weekend was the nicest one San Francisco has seen in the history of always. This meant very little in the way of clouds (sort of boring for photography), and a rare heat. It may have been in the 80s on Sunday.

The reason I mention this is because San Francisco is a city that can be done on foot to a certain degree, and I probably put in about 10 miles in two days. “But Jake,” you’re saying, “that’s barely anything. Even my wheelchair bound grandmother runs 15 miles a day, surely you can handle a paltry 10.”  Ordinarily this would be true save for two facts: first, I was lugging around my gear, which weighs in at about 30 pounds. Second, if you’ve never been to San Francisco it’s hard to imagine how hilly it is, but trust me, it is. If this applies to you, imagine a perfectly straight line that goes up and down for like 20,000 feet. That’s every street in San Francisco. Add a 30-pound pack and hot weather to that, and now you can understand why your grandmother wouldn’t stand a chance.  Also, she told me that she doesn’t love you. So there.

In any event, my plans didn’t call for shooting the Golden Gate Bridge as much as I did, but I really couldn’t avoid focusing on it. In the end, this trip became a study on the bridge and less a study on the city itself.

Before I get to the bridge, let’s meet Wally and Ziggy, my cousin’s two dogs. Wally (pictured here) is small and full of energy, but knows how to chill. Ziggy is small and full of energy, but is like a nuclear explosion who’s energy just keeps on growing.

Saturday morning we started near the Presidio at the Sutro Baths. Not much is left of them, but being a sucker for ruins I was delighted to walk amongst them. Here’s a misty overlook.

Low shot of debris in a standing pool.

Although it bugs me that people tag historical sites, I can’t help but be impressed by talent.

Next, we headed to Baker Beach so that I could scout a place to shoot the Golden Gate at sunset. The northern end of the beach is nude, so it was funny to have shot the bridge and then look at the photos afterwards, only to see the occasional very pink San Franscisan hanging out in the bottom corner. I figured it was safest to post a photo of flowers. :)

Another shot of the bridge, this time from the National Cemetery at the Presidio. The cemetery was peaceful and quite pretty in its way, and has some of the oldest burials I’ve personally ever seen in the States.

Another shot of the bridge, this time near the “Warming Hut” on Fort Point. In the distance is the yacht club where I got the shots at the bottom of this post.

I decided that I picked the wrong place to shoot sunset, so I decided to try my luck at the Palace of Fine Arts. I hoofed it over there and had time to kill before the light show, so spent time figuring out my best angles. At one point I was sitting on a bench waiting for the sun to go down when this eccentric woman rode by on her pink bike with music blaring, lights on her spokes, and bubbles flowing.  As she circled across the pond and into the palace proper, I got my telephoto lens out and waited to see if anything interesting would happen. This little girl was with her family and as the lady rode past, just darted happily after her in dancing, bubbily bliss. You could tell by the way her dad was frantically chasing her that it wasn’t a sanctioned event. :)

I took a lot of the photos as the sun set, but this one is my favorite. I like the sort of mystery in the building not being fully illuminated. 

A Sunday morning view of the city (and in the distance, the Bay Bridge) from atop one of the ungodly tall hills. That tall pointy building is the TransAmerica building, which stands at over 800 feet tall. Note how relatively close I am to the top.  This was supposed to be an “easy” walk to breakfast. ;)

I opted to skip out on the Superbowl and instead get to another spot across the bay to catch the Golden Gate as the sun went down. With a car at my disposal I ended up at the yacht club on Fort Baker with plenty of time to spare.   At the top of the hill lie the abandoned remnants of Battery Yates, a former gun emplacement that stood watch over the bay.  Here’s a detail of one of the buildings that the guns once stood on top of. 

A warning from a time when the buildings held deadly artillery.

As the sun started to get low I cursed the beautiful, empty skies, and pondered how to make my photos more interesting. I decided to try two things.

First, work on a meaningful foreground. As any student of photography will have heard, the best photos tend to have a fore-, middle-, and background.  While this seems obvious, foregrounds are not my strongest suit (although I think I nailed it in the cemetery photo). As a result, I spent considerable time trying to find a spot that would give me something of interest in the foreground and line up with the more important middleground.

The second thing I worked on was color cast. Very few photographers know this, but most dSLR cameras have the ability to change color cast in the camera, including color bracketing. I don’t normally like to do it in camera, preferring instead to do it in post-processing. However, with time to spare, I played around a bit. Each of these below was touched, but actually very little. The changing light as the sun set made the biggest difference.

For those of you wanting to try this, the fastest way to do it is via the color balance settings, which can usually be changed via a button or dial. Otherwise, look for color bracketing in your camera menu.

Here’s a shot of a rowing crew coming home.

The gentleman in this photo is called Michael Feldman. I chatted with him for a bit after capturing his silhouette against the bridge.  Here’s the scene he was painting. Earlier in the day, I had sat in the same place as his subject. Perched atop the bluff with nothing but the bridge, bay and strong wind on my face, I felt very small in such a large space. I live for experiences like that, which is why I love travel photography so much.

Although this photo has the least obvious foreground of any I took that night, it’s probably my favorite of the bunch. With the bridge lights on and the gradual transition to night in the sky, this photo captures the peace I earnestly felt at that moment. If you’ve never been to this site, I would strongly encourage you to make the drive.

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2010: Year in Review

2010 was probably the most challenging year of my life, with a number of personal and work events that pushed me to the brink a number of times. But, it was also the most productive year of my life in a number of areas, certainly with respect to photography. By the time the year was over I felt that I had reached a new level in my ability to capture the world around me. Additionally, I found a new calling in life on a political and social level, traveled and “adventured” like never before, and most importantly, spent an incredible amount of time with a diverse group of amazing people. To all of you, even those who aren’t represented here, thank you for letting me into your lives during the best (and worst) year of my existence.

Even though this is a pretty darn big post, the photos below are only a small selection of some of my favorites from the year. Click on a shot to go to the full post it was originally found in.

Ireland and Italy

I traveled to Europe with my sister and cousin, stopping first in Ireland to visit my brother before heading off to Italy.

Robin and Laurie

Two incredible women who are a true pleasure to be around.

Section 8 at the House of Blues

I got to shoot my cousin’s band from the stage at the House of Blues in Anaheim. That was definitely a cool experience.

Corona Del Mar

I’ve spent a lot of time doing photography along Corona Del Mar. This photo seems to be the one people like best.

Los Angeles Arboretum

I made a number of trips to the arboretum this year. I started the year barely knowing what an orchid was, but thanks to the arboretum and Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, I’m pretty much an expert now. :)

These are from two different trips.

New York City

One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to, and I barely scratched the surface.

Studio Chaos

2010 was the year that I finally got a handle on studio lighting. I’m certainly not an expert, but this once mysterious discipline has let me in on some of its secrets. The first two photos are from some of my first sessions at my new studio. The self-portrait of me isn’t published elsewhere on the site, but since it’s the most obnoxious photo I took all year, I figured I’d include it.

San Diego Ruins

I spent a long time scouring the desert near San Diego this year looking for ruins and pictographs. I didn’t find either; instead, I found this ghost train amid some adventures too crazy to share.

St. Louis

The weather in St. Louis was hot and miserable during my trip, but the stay was one of my best photo experiences to date.

Khmer New Year

Thanks to a connection through my friend Nita, a temple in Riverside asked me to capture their Khmer New Year celebrations.

Huntington Beach Pier

The third most viewed photo I took all year. Having grown up in HB and spent considerable time there, I actually find shooting the pier pretty boring. This one afternoon with my cousin and brother, however, made me feel like a first time visitor.

Scranton, PA

Pennsylvania is awesome. If it didn’t get to negative one million degrees in the winter, I might consider living there. Thanks to Aislinn and Bruce for joining me on some fairly crazy adventures.

Lake Shrine

An unusual retreat in the chaos of LA. Take a blanket and spend time reclining near Gandhi’s ashes.

Team Chaos: Action + Danger

I’ve been single forever, so taking photos of my own kids isn’t possible, given that I have none. Luckily, my good friends have two adorable children that I’ve been fortunate to photograph on a number of occasions. The first photo shows “Danger” Declan in James Bond mode, smooth talking the ladies already. The photo of “Action” Abby in her tiger costume is one of my top 5 favorites of the year.

Christmas with the Moores

In pursuit of a Christmas card, I spent a day with my cousin Dan and his lovely bride Kim, as well as their two very big dogs. After we were done for the day and driving home, we lucked into an amazing sunset and a great place to capture it.

Trenton, my favorite photo of the year

As part of a photojournalism project, parents Wendy and John let me into their family for a few weeks as I documented life with an autistic son. I haven’t published the full set yet, as I’m still working with some other families to get a larger body of work together. For various reasons, this photo of their son Trenton, a dynamic and incredible little guy, is my personal favorite  of the year.

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