Saturday, January 29, 2011

Don't Be Afraid To Crop Your Photos

This is a throw-back photo from my 2008 files when I was living in Los Angeles. Like many of the pictures on this blog, this was a quick, grab shot: see it - shoot it - and go eat.

But this finished product - after editing - is a great example of how an ordinary picture can be improved with the right crop. The relationship between the dog and his/her owner is much more apparent - and dramatic - in the cropped version (I like her gaze) as opposed to the original shot that shows how much I actually cut out.

I'm not sure what got the doggy's attention - maybe a cop was yelling for it to get from behind the wheel. And this is a story telling photo as well because it looks like the dog actually has its right paw on the steering wheel. But I wanted to play up the relationship between the animal and it doting owner who seems to be saying with her expression that, "You can do no wrong."

Making The Most Of What You Have

The title of this blog entry refers to trying to create something useful when conditions are against you. In this case I'm talking about the poor lighting inside New York's Madison Square Garden (it's poor for MY purposes - making pictures.) After having trouble getting decent pictures from the recent pro rodeo event there, I was hoping for better conditions for the 104th running of the Milrose Games. Sadly, no such luck. So - as with this shot - my panning skills (moving the camera at the same speed as the moving object) were called upon in order to get at least a portion of the picture in focus while much of the rest of the photo is blurry - due to lack of light.

The top picture is from the evening's very last event, the prestigious Wanamaker Mile. The second place finisher - Bernard Lagat (purple singlet) - was the favorite since he'd won the race 8 times, but he was topped by Deresse Mekonnen.

The middle photo features another second place finisher - pole vaulter Jenn Suhr. I shot about 50 pole vaulting shots and this one was the sharpest and one of the few where I can see her face. In sports photography, if you can't see the face of the competitor you've failed to convey the emotion of the effort. Her position is perfect: the arms are spread just right and her torso and legs are extended showing the strain of trying to vault over 15 feet.

The third picture shows the emotion I like to convey: triumph! Sara Hall is clearly pleased to be winning the women's 1500 meter run. Again, I moved my camera on a horizontal plane as she ran and I hoped my speed matched hers resulting in a clear photo for the most part. And while her left hand and left lower leg are blurry - her face, with that winning smile, is in perfect focus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

19 Inches Of New Snow!

The weather forecast said we'd get nine inches of new snow - we got 19 instead! These are some scenes taken from the living room window of my home here in Brooklyn. The snow started sooner than expected and lasted longer than expected.

It's been a record setting month of January for the New York City region never before has so much snow fallen in January around here and we're not even halfway through the Winter season which has seen 36 inches of snowfall so far.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Frozen Fountain

The low in New York City was 6 degrees - the lowest it's been in several years around here. And the Bryant Park fountain in mid-town became a frozen treat that attracted photographers and onlookers from all around town.

Here's a close up of the water that's been turned into a delicate curtain of ice formations. It reminded me of my summer of 2009 trip deep into the under ground caverns in Missouri where giant columns of water and mineral formations -100's of years old - hang from the ceilings.

I overheard one woman - who apparently is a longtime New York City resident - say that even she was impressed by the natural beauty of the frozen fountain. She said she's been e-mailing photos of the icy marvel to friends and family all day long.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back In Florida

The new statue of the late New York Yankees' owner George M. Steinbrenner III was recently unveiled in Tampa, Florida. It stands in front of Steinbrenner Field as a memorial to the man who revived the Yankee franchise in the 1970's and - after moving his family and team headquarters to Tampa in the 1980's - helped many local charities with his donations - quite often made without anyone knowing where the money came from. I took this shot late in the day and the shadows on the staircase add a graphic dimension to the scene and nicely frame the bronze statue.

Meanwhile the duck pond next to the stadium offers a visual respite from the day to day pressures of watching baseball for a living.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Light Up

Ever wonder what it looks like when a cigar is lit? Here's a close-up view at the pretty colors and shapes. BTW - This blog does not condone smoking cigars ... or anything else for that matter.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Dog

Actually this dog has nothing to do with our latest snow fall. He was waiting for his master in the dry cleaners while I was picking up my clothes.

I like the look - one eye doing the work of two - a calm, but steely glint in his eye. I think this is one of my best dog portraits.

The "Snow Bomb" Is Here

Our latest snowstorm here in New York - described as a "snow bomb" because of its size, arrived about 1am and is supposed to last thru the morning rush hour and be done by noon. 9 to 12 inches of snow are expected. This shot is from inside my warm apartment looking out across the street to the red door condo.

There weren't too many people on the streets since we had plenty of warning about the impending snow fall, so this guy is on his own.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making A Show For The Masses

Here's a sanitation truck with its plow bucket at the ready to scoop up any and all snow. But - there is no snow ... yet. Another huge storm (they keep telling us it's "huge" on the weather reports) is due to hit late Tuesday night. But this and other trucks were out and about EARLY as an apparent display of readiness after the abysmal response to the Christmas Weekend Blizzard that saw work and rescue vehicles, cop cars and city buses stuck and abandoned in the snow because many streets weren't plowed for days. One sanitation department higher-up lost his job, but many others in New York City's "front office" escaped with only of the wrath of the politicians and citizens as their punishment ... so far.

Thinking Of The Beach

Another big snow storm is headed to where I live here in Brooklyn, New York on Tuesday. So to offset that impending doom, I'm taking a look back at a Santa Monica, California beach sunset from 2008. All these people were there as if waiting for some kind of intervention from a higher power. The guy on the far left seems to be pleading for something other than a simple sunset to occur. Nothing did.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Enjoying Your Job

The Los Angeles Clippers pro basketball club has a dance team and cheerleaders. But they also have a drum troupe to help entertain their fans during timeouts. As a former school boy drummer and a fan of anything that makes noise, I wanted to capture the essence of playing a percussion instrument. The guy in the middle is the star of the group because there's no doubt how much he loves drumming and competing against his band mates. I used software that mimics the results of what's called a tilt-shift lens to home in on the faces of the drummers while putting everything else into a soft focus.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

(No) Bull Riding In New York

The new season of the professional bull riders (PBR) tour kicked off its 2011 schedule at New York's Madison Square Garden. It was my first rodeo since the mid-80's in Las Vegas where the circuit ends with the championship tournament in October (they take June and July off to rest.) Here, 2010 PBR World Champion Renato Nunes of Brazil, is barely hanging onto Congo during the first of three nights of competition.

A very good opening night crowd was in attendance and of course many fans donned their best cowboy hat. Vendors were actually selling cowboy hats along with soft drinks and beer. As the evening worn on it seemed as if the beer sales had taken the lead. It was very noisy - with the ring announcer/MC/carnival barker and lots of rock, rap and techno music blaring between bull rides. One minute it's AC/DC followed by New Order (from the 80's) and then New York's own Beastie Boys keeping the crown pumped up.

Outside the Garden - as with most performances of any kind featuring animals - protesters were displaying their opinion about what was going on inside the building.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blue Trash

Coming home from seeing the very average movie TRON (as in yawn), I came upon some of the millions of tons of trash still on New York streets more than a week after a ton of snow fell on the city. The blue light from the overhang of an apartment building cast my favorite color on this small mound of garbage ( in New York, this is considered a 'small' mound) that's due to be picked up soon. They better hurry: more snow is predicted to hit the tri-state area on Friday.

In Search Of Color In New York City

Sometimes I'll hit the streets of NYC in search of a common theme. And color was what I was looking for in as many shapes and forms as I could find. The Empire State Building was adorned in holidays colors while a window with a water fall streaming down its glass created a series of muted colors.

The golden spire of the New York Life Insurance Building is always an eye-catcher and when's the last time you looked at a spool of tread up close?