Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Finale


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kite Runner

Cold Face

He say you Kite Runna'!

Went to Astoria Park today to help Mike out with one of his more ridiculous ideas: aerial kite photography. Normally it wouldn't be that ridiculous, but he chose to do it in December, right when a huge blizzard was blowing into New York City.

Mike had plans of constructing the whole rig to do the project, kite and all. He even made a kite, but it was so hilariously bad that it had to be burnt and all evidence of its existence destroyed. Even mentioning "box kite" around him still kinda makes him twitch. One store bought kite, a Canon point&shoot and an e-bay rigging later, we were in business.

Kind Of Sort Of

Kind of. This was pretty much the story for the first half hour or so. Getting a little lift off the ground, but not enough to lift the line-attached camera rigging, which weighed probably two pounds, very high off the ground.


This was about as far as we got at this part of the park. After running up and down the hill about six or eight times and figuring out just how uncoordinated five people can be, we decided to move the rigging closer to the kite itself so it would be able to accelerate faster. I also quietly suggested we move to the big hill in the center of Astoria Park, the one that looks like where you would want to fly a kite.

At the big hill we had a lot more success, but it still wasn't going that well. Up to this point I'd been shooting stills and video of the other guys taking turns flying the kite, not really getting it very high - maybe 30-40 feet up. I asked if I could give it a go, and promptly took the kite up to something like 80 feet. I'm going to throw all semblance of humbleness out the window here and say that it felt really freaking amazing. So amazing that Mike wasn't able to capture any pictorial evidence of my first or second flights because he was so in awe, but trust me. It was great.


Here is a recreation of my amazing kite-flying ability. It's important that you really blow with a deep breath into the kite, otherwise it just won't gain air.

Once we got it up, we started getting real aerial pictures. I only got to see a couple of them when we went back home to check, but a couple looked really cool. There were also a lot of interesting ones of the camera on the ground looking at our group through the grass, but those probably won't win any awards for aerial photography.

All in all, a good day.

Sometime during the week, the story of how we almost chopped off someone's hand.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's December! Christmas is almost here!


And oh my god the sky is on fire!!!


St. John's University puts out a crazy amount of cash for Christmas. Outside of St. Augustine they set up gigantic speaker systems, a huge Christmas tree and light projectors that project images of snowflakes onto the front of the library. Every single tree on campus is covered with several rungs of Christmas lights, which must make their already gigantic electricity bill even more ridiculous. And they cap it all off with a huuuge fireworks display on the Great Lawn. Your tuition dollars at work.

But, y'know, it is really pretty.

Celtic Cross

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Getting High at the Highline

Highline View

Went to the Highline Park in downtown Manhattan this Thursday, and been so busy with school-related stuff that I haven't had a chance to process pictures from it till today.

The trip was pretty fun, if a little bit of a let-down. Only a few flower bushes were blooming and just a couple trees still had their color. If we'd gone a week or two before the place would have been a lot more vibrant and colorful, I'm sure. Still managed to snag a few shots of what few things were in bloom.

Highline Flowers

The Highline Park is, for non-New Yorkers, an old elevated railway that was disused for the longest time and was eventually turned into a public park this summer. In parts of it they've left segments of the old railway intact and overgrown.

Highline Line

While we didn't quite choose the right season to visit, we did choose just the right time. As we were working our way out of the park the sun was just starting to go down and hit the park in all sorts of interesting ways. Warm light, long shadows and Pauline's natural good looks lent themselves well to a few frames towards the end.

Pauline, Highline Light

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why did the mushroom get invited to the party?

Fungus Among Us



I took this purely for the pun. Totally worth it.

It was fun taking this, waiting for a sizable group of people to pass right into the frame while perched on one of the white chairs. Couple weird looks since the campus was pretty empty. But sometimes you've got to look a little weird, I think.

Midterms Are Almost Over

The campus has a meticulously preened face, which makes it hard to find very many different kinds of pictures. Especially when people aren't walking around.

There is one part of campus where I want to do some experimenting with light-painting, but that still needs some work to pull off. That will probably turn up here in a few weeks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Head and Hair, Old Brain and Brian

Rembrantian Run 3

Took a new set of pretty understated portraits today to mark the drastic change on the top of my head. Look a bit less wild, but still a little wooly.

Butterfly 1

Mike also took these really sweet portraits in his hallway. We were trying to find some space/technique that would work well in his house. It was kind of difficult; any space that was long enough had distracting elements or over-reflective surfaces or some other oddity. He wound up striking gold with a simple single umbrella'd light high up above me at the end of a hallway, with him shooting at the other end. Once I figured out how to open my eyes realistically, we hit paydirt.

After that, I was trying to think of some way of using his bathroom window in a shot. It had this really beautiful design on it, and I thought shooting a light through that would throw a weird color cast on a subject, but it would be believable since it would be in the shot. It turns out it didn't change the color of the light too much (you can sort of see it on the wall), but it did diffuse it nicely while still keeping it pretty hard. A very very very small fill on the right made it a bit more even and less dramatically Rembrant-y.

Rembrantian Run 4

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No One Gives Two Fucks For Bella!

Bella Lugosi, Dead?

Jaime recently got his killer suit shipped to him all the way from El Passo. It came in a space-age bag made of what looked like bullet proof material and definitely cemented my image of him as a James Bond type character.

He was gracious enough to pose for a couple of scary frames in a kind of scary Dracula-era Bella Lugosi style, and I'm really pleased with how they came out. We also took some normal portraits, which was actually my reason for coming that day.

Jaime, Suited

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tour de St. John's!

Tour de St. John's\

Got back from the Tour de St. John's this Saturday, dead tired and more than a little achy. Taking pictures of the event was a pretty fun experience, and I was able to race ahead with the fast group and then hang back in a photogenic location (winding roads, trees, etc.) to shoot the medium and slow groups that came after.

Tour de St. John's

The tour was organized to raise money for the Bread And Life foundation, which works through St. John's University to provide food and all sorts of necessary services to people who can't get them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Portrait of a Michael Posessed!

Fred Christ

Real departure from the pastels and relative calmness of the last portraits! This is Mike letting out some anger in the lighting set-up he'd set up to take a portrait of me (those should be coming soon). More info on the lights can be found if you click through.

All in all it was a whole lot of fun, and was Mike's first experience adding light to a scene! It was interesting adding onto the setup together, and I think we both learned a heck of a lot. We went through three distinct positions in the room and went from one light to three at the end of the shoot (and there was a reflector in there somewhere I think as well).

Demon Mike

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Analee and Her Amazing Toys!

Took a visit to Analee's place at Henley today, and further reinforced that I should have gone and lived there! She's got a stunning view of a huge portion of Queens from her window (which should come together when I figure out how to do panoramas). But besides the view, she has TOYS!


Lots and lots of creepy creepy toys!

This Is A Bunny On A Slug

Unlike her toys, Analee is way less scary (although strangely more of a creeper!). But she was kind enough to model for a few impromptu portraits, which actually came out pretty well given the gear I was carrying.


La Madonna

Monday, September 7, 2009


Facades 2

I've never been satisfied with the pronunciation of 'facade', ever since someone corrected me in 11th grade. Fuh-sahd is an alright pronunciation sometimes, but fuh-cAde sounds so much cooler and more muscular.

Facades 1

These facades were taken outside St. John's Universitie's Manhattan campus, which is pretty excellent by the way. To get in, you swipe your ID over an unassuming area of the front desk and a system beeps you in. It felt very much like the future.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

F Train Graffiti Crawl

Tunnel Aliens

One of these days I'm going to have to spend some time going along the F train line looking for these advertisement modifications. They're all over the line, and it kills me to have to stay on the train to get to school after seeing some great bit of art.


The tags and gang signs aren't that interesting to me - they tell a story that really can't be told by still pictures and not really by me. But there are some strongly opinionated people riding the lines with pens using the advertisements as a record for the little thoughts that pop into their minds. I like that there's an outlet for that. It makes the city feel more alive. When you pull into a station and it's filled with unadulterated and cheesy ads, it makes me realize how much of the space we traverse is ad-space. This kind of modification provides a minor distraction from the grind.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Food

Freak Grapes

When I was a kid we had a grape vine in the back of our yard that never bore a lot of fruit. I took a branch from it and planted it on the other side of the yard while I was playing back there. Years later, both of the vines have taken over each side of our fence and fruit every year, giving us a gigantic bowl of grapes which only ever last a week or so.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chess and Squirrels

It's been a while! I've gotten a new camera and a new lense - a D90 and Nikkons 18-200mm zoom respectively. They're both pretty sweet.

Decided to head to Union Square and try them both out with some available light.

Business Chess 2

I liked the pin-striped businessman playing chess against a street person. That juxtaposition is pretty cool, but for this it was more the crowd they attracted that interested me.

Squirrel Vagrant

I got this shot without the guy looking by making it look like I was just going for a shot of the squirrel, but he ended up framing the final picture really well so I kept him in.

(more on tha' flickr!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Makin' Dough (Into Bread)


First loaf of bread ever! Made with a sponge of 2:1 water:flour along with a little yeast and some honey to feed it left overnight. Then incorporate that with enough flour to get a 2:3 water:flour mixture in the final result, let rise, knead, rise, punch down, make into loaf, glaze with diluted corn syrup and corn meal, bake for 45 some-odd minutes, et voila!

Pictures of the innards to come, when it cools.

Edit: Tasted pretty good for a first try. Need to let it rise more and cook a little longer. No pictures as its been eaten. Maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Sense Crying Over Spilt Wine


Really pleased with how this one came out. The roughest part was figuring out how to disguise the umbrella-ness of the umbrella without fudging the lines out in Photoshop (the specular highlight it makes is really obvious and unattractive). Putting some plain white shopping bags from a grocery store over it killed most of it, although you can still see it faintly.

After that it was just a matter of getting the perspective and framing correct to get to this point.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

How Fortunate!


Part of a series, maybe? I just hope I don't get one like 'triceratops' or 'horse'.

Triceratops would be pretty weird for a fortune cookie word.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Been doing a lot of food/drink pictures to practice for the Strobist Contest. Probably going to be a lot of boring pictures here in the coming days, hopefully ramping up into something good. Definitely a lot different than all the people photography I've been doing up until now.

Firstly, coffee!


And what goes really well with coffee? Why, olives! Of course!


Friday, June 26, 2009


Set out today with old McClancy friends just expecting to go see the mediocre Transformers sequel (which we did, and it was worse than mediocre; it was downright crappy), but came out of it with some nice post-rain amazing sky pictures, with brand new subject VINNY!



Vincent is amazingly photogenic, despite being real shy around the camera and generally poo-pooing his looks.


Damon was there too, sporting the shirt emblazoned with the phrase that he can't help but say at least 30 times a goddamn day (don't think I don't keep a running tally Damon).

I'm gonna hijack this post a little to say just how horrible Transformers 2 was. There were no human characters in this movie worth a damn or with any kind of personality. I wouldn't mind this in an action movie usually, but it tries so damn hard to get me to feel something for these people, but it just fails. The movie is filled with so much destructive shit going on around the main characters that they constantly escape from unscathed that they almost lose any kind of mortality. HUGE Main-Character Invincibility problems.

I will say that Jetfire was goddamn awesome, and that all the scenes involving him were amazing. A crotchety old Decepticon turncoat talking about his ancestors ('My grandfather was a wheel! And do you know what he turned into?! NOTHING!') who walks with a cane and has a beard made out of metal? I'm there. More Jetfire please.

Aaaaaaanyway, enough of that. After we got out of the theatre and the torrential rain stopped, we went to Astoria Park for some crosslighting fun with the setting sun. Mike was there too, but he was off in the bear-infested forest at Astoria Park taking some more landscape shots.


I have never seen a sky like this. It was freakin' amazing and an excellent background for a nice low shot of Vinny to end the night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Secret Squirrel Spotted!


This squirrel was poking around some trash near the fancy restaurant near Astoria Park, nibbling on a little bit of pizza crust. He was so awesome. There was also a toothy homeless guy watching me take the pictures who gave me a real creepy smile, but I didn't get a picture of him.

The squirrel skittered off shortly after I took this shot, I'm guessing to a small hole or hide-away where he keeps his things. His pizza crusts, his apple cores, his tree nuts, his acorn cup that his squirrel wife uses to collect honeydew as a restorative aperitif each morning for him.

His wife loves him, but questions if he is really out collecting food all day or if he is off cavorting with loose rodents. She has her doubts.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Kung Fu Master


Above is the Black Belt Awesome Ninja Assassin, Damon Smallwood. He's amazing, even besides being able to do an amazing looking flying kick. We were shooting around the apartments near Astoria Park, and we eventually went from pretty standard portraits to kung fu moves and going to get Darth Vader helmets and light sabers.


Mike was there too, playing around with his new 3.0 ND filter taking long exposure landscape shots of the bridge. From what I could see in his viewfinder they were coming out really awesome. I snuck a couple good shots of Mike with his camera in throughout the day.

Here is Mike looking like Russel Brand. Oi mate!


Also, heres a cat!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Two Out of Six Cats


Terra is the oldest of our six cats. We got her along with her sister Gem (who is a bit harder to photograph, but will be at some point) from a shelter when I was about 9, which makes them about ten years old now. Shes huge, as well. Like absolutely massive. Gigantic. We originaly named her after a Final Fantasy character, but over the years shes come more and more to resemble her Latin root: earth.

Shes really lovely though. Like part of the family.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Artifacts From the Past: BOOBIES!!


Was going through my old stuff from High School today, reminiscing. One of my friends from McClancy, TJ, was the kind of guy who would tie your shoe-laces to your backpack when you weren't looking so that when you got up to go to the bathroom you tripped on the huge weight. He would also steal my calculator for a whole period and always do... something to it. One of these periods he used whiteout to write the above message on the back of the case; we both laughed about it and I decided to leave it.

I find the calculator now, and when I turn it on, I find it filled with the sum '5138008', which confused me for a long while. Once I turned it upside down though, I found another of TJ's many pranks and couldn't help but making it the photo for the day.