Friday, December 31, 2010

A little bit of history to end 2010

I'm in California for the holidays, and the other day I sojourned to Simi Valley to see the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. I had a great time at the museum and took many photographs - here are the highlights. (As always, click on any of the photos for a larger view)...

An unassuming yet beautiful entrance - I wasn't disappointed with the beauty of the Gipper's digs.

Ronald Reagan, our 40th president, bronzed to greet visitors to his library.

A 2/3-sized replica of the White House Rose Garden. Pretty cool, but all of the roses weren't in bloom. But, it must look beautiful when they are!

Two breathtaking views from the library, which sits high atop a mountain. Well, it's more than a hill but probably less than a full-blown mountain, but the views are amazing.

Another view of Simi Valley - this one is from the back of the library.

This is an actual section of the Berlin Wall - this side was in West Berlin, as evidenced by the graffiti on the wall...

...on the East Berlin side, there are no markings, because anyone who got too close to the wall risked being shot by guards, blown up by land mines or being cut by the miles and miles of barbed wire.

The Reagan Library is one of only two libraries in the presidential library system, which is administered by the National Archives, to have a full-scale replica of the Oval Office (President Clinton's is the other). It's a pretty awesome recreation; I know the word "awesome" is thrown around and hackneyed, but in this case, it's certainly apropos.

The absolute crown jewel of the library is a completely rebuilt Boeing 707 that served as Air Force One for five presidents. I could have stayed there all day shooting it, but unfortunately, photography in the interior of the plane of prohibited.

The plane was repainted after it was put back together inside the library. It looks like the library polishes it pretty often, too, because the plane just sparkled on the outside!

This gives you the idea of the size of this plane - it's huge!

This is my favorite shot of my entire visit. This is quite a view - visitors can walk directly under the plane and by the landing gear to get an idea of the scope of the plane. Walking under this 707, I realized that this is the first time I'd ever been under a plane anywhere near this size. Even more sobering is the realization that the current planes that serve the president are much larger Boeing 747s. Wow!

A better view of Air Force One - right after I took this, I had to lower my camera - security's rules.

There were photos at the library that showed this exact sign where Checkpoint Charlie was.

A Reagan-era presidential limo, which looks antiquated by today's standards. I can still remember the day he was shot - March 30, 1981. I was in 5th grade, and me and my family were glued to the TV for the entire night and the following days. I can't believe it's been nearly 30 years. I didn't cover every inch of the library, but I saw no mention of the attempt on his life.


Happy New Year, everyone! Please stop back early in 2011 - I have many things planned, including MANY more pictures than this year, and a new Website, too. Party safely tonight!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some NYC shots

I traveled to New York City with a few friends on Monday, and I thought I'd share some shots. Below are my favorites.

Probably my favorite photo of the day - I shot this across the platform to the opposite track right before the subway took off.

I'm always amazed how fast the Subway runs, and how quickly it can stop, too; I'm always a sucker for "motion" shots.

Apparently we weren't the only ones who thought it was a gorgeous day in Central Park - I got really close to this little guy, and he didn't seem to mind.

I could probably shoot for weeks in the park for reasons like this - there's a seemingly endless supply of formations and features that are pleasing to the eye.

My favorite scenic shot of the day.

Another view...

This arch is one of my favorite features in the whole park - I could stare at it for hours.

A metaphoric shot of what advertising coaxes, cajoles and prods us to do - a one-way ticket to stop and buy something!

I always look at signs no matter where I go, and I liked this one.

My friends Erin and Diana came with me, and we had a great time shooting pictures in the Subway.

Reflections are another one of my favorite themes, and this was my favorite of the day.

Nothing beats the cherry blossoms of Washington, D.C., but this one was a great sight.

I loved the texture of this tree in Central Park.

Another scene I liked from the greatest park in the world.

I wasn't sure if this was a nest or just a unique looking flower. I didn't want to touch it or get too close to find out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crystal Roxx band shots

Last weekend, I went to the Trappe Tavern in Collegeville, Pa. to celebrate my good friend Diana's birthday, and I brought along my camera to get a few pictures. I really enjoy capturing the excitement and enthusiasm of live music. Crystal Roxx, an amazing cover band that I've seen in the area for over 10 years, didn't disappoint. Below are the best of the best.

All images were captured with a Canon EOS 7D camera, and Canon 24-105 f/4L lens using a pop-up flash. I know I could have done much better with my Speedlite 580 EX II, but these aren't too bad for a pop-up, which seems more powerful on this particular EOS than previous models I have owned.

These guys were great, and didn't hesitate to willingly pose for photographs during their sets, which obviously makes for better photos and a much more enjoyable experience photographing them.

Better yet, this hard-rockin' cover band gets the audience involved, too, which makes for some pretty interesting and cool pictures.

To view the entire album from the show, Click Here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting a charge out of Flux Capacitor

Last month I traveled to South Philly to take pictures of Flux Capacitor, an up-and-coming, very talented rock band. In short, these guys are pretty amazing - it was a great night and I had a lot of fun capturing these images. I highly recommend checking these guys out - they tour in the Philadelphia region, and their album, They Know We Know is available on iTunes. Check 'em out - you won't be disappointed! (Full disclosure - this was not a paid gig, and I'm not being paid to say that!)

All pictures taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon Speedlite 580 EX II, and Canon 24-105 IS f/4L and 70-210 IS f/2.8L lenses.

Jason Specht on percussion, drums and backing vocals - on many of these photos, I used a rear curtain sync to get the effect of motion. It's one of my favorite things to do - a different look instead of simply having flash freeze all the action, which I find boring in many situations. In this particular shot, I zoomed while I shot, something I find more difficult to do with nearly all modern zooms that twist to zoom instead of the old "push-pull" type, where this was much easier.

Michael Specht on synth and keyboards

Pete Specht on lead vocals and guitar

Sean Moran on bass and backing vocals

This one of lead vocalist Pete Specht is by far my favorite one of the bunch; I tried doing existing light at this venue, Ray's Birthday Bar, but there just wasn't enough light, even with my ultra-fast Canon 50 f/1.2L lens (at least not without cranking up the ISO higher than I wanted to go.

A little sepia is always good; that, along with black & white, are probably my two favorite image types to work with.

If you would like to see more images from the shoot, Click Here.