Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I like Halloween. Mainly because every year, the Upper Main Line YMCA runs a Haunted Mansion that I get to help plan. The Y is built around a 110-year-old, Victorian mansion, which makes it pretty easy to transform into FOUR FLOORS OF TERROR!!! Or something like that. It's actually a big fundraising event, and last year we made more than $10,000. All of that is used as financial aid to help families and individuals pay for Y memberships, so we're scaring for a cause.

I also like pirates, which makes this year's theme particularly awesome: "The Curse of Blackbeard". Yes, I know PotC 4 was released last week, but we've been using pirates and Blackbeard for six years now and already had the theme picked out before the movie was announced. Just saying...we were first.

Shooting this year's marketing image, we wanted something closer to a graphic in appearance. We have these skeletons that we "gorrified", giving some added dimension. After dressing, hanging him from the ceiling and gripping him to the ships wheel, we were ready to go.

Here's a look at me awkwardly trying to shove a speedlight up a fake skeleton's chest cavity.

I worked on this thing for close to an hour, and just really wasn't getting anything I thought looked very creepy. I tried lights in all different places, but after going through the images, I settle on one with one speedlight coming through a Softlighter II creating a soft glow on the outside, with another on full-blast coming from inside. That seemed to give some life to the scene, instead of just a fake skeleton holding a wheel.

A look after editing the RAW file, but before full post-production.

I had already been shooting with the white balance set to cloudy to give it a warm glow, but I pushed it a bit further in RAW (seen above). In post, I replaced the background with another photo of mine with a cloudy sky, added in some rain, motion blur, and lightning, and called it a day. Now if it could only get to be October...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tomorrow morning, I'm leaving for my second trip to the World Series of Birding. Yes, that's right. The World Series...of Birding. Sorry if you choked a bit while reading that. I, too, was confused and skeptical when I first heard about it. The WSB is a 24-hour birdwatching extravaganza, that takes place throughout the entire 8,204 sq. miles of the great state of New Jersey, home of one of the widest variety of birds in the country. Also known for people who are "famous" for not really much of anything.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) recently released its 2011 list of "predators", comprised of 38 government leaders, organizations, and non-state actors seeking to restrict press freedoms and free speech in general. We often don't even think about how important the media is in the United States (unless, of course, you're a journalist). But elsewhere in the world, people are willing to die for those freedoms, and many have.

As expected, many on the list come from leaders involved in suppressing the revolutions sweeping across North Africa and Middle East. There are also names you may have forgotten about or maybe never heard of, such as Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, president of Turkmenistan, where "the number of journalists and human rights activists in prison or psychiatric hospitals is unknown."

The list provides a quick and easy way to navigate by clicking on either photos or a highlighted map, and gives a brief overview on why that individual/group made the cut. Definitely worth a perusal.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First off, I don't have an iPhone. I'm more of an Android guy. Not that I think iProducts are evil (I mean, I am writing this on a MacBook Pro after all). I just happen to like my Droid X. That said, this concept seems pretty awesome. Take an iPhone, slap on a case with some high-quality glass, and you've got the Leica i9 concept, brought to you by the wizards at Black Design Associates.

It's essentially a standalone camera, but loading your iPhone in a manner "reminiscent to traditional 35mm film" grants additional functionality. Like having your photos appear instantly on your phone to share them online. Or having people steer clear of the person that appears to be talking into their camera. And don't worry about compatibility, because the interchangeable backing allows for future phone generations, like the iPhone 6. This way, we can have two imaginary devices.

First saw this a little bit ago in a post about it on Engadget, complete with press release. Too bad the release doesn't come with a production date of "at your front door right now."

Monday, May 2, 2011

If you take one glance at these photos, you can tell they've been a long time coming. These are from way back in December, shot in a very snowy, very frigid Valley Forge.  Jon has been my best friend/co-conspirator since the First Grade, and told me he planned on proposing to his girlfriend Kelly in December. They met at Calvin College, where they were both runners on the highly ranked men's and women's cross country teams (if you see them running, DO NOT try to keep up).

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