Helped and Hassled

Where: Atlanta Airport Hotel

 

 

Between Meeting: After Photoshop World

 

 

TrunksetHotel Light lr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was trying to get home early after Photoshop World last week, but no seats were available on the last flight out of Atlanta. So I checked into an airport hotel for the first flight out the next morning.

 

 

While airport hotels are usually where the action isn’t, great light is great light and for about 45 minutes, it was great.

 

 

Shafts of light were streaming across the congruent floors in the open plan interior. I found the best angle and waited for someone to walk across one of the floors to create a striking silhouette. I waited and waited and nothing, nobody. I was feeling a bit down and about to bail when a friendly young woman walking to the elevator, which was behind me, smiled and asked what I was doing. I told her about the amazing light and that I was waiting for someone to walk by for a silhouette with no success. She immediately volunteered and I remember saying, “Really!” She asked where she should go and I directed her to the 3rd floor for the best angle since we were on the 5th floor. It would have been awkward for me to yell across the building to move toward the window so I used arm and hand signals until she was in the best spot. After making the exposures I quickly went to the 3rd floor to show her the results on the camera’s LCD. She was thrilled, I was delighted, and I gave her my business card asking her to email me so I could send her the image with my thanks.

 

 

The light was still great, so I headed outside and saw an interesting film noir-ish scene via the backlit cars in the parking lot. Due to the extreme contrast ratio I was doing a bracket of exposures when I heard, “What are you doing, I’m calling Security”. Unlike the woman inside who was incredibly helpful, this hotel employee was, shall we say, the opposite. I told her I was just taking pictures of the light on the cars, and within 20 seconds a hotel Security Agent was all over me like a cheap suit. “Who are you, this is private property” as if I was working for Vladimir Putin and plotting the annexation of the parking lot in the name of Mother Russia to complement the take over of Crimea. Or maybe I was unaware that if one parks their car in the hotel’s lot, that the vehicle’s title and registration is forfeited to the hotel…

 

 

After I gave the agent my name, room number etc. I remember thinking he was probably doing what he thought was right. And when he did his report and saw that I’m at the highest level of this hotel chain’s membership rewards program, that maybe he should have been a little friendlier and think in terms of customer service first, like my new friend inside the building. I learned the women who posed for me was in a training program for Delta Airlines where customer service is mission critical. After exchanging emails with her it was clear Delta Airlines both spotted a wonderful person to represent them, and in their training program, likely reinforced how small things can go a long way to building customer loyalty.

 

 

Maybe the hotel should send its employees, to the same customer training programs of which its guests are enrolled.

 

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Poolside

Where: Las Vegas, NV

 

 

Between Meeting: During Photoshop World

 

 

Mandalay Chairs I’m at Photoshop World this week in Atlanta, and was reminded of an image I took during a recent Photoshop World in Las Vegas.

 

 

Right after the Expo closed I took a walk by the wave pool at Mandalay Bay. I saw several tourists with cameras shooting the artificial waves by the fake beach and knew, there would be a great shot if I looked in the opposite direction of the obvious.

 

 

These unused beach chairs were stacked in a corner and I simply dragged them out of the shadows about 10 feet, and angled them so the light raked left to right.

 

 

In color the chairs have a golden glow, but a quick conversion to black-and-white brought out the simple elegance of these mundane objects.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Negative Space

Where: San Pedro, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Heading Back to the Office

 

 

Fermin AirThis is the negative space composition I was working before I noticed the nuns to my left.

 

 

Great light, clean, simple but it just needed something. Fortunately some kids started to shoot hoops and I chose an angle where they would be out of frame.

 

 

While they were taking their shots, I found my shot.

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Tokyo Dawn

Where: Tokyo, Japan

 

 

Between Meeting: Morning Before Meetings at Headquarters

 

 

Shinjuku StareIt was the usual drill. Arrive at Narita, Immigration, Customs and the long train ride to Tokyo. Check into the hotel, try to stay up, crash, then wake up at 3:30am due to jet lag.

 

 

 

I was pacing around my 20th floor room thinking about what to do before my 8:30am train to Matsumoto. Then at dawn, I looked out the window and saw a sea of people slowly moving in the Shinjuku Central Park.  

 

 

 

When I got to the park I found about 100 elderly people doing exercises to recorded music. It was summer so many were wearing white exercise outfits but I was drawn to this man who was wearing a simple white t-shirt. When there is a large group of people it’s easy to want to show everybody. But by taking a low angle to remove distracting elements, I was able to create a simple and visually interesting connection with this one person.

 

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Do You See The Light

Where: New York, NY

 

 

Between Meeting: Outside My Hotel During Photo Plus Expo

 

 

Light Man 2There was a construction site across the street from my hotel. It was a typical scene found throughout Manhattan where the sidewalk is diverted and/or enclosed to protect pedestrians.

 

 

While the metal fencing protected pedestrians, the area in the morning was on the shadow side of the street and as a result, looked very pedestrian. But when I returned to my hotel after the show, the last light of the day illuminated the metal giving it a warm 3D glow.

 

 

Right before sunset I noticed a shaft of light hitting people as they walked by. I waited for a person with the perfect height to walk by and light up his or her face. At least 50 people passed through the scene and the shaft of light was either hitting their hair or their neck. To complicate things, the shaft of light was moving as the sun was setting and trucks would go by and intermittently block the light. Finally, the right person walked by at the right time and it reminded me of that great scene in the Blues Brothers when John Belushi is lit up and James Brown preaches, “Do you see the light!” 30 seconds later the light was gone.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Flying Nun?

Where: San Pedro, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Heading Back to the Office

 

 

Blue Nun After meeting with photographers in Hollywood, I headed south on the 405 back to the office. It was late afternoon and based on traffic that day (and almost all days), there was no way I’d be back before 6pm.

 

 

The weather was beautiful so I decided to take a detour onto the 110 to a place I used to go to in high school called Pt Fermin.

 

 

Pt Fermin is a park on a cliff at the southern most part of Los Angeles with beautiful views of the Pacific ocean. I starting taking interesting negative space images of a basketball court when I saw two nuns at an ocean overlook. I had an immediate flashback to one of my earliest childhood memories of a TV show called, the Flying Nun.

 

 

I was mesmerized by this program because it was so bizarre, and after watching this clip now as an adult, it’s still bizarre.

 

 

I introduced myself to the nuns and they told me they often come to this ocean overlook to read and pray. I asked if I could photograph them and they were very obliging. I knew they couldn’t say no, but I didn’t tell the nun above, I was finding the right angle to make her look like Sally Field catching a thermal over the Pacific.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

The Blues

Where: Miami Beach, FL

 

 

Between Meeting: After Photoshop World

 

 

Miami Stare AA few  years ago Photoshop World was held in Miami Beach. While South Beach comes alive with color and crowds during the afternoon and well into the night, there is a different vibe earlier in the day.

 

 

The mornings are quiet and the people on the street are a mix of locals and the less fortunate.

 

 

I met this man around 7am on Ocean Drive. Instead of a quick, “Hey can I take your picture”, I struck up a conversation about how the blue colors he was wearing connected with the blue paint of the art deco hotel behind him. That broke the ice, enabling me to make a picture that tells a story about this man’s experiences.

 

 

 

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Viva Las Vegas

Where: Las Vegas, NV

 

 

Between Meeting: Prep Day for CES

 

 

Showgirl CrossingCat Shades

I’m headed to Las Vegas today for WPPI. I’m in Vegas 3-4 times a year for trade shows, and several tell me how incredibly lucky I am to travel so often to such a glamorous place.  Well…

 

 

It’s true that I love going to Vegas but not for the gambling, the shows or the restaurants.  I love it because of the Edward Hopper style photographs I can make late in the day with the raking light, and for the down and out scenes by looking beyond the Statue of Liberty, Pyramid and Eiffel Tower.

 

 

I captured these glamorous scenes on my way to oversee the installation of print galleries at CES. It was a blustery day and I found these two showgirls walking between hotels, through a construction site, wearing overcoats for the cold. I especially like the the look of the pedestrians who are paying zero attention to the showgirls and are just trying to stay warm. Very glamorous. Then I ran into a pan-handler whose sunglassed cat was wearing a woolly sweater because of the outdoor air temp.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Do You Remember Back in Old LA…

Where: Santa Monica, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Snow Day

 

 

Ferris Wheel Old

I received an automated call last month that my flights from LA through DC and home to Rochester were cancelled due to weather. The message told me I was re-booked for the same flights the next day, Sunday. I essentially had a West Coast weekend snow day!

 

 

I’m in LA a week a month but it’s usually a 7am to 7pm office routine where I don’t see much of Southern California, or enjoy temperatures that can be 50+ degrees warmer than back home. It seems the only time I can enjoy the weather is not having to trudge through ice and snow from my rental car in the parking lot to the lobby. And I smile when I see colleagues getting out of their cars wearing parkas because morning temperatures have dipped below the 60 degree mark, because I used to be one of them.

 

 

To the shock of many who think I’m a born and bred New Yorker, I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and was sweeping floors for photographers in Hollywood as a teenager. I then went to college in the utopia of Santa Barbara, before heading East to Chicago and eventually New York City.

 

 

So with my free day, I gave myself an assignment to shoot something iconic but make it feel like the LA I knew as a kid. Within a few nano-seconds one can tell that I am not a surfer, but like the Beach Boys who also never surfed except for the drummer, I headed to the beach and specifically the Santa Monica pier. While color film was around when I was growing up (I’m not that old but there was no D before SLR in those days) I looked for a scene that would look great split-toned for a feeling of nostalgia. I also forced myself to use a wider focal length vs my usual tight compositions.

 

 

Towards the end of the day the wind kicked up and created a hazy silhouette of the people on the beach. Instead of spit-toning, the recently released Analog Efex Pro gave me more control for a look that helped reset the calendar, sans the solar panels in front of the Ferris Wheel.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Northern Shadows

Where: Vancouver, Canada

 

 

Between Meeting: Night Before Meeting with London Drugs

 

 

Van Shadows

 

I arrived at my hotel late afternoon and headed to the concierge lounge.

 

 

The lounge was on the top floor and had an outdoor deck. The door to the deck was locked because it was still winter so I asked a hotel employee if she would unlock the door. She looked puzzled and asked why, so I told her the light might be great. She looked more puzzled but unlocked the door.

 

 

I looked all around and didn’t see anything interesting and only felt the cold. For grins, I peered over the side and saw these wonderful shadows.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Arrêt de Bus

Where: Montreal, Canada

 

 

Between Meeting: Day Before Epson Print Academy

 

 

Bus Stop It was my first trip to Montreal and instead of seeing the usual sights, I hopped on a St. Laurent Blvd. bus.

 

 

St. Laurent runs through different ethnic neighborhoods that developed over decades of immigration. I stayed on the bus for a few miles and enjoyed watching the neighborhoods change character based on their influences from French, Jewish, Portuguese, Italian and Chinese cultures.

 

 

 

I also stayed on the bus because the light was flat and blah.

 

 

With the light not improving, I got off the bus and looked for tight pictures where I could crop out the dull. Right there at the bus stop, I saw this optical illusion. A man was waiting at the shelter with a horizontal orange line painted on the exterior of two glass walls. His position sitting on a bench between the glass walls, with a vertical seam on the glass closest to camera, simultaneously reminded me of both M.C. Escher, and a basic geometry lesson of parallel lines and bisecting angles.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane)

Where: Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

 

 

Between Meeting: Night Before Worldwide Meeting

 

 

Composite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flights from North America into Tokyo’s Narita airport usually arrive late afternoon local time. It can be disorienting because these flights seem to get in only a couple of hours after departure, but they actually arrive the following day. Narita is a long way from central Tokyo so by the time one clears immigration and gets to a bus or train, its 7-8pm when finally checking into a hotel. Right about then the jet lag kicks in and it’s easy to crash. But I force myself to stay awake until midnight because I don’t want to wake up at 2:30am, and some of the best images to be made in Tokyo are at night.

 

 

We stay in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo. It’s a modern part of the city but my favorite section of Shinjuku is Omoide Yokocho or, Memory Lane. It’s the complete opposite of modern and is also known by another name. It’s basically a ramshackle ally jammed with cramp, tiny restaurants and bars just behind the train station. Late at night every seat is taken in these establishments by locals. The alley is filled with amazing smells, noise from the train station and an amber glow that reminds me of an old darkroom safelight.

 

 

The clock in the picture upper left is a nice time stamp showing how this area comes alive late at night. Someday I hope to return to this area with a guide who speaks Japanese and can introduce to the interesting people I see through the small windows, and can identify some of the unusual foods I see on the grills and in the Nabemono.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Livin’ the Dream

Where: An Airport Somewhere in North America

 

 

Between Meeting: Can’t Remember

 

 

Airport

 

Not being a morning person, I turned into a disagreeable hibernating bear when the alarm starting blaring to wake up today for an early morning flight.

 

 

My strategy was to stagger to my seat, put the computer in the overhead (along with my camera) and sleep from Rochester to Chicago. Then fire up the computer on the Chicago to LA leg.

 

 

My plane pushed back on time and I was unconscious in 45 seconds. I’m a light sleeper and I woke up feeling surprising refreshed. So I looked out the window and saw the tarmac, some snow and assumed we were at O’Hare. Now the two airports I know inside and out are ROC and ORD, and as my eyes adjusted, I saw Interstate 390 in New York instead of Interstate 90 in Illinois. 

 

 

We were still on the ground in Rochester. Yep, I’ve been in this movie before and baby, it’s a rerun.

 

 

Turns out we had been waiting on the tarmac for about 40 minutes for the de-icing truck. With a 45 minute connection in Chicago and the de-icing process just starting, I knew I would miss my connection, be spending time at O’Hare and stuck in a middle seat on a later flight to LA.

 

 

I’m now writing from the center seat, in the back, on a later flight and I thought of the above image I made of a fellow traveler. Based on his expression he is probably experiencing his own starring role of flight delays and missed connections.

 

 

Based on the light and the glass I was shooting through, plus the jet in the background, I could have shot this at an airport in either Seattle, Chicago, LA, Toronto, San Fransisco, Washington DC or Boston, but I just can’t remember. Because when you are in the travel twilight zone, it really doesn’t matter where you are because you’re stuck.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Motown

Where: Detroit MI

 

 

Between Meeting: After a Photo Shoot

 

 

DetroitI was directing a photo shoot to create high-resolution print samples with Andre LaRoche at Stage 3 productions.

 

 

Stage 3 is located in Warren Michigan just outside of Detroit.

 

 

Detroit is another one of my favorite “tough towns” to make pictures.  Unfortunately on this trip, I didn’t have much time to make personal pictures and had to head straight back to the airport after the photo shoot.

 

 

Fortunately, the tunnel that connects two terminals at the Detroit Metro airport is filled with interesting changing colors that more than made up for not having time to make pictures in the city.

 

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

My Jersey Shore

Where: Atlantic City, NJ

 

 

Between Meeting: After The Sign World Trade Show

 

 

atlantic My colleagues asked, “Why would you volunteer to staff a small regional trade show?”

 

 

Then they realized the show was in Atlantic City, and they know it’s one of my favorite places for photography. While I enjoy watching Boardwalk Empire, my Atlantic City is full of real life e.g. gritty.

 

 

Right after the trade show closed I headed out to take advantage of the short amount of sweetlight. It was late Fall, great light, but the weather was blustery. Due to the cold there weren’t many people around, but towards the North end of the Boardwalk I saw an interesting graphic element. What caught my eye was a man fishing in a red hoody that reminded me of Pete Turner’s classic “Push”. I was just past Oriental Ave. and for those that know the board game Monopoly, I was in the less glamorous light blue-purple part of town.

 

 

I don’t recall all the profanity barked at me by the man in the red hoody to not take any pictures, but I knew this could be a great shot. I was confident that I could outrun someone chasing me with a fishing pole and tackle box and that I was only interested in the graphic angle from behind. So I just smiled at the barrage of F bombs and when he turned to check on his fishing pole, I lined up the horizon, placed the thirds, made the exposure and proceeded at speed toward the green streets.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Waterworks

Where: New York, NY

 

 

Between Meeting: Before Seeing Peter Max

 

 

Water Hug lr I was 20 minutes early for a meeting with Peter Max. It was a surprisingly warm Spring day so I walked over to Lincoln Center, which is near Peter’s studio, to see if there were interesting people to photograph.

 

 

I was not optimistic on making a good photograph because it was almost noon and the light would be flat.

 

 

Sure enough the light was harsh and non-dimensional. When I’m in this kind of situation I dig deeper and look for ways to make pictures often via reflections in buildings, cars and even sunglasses to take the sting out of the unflattering light. While in that mode, I noticed brief glimpses of people through the jets of the Revson Fountain. 

 

 

I went to manual on the camera to find the right shutter speed to stop the action of the water, but not too fast that individual water droplets would cause distraction from possible subjects. I also turned off auto-focus so that I could ensure sharpness manually on subjects behind the fountain.

 

 

Then I started looking for stories and gestures among the hundreds of people around the fountain. This greeting of two Juilliard students (they put their instruments down first), made an ordinary moment more interesting by shooting through the water jets which also blocked out the harsh highlights behind them from Avery Fisher Hall.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Home For the Holidays

Where: Pittsford, NY

 

 

Between Meeting: Christmas Break

 

 

SnowballEpson is officially closed this week so it’s the time of year where I can finally edit the terabyte or so of Raw files I’ve been shooting.  And also spend time with my family.

 

 

Epson is located in Long Beach, CA and I while I’m originally from LA, I’ve been commuting to Southern California for 13 years from our home in Upstate NY.  It’s a long story….

 

 

Working in a warm climate and coming home to a colder climate allows me to appreciate small things in each of the climates that those living there, may not readily notice.

 

 

After being in LA for a week with temperatures in the 70s, I arrived home to a fresh blanket of snow on our front lawn.  The snow capped basketball left out overnight on the lawn told a wonderful story.  I’m sure our two kids were thinking to themselves, “What could Dad possibly see out there, its just snow.”

 

 

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Blah to Blur

Where: Hong Kong, China

 

 

Between Meeting: Day Before Meeting in Shenzhen

 

 

Hong Kong Blur Flat

 

I was producing a video on Epson manufacturing in Shenzhen China.

 

 

While there is an airport in Shenzhen, for a variety of logistical reasons it was easier to fly into neighboring Hong Kong the day before. This would also give me a free 1/2 day to shoot in the more colorful Hong Kong.

 

 

But the weather was lousy. It was overcast and basically, blah. So I decided to board a double-decker bus in a major shopping area. I wasn’t concerned where it was going as I was only interested in creating blurs through the windows on the upper deck to overcome the dull light.

 

 

I experimented with different shutter speeds and found that 1/6 of a second plus camera movement, gave me enough blur for interest but still retained enough detail that people could be recognized. After looking at several shots on the LCD, I forced myself to just keep shooting vs looking at every shot. I knew I just had to shoot a lot and look for a good image later in editing.

 

 

I made a bunch of images and when the it looked like the bus was moving out of a busy area, I got off, crossed the street, and got on another bus heading back to the congested area.

 

 

With the vibrance slider in Adobe Camera Raw combined with Viveza 2, I was able to take the gloom out of the scene transforming a wash-out day, into something visually interesting. Even the flare of the green safety glass at the bottom of the frame added interest.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Smokin’

Where: Costa Mesa, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Prepping for a Monday Presentation

 

 

SmokeyIt was another Sunday in the office getting ready for Monday. Knowing I would finish in time for the best light of the day, I did a search on, “Things to do in Orange County”.  I saw the Orange County Fair was taking place so I packed up for the day and headed south on the 405.

 

 

I love County and State fairs because they are often filled with colorful people in and around saturated colors.  But on this day, I was drawn to the desaturated tones caused by billowing smoke from an outdoor barbecue.

 

 

Remembering Jay Maisel’s, “I’m from New York, I don’t trust any air I can’t see” I spent most of my time shooing through and finding angles that enhanced the smoke. I knew that in Black and White I could take this daylight scene shot in a modern affluent community, and make it feel like 1950′s film noir.

 

 

When I made the conversion in post to black and white, I worked the midtone contrast to enhance the smoke, and capture the feel of the classic shafts of light from Grand Central Station on the grill.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Grant Avenue

Where: San Francisco, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: On My Way to a Video Edit Session

 

 

SF Bus copyI was editing video at the San Francisco Film Centre in the Presidio and staying in Nob Hill.  I would take a different route to the Presidio each morning and one day headed straight down the hill on California St. to Grant Ave.

 

 

Grant Ave is the main artery in Chinatown and I gave myself an assignment to capture Chinatown without showing Chinatown.

 

 

When a bus drove by at Grant and Broadway, its windows reflected the awnings of the businesses on the street. Not being a great action photographer I missed the shot.  I decided to wait for the next bus that would stop for passengers so I could have 10 seconds to find the best composition and make sure I had the right depth of field to keep the reflections sharp.

 

Posted in Between Meetings

First Anniversary

Where:

 

Atlantic City, Boston, Philadelphia, Rochester, Long Beach, Agra, New York, Vancouver, Manchester, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Delhi, Irvine, Tijuana, Toronto, Dallas, San Francisco, Yangon, Chicago, Salton Sea, Sandusky, Benicia, Avalon, Tucson, Los Angeles, Venice Beach, Orlando, San Diego, Phoenix, Tokyo, Matsumoto, Oxnard, London, Black Canyon City, Albuquerque, Singapore, Mumbai, New Orleans, Miami, Santa Barbara, Portland.

 

2013 BlogWhen I was producing a video with Bruce Dale, I asked him what was the best way to build a portfolio with limited time. Bruce said, “Focus on making just one picture a week”.

 

 

When I started this blog a year ago today, I was going to do two to three posts a week. But I’ve settled into Bruce’s recommended one picture a week schedule.

 

 

To come clean, I’ve been doing one post a week from files captured Between Meetings at Epson since 2003.  While I almost always carry the camera finding time to capture images Between Meetings, I can’t seem to find the time to stay current with editing.  At present, I have over three years of Raw files that I haven’t had a chance to review.  These Raw, unprocessed files, total around one terabyte. So I should have enough content to keep the blog going every week for a while.

 

 

A big thank you to all who have sent comments my way.  This hardened New Yorker (even though I grew up in LA) continues to be touched when these arrive in my inbox.  An equally big thank you to those that have pointed out bugs with my site design and grammatical errors to fix.  I of course deliberately put those errors into the posts to see who catches them…

 

 

And on being touched, several have written that the pictures (above) from the past year, have inspired them to pick up the camera and start making photographs again.  These inspirational comments remind me of what Jay Maisel once said that is now part of my DNA, “I’m not interested in showing you how smart I am, but showing you how terrific it is out there, and it’s always out there.”

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Mum’s The Word?

Where: Philadelphia, PA

 

 

Between Meeting: Before a Meeting in South Jersey

 

 

Mummers

 

I’m in the Philadelphia area today and I was reminded of a trip a few years ago when I had some free time before a meeting with Shades of Paper.

 

 

I drove around South Philly since it was close to the airport and in the direction of Mt. Laurel.  I was on the lookout for the famous Cheesesteak Sandwich, but when I came across a painted wall featuring Philadelphia Mummers, I forgot about lunch.

 

 

While working on this file I looked up the definition of a Mummer.  I was told long ago by a relative that the name comes from those in a parade who hummed. Fail! Mummery (which is performed by Mummers) is derived from Middle French momerie, was first used in 1530, and has nothing to do with humming but performing.

 

 

 

 

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Lilac Festival or Freshener?

Where: Rochester, NY

 

 

Between Meeting: Back Home After a Business Trip

 

 

65Rochester is known as the “Flower City” but it’s a misnomer.  In the 19th century the area was known as the “Flour City” due to the many flour mills in the area.  Since flowers are easier to celebrate and easier on the eye than flour, the Flower City name stuck.

 

 

In keeping with flowers vs flour, Rochester has an annual Lilac Festival.  One year, immediately after I got home from a long trip, my daughter said we should go and I reluctantly agreed.  So I tried to make the best of it and noticed that many things were painted a lilac color including the portable toilets.  Those who know my work would not be surprised that I soon was hanging out by the purple porta-potties.

 

 

When a woman wearing a color that vibrated against lilac headed for a leaning toilet, I was very happy that my daughter convinced me to check out the festival.

 

 

Posted in Between Meetings

Bring Back Daylight Saving Time!

Where: Long Beach, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Working on a Sunday

 

 

R&BAn out-of-date concept that’s always a bit depressing, the shift a few days ago to Standard Time, reminded me of an amazing afternoon I had at Gerry’s Barber Shop.

 

 

On a Sunday a few years ago I was in the office preparing for a Monday morning meeting. It was about this time of year and the day was suddenly shorter due to the end of Daylight Saving Time. I was feeling a bit down due to losing an hour of light, and decided to medicate my out-of-synch circadian rhythm with some type of coffee/chocolate thing.

 

 

I was about to make a right for the local Starbucks, but suddenly saw a flash of bright primary colors to my left. So I went left instead and found a barber shop decorated in brilliant red, white and blue. Not only was the window filled with color, but the sidewalk in front of the building had a fresh coat of red and blue paint. I started shooting and a man in his late 60′s, dressed like a Hollywood leading man from the 40′s, popped out from the shop and barked, “Hey if you’re with the City I have a permit to paint that sidewalk”. The man, Gerry, thought I was documenting his paint job for a complaint. When I told him I loved the colors, he sat down on his freshly painted red, white and blue bench and with great delight, watched me shoot all the amazing color.

 

 

The best shot (above) is when I asked Gerry to cross his legs which put each shoe in a separate color and I worked the center line for the best symmetry. The end of day light, brought out all the texture in the sidewalk. It’s a straight forward picture and be sure to click on it for full screen to see the subtle details.

 

 

With the sun setting Gerry muttered how much he hated going to Standard Time. Not only did I agree with him, but was thrilled to see a large sign above the barber shop door, “Headquarters for the Proposition to Keep Daylight Savings Time All Year Long”.

 

 

Then Gerry invited me in for a beer.  As soon as I went inside it was transported into a museum of Hollywood memorabilia from the early 20th century mixed with decor from a 19th century bordello. I learned Gerry was a great collector of “Stuff” including rare pre-World War II cartoon films.

 

 

If I had made that right turn I would have been sitting in a rental car feeling sorry for myself sipping a Mocha Frappuccino in pursuit of a sugar rush. But by going left, I was sitting in a barber chair, having a brew with my new best friend Gerry and watching cartoons. And what made it all so much sweeter, is this bald guy had not been in a barber’s chair for over 15 years!

 

 

On a recent trip I noticed that Gerry’s shop was gone. It looked like a chain fitness center took over the building.

 

 

I found this blog talking about Gerry’s Barber Shop with wonderful pictures of Jerry, the impeccable way he dressed and that wild interior.

 

 

While Gerry was forced out, his dream about Daylight Saving Time still lives. So readers of this blog who are US Citizens, please email your representatives in Congress and let them know all the benefits of Daylight Saving Time being year round.  Do it for Gerry!

 

 

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Taj Mahal (Behind Me)

Where: Agra India

 

 

Between Meeting: Between Events in Mumbai and Delhi

 

 

 

77

Had to see the Taj Mahal. And it really was amazing. In my teens I contemplated a career as an architect and I continue to have a fascination with all structures be it Ancient, Medieval, Postmodern or in this case, Mughal.

 

 

One of the most interesting things I learned is the depth of the carved calligraphy becomes shallower going up, to counter the vanishing point perspective. It’s one of the reasons the entire structure looks so symmetrical.

 

 

Of course I took many exposures looking for an angle that no one has seen.  But after 365 years and hundreds of of millions of visitors, it would be safe to say the angles have all been figure out.  Then while walking away from the entrance for a wider shot, I found my shot!

 

 

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Back to Javits

Where: New York, NY

 

 

Between Meeting: Photo Plus Expo

 

 

 

Javits Reflection OneJavits Green Light copy

It’s that time of year and many of us are at Photo Plus Expo. For me its like coming home, and I was touched when an Epson Executive came to a pre-show meeting one year and announced, “Welcome to Dano’s Hood”

 

 

While the show has changed its name several times from Photo East to Viscomm, it’s been at the Javits Center for over 25 years.

 

 

No one likes the building, even the Governor wants to tear it down.  But it’s an old friend and one year after we were done setting-up the booth, I set out to make some interesting pictures.

 

 

 

Instead of wide angle shots of all the dark glass (before the renovation), I found that while the building itself is not particularly beautiful, it used to reflect wonderful colors and shapes in these images.  But as I arrived at the building this week, I noticed all the dark glass has been replaced with a lighter and less reflective glass that has a greenish cast.  While the new glass will let in more light and keep the rain out, the old glass made for better reflections.

 

 

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The Boardwalk

Where: Atlantic City New Jersey

 

 

Between Meeting: After a Trade Show

 

 

 

92

I volunteer to work any trade show in Atlantic City.  The town is rough around the edges and filled with real people.  My kind of place!

 

 

Atlantic City is also filled with great lines and shapes.  I used the end of day raking light to bring out the edge contrast of the criss-crossing lines in the Boardwalk, the trash can and the roll down storefront.  Then I waited for the right person to walk through the scene and found a composition that best worked the negative space.

 

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Lousy Light, But…

Where: Central Park, New York City

 

 

Between Meeting: Before Heading to Javits

 

 

Bubble Girl

 

Before heading to the Javits Center for a meeting, I took a walk through Central Park.

 

 

A person was blowing large soap bubbles and this girl was chasing after them.

 

 

The light was lousy and I was tempted to head off, but sometimes if the scene is interesting its best to live with the light.

 

 

The action and joy of the girl, along with how the colors in her dress align with the spectral colors on the bubble, help to overcome the dim cross-curve light.

 

 

I used FocalPoint 2 software on the edges of the image to reduce the blah and put more emphasis on the primary subject.

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Hang Time

Where: Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

 

Between Meeting: Break During a Convention

 

 

7

 

Vancouver is a beautiful city and while I love going there, its hard for me to make the kind of pictures I like.  Its, well, too clean and nice…

 

 

During a break, I stepped outside of the Vancouver Convention Center.  The view of the mountains and harbor was spectacular.  But the silhouette of the window washer in the upper left third, balanced in the frame with the mountain in the bottom right third, was (for me) the best view.

 

 

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Next Lane

Where: Long Beach, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Driving Back To the Office After Lunch

 

 

 

31I was stopped at a red light.

 

 

To my right was a driver in the next lane.  It was overcast, so instead of the usual Southern California middle of the day highlight blow-out, the grey sky created a reasonable scene brightness ratio.  And the trees near the intersection created an interesting pattern on the window of the other car.

 

 

 

I lowered the passenger seat window in my rental car, and made the picture right before the light turned green.

 

 

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Let it Rain

Where: Manchester, England

 

 

Between Meeting: Arriving for Video Shoot

 

 

Manchester RainlrEpson is a sponsor of Manchester United Football Club.  Last year I was very fortunate to have been asked by my colleague Nathan Fulcher, who manages Epson’s global sponsorships, to help produce a still photo shoot with Walter Iooss.  With Premier League Football gaining popularity in the United States, Nathan asked me again to participate on a recent video shoot.

 

 

Manchester has a reputation as one of the rainiest cities in the UK.  While that reputation is somewhat unfounded, when I arrived about a week ago at 6:15am via the red-eye from DC, it was pouring.

 

 

In a broad Manchester accent my Cabbie said, “Mite, saahry bout the weatha” and I said, “Don’t be sorry with your amazing windscreen” (windshield in US English).  I’m sure the Cabbie thought he had an American with some kind of problem and he didn’t say anything for the rest of the trip.  But what I saw were wonderful shapes and patterns from the rain on the windshield of the cab because it has less curvature than cars in the United States.

 

 

I increased ISO to reduce camera motion in the low light, and went into manual mode so I could use the widest aperture to enhance the circles of confusion.  The image above is one of the best where the wipers are out of frame.

 

 

 

Manchester Spot LR

While this scene may feel finite, there are many interesting shapes and designs to be found with creative cropping.  I noticed middle lower right, that a small rain droplet had spread and the perimeter was catching the colored lights of the traffic signals.  It reminded me of the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.

 

 

I could have spent another 30 minutes in that cab shooting shapes, but the Cabbie definitely wanted the strange American out as soon as possible.

 

 

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The Wall

Where:  Washington DC

 

 

Between Meeting:  After the Nature’s Best Opening

 

 

V Wall

 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most emotional places I have ever visited.

 

 

I was too young to understand the Vietnam War while it was happening, but seeing the 58,000+ names on that wall, made it all very real about the toll of ideology and politics.

 

 

I wanted to find a way to make the names more prominent and by changing the traditional view, I found an incident angle which turned the black marble to grey.  I switched to manual mode to set a narrow depth of field.  This allowed me to keep a person reading the names soft, so the names would be stand out for the greatest impact.

 

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No Time to Shoot

Where: Las Vegas, NV

 

 

Between Meeting: During Photoshop World

 

 

Napkins

 

Because of trade show hours and meetings, I sometimes find myself in a photogenic location, but with no time to shoot.

 

 

During Photoshop World I literally never had a chance to leave the hotel.  While it was frustrating knowing an Eiffel Tower, Sphinx and Volcano were within walking distance, I was able to capture the dawn light striking a stack of napkins in a coffee shop.

 

 

 

By getting in tight, I was able to crop out the 2% milk and stirrers to create a interesting abstract with the texture of the napkins.

 

 

Then with coffee in hand, I was off to the next meeting.

 

 

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Ground Level

Where: Boston, MA

 

 

Between Meeting: Recent Epson Finish Strong Photo Shoot

 

 

Boston Fountain-Spray

We were in Boston a few weeks ago to produce the latest Epson Finish Strong Ad.  The concept called for a photographer to capture an image at a dramatic angle atop a tall building.  In keeping with the Finish Strong campaign, the main image captures the photographer capturing the final photograph.  So there are two photographers at work in these ads and usually lots of moving parts.

 

 

We were fortunate to obtain permission to climb the main antenna atop the Prudential Tower, which is one of the tallest buildings in Boston.  But to be more specific, the amazing photographer Joe McNally and his first assistant Michael Cali, had permission to climb.  Yours truly could only watch from the roof for insurance reasons.

 

 

I pretended to be upset with this restriction, but in reality was relieved to have a legitimate excuse to avoid climbing.  The thought of dangling from ropes on an antenna 800 feet in the air would be enough to send me straight to the laundromat…

 

 

So I challenged myself to make a picture right outside the Tower, but in my comfort zone at street level.  Fortunately, there was an outdoor water feature where kids were running in and out of water jets.  After asking permission of the parents to photograph the kids in the image, I looked for something more than just stopping the action.  My favorite shot shows the kids analyzing the moving spray patterns in prep for their dash to avoid getting wet.

 

 

 

Video Composite

 

50+ stories above the water jets strapped onto a pole, Joe McNally was coordinating the real pictures.  These screenshots are from the behind the scenes video where I do have a small Hitchcock cameo.

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Delhi Taxi

Where: Delhi, India

 

 

Between Meeting: After Epson Print Academy

 

 

Delhi Replace

 

From Dallas to Toronto to Tijuana to Delhi, I love photographing taxis.

 

 

In urban life its easy to take this mode of transportation for granted.  But photographically, taxis around the world are filled with color, drama and gesture.

 

 

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TJ Taxi

Where: Tijuana, Mexico

 

 

Between Meeting: After San Diego Epson Print Academy

 

 

TJ Taxi

 

As part of the continuing series on Taxis, this image heads south to the Mexican border town of Tijuana.

 

 

Tijuana, also known as TJ, is an easy walk from a parking lot on the USA side of the border. 

 

 

While some feel they are walking from the First World to the Third, I always felt transported into a photographer’s paradise of color.  I’m writing in the past tense because there have been troubles in TJ, and the US Government has issued warnings on travel.  I look forward to an announcement that it’s safe to return, because TJ is filled with so many interesting compositional elements.

 

 

On my last trip to TJ, I saw this yellow taxi parked in front of a yellow awning in great light.  I knew it had the potential to be a great image, but it needed a third element.  When the driver came out of the shop with the yellow awning, wearing a yellow shirt, I changed shutter speed to stop his motion and waited for the right monochromatic moment.

 

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Toronto Taxi

Where: Toronto, Canada

 

 

Between Meeting: After Interviewing Michael Reichmann

 

 

Toronto Taxi

 

Like the previous post, I like to photograph taxicabs.  They are often colorful, but what makes them the most interesting, is how their colors interact with other colors.

 

 

I just completed interviewing Michael Reichmann and was able to join the Toronto Group for Scott Kelby’s Photo Walk that coincided with my visit to Canada.

 

 

The Photowalk headed to an area of warehouses, but I saw a taxi stopped at a light in the opposite direction and headed that way instead.  Many taxis in Toronto are red and yellow and this cab was stopped in front of a billboard where the art was peeling.

 

 

By getting in tight and going vertical, I was able to create a composition of colorful abstract thirds.

 

 

 

 

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Texas Taxi

Where: Dallas, TX Airport

 

 

Between Meeting: Prep Day Before an Epson Print Academy

 

 

Texas Cab

 

I walked out of baggage claim to get a cab to where we were setting up for the Dallas Print Academy.

 

 

I saw that hat, got out my camera, and found the right spot for the best composition.

 

 

Another one of my tight compositions that some might call claustrophobic, but to me, it says Texas.

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Hypocrite?

Where: Salton Sea, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Sunday Before a Monday Meeting

 

 

Salted For Web

I had a free weekend while on the road in Southern California and headed to Palm Springs.  When possible, I travel with two sets of sticks (That’s a tripod and my golf clubs).

 

 

I’m an avid golfer.  Many years ago I carried a 9 handicap.  But that was the analog world, where there seemed to be more time to practice than in today’s digital world.

 

 

I love the natural beauty of a golf course.  I also enjoy playing in beautifully landscaped settings that are often in well-to-do zip codes.  But after a round, I find myself drawn to the tougher parts of town.  While I try to shoot a low score with one set of sticks in a nice neighborhood, I reach for my other sticks by Manfrotto to shoot compelling images in areas not found in tourist guides.

 

 

So after an enjoyable round of golf in Palm Springs, I headed two hours in the wrong direction to the Salton Sea.  Communities around the Salton Sea like Bombay Beach are either in decline, decay or are outright abandoned.  Perfect!

 

 

So I played golf mid-day in bad light, made photographs in the decay in good light, then headed back to a resort for dinner.  Does that make me a hypocrite?  I make sure not to play golf in the good light……

 

 

I converted this image to Black-And-White for impact and used it for these online tutorials on Black-and-White printing.

 

 

 

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Hills of San Francisco

Where: San Francisco, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Ducked Out During Business Dinner

 

 

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For those that know me, there are two underlying reasons why this is a trademark Dano picture.

 

 

 

#1

 

Shoot When the Light is Right.  We just sat down at a business dinner near Ghirardelli Square.  I looked out the window and saw Sweet Light where everything outside was starting to glow.  I just looked at the most senior colleague with a sad face and he said, “Oh the light must be right for Dano, go ahead”.  While I have trained my colleagues,  don’t be afraid to say, “Excuse me, the light is right, may I be excused”.

 

 

 

#2

 

Get Tight.  I came home from San Francisco and my wife expected to see pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard St. etc.  She saw this image and said, “How can anyone tell you were even in San Francisco”.  When I’m in an iconic location I hone in on telling a story, but without the postcard.  In this picture, I thought the angle of the news stands would convey the steep angle of a San Francisco St.  But it wasn’t enough.  So I waited for the right people to walk by to reinforce the angle.  Fortunately these 3 women were running for a bus.  Their sprint gives the image a sense of energy, and their lean tells the story of the steep angled street.  And because they were running up a steep hill, they weren’t going that fast allowing me to shoot multiple exposures for the best composition.

 

 

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Mirrors Without Smoke

Where: O’Hare Airport, Chicago

 

 

Between Meeting: Changing Planes for a Meeting in New York

 

 

BW Airport for Web

 

At a recent car shoot I picked up a tip to enhance an image with a reflective floor, just put the camera on the ground.  At very low angles, reflective surfaces can bring a subject to life or pick-up additional reflections that are not visible at eye level.

 

 

With an extra 20 minutes vs the usual race to a connecting flight, I experimented putting my camera on the floor in the tunnel that connects the B and C gates in the United Terminal at O’Hare.

 

 

Not only did I capture the mirrored reflection of the escalator, but a double reflection of the ceiling above the escalator reflecting into the floor and then reflecting again into a sub-ceiling in front of the escalator.

 

 

While this pedestrian tunnel is famous for its changing color patterns, I found that converting to Black-and-White made for a more impactful picture and less pedestrian.

 

 

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Vacation, NOT

Where: Cedar Point, Ohio

 

 

Between Meeting: Pretending to be on Vacation

 

 

Blurred Stride

We took our kids to Cedar Point Ohio.  For roller coaster enthusiasts, its one the best places on the planet.

 

 

I am not a roller coaster kinda of guy so I pretended to be on vacation and when no one was looking, made phone calls and checked email on my iPhone.

 

 

While I’m not interested in riding the coasters, I now willingly take anybody to any amusement park and will stop at any county fair because the colors and shapes can be an infinite photographic tapestry.

 

 

This blurred image is not blurred.  It’s a reflection in the window opposite a Sky Ride.  Be sure to click on the image to go full screen to see how the reflection created an outline of the scene for a more compelling picture.

 

 

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Window Light

Where: Benicia, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Break During a Video Shoot

BW Chair

I was producing a video featuring Bambi Cantrell at her studio in Benicia, CA.  For the interview we blocked the daylight coming from the windows and lit with controlled light.

 

 

After the interview we opened up the windows and this strong raking light poured into the studio.  I told my amazing DP, Marc Vanocur of Shout Softly, to take a 10 minute break so I could do something with a still image.

 

 

I looked around and found this wonderful chair with cracked paint.  I simply positioned it to create the shadows.  Later I converted to Black-and-White using the same techniques per these video tutorials.

 

 

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Mid-Day Light

Where: Vancouver Canada

 

 

Between Meeting: Lunch

 

 

silo-105

I was in Vancouver for a meeting with London Drugs and had some free time during lunch.

 

 

Mid-Day is usually the worst time to make photographs because the light is flat and two dimensional.  I have been known to violate the Jay Maisel rule of carrying the camera if its mid-day, because the lens cap rarely comes off in that type of bad light.

 

 

But I noticed an interesting outdoor fountain and people walking in an area that was shaded.  The shaded area created contrast for an end of day vs mid-day light.   Its also an example of how powerful Black-and-White can be, per the recent series of videos I produced.

 

 

 

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Don’t Spill It

Where: San Francisco, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: After Meeting with Sexton & Weston

 

 

Expresso Track Walk

 

After meeting with John Sexton and Kim Weston about a new series of Black-and-White videos, I drove from the Monterrey Peninsula up to San Francisco for a flight home the next day.

 

 

 

I like to stay at the Stanford Court Hotel on Nob Hill because it feels like old San Francisco, and because its located at an interesting intersection of cable car tracks.

 

 

 

Early in the morning at the right incident angle, the tracks glow in high contrast light.  Having been with two Black-and-White masters the day before, I was inspired to shoot this scene in Black-and-White  The black background was due to the steep angle of California Street, and then I waited for the right pedestrian for a sense of scale and gesture.  In this case, someone carefully holding a coffee so it would not spill.

 

 

 

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Benefits of Jetlag

Where: Lakewood, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Driving to the Office

 

 

Disability Fog

I was still on Eastern Time when I woke up at 4:00am in LA.  I’m not a morning person, so it’s great when I travel East to West and find myself up early, because dawn can be the best light of the day.

 

 

 

On my way to the office the world started to light up and to my delight, it was foggy.  Knowing fog can create mood and drama, I looked everywhere for something interesting to photograph.

 

 

 

But I was in a soulless suburb of LA surrounded by pedestrian looking fast food restaurants and chain stores.  Then I pulled into the parking lot of the Lakewood Center Mall.  Since it was early, there were no cars or people and I found my shot that used the fog to convey a story.

 

 

 

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From The Cab

Where: New York City

 

 

Between Meeting: After Meeting with Peter Max

 

 

Angled Silo

 

After a meeting with Peter Max, I grabbed a cab near his studio by Lincoln Center heading downtown on Broadway.

 

 

There was a lot of traffic which for most is annoying, but for me was great because its easier to photograph out the window at slower speeds.

 

 

As we crawled down Broadway I saw this back-lit outdoor plaza approaching.  As we started to pass by I told the driver to stop, when the silhouette appeared before me.

 

 

I didn’t notice the double outline of a man to the left of the woman, or the shadow of a tree which together look somewhat like the Grim Reaper and his scythe.

 

 

 

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Get Tight

Where: Catalina Island, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Company Outing

 

 

Smile

 

For an outing we took a ferry to Catalina Island, which is just off the coast from Los Angeles.

 

 

Once there, we boarded a bus for a tour.  Our driver was the happiest person I ever met and delivered a steady stream of laughter via the PA system on the bus.  When we stopped for a break at a scenic overlook, my colleagues poured out of the bus and headed straight for the view.

 

 

Knowing the view would be just another view, I focused on the extraordinarily happy bus driver, who of course was thrilled that I was paying attention to him.

 

 

There were a lot of distracting elements in the background so I wanted to get in tight.  Then I remembered the advise of world renowned travel photographer Bob Krist, “When you think your tight try going 3 steps closer”.  My lens must have only been a few inches from the man’s chin, and by being this close and at a low angle, I completely eliminated all the distracting elements.

 

 

 

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Moonset

Where: Tucson, Arizona

 

 

Between Meeting: Dawn Before Meeting with Swanee

 

 

Moonset

 

I was scheduled to meet with Mary Virgina Swanson at 9:00am.  Mary, better known in the industry as “Swanee”, is a fine art marketing consultant based in Tucson.

 

 

I was up at 4:30am since I was still on Eastern Time, and made an attempt to photograph the sunrise over the saguaros near my hotel.

 

 

Like so many natural history scenes, when I looked through the viewfinder I felt like I’d seen it before, or have seen much better like the amazing saguaro work of Jack Dykinga.

 

 

And as the sun rose, I had yet another perfectly exposed pedestrian picture of cacti at sunrise. I remember feeling a bit down that yet again, the only place I could find photographic inspiration was in a concrete jungle, vs a natural one.  But when I turned around towards the rental car my spirits rose, as the interesting picture was not the sunrise, but the moonset.

 

 

By positioning the moon at the top of one saguaro and cropping into its arm, I saw a top down view of thumb & pool stick about to strike the moon into the corner pocket.

 

 

 

 

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Lobbyist?

Where: Century City, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Before a Meeting with an Ad Agency

 

 

Shaft Walk

 

We had a 10:00am meeting with an ad agency whose offices are located in the Century Plaza Towers.  Since high school, I admired these twin buildings and for the first time had an opportunity to actually go inside.

 

 

I arrived early to check things out.  To my disappointment, the buildings were more interesting from a distance.  With an hour now to kill, I bought a coffee and sat at a table in the courtyard so I could check email.

 

 

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a shaft of light that was a reflection of one building in the glass entrance of the other building.  It was interesting, but not enough to think about removing the lens cap.

 

 

Then I saw a person walking through the reflection and within seconds the lens cap was off, shutter speed to stop the action was set, and I waited.  And I waited.  Turns out these buildings sit on top of one of the world’s largest underground parking garages.  So elevators take people straight from the garage to their floor explaining why the lobby I was looking at was very quiet.

 

 

It was a good thing I was an hour early for the meeting.  I waited for about 35 minutes before the the right person, walked through that reflection, at the right moment.

 

 

 

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