Friday, May 28, 2010

Mount St. Helens

May 18th, 2010 was the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. On May 15th I rode up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory with my friends, and fellow photographers, Bruce Ely, and Andy Batt. Bruce is a staff photographer for the Oregonian, and was assigned to make a photo for the paper. The night before, he and Andy hatched a plan to go up and camp overnight (Bruce got clearance from the Forest Service ahead of time), in hopes of being there for the perfect light to make some great photos, fortunately, they called me as well.

We hit the road around 1pm on Saturday, stopped for lunch at Rose's in Castle Rock, and got to the observatory around 4. The afternoon was hazy, with a big cloud bank parked over the crater. It was windy, and a bit cold, and I was beginning to realize that it would be a while before that perfect light showed up, if at all. We all had backpacks stuffed with tents and sleeping bags, rain gear, and whatever else we were going to need to stay comfortable for the night, but we had yet to decide where that would be. All of us had slightly different agendas; Bruce had his assignment, Andy's objective was a time lapse sequence that would run throughout the night, and mine was to make a panoramic of the view. So we milled around a amongst the day tripping visitors, hobbyist photographers, and ham radio veterans, trying to decide where we were going to make our pictures from, and where we were going to sleep.

After weighing all of our options, which (briefly) included hiking down into the valley a bit, or up on the ridge, where we'd be hammering our tent stakes into rock and pumice, we decided to go with the level ground and slight wind protection of the path in front of the observatory. No tents of course, just bags and pads. This gave us the ability to manage and operate our gear in a mostly dirt free environment, and since we were able to set up our folding chairs, it felt a bit like three dudes out car camping, which was nice. We sat and made pictures late into the night, talking about how great, and how challenging, it is to be a photographer right now. We ate freeze dried food from bags, and enjoyed it. And we slept sound, with only the occasional stir from a restless chipmunk (which apparently are vicious according to the signs). We got up at 5am to make some more pictures, packed up our stuff, and headed home, stopping again at Rose's for breakfast on the way. I always learn something about my friends when on roadtrips, this time out I learned that Bruce will get recognized anywhere, even on top of a volcano, and that he likes chocolate milk with his breakfast. And I learned that Andy likes his corned beef hash crispy, and that he always brushes his teeth before bed, even when he's sleeping outside.

That perfect light never quite showed up, though we were given a few windows of opportunity during our stay. Here's ten of my favorite images from the adventure, the first being my pano, which is comprised of five frames, and is 1 foot by 6 feet.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Barenaked Ladies

I always enjoy the challenge of shooting something new, or shooting in a new location, keeps me on my toes. While I've shot at Keller Auditorium several times, I've never shot a band there, only theatrical events. Last night, Barenaked Ladies took the stage and rocked the auditorium. I got very little instruction ahead of time as to where to pick up my pass and who my contact was going to be, so I arrived plenty early. Got all the logistics worked out in time to take a front row seat for the opening act, Serena Ryder, who was great. After that, BNL took the stage, and I went to work. Here's a sample of the images I made.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sibyl Lazzara headshots

One of my favorite local actors, Sibyl Lazzara, came in this week for some new headshots. Here's a few of my favorite shots from the session.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm always really stoked to shoot a concert when I know I'm shooting from the pit, which is what I was told the situation would be for Nickelback. Their stage had a thrust with a circular area at the end. My location was at the end of the thrust, and I could move from side to side. Awesome spot, with lot's of potential to work the stage and make unique photos. I was escorted to my position, tested my gear and lens reach, paced off the space so I'd know where everything was when the lights went down, then waited for the band to take the stage. All of a sudden things went from quite and dark, to explosive and chaotic, so I started shooting. Great shots to be had throughout my three allotted song, but they never came out to the end of the thrust. I was disappointed not to get the close-up shots that I wanted, but I think I still came up with some good stuff. Plus, for this show I had tickets in a suite. So I checked my cameras with security, and went to my suite to enjoy a killer rock show with my friends.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Soluna Grill

A couple weeks ago I did photos for a review of Soluna Grill on NE Fremont. I came just at the end of their Brunch service and most of the happy brunch patrons were finishing up and heading out. Co-owner, and Executive Chef Dan Straub, was very accomodating, preparing several plates for me to photograph, as well as being willing and available for a portrait. The plates pictured are as follows: Pork Belly BLT; Maple Smoked Pork Belly, Fried Egg, Arugula, and Tomato, on a Brioche Bun. Cheesy Grits with Prawns; Saute├ęd Jumbo Prawns, Crimini Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes, Scallions, and Red Eye Gravy, atop Cheddar Grits. And Crab Cake Benedict with Sweet Potato Hash. The day I did the shoot, they also happened to be having their Monthly Supper Club event. It sounded very interesting, so I returned later that night to make some photos of that as well. Each month Chef Straub devises the seven course menu around a fun seasonal theme, this month's was Baseball, with dishes like "Cotton Candy"; Sticky-Sweet Spare Ribs with Roasted Corn Slaw.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dynamic Lighting Diagram

Katie and I had some free time in the studio yesterday, so we decided to make some portraits of each other. Below is a diagram to the setup.

Jet Black background, 4 AB1600 heads, 1 Speedlite, 1 white reflector. The two rim lights in the rear are on stands a couple feet above the subject, each have 7" reflectors with grids. The Speedlite behind the subject is clamped to a background stand and pointed down as a hair light, it also had a grid. The other head behind the subject has a 7" reflector with an orange gel, and is pointed at the background. The main light has a 22" beauty dish reflector, and is slightly above the subject. Finally, there's a 42" white reflector down low that's bouncing a little fill light back up to the subject.

I've always appreciated when other photogs share the technical elements of a cool photo, so I thought I'd do a little of the same. Enjoy!