Friday, March 26, 2010

Weisendanger Falls, Some Industrial Stuff, and a Sunset


I've been trying to stay active the last week, pushing some boundaries and just doing my best to be motivated and getting out.


Spring time is my favorite time to go hiking, I love the wet trails and generally busier creeks. I was hoping the recent wet, cool weather would equal plenty of snow melt and higher water, but it wasn't really anything I noticed.


The rain was perfect for me, coming down heavily for about fifteen minutes as I reached my turn-around point, and then just sort of spitting out a little bit for the two hours I shot on my way back to the trail head. The wind wasn't really a factor, so I was able to use my umbrella when needed, and caught most of these exposures umbrella-free.



I've also decided that it is time for me to familiarize myself with post-processing on my images, mostly in hopes that when I am taking pictures for a living I will be prepared to fix up some images that aren't quite where I want them. I shot this industrial shoot with that in mind, it really required me to rethink my whole approach.


Lucky for me I haven't had the need to learn much yet, although what I've picked up in the last week has been really helpful. I've learned to heighten my contrast without giving an artificial look to my images, which is great. I've also picked up a tip or two I might need when I take some portraits, although none of those practice images are here.


I hope you've enjoyed seeing these! Not much else to report, I'm just keeping my head down, working through my planning, and trying to stay positive. I'm on my way to making this work!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Images From the Last Few Weeks


Not a lot to talk about right now, it's been pretty quiet around here as I enter my second month of unemployment.  I'm still working in a lot of study time, it's amazing how many resources there are out there.  I've tried to get out a couple of times a week to take some pictures, although I am kind of full of waterfront shots and the like.



I've been playing with the custom settings on my camera lately.  Getting deep into the options, it's a lot of fun!  I've found a way to make some of the trickier night shots come out better.  That orange light that is so often used for streetlights can come out really ugly, but this particular mix of settings tends to tone it down.


Mr. Bigglesworth was sitting in the window as I was preparing some test shots, so I decided to do my setup shots on him.  Surprisingly, he sat still the whole time and just looked at me, so I was lucky enough to get the settings right and a good composition.



The other day I took a walk up to Washington Park and did a short shoot there.  I just wanted to get out and do something, and I hadn't been up to the park for months.  As you know, most of the interesting shots here have been done many times, so I wanted to try to find something new. 



Luckily a few flowers are starting to bloom, so I had some more predictable subjects to shoot when I couldn't find anything interesting and new.  The wind was really blowing, so it made the flower shots tough to take.  I went with a higher ISO to try to get a nice clear shot.



I hope you're all doing great!  I just wanted to share these.  I haven't really had anything exceptional come through lately, but I am still out there trying to stay sharp and keep my imagination alive.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Night at Portland's Hollywood Theater


I volunteered to help with a photography project at the historic Hollywood Theater here in Portland today.  The non-profit theater hosted the official Oscar party for Portland, and I took part as a "paparazzi" on the red carpet.

Although I am not an experienced event photographer, I am still pretty happy with how the shots came out.  Amazingly, I had way more quality shots than I could choose from... it was very tough narrowing it down to a modest amount for my blog.


Normally when I shoot, I use my tripod and spend a ton of time setting up the shots... with these, it was mostly try to catch the people as they walked a very short distance past me.  I had a lot of trouble with focus and catching people looking normal.  Some people would stop and pose for the cameras, and I'd try to catch them as they stood still for ten seconds.



Most of these required a lot of cropping and some degree of color manipulation.  The preceding photo, for example, was shot in color and was filled with a lot of wasted space.  I'm really happy with the way the BW cropped shot looks, but I still would rather have had some shots (like this one specifically) come out better.  Well, it was good practice all the same, and that's how I get better.



It was a lot of fun to be taking pictures with a small group.  There were four other photographers, and we tried to do our best to make a bunch of flashes as people walked up the carpet.  I'm not sure how well it created the illusion of fame and fortune, but most of the people walking by seemed to enjoy it.



Eventually I kind of got the hang of where people would be walking by, and how to properly get the shot exposed with my flash.  It was a real learning curve, I tell you what!  As the hour wore on, I set my focus to auto, tried to leave my zoom at 70mm, and just caught people right at one specific spot on the carpet.  It worked out really well, and I had shots that I really didn't have to crop much at all.  Unfortunately, I did have one of my best shots ruined (the woman above with the hat) with a too soft focus... well, I'll remember that next time.


This was a great experience and I hope I am able to take part again next year.  After the red carpet festivities, I went inside and was treated to a delicious catered buffet and enjoyed some of the Oscar show on the big screen.  It was a really festive party, but unfortunately I wasn't really able to get any great pictures of the goings on.


I had a few shots come out from inside the theater... shot handheld at ISO 1600, then brightened up considerably with Picasa.  I'd have loved to take my tripod... I didn't really think it'd be appropriate, although in retrospect it would have been just fine.