Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Birthday, Calendar

Hope that 2017 is a good one for all.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Antique Arizona

After last February's model shoot we stopped in Prescott Arizona and ate at this wonderful Italian restaurant, called Papa's and reviewed some of our pictures from Sedona. Great restaurant and we had fun after a long day of shooting. I stepped outside and saw this shot at a shop called Prescott Arizona Antiques located right next store to the restaurant.  I liked the lighting inside the store coming from various sources and the depth shown inside the shop and that is why I took the picture.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Portland Beauty

The wonderful Hollywood Theater in Portland was inspired by bath houses in Rome and continues to entertain movie goers with special events and features. I loved its colors and gothic style architecture which, of course, drew me to take this shot. Plus, Hateful Eight was playing and Michael Jr is a big fan of Quentin Tarantino. It's a violent, bloody move but a great movie house to visit when in Portland. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

LAX Airport

I'm continuing to clean up my catalog for 2016, throwing away shots that should be deleted and trying to find decent shots that I haven't posted yet. It is a good exercise to clean your photos up at least once a year although it would be better to do it as you go along. I do both. When you have over 8,300 shots taken for the year, there are going to be some that can be discarded. My tip would be to discard multiples of the same shot. Keep the best, throw the rest away. Anyway, this shot was taken  at the LAX airport back in February.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Family PJ Pic

Following a tradition that Cheryl started when the kids were young she goes out and buys everyone Christmas PJs every year. Here is the 2016 version.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Santa Eckhart

Merry Christmas to all.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas in Orlando?

Christmas in Orlando or other warm location? It just doesn't do it for me. I was out in shorts and a sweater today. Yes, it was only 35 but with the sun out and no wind, not bad. Wish we could get a clean cover of snow to blanket the old stuff but there is just enough around to remind you it is officially winter. The Orlando tree is pretty but nothing beats a northern climate (mild winter temps) at Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

It takes a village sometimes to get a photoshoot done right, especially in harsh sunlight. Here are some background shots from the shoot this past spring. This is from a photo seminar in Chandler and Sedona run by the fantastic Jared Platt.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Shot of the Year

Each year I pick my favorite shot and this is that shot for 2016. It is a great location with a wonderful model but the situation also contributed to my selection of this shot as my favorite for the year. In the seminar I attended, hosted by a wonderful instructor, Jared Platt, four photographers were randomly selected (out of the ten or so in the class) to have a chance to shoot for the cover of the magazine. Each was assigned a model and a couple of "photographer assistants" from the other photographers in the class. I was picked (to my horror) for a chance to shoot for the cover but I had a great model and a great team working with me. We only had about 15 minutes to pull this shot off as the sun was setting, giving us this wonderful light. Each team was on top of this bluff and I chose a direction with the sun coming in from the camera right, as you can see here.

On the bluff besides our class, were a bunch of tourists enjoying the view and we were also working around this random American Indian playing his flute. I got a flash of inspiration and asked if he would join our photo shoot. The Indian, who's name was Kelvin Mockingbird, turned out to be a grammy nominated musician in the traditional American Indian music genera. One of my fellow photographers had an app that allowed us to get a model release for him and I started to set up the shot. While I am trying to get this shot, my fellow photographers are offering suggestions and working poses with the model and while we are working together, we are all also working against the clock with any of us getting the possibility to get a cover shot, which would be pretty cool. As lead, I did set this pose, got Kelvin situated, balanced the light (with lots of help from the team) and took the shot. The art director was standing right over my shoulder and said "That's the 2 page spread" which I thought was very cool. As Jared was working with the other groups, we pulled this off on our own. Anyway, turns out the magazine failed even before our shots could really be used and they used other shots of mine, not this one, but the experience made up for it and besides, magazines screw up photographer's work all the time. Why should it be different here? So, the combination of the pressure to get the shot, the setting, the wonderful light, the beautiful model and the assistance of Kelvin in my background, I think made this shot work.

Sedona Model Shoot Compilation

When you are only supposed to post one shot (or so) a day, it take a long time to get all your shots posted from a shoot where you might have taken hundreds of shots. So, I am cheating here and posting a bunch of my favorites all at once. The couple in the middle were there for an engagement shoot that we got to do while at the seminar and I asked the bride-to-be's sister to join in and act bored with the two of them. I thought it came out quite funny.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sedona Model Shoot

I got to shoot with a number of wonderful models in a seminar I took back in the beginning of the year. We were shooting all morning until sunset and with about a dozen photographers working with the girls one-on-one or in small groups, it must have been a tiring day. However, they were game for shooting and posing all day long. As this was our second day of shooting, I was much more confident in lighting and directing the models. It was quite a bit of fun and I hope to do it again someday. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Model Shoot

I thought I would post two more shots with this model from my seminar earlier this year in Sedona. We were down the road from most of the rest of the group and got plenty of time to work with this young lady. This was supposed to be for a shoot for a teen fashion magazine, which promptly failed before most of these pictures got a chance to run. But it was fun working with the editors, hair and make up and the models, while trying not to screw up the photography.  The trick I learned here is to get the sky and background exposure right. Put the model in her own shadow so her face is pointing away from the sun and then add a little light to the model's face with a reflector or a flash to match the background. Fairly simple. You could add drama by under exposing the background or use the light to create shadows and highlights on the face, but the magazine want nice clean shots. Those are the easiest to do in bright sunshine anyway. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sedona Model Shoot

Looking back at my shots this year, I see that I didn't post these wonderful shots that I got with this young model during a seminar I took back this spring while in Sedona. I got about 10-15 minutes to work with this model, who's name I totally forgot. I hope the magazine we were shooting for gave these pictures to the models, but I suppose they didn't. Too bad. I think she was a wonderful model to work with, who gave us lots and lots of great poses.

Friday, December 16, 2016

No More Four Seasons

I heard through the grapevine that I can't stay at the Four Seasons anymore. That's too bad as this looks like a great place to stay. From a trip to Galesburg, Illinois earlier this year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

From Up in the Air---3 First National Plaza

I borrowed a co-workers cell phone (mine was at my office charging) as we show up at 3 First National Plaza for a meeting today and I see one of the best views from any advisor's office that I have seen anywhere in the country. There are some offices with similar views in other cities but I don't think you can say that any of them are better. If you look close at the center of the shot is the Cloud Gate, aka "the Bean" is sitting there fairly empty of tourists as the temps today were hanging around 0, before counting windchill. Thanks to Jacklyn King for the loaner of the cell phone.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Up In The Air--The Borg Take Over

Taking off from LA you usually fly out along the ocean and then circle back over land and you see....the Borg. Well, if you are a Star Trek fan there is a scene where they go in the past and take over the Earth and every inch is taken over in a dense overpopulation of the planet, assimilating us Earthlings. Anyway, I think this is the foothills of the San Bernadino mountains or near-about. No wonder the traffic is so bad.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

From The Air...Miami Beach

Miami Beach...that's where I want to be, especially this weekend with a reported 5-8 inches coming to Chicago tomorrow. This shot was taken way back in 2010 with my old Nikon D700 but I am going through my "In the Air" portfolio and it is a nice shot of the beaches and the hotels that make Miami Beach famous.

Friday, December 9, 2016

From the Air, Downtown Chicago and the Lakefront

It's hard to beat the beauty of the city of Chicago from the air.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

From The Air, Heading East

I don't know where we are in the air but the clouds in the river valley were so cool flying to New Jersey this past fall. I assume the sun hasn't hit the valley's yet and therefore these clouds haven't burned off. So stunning. The mountains were so blue in the rising sun and gave a great contrast. Very cool to see. I have to force myself to pick more window seats when I travel. Obviously, you don't see any of this if you are sitting in the aisle.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Coming in for a landing at LGA

Always a bit strange landing at LaGuardia as you don't see land until you are on it. At least you get to come in nice and low.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Beginning to Look Like Christmas

Going from 0 to 100 as the weather quickly changed from fall to winter. That gave Clio and me an opportunity to build a snowman. Pulled out all the stops with a full on snowman kit.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fermi Lab From the Air

Taking off from Midway heading west to California we followed I-88 and I was able to catch sight of Fermi Lab and the huge accelerator track they used for big science in search of very small particles. Fun to follow the path of the plane every once in a while to see if you know where you are traveling.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chicago Grid

The Chicago grid from the air is always an amazing sight. Usually, I try to figure out what streets are below us. My best guess is that bright street from the left corner going downtown is Belmont Avenue, with the angle street Grand Avenue turning into Fullerton Avenue as we are landing at O'hare. Not bad for a southsider. Anyway, always love to see the Chicago grid at night. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cloud View

Just your typical out of window cell phone view of my plane flying through some clouds.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Martian Landscape on Earth

This is a similar shot from yesterday but with fewer signs of human habitation. I am watching the Mars mini series on the National Geographic channel and this shot, to me, looks what I would think that Mars would look like, although without the blue sky in the background. Anyway, Mars on Earth looks really dry.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Up in the Air Somewhere out West

This was taken on a return trip from San Diego to Chicago, obviously out west. It looks so dry you wonder how anyone, much less the size of a small city can live there. I wish I knew the town we were flying over but I didn't have my GPS turned on.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tuscon Sunrise

An early morning wake up call last October and an hour and a half ride from Scottsdale to Tucson got me to a parking lot at a Merrill Lynch branch for a breakfast meeting. Getting out of the car, I see this scene. Normal view for those who live out west but very spectacular if you live in the midwest. So, this is a cellphone shot from a parking lot. Beauty is where you find it.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Redondo Beach Sunset

Caught a nice cellphone shot of a Redondo Beach sunset off of the Strand a week or so ago. Saw a small "green flash" as the sun set below the horizon but it was a weak one. A "green flash" is where the last touch of the sun refracts strongly into the green color spectrum and it is quite spectacular to see when the conditions are ripe. Anyway, rented a bike and got a nice ride along the beach after work.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Things to be Thankful For

Only two of the grandkids are over this morning (and only two of the kids) but it is enough to get a shot of something to be thankful for. Love having the grandkids around. Eckhart also loves his sister. His eyes follow her everywhere.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chicago River Walk View of Marina Towers

This is a tough shot to get prior to the Chicago River Walk. You would have to go on the river in a boat to try to fit both buildings in and still include the marina. A very iconic building and the place where Clio was born!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chicago River Walk

Shot of the Wrigley Building and the Equitable Tower from the new portion of the River Walk in downtown Chicago. This area is going to get a lot of tourist traffic come spring. Even on these cool fall days getting a lot of walkers and runners.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shot of the Day---A Repeat and a Story

This is a shot that I previously posted probably back in the middle of 2013 since that is when I took the shot at Matthiessen State Park near Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa, Illinois. I was there for an engagement shoot for Cheryl's cousin Amber and her (now) husband Mike. They actually got engaged there but I happened to randomly suggest that as a place to meet to take pictures. Boy, was I surprised that Amber had that exact location in mind. Great minds think alike. Anyway, submitted this shot to a web site called ViewBug which hosts dozens of contest a month for excellent giveaways (for very expensive gear like free cameras) but also to get feedback to see how some of my photos rank against top flight competition. I am often surprised to see some of my favorite shots not getting many votes and others doing really well. This one did really well, beating almost 69,000 other submissions to get into the Top 10 Class rank for that contest. To win one of these things would be amazing but with something like a hundred of thousand submissions just for this one competition, it is tough to get a top rank. One reason that I think I am just an OK shooter as I sometimes make a mistake and look at the winners. Just amazing work. Shots of a lifetime kinds of things. So, I am quite happy with a Top 10 Class rank. I think this is only the second time that has happened. I had forgotten about this shot (View Bug takes photos that you submit into your folder and submits those  pictures into contests on its own---a cool feature). This was in the competition for "Shot of the Month". Anyway, so glad that Amber and Mike were game to visit the falls and I have to go back there again soon. I think both tree limbs have finally fallen so can't get this shot again--but neither can anyone else!!! Here is one of my favorites of working with Amber and Mike with that same lower falls at Matthiessen in the background. What a great couple. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chicago River Walk Opens

My first trip down to the brand new portion of the Chicago River Walk showed some amazing views of the city. This is going to be an great part of the city experience. All kinds of people can be seen walking and running the walkway. It now goes from the lakefront to just past the Nuveen Building. Has restaurants and bars and floating pods of plants as part of the experience. Lots to love about downtown Chicago.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Nashville Street Scene at Night

Street scene early in the night looking down Broadway in Nashville. Later that night the sidewalks were so crowded it was hard to walk. Fun town with great music. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Nashville Colors

I always try to remind myself to take small views as well as large ones. When you go to an area a number of times, like I have with Nashville, you already have taken a good number of the classic tourist shots. You also have to remember to look for small shots too. Here, we were having dinner listening to a band and I look up and there is all this color above the bar. Grab the camera. Tilt the frame and hit the shot. Then back to Yingling and wings and the band....

Monday, November 14, 2016

Super Moon through the Trees

Got a nice view of the moon through the trees on the front lawn. This is a composite shot as I needed to shoot at a slower speed to get light in the clouds and trees and a fast shot to get the moon sharp. Fun shots.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Super Moon

Almost full moon tonight and the moon is closing in on the closest approach to earth in 69 years. Time for a close up. Well, everyone has this shot so now I have it too.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Blue Bridge in Detroit

At a light in Detroit near the airport and looked up and I see this beautiful blue bridge against the deep blue sky. Had to take a shot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A batch of yellow sitting in blue

It looks like leaves in blue water from a distance but it is just leaves against the blue sky in a nice warm setting sun. We had such a beautiful Indian Summer the past few weeks. Weather turned slightly cooler today and I was already disappointed over the weather. Didn't take long.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Taking a Picture and Making a Picture: Story of a Walk Through the Trees

Found a new favorite shot while playing with some filters. Had a wonderful walk a week or so ago at Lisle's Morton Arboretum and I took a nice picture of two walkers out ahead of us. Nice picture, but a bit boring. I started to play with it and got it to a place that I really liked. This is one of my new favorites. I thought I would turn this blog post into a show of how I did it. Click on the top picture and click through the changes. 

Here is the original shot. I liked the composition of the small people and tall trees and the back lighting which creates a silhouette

So, I have a nice shot, but a bit boring. How about making it more painterly? So, I pumped up the colors and used a paint filter to get a more interesting effect. 

That worked, but it wasn't enough. Then, the sign bothered me. The red and white of the sign distracts the eye so I took it to Photoshop to take out the two signs. 

The last step was to go to a filter with a software called Topaz Impressions to get even more or a painterly look. As I did that, I noticed that I really liked the landscape crop even more than the tall trees. The landscape view emphasized the women and brought out the colors. Here was the full shot before the final crop