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Damn, Earth… you one sexy Motha’ // #earthporn

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That was my exact thought process when it came to #EarthPorn photos.

For those not familiar with the somewhat graphic sounding phrase, EarthPorn is used when referring to nature photography that makes you step back and say “Damn.. Earth/Nature/etc is beautiful”. Do a quick Google Image Search or search the hashtag on Instagram or Tumblr and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

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The Flagg-Fasbinder Wedding – Half Moon Bay, CA

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting the Flagg-Fasbinder wedding in Half Moon Bay!
It turned out be a gorgeous Sunday for a beach wedding after several hot days earlier that week. It was overcast most of the afternoon which kept things at a comfortable temperature, and also kept the lighting pretty diffused – which is never a bad thing as a photographer.

Now I had originally met Jenn three years ago at Amy and Michael’s wedding. Jenn was Amy’s Maid of Honor at her wedding, and last week when Evan proposed Jenn contacted me immediately to check on my availability to photograph her wedding, too. And a few months after that, once they had made their decision and I had a chance to meet Evan, it was clear that this was going to be a very easy weekend with both of them. Both seemed to very collected and very excited about the wedding weekend. “We’re having a hybrid wedding” Jenn said to me. It would be a half Catholic and half Jewish wedding. And despite the frustrations that they were describing trying to mix tradition from both into one ceremony, they seemed surprisingly calm about the whole thing.


-Jenn giving her speech at Amy and Michael’s wedding, April 2010-

Another thing that was great to hear from Evan was that he had spent some time researching and really looking at the different photographers that Jennifer had picked out as her final choices. This is really important in my opinion. And it’s a huge relief for me when the groom (or sometimes bride) hasn’t met me previously to know that they took a long look at my work and decided I was right for their wedding.

Well, when the wedding rolled around the weekend got started at a small rehearsal in San Jose. Jenn said she didn’t want everyone to have to drive all the way to Half Moon Bay just for the rehearsal since most people weren’t staying there and would have to drive back that night and then back out again the following day.
But it was a great warmup for people to get both an idea of how the ceremony would go, as well as time for everyone to socialize and catch up on life. This is always a perfect time for me to get know people too. Then the following wedding day they’ll see me, but mostly ignore me since I’m not quite a random a person walking around with my camera. Haha!

On Sunday the morning started out very relaxed at the salon with some of the girls. Lots of laughing and joking with the stylists as they asked me about photography and my career. I suppose sometimes my direct answers come across a little strong since I answer quickly when I’m shooting and am focused on things other than the conversation. haha. Whoops.

Later that afternoon we all made our way out to Half Moon Bay – where there was a ton of traffic because it was such a pleasant day at the coast.

The ceremony was held at La Costanera Restaurant on their patio overlooking the water. It was a pretty great location, and despite some initial concerns there wasn’t too many people walking by as people originally feared. And since there was a cloud cover that day it kept the temperature comfortable enough for people to not have to worry about overheating in sun, or needing sunglasses. There were several prayers mixed into the ceremony to be able to do things for Evan and the Jewish half of the wedding. What was great was that the Rabbi would explain some of the traditions to everyone so they understood the meaning behind things since he was aware many of the people there were not familiar with Jewish weddings. It was interesting for me, too, since I had never been to a Jewish ceremony.

The rest of the evening went great with some family photos down on the beach, lots of dancing and laughter at the reception, and even some time for me to chat with the family members a bit more during some of my down time that night.

I’ll save some of the rest for the captions. But please click the break and read on! I’ve uploaded just over 250 different photos from Jennifer and Evan’s wedding weekend!

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CAMERA TESTING WITH THE SONY A77 (4 OF 4)

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Part four of my four part write-up on testing the Sony a77 DSLR in various sports setting that I typically shoot  with my job. Please check out the previous post for details on the first test and a bit of an intro to this multi-part project: here

Surfing photography and the US Open.

My last test of the gear was at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach. This would also be a bigger test of the longest lens I had with me to use, the 70-400 zoom. Combined with the 1.5 sensor I would have an effective 600mm of reach at the longest end.
Overall the lens and camera seemed to perform pretty well. I still wasn’t exactly in the best position to shoot the competition, but that’s my fault and the beach was ridiculously crowded for the main event.
Focus and tracking seemed to work pretty well. I was using a monopod for stabilization. And while I’m sure using a 600mm monster lens from another company would have resulted in pictures that were a bit better, I certainly can’t complain about the quality of the shots from this lens and camera combo.
I’m leaving out a lot of small details that are similar to what I wrote last week in Part 3, from the Lucas Oil Off Road Race. You can click back to that one if you’re curious.

So, what were my overall thoughts on using the a77 as a sports camera:

Focusing – I think there are several things I would change if this were to be a dedicated sports camera (which it’s not designed to be, please keep that in mind). I personally didn’t like the cross shape of the focus points. I’m accustomed to a diamond shape that allows for some point selection in the corners. But this is just related to how I like to shoot. Biggest annoyance was the seemingly slow adjustment of point selection. Also, the selected point “glows” grey. I want it to glow red. It was very difficult to see the grey selected point when looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD, especially on a bright day.

Continuous focus seemed to work really well as long as your subject was in the center of the frame. And when shooting slower moving sports the tracking focus worked well enough to be used, too. For motorsports though the subjects moved too fast or were too erratic. Again, the tracking/registered point option is likely best for people in groups (like the bride at a wedding) or with slower moving sports subjects that are high contrast against the background.

The lenses – I thoroughly enjoyed the lenses themselves. They were sharp, quiet enough to where I didn’t notice much of a difference compared to my gear and seemed to focus fast. While they turn and lock clockwise like Canon glass, they zoom opposite, like Nikon glass. This only threw me off a few times after years of muscle memory. haha!
Price-wise they’re not far off from the other major brands like Canon/Nikon for their respective focal lengths, as well.
The rear lens caps need to be redesigned somehow. There is only one way to screw them on when swapping lenses. So I feel time was wasted at several points when I was trying to do a quick change and fumbled while trying to line up the cap on the lens just-so. Picture it this way… if the face of the lens cap is a clock and there is notch at 3’oclock, you HAVE to line up the cap/lens exactly at 3’oclock or you can’t put the cap back on. Compared to a Canon cap which would lock at, say, 3 AND 9… you are more likely to re-cap quickly. Does that make sense?

The Digital Viewfinder – this was a big adjustment for me, Sony was right. I liked the internal leveler, and things like the option to show you in-the-viewfinder what the exposure will look like. But on overcast days like two of the race days I shot, when it was “bright out without being bright out” the digital viewfinder was hard to see and seemed dim looking at it compared to outside. Think of when you’ve taken a photo with your phone on a cloudy day… you know how it looks muted/dim on the screen but through your eyes it’s bright out? It’s exactly like that. (Yes, I know what 14% grey is, I’m not going super technical in explaining it here though). Do note that the viewfinder was also at the brightest setting, too.
The flip out LCD was handy – which I didn’t think I would like. But it was a nice feature to have when standing there, camera on monopod, reviewing shots.

Body Design – The design of the body was what I had the hardest time with. This has everything to do with muscle memory and personal preference. So take what I’m about to say with a very big grain of salt.
I had a hard time getting used to using the camera body. I’m not a fan of the “power button by the shutter” design. Nikon does this too… I’ve always thought it seemed silly. I always leave my cameras powered on and in sleep mode. This way they can be started quick and I never have try to shoot and think “oh, I didn’t turn it on”. But with the LCD’s of the Sony I felt the need to turn off the camera more often than I normally do. Startup seemed a tad slow for my taste, especially when I was turning off/on to conserve battery.
I didn’t like the sensor placement for auto-switching the LCD to the viewfinder, but I don’t know if that’s really a design change that is even possible.
I’ve already mentioned to Sony that there should also be an option for “no quick preview on screen” after capturing the photo. Also, I think there needs to be an option to set “preview for 2 seconds on LCD ‘ONLY’”. This way you get your quick preview looking at the back of the screen and then can go back to shooting. Currently if you use the “Preview for xx Seconds” feature it will show up in the viewfinder, too, blocking what you’re trying to shoot until it times out or until you tap the shutter button to return to shooting mode.
I’m not a fan of front adjustment wheels. This is also person preference. I find them too easy to hit/roll between shots and mess up your settings. But I understand this is something other shooters would say “well just don’t do that!”
Another design issue I had an unexpected problem with was the Video button. There is a large Video button on the back that if you hit at any time it will start recording. Great for videographers, bad for photographers. I knocked this many times and unknowingly started recording and didn’t realize it til I lifted the camera to my eye to shoot. I also did this a lot when I went to flip out the screen since the button is right above the corner of the screen most right-handed people would pull on to release the screen. Note: This CAN be turned off in the menu, I simply didn’t look long enough trying to figure out how to disable the button, however Sony clarified that it is an option.

Battery life – overall it seemed pretty great. I was just doing long days and only had one battery. However it also charged very quick.
Size of weight of the camera is nice and light, certainly a comfortable camera for all around shooting day to day.

So what was my overall impression of the camera? I enjoyed my time with it, but it’s not perfect for heavy sports shooters.
This is pretty much what I went in expecting, and from my understanding this is also what Sony was looking to learn more about by loaning me the gear to try out. There is no way that a sub-$2,000 camera will do what a $7,000 sports body will… This includes Canon and Nikon cameras in the $1-2,000 range.
Who would I recommend this for? Wedding Photographers, Portrait guys, Hobbyists, Weekend Warriors, and Amateurs alike. If you shoot “a lot of everything” and occasionally might do some sports work, it’d be a great system. There are some awesome lens options (let’s be honest, plenty of Nikon and Canon shooters pay top dollar for Zeiss glass for their cameras, too). The camera is light, feature rich with things you didn’t even know you’d need (like facial programming for your kids school performance, or that wedding you’re shooting).
I don’t think that it’s ready for the big sporting events – not for action photography just yet. But what’s cool to see is that Sony is working on it and doing the research they can to create a better system for everyone.

Click the break for photos from the US Open of Surfing

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The Thesing Wedding – Clearwater, FL

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So, last month I was at the Thesing wedding – pronounced “Tess-ing”…
Did you guys know that we’ve all pronounced Aaron’s last wrong for ten years and he never bothered correcting us?! I’m completely serious. Aaron NEVER corrected us… ten years… TEN years, guys. Joe and I couldn’t believe it.
Seriously. We – as in “all of us from lifeguarding” – have pronounced it THES-ing… apparently the “H” is silent. Ha! Joe and I, in shock (TEN!!!) asked Aaron why he never said anything. Aaron laughed and said “Well, how often do you guys really use my last name… and it’s not like you don’t know who I am. So it didn’t matter”.

Just wait til my wedding, guys. You’ll find out that you’ve pronounced my name wrong all these years, too!

So a little back story for those of you who don’t know much about me and my past. I lived and worked in Florida briefly during college. While working as a lifeguard and lifeguard trainer for the Disneyworld Water Parks I made some of my closest and best friends that I still keep in touch with and visit to this day. The choice of going to Florida during 2003 was easily one of the most significant impacts on my entire life.

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Above: Ryan, Me, and Aaron – somewhere on Disney property. I’m fairly sure it’s at Disney Quest. 

Anyway, because of that decision I have friends scattered all over the country. Most of them I still keep in touch with to this very day. And quite a few of them I’ve even done photography for.
But the coolest part, for me, is the amount of weddings of these great friends I’ve been able to attend. When Aaron proposed to Danielle and then invited me as part of a very small list of friends and family I knew I would have to figure out how to get out to Florida for what would be my second of three trips to Orlando in 2013. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself to just put the trip on my credit card and go have a great time with my friends out there. I’ve been to pretty much every wedding of all my Disney friends that have invited me (in Texas, Boston, Oregon, Calif., etc.).
I wasn’t about to miss Aaron’s.

While working as lifeguards in ’03 Aaron and I were carpool buddies for several months. It worked out well since Aaron had a car in Florida and I’m punctual and always wake up on time for work. So, I would knock on his door at 6:45 each morning, and he’d wake up grab his things, and we’d leave for work at 7:30 at Blizzard Beach. Haha! He’s also been a great host to me over the years when I would visit Florida on Spring Break or during various trips. I crashed with him at his place two or three times – including during my move to England for school when I stayed at his place for several days before leaving the US.

After seeing Danielle and Aaron in March when I was in town to photograph the American Le Mans season opener race I knew I had to solidify plans for the weekend of the wedding. Danielle gave me permission to bring Joe as my date since he’s another Disney friend of Aaron’s and I don’t have a girlfriend/wife to bring anyway, lol. The week that I went out to Orlando – and eventually Clearwater – for their wedding I spent most on my laptop working and doing email.
But regardless of how busy I was with email/calls on the weekdays leading up to the weekend, the actual ceremony and two days in Clearwater with Joe, Aaron, Danielle and their families was a blast.

I had permission from both Danielle and Aaron to take some photos during their wedding, too! Which to me, is great. I’m all for enjoying the ceremony, however photography is enjoyable for me. And, more importantly, I want my own photos of such an important event in my friends lives.

So I’ll stop rambling and reminiscing about Florida, Disney, and all my great memories with my friends there. Click past the break for over 150 photos from the Thesing wedding!

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Young Wedding – Half Moon Bay, CA

At Andrew and Calli’s wedding last weekend, everyone joked “It’s about time!”, and even I recall Andrew asking me nearly two years ago about shooting his wedding in the future.
Long time coming or not, the weekend turned out beautiful. And everyone that was there had a great time. Andrew’s nervousness slowly left him – but turned into strong emotion and happiness. Where as Calli became more and more nervous as the ceremony approached – giggling and laughing in nervous excitement at being a little scared that things may not go perfectly.

I had a wonderful time being part of such an important day for these two. I know Andrew through a car group that I’m a part of… or should I say was a part of when I was living in the Bay Area. Andrew, too, was once part of that group. He now lives in Texas with Calli, but they returned to California for their wedding.

It was supposed to rain that weekend. However, as you can see, it turned out to be clear and sunny. It was windy, sure, but still a gorgeous day.

The entire day was full of laughter and jokes. Andrew is a huge dork… I’ll just say it. Calli is also making jokes and constantly making faces in all her photos. So I knew going into this that it was going to be one really interesting weekend. And while the image above may be romantic, scenic, or whatever “nice” word you want to use… there are others below that are much more “real” and true to their personalities. haha!

I’ll keep this short as I’ll be adding captions to many of the shots to help tell the story of their wedding weekend.

Read on after the break…

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Rock on, Wingers! Well, a little, huh Sarah?

Rock on!
Haha! Sarah was told that she would have to love everything about Erik, including his love for KISS. She agreed.. a little.

Two weeks ago I was in St. Augustine, Florida to shoot the wedding of Sarah Fisher and Erik Winger. Sarah is actually an old friend that I’ve known a number of years. We met through mutual friends. I used to train lifeguards for the Disneyworld Water Parks in Florida, and she’s a performer for Disneyworld and Universal Studios. We’ve kept in touch over the years despite being across the country and she’s followed my work, too.

So, about a year ago when Erik proposed, Sarah contacted me to figure out what it was going to take to get me out to Florida to shoot for her.  This was a big deal for me too. It means so much to me when someone wants to fly me across the country to shoot – and I’ve been booked out of state quite a bit this year. Also, Sarah has been one of the first to comment on every wedding that I’ve shot and added to my Facebook page and point out that “you’re shooting my wedding in a few months!”

I arrived in Orlando a bit early and then traveled with Erik and Sarah to St. Augustine where the wedding would be. I know that Sarah mentioned she was concerned that Erik and I wouldn’t have a lot of time to get to know each other before the wedding the day. I personally feel it’s important that I have a chance to meet the bride and groom before the wedding day if possible so they can get to know me and I can get to know them. Erik and I ended up getting along great – to the point where our joking around and sarcasm was bugging Sarah. I’m pretty sure there was a moment or two she had to say “Hey you’re MY friend” when I was siding with Erik on something, haha. Love you both!

The entire weekend spent with them was great. Their ceremony was beautiful. And there was just so much love and adoration between the two of them that I was able to watch. Honestly, it was wonderful to see Sarah so incredibly happy after all the frustration that came with putting the wedding together.

As usual, I’ll caption a number of the shots below and save you guys from reading too much text here.

And yes, my signature shot I do with most of my clients in some form. We weren’t too sure about beach access for images, but I’ll touch on that a bit later.

Please, read on after the break! I have over 100 images to share with everyone. Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below, or contact me directly via email.

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Summer is back this November with Liz!

Do I have your attention?

This past Friday I went out to Huntington Beach with Liz to do some volleyball/beach shots that she wanted to shoot. I joked with my friends online that “I guessss I could tolerate a third beach day in a row and photograph a girl in a bikini…” Haha!
November and December tend to slow down for me work-wise. And, with California’s heat wave and 90-100 degree temperatures this week, I’ve been at the beach a lot relaxing.

But seriously, would anyone complain going to the beach on a Friday in November? No.

Liz, among other things, does promo modeling for companies, shows, conventions, etc. “Hi, you’re tall and gorgeous, can we pay you to come sell our products to people and all these big events?”… must be tough sometimes, don’t you think?
Anyway, Liz had a number of shots that she liked and wanted to try. So, we went through a lot of different ideas – all of them around the volleyball theme, though. So as I edited everything, I toned all of them very differently. One style of editing didn’t fit every style photo I shot that afternoon.

More photos after the break
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Roxy & Tom’s Beautiful Beach Wedding

Tom and Roxanne’s Monterey beach wedding was nothing short of beautiful – and amazingly, we almost didn’t have it on the sand. Can you believe that?!
I’ll get to that story in a few moments, but first, let me introduce you to the Schaffer’s. I met Tom and Roxanne through one of my oldest and dearest friends, Phil. Roxy is his younger sister. And, when her and Tom got engaged Phil told her that he would take care of photography and his wedding gift to her. So I was the gift, how cool is that?!
Apparently Roxanne had been a fan of my work for quite some time and would watch my website and check out new images that I would post up and things that I’ve shot. So, to hear how thrilled a bride was when hearing that I’d be shooting her wedding meant a lot.
The Schaffer wedding was in Monterey, California. I was actually just down the street from where I shot the King wedding a month or so beforehand. I wrapped a trip to the Bay Area around Tom and Roxy’s wedding, and then shortly after flew to New Jersey for another wedding – but that’ll be a different blog update.

Now when I say the beach wedding almost didn’t happen, here’s what I mean. About three hours before the ceremony the coordinator for the hotel came into the room to talk to Roxanne. The hotel explained that “there wasn’t enough beach” because the tide hadn’t gone down yet. They also pointed out that it was foggy.
This bothered me for two reasons: First, don’t freak out a bride THREE HOURS before the wedding ceremony with something you can’t be sure of. That’s just stupid, and it’s too far away to tell for sure. Second: Did I mention it was THREE HOURS til the ceremony? It’s 1pm in Monterey. The ceremony isn’t until 4:30pm. Don’t try and say there “isn’t enough beach” or “it’s too foggy” for a beach wedding – this client booked your venue BECAUSE she wants a beach wedding.
Imagine my frustration when I see a bride walk back into the room with a huge look of disappointment on her face. This venue just convinced her not to have her beach ceremony. My opinion? They didn’t want to move everything off the patio and down to the sand – they had a morning patio-wedding and everything was already set up.
Long story shorter… I talked to Roxanne for a bit, and finally asked “Do you want a beach wedding?” Silence. Of course she did. “Call (the hotel people) back. I’ll talk to them.” So, me and a bridesmaid or two when and spoke to the hotel, explained that we were doing it on the beach, and that they need to set up what they can because the bride wants a beach wedding.

I share this story with you guys for a few reasons. First, working in this business you start to see things occasionally that shouldn’t happen – like a venue changing plans last minute that seriously affect what the bride wants. Second, because whether you as a photographer, a guest, a relative, or any vendor sees something like this, then you may need to be that “jerk” that tells them they can’t do that. And most important, is that it’s the bride’s day. I personally believe it’s safe to say that a bride who wants a beach wedding will be happier having that wedding on the sand with her feet in the water if she has too more than moving it to a patio hours before the ceremony happens. What a bride wants (within reason), she gets… most of the time, it’s not nearly as hard as people think.

I know that story was a bit long, but, I wanted to share.
Keep that story in mind as you look at the photos and see what a gorgeous afternoon it turned out to be by the time the ceremony happened.
And, as usual, I’ll be leaving quite a few comments and captions with the photos below.

Enjoy!

First though… Let’s meet the whole family :)
Tom and Roxane, then Reese, Taylor, Katie, Jordan, and Mateo.

Many more photos after the break.

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Crazy Mike and Lyla Dee

Happy New Year to everyone!
Today I want to share more images from my photoshoot with Crazy Mike of WePlayCrazy.com and Lyla Dee, a singer and model here in LA.

When collaborating with Crazy Mike on ideas for this shoot we discussed a few different concepts. I hadn’t spoke with Lyla prior to shooting, so Mike and I just went in knowing that it would work and we’d rock the shoot regardless of a few hurdles.

Now when it came to start, things definitely got hotter.
This entire shoot had a very gritty, rough, edgy and sexy feel. I really wanted this come through in the images with use of very moody and (at times) very harsh light. Both Mike and Lyla were incredible models to work with and I look forward to shooting with either of them again in the future.

For now, I’ll let you guys enjoy the images and see what you think.
Most of these images will be in my portfolio later today, also.

I have a busy rest of January ahead of me. I’m leaving in a week for Michigan, and then to the Bay Area for weddings. Check back soon as I’ll probably squeeze in another model shoot, too.

Lyla has been one of my favorite models I’ve worked with so far. Her amazing attitude and stunning look made for incredible photos. This is probably one of my favorite beach photos in the last six months.

I’m really looking forward to putting together more shoots with Crazy Mike this year.

Upcoming Video, by DaBooth.com

Check out this quick preview of an upcoming video by DJ Drizzle, of DaBooth.com of my shoot with Crazy Mike from WePlayCrazy.com
Me and Crazy Mike rocked two different shoots recently in Venice Beach and Long Beach. This video shows clips from the Long Beach shoot. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product and hoping that it may have a bit of the night shooting from the Venice shoot.

This also reminds me that I’ve been wanting to start making clips like this of other shoots I do. Maybe I’ll start bringing an assistant to tag along and at least get a few shots with a Flip cam or something. Then again, when am I going to find time to edit video? Haha!

Hope everyone’s holiday is going great!
I’m still in Bay Area, but I will be headed home to Socal in a few more days.

I will have a year-end update later this week, I think.