Wednesday, July 7, 2010

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Picture of the Week, 6/28/10

Picture of the Week, 6/28/10: Seeing how this week we have our first named tropical storm, Alex, I thought I would mark the occasion by posting an image shot during Hurricane Hugo. For those who may not remember the specifics, Hugo reached category 5 status in September of 1989 and struck various Caribbean islands and eventually made it's way into South Carolina leaving in its wake a massive path of destruction.

I happened to be on my father's sports fishing boat in St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands when Hugo formed. Along with the boat's captain and the two fishing mates the four of us decided to confront the storm off Virgin Gorda in the BVI. It was a crap shoot deciding where to actually go and fortunately for us we made the right decision. Other boats decided the would stay in St. Thomas or go east to the island of Culebra or even Puerto Rico.

In Virgin Gorda we found a small bay lined with mangroves where we threw out all the anchors we had and tied all the ropes we could to the mangroves. At about 4 a.m. we were hit with winds of 110 mph that continued for a very long 8 hours. We could see boats around us loosing anchorage and being rag-dolled by the fierce winds; some did not make it. Fortunately for us the mangroves held our lines tight and help ease the strain on the anchors. We suffered some minor damage but nothing compared to the fate of so many others. Those that stayed in St. Thomas or ventured east took the brunt of the category 4 and 5 winds; the destruction was devastating.

I took this photograph at about 6 a.m. during the worst of the storm. I was able to walk out on the cockpit of the boat and snap several images with an amphibious Nikonis camera. Once back in the salon of the boat I removed the film from the camera and placed in a waterproof bag in case we sunk; the one thing I did not want to loose was that film!

So now we are back in hurricane season and while I don't wish one to hit anywhere near populated areas if one does and it finds me in the vicinity I'll be sure to have a camera ready--and some waterproof bags!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Picture of the Week, 6/22/10

6/22/10: (Because of recent trips to the Bahamas and South Carolina Picture of the Week has been on hold . . . we now resume.)

Great Isaac is a tiny rock island in the Bahamas with a lighthouse and a few abandoned buildings. The closest inhabited island to Great Isaac is Bimini, which lies 22 miles to the south. Flocks of terns and sea gulls, besides small reptiles, are the only living species on the island. The surrounding waters are beautiful and full of fish, perfect for diving and spear fishing.

In between diving I took a swim to the island and scrambled up the sea urchin filled rocks along the shore and to the top of the island where the lighthouse sat. There I came across a small abandoned warehouse and framed an image with my camera looking out a doorway. At the moment I was prepared to snap the shutter a tern came flying right towards the opened doorway; apparently this building was its home.

We both surprised each other but somehow I managed to press the shutter release and keep the camera framed and in-focus. It was an image that was not planned but simply by being prepared and having tons of luck on my side I captured a rather fleeting moment to the say the least!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Picture of the Week, 6/7/10

6/7/10: A quick summation of this week's Picture of the Week. I'll be joining these boys in the Bahamas for the rest of the week and there's a good chance that by the time you read this I've already dove in and I'm hunting for lobsters!

I am going to try my best to keep posting PoW over the next couple of months but I can't promise. Summer is here and I've got me a new pair of 'traveling shoes' to wear-in. Any one tired of all the BS the world keeps throwing at us is welcome to join me. Just look for the ball headed Cuban chewing on some tender lobster and drinking another cold one-- viva 'Cuba-Libre'! (w/ lime of course.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Custom Surfboard Inlay

It took a while to come up with the right material, an image that would fit and figuring out a few printing technical issues but once I did my idea of laminating an original photographic Giclee print came to fruition. The finish product is both beautiful and stunning.
The actual surfboard is a 7'6" Firo hand shaped 'fun board' by Steve Firogenis of West Palm Beach, Florida. Steve was instrumental in working through several problem areas including resining the print on the board, laminating fiberglass over it and pin lining the edges of the image. The finish quality lies in the detail and that's where Steve is at his best.
If you don't look at this as an art piece the board begs to be ridden, which makes the piece even more fun in that it's an actual handcrafted surfboard ready to be waxed and taken out in the water, but how can you? Or can you? That's for you to decide!
I plan to create more of these "surfboard art" pieces, working with various
shapers that still handcraft their surfboards. Different board designs will be ordered and I will use a variety of images that lend themselves to the shape of the board, making each finished piece a one-of-a-kind, fine art creation. Because of the custom nature of the beast no two surfboards will be the same though each specific photo design will be a limited edition series. Each print will be signed, titled and numbered on the image so it can be seen on the board. This first board is th
e prototype to future ones and as of this moment belongs to me. Before the idea of inlaying a Giclee print I had designed this board to ride. I'm dying to use it though for now I best keep my desires in check until a collector comes along!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Details in Waves

Here are a series of photographs that I made on two consecutive cold winter days in South Florida. The weather was unusually cold for these parts with north west winds and clear atmospheric conditions. Furthermore short period swells were constantly coming on-shore. The effect of all this was crystal clear water, small waves and off-shore winds that smoothed the surface of the ocean.

The waves where beautiful but lacked energy and were too small to photograph in their entirety. However the conditions and light were almost perfect and there was something I needed to focus the camera on.

My first instinct was to photograph underwater with a wide angle lens--in this case a 14mm--which I did until it felt like I wasn't coming up with anything radically new. (The two above images.)

What I kept noticing, besides the crystalline nature of the water, was how vibrant the color of the water was and how golden streaks of light were streaking through the blue/green faces. I thus changed plans and swam in to swap lenses and go with a 50mm that I could use to focus in on the details.

On a technical side there was no way auto focus would work fast enough and consequently I pre-focus the lens at about one and a half feet. I had no idea how this would work though I was aware that there would be practically no depth of field to help me out; still I shot on aperture priority hoping to squeak out an inch or two.

As I mentioned above I shot on consecutive days, which meant I had a day to see my first attempt. I was pleased though I could tell how difficult it was to stop the action at such close focusing distant and to nail the focus. Nevertheless I was encouraged enough to try more of the same on a second day.

Did I learn and would I do things a bit different? Possibly yes though overall I'm pleased with the results and when looking at some of the images on a large computer monitor I become transfixed by the beauty in the details and the overall abstract effect of the images. In some instances it's hard to define the image of a wave and instead the photograph becomes one of color and light, which were the two elements that attracted me in the first place.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Rush of Water

For years I've enjoyed putting together slide shows upon returning from overseas travels. My friends and family found them entertaining and it was a fun way of sharing in my experiences and my photography. Originally the shows were shown on a single Kodak Carousel Projector and later they evolved to where I was using multiple projectors with synchronized sounds for a true multimedia experience. The one constant I always incorporated in my shows was a kick-ass sound track; there might have been a few critical comments about the images but never about the music!

Today of course the world has been digitized and with that so have my shows. Everything is basically still the same however now I work with digital files and not slides and I use a DVD player attached to a digital projector instead of the carousel trays. Naturally the music is still there. However now I can add captions, recorded sounds and in the future I will add motion videos.

The digital shows that I've produced up to now have been on the average of 30 minutes, which are way too long to post online. Thus I decided it would be fun to try creating a short version specifically to place on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet. I had recently recorded some sounds of waves breaking upon the beach and that gave me the idea of using 'water' as a theme. The photographs are not cohesive in any manner other than water and the idea was just to have some fun and give this a try. I used several shots of my son at the beach setting off balloons for his deceased mother on Mothers Day only to ground the show and give it a bit of spirituality, something I tend to do on many of my productions even though I never intend to from the onset. I guess there's more to life than meets the eye! Anyway, I hope to create many more for both the Internet and for public showings as I truly enjoy this manner of sharing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beach Time

Seems like there's been plenty of reason to head to the beach these days (late fall/early winter in South Florida). The weather has cooled (trust me, it's no fun going to the beach when the air temperature is 98 degrees, the sand is 90 degrees and the water a balmy 88 degrees),
the surf is picking up again and the college girls and boys are back in town!

For me it's a time of two great choices; enjoy the water and surf or make use of some beautiful, crystal clear light with which to photograph. These photographs were shot on two separate occasions in one week. I love the mood of the beach and try making images that convey the rhythm of the moment. It's a time when walking around with one camera and the most two lenses is enough; no reason to draw attention to oneself. All one needs to do is slow down and enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crazy Hollow

There's this vine engulfed tree that for months and even years has captured my imagination. It sits not far from my house and I drive by it periodically. I've asked those that life near it about it but they know very little. All I know is that this tree sits on an empty, sand filled lot and is clothed in a strange vine.

No one is sure the type of tree it is nor of the vine. All anyone knows is that the tree still stands and the vine no matter how many times it's cut back just keeps on growing. No matter, I'm only interested in the visual essence of this tree.

Being that the tree sits in a non-descriptive lot surrounded by homes, power lines, sand and other nearby trees it isn't a subject that is easily isolated and photographed. However, I was looking for more than a tree snapshot and for the longest time I couldn't figure out what.

Eventually I figured it was time to shoot before someone bought the lot and unearthed this piece of nature's sculpture. At my wits end I called upon a friend who had shot with me once before and asked if she would pose by a tree. She agreed and a day later began shooting.

Technically I decided to underexpose the background and use one light source with a large beauty dish. A Zork lens was used in several of the images to create spacial distortion. The vine had always given me the creeps and once I began shooting I focused on creating both a mysterious and frightening feel to the images.

It was a real challenge and for that very reason that I wanted to photograph something out of my comfort zone and to simply push me into creating, good or bad. The purpose was not to create an award winning set of images but to simply challenge myself and to that end I did; still though that crazy tree has not loosened its grip on my imagination.

Postscript: Two months later I drove by the lot and the tree was gone!

A summer (winter) vacation in NZ

What better way to spend the month of July than getting away from the heat, humidity and mosquitoes of South Florida and spending it way 'Down Under' or close enough. My son and I packed winter clothes for our summer vacation, flew countless hours and thankfully landed in the land of Lord of the Rings and lamb chop, New Zealand!

It was a vacation that falls under the category of "best"! Renting a camper van equipped with all the essential necessities we traversed both the North and South Islands and managed to stay on the 'right' side of the road for the most part. We hiked, went Zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a giant golf ball), traversed river gorges in zip lines, ate vegemite (well, I did), surfed in freezing water, went bird watching and searching for yellow-eye penguins, snowboarded some incredible mountains and of course we bungy jumped WITH our eyes open! Had we more time who knows, we might have parachuted to the top of some remote glacier or explored some other adrenalin-inducing invention the Kiwis are so well known for.

I could continue and tell you that the scenery is beyond beautiful, the people are accommodating, the wine is cheap and quite good, that street littering is almost impossible to find, that it rains a lot in the winter and that you'll see at least one sheep if not a thousand every day you are there, guaranteed, but why spoil your opportunity at discovery! I came back with some images but trust me, I left a lot more than I brought back. Reason enough to go back. Cheers!

[Technical stuff: Traveled with a Nikon D3 and D300; no zoom lenses for the D3, only prime lenses ranging from 14mm to 180mm; took one zoom for the D300 the DX 12-24mm; all CF cards were dumped into an Epson P-4000 viewer/storage drive and a Wolverine 160 GB storage drive; other accessories included a light weight Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, an SPL splash housing and a Lowepro Dryzone backpack.]

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Picture of the Week, 6/2/10

6/2/10: "Side by Side", that's the title of this week's Picture of the Week. I selected this image to signify the beginning of summer after this Memorial Day weekend. (Sorry to my Southern Hemisphere friends). Many of you as I am are feeling the pain of a sunburn after a long weekend of beach side/pool side/lake side frolicking. It's not an easy day today to get back in the swing of work or to finish up with final exams of another school year.

However, once this week is done summer begins in earnest and I suggest you invite your partner, a friend or maybe just your dog for long, lazy strolls on a beach, side by side. While you enjoy some good conversation or maybe walk in quiet make sure to feel the sand between your toes, the water lapping against your feet and take in the scenery; there's no hurry so walk slow. Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Picture of the Week, 5/24/10

5/24/10: So what makes a school of mullet swim at a frantic pace and jump out of the water? Well, I might have one answer.

It was a beautiful September afternoon at Reef Road in Palm Beach, Florida that saw glassy four foot waves rolling in and a plethora of surfers maneuvering to ride them. The conditions were excellent for water photography and with water housing in hand and fins on feet I swam out to capture some of the action.

As the afternoon rolled on I began to notice large black shadows moving underneath the surface of the water, which I immediately took to be large schools of fish. This is a common site along the shores of South Florida during the spring and fall as schools of fish migrate up and down the east coast of the United States. The point being, I wasn't worried.

Suddenly however the black shadows start moving erratically and quickly and then out of the depth of the shadow large numbers of fish (mullet in this case) begin jumping out of the water; this is something they're not normally known to do unless of course they're being chased by large predatory fish. It could be snook, tarpon, jacks and even sharks that are hungry for mullet. I had no clue what spooked the mullets but suddenly I was surrounded by this frenzy.

I called out to the surfers to come lend me a surfboard to float on but for some reason non came. It was literally raining mullets all around me and there was nothing I could do. Fortunately my instincts to photograph this spectacle took over and thus the shot you see here, which I must admit is rather rare. Still, I had no idea what was making the mullet behave so erratic. However at one point I submerged my camera completely under the water and pointed it downward beneath my legs and snapped a photograph expecting to see more mullets in the image.

That evening I downloaded the images to my computer and took a quick glance at them. It was then that the answer to the original question came to light. In the one frame where I poked the camera underneath me and snapped the shutter I saw a large school of mullet with a big hole in the middle of them and in that hole swam a six foot bull shark. He was no more than five feet away, totally unbeknownst to me but not to the mullets and obviously not to the surfers that fail to come and lend me a board!

Camera used was the Nikon D3 with the 14mm f/2.8D Nikkor Lens inside an SPL splash water housing. Exposure was 1/500 of a second at f/4.5 at an ISO setting of 200.