31000 Interstate 10 Frontage Rd
Boerne, TX 78006

Shooting at Rocky Mountain National Park

March 13, 2012

 

I'm back from my recent trip to Colorado. I was able to get a few clicks in at Rocky Mountain National Park during my stay in Denver which was a very short 4 days. Time seemed to fly by and this usually means that it's a good trip and indeed it was. It's always great to shoot with other photographers and exchange best practices and just talk photography. My girlfriend Megan arranged a shoot for me with Cameron Miller. Cameron and Megan went to high school together in Summit County. Cameron has been shooting awesome landscape photography in Colorado and other places and has an incredible portfolio of images. I was really impressed with his work and thought that it would be cool to go shooting with him when we were visiting Colorado. It worked out great, Cameron met us at Caribou Coffee in Westminster at 8am. From there we drove about an hour and a half until we reached Rocky Mountain National Park and shortly after we reached the entrance to the Bear Lake Trail Head. This was my first visit to the park so I was amazed at the views we were getting on the way there. On the way we passed the Stanley Hotel, the site where the classic Steven King's "The Shining" was filmed. I was hoping to get to stop by and take a closer look but we ran out of time. It didn't seem as eerie as it was portrayed in the film but it was morning time. Anyways, as we approached the trail head I noticed a bunch of skiers and people going to the trail. I get my gear and start walking. I notice that the trail is completely covered in snow, about 3-4 feet and I actually can't even see the trail at all. So I asked Cameron "how far are we going to hike?” he replied "about a mile." I was like ok; I'm wearing tennis shoes and jeans. I have on a good jacket, no gloves but a hoodie. I guess I'm good to go. I started hiking, I haven't been in the mountains for a while so really quick into the hike I was huffing and puffing like an old dog. I had to stop here and there, and a few times one of my feet would sink really deep in the snow. Skiers would come down the trail and people wearing snow shoes were passing me up. At this point I wish I had spent that few extra hundred dollars for a carbon fiber tripod. I've got an aluminum one which is great and sturdy but not the lightest piece of equipment for sure! I knew I had to have it though as I'd be shooting slow shutter speeds which almost requires its use! As we traversed the trail that I couldn't see I just followed Cameron and his wife. I was a little concerned about sliding down the side of the mountain on some parts but luckily I didn't. Eventually we got to the spot, we passed the Nymph Lake which was froze over and then got to Dream Lake. The view from here is absolutely amazing! Can you see the guy in the lower right hand side of the image? Sort of gives you an idea of how immense the area is.

When I shot this image the area was quickly filling up with people. A few minutes prior to this shot I was able to get a few images in relative solitude. This all ended when a few people rolled up playing a radio. I took a few more shots, and decided that I wanted to get some pano shots in. After I did that I managed a few more shots of some trees and then we packed it up and headed back to the vehicle. The walk back was relaxing & we took a few more shots of ourselves with our IPhones and got to the car and headed to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons for a beer! I couldn't have asked for a better day!


Getting Ready for SXSW 2012!

March 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Well it's that time of year again in Austin, Texas where over 2000 bands will take to a little over 100 bar stages and perform at (SXSW) South by Southwest. I'm pretty excited about shooting it as this will be my first time shooting it for SXSW. I shot it last year for unreal360.com & this year I thought that it would be so awesome and cool to get on the SXSW team and experience it fully by earning a music badge by volunteering 5 shifts primarily shooting music showcases. I’m a huge music fan, and love discovering new cool bands… So I applied back in January of this year and on the 25th of January I was notified that I was in! I recall shooting it last year and it was an amazing experience. I was assigned to Maggie May’s for unreal360.com. It was the only place that I shot at but there were some amazing bands that came though there. At Maggie May’s there are 3 stages. I was covering the downstairs and upstairs stage. I was shooting the band downstairs then going upstairs to shoot the band that was playing upstairs! I was up and down the stairs all night! Sets were kept to 20 minutes. So by the time that a band was wrapping up downstairs another set was going on upstairs! I did this 4 nights in a row, I got there about 7pm and left around 2am. I was totally wiped out on the 4th day. Not sure how I did it. One of the coolest moments is when OMD took to the stage. If you were around in the 80s then you might remember them. I didn’t even recognize them until “Electricity” came on. Wow! I was right in front in the photographer pit. I snapped this image of them performing which made it all worth it. People were really digging the show and they managed to play a few hits. They tried to stay and play more but they made them quit. Everyone was like awww that sucks but hey the show must go on, sorry OMD fans!

 

Ok, so enough talk about last year. Yesterday we had a meeting with all of the SXSW photography team, well over 170 people talking about shooting and general survival tips for the festival. Many people shared tips from shooting it in previous years and discussed best practices. I was there soaking up the information and taking as many notes as possible. I’ve got both a cheat sheet and survival guide for this year. I’m feeling good about my chances for survival, LOL. One good tip and one that I’ll use for sure is riding my bike. Chances are that I’ll have to park at least 2 miles from where I need to be. I have to find parking and ride my mountain bike to my destination. I’ve been told that they try and keep their photogs at the same venue for the entire shift, cool. Last year I didn’t ride a bike, this year I definitely will. So I’m eagerly awaiting my assignments. Soon I’ll get my venues and list of what artists that I need to shoot. SXSW 2012! BRING IT!

 

- Rich

 

p.s. If you want to see my shots from last year's SXSW go here


My First Photography Exhibition

February 29, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

So I thought that I would write about my experience in getting ready for my first ever photography exhibition. The opening is less than 2 days away. I'm excited about it and also a little bit frightened. Not because I think that my images are bad but because I'm showing them to so many people. Today, I thought about it and thought to myself that this is a good experience for me no matter what the outcome. So why not write about how I prepared, how I shot the images, and what all went into it... I found out about the exhibition though the Austinist, a local webzine that talks about all things going on in Austin. I believe they have others too like Chicagoist, Laist .. Anyhow, I read the requirements and I decided that I would enter my images from a trip I took last year to Klein Curaçao.

This is one of the coolest places in the Caribbean that I've been, although temperature wise it was actually really hot there. I thought about that day that I took the images and how I managed to schlep my gear out to the island, jumping off a tiny boat to shore scared to death that I'd drop my gear in the surf. We were told by the crew that if we wanted to walk out to see the lighthouse and the abandoned ship that we should do so right away because the temp climbs up to over 100 degrees quickly. So off I went.. It seemed like the lighthouse and ships were far off. As I approached I started feeling the heat climb rapidly. As I got near the lighthouse I started shooting. Things were looking ok on the LCD so I went over to the ships. This side of the island was very rough, it was clear to me why they built the lighthouse back in 1850 and why there were 2 ships that had run aground. It was windy; the surf was crashing up against the old abandoned ship relentlessly in its quest to take her out to sea.  I started shooting again. As soon as a huge splash jutted out the middle of the ship I snapped an image. I got it. I walked further down the beach, littered with plastic bottles and debris.. it was a shame to see all of this garbage on such a beautiful place. I kept on walking. What then appeared was a 60ft yacht that had also run aground. Looking down the beach I saw both of these vessels and thought this would make a great image. I started shooting again. I got another shot. I walked around more and noticed that this really awesome cloud formation was forming in the sky above the lighthouse. I ran over and got into position. I started shooting again and knew that I got the shots that I wanted. At this point I thought I was going to pass out from the heat. I hurried back to the hut on the other side of the island where the water was!

Well back to the exhibition preparation. I read the requirements.. a bio along with an artist statement  was required for entry. Ugh, an artist statement? Really?  I started writing my artist statement. After I figured out what it took to create the statement it just came to me. Next was the bio, not bad or as time consuming as the artist statement.  So I wrote both and turned in the sample images on Jan 10th and wait … well the 25th of Jan comes and  I’m accepted!

So now it’s time to read the requirements for the actual submission. In the gallery I’m limited to a space that is 4x3ft. That means with 5 framed images I can roughly have (4) 8x10’s and (1) 11x14. Well it’s time to take a trip to IKEA and see what types of frames they have. I got there and thought these frames kind of look cheap. A fellow photographer friend of mine, Carlos Austin suggested that I take a look at Aaron’s. Just so happens they have a buy one frame get one for one cent sale! Killer! I got all of the frames I wanted.  Now it’s time to get the prints done. I opened up an account with Millers Imaging, another great suggestion from Carlos. I next had to figure out how I was going to sign the prints. Typically, an artist will sign on the image itself – or on the mat. My images don’t have a mat. So I decided that I would create a watermark from my signature and have this printed along with the date on the image. Cool. I got my images back, framed the items and it all looked good! It’s the 28th due date to turn the work into the gallery! I drop off my stuff and realize that I forgot to turn in the price list and image information. I email this info a day late.

 

Well now I wait till Friday at 7:00PM. I’m looking forward to the opening!

 

-Rich

 

Update: March 25, 2011

I got notified about a week ago that I needed to come pick up my work on 3/25/2011 so today I went to pick up my work. My work didn't sell. I walked into the gallery and one of the other artists that I spoke to at the opening was also there picking up her work. She seemed upset; I didn't know if she was having a bad day or whatever. I said hello and asked her about getting our work, she explained that I just needed to pull it off the wall. I saw the packing materials that I brought to bring my stuff in on the table so I grabbed my work and boxed it up and thanked the gallery owner and went next door for a slice of pizza and a beer. As I gulped down the beer and ate my slice of pepperoni za, I thought about the opening, it was definitely a great experience... despite not selling any of my work, I was thankful to have been chosen! Till next time!


Practical Asset Management

February 23, 2012  •  2 Comments

Today I attended an event with the Austin SMUG photographers group. Michael Sidoric gave an excellent presentation on Practical Asset Management. I was really looking forward to this event because I've been so guilty of not managing my media in the most efficient manner. As a matter of fact I've been really bad about it. The other day I needed some images for my PPA profile. I loaded up Lightroom and I was like ok. I'm going to pick this image from this collection and this other image from another collection. I went to that collection and tried to pull up an image and I got that [?] in the upper right hand corner of the image. You know that oh crap that image is not where Lightroom thinks that it should be. I start getting that sinking feeling that I've lost something. So, I'm like well I can search for that RWK_3430.. I know it's somewhere in the folder from 11-28-11 but it wasn't, oh wait a minute.... I uploaded that image to Facebook at some point... Yes, it's on my Facebook page! So I downloaded it from Facebook! It was much easier than searching thru my hard drives. So everything was ok for the moment. I was able to get my PPA profile completed and I was satisfied for now. Deep down I KNOW that I have these images backed up in a couple places. I'll just get it sorted later. This is the exact reason that I needed to attend this meeting this evening!

 

So Michael covered the tenants of Practical Asset Management. He gave an excellent presentation that lasted about an hour and a half. All the while I was thinking how unorganized I’ve become and that I’m really in a crisis mode and need to really get my media straight!

 

The tenants of Practical Asset Management are:

 

CREATE, CATALOG, CONSERVE

 

All of these tenants overlap each other in CREATE we as photographers need to ensure that we are creating and capturing quality & we also need to preserve and protect.

 

In CATALOG we need to identify, structure, store and retrieve. We should ask ourselves will I ever need this again?? We need to sort out the keeps/culls and ensure that we are cataloging originals only (RAWs) we should also ingest everything and then do the sorting.

 

We should be thinking about the who, what, when and where and also understanding how our metadata is stored. There will surely come a day when we will want to be able read the metadata and if we haven’t put a strategy in place to preserve it then it may not be there when we move to a new computer system. Michael suggested that we consider using Adobe Bridge for image management because it complies with metadata standards. I personally don’t like bridge but I thank Michael for the suggestion.

 

One of the points that Michael made is the implementation of what he called controlled vocabulary. This is a highly structured way of describing something. Defined by the way you shoot and also defined by the way that you retrieve. It should be rigid, limited and precise. It should also be flexible, evolving and controlled. This is the toughest part. Coming up with a schema, getting organized!!

 

Finally the last part of the presentation was CONSERVING

Digital preservation, three copies of images in two places and they should be stored in original format.

 

Michael also mentioned a few useful utilities and a new HDD that supposedly can withstand the force of 5000 lbs and a drop from 20ft, it’s the IOSAFE

The utilities mentioned were:

Carbon Copy Clone

Apple Backup

Disk Radar

 

One of the most interesting parts of this meeting was the part when he talked about the lifespan of SD/CF cards and SSD’s. I always knew that HDD’s all fail after a number of hours of use. What I didn’t know is that SD/CF and SSD’s also fail after so many reformats! After tonight’s session I decided that I would look into how these things actually work. I know how traditional HDDs work but SD/CF SSD not so sure.  

 

Oh I also won a door prize tonight!

It’s a PENTAX chap stick! YEAH!

 

  • Rich

 

 

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