Archive for the ‘Andrew’s Favorites’ Category

Disney World: New Years Fireworks

Where to begin with this one… Never have I ever received more weird looks than I did while arranging this shot. Although the families next to me had been waiting in their prime viewing locations since as early as 3pm, I didn’t feel too ridiculous spending 6 hours standing in my spot. I think I saw three parades go by and the standard 9pm fireworks while I was twiddling my thumbs up on the Main Street train station back balcony… At any rate, this final image is the result of a 5-shot bracket taken about 15 minutes before the actual fireworks started. Then, trying my very best to not let the throngs gathered up on the balcony to jostle the camera, I took stills of the fireworks going off (alas, I absolutely need to dish out the 99 cents for a cable release) and composited it as best I could into the HDR. This may very well be my favorite picture I have ever worked on, but that owes mostly to the memory of the scene this picture takes me back to. It is also my first entry into our desktops section, so on the off chance you’re feeling like a new background is in order, head on over to the desktops section and figure out what size fits your monitor best. If not, then that’s cool, too.

I feel like there are so many good places to be when midnight strikes on New Year's Eve. Right here is definitely pretty far up that list: Orlando, FL

Hogwarts Exterior

As I investigate the issue I’m currently having with Photomatix 4 I am left with little option but to whip out the old 3.1 in order to continue processing. The New Years trip to Orlando brought with it a TON of fun stuff to shoot and manipulate and

it’s going to be showing up gradually on the site. Naturally, DisneyWorld was a must but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure was also on our to-do list. It is an incredible recreation of exactly what it claims: it’s a veritable WORLD of wizard- and magic-related items from the books and has such attention to detail that you’d swear you were actually inside the book. The area comprises about a dozen shops named after their literary counterparts including Ollivander’s Wands and the Three Broomsticks, but the real piece of art is the castle. The ride it houses is a nausea-inducing motion simulator that takes you through most of the Harry Potter canon as you ride aboard an enchanted piece of levitating furniture. Amazing accomplishment, a requirement if you call yourself a true Harry Potter aficionado.

The sign advertises a 10-minute wait, made possible by the lack of crowds on New Year's Day thanks to the three bowl games being played in the neighboring areas of Florida: Orlando, FL

Leaving Amarillo

We crunched through 750 miles on Day 1 and 825 on Day 2 but just as the sun started to set behind us making our way out of Amarillo, TX, I leaned out the passenger window to check out the view. Definitely one of my favorites. The absolute nothingness along the New Mexico highway was  behind us and things would gradually become more and more populated the farther east we got. Highlight of Amarillo: we kept seeing billboard advertisements for “FREE 72oz. STEAK” with a picture of a sketchy cowboy holding a dinner plate.

The west is great but you never get clouds like this in L.A. Amarillo, TX

Clear Sunset on Downtown

I feel like there has been a severe lack of posts recently. The problem is that this is busy season for schoolwork and outside projects and as everyone winds their way towards a well deserved Thanksgiving break, any extra chunk of spare time you find often ends up turning into a nap. Nothing wrong with that of course, unless you’re supposed to be contributing to a photo blog on a regular basis. Regardless, on an afternoon not too long ago I decided that in my two hours before my last class before break I would steal up onto the roof of a building and see what I could see from there. It rained just a few days ago so I knew the sky would be uncharacteristically clear-ish… fortunately, the stars aligned and there were also some interesting clouds hanging in the background. This never happens. I was more than happy to record a copy for myself. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Downtown from the direction of campus, about 150 feet up: Los Angeles CA

Mulholland Sunrise

Today was a first… a legitimate effort to set aside time to go out with the sole purpose of shooting some new material. Well, almost. My photography class has me lugging a 4×5 view camera around (which is an amazing piece of equipment to play around with if you’re like me and have never handled large format stuff before) the city and I’ve chosen the Mulholland Overlook as my vantage spot for a final project in the class. I arrived there this morning maybe 20 minutes too late because I only just managed to set up the shots on the view camera before the sun got too high. I felt a little rushed but we’ll see what happens when I develop later tonight. Before I left though, I slapped the 7D on a tripod and let it soak up some of the view for a few minutes. It’s a fairly surreal image, but not as surreal as I could have processed it. Typically I dislike having the sun in frame but I rather like how it’s borderline overpowering on this one. The dusty path on the left, the line of bushes that jives with the lens flare, the Hollywood Bowl down in the valley on the right and the city and sun in the right and left upper thirds all combine to make me rather pleased with how this came out compositionally.

Pretty cool spot. Climb up the stairs from the parking lot, hop the little railing, and scoot past the ugly outpost thing and you've got a pretty awesome spot to watch the sun come up: Los Angeles CA

Yosemite: Vernal Falls Basin

It’s called the Mist Trail for a reason. If the wind is in a disagreeable mood when you get to this part of the trail… you will get soaked. Fortunately we found a not too windy nook where we could set up and look down on the basin. The sun’s position in the sky afforded us a convenient double rainbow to liven up the shot and we sat here for what felt like hours taking variations of this angle on both cameras and in several video formats. Giacomo already posted the Bokeh Edition of this angle so I will add the wider version that lets you see the entire basin and where it becomes the stream of water that eventually reforms into the Merced River. Pretty spot, huh?

Though it was merely a happy accident that the rainbows were present for this shot, I think they may actually steal the show... Yosemite CA

Finally, HDRs in a lit environment…

It’s not often I get a chance to shoot an HDR with deliberate, planned lighting. I filled in for a friend of mine today by being the gaffer on a music video shoot downtown. It’s a nasty area to be in at night… At any rate though, the surrounding three or four blocks all appeared to be empty buildings like our own, devoid of furniture and clearly angled at small productions in need of a gritty-looking flat. It was a stop-motion shoot so progress was slow and tedious. Lighting changes were fairly spaced out and so I fulfilled my other role on set by taking production stills for them. Set photography has gotten to be one of my favorite hobbies because you aren’t tied down as a coffee-grabbing PA, you generally aren’t asked upon by the camera department to move anything you don’t want to, and you basically have free reign to simply strut around the set and take pictures wherever you want.  Everyone involved in the production wants to walk away with some great shots of them working a music video shoot so it’s generally fairly easy to get along with everyone. It’s a good gig and I hope to photograph several upcoming student films this semester… That being said, set photography is an excellent place to shoot HDRs because of the deliberately constructed visuals all around. It’s a naturally cinematic place with things that are pleasing to look at and because HDR works best in environments where there are really dark darks and really light lights, sets are an excellent place to shoot thanks to the many lights that selectively stylize the scene. I took several HDRs on set here, and this is definitely one of my favorites…

Deliberate lighting makes a world of difference... Because he was playing the guitar while I was taking these, I masked in his hands from the middle exposure to prevent ghosty appendages: Downtown Los Angeles CA

The Getty: South Pavilion and Plaza

I’d never been to the Getty Museum before this past Sunday. What a place! The architecture is breathtaking and essentially offers a limitless field of things to take pictures of. I took a little over 100 pictures while I was there but will probably

only choose three maybe four to finish on the site. It will be tough deciding which angle is best on many of the amazing structures at the Getty, but there was no doubt in my mind that the fountain in front of the South Pavilion was a great place to start.

The Getty Museum is drop dead gorgeous. They've got a ton of amazing art but I like the design of the buildings even more: Beverly Hills CA

Malibu: Gladstones 4 Fish

Today was my roommates’s birthday so we knew we needed to celebrate in style. We spent the day at the J. Paul Getty Museum (some incredible architecture there, hopefully some stunning shots from my visit to come in the very near future) and took a leisurely drive up the PCH to Gladstones. Ordinarily, we try not to come here too often so as to keep it a “special occasion” when need be; our first choice for the evening, “Tart” near The Grove, closes early on Sundays and we unfortunately had to find out the hard way. However, Gladstones never fails to please and we of course had an excellent dinner overlooking the beaches of Malibu. Of course, in the few minutes before our table was available (and luckily in the last few before the sun completely disappeared behind the Malibu coastline) I nabbed the tripod and attempted my first 5-image HDR. What a place…

My first 5-image HDR. Awesome place to be when the sun's going down... Malibu CA

Malibu: Beach Sunset from Gladstones

From the same evening as the above post, I stepped out into the sand on the beach that runs alongside and under the Gladstones restaurant and grabbed another 5-image set. Amazing place to be at this time of day. I used to think I preferred the sun’s position in the winter months (see my post from earlier) but in seeing how gorgeous a sunset looks from just about anywhere out here, I’m not so sure anymore…

The Malibu beaches tend to be awesome. Nuf Sed: Malibu CA

Disneyland: California Adventure Main Entrance

So we got our day started off bright and early with a character breakfast at 7 am, sneaking in before the park actually opened at 8. Just before going inside I figured that 6:45am would be as good an opportunity as any to catch the entrance of California Adventure with as few people as possible…

Don't know how much longer the entrance will look like this, the whole front will be redone in an old Art Deco style before too long... Anaheim CA

USC: SCA Evening

It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to get anything new on here, a full time job is just so time consuming. In fact, you could almost say it’s occupying my full time. At any rate, I wanted to get this guy on here at some point. In my opinion, USC doesn’t have a ton of really amazing architecture, a lot of it is old, but the wrong kind of old. Ugly old. 70s old. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful campus and I love it but there are several buildings you just have to look the other way when you walk by. This is not one of them. After a hefty donation from a certain Mr. Lucas, the School of Cinematic Arts got busy and, instead of building a new teaching facility, decided to plant a lavish Italian villa on the northeast side of campus. It’s big, ornate, unwieldy, and above all else excessive… but I’m proud to be a part of it.

The USC SCA at night. A sabered Douglas Fairbanks stands faithful watch from atop the fountain: Los Angeles CA

Venice Beach: Performers

While we were at Venice we happened across a group of street performers that was performing all manner of acrobatics. I’ve been lucky with the 7D: I’ve noticed that a very small percentage of my favorite HDR’s have come from tripod shots owing mostl

y to the fact that I rarely have a tripod on hand when I find something I want to shoot. The 7D’s rate of fire has been extremely helpful in minimizing the time needed to take three individual exposures — the slightest difference between shots can really mess up a potentially fantastic HDR. However, for action shots like the one below, not even the 7D could squeeze out 3 quick ones before the subjects would have moved. This is a tribute to the RAW format, to allow me to choose a single shot from the dozen or so I snapped off while they were in this position. Making two copies, sending one down two stops and another up two stops, and treating them as three separate images allows you to HDR action scenes. It’s not the best way to make an HDR, but if you’re looking for a way to experiment with HDRs of action, the RAW format is your best friend 🙂

These guys were awesome, not bad for free entertainment.

Embarrassment/Malibu #1

So I went to Disneyland on Sunday in high hopes of getting plenty of stuff to keep me busy for weeks to come. I got to the front gate with camera in hand and noticed it felt a little light. The battery was of course still charging on the wall at home… What did I learn? Move “batteries” farther up the list of things to do. In the meantime, I will be retouching some old favorites that haven’t yet made it to the site yet. This is Malibu #1, taken in mid-January earlier this year. We had dinner at Gladstone’s last night, an excellent restaurant right up the beach from here, so I figured I should retouch this one and get it on the site. One interesting thing that I guess I knew but never took the time to think about was how the sun changes position in the sky depending on what season it is. Back in January the sun set well out into the ocean but last night it set well behind the land that makes up the unique coastline. More on that in Malibu #2.

In all honesty, it really can't get too much better than this: Malibu CA

Walt Disney Studio Lot – The Legends Statue

I saw this one when I was here a few days ago and knew I’d have to come back for it. Right now I’d say that it’s my favorite if not a close second to Roy and Minnie, but Legends Plaza is such an excellent little place. The full range of color in this one was surprising to me; I only really appreciated it when it came out in the HDR process. It’s all in there, but Photomatix lets us see it all at once. I know, I know, this one is getting borderline cartoony, but then again, this is Disney we’re talking about.

The Epic Legends Statute on Legends Plaza: Burbank CA