Of the 5 seasonal flower shows at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park, the one I visit the least is the Fall Flower Show. Now I know why – it’s boring. Some ordinary mums mixed in with some chili peppers and olives. Since I didn’t feel like there was much to shoot, I decided to process the photos in a more dramatic style. It helped, but there wasn’t much else I could do with them.
The St. Paul Parks & Recreation Dept held its 2nd annual Bark & Rec Day a couple of weeks ago at Harriet Island Regional Park. We dressed up our dogs Mikey (Pomeranian) & Lilli (mutt) as a cop & robber (Mikey looks good in black & white stripes being a gray & white dog) and headed out for some doggie activities. The event was really fun – we got swag bags for each dog full of bowls, treats, food, and toys. There was a dog parade, an agility course where you could try out the various stations, an off-leash area, a fashion show (yes, for dogs!), some games for both dogs and people, and a very energetic demo of the Minnesota Disc Dog Club. Our dog Mikey ended up winning 3rd place in an underwater hot dog eating contest (the hot dogs were underwater, not the actual dogs) in the small dog category and his prize was a ribbon and a toy. Several vendors were there also, including some people who sell beer for dogs (Mikey had 2 cups!) and our friends from The Woof Room who were excited to see Lilli & Mikey again. I wish we had stayed long enough to get some fashion show pictures but I did enjoy trying to get some good shots during the disc dog demo. Those dogs are fast and some can jump so high that it’s amazing.
Mikey enjoys some beer for dogs
Lilli in her police costume
The dog is so high, he’s barely in the frame
The Minnesota State Fair was open for the last 2 weeks in August as usual and it was the hottest 2 weeks of the entire year. When the weather finally cooled down for the last couple of days of the fair, they set an attendance record for the highest single-day attendance. I went twice this year, once when it was so hot you could hardly stand it, and once in the evening when it was a little bit more bearable. I was there in the evening to try to get some good night shots of the lights, the rides on the Midway, and anything else that looked interesting. While I didn’t get to stay as long as I’d hoped due to the fact that my daughter was coming down with a sinus infection and didn’t feel well, I did get some nice shots. Plus I ended up with my first pictures of our local “Captain Jack Sparrow”,
thanks to my friend Craig who often shoots photos of Captain Jack and always knows where to find him.
We had beautiful, perfect weather last weekend for our annual Hot Dog Days of Summer party. I was so busy at the party that I didn’t have much time to take any photos. But we did manage to have some fun with the hot dog photo cutout I got this year. Also, the hot dogs were bigger and messier than ever – people are getting adventurous!
Had a difficult time getting sharp photos at this bout since my lens just isn’t quite fast enough for the conditions. Also, the lighting is a challenge so I ended up fading them down quite a bit. Used my first Lightroom 4 present completely created by me and I really like the results.
I suppose it should be more like collage of the month since I haven’t posted in so long. I’ve been busy making photo books which takes a lot of time and I still have at least 2 more to do by Thanksgiving. But I’ve also gotten out a bit and have taken some photos and this week’s collage is from the Minnesota Renaissance Festival which is always so fun to attend and shoot. I would’ve liked to have spent more time there just shooting but the place is so large that it wears you out!
The rest of my Ren Fest photos are on Flickr here.
While I was at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, I attended several panels over the course of 3 days. Most of them were about The Clone Wars, the animated Star Wars TV series that’s about to start Season 5. The panelists were usually the director, Dave Filoni, and the visual effects supervisor, Joel Aron. However, in addition to working on The Clone Wars, Joel Aron is also an accomplished photographer and on Day 2 I attended a workshop he presented on street photography techniques. The workshop really had nothing to do with Star Wars but was one of the best that I attended. After presenting for an hour, Joel took about 10 of us out on the convention floor and taught us some hands-on street photography techniques in action. It was really nice of him to do that and made for a much more personal experience at the convention.
I’m not really into street photography, mainly because I just don’t usually shoot people that much and I always feel so self-conscious when I photograph strangers. Joel was all about “stalking” subjects and trying to be as unobtrusive as possible so he gave us some of the following tips. He also discussed some of the basics of photography such as explaining the Golden Triangle and showed many famous photos from photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, who he was a big fan of. Here are some of the things I remember from his presentation:
- Try to blend in by wearing plain clothes that are black or dark-colored. Make yourself as invisible as possible. Of course, at a Star Wars convention, you actually blend in better by wearing a full stormtrooper outfit but that wasn’t your typical “street” experience.
- Don’t wear your camera around your neck – wrap the strap around your wrist and carry it down low until you need to shoot.
- Use a prime lens, like a 50mm. I wasn’t able to do this during the workshop as I had my big 18-270mm lens with me (left the 50mm at home – I need to use that one more) and I must admit I see why he said to use a prime lens. It was too difficult to keep messing with the lens when you were trying to snap photos quickly.
- Use methods of distraction to focus subjects’ attention elsewhere like tying your shoe to wait for a shot.
- Slow down and follow interesting subjects in a non-threatening way. Don’t be rushed – wait for the moment.
- Don’t be hesitant and project a confident attitude. If confronted, offer the subject your contact card and where they can find the photos. Have model releases ready as most people will sign if there is a possibility the photo may be used commercially.
- Travel lightly – one lens, no flash.
- Alter your position to change the perspective – crouch down, raise your camera higher.
- Always be aware of your background. Sometimes just changing your position can position the subject against a better background.
- Avoid posed photos – if a subject is willing, ask permission to photograph but don’t ask for poses.
Once we went out on the floor to do some shooting, it was fun to watch Joel in action. Since I didn’t have the right kind of lens and the lighting was very poor I wasn’t doing very well with the candid shots so I ended up mostly just taking photos of Joel. He was so nice to talk to us as long as he did and didn’t want to leave after 20-30 minutes, but he had to go shave for The Clone Wars Season 5 premiere red carpet event! After I got home, I started following him on 500px and Facebook. In addition to street photography, he also does a lot of portrait work and did another workshop on portraiture on the last day of the convention, but unfortunately I left Florida that day and missed it. Here are some of my shots from the walk we took with Joel.
Joel on the escalator, heading down to the convention floor to get some interesting “street” shots
One of the only somewhat decent photos I managed to snap quickly while we were walking – wish I had my 50mm lens
During our walk we randomly ran into Tom Kane, who does the voice of Yoda on The Clone Wars.
Joel photographs a somewhat sad Leia
Joel gives some final advice to our group before he has to leave.
Recently I attended a performance of the Mu Daiko Japanese drummers at Caponi Art Park in Eagan. The evening was perfect for an outdoor performance and the setting was in a tranquil clearing in the park surrounded by tall trees. I’d never been to a Japanese drum performance before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Of course I took my camera and sat fairly close so was able to take photos. However, I ended up taking WAY too many photos – ended up with over 700 for a 90-minute performance! I didn’t get anything particularly outstanding, mostly due to the limitations of my lens and the presence of people in the background that were difficult to avoid. But I did capture the evening fairly well and even got a tweet today from Caponi Art Park saying they liked the photos. Here are a few shots from the performance. I managed to whittle down the pile of 700+ to about 40, which is probably still too many. If you want to see all 40, check them out on my Flickr photostream: Mu Daiko Performance Set.
Every summer we have a big outdoor party that we’ve named Hot Dog Days of Summer. The idea behind it is simple – we grill a lot of hot dogs, invite a bunch of people over, and just eat hot dogs. Of course there are always some vegetarians in the bunch so we also tend to have quite a few side dishes as well. But on the grill are nothing but a large variety of hot dogs. We also go a little overboard on the toppings, especially the mustards, and there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
This year was our 4th annual party and we had a good turnout, although not as many people as we were expecting. Our house is very small so we can only have large parties outside in the backyard and I was glad that the weather held out for this year’s party (it was hot & humid but thankfully no rain).
Last year I didn’t get very good photos of the food so this year I tried to take more photos since it was a good opportunity for some fun food photography. I think I focused a little too much on the food since I hardly have any photos of the guests. But generally I find that most adults get really annoyed at having a camera stuck in their face at parties, plus people are not my favorite subject, so I usually leave them alone. All the kids run around too much to get good photos of them but I tried. I did get some good hot dog shots – enjoy!
This is the secret to a good party with lots of kids – give them stuff to do.
Another type of dog – friend’s puppy Desi taking a break from running around
This week I went to an evening baseball game at Target Field to see the Twins vs. White Sox. The Twins didn’t play very well and lost 3-2. I’m usually kind of bored at baseball games, but I always enjoy taking my camera to get some photos. This time I put a faux HDR medium-level preset/filter on my photos as I processed them. I like the high contrast look of the HDR-like preset and thought it worked well here. The “new” stadium is a fun place to shoot photos because of how it opens up into the city skyline.