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,



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