Thursday, May 8, 2014

Don't Play with Your Food

Throughout my childhood, my grandmother, often had too often remind me to stop playing with my food. I had this habit of moving my least favorite food from one side of the plate to the other with hopes of fooling her. At her house, the grandchildren had to show a 'victory plate', one that was bare or hardly had any food remaining on it.

She was brought up during the depression and an empty plate meant a full tummy.

To this day, my children and wife, Amy, often have to remind me to stop playing with my food. As soon as I start fixing a meal, I often break out the speedlites and take pictures of the meal's progression from start to finish to post in my food gallery.

Most of the time once, it's ready, I set the food on the table, let them build their plates, say the prayer blessing the food and then painstakingly, build a plate or two to photograph while having to endure a chorus of "Stop playing with your food, Jimmy!"

Most of the time, while they are either off to work or out of the house, I'll set up the lights and dig through the refrigerator pulling out the leftovers  to photograph in peace.

Today's lunch was Monday's supper. Greek salad and lobster tails. And it's was fantastic.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Soccer, a unique game of rules and terminology

There's not too many pro sporting events I feel uncomfortable in covering, however, soccer is probably one of the most challenging.

After setting up in the Media Press Box overlooking CenturyLink Field before Saturday's match between the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids, I took some time to watch the players warming up on the field below to get a feel for the flow of  action.

Grabbing my gear and heading towards the elevator, I passed Ted Warren,  a fellow shooter, friend, an Associated Press photographer and said, "See ya out on the field." he replied, "Jim, the correct terminology in soccer is, "See you on the pitch!" Guess that about shows you what I know about soccer.

Unlike American football, where you can catch, kick, pass, punt and run with the ball and tackle an opposing ball carrier,  Soccer has its own unique language where passing is done by kicking with the feet, a tackle is to win the ball off an opponent and a header is using the head to direct the balls flight.

Having not really covered enough soccer matches in the past I found it a challenge to keep concentrated and focused in order to follow the action. It's a game of passing, dribbling or heading the ball from one side of the field to the other with the intent of scoring a goal, while not trying to be grabbed, tripped, shoved from behind or tackled.

All-in-all, judging from the action I manage to capture, at least I got the ball in the frame and in focus.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Seeing light, shadows, textures and designs

I often bring my camera with me when Toshi and I are on our daily walks. We try to hit a different park, so that it gives him different areas to mark and remark his terrorizes.  If you own a male dog you know what I mean.

Going to parks at various times during the day,  gives me a chance to study the surroundings under different lighting conditions, seeing the shadows, texture, design and just how the light falls upon a subject.

I can remember many years ago,  I'd turn up my nose nature photography. Well, I liked landscape, however, I was not a fan of detail shots.   While stationed with the Navy in Monterey, I attended the Monterey Peninsula College during my off hours when I wasn't freelancing, mostly covering sports for the Monterey Peninsula Herald. During the start of a new semester and hoping for an easy credit,  I enrolled into a Fine Arts Photography Class,  which wasn't what I expected and no easy grade. At one time, our instructor, worked under the guidance of Ansel Adams, one of the Masters of Landscape photography.   While everyone else turned in beautify landscapes and detailed pictures, my were features of people somewhere within the photograph, which is not he wanted to see turned in as a class assignment. Being a photojournalist, I just couldn't or wouldn't grasp the concept of Fine Art Photography and we just didn't see eye to eye.

At the end of one class, the instructor informed us that next week's class was mandatory attendance because he invited a "special visitor". The following week arrived and we were treated to a night with our surprise guest, Ansel Adams.  We listen to his stories on how certain photographs were made and afterwards showed him our work.  He liked the class so much that we were invited on a photographic walkabout at Pt. Lobos and told us to bring our cameras and tripods.

Unfortunately, the night before I had the quarterdeck mid-watch and couldn't get there until after being relieved. By the time I arrived and finally caught up with the group they were armed with 4x5 and 2 1/4 format cameras, all on tripods, situated in a semicircle around a weather beaten tree. I put a wide angle lens on one camera and a telephoto on the other and began taking pictures of my fellow students. A few minutes later, I heard a commanding voice, "Look at the want to be photographer with his sub miniature camera!", it was Ansel Adams, staring straight at me. My classmates started to laugh, which really pissed me off.  I can still remember telling Mr. Adams, "There's nothing more boring than taking pictures of doorknobs and knotholes. To me, the picture, is everyone gathered around this old gnarled tree with you instructing." As I heard a collective grasp coming from those nearest to me, Adam turned, laughed and said, "I like your tenacity, you're going to go far as a photojournalist. "

Throughout the following years I began to finely hone my skills and began to notice the beauty of  light,  how it made my pictures better and to this day I continue to chase the light.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Diamonds in a tree

Since moving into our house in 1996, my wife and I transformed the yard and landscape from a golf course pristine look into that of a Pacific Northwester theme with native plants, trees and ferns, so that the multitude of small birds, and squirrels can safely hide in and out of sight from the hawks and eagles that sometimes sore overhead looking for my daughter's small dog.

Throughout the years it seems the grassy areas have slowly gotten smaller and has been transformed into layers of vegetation of wildflowers, ferns, bushes, grasses and trees of all species ranging from pines, Blue Spruces, Willows, Aspens, Coastal Redwoods, Western Cedar to various varieties of Japanese Maples.

After spending about eights years growing up in Japan, I'm pretty fond of Japanese gardens which is spread throughout our backyard.  One of my favorite trees is the Cryptomeria Japonica, an evergreen tree, commonly known as the Black Dragon, Japanese Cryptomeria, Japanese Cedar or Sugi, the national tree, commonly planted around temples and shrines.

Most of the types I remember ranged from the Bonsai trees to those small ones grown in a pot or in gardens to the much taller trees that graced the temples and shrines grounds.

To complete our Japanese style garden, we found a small tree in 1997 at an outdoor garden center in Gig Harbor and planted it near a rising pathway constructed with railroad ties and crushed rocks. We were hoping the three-foot-tree would only grow a few inches a year, however, 15 years later it's grown like one of those beans that Jack traded for the cow, and now stands over 25 feet.

During Spring and Summer months, the tree, is green that gradually gives way to a combination of greens, purples and reds in the Autumn and Winter. So, you can understand why, besides taking pictures of Japanese Red Maples, the Cryptomeria has become one of my favorite subjects to photograph, especially during the rainy season, when water drops hang like suspended diamonds attached to the limbs and branches.

Yesterday while letting Toshi and Buffy out to chase squirrels, I notice the tree was covered in diamonds and while guarding the dogs from overhead predators, I decided to photograph the suspended beauty. All of the images were taken with an EOS-1Ds MKII, equipped with an Extender Tube EF25 and a 28-70mm zoom. Most of the images were taken with these setting:
Date: 1/26/13
Time: 11:34:11
Model: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
Serial #: Lens 28-70mm: 50 - 70 (mm)
ISO: 800
Aperture: 2.8
Shutter: 1/250