Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 247 (Clouds #5)

Day 247 (March 7th, 2011)
Title: Clouds #5

Our continuing adventure of "Clouds of the Week!"  Today is cloud number five!

I hope you enjoyed these cloud photos.  Did anyone have a favorite?   Mine are either today's (#5) or the one with the birds (#3). 


Photo 365 - Day 246 (Clouds #4)

Day 246 (March 6th, 2011)
Title: Clouds #4

Our continuing adventure of "Clouds of the Week!"  Today is cloud number four ! 


Photo 365 - Day 245 (Clouds #3)

Day 245 (March 5th, 2011)
Title: Clouds #3

Our continuing adventure of "Clouds of the Week!"  Today is cloud number three, with extra Bird Action included for free!


Photo 365 - Day 244 (Clouds #2)

Day 244 (March 4th, 2011)
Title: Clouds #2

Our continuing adventure of "Clouds of the Week!"  Today is cloud number two!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 243 (Clouds #1)

Day 243 (March 3rd, 2011)
Title: Clouds #1

Normally we in the San Francisco Bay Area don't have much in the way of real weather.  We have a little rain now and then, perhaps a little wind - but nothing like snow or hurricanes.  Okay, true, we sometimes have little things called earthquakes, but at least those are short.  Lately we've had some really amazing cloud patterns, that I have to say have been quite photogenic!  Mind you, we still didn't get any rain or anything, because let's be honest, we don't believe in real weather in California. 

This will be a collection of 5 shots, over the next 5 days.  I hope you enjoy them!

Photo 365 - Day 242 (Swing)

Day 242 (March 2nd, 2011)
Title: Swing

Yesterday's photo was "Impact" - that split second just before the club hit the ball and sent it into orbit.  Today's shot is about 3 nanoseconds before - the moment when the swing is furthest out and you can 'see' all of the energy that is building up in the club just before it starts to head down.  Golf - Physics In Action! 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 241 (Impact)

Day 241 (March 1st, 2011)
Title: Impact

Recently, we decided to do a little "stress relief" by whacking the bejesus out of some golf balls.  We started at the driving range, because lets be honest - its the most satisfying part of golf, just smack, smack, smack!  Now, some of us (re: Me) aren't so good at golf, mostly because I haven't played in like 20 years.  But, I did have a ball (pun) attempting to put those balls into orbit.  Now, Andrew on the other hand, had himself some skills - after watching us "play around", he took out The Big Dog (uber-driver) and hit those golf balls so hard they actually went back in time. 

I decided that my talent was more in taking photos of the golfers than trying to kill myself (or others) with my "golfing skills".  This shot is one that I got really lucky with, I'd say its about 1ms away from making that ball really sad. 

Unfortunately, due to the fast speed of the camera (I had it set on Fast/Burst mode), its a bit blurry and grainy, but I think the overall look is still quite good.  The tech bits: f/5.6 at 1/60th with ISO 400.  I think I'll try raising the ISO to 800 (or even 1600) so I can get a better shutter speed, it will add more grain but I'll gain more focus, which I think is a fair trade-off in this situation. 


Friday, April 15, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 240 (Leyline)

Day 240 (February 28th, 2011)
Title: Leyline

One of the fun things about taking picture that, when originally viewed as "plain" or "boring" is that with a little creative 'playing', you can really make them something completely different.  While at a local park, I looked up and saw the contrail of a plane that had recently flown by starting to disperse.  I thought; "Hey, it looks like someone put a rip in the sky."  Which, of course, started an immediate discussion about Star Trek and "rips in the time/space continuum".  It occurred to my Geek-infested brain, that a lot of genres use such things, normally called Leyline, as a cosmic force of magic and/or powers.  In Star Trek, it was something that could rend the entire universe apart, in many fantasy worlds, they are the source of all magic, and in horror-type worlds, they are gateways for demons and evil to come visit and say "hi!".  I'm hoping this one was more of a friendly "butterflies-slightly-annoy-you" variety. 

And no, not huge demon-butterflies either.  I know some of you were thinking it!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 239 (Meeting The Mustache)

Day 238 (February 27th, 2011)
Title: Meeting The Mustache

If you saw my earlier Daily Artist post, you will know that I was lucky enough to meet one of my favorite artist recently, Sergio Aragonés.  He's a great cartoonist (Mad Magazine and Groo), that I've been reading and laughing too for as long as I can remember.  He was one of the guest at this years WonderCon in San Francisco - and was one of the major factors that got me to go!  If you ever get the chance to meet the man (and the mustache), I would highly recommend it.  He is very friendly and nice, and can draw cartoons at the speed of light.

Tech-bits: Being that I'm in this picture, I was unable to control all of the settings - but prop's to Theresa for making sure Sergio was in focus!  I'm out of focus because I didn't step forward a bit to be on the same focal plane as Sergio - So remember kids, when using a wide apature (f/2.0 in this case), make sure all of your elements are on the same focal plane! 


Daily Artist - Sergio Aragonés

Sergio Aragonés; Cartoonist, Artist, Mustache’r

Sergio is my favorite “comic” style artist.  His work, which spans decades, has always entertained and amused me.  Aragonés is probably most famous for his work on Mad Magazine (from 1962 to today), drawing just about everything you can imagine.  My particular favorite drawings that he does are the “marginals” (small, textless comics that are drawn in the margin of the pages).  These little treasures are little visual jokes, that while simple in meaning are expertly drawn.  Aragonés has been called “The world’s fastest cartoonist” and I believe that’s a title he quite enjoys.  I was honored recently to meet him and I asked him to sign a few books and while talking to me, he completed two cartoons in about 30 seconds.  I’m not even sure if he looked at the paper!  It’s estimated that he has completed over 15,000 cartoons – just for Mad Magazine.  He has also made contributions to many other fields, including: comic books, TV, and movies.

One of the other reasons that I enjoy his work so much is that his personality is really portrayed in his work.  Many of the characters are smiling and enjoying life to the fullest (even if they are in “tricky” situations).  Aragonés appreciation of life and enjoyment of everything that is brings highly motivating and encouraging.  I think this quote is a perfect representation of Aragonés’s mindset and positive attitude:  “I’m thinking and laughing all day long. Every time I think of a joke, I’m also telling myself a new joke. It’s a great way to live.”

If you get the chance, just flip through a Mad Magazine (old or new) and just scan the margins for his little masterpieces – I’m sure you’ll find a little joke (and laugh) waiting for you!  He’s also got one of the greatest mustaches of all time.

Photo by Matt Barton

Sergio Aragonés Homepage

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 238 (Imperial Fail)

Day 238 (February 26th, 2011)
Title: Imperial Fail

Sometimes when I take a shot and I try and think of a short little "story" to go with it, I just get stumped on what to write - either because I just can't think of anything, or (as in this case), there are just too many things I could write about this.  I think I'll just leave it to the viewers to imagine the story that goes with this photo, only because I think others might have a more active imagination than I and could really think up some funny stuff. 

Technical bits: Due to the urgency in trying to capture this photo, it came out much blurrier than I was wanting, but because of its humor level, I decided to use it anyway.  It was shot using my 50mm prime at: f/2.0, 1/80th (ISO 400), with no flash. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 237 (Imperial Snacks)

Day 237 (February 25th, 2011)
Title: Imperial Snacks

Anytime you attend a comic book/sci-fi convention, there are a few little "tidbits" you should know.  First, many folks like to dress in costumes.  Sometimes those costumes are really well made and look like they were pulled right out of the show/book they are depicting.  Other times, the costumes are more of the "home-brew" variety, not that I'm saying they are bad, but they clearly had to use some "alternate" materials when making the outfit (re: duct tape).  Then you have the, well, lets just put it nicely; a drunken brain-damaged tree sloth could have made a better costume.  Its also a generally accepted rule, if you wear a costume, be prepared for us folks with a camera to ask to take a picture of you.  Most folks are cool with this, as long as you ask nicely and don't sound/act like a stalker or that guy from Silence of the Lambs. 

The other important item about con's and costumes is, the most popular costume BY FAR is Imperial Stormtrooper from Star Wars.  If you don't know what a stormtrooper is, I pity you.  One of the more "fun" things to do at a con, is catch stormtroopers in interesting situations.  For this shot, I have no idea what was being said, but I can only imagine:

"Lord Vader will have TWO Chili Dogs and they will be great - otherwise your planet is toast!"

"But we are out of chili!!"

"Oh, just try and tell the Emperor that!"


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 236 (TartanTrooper)

Day 236 (February 24th, 2011)
Title: TartanTrooper

Clearly the Empire's power stretches far and wide throughout this universe.  Course, I never would have thought they had a Imperial station in Scotland.  Still, when in Rome...

"Ach! Laddie, thees ain't da drood's ye lookin' fer!"


Photo 365 - Day 235 (Elevated Self Portrait)

Day 235 (February 23rd, 2011)
Title: Elevated Self Portrait

I'm not normally a part of my photos - as an "artist" I like to remain outside my work in general.  But, since I am constantly "harassed" by some folks to be "in" the pictures more, here is yet another self-portrait (I did one earlier in this project, but for some reason people don't think that counts).  While riding in a lovely golden elevator (and no, I was not in Willy Wonka's house), I noticed it made a neat "fun-house" like imagine.  I shot a few photos and this is the result!

Technical bits:  f/3.5 at 1/25th (ISO 640).  The stats are so low because when I tried using the on-board flash, it really made the photo look bad (reflected light everywhere).  So, I had to try without a flash and this was about as soon as I could get.  If I had my 50mm prime lens, I think I would have set it to f/1.4 at 1/60th with ISO at 400.


Photo 365 - Day 234 (RoboAtlas)

Day 234 (February 22nd, 2011)
Title: RoboAtlas

In Greek mythology, Atlas was tasked (punished) to hold all of the heavens for all time.  That myth has been symbolized by Atlas holding the Earth on his shoulders.  I saw this statue, and the first thing I thought was: "Well, there's your problem - if they had gotten a robot to do it, it would have been done in a snap!" 


Photo 365 - Day 233 (Fake Fisheye)

Day 233 (February 21th, 2011)
Title: Fake Fisheye

Fisheye lenses are one of the coolest, if not strangest, lenses in the "photographers arsenal".  Basically, they are super wide angle (5mm-18mm), and make these strange "round" shots.  The edges are blurred and rounded due to the outer-most lens element (it's a large convex piece of glass).  Because of said element, the lenses are crazy-expensive, also because of their short focal length, most "consumer" digital cameras can't use them (it's all scientifical, but lets just say, unless you own one of those crazy-expensive Nikon's or Canon's, your dreams of a fisheye lens are on hold.) 

I call this one Fake Fisheye because... well, no reason really, I just wanted to talk about fisheye lenses, and since I don't have to take a fisheye photo with, I figured any ol' photo will do!  This shot was taken at Mascone Center in San Francisco, near the Zeum (great place for kids!). 

Technical bits: f/10 at 1/250th using ISO 100.  Using ISO 100 really helped reduce the noise, so I highly recommend lowering your ISO to the lowest you can get - it makes post-production much easier! 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 232 (Circle Park)

Day 232 (February 20th, 2011)
Title: Circle Park

I enjoy walking around San Francisco - when the weather is "photo friendly".  Recently I was walking around the Moscone Center, and they have a great park/kids area (called "Zeum").  The park area has a lot of interactive areas for kids and parents.  I was strolling though, and noticed it also has a lot of fun photographic spots to get some great cityscape shots.  Here is the first, facing north-east. 

Technical bits:  Using my 18-55mm lens at 18mm with the following settings: f/14 at 1/500th (ISO 400).  I think I should have moved the ISO to 200 or even 100, I still could have had the aperture at f/14 with a speed of 1/250th (or 1/125th) and gotten a slightly better shot.  I also should have bracketed for both the sky, the white buildings and the shadows from the trees - it would have been fun to combine them in post-production - but I was unable to due to the volume of people walking around.  I was lucky to get a show without really anyone in it, because for the most part, folks were walking in front of me the entire time I was shooting. 


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 231 (Millbrae Train)

Day 231 (February 19th, 2011)
Title: Millbrae Train

I love trains (I think I've mentioned that before), and BART is no exception.  Some folks don't count light rail as trains, but I still enjoy riding them.  That's one part of living in (or around, in my case) a big city - mass transit!  I'm an avid fan of trains, buses, rickshaws, taxis, boats, junks, trolleys, ferries, you name it - as long as it means I don't have to drive - I like it!

I enjoy the composition of this shot, because of the juxtaposition (that's right, I used an artsy word!): Fast moving train versus still, waiting, riders.  There is also a mirroring of the still riders in the windows of the train, giving it a duality (double points - two artsy words used!).

Technical bits: Due to it being generally dark in the waiting area, I amp'ed some of the settings up to help get the photo.  Shot at f/4.0 at 1/50th, using on-board flash with ISO set to 1600 (that's why the photo is a bit fuzzy).


Photo 365 - Day 230 (Tiger Bike)

Day 230 (February 18th, 2011)
Title: Tiger Bike

Riding the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit - basically the subway system/light rail for the San Francisco Bay Area), you meet a lot of interesting folks - some you wish you hadn't ever met, some you wish you could have chatted more with, and some who might not even be native residents of this planet.  Happily, the gentleman I met while waiting to get to downtown SF was of the middle group - I was enjoying a lovely chat, which was tragically shortened by my train arriving.  At first, I saw his bike, which is certainly an attention-getter (see the photo), and so I decided to walk up and ask him if I could shoot a few shots of it.  He smiled and said yes and while getting some close-ups of the tail and handlebars, we started chatting about photography.  I also loved that the warning cone was his - which is important, because it IS a tiger bike after all!

So, the next time you see something a bit wacky (like a tiger bike), walk up and ask about it, you never know what sort of conversation might ensue. 

Technical bits:  I was using my widest angle lens for this shot (18-55mm) at 18mm.  I had to use the on-board flash (I think it would have come out a lot better if I could have used a flashgun or other more powerful source).   The settings were: f/4.0 at 1/60th (ISO 400).  For "next time", I think a lower angle (perhaps being at his eye-level) would have made the shot more friendly/inviting. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Photo 365 - Day 229 (Bad Day)

Day 229 (February 17th, 2011)
Title: Bad Day

Walking around in San Fran, you can see some interesting things - sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and others, just strange.  I'm not sure if this one is sad or strange, but either way I'm pretty sure I'd just take the rest of the day off.  I'm still stunned that those window-washers ride up the side of those gigantic building in those little crates. 


Photo 365 - Day 228 (Bridge Gap)

Day 228 (February 16th, 2011)
Title: Bridge Gap

I recently saw a great photo in a mall (crazy!).  It was a large print on the wall of Bloomingdale's of the Golden Gate bridge, done in black and white from the perspective of someone driving in a car (I'm hoping the passenger took the photo, not the driver!)  It was shot straight up so you could really see the towers as well as the cars zipping along the bridge. 

I thought I'd try to replicate that photo somewhat, but via the Bay Bridge (only because we rarely go over the Golden Gate).   I got a few shots that were okay, but didn't quite get the look I was going for (too much traffic and we were going a bit too fast for the camera to focus the way I wanted it to).  This photo, on the other hand was more of a "playing around" shot, but I really enjoy how it came out.  To pay homage to the original idea of what I was working on, I did some selective coloring to render the top and bottom black and white.  The bridge in the background is in fact, the Golden Gate!