Thursday, December 29, 2005


More shots from Ohio. This time a random roundup of the various critters on Mom's farm. All shot with the D70 and the 50mm f/1.8.

Meet Blackie, a rather photogenic 2 year old stallion. You're not seeing things, he really does have Paul Newman eyes:

Next up, the Queen of the Household, Ariel - caught in the act of birdwatching. Shot with the softbox and a gold bounce on the SB600. I backed the flash comp down too far, blah. Need to remember to shoot bracketed more... tho being a typical cat, Ariel was in no mood to suffer the flash for long!

Now for Mom's pet jay, Mootsie (getting him to sit still long enough to fire the shutter was a challenge!):

This guy was rescued as a fallen nestling literally from the jaws of death - a dog grabbed him in the park. He's 8 years old and makes a much more friendly and engaging house bird than any parakeet.

Before you get your knickers in a knot about keeping a wild bird as a pet, it's a fact that once you've hand raised a nestling, you cannot re-release them into the wild; they will not survive. I might end up inheriting this character someday, as jays can live an extremely long time; no one quite seems to know how long, but they're of the Corvidae (crow) family, and captive ravens (Corvus Corvax) are known to live sixty and more years!

Back when Moots was a fledgling, the local park ranger recommended that Mom just register him with Ohio DNR, get an adequate flight cage and plenty of toys (jays are busy birds) and keep him as a pet. He's got a huge cage, and is well behaved enough to fly free inside the house when the dogs aren't in. The cat lives in mortal fear of that beak and won't go near him. He'll come to your hand (especially for live, fuzzy, wriggly caterpillars... and wormses, ooo yesss preciousss!) and mimics all sorts of things like the TV, the telephone, the dogs barking... the fun never ends.

The classic comment after I showed Mom the fullsized raw capture: 'Oh, wow, I never realised his eyes are brown!' The camera literally pulled out details of colour and markings she'd never noticed.

Midge, Mom's 6 months old Border Collie pup:

Last but not least, the aptly nicknamed Fuzzy, a ginormous Warmblood colt:

That's quite the menagerie, eh? I also shot some decent captures of wild birds at the feeder, but they'll have to wait for now.



Sunday, December 25, 2005

You can go home again

I went home for the holidays, and the bad news is that yes, indeed, Cincinnati is still a festering cesspit, Ohio sucks in general, the food was bad, the weather was worse, and I didn't get to ride half so much as I should have liked. The good news is, it's nice to be home with true friends.

Speaking of true friends, here's one of Jason Reser, shot with my portrait lens and the softbox on the D70; about 1/250 shutterspeed, handheld at f/1.8, exposure comp on the flash backed off a couple stops, and bounced the flash off the adjacent white wall. Came out nicely, for all that we were sitting under strip lights in a Skyline chili parlour:

This character happens to be my truest, best friend. I used to work for him at his bike shop in Newport, Kentucky, and he's the most generous person on the planet. I've known him since he was fifteen years old. He's helped me get bikes, sponsorships and contacts that have all stood the test of time and distance. This is one of those deals where we can go for months at a time without corresponding, then pick up the conversation right where it left off.

The rest of these snaps were taken slightly inebriated, handheld with the Stylus, mostly inside the Taft Theatre at the Over The Rhine Concert. Had to use available light as flash photog is frowned upon there. sorry they're blurry. Thanks Charley, you are a real gem for hooking us all up with tix. You're a real nerd for being so camera shy tho. What's up with ditching us at the bar, huh?

Here's a shot of Jason and his girl Sari. Thank you Sari, for letting me borrow your Barracuda, that was really awesome. I wish she'd come with us riding tho, because I was hopelessly outnumbered by the guys. It only takes 2 gals to outnumber any amount of men.

Next up, the Unimpeachable John Wiley Adams. Holy crap, when did Wiley turn into an emo boi?? I first met this kid at a crit I promoted in Mariemont, Ohio. He was in sneakers and jeans, on flats riding his dad's overly large garage bike, all knees and elbows, and having the time of his life.

One of the most talented riders ever to train half-arsed and waste his talents: Adam Fuson. He and I were joint Ohio Valley Racing Riders of The Year in 1997. A shot of him, a shot of him, taking a shot of me, then the sneaky bastard took a shot of me, showing him the shot of him... eh, it's confusing, and probably really stupid, but we were enjoying it, so that's what matters:

And here's a nasty blurry shot of Over The Rhine, jamming. Blurry was kind of the theme of the night.

I was listening to Over the Rhine fifteen years ago at Sudsy Malone's, whilst waiting for my laundry to dry. They haven't changed a bit, but one thing's for certain, you'd not fit the 2,000+ people who packed the Taft, into Sudsy's 6x6' SRO stage allotment.

I only wish I'd bothered to take the Stylus with me when Jason took me night MTB riding out at East Fork. Man that brings back some memories. It was freezing, icy and SO incredibly fun. 2 hours of slipping, sliding, laughing, crashing and flailing. The Cincy guys go every Tuesday night at 7, all through the winter. I wish my useless bike acquaintances in Boulder had the minerals to go night riding.

Yes, Virginia, you can, indeed, go home again.

Happy Holidays,


Friday, December 09, 2005


The most elegant things in life are often quite simple. Tuxedoes, fixed gear bicycles and black and white photography come to mind.

Here are a few shots I took down by the library the first day I had my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. All converted to B&W with a nice home-cooked Photoshop secret recipe of mine and a little help from my friends (thanks A. Shen!).

First, a lanky, elegant Italian steel fixte. The only thing I dislike about being short is that my bikes don't have the sorts of long, clean lines one gets in 58cm and above framesets:

This second shot was my favourite from the series. It shows the excellent depth of field one can achieve shooting manual with a fast lens:

And just a cool idea. These are free loaner bikes from the grocery, and apart from here, I've only ever seen this done in Amsterdam. They end up all over town, naturally, but have very low actual rates of theft; even when they're not returned immediately, someone always rides them back to the grocery within a few days.



Wednesday, December 07, 2005

State CX Champs

Ah, cyclocross, as interpreted by the Nikon D70.

Here are a couple shots of Marty, from her spectacular ride in the 35+ women's race. The light was tricky, and I discovered later that I shot the whole thing at ISO 200, i.e. not high enough for these fast moving subjects in dodgy light. Mea culpa.




I'd had the camera for exactly fourteen hours when I shot most of these pictures. I struggled, a lot. Some of them came out okay.

Using the SB-600 for fill flash, helped with the pro Men, as the light was failing. I liked the speed and conflict in the next shot. Jeff Wardell is the guy coming fast into the barricades, center frame.

The kid in the stars-n-stripes in this next shot, just turned fifteen. He barely missed out on the State Championship in the Senior Men Pro/1/2 field, settling for the silver medal behind no less than Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski. Alex Coelho. Remember the name, it may become important in the future.

Here come the Pro/1/2 podium players thru the barriers with a quarter mile to go to the finishline. You could cover them with a blanket. Or a tea cozy.

Another nice shot of Alex, doing what he does best: go fast.

Couplea captures of the Death Bridge, from different angles, with Vaughter's Boyz drilling it in the wide angle shot. The angle, off-camber and speed that you come onto this slick wooden nightmare, meant a lot of people careened off the railings, or just plain wiped out here.

Last but not least, this shot of my former teammate, Susan Einberger really caught the essence of cyclocross.



Monday, December 05, 2005

Boogie Nights

Ok, ok, ok - so I've been saying for 2 weeks now that I'm gonna update the blog with these LoDo shots... well not that I need to make excuses but work has been kinda chaotic lately, and more importantly


... so of course I've been nerdling around with that... and of course taking yet MORE pictures, that need to be processed. Yikes.

The even better news is that traffic to this blog has drummed up my very first freelance project. Tentatively as of February or March, it looks as tho I'll be shooting a local Elite men's cycling team for their website.

Trust me, though. The arrival of the Nikon does NOT signal the demise of my beloved Stylus 500... oh no. It's so much smaller, lighter, faster and more 'stealth' for candid work, and far easier to use on my cheap, lightweight, crappy tripod... it's definitely the one to toss in the messenger bag and go singlespeeding all over downtown with. As you'll see in the next few shots.

The above shot is self-explanatory. Union Terminal, pretty much the heart of Lower Downtown. One of the A-list fun things to do in winter, is to get up crazy early in the AM and take the Winter Park Ski Train out of Union Station. Highly recommended, very scenic... a Denver Must Do.

My LoDo scheme typically goes thusly: Get off work, ride singlespeed over to the Boulder bus terminal, jump on the RTD regional express (only 3.75 from Denver to Boulder, comfy and convenient) for a 35 minute bus ride. Read or listen to the
m:robe. Arrive between 18.15 and 18.40 on Market St. in Denver, and grab a bite of grub, a beverage, and/or shoot a game or 2 of pool.

Here are a few pool players I know:

I shoot pool better than most lesbians. So I've been told by some straight male friends. What that means...? I'm not entirely certain either.

By 20.30 or so, the traffic downtown usually dies down to the point where I can compose shots without too much background interference, and in the more deserted parts of the warehouse district, even set up in the middle of the street, if that's what it takes.

Couple attempts at artistic shots of details on the train terminal. I tried my best with the compositions. The tripod definitely made things a lot easier. And makes for a conversation piece amongst my fellow pub crawlers, apparently. I lost count of the number of folks who stopped to ask what I was shooting, if I was shooting for a publication, a school project, or ??? I think I'm going to have to make up a better story than 'um, yea... I'm shooting for my blog...'

The highly ironic part is the number of people who walk up and start asking me for photography advise... I feel like a total fraud. My canned response has become: 'yeah man... I've only been shooting for couple months myself: my goals are to light the subject well, pay attention to the background and make sure it's in focus'

Sometimes one discovers interesting perspectives merely by turning around to see what's 180 degrees removed from the 'cliche' shot. Union Terminal is the second most photographed building downtown, behind the Capitol. Across the street from it is Morton's steakhouse, with the Union Terminal sign reflecting nicely off the windows of the pricey lofts above it. Waiting for a car to come along adds interest to the shot at these very low shutter speeds.

A similar shot to the B&W photo, this time taken in colour, from across the street, using the parking meters as added composition elements.

And a shot from just a few steps up the block, outside the wine bar featured in the first photo:

The greatest thing about night shooting is how it brings up the details in architectural shots like these:

And then of course whilst night shooting, one must do the time-honoured 'cityscape' shots. My friend Ricardo and I rolled the bikes down to Five Points for a little different perspective than the usual. Most Denver skyline shots are taken from the uptown / Platte (north or northwest side). Five Points is in the ghet... um, 'transitional' neighbourhood to the eastside.

Ricardo rode his bike thru the next shot to provide a little light streak:

Then we looked around for some details in the scenery:

The goal of the evening was to ride way down to the darkside of Blake Street and shoot some pictures of derelict vintage busses that Ricardo knew of in a junkyard. Some of these shots came out even better than we'd hoped:

Ricardo decided to take a closer look:

There were a couple of challenges to these shots.

The first, was simple comfort. It was really cold out that night, a bright, moonlit late November eve in Colorado is usually not terribly warm. I usually toss tons of extra clothing in my Metropolis, and R wound up wearing my long sleeve fleece (I had three or four other layers on. The white Columbia actually helped that shot turn out; were he wearing black you'd not be able to see him well on the fence.

The second challenge is one of camera limitations. The Stylus is fully automatic. Meaning there's not much control over shutter speed, depth of field or spot focus. The camera pretty much decides things for you, and you live with it. Which is one of many reasons I've dropped a pretty phat dime on the Nikon and associated bits. I think we managed pretty well with the Stylus nonetheless:

This double-decker provided lots of subject matter. I'm now dying to know what the story of that huge smash on the (onlooking) right front quarter was. That had to have been an impressive impact.

These 2 shots are where we bumped up against the limitations of using point n shoot. With an SLR and controllable depth of field, the cyclone fence could be made much less intrusive, for less busy compositions of the actual subjects.

And last but not least, after freezing in a junkyard for 2 hours shooting pictures of derelict busses in the pale moonlight, it was time to warm up with a nightcap and a bit of jazz before I loaded myself back onto the Last Bus Into Boulder (01.00).

I mean seriously, it's not like I sleep that much these days anyway.

Goodnight all,