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South Florida Sweet Dreams

 (DavidRaboin)

The W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale is hosting a Pharmaceuticals convention.  The place is packed.  My crew slumps in the lobby as we wait for our turn to check in.  I talk to one of the convention goers as we wait in another line for the elevator.  This guy is very careful to not use the word “sales”.  He likes the words:  facilitate, health, and education.  No one is calling this a “drug sales convention”, that’s for sure.  I’m hoping another elevator arrives before I come down with an incurable, but manageable through modern medicine, case hypochondria .  Also, the light outside is fading.  I want to get out with my camera.  When I finally exit the building with my camera bag over my shoulder, I find the hotel is surrounded by chartered buses, ominous chartered buses.  I guess this is how all those facilitating educators roll.

 (DavidRaboin)

Out on the streets I find myself in a daze.  Flying a west to east transcon in winter means you lose three hours of already scarce daylight.  I feel like it’s mid-afternoon, but the sun is setting.  The sidewalk is crowded and the streets busy.  Florida has a strange vibe.  It’s the Jersey Shore, mixed with the Caribbean, and old Dixie.  Also, the entire place, with the exception of  the man-made beaches and the impenetrable swamps, is completely paved over.

 (DavidRaboin)

South Florida can’t live up to our wintertime expectations.  It’s too far north.  This time of year, the sun is up only ten hours a day and the wind carries that familiar northern bite.  Everyone dresses like it’s summer anyways.  It’s hard to give up on those tropical dreams.

Me, I’m dreaming of a gallery full of my tripod street photos.  This photo is just one exposure.  No Photoshop trickery.  You really couldn’t create this authentic creepy feeling in Photoshop anyhow.  Look how those walkers turn into ghosts and the girl, mesmerized by her phone, is still as a statue.  I think this is the most realistic photo I’ve ever made of South Florida.

 (DavidRaboin)

*David is a California Photographer . You can order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Giant Easter Eggs Hidden in Plain Sight

 (DavidRaboin)

Here are a few more photos from my night in Seattle.  For some reason I found myself wandering around the waterfront.  This area is tourist infested and over-shot.  I usually try to find a more unique location, but  it was the end of the day and I was tired.  I kind of just drifted downhill from our hotel.  Also, I was excited to have a little time alone with my new Canon 16-35 f4 L IS and my new Canon 85mm f1.8. What would image stabilization and a wide, light-snatching aperture do for my nighttime street photography?

 (DavidRaboin)

Old habits die-hard.  What did I do with that fancy “four stop” image stabilization?  I turned it off and mounted my camera on my trusty Benro carbon fiber tripod ( whose carbon fiber looking tape is pealing back revealing that this Chinese knockoff is actually made of aluminum and not carbon fiber).  I then took some long exposure photos of Seattle’s giant ferris wheel.

Ever since London got its Eye, cities around the U.S. have raced to install their own mega-ferris-wheels.  There’s one really cool aspect of these modern ferris wheels that isn’t receiving much publicity:  they have computer controlled lighting that’s programmed to make patterns that can only be seen in long exposure photography.  To the naked eye, this slow turning wheel looks like random blinking lights, but when smeared across a six second open shutter, the wheel paints a football against a field of Seattle Seahawks colors.  The Hawks were engaged in a playoff battle with the Carolina Panthers while I was taking these pics.  Below, you can see a giant Seattle Seahawks “S”.  Without a camera these patterns are invisible.  It’s like the architects hid a 187 foot tall Easter Egg for us night photographers smack in the middle of downtown Seattle.  And, there are ferris wheels like this popping up all around the world.  I’m surprised that every photography forum and feed isn’t already choked with long-exposure ferris wheel pics.

 (DavidRaboin)

This is why I didn’t want to come to the waterfront.  I’ve done this type of photo before.  Want to copy my style?  Put a prominent, bright object of interest in your night photo. If you can, try to get those lights to reflect in some water.  Then, add some people in the foreground who are moving just enough to blur but not so much that they turn into ghosts.  It’s not as hard as it sounds.  Any group that’s gathered in conversation will do the trick.

I tire of my work.  I think it’s good to throw it all away and try something new.  This is where I folded up the tripod and went to work on some nighttime, handheld street photography — a new frontier for me.

 (DavidRaboin)

Here’s the first innocent victim of my new, stealth-assassin Canon 85mm f/1.8.   I feel myself becoming fast friends with quick little lens.  Why didn’t I get one of these lenses years ago?  They aren’t all that expensive  and 85mm might be the sweet spot for my style of street photography.  85mm gives me a little distance without adding too much voyeuristic telephoto look.  For most of my photography I prefer zoom lenses and the perfect crop, but street photography is a different animal.  I find that zooms are too slow.  And when I say “slow”, I’m not referring to aperture or focus speed, I’m talking about my brain’s ability to asses the framing.  Things happen fast on the street and when I’m doing street photography I have to know the focal length before I put the camera to my eye.  When I use a zoom lens for my street photography, I find that the lens is always zoomed to the wrong focal length,and by the time adjust the zoom my shot is gone.  Yes, prime lenses limit what you can shoot but limitation keeps you from be overwhelmed by possibilities and frees you to find something that works.

 (DavidRaboin)

Here’s where my night got interesting.  I decided it was time to put all this modern camera technology to work.  I changed back to my 16-35, turned on the image stabilization, and cranked my Mark3’s  ISO into the thousands.  What’s the point of paying for all this tech if you’re going to shoot photos like it’s forever 2008?  And now, just one paragraph after I explained why I like using primes for street photography, I’m going to state that this 16-35 f/4 L is my new favorite street photography toy.  I’m not backpedaling on my prime lens statement.  Instead, I’ll argue that this lens is so wide that the thought process and framing decisions happen as quick as when I shoot with a prime.  Heck, this shot was taken without even looking through the viewfinder.  My brain just thinks in wide-angle.  Is wide-angle gimmicky?  Maybe.  Let’s not judge until we look at this blog’s feed six months down the line.

 (DavidRaboin)

On the way back to the hotel I stop for one more tripod mounted shot.  I love a big slick city and some lights in the dark.

 

*David is a California Photographer . You can order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Wet Neon Nights in Seattle

 (DavidRaboin)

When you build a city this far north, you’ve got to do something about all that wintertime darkness.  Or, maybe you put up these lights because you know that they’ll look great against a black background?  Here is art born of market forces and human ingenuity.  Wet cobblestones bathed in neon under the black Puget Sound fog.  It all comes together by accident perfectly.

 (DavidRaboin)

I’ve got all night, and nothing better to do, so I’m going to work this corner until I get an iconic shot or two.  I decide what elements give this storied corner its unique feel and try to organize them in one frame.  Tonight that means I shoot blind, holding the camera close to the ground and aiming between the feet of pedestrians as they hustle through the intersection.  Five, ten, fifteen walk signals pass before I get the photo I need.

*David is a California Photographer . You can order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Working Christmas — The Ultimate Alternative Lifestyle

 (DavidRaboin)

It’s sunrise on Christmas Eve and I’m pulling my suitcase towards the airport . I gave up on the LAX Hilton’s shuttle bus last year. Now, when I overnight in Los Angeles, I walk to work and I’m better off for it. Instead of packing into a bus with hordes of nervous tourists, I enjoy the clear winter morning. The tall palms that line Century Boulevard prop up my mood and I don’t notice the roar of traffic. Today, we’re flying to Newark where I’ll spend my Christmas. I need all the mood enhancement I can find.

Working holidays is one of the big downsides of being an airline pilot.  For the most part, I think my schedule is great.  With an average of 16 days off a month, I’m at school pick up more than any other dad, and I get many long blocks of days off (outside of my annual four weeks of vacation) that are perfect for family trips and activities.  However, all that doesn’t make me feel better about spending Christmas in Newark.

 (DavidRaboin)

As we rocket across the Great Basin I look down at fresh snow.  A winter storm blew through since my last transcon flight.  I suppose one could romanticize the scene and say the snow makes everything look so perfectly Christmas like, but I don’t see things that way.  Weather is indifferent to our holidays.  It’s just another winter day in the middle of nowhere. In the time it takes that thought to flash through my brain, these big jets have pushed me another ten miles further from my family.

*David is a California Photographer . You can order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Dogwalk Paradise

 (DavidRaboin)

The dogs charge around the forest looking for anything to chase.  The fog thickens as we work our way to the top of the ridge.  On a grey, California winter morning like this the dogs, possibly fearing they’ll get lost, stick close.  Normally this is our jogging trail, but today I’m not running.  I’m busy playing with my Christmas present; a Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS lens.  It’s been seven years since I’ve acquired an L lens.  I’m excited.  This lens is nice and a foggy forest is the perfect place to try an image stabilized wide-angle lens.

 (DavidRaboin)

At last Jack works up the courage to range out of eyesight.  Gatsby and I wait for him at the top of the ridge.  We can hear him crashing through the brush in the valley below.

 (DavidRaboin)

This is the time of year when the dear lose their antlers.  This one must have washed down the hill in during the last rain storm.  I found it in a pile of debris that had collected next to a large log.

 (DavidRaboin)

Gatsby charges through the tall grass.  Today, the coyotes have no trouble evading this blundering hound.

*David is a California Photographer . You can order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!
Support this site by using our links to Amazon.com