A Once-a-Year Shot…

There is a famous, clichéd photograph of Los Angeles, with downtown shown surrounded by snowy mountains, that pops up every year or so. I must have seen it hundreds of times, but I still wanted to capture a version of my very own. One of the best places to get such a shot is Kenneth Hahn Park in West LA, where a high bluff overlooks the city, and everything is lined up just right.

It’s a majestic view, and my favorite moment of the day was when a little boy, approaching the view with his parents, exclaimed, “Wow! Is that New York?”

The last week of December 2021 was forecast to be stormy, with cold weather, and the possibility of snow at even lower elevations, so I planned ahead and invited my friend Mel to join me at the overlook. Little did we know that many other photographers had the same idea! We showed up an hour before sundown, and were surprised to encounter a scrum of photographers, packed in shoulder-to-shoulder, lined up to get the shot. There was everything from iPhones, to all variety of digital cameras, to a guy with an old wooden 4×5.

We found a spot and settled in for the shot, which I got in the first few frames… and then I realized the real shot was the bunch of photographers! So I backed up about 100 feet and took the shot that told the whole story.

It was a fun outing, and I would do it again. The color temperature changes so quickly as the short winter days become dusk. I’d like to go back, even without the snow covering, and try it when the sunsets are long and blue.


Amgen Tour of California

As a cyclist and a fan of cycling, May is one of my favorite times of the year, as that’s when the Amgen Tour of California comes through town. It often makes a stop in Santa Clarita, with either a stage start or finish, or sometimes both. I’m not a sports photographer, but since this offers a chance for me to play with two of my favorite activities, I like to bring out my camera and try to get a few good shots.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be right on the finish line, and was able to get some emotionally charged shots of stage winner Elisa Balsamo from Valcar Cylance decisively taking the stage 3 of the women’s race, as well as Cees Bol from Team Sunweb narrowly defeating superstar Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe by half a wheel to take Stage 7 of the men’s race. The frustration on third-place finisher Jasper Philipsen of UAE Team Emirates is clearly visible as well.

Shoots Uncategorized

Cedar Compher

Cedar Compher, of the band Reggae Diaspora (with whom I’ve worked before) emailed me about doing a shoot to promote his new solo career. We chose the Santa Monica Pier as the location, and I used it as an opportunity to do my first full shoot with the Fujifilm X-T3. It was great shooting on and near the beach at sunset, and I think we got some good results.


Diaspora Reggae Live

I was very pleased to be invited by Diaspora Reggae to shoot their live gig at Howl at the Moon at Universal Citywalk, on May 17. It was my first live gig shoot in a while, and I enjoyed getting back in the swing of it.

Howl at the Moon is a very nice club, with a really good, clean-sounding sound system. I thought they were only a dueling piano bar, but they have a lot of live bands, too. Because of the high-intensity color of the LED lighting system, I found it hard to get shots of the band where they didn’t look like Blue Man Group (or Red Man Group, etc.), so I wound up converting a lot of the shots to black and white, which really saved a lot of otherwise unusable shots.

The band consists of: Tyler Reinhart (Vocals, Keys), Cedar Compher (Lead Guitar, Keys, Melodica), Brandon (Drums), Joe Hall (Rhythm Guitar), Jason Dickie (Bass)


Diaspora Reggae Shoot

Diaspora is a great, L.A.-based reggae band that I met through Craigslist, and arranged a shoot while they were in the rehearsal studio. They are a great bunch of guys, and very talented. The band consists of: Tyler Reinhart (Vocals, Keys), Cedar Compher (Lead Guitar, Keys, Melodica), Brandon (Drums), Joe Hall (Rhythm Guitar), Jason Dickie (Bass)

During a break from rehearsing, we went outside and shot the typical, cliche “five guys against a brick wall” band shot. It’s hard to shoot something that is so common and make it different! You have to rely on the band giving you something to work with, in terms of attitude, look, and swagger… which the guys from Diaspora did very well at.
From the wall, we went out to the streets, literally, and we all stood in the middle of a busy street during a break in traffic. Don’t try this at home, kids!
Then we found a darker wall, with a low wall in front of it, and the band decided to try out their powers of levitation for a fun group shot.
Because the studio was dark, and I had traveled light, bringing just a couple of Speedlites, I was shooting at ISO1600, which brought a certain amount of digital noise to the images. Instead of correcting it  in post, I worked with it, and allowed the processing to bring out the graininess and contrast of the RAW file.
This was a fun shoot, and I look forward to working with Diaspora again.

New Kataholic Shoot!

I’ve been very lucky to work with local model Kataholic. We started off with basic glamour shoots last year, and this year began shooting sets for popular websites Zivity and Suicide Girls. For those of you who haven’t shot for such sites, it is more challenging than I expected. Traditional photographic “rules” for glamour photography don’t always apply. The sites have a very specific look and brand, and you have to follow their guidelines very carefully, or your shots will be rejected.

Of the two, Zivity is a little more free-form and artistic. To generalize a little, they are more fine-art glamour than commercial glamour. They give the photographer a little more free reign to come up with a look, and as long as it is within their style, they seem to be OK with it.

Suicide Girls, on the other hand, is very strict. I wouldn’t consider them commercial glamour, but they are sort of Playboy for alternative glamour (tattoos and piercings), and are very particular about what they want. Conversely, they allow photos to push the envelope a little more, and accept more explicit nudity, fetishism, and other stuff Zivity won’t allow.

Below are a few shots from my most recent shoot with Kataholic that will not be submitted to either site.

General Shoots

Characters on Location with Joe McNally

I was really looking forward to Photoshop World in Las Vegas this year, not the least because I had signed up for one of the pre-conference workshops, called, “Characters on Location.” The idea was to go on location with a bunch of actors and models, and shoot using a selection of high-end studio lights that are not available to most amateur photographers.

A couple of months after signing up, I learned that the workshop was to be taught by the esteemed Joe McNally, so I was even more excited. Best of all, on the day of the shoot, it turned out we were going to be working at Hardkore Parkour Las Vegas, with a bunch of Cirque du Soleil performers, bodybuilders, and other Extremely Fit People. This was going to be fun!

I’ve posted some of the shots I’m happiest with above. These are pretty much straight out of camera, with only a minimum of retouching on any of them… the models, and the lighting, was that perfect. Much thanks to Joe, Annie Cahill, and the great crew and talent who worked with us all on that day!