Monday, December 30, 2013

Kardashian's Teeny Weenie

Be honest with me and let me know if you opened up the link strictly based on the headline.  If you did, go sit in the corner and feel shame (Slapshot reference, hey-o!)

What follows are a bunch of "family photos" from our trip to Stinson Beach.  This is the digital version of the dreaded event that commonly took place about 30 years ago.  The good news is that now you aren't invited to our house under false pretenses and then subjected to hours of after dinner crap you never wanted to see in the first place.  If you're here, I'll assume it's by choice, enjoy.

We've taken these end of year trips for about 4 years now, coinciding with my birthday.  The premise this year was to go somewhere relatively flat with easy access for our 13 year old girl, Bella.  Renting houses instead of staying in hotels has been a game changer in the way we enjoy the experience and this one was not a disappointment.  There's a lot to be said about cooking your own meals at the end of the day with the people you have chosen to be around.   No loud talkers, no up-talkers, no full-of-shitters, no liars (unless these are your people, in which case we're probably not friends anyway). We've done it with friends in the past and this time it was just Nikki and I.  Both are good experiences.  What follows are some our favorite shots from the trip.   Be aware there will be shots that are photographically cliché (and perhaps trite), but that's what happens on vacations.  You see sunsets and you photograph them.  Oh yeah, you'll also see a lot of dog photos as well (sometimes at sunset or sunrise).

The house was relatively small and this was the most important part of it.  We were either on the beach or watching the beach from the window.  Directly behind us was the kitchen, but who gives a crap about a photo of a kitchen?

We could see the young Bella while on this trip.  The beach never seems to lose its appeal for any creature, young or old.

I was surprised to see Bella retrieve a thrown rock on this early morning jaunt.

I liked the way the foam encircled her on this shot.  The tree in the background is the original Bonsai tree from the "Karate Kid" movie.

Cliche warning!  Footprints in the sand.  Which ones belong to Jesus?

This is a shot Nikki took and she's very proud of it. This one is in focus!  I always tell her, "Put the red square on my face", but it doesn't always work.  This is taken when we went hiking up in the hills near the beach.  It's converted to sepia due to my extremely pasty and pale skin color.

Official "farkle" score cards.  Two in a row for me, according to the official scorekeeper, which was me.  Great, fast paced game for parties.  Google it.

We found this crab flipped over on its back.  I turned it over and it moved.  I may have squealed.  I imagined him having a french accent.  Bella came over and had a sniff, but the crab didn't have the energy to try and pinch her.  I threw it back in the water, but he washed back up (on his back) and was devoured by the seagulls.  There must be a tenderloin on the underside towards the bottom because that's what the birds hit first.

The rocks and sand matched Bella.  No brainer to include this one.

She retrieved a bigger rock this time.  Surprised again.

This is what I'm used to seeing.  Sticks have always been her thing.  I imagine her having an east coast accent in this shot.  Right now she's saying, "Hey, fongul!!!"

There are hundreds of old artillery positions in and around the San Francisco hills and they are nearly all universally grafitti'd.  I have no idea why I struck this half assed Emminem wannabe, hip-hop, knock-off pose.   The colors of the graffiti matched my shirt, though!

Another portrait that Nikki was very proud of.  I must admit, I like it as well.  Like many folks, I pick apart most portraits taken of me, but this one turned out nice.  We were both practicing making sure our jaw lines were prominent, which they say is one of  the keys to a good portrait.

Same spot, Nikki's turn.

Sunrise with Daniel Larusso's tree in the background.  The bird in the middle just asked the one to the right about the tenderloin on the crab with the french accent.

Some dude in a cowboy hat was fishing in the early morning.  I like to make up stories about absolute strangers so I'll say this about him:  He recently moved to California from Montana because of his work.  He prefers fly fishing, but any day he can put a line in the water beats a day without fishing.   He had to leave early to meet a client but planned on fishing again around 4:30, right at dusk.  He's sort of boring, which makes meeting women a huge challenge.  His profile can be found on  Search "boring,cowboy,montana,heath ledger,jake gylennhaall,confused".

This is not just another cliche sunrise shot.  There is a little nugget behind the back wave in the top right quadrant of the shot:  I inadvertently captured a dolphin.   It's small, I know, but I didn't plan on it.  For those doubters in the audience, I was shooting in rapid fire mode and in the photo immediately before this one, you can see the wave with no dolphin.

A bird sits in repose amongst an oil slick from a negligent oil company.  We later cleaned him off with Dawn (TM) and nursed him back to health.  Just kidding.

I love the fact that all animals have the "play" gene.  There is no biological reason for this bird to keep this ball, but he tossed it around and then took off with it like a kid taking his ball and going home.

Sunset cliche alert!!

This little girl was fascinated with these gigantic bubbles.  I was set up to shoot long exposure sunset shots when I wheeled around and saw her chasing the bubbles.  This is after sunset so I had to change the settings from (insert some camera geek talk) to (more camera geek talk) to get the shot.  I was pretty proud that I damn near got her in focus.

This might be my favorite shot from the trip.  Those colors aren't photoshopped in any way, that's the real deal.  Any number of religious, self-help, inspirational memes could be used in conjunction with this shot.  That is a random kid who climbed up the "ladder" and put his arms out as seen.  I shot this through the window of the house.

This is the second night and the sunset wasn't quite as brilliant as the first.   I was taking long term exposures (30 seconds) to get that dreamy look in the water.  I liked the shot but thought it needed a little extra "something" so I decided to put myself in the shot.  That's me standing there for 30 seconds. I liked the result.

Cliche window shot!  I bet there's not a woman who viewed this photo who didn't go "Awwwww.........".  That's what we call a crowd pleaser.  This was right before we had to leave and Nikki told me I had one shot.  This was it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Favorites

I was looking through the shots I took this year and started pulling out my favorites. It's a weird process because often times there's no rhyme or reason to why something is a favorite.   In general something in the  photo speaks to me and it creates an emotional attachment.  Maybe it's the light, or the moment, or the color, or the expression, or something somebody said.  Whatever the case, these are the ones that spoke to me.

 Ryan's Senior photos.  He really wanted to have his guitar in the shots and this one is reminiscent of an old Rolling Stone magazine type of shot.

 I like the dream-like quality to this shot taken in the early morning.  This is a hill Bella can no longer climb so I'm nostalgic about the location as well.

Mt. Shasta, over 14,000 feet in elevation, is seemingly out of place in the surrounding landscape, which is virtually flat.

This one is easy to explain.

Bella in the forest in Marin County. I'm nostalgic about this as well since she can't walk these hills anymore.  She sure looks happy.

 My nephew Jacob's senior photos taken at Mare Island.  The lighting and colors make this one stand out for me.

Jacob playing baseball at Raley Field, a AAA ball field.  This one is symbolic of "Big League Dreams", it's the closest most of these kids will ever get to being professional players.

A small, insignificant moment in a high school ballgame that signifies everything great about being around sports and teammates.  Soon after this grab-ass moment the coach screamed, "Logan, how many outs are there?"

Border Collies corralling a stray cow in the hills surrounding our house.  The herds are moved periodically from one plot of land to the next.  These working dogs are extremely good at what they do and fun to watch.

 Gypsy Taub is a nudity activist in San Francisco.  She was out in the Castro District protesting City Supervisor Scott Wiener's (no joke) ban on public nudity.  I asked her to show me what she thinks of Wiener and this is what I got.

Taken in the Mission area in San Francisco. The texture and color of this background does it for me.

Nikki's parents at the Cliff House restaurant.  Dave often looks angry in photos, so this was a nice change to capture him looking happy.

We were wine tasting at the Blue Victorian when this giant walked up with its owner.

Bella Winery in Healdsburg.  I don't appear in many photos so this was a nice change.  Like any photographer worth his salt, however, I told them exactly where to stand and frame the shot.

This was taken at Bella Winery as well.  Her family was having a picnic on the lawn and she was having a darn good time.  I love how carefree she is in this shot.

This old dog hangs around Il Fiorello where we went take a cooking class.  It's quite common to have dogs roaming the property of the wineries.

Our good friend Jonna from Denver.  I try to take portraits of friends and family when they come in from out of town.  This might be my favorite type of shot because it often reveals who the person is.  She was looking off to her left because her husband (below) was pounding on my drums and making commentary.

Our good friend Jay.  We played rec league basketball together at about age 8 and we've been friends ever since.  You know you have a long time friend when real-time conversations have ranged from "hair down there"  to receding hairlines.

Jacob on the day of his last game with his American Legion team, the Fairfield Expos.  Soon after this he left for the Air Force Academy.

Jayson Benn of the Akron, Ohio based band "Shivering Timbers".   He has a Kurt Cobain-esque thing about him.

Sarah Benn from "Shivering Timbers".   Her voice has a Grace Slick quality to it.

Chris Parodi's senior photos.  The colors and texture make this photo for me.

Nikki at the house we rented in Santa Barbara.  She loved the book wall and I loved the lighting.

Our good friends Jen and Will met us in Santa Barbara from Colorado.  Lots of good wine, food, and conversation.

The owner of a bar in Santa Barbara.  I don't even know the guy's name, but he struck me as the prototypical "Irish Guy" so I had to get a shot.

Santa Barbara pier.  The dog on the back makes the shot.

The Loy family.  The son on the left side of the picture was leaving for College the next day so I was asked to take some photos.  The boys were pretty reserved so I asked them to kiss their mother, hoping to get a smile.  She pointed to her cheeks right after I said it and I caught this moment. 

This is me soon after taking the shot of Jason above.  We were walking on these giant river rocks so I thought it would cool to get some shots.  I was laying on my back on a rock just below Jason, instructing Nikki where to hold the flash.  I got a few shots off and then slowly started sliding off the rock, with thousands of dollars of equipment in my hands.  The 50 degree water was breathtaking, but I managed to hold the equipment above the water until I could get my feet underneath me.  Crisis averted.

Jacob and Jason at parent's weekend at the Air Force Academy Prep School.  Jason idolizes his older brother and you can see it on his face.  Jason is wearing his dad's (USAFA Class of '89) Liberty Bowl jersey and Jacob lives in the same dorm room I lived in.  Pretty cool family day.

Amanda started chemotherapy shortly after this was taken and she is still battling hard.  Without prompting or direction she sat down and struck this pose.  Prior to this she was somewhat fussy because the nearby playground had her full attention. We all kind of shook our heads and asked, "Where did that come from?"

My tennis racket on the new stringer.  Buying the stringer was a major departure from my "Pain In The Ass" theory.

Penny Rose in the vineyards.  Colorado has the Aspen trees in the fall and we have the vineyards changing colors.  Her coloring really makes the photo.  Any other color of dog wouldn't have been quite the same.

My sister looking out the window of  Mona Lisa restaurant in San Francisco.  I can see the 8 year old girl that used to kick my ass in this shot.

My cousin Jessica when she came to California to visit.  She's 26 and I think this is only the third or fourth time I've ever seen her.  She's become a smart, independent, beautiful person.

Jason in baseball gear.  I wanted to get some shots similar to the ones I have of Jacob.  Also, this is the precursor to Nikki's photo bomb shot below.  This is where I first experimented with the powder.

This is Bella in December, amazing how quickly an older dog's abilities change.  She can still get out on the flat ground, though.

Tyke the miniature horse.  A friend of ours asked me to get some shots of Tyke in full Christmas regalia, which we did.  This simple shot turned out to be my favorite.

 The photo bomb shot.  This was unintentional, but it will turn out to be the greatest Christmas card we ever produce.  I don't think I can top this.  Nikki was gracious enough to allow this to be our card, with the text of the blog on the back.