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Random Jazz Six/Twenty-Eight/Two-Thousand-and-Sixteen

I suck at posting photos these days, just like I do at life. Except for go-karts. I’m the best at go-karts.

This random assortment includes failed cow petting attempts, pretty girls, Star Trek themed Christmas photos (just a joke; don’t kill me), and a few pictures of this new place called “Yosemite.” Maybe someday I’ll get around to posting photos of New Zealand, Louisville, Sedona, the Grand Circle, and other less random stuff that is just collecting dust inside my hard drive, which doesn’t actually make sense unless you’re a top-notch writer like me who also happens to excel in the art of go-kart racing, in which case dust on photos inside my hard drive totally makes sense. Also, run-on sentences are awesome.

Canyonlands cow

Cheynne Conner model

Hula hooping is part of this balanced breakfast

Cheyenne and Molly

Sunset under the tree of forgetfullness

Star Wars Christmas card photos

Star Wars Christmas card photos

Cheynne Conner model

Yosemite winter

Upper Yosemite fall frozen

Half Dome in the winter

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Reche Canyon: Destroyer of Worlds

In the relatively average town of Colton, California, is a relatively non-average thoroughfare called Reche Canyon Road. This road likes to kill people.

Strictly speaking, the road itself has no specific feelings towards people either way. What it does have, however, is a series of problems:

  1. It’s only two lanes, and does not have any safety dividers
  2. Besides serving local traffic, Reche Canyon also serves drivers traveling between Colton and Moreno Valley.
  3. Approximately 102% of these through-drivers are vision impaired, aggressive a-holes who enjoy passing each other despite the fact that it’s dangerous and illegal in most places.
  4. As an added bonus, the canyon has wild donkeys living in it. These donkeys are dumb.
  5. Various dumb people who are dumb feed the dumb donkeys, which then sometimes congregate on/near the road and pretend to be slalom poles.

In the multitude of times I’ve driven the road (my girlfriend and some friends live nearby), I’ve never seen a police officer on the road. I’ve never seen a construction crew adding safety dividers. I have, however, seen numerous people nearly hit each other (and me). I’ve also seen more roadside memorials than on any other SoCal road that I can remember.

There have been at least two fatalities on the road this year (1,2), as well as a number of other collisions, like this one. Lots of other people have died over the years, like this guy, this guy, and this guy.

After the most recent death in August I decided to document 5 of the memorials with a small number of photographs. Since the local transit authorities apparently hate their residents I expect there will be more memorials to come, unfortunately.

Colton roadside memorial

Reche Canyon drunk driver

Reche Canyon RIP

Colton memorial

Moreno Valley roadside memorial

Reche Canyon memorial

Colton traffic death

Reche Canyon death

Reche Canyon grave

As I was taking that last photo above, I heard two engines straining and then a horn. Looking up, I saw yet another person crossing the double-yellow to save 20 seconds on their commute.

Reche Canyon, Colton, bad drivers

Fortunately there was no accident this time, although the day after I first published this I heard that there was another collision in the canyon. Sigh. Life (and preventable deaths) goes on I guess.

birdyTake a look at the rest of my site for more photos, most of which aren’t sad.

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Random Jazz: Female Magic Edition

Women, as far as I’m concerned, are magicians. They somehow grow miniature humans and 4 out of 5 look better in a Chanel gown than I do. Some women, like my friend Anna Habrat, have the power to turn hair and makeup into art.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Anna on a few shoots dedicated to her work as a stylist. (Also, on one occasion I almost caused her to fall off a ride at Raging Waters.) This short post shows off a few of the looks from our last session for the 2015 NAHA competition. While it might be short, I hope you agree with me that these photos show some really cool work.

Thanks to our models Jeanine Romo, Jan Marie Valesco, and Dawnielle Huffman for being such good sports. Makeup was provided by the very talented Lindsay Dabalos.

Dawnielle Huffman - Anna Habrat

Anna Habrat

Anna Habrat

Anna Habrat

Anna Habrat

Anna Habrat

birdyFeel free to visit the rest of my website here. Also, did you know that I sell prints? I’m a little behind on adding items to the gallery, but you can find a selection of my work here.

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Bellas of the Ball

A heck of a lot of life has happened in the last few months and has kept me from posting. I’ve worked a ton, traveled a good amount (pro tip: don’t cross the Mexico/US border on a Sunday), and taken about 1 Brazillion photos. Now that things have slowed down a bit, I’m finally able to start clearing out the backlog.

These photos are from my most recent set, taken during the unusual thunderstorms that moved through SoCal this weekend. Basically, I had two pretty ladies at my disposal so we dressed up, got some umbrellas, and went outside for a couple of very short sessions.

The first of my two models is my lovely girlfriend Oiseau (Cheyenne). Here she is smiling at me:

Cheyenne Conner rain umbrella portrait

And here she is bored after I asked her to take too many photos:

Cheyenne Conner rain umbrella portrait

Cheyenne Conner rain umbrella portrait

Cheyenne Conner rain umbrella portrait

And this charming young lady is Bella–Cheyenne’s neighbor–doing her best Elsa impression.

8U0B1900-1I call this one “this seemed like a good idea a minute ago.”

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For some of the shots I told her to act like a queen instead. I think she looks quite regal, don’t you? :)

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Thanks for swinging by. Check back soon for more!

birdyViewing this as a single post? Check out the rest of my site here.

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Courir après les oiseaux

The young woman in this picture is Cheyenne. She’s 18 going on 19. I’m dating her.

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Why am I telling you this? Because over the last few days and weeks, my relationship with her has cost me some friends and has resulted in some people (coworkers included) whom I thought were friends saying some very mean things. In some cases the comments were, quite frankly, disgusting.

Since the world has decided to take a very big interest in this relationship, I might as well explain the situation a bit and get it out in the open.

(Before I continue: Yes, I know it’s unconventional. Like, very, very, very unconventional. Believe me, I’ve heard it all, and there hasn’t been a single question asked about the relationship that I haven’t already considered.)

Here’s the story:

I’ve known Cheyenne and her family for several years. For most of those years she was just a nice young person who was on the periphery of a social circle that included her parents and mutual, older friends. Because she lived in Indiana during her school year, I only occasionally saw her during summers.

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After completing school last year, I saw her more often because of that shared social circle, and because of some photography and videography projects that involved both of us. We became, for the first time, real friends.

In late 2014 and early 2015 we started collaborating on some photography projects and our friendship grew. Over time, she came to be a muse of sorts for me, and we took some beautiful photos. Our friendship grew closer organically as well as through the art we were making. Before long, it was obvious that we had developed feelings for each other.

I could just say that I’m another artist who fell for his muse. Certainly, the connection we have in our work is important, but leaving it at that doesn’t do Cheyenne justice: she’s a smart, funny, clever person that definitely doesn’t have as much life experience as I have, but she is a damn fine person for the point in life that she is at. At 18 she’s absolutely got her share of young person traits and quirks, but she’s also much more mature than a lot of older people I know.

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Something I’ve learned through my own relationships and those of others is that compatibility has nothing to do with age or the life interests you might write down in a dating profile. Relationships between people of all ages fail, as they do between people in the same line of work, in the same religion, active in the same sports and hobbies, and so on. Perfect compatibility on paper is absolutely no sign of real compatibility.

I recognize that this relationship has much working against it. If you were to ask a relationship counselor about it, they’d probably say it’s doomed from the start. Maybe it is. However, every other relationship I’ve had hasn’t worked out for various reasons, so even if this one doesn’t, it’s no different.

Every woman I’ve ever dated has been remarkable in her own way. Heck, every woman that has been a close friend has been amazing. They’re tigers in a world of kittens. I don’t settle for average, and the women I’ve had in my life have reflected this. Cheyenne is the same. Yes, she doesn’t know as much about politics as me, but she is a genius about music and sports in comparison. She’s talented at architectural design, and she’s incredibly knowledgeable about orcas, for which she has a deep passion. She hasn’t had to make her way through a career yet, but many women closer to my age haven’t either and are actually lost in life. I could go on, but in short, my point is that age is a barometer of where someone is in life, but it’s by no means the only one.

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I have no idea whether this relationship will last. For the moment we make each other happy, we have a good time making photographs together, and we both have a thirst for adventure and new experiences that helps us grow as people.

If it doesn’t work out, it’ll be no different than a relationship with a woman closer in age that didn’t work out. I still fret about many of the risks involved, and likely will continue to do so for a while. (And yes, next to her pretty little self I feel like a gigantic monster.) You don’t need to tell me or ask me questions about this risk or that complication. I’ve literally thought of it all.

Entering into this relationship was not a trivial decision for either of us, which is why it saddens me that people I care about have been so terrible about it. It’s not some kind of crisis. It’s not about sex, as some jerks have said. I talked to soooooo many people before deciding to make the leap–including my parents and her parents–because I wanted to make the right decision for us. Ultimately, what happens is between Cheyenne and me, but I’d hope that if you’re reading this you’d care enough about me to respect my decision.

In closing, I’ll say this: we might break up in a month for all I know. I have no bloody clue how this is going to work out. What I do know, however, is that I have chosen to date someone who is exceptional. She is pretty, humorous, intelligent, and dynamic. She just happens to be a fair bit younger than me. I’d like you to kindly get over it.

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Random Jazz: Insert Clever Title Here Edition

I’m too tired to come up with a clever title tonight or to write words good. So, pictures look you. Bye.

Rock of the gods

Of winds and chains

Shady city

Sunset

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Industrial moonrise

Digital flower

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Oregon waterfall

Beach bird sunset

Flag at sunset

birdyIf you’re viewing this as a single post, point your mouse here and then do a single click to see the rest of my stuff. If you’d rather click two or more times, you can check out my prints gallery over here. Thanks. :)

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Dating Naina

For the record, I’m not actually dating Naina (she’s waaaaay too hot for me). I am lucky though to count her as a friend and to have photographed her a number of times. A professional model and actress, she’s a delight to shoot. She is immensely creative and always has tons of great ideas.

The concept for this set was lovers at home for the day, playing with the camera in some of their private, happy moments (thus the “dating” title). We shot around my new apartment and got some really great photos. Naina also terrified me by sitting precariously far over the edge of my balcony. Anything for the art I suppose. :)

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud black and white

Naina Michaud

 

 

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud pool portrait

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

 

Naina Michaud
Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud pool portrait

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Naina Michaud

Thanks for being awesome Naina!

birdy Viewing this as a single post? Check out the rest of my website here, yo.

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European Б-Sides

Most of my pictures never get published. Usually this is because I’m unhappy with the photos. Other times, it’s because the photos are redundant to other shots I like better. All of the items below are unpublished photos from a trip I took to Kiev, Chernobyl, and Paris (also London, but I hate most of those photos). I’ve got loads more images from Europe, so I’m sure I’ll do another one of these in the future.

Chernobyl kindergarten

If a town near Chernobyl “died” as a result of the nuclear accident, it was typically razed and buried to prevent people from visiting it. When this happened, a sign with the town name was erected and a red slash placed on it, denoting that the town was no more.

Dead town near Chernobyl

Eiffel Tower lights

Chernobyl toy

Chernobyl window toys

This is what a destroyed grocery store looks like.

Chernobyl grocery store, supermarket

Graffiti by an unknown artist in Pripyat, Chernobyl’s most famous lost town.

Chernobyl graffiti

Chernobyl gym ferris wheel

Chernobyl kindergarten

Paris tomb

Prypyat gym

I’ve published a photo of this refrigerator before, but since I love the subject so much I decided to post a second image. One of the great mysteries of my life will forever be why this home appliance came to be hanging out on the corner of a Parisian intersection.

Lost fridge in Paris

Chernobyl Prypyat bumper cars

France tulips

Kiev cathedral

Pripyat’s most famous icon is the Ferris wheel in the town’s amusement park, which was scheduled to open just a few days after the meltdown occurred.

Chernobyl amusement park

To finish up, here are two shots of the Eiffel Tower: one at sunrise and one not long after a stormy sunset.

Eiffel Tower sunrise

Eiffel Tower storm

birdy If you’re viewing a single post, don’t forget to check out the rest of my website or my prints gallery.

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Beach = mc2 (Also, tacos from the future)

This past weekend I hosted my family at the beach house (thanks FTS!).  Since my family is awesome and full of crazy people, and since the beach is open until midnight there, we decided to take my shiny new direct-from-KickStarter Pixelstick for a spin.

PixelStick Rainbow Beach

PixelStick Three Arch Bay

PixelStick Silhouette

In case you were too lazy to read the website I linked to above, Pixelstick is a modern take on the classic photographic technique of light painting. Basically, you keep your camera’s shutter open for a while and it will capture a light source as though it were floating, electric paint.  Pixelstick has 200 LED bulbs in a strip about 6-feet tall, and as it moves it blinks different patterns. These blinking lights and gradients get turned into interesting patterns, like so:

PixelStick blue ribbon

And sometimes the LEDs blink out a row of chalupas, as seen here behind my cousin doing mountain pose (IIRC).

PixelStick yoga tacos

PixelStick fade

PixelStick cartoon stars

My cousin Lauren has the best stories of anyone in the world. I could listen to them all day. A number of them involve “burrito shops” or “burrito stores,” so I thought burritos would be fitting for her.

PixelStick Sumo Burrito

PixelStick Rainbow Beach

Pyramid thug life 4-evah!

PixelStick pyramid cats

Making simple images is trivial, and to be honest, kinda boring after a while. Once we started getting better with the device we worked on more interesting concepts. This one was made by lighting Kayla first with an all-red light and then running around her position with a red ribbon pattern.

PixelStick Dress Dancer

This one was a 30-second exposure using a similar technique: for 15 seconds or so I ran around with a red ribbon image, and for the second 15 seconds I turned on a blue image.  I’m pretty excited about what I’ll be able to do in the future as I figure this thing out further. Anyone want to play with me?

Pixel Stick multiple files

I’ll wrap up with a very rare image of the Milky Way taken from Orange County. This stretch of coast line has very few houses and is far enough away from Laguna Beach and Dana point such that the sky is just dark enough for a Milky Way shot.  Not my best ever, but it was cool to see it here for the first time in my life over OC. In the foreground is whale rock.

Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach, Milky Way

birdy Viewing a single post? Don’t forget to check out the rest of my website or my prints gallery.

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Finding My (Milky) Way Along 395

(Editor’s note: This post has more pictures than Germany has goals on Brazil (zing!), so you might want to get comfortable.)

On the last day of my trip we were exploring the abandoned “Locust City,” a former air force town off highway 395. We had just exited the former Hall of Justice when my brother and his girlfriend got quiet. After a moment, he said that he thought someone was watching us. From the second floor of the building we had just left we could hear what sounded like faint footsteps stepping carefully and deliberately through broken glass.

Since my last visit in November a number of buildings had been severely burned, which in my experience is often the result of refugee meth heads. It’s possible one or more was looking at us then.


Coincidentally, at the start of the trip I was also worried about meth addicts. My primary purpose for this outing was to photograph the Milky Way, which I had never really been able to do until the last few months. (Mostly because I’m dumb.) With a new car to drive and my newish camera in hand, a small group of us retraced my route up 395 to take pictures of our galactic neighborhood. Our first stop was the Trona Pinnacles, gigantic tufa formations near the dying and remote town of Trona, CA. Standing in the middle of nowhere at 1 in the morning, I was a little concerned about some of Trona’s less desirable residents lurking in the shadows.

As it turns out, the only thing we had to worry about was extremely high winds, which chased us out of the area earlier than we would have liked. The first two shots are from Trona.

By the way, please excuse the fact that the Milky Way looks different in each of my shots. I’m still getting the hang of doing post-processing on it. The yellow glow at the bottom of any photos is light pollution from a city.

Trona Pinnacles Milky Way

Trona Pinnacles Milky Way

On day two, as we headed north we swung by a livestock and cattle graveyard that I had previously visited near Lone Pine.  It’s actually more like a dumping ground. Last time I was there I found the body of a recently dead horse (warning: a bit graphic). Here’s what it looked like now:

Cattle and livestock graveyard near Lone Pine

Abandoned rocking chair, Bodie ghost town

A rare-ish self-portrait of yours truly in a 90ish-year-old mirror.

Jake Reinig self-portrait

This is a shot looking west from pothole rock at Tuolomne Meadows. Even though pothole rock isn’t particularly tall, it’s at something like 8,500 feet and I’m in terrible shape. This was a rough hike.

Tuolomne Meadows sunset

This is also Tuolomne Meadows, but just a little bit up the road.

Tuolomne Meadows Milky Way

The next day we did some river rafting in the Yosemite Valley. This is easily one of the most enjoyable (and breathtaking) things you can do in California. Because the water level was so low it took extra long to get to the end, which meant more time for fun and games. Here, my brother rolls out of the boat in order to hit his head on a submerged rock.

Yosemite rafting

And here he is jumping off a bridge.

Yosemite bridge jumping

I jumped off of it too, but this photo of a brave 12-year-old is more interesting than me.

Yosemite bridge jumping

This is upper Yosemite Falls as seen from the banks of the river. The massive California drought has reduced it to a relative trickle, but it’s still amazing to see in person.  Fun Fact: Yosemite Falls is the fifth tallest in the world.

Upper Yosemite Falls

A bird stands guard on a tufa formation at Mono Lake.  Although much smaller, these are the same type of structure as those found at Trona.

Mono Lake tufa

Mono Lake tufa

We went to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest one day. The oldest living non-clonal organisms on earth, these trees are incredible (one is over 5,000 years old!). I know it sounds stupid, but standing next to them feels really special, as though you’re in the presence of a sentient, ancient friend. It feels as though they’re happy to have you there. Like I said, it’s weird…. Anyways, you absolutely must go there sometime in your life. I think we’re going to go back soon do so some star photography.

The older a tree gets, the more gnarled it becomes.

Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest

The tops of the trees reminded me of pleading hands, as if they were asking the sky to save them.

Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest tentacles

We return to Locust City for the next group of photos. I’ve been to enough abandoned places to know that they’re rarely totally abandoned. Drug users and destitute people often use them as temporary ports, waiting out whatever storm currently claws at them. This picture makes me sad: the mattress is relatively new and the sheet was in pretty good shape. Some child was sleeping on this not too long ago. I hope they’re somewhere safer now.

Abandoned Peanuts mattress

Abandoned town

Mattresses in old air force town

Walking on the second floor of these buildings is an adventure. Lots of holes abound.

Abandoned miliary town

This former kitchen is now open to the elements. I’d guess that the roof will collapse within the year.

Collapsing kitchen

Abandoned basketball court and baseball field

As I mentioned earlier, I think someone was watching us at one point. This blanket and sign had fallen through a collapsed portion of the ceiling above us. Coincidentally, this was the building in which the person may have been. I wondered if the sentry was a current position, protecting people who made the location their home.

2nd floor sentry

Shattered classroom window

Dark rooms everywhere.

Creepy hallway in abandoned military city

Pentagram in burned out house

This is another picture that makes me sad. This room had clothing, books, and other belongings in it. Some of the items were setup in such a way that I think someone was living here for a while before it caught fire.

Burned out house in abandoned town

Apparently, I had accidentally wandered into Panem.

Fight for the mockingjay

This photo was taken about 250 miles away from Locust City, and is in a much more dangerous location. Fun.

Fallout shelter tunnel

This is my brother in a mask at the Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine. Sweet dreams. :)

Alabama Hills Milky Way

And here’s my tent, preparing to roast me to death overnight.

Alabama Hills Milky Way

Finally, here’s one more picture from Trona, with my brother acting as model.

Milky Way at Trona Pinnacles

In the end, we never did figure out whether someone was watching us at the abandoned city.  Someday I know I’ll run into one of the ghosts of these forgotten places, but I’m happy that they’ve let me visit without any trouble so far. Maybe next time….

By the way, if you like photography and think you might like to visit some of these places, check out my friend Keith Skelton’s photo workshops. He does a trip to a number of the same locations every so often and is a great teacher.

(Want to see more pictures? I’ve got a prints gallery with some of my less terrible work, plus there’s more on the rest of my website.)

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