Sunday, February 19, 2012

Takin' over the park

You haven't seen fun until you've watched a doodle slide down the slide at a kid's playground. Georgia rode the slide right side up, on her side and on her feet. On this particular adventure, it was seriously cold and she was freshly sheared, so she wasn't terribly inclined to put her bare belly on that cold plastic. She went down once, but wasn't ready to make a day of it. Very windy and cold. I couldn't say as I blamed her either.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shaggy vs. Sheared

This was taken by Aurora about a week or so ago, out on Seneca Lake, at Lodi Point. Wonderful little park. That day, it was fairly warm, in the 40s, sunny. We went yesterday and it was most definitely winter.

The pictures below were shot two days later after Georgia Rose had been sheared by our amazing groomer, Nancy Cusumano at the Grooming Room in Ithaca. Georgia is a totally different dog now. She jumps and bounces everywhere! She has 100x more energy and bounce.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago Aurora came into this world with nary a peep and a full head of jet black hair. I had a full head of hair back then too. Since then she has lost the black hair (and I've just lost mine altogether) and she is definitely beginning to find her voice. Tonight we celebrated day two of her birthday. In our family we never seem to be able to cram everything we want to do for someone's birthday into just one day... so we've elected to stretch them out a little longer. This evening we celebrated with the family of her best friend, at a middle-eastern restaurant in Ithaca.

Late last night the snow started falling in tiny wisps, here and there. We awoke to a thin sheet of snow barely covering the ground. Nothing even worth sweeping off the stairs. By dinnertime, the weather had shifted a few times. It warmed up, it cooled off, it stopped snowing, and it started again. As we were driving into Ithaca the weather turned to crap. The roads iced over. The plows quit trying to do anything. Not one plow that we passed was plowing or spreading salt. Considering how little snow we've had, you'd think they would be anxious to spread that de-icer everywhere.

As a result, the drive into town was pretty miserable. It was made worse once we hit Ithaca and realized that for many of the students, tonight was their first night of driving on the white stuff. Having dinner up in Collegetown didn't make that any easier. Folks with four wheel drive were spinning out on the main drive up into C-town. Lots of cars found their way off the road and into folks' front yards or sidewalks. It was not pretty. We made it, safe and sound. Had a fantastic meal with friends!

Of course, by the time we said our good-byes, the roads were clear, pavement could be seen and the snow had abated. Live in Ithaca and don't like the weather : wait five minutes.

So why do I bring up today's weather when thinking about Aurora's birthday? As a February baby, I think of her time as being one of cold and snow covered. She is a child of winter. She skates, cross-country skis, loves sledding and snowshoeing.... anything pertaining to the snow, she loves. When we lived in Utah, a good chunk of each winter was spent with her in the backpack, on my shoulders, either on skis or walking through the park or the zoo. Winter was when we came alive!

This year has been miserly with the snow. I don't think we've had more than 4 inches of snow all winter. Makes it hard to feel like winter! Today's icy winds and snow squalls made it strangely much more fun, and certainly felt much more recognizable as winter. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to post some more pictures of our puppy in the snow.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Beta Testing Lightroom 4 This Week

Self-portrait made with D300s, 70-200mm f/2.8 vrII, Paul C. Buff Einstein into a PCB stripbox with 
egg crate, and a second strobe through a partially exposed shoot-thru umbrella. 

At the end of January, Scott Kelby mentioned that Lightroom 4 was available for public beta testing. Normally I would be considered a "late adopter". I tend to wait till the bugs are worked out, fixes found and books written explaining all the little details. I didn't even begin using Lightroom until version 3. Yeah, I know, everyone LOVES Lightroom, but I figured, I use Photoshop. How could it possibly make my life any better. Suffice to say, I know better now. I live in Lightroom. It sits down to dinner with me. Lightroom runs my bath water and scrapes the ice off my car in the morning. Do I love it? Oh yeah. 

So what do I think of the latest incarnation, Lightroom 4? Am I as head-over-heels as everyone else in the blog-o-sphere seems to be? 


Like I said, I am normally a very late adopter. I generally feel that if something doesn't radically improve my workflow and the images I am working on, it probably isn't worth using. I know some folks swear by certain Photoshop actions and presets... but by and large, I find most of them to be pretty mundane and not worth the coin. Maybe if those actions or presets were my "style" in a box, that would be one thing. I would rather think that my style exists far outside of some software setting.

So why do I like Lightroom 4? The interface is amazing. If it is possible, it is more intuitive than before. The integration with my favorite Nik software (Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro) is absolutely seamless. Most importantly though, the images just look better. As I said earlier, if it didn't make my life easier, and the images better, I would be happy to stick with the version 3. I am very curious to see what changes between the Beta and the final version available to the general public soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back From the Groomer's

Georgia got to go to see Nancy Cusumano at the Grooming Room today. Her puppy coat has been "blowing out" and her new adult coat has been pushing through it. The resulting mats of fur have been overwhelming. Add to that the total lack of snow fall, and all of the plants with burrs and seedheads... Georgia Rose's fur was in a bad way. Nancy gave us back our cute puppy with a short coat and loving excitement in her eyes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Photographing Friends

I feel very fortunate to count among my family friends, Anastasia Lyon and her family. We first met, probably six or more years ago through TGHA girl's hockey in Ithaca. One of my favorite things to photograph has always been sports. I really enjoy watching the game with a different level of intensity. Somehow the reduced field of view changes my interaction with the game.

Part of what makes this doubly fun though, is that shooting Stasia is just TONS of fun. She plays with all of her heart. I have never seen her play with anything less than 100%. She's the kind of person everyone wants on their team. This weekend, she invited us to watch her basketball game against Trumansburg Middle School. If Stasia had stayed injury free, the score would likely have been even more lopsided than it was. In the first period there was a 20 point margin in Dryden's favor. Amazing coaching and very positive attitude towards every girl on the team. Everyone got great support. Photographing that level of cooperation is very fun!

Probably the biggest disappointment was in my gear. There is such a huge difference shooting in a small gym as compared to shooting outdoors in a soccer field or in a hockey arena. The lights in the gym were awful. Normally I make sure to get a good white balance setting before doing much shooting. I made a couple major goofs and ended up really mixing up my settings. (hey, it happens to the best of us... and some of us it happens to more often than not....)

Thankfully I had shot everything in RAW so there was a little more leeway for fixing things in post.

My second frustration was that even with my 70-200mm VRII f/2.8 lens, I was still forced to shoot at ISO 1250-1600. It was pretty darned dark. With my D300s, grain starts creeping in around ISO 1000, and by 1600 it is annoying. This is the first time where I have felt limited by this body. I remember back when I was shooting with my D80, in hockey arenas and at ISO 2000 it failed to focus at 1/200th of a second. Made shooting hockey almost impossible.

So much still to learn! Working with amazing kids like Stasia make it totally worthwhile. Thanks again for inviting me to your game Anastasia.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Punch-and-Kick-a-Thon (karate for a cause)

A few weeks ago, I was asked to photograph Cayuga Lake Seido Karate's Punch-and-kick-a-thon, to raise money and awareness for cancer research in the Fingerlakes area. Over the course of two hours, participants of all ages kicked and punched 1000 kicks and 1000 punches. Before the night was out they had raised over $2000 for the Cancer Resource Center of the Fingerlakes.

Aurora joined this group back at the beginning of the school year, but in five short months, this has become her family away from home. The level of dedication, devotion and discipline shown to their senseis, their sempai, and to each other is phenomenal. So much respect... and kindness.

Eventually, I hope to have images from this amazing evening available to anyone who wants prints or digital images for their facebook page or website. A huge thank you to Sensei Robin and Sensei Gail for encouraging me to photograph this awesome effort! I feel honored to have been a part of this amazing event and look forward to more.