Monday, December 28, 2009

One Week And No Blog Posts!

It's been one full week and I haven't done a blog post! What have I been up to?

Well, like everyone else, the holidays have been keeping me busy. With my daughter back from school and dealing with family things for the holidays, I just have not had time to update my blog.

But the biggest thing that has kept me busy is getting my computer back up and running! Exactly two years to the date, my main computer was hit by a virus that caused it to stop working properly. And so on Christmas Eve, once again, it happened. No matter what I tried, I could not get the computer to work right. The only thing it did was go to an anti-virus site which I did not recognize and ask me to buy a "full version" of the software for $59.95. Then, after I refused to do that, it would pop up adult oriented websites instead. NOT GOOD!

So, I decided the best thing to do was to wipe my hard drive and start all over. No worries because just two days prior, I had done a complete backup of all my data stored on my external drives as well as my C: drive. Not one item of data was lost.

But I did lose time. It took a long time to reload the operating system and to tweak it in order for it to work properly with all the various computer programs I had loaded on the computer. It was a hassle, but it had to be done.

I had used an anti-virus program that was a free program downloaded from the internet (I'll leave their name off here) but it did not detect this one virus from disabling my computer. So I went back to McAfee's Antivirus program which I had prior to using the other company's product. Hopefully the "name brand" anti-virus program will work better for the future.

Being a very heavy computer user (I'm on the computer constantly it seems), I am very well versed in working with them and fixing problems on computers. But this virus did its job so good that to be safe from any possible lingering effects, a total hard drive wipe was the safest course of action to protect my data.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to my regular blog posting schedule next week. But with New Year's Day coming up soon, I'm sure I'll have things to do yet again for the rest of this week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Alhambra Palace

Once again, I was invited to photograph a holiday party at the Alhambra Palace in Chicago this past weekend. Same group... same place... new year. To see the other posts on the Alhambra Palace, click here.

The Alhambra Palace is definitely over the top. The decorations in this place is incredible. From the outside, you'd never know that the place is actually very large. Even walking in initially, you don't get that impression. But once you walk past the bar and into the main hall, you are greeted by a huge expanse that just feels like a theater!

Go check it out for yourself. Be sure to get a good table to see the belly dancers and other entertainment.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Julia Child

Image Borrowed From The Internet

I just finished watching the movie, "Julie and Julia" on DVD and thought it was interesting.

While not quite the movie I was expecting (not sure what I was expecting really) I did think it was fun. I recall watching Julia Child on PBS TV when I was young and really loved it. I didn't love it because of the recipes as I was too young for that. But what I loved was the fact that the host always seemed to make mistakes.

Julia Child would drop things, make a mess, burn herself... it was great! No matter the disaster, it never stopped her from moving forward with her show. That is what made her so interesting.

Who can ever forget her mannerism or voice? Saturday Night Live even did skits about her. I recall seeing those live on TV as well. I'm now watching a PBS production on DVD which chronicles her life called, "Julia Child! America's Favorite Chef." It is a nice look into what made her into the icon that she is.

While I was working at the DA's Office in San Diego, we had a woman working in our deparment whose brother was a chef. I recall at the mention of Julia Child, she would say, "Julia Child! That woman is a Saint!" Like me, she loved Julia Child and so did her brother the chef.

Without doubt, Julia Child made in impact on a lot of people. She paved the way for a lot of TV Chefs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deadliest Catch

Image Borrowed From The Internet

This year, fishing has gotten back into my blood. Many years ago, when I learned how to fish, I went out as often as I could on Sunday mornings just before going to church. But when nobody else was available to go with me, eventually I stopped going.

This year, my nephews and nieces took an interest and so I got back into it. Now, I've been obsessed it seems.

While I don't want to go ice fishing (at least not yet), I have been keeping my interest by watching fishing shows and reading books on fishing. My most recent interest has been a Cable TV show called the Deadliest Catch. The show has been on the Discovery Channel for several seasons now. For me, I just take out the full season's episodes on DVD at my local library.

It's a great show. After watching, it's hard not to appreciate all the hard work that the guys on the crab boats do to make crabs available for people's dinner tables. It is not at all like what I would have thought fishing would be like. It's a LOT harder!

The various captains have become celebrities now, but it doesn't seems to stop them from wanting to keep going out to go crab fishing. Would I like to do it one day? No way! I'd never survive the Bearing Sea and I'd never survive the amount of work these guys have to do!

If you want to see what life is like out on a crab boat, go check out at least one season of the Deadliest Catch on DVD at your local library. You'll be hooked like me!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Access - A Photographer's Benefit

Being a professional photographer often gives you access to areas that are unavailable to amateur photographers.

Although I was not able to be directly in front of each gymnast at last Saturday's event, I was invited to go onto the gym floor directly on the opposite side of where the parents were sitting in the bleachers. Nobody else was allowed to do this.

I did not wear a badge or have any other identification which stated I was a professional photographer, but from all the parents there who were taking photos at the event, I was singled out as a pro photographer by one of the people who helped run the music at the floor competition. She asked me if I wanted to get better shots by going closer to the vault, beam and uneven parallel bars. Of course I jumped at the chance.

It seems that my large camera and large zoom lens gave me away. Most other photographers there did not have quite the type of equipment I had with me. But it seems that no matter where I go, people can tell I'm a professional photographer. Maybe it's in how I conduct myself at events. Who knows. But it happens quite often.

I usually hear whispers of, "Wow! Look at that camera!" Or I might hear, "Hey, look at that guy!" I usually just ignore the comment and go about my business. But even when I am not shooting in an official capacity, I often get special treatment.

Yes, it's nice to be able to get into events, concerts, and sporting events and get the best seats or access areas where others cannot. Even when I was working in law enforcement years ago, I had the opportunity to do things many people could not. Flying in a helicopter to take aerial photos was one thing. Another was getting full access to an aircraft carrier to take photos for Law Enforcement Quarterly magazine was another.

It pays to be a pro sometimes!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Gymnastics - Make A Wish Foundation

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to photograph some gymnastics. I was asked to take some photos by one of my friends whose daughter was part of one of the gymnastics teams participating in the event.

While I concentrated mainly on their team, I could not help taking a couple of images of the other gymnasts who were there as well.

A lot goes on at the same time at these events. It reminded me of a Three Ring Circus because so much activity was happening at the same time. The main problem though is that access to good shooting angles and locations was limited. Had I been given free access to anywhere I wanted to go, I would have had a lot better images. Maybe one day...

Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Album Decisions

Whenever clients ask me if they need to make a decision on an album when booking me for their wedding, I tell them that it is not necessary, but often helpful if they decide now.

The reason for this is because in today's flushmount album style, certain photos must be taken so that they can be used for a panorama spread. Some images simply can't be used in this manner if photographed without this in mind.

Take the photo above for instance. Because I knew the couple was getting a flushmount album, I purposely shot the image so that they were in the far right side of the frame. This allows me to put another photo on the left side and for the album binding to fall right in the middle of the image without it being on top of the couple.

If I did not know that the couple wanted a flushmount / panorama style album, I might have photographed them more towards the middle. Then, if after the wedding they decided they wanted a flushmount album, how would we be able to use this photo for a panorama?

Making a decision in advance helps the photographer in deciding how to take photos to work with an album. Various album sizes can change his decision on how to properly frame a shot. So yes, it is often helpful if you decide on an album in advance.