Friday, August 20, 2010

Rising Above the Old

All around downtown in recent years, there has been a steady diet of condo high-rises being built. One of the places that certainly has seen high-rises pop up has been along the Pacific Highway, next to the historic Santa Fe Depot, in downtown San Diego, California.

I am not sure if folks are familiar with Andrew Hudson. But, he is the author and contributing photographer for his series of books, called Photo Secrets. In his series of books, he has a book titled, Photo Secrets San Diego. It was published I believe in 1999. But still, it is a great book or resource for photographers not only visiting San Diego, but photographers, such as myself, who live here in "America's Finest City."

One of the photos you will find in this book is of one of the signature Santa Fe domes. Now, back in 1999, these condo high-rises filling up the background were obviously not there. But, the shot that Andrew took years ago was shot facing downtown San Diego and using one of the downtown glass-window buildings as a background. The building had a very interesting pattern and worked perfectly to contrast against the dome.

I decided, since there has been a lot of new buildings rising up, why not take another look and a try a similar, but different take on the one that Andrew took. Now, it might be similar, but sort of has a different mindset than Andrew's photo.

For this photo, I wanted to portray the feeling that the old is being squeezed out and being dwarfed. The new is bigger, modern, better, etc... I really like how the condo high-rises in the background not only rise above the Santa Fe Depot dome, but fill in the background. Your guess is left to wonder how much higher these high-rises rise above the old Santa Fe Depot. Of course, it is a classic example of the contrast of old versus new.

This is a great reason why it is a good idea to not only take a wide-angle lens with you around the city, but also take a telephoto lens. This was shot with a 135mm lens.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lines and Lines of Windows in Windows

The last 2 weeks, I have signed up for the special Horton Plaza photowalk, in downtown San Diego, CA. As I was waiting at the main entrance to the Horton Plaza, I looked back and saw the Westin Hotel reflecting in the windows of the NBC building.

This shot interested me because it certainly had a strong theme of lines. Then you have the column or line of windows from the Westin in perfect harmony with the line of windows in the NBC building. I added in the foreground, this bus shelter (I think that is it's purpose). The lines of it had the same flow as the lines in the NBC building.

I think you get the idea. Lines, windows, more lines, more windows, etc...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Crazy Carnival Rides

I went with a friend this past Saturday to the Orange County Fair, in Costa Mesa, CA. This was like my first time to a fair since I was a kid. So in essence, this was my first time photographing subjects, such as carnival rides at a fair.

One of the key ideas with these rides, when photographing them, is to bring them to life in still photography. That is easier said than done.

One of my favorite and most intriguing rides at this fair was one called "DiskO." This ride had a couple of different motions occurring simultaneously. Not only did it go back-n-forth, higher and higher, and at faster rates, it also rotated while doing this. Therefore, I wanted to capture this ride at it's peak time of all this action. That meant to capture it at the highest point on the track. But, it also meant to capture the rotating motion of this ride.

Anyways, my friend wanted to know how I was able to capture the "DiskO" sign almost perfectly in focus, while it seems that the rest of the ride platform is blurred, due to the motion.

So how was I able to do this? First, I didn't have a tripod with me and I also didn't have neutral density filter. That meant, I had to adjust the camera aperture way down to f20, to maintain 1/10sec on the shutter speed (I took a few test shots to figure out what a good shutter speed would be). I was at ISO 50 on my camera. I used an advertising sign to lean up against and to provide better stability. I set the camera to AI Servo focusing mode, on my Canon EOS-1D Mark III body.

Ok. I know some of you probably understand that. But, how did the sign more or less stay in relative focus? Well, when shooting action, there are always those peak moments in action, where there are slight pauses that occur when there is about to be a change in direction. Here, the ride has reached it's peak height and is about to come back down the track. The focus point was tracking on the sign. Now the luck is having the sign facing you so you can read it, when this happens. Now, I did take many shots of this ride. It wasn't like I nailed this shot in a minute or two.

For composition, I used another ride in the background, called the Mega Drop, which is a free-fall ride, to add interest and fill in the frame much better. My goal was pretty tricky. Trying to time these 2 rides up to where I had the riders at or near the top of the Mega Drop, while capturing the DiskO ride as such. In my opinion, the riders at the top of the Mega Drop are important. Again, to add more life to the shot. It also kind of sums up the craziness of carnival rides. Here, you have riders being dropped, turned, pushed, and pulled in all sorts of directions. Quite the craze!

For post processing, my tower wasn't tact sharp. Therefore, I decided to give these rides, which are very colorful, some old school film look, with some of my own frames and crud to overlay onto them. For me, the various colors at a carnival lends themselves perfectly for alternative post-processing options.Gives them that vintage film look of distortions, color shifts, and aging. Hope you like the final product.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Park It Anywhere

This past Saturday, I went with a friend up to Manhattan Beach, California to check out the 2010 International Surf Festival. We got there right before 8:30 in the morning. Needless to say, we got there when you could find plenty of parking spots. Later in the day, even finding a parking spot for your bike was quite the challenge.

For this annual event, it drew around an estimated 60,000 beach-goers. So many folks who live near this area rode their bikes, probably figuring it would be much easier to park a bike, instead of having to wake up hours earlier to park their car and pay the parking fees. As you can see, there was additional parking set aside for the bikes. You can barely make out the bike racks in the photo. After a while, it seems the "park it anywhere you could" philosophy set in. You can see bikes atop of other parked bikes in this photo.

For composing this photo, I wanted the utter confusion and sense of clutter. Not really hard to do, in this case. But, I also decided to leave a bit of open sand and also let the end of Manhattan Beach pier poke through, to just give a hint and sense of where you were at. People who are familiar will recognize the aquarium and cafe structure that is at the end of the pier and is shown in this photo. Finally, yes! There is a beach under all these bikes.

About Me

San Diego, California, United States
Thanks for checking out my photography blog. I am a photographer from America's finest city, San Diego, California. This blog is just a regular update of what I am photographing or what catches my fancy, when I am out and about with my camera. So subscribe and stay up-to-date with my latest photographic adventures.


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