This past weekend, I happened to have a free Saturday afternoon/evening. I’ve been wanting to get out and photograph an interesting subject for a while. Something a little unusual. One that came to mind was the Lake Berryessa dam spillway, otherwise known as the “Glory Hole”. Trust me, even I couldn’t come up with such a misplaced name…LOL.
The Glory Hole
Thanks to a recent break in our record drought here in California, most of our reservoirs are overflowing. Lake Berryessa is one of them. However what makes it a point of interest is the overflow spillway just behind the dam. It is the most unusual of designs. It makes for an interesting illusion. This has been in the news and all over social media since the beginning of the year. The rains have stopped and the weather is getting warmer so I thought I should hurry out there and capture it. The lake levels have not reached the spillway in over a decade from my understanding. The level was about 6 inches above the spillway. It must have been quite a sight at it’s peak earlier this year. The drive from Sacramento was pleasant and short. I should have done this sooner. Check the lake levels, and definitely plan a day trip if it is still above the spillway.
Jenny light painting with steel wool
Last week my friend Jenny and I were finally able to get together and play with some steel wool. We had been talking about exploring this popular genre of photography for a while now. Since none of us had tried it before, the idea was to get familiar with the nuances and work on technique before we tackle our more ambitious creative ideas. It turned out to be some of the easiest fun I’ve had with photography in a while.
Basic light painting supplies
After some quick googling, I found out it was pretty simple to put together. There are of course way more elaborate ways of doing this but I very much prefer the path of least resistance. This means less time tinkering, and more time practicing photography. All you really need is some steel wool, a wire whisk, some steel wire/cable and a lighter. It turns out I already had all I needed laying around the house.
Our first try
Steel wool burns very fast. We did almost two dozen takes. Each take lasted mere seconds but were a veritable light show, even more so on camera as you can see. I set the Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod. My Model, Jenny, held a candle in front of her face while standing on a predetermined spot. This helped me acquire focus on her in live view. I then switched to Manual Focus, and set my shutter to about 5 seconds. This covered most of the take from start to finish. I would light the wool for her, jump out of the frame and trigger the shutter, using and infra red remote control. We got the hang of things pretty quickly. We are definitely ready for our more creative ideas. I can’t wait!
Molten steel embers/sparks can be very very hot. Although they are generally too small to be of any concern, some larger globs/chunks/drops will break loose and continue burning where ever they land. I kept a water hose close by just in case I had to put one out. I also keep several canisters of fire extinguishers on hand at all times. You cannot be too careful. Please allow ample space and nothing flammable around you.
Antwerpen-Centraal railway station platforms
Going through the archives today and found this little gem from my trip to Europe. I was traveling with my superstar sister Andy Allo one of her European Tours. We were taking the Eurail to Amsterdam from Paris via Antwerpen-Centraal railway station Antwerp, Belgium. I posted before about her show in Amsterdam here: Andy Allo live acoustic at Bitterzoet in Amsterdam.
The view opposite the platforms.
As we were switching trains, we emerged from the 3 levels below ground to reveal this amazing and impressive architecture. I really love how these European cities invest so much in their infrastructure, take pride in and maintain it so well. It was a welcomed sight through an otherwise exhausting journey.
Antwerp, is a city in Belgium which is the capital of Antwerp province. With a population of 510,610, it is the most populous city in Flanders. Its metropolitan area houses around 1,200,000 people. Antwerp is on the River Scheldt, linked to the North Sea by the Westerschelde estuary. The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking third in Europe and within the top 20 globally. [WikiPedia]
I was running and gunning from one platform to another to catch our connecting train when I took these shots. I was using my Canon 5D mark III with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Each panoramic is composed of three HDR frames, themselves a composite of three bracket shots. The images were stitched with PTGui. I would very much like to explore the city of Antwerp, it’s history and architecture someday.
Shelby Mustang at the Sacramento International Auto Show
The best time to catch this show is on it’s opening day – today. It wasn’t anywhere as packed at it will be this weekend. For me this meant I could walk the showroom floor fairly leisurely, take my time to check out the coming year’s models and chat with the various representatives about their new models.
Hyundai had a very nice, well put together display and some compelling products as always.
I felt the overall energy or theme (if there was one) this year was one more of refinements, enhancements, and low key releases of new tech. Most new models seemed to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. There’s nothing wrong about that. I think it’s a good thing actually. What this meant was that almost every automaker had a better, improved product offering overall. I was hard pressed to find a vehicle with poor build, fit or finish. The designs all held their own. Quality was decent to very high throughout. I couldn’t help but think to myself “how traditional mainstream automakers have come a long way”.
Some of the latest alternative fuel vehicles on display included the Toyota FCV – a car I often wonder what it really accomplishes, considering Hydrogen is still a very expensive fuel, cumbersome to store, FCV power trains are about as complicated as internal combustion power trains but most mind boggling of all, the fact that most Hydrogen is derived yet again from fossil fuels. “At present, 95 percent of America’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas. Through a process called steam methane reformation, high temperature and pressure break the hydrocarbon into hydrogen and carbon oxides — including carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.” [Popular Mechanics]. So it really doesn’t address the bigger problem. It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere or it ends up being just another road show for the automotive industry lobby in the capital, not unlike the rest of the vehicles at the California Fuel Cell Partnership over the last couple decades.
Cadillac ELR EV caught my eye. Great design and style. This is a vehicle I will have to research further. Overall Cadillac put on a good showing as always. There were a few Teslas on display as well. Almost every major automaker had some kind of Hybrid on display. The Polaris Slingshot was also a very interesting piece. I would like to test drive one for sure.
Aston Martin Rapide
I also got to check out an Aston Martin Rapide for the first time. Rick the representative from Aston Martin Walnut Creek was gracious enough to let me take a closer look at this piece of exquisite art on wheels. Below are what I considered the highlights from the show. I hope you enjoy them and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Airbus A380 at Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport
I was going through my archives and found a series of panoramic shots I took while running to catch my flight back to Lost Angeles (LAX) from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). I was flying back from a whirlwind two weeks on my sister Andy Allo‘s Euro Tour. I noticed this one unobstructed view of the incredible feat of engineering that is the Airbus A380 SuperJumbo. I took a few minutes to snag some panoramic shots if this bird. I was in motion when I took this shot. Unfortunately, I did not have time to make sure I got the shot right and wait for moving subjects to come to rest or exit my frame. Upon returning, I dismissed the shots and all but discarded them because I wasn’t happy with the shots.
Fortunately I have a policy of never deleting shots like these. What I’d like to do now is go back, take a second look and consider making them available to and sharing with everyone. This Panorama, while far from perfect, would make a great desktop wallpaper, especially if you have multiple displays on your computer. Please feel free to request specific screen sizes. I will see what I can do for you.
We flew to and from Paris on one of these SuperJumbos. It is a humbling experience indeed, when you take stock of all it entails to get roughly 1.2 million pounds into the air and around the world. You can read more about my photographic exploits in Paris here.
Las Vegas Sunset Panorama via the LINQ High Roller – Canon 7D Mark II + EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Las Vegas Sunset Panorama via the LINQ High Roller – Canon 7D Mark II + EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you must already be familiar with how over-the-top everything is. At this point I’ve been to Las Vegas more times than I can count but I still often find myself laughing in disbelief every time I walk the strip – thinking to myself “No way! They actually built this! They really did!”. Much of the Las Vegas strip is the stuff dreams and fantasies are made of. Often times it is a blatant copy of the world’s landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, New York skyline, the Seattle Needle or a modern interpretation of the Egyptian Pyramids you can actually stay in, air conditioned!
One of the latest additions is called the Las Vegas High Roller. It reminds me of the London Eye. It is definitely larger than it seams. As you get closer you begin to really appreciate it’s size and scale. Like most of the Las Vegas strip, an engineering marvel. I timed my visit right at sunset. This is the best time to visit the High Roller, however I’m pretty sure the views would be quite spectacular at all times of day. The wheel takes about 30 minutes to go full circle. It never stops, and moves just slow enough for you to jump into the pod from the platform. It’s a bit of a thrill in itself, then the breathtaking views completely take over.
I wanted to catch magic hour just as we peaked at the top of the wheel. The wheel moved just slow enough to where I was able to quickly setup my shots in rapid succession. I used the 7D Mark II for most of my key shots because it was just fast enough to capture 4-5 HDR bracket panoramic shots in rapid succession to where parallax was almost a non-issue. What a camera system. The 5D Mark III was too slow and was used for just single ultra wide angle shots. This is one of those times I really wished I had the 1Dx. None-the-less I got plenty of great, very detailed shots to work with. Below are some highlights to share the experience with you. Above are two of my favorite shots. They still need much more editing if they are to make it to limited edition print. We’ll see if I can get them up to snuff.
Walking to the High Roller
Yes I was actually there…LOL
Waiting to hop aboard
About to jump in
The Vegas tram
I love sunset colors
Here it comes!
Mr Smith, my personal security detail on this trip. What happens when you give your DSLR to a random stranger? They fumble the shot.
Theresa Manchester – Canon 5D Mark III + EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
This past weekend welcomed another addition to my ongoing Tattoo Series – Curators of Art. For this photo shoot I had the pleasure of working with model and world traveler Theresa Manchester. She was a great subject to work with. Aside from a her beauty and considerable collection of body art, she came with quite a bit of experience in front of the camera. She also spends some of her spare time behind the camera. This all made for a great productive session as I was able to quickly and easily communicate and direct her throughout the shoot while she shared her many exploits around the world – some in places I have been myself. It was great to work with you Theresa. I certainly hope we get to collaborate again someday.
For this shoot I kept it fairly simple and spartan as I typically do. I used the the Canon 5D Mark III. I started off with the EF 24-105mm f/4L but quickly switched to the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II once we got into the rhythm of things. For lighting, I used two Canon 430EX speedlites in manual mode with Photix high speed sync RF triggers. I shot full manual the whole time for precise control of the camera, lighting and desired effect. The location was my private home studio. Key shots will make it into my limited edition collection prints from my Tattoo Series. Few will ever be published, however I felt I should at least share one (above). Below are a few behind the scenes shots. For BTS coverage I used the Canon 7D Mark II and EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM on a tripod. I used the built-in intervalometer to trigger the camera periodically throughout most of the shoot.