Tuesday, February 14, 2006

say what?

Happy Singles Awareness Day, y'all.

Tho I rarely ever disagree with the lad, this time I actually gotta give a shout out and paraphrase
Pat Stack. Y'know dude, you are absolutely correct, the Hellympics do suck without Jaime Salé.

Only other 2 Winter Ga(y)mes observations do I have to make at this point:

a) Ted Ligety on a slalom run is pure bottled sex.

b) Dick Button is a tool. And not a useful one, either. More like that annoying, worthless rounded-out 5/16" box-end roaming round the bottom of the tray that you're too cheap/lame/stupid to pitch... despite that both yer bicycles AND cars take metrics. Fercrissakes, dude just STFU.

Couple more caps from a couple weeks ago down
::cue Cartman singing voice::

♪♪♫ .. in the Ghetto… ♫♪

First one made me laugh. Only along the Front Range would one find healthy litter lying in a vacant lot, as opposed to busted 40s. Looks like hippies are just as bad about finding the bin as the gangbangers are.

I have a theory why Denver's music scene AND the urban art scene both suck: it's cos the weather's just too damned nice here. Seriously, everyone here is just too busy playing outside to be snarky and miserable, hence no one develops that pent-up, wrist-slitting level of black despair that months on end of utterly wretched weather will provide. Therefore the true edge for creativity, lacks. This goes a long way towards explaining why Manchester, U.K. has consistently produced a high level of musical talent for nigh on 40 years.

Here's a small taste of the lame-arse tags that pass for urban blight around these parts.

I call this the 'eh, hell with it man, it's too pretty outside to be all pissed off, let's go snowboard or something...' school of design:

Bedtime for Bonzo,


Wednesday, February 08, 2006


(now with more crunchy faux-Holga goodness!)

Back at it in the coffeehouse. Some days you get the bear, some days the bear pwns your sorry white punk ass. And some days you just don't know what you got till you look at the 100% crops on the monitor.

Don't ask me why, I just like this shot. I almost deleted it cos of the missed focus. Now I'm glad I didn't. Either it looks something like a faux
Holga (sans wonky optical errors from the shitty plastic lens, monster grain noise, light leaks and come to think of it that whole Holga-esque je ne sais quois randomness that you trade off for the massive PITA of processing craptacular 120mm shots from a $15 plastic film body) ... or I'm merely deluding myself that it's worth anything.

I should go ahead and toss it into Flickr's
How Crap Is My Picture? pool and find out.

This is one of about a half dozen mad hot evening baristas in Amante. This kid kinda resembles Keanu Reeves, except for the part where he's a tad more Asian, about twenty years younger, considerably cuter, oh yeah and he has about ten times the brains and tons more personality, too. So come to think of it he really doesn't resemble Keanu much at all, unless you squint a bit and he doesn't open his mouth.

Attempting to do some sort of 'day in the life' deal, on my ride into breakfast I took some shots I thought would turn out faboo of pink morning alpenglow on the snowy Indian Peaks... only to later discover they were an overexposed blown-out white mess. sigh...punk'd again by my complete lack of technical skilz.

I spent most of yesterday deleting captures off the Nikon's compact flash card and certainly missing some fine shots in the process. I'm getting to that 'knows-just-enough-to-be-dangerous' phase, although in my case it's more of 'knows-just-enough-to-throw-herself-under-the-bus'.

I was also tasked with shooting our office building by one of the business partners. I honestly cannot think of a less photogenic subject than our office building, added to which this is quite possibly the worst month of the year to shoot it. Normally shooting photos is a cathartic, zen-like process that I find both meditative and stimulating. However, during this project I vacillated between utter boredom and seething irritation. There is absolutely no angle from which one can shoot this perfectly banal Honda Civic of a building and have it look like anything but a white concrete shoebox. All the vaguely promising angles from the eastern elevation (looking towards the mountains, yo!) suck because that entire half of the building is awash with crap-o-rific toolsheds, storage crates, electrical boxes, shipping containers, chemical tanks, poles, wires, plumbing lines, and any amount of pseudo-industrial manufacturing site shizzle that would take me fifty years plus a hundred times more Photoshop knowhow than I currently posess to deal with. This is the only shot I took that I didn't loathe on sight, tho it did take me over an hour to crop / clone out the front end of the QA director's grey 1996 Camry, a whole new theme in the saga of irritants (uh, yo genius, why dincha just go ask her to move it...?):

Also took some captures of yesterday's sunset because it was the only thing that didn't suck about standing in the parking lot in front of our office building with $1500 worth of camera equipment and no clue. Despite the fact that you really know it's the beginning of the end when you start to shoot sunsets. The clouds were much more amazing than these let on, partly because I was too lame and silly to bust out the tripod and do a real job on it:

playin' with some different exposures here.

then I busted out the wideangle and tried to get a little creative with some different lighting. I really like that Amgen building across the street, particularly during sunset / dusk with all the reflections and the wild greenish lighting from within. Someday when I'm a real photographer (and to erase the bitter memories of the rest of this shoot) I'm gonna go all Architectural Digest on this sucker. It'll help once they get all the construction piddle and cyclone fence cleaned up off the east side.

now where was I before I went off about the building shoot? Oh yeah, the coffeehouse.

Here you are, a study in different Kelvins. This may look heavily postprocessed, but aside from a tiny crop and a one stop exposure comp to rescue a bit of shadow detail, it is untouched, and also exactly sums up what the lighting looks like from within this place. I've been trying unsuccessfully to capture it for weeks. I was highly pleased with this result, although I took about fifty shutter releases to get it, using an impromptu table tripod hacked out of a lens hood, some gloves and a paperback novel. It amuses the other patrons no end to peek at yours truly, a mildly unhinged looking character dressed in
hobbit trousers and those screaming neon 2nd-gen Sidi Dominators, hunched over like some mad scientist at a corner table, futzing around taking random snapshots that don't look like they're aimed at anything in particular.

I don't even want to discuss how many shutter releases it took me to get the aperture, depth of field, colour saturation, white balance and exposure to resemble something I liked on these godsbedamned liquor bottles. I love these bottles. I HATE these bottles. One day I may even take a decent shot of these bottles. For now, this one will have to do.

O right, and having 2 cute baristas doing their thing in the foreground doesn't hurt either. Amante seems to have hired one of every ethnicity. Gotta keep Wonderland Lake's desperate housewife population happy! Last night's shift featured the chirpy Italian lad with the Colgate smile (who happens to be a mountain biker also) and our Asian Keanu-semi-lookalike friend from the first capture up above. This cat's hair has a personality all its own, and mad props to dude for just rolling with the flow and letting it be all badassed with its Al Einstein-esque ways. No, gentle readers, this is not
Guido Hair, it's waaay too style-optional for that. This has that perma-mega-bedhead 'screw it man, I'm too hungover to find a comb' kinda mojo. Rock on dude, college life sure is grand, ain't it?

And when you just can't get it right, and don't have the brains, fortitude (or the right curve adjustment wizardry) to rescue it in post?

Right on, you gots it, when that white balance and saturation gets all up in yo' grill, you just go ahead on and convert that uppity bizzatch to mono! It's how all the hipstahs, trend-friends and the merely-wannabees are rollin' these days:



Sunday, February 05, 2006

Drunken Skiing

Kind of like Drunken Boxing, only lots more dangerous and not nearly so elegant.

Look at all these fools! I was right out there in the midst of them. See that little speck up there? Yeah, that one, the one that's spread out under the lift like so much roadkill...

Shot with the Stylus, then heavily postprocessed in Photoshop (well, duh).

The next shot was the only time I took the Nikon out all day. It's too big for me to want to fall down on.

I need to study up on how to do good high-key effects in Photoshop. Luminous, soft high key and moody, grainy heavily vignetted B&W images are both techniques I've seen done beautifully and been trying to learn lately.

Blame the boys at Sweet Rigs for distracting me. I've been rigging and blogging over there quite a bit recently, meaning I've been letting this side of things languish.

Kudos to
jdub and friends for kidnapping my lame arse and spiriting me away to Breckenridge on Saturday for what turned out to be absolutely THE best ski experience of my lifetime. Cool company helps, a lot, along with 12" of fresh champagne powder and a couple of personal breakthrus on the ability level.

Your fearless narrator here happens to be the World's Most Wretched Skier. Ever. Seriously, I've been skiing since 1988, when I first strapped on a set of knackered rental sticks at none other but Mad River Mountain in Bellefountaine, Ohio (all 450' of vertical drop - no kidding). Home of Midnight Madness, meaning every Friday and Saturday night from 10PM to 4AM the combined student bodies of Miami of Oxford, OSU and the University of Dayton descended upon the place to engage in copious alcohol consumption in preparation for nerving up to hurl themselves like so many fibreglass-shod lemmings from the top of the boilerplate-clad 'black diamond' at speeds approaching escape velocity.

My instructor on that first night was happily and comprehensively drunk. Which pretty much set the tone for my subsequent ski career. Since 1988 I've flailed my way down the groomers at some of the most prestigious resorts in North America with little clue and even less progress. Along the way I've done everything from the Starfish to the Agony Of Defeat Yardsale, but I've rarely performed much that resembles competent skiing. It might help if I skied more than one or two days every couple of seasons. In other words, I'm an Irredeemable Spork (SPaz On Rental Kit). A happy spork, but a spork nonetheless.

jdub is the cat in the green parka on the right. Tina's in the khaki on the left, and Ponch is the guy in the watch cap, centre, arguing about which way to go. I learned a valuable lesson: do not listen to Ponch, if you value your hide and you suck. He's a damned good snowboarder.

jdub and his crew tried, hard, to talk me into ditching the whole ski thing as a bad show, and picking up snowboarding instead - especially as they all ride, the guys can positively shred, and Tina is quickly becoming a Shred Betty in her own right. I've really considered it over the past few years, since I'd have to rent equipment either way. However, the legendary steep learning curve of riding always caused me to wimp out - I mean, I at least know how to operate skis. Sort of. And at Breck, at least, having a skier in the mix can prove advantageous in the flatter bits, where a pole tow can be a handy thing.

So once again, when facing the prospect of spending an entire day on the bunny slope with an increasingly sore, wet arse, when I could at least be back on the trails making starfish and snow angels and flailing about pissing off competent skiers in my customary state of Spork Bliss... well I opted for the bliss.

And bliss it was. The Central Rockies are currently enjoying the best snowpack for the past 20 years. And, because I was blessed for once with truly awesome companions, I was actually encouraged, pushed, and also left alone enough to start figuring out some major skill factors and put together a couple of awesome runs.

Check out this view, willya? Conditions do not, ever, get better than what we had. Warm, sunny, no wind, deep, fresh groomed powder. Well, it could be a lot less crowded, but that's what you get for going on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

Ponch and jdub, I'll even be gracious enough to let that impromptu trip you led me on thru those godsforsaken steep-assed moguls slide. Mostly. You unholy bastards.

All of these pics were shot with the Stylus, which survived a couple good wipeouts and even a Flaming Yardsale unscathed, because it's small, tough and weatherproof. A good parka helps, but that camera is a trooper. Thanks, Mike!

I haven't known these guys for long, but I've caught on to the part where random silly acts pursue them like stench pursues a garbage truck. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I'm never slow with the camera - somehow it developed that Tina here was offered $10 cash to eat this entire (rather large and disgusting) cup of Ranch dressing. She complied with amazing grace and aplomb, and even managed to keep it down.

That's jdub on the right, getting royally sunburned. It turns out Ponch was willing to pony up a cool $20 in the interest of science, but jdub beat him to the punch with a Hamilton, Tina accepted, and the bet was taken. She must really like that stuff.

As you can see, beer was involved in the making of this bet. Drink; it's the very tool of the devil, and this is simply further proof.

To the victor goes the applause, the toast, the $10 and the indigestion. Upon interviewing the victor after her successful bid to rid jdub of his cash, her response was 'eurgh, that was REALLY gross!!'.

And finally I'll leave everyone with a thought to ponder: Don't ski drunk. Cos afterall, that's how I got into this whole mess in the first place.

This has been a Public Service Announcement by none other than