Sunday, July 25, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

I'm headed off to Vegas come this Tuesday, to attend an annual computer security conference or two. A friend of mine who'd never been this afternoon was asking me what the deal was with it (she hadn't been), and I was struggling for a way to explain it. You know, how in an old school arcade game, you could wrap around from a really high score to go negative? Vegas is like that, in reverse. It's so awful, it's good, as it kind of wraps around from negative to possible. So that's what I told my friend, in my best hipster mode:

"Listen, it's so fake, it's real!"

Which is pretty true. You put people outside their familiar environment in something highly contrived and highly .. hmm.. seductive, and lots of inhibitions go bye-bye, and you have a city that's having a sort of tacky neon Mardi Gras 24/7.

I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to do some photography there too -- I plan to go shooting downtown with my friend Meder, some actual shooting with Betsy, a soiree through the craziness inside the casinos, and maybe catch a taste of old school Vegas too.

If they find my body in the desert, be sure to look for the CF cards buried nearby. ;)


Last Sunday, I went on a photo walk through SOMA put on by CaliberSF, and hosted by the SOMAarts cultural center. First off, it was an impressive showing -- somewhere north of 75 people, all marching around SOMA and then back for pizza and beers after we cooled off. The biggest accomplishment to me was getting all those people together, herding them through the streets, then successfully getting them back in one place. I thought for sure we would have lost someone on the way.

I noticed a number of people there I knew -- Brad from CitySnaps, my friend Martin from work, and the omnipresent Frank Chu. Really big crowd, but everybody was having a lot of fun.

The walk was great -- a very nice opportunity to meet people, explore some parts of SOMA I might never visit (some sketchier than others...), and also see some local street art which was really fantastic. My only real complaint was that SOMA was a little short on people who weren't also photographers. It just felt a little dead to me, particularly when I compared it to walking around the Mission or especially down near Market Street. Less opportunity for spontaneity than I like, too. Whenever we'd see a person, we'd have a dozen people jumping out to take their photo -- which in itself might be a scene, but not necessarily mine. Still, I appreciate any opportunity to walk around the streets taking pictures, so I had a blast.

Of the set, I'd say this one is my favorite:


I came upon these prints arranged in the dashboard of a car near the Defenestration building on Sixth and Howard. It was a very modern car -- so much that my other shots of the scene with a bit of dashboard were a bit to 'clashing' for my taste. And the angle I really wanted was impossible because of glare. So, I had a notion and broke out my 135mm f/2 and set it to near wide open, which is roughly equivalent to turning the dial to dreamy.

It's a hazy little bit of voyeurism of somebody's else's nostalgia, caught marching around on a lazy Sunday with an army of photographers -- I like it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Later, Alligator

The week before last, my girlfriend was out of town and on vacation with her family in South Carolina, courtesy in part of the sweet two days we got off for the 4th. Imagine my surprise when her mother (who I had not met) called me up and asked if I would be interested in vacationing with them on the beach? It's not clear if this concept translates across cultures, but my general take is this:

If a southern mom wants to meet you, you don't say no. ;)

So, off I went on a last-minute trip to Charleston and the nearby Kiawah Island. Very pretty, but also incredibly hot and muggy (which of course is why modern human history is measured in years A.C.). Charleston is an incredibly old city, and is full of historic French and southern architecture, and was a great place to do some shooting out on the street. I didn't have a lot of time for this, but I did have an interesting situation develop with the denizens of Kiawah Island:

Later, Alligator

This fellow would show up in the little inlets near our beach house around sunset -- probably moving from the shade to a warmer patch of water.

Naturally, I wanted to photograph it.

Problem: Every time I stepped out of the house, my lenses would fog up, as I transitioned from a civilized 70F, 30% humidity, to an exterior with 97F and near 100%.

So, it would go something like this:

Betsy> "ALLIGATOR!!!"
Me> (Snatches up d700, replaces 35mm f/2 with 70-300 in 2.3 seconds, and rush outside) "This is my big chance to do some nature photography! Rawr!!"
(10 seconds later)
Me> "Crap"

I experimented with leaving my camera outside in the evening, but invariably would bring it inside to take pictures of the little nephew, Betsy being goofy, etc. On my last night there, we saw the alligator again, and I  ran inside, got the camera, and followed the alligator down the creek until he parked himself right under the shade of some dense undergrowth. I still had to wipe down the lens with my lens cloth to clear off the fog, but I managed to get this shot.

By the time I realized what I was doing, I was about six feet from the alligator on the shore. Not really that dangerous, but I'm not sure if I would have been willing to bash the thing on the head with my lens if it grabbed my leg or something.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Keeping Kosher

Keeping Kosher

Another shot from the pride parade, which is rapidly becoming my favorite photographic event of the year. Probably I'll run out of photos I like from the set soon though, so maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up -- I think if I can find about ten I really like, I'll consider it a success.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

Gone to the Dogs

This is another quick shot from the Pride Parade, from the 'Bad Rap' marchers. Great moment between the woman and her pit bull, and a shot I was instantly in love with.

Postcard: SF

Postcard: SF

I was fortunate enough to shoot SF's Pride Parade this weekend. Glorious, lavish spectacle -- total feast for the eyes. And a really good vibe too, where almost everybody wanted to be photographed doing their thing.

This particular photo is from near the start of the parade. I busted out my wide angle, and got a shot I saw and instantly wanted to see as a postcard. A lot more processing than usual for me, this popped out. I really liked it -- I could see myself buying this scene under a too-blue-sky from some knick-knack shop down by Fisherman's wharf.

The only bad news about the parade is I took about 1600 exposures, which means a lot more time in post-processing purgatory for me. :|