Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hockey Night

My buddy Dan plays in an adult hockey league in Scottsdale. Last Monday night, I went over and practiced my sports photography and took pictures of his team as they played in a playoff game. I found that sports photography, like most things in life, is harder than it looks. I got off a few shots but the lighting and angle for the action is more of a challenge than I thought. It was a lot of fun though and I plan on going to another one of his games to practice some more. Besides one other advantage of covering a hockey game is that it is really nice a cool in near the ice which is a welcome change from a long hot desert summer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Flickr Slideshow

I just learned about this new way to be able to post some of my Flickr photos here on my blog and they are in a slideshow format. I thought that I would try it out with some existing photos that I have on Flickr. These were shots that I took while I was in San Francisco earlier this year. Click on the thumbnails below the larger photo to see that image. Click on "Photo Link" below the image to see the larger image in Flickr.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Holy Trinity

The Diamondbacks were playing in Atlanta today so the game started and ended fairly early, so having the afternoon free, I walked over to the Phoenix Art Museum. That's right I walked the half mile or so in 106ยบ heat, up hill, both ways. No one has ever accused me of being the smartest guy in the room.

Anyway the museum is hosting a collection of Mexican print making from the early part of the last century. The first thing that struck me is how people have been using available technology for economic benefit (in this case to create faster copies of their art to sell) or to spread political or social messages long before the age of the electronic technologies of radio, television or the internet.

This exhibit focuses on the period immediately after the Mexican revolution (approximately 1920) through the 1950's; and includes 150 lithographs, etchings and woodcuts (if you don't know the difference between those types of printmaking techniques, don't feel bad, neither did I) and 40 artist among them Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and the artist fast becoming a personal favorite of mine, Jose Clemente Orozco. I heard a Mexician tour guide once refer to Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco as "The Holy Trinity", in essence, the three greatest Mexican muralist. Having seen some of their murals, I don't doubt that divine intervention played a role in their work.

Orozco was born near Guadalajara and had painted murals in several of the government buildings there. When I traveled there earlier this year I photographed several of his murals, the pictures don't do him justice, the murals are very moving when viewed in person.

I discovered another really interesting artist by the name of Howard Cook, while I was at the Museum today. Cook was an American but traveled to Mexico in the early 1930s on a grant from the Smithsonian. Today, I saw several interesting lithographs that he made while staying in Taxco, Mexico. Cook eventual settled in Taos, NM for a while and then moved to Roswell, NM. Since my work sometimes takes me to this part of the world I might do some further research on him.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Night Special

I had my brother Peter and a couple of his friends, Dominic and Paula, over for dinner tonight. Peter's friends were terrific people and I had a great time getting to know them. Dominic is a contractor so he was interested in looking around my house and gave me some good suggestions on some projects that I could undertake even giving me estimates on what the projects will cost. Dominic and Paula are also both from Ireland, own a home there and visit the country on a fairly frequent basis. As they have done with Peter, they invited me to meet up with them on one of their trips back to Ireland and provide a more personal guide to the country. I hope that I would be able to take them up on the offer sometime soon.

Overall the evening was very enjoyable and interesting as we talked about travel, the economy, and politics or perhaps more precisely foreign policy. Several bottles of wine were consumed. At one point I believe that we had solved most of the worlds major problems, unfortunately I didn't write down the answers and couldn't remember them this morning when I woke up.

Dominic and Paula own a house in a town just outside of Dublin called Ardan. The town name reminded me of a town that I had visited while in Ireland last September, which was called Adare. I've posted a picture of the Adare Manor Hotel, which is a beautifully restored hotel with a golf course. I have since read that President Clinton stayed there on his trip to Ireland in 1998. In any event it was nice to think back on my trip to Ireland and I found myself going through some of the pictures from that trip, I may post some more at a future time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

8/12/07: Stranger of the Week

OK, this stranger of the week segment hasn't quite worked out the way that I thought it would. Actually the segment is more about me than about strangers, because it was suppose to motivate me to introduce myself to new people, find out their story and post a little insight into the everyday world that I encounter. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out that way, but I will try to be better going forward. My hope was and is, that a theme continually explored becomes more interesting as different dimensions are found and more introspective of the photographer taking the pictures.

In any event, the newest stranger of the week was working the counter at Coffee Plantation on Mill Avenue on Saturday night. I asked him to take his picture and he was happy to do so. His father is a professional photographer and had a similar camera to mine. I liked the piercings he had and thought that they would be interesting to photograph.

If you want to see the other "Stranger of the Week" post, hit the tag on the right hand column.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Saturday night on Mill Avenue

I spent the weekend at a photography workshop in Tempe. The workshop was presented by SnapFactory which is the husband and wife team of Mark and Diane Wallace. This workshop was their "Digital Photography 101" and it is a great technical overview of photography explaining the functions of the camera through the elements of proper composition. We had some interesting hands on assignments, including walking around Mill Avenue on Saturday night.

Using a technique that I had practiced in an earlier assignment, I was panning everything that I could see, from the cars cruising on the Mill to people walking down the street. I also found an interesting spot where I could capture some shots of the pedestrians below. The lighting worked out to create some elongated shadows which added a particular mood to the photos.

I like attending workshop like these because not only do I learn some things, but it motivates me to go out and explore the world, particularly places close to my house. I will certainly wander down to Mill Avenue with my camera again soon to see if I can find some new subjects and explore the ideas in these shots a little further.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Best Hamburger in Phoenix

I had a great burger tonight and it got me thinking about who has the best burger in town. Actually for me this is an easy choice, because I don't think anyone else comes close. Well, there were a few other places that I did consider. There is the Roaring Fork in Scottdale, but I haven't eaten there in years and they won't let you order take out off the bar menu. It is also located in the old FINOVA building, which I affectionately refer to as the "house that my 401(k) built" - tough memories so don't ask. Of course the sentimental favorite, The Chuckbox, is a consideration because they make a decent burger and it has been in business since before I moved here in 1978. I have fond memories of the place from high school, college (before big games) and after I graduated. But honestly, the Chuckbox doesn't use the best beef and they don't cook to temperature. This is the key, as you will note how I feel from a previous blog entry. The temperature issue also eliminates any of the fast food chains from contention, because they don't want to take, shall we say, the e-coli risk. Keegan's was a consideration but I like the tenderloin sliders the best, and I didn't think if fair to include those in a burger catagory.

So my chioce for best burger in Phoenix goes to Delux Burger on 32nd & Camelback. They ain't cheap at 9 bucks a burger, but the occasional splurge is worth it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Everyday Photography

You know that your life is a bit boring quiet when you find yourself photographing kitchen utensils. Actually these shots were inspired by an assignment on a photography blog. The assignment was to use off-camera strobe units to light ordinary items found in the kitchen, but the shots should include some element of a specular highlight. What is a specular highlight you ask?
"The specular highlight is nothing more than the reflection of the light source in the object you are lighting. This reflection is an often overlooked control in lighting design. In it's most basic form, it is simple to grasp and to predict. Explored more fully, it allows you to completely manipulate the tonal structure of your subject."
Ok, I had a little time on my hands this weekend.

But looking at these photos now, I'm not actually sure that I got any specular highlights in any of my shots, there are definitely edges that show a glow of the lighting but nothing that shows a the true reflection of the light. Perhaps a knife wasn't the best subject to pick for this assignment. Probably a better example of specular highlights are in the the pictures below of that cute kid Caden. There is definitely a true reflection of the light source in his eyes - perhaps too much. When a specular hightlight shows up in a persons eye like that it is sometimes referred to as a catch light. In any event, the pics got me off the couch for a while trying to learn something and causing some blood to run through the gray matter between my ears. My one confession about these shots is that I kind of cheated a little. The photo blog that I got the assignment from is for learning how to use the small hand held flash units off camera (the type of flash that can attach to a camera body). The lighting that I used was a bit more powerful and that might not have been the best choice either.

Sometimes when one is looking for inspiration the easiest and best place to look is just around your kitchen. Earlier this year I took some picture of wine corks that I had sitting on a window sill. I posted that picture on my Flickr account, but I don't think these will make the cut (the pun was intended.)