Friday, December 1, 2017

angel city vs emerald city junior jammers at the Big O 2017: compelling frame: lesson 1: frame 6.

Back to derby.


7 May 2017. Lane Community Event Center. Eugene, OR.  Emerald City (black) vs Angel City (white) juniors.

f3.4. 1/180th.  ISO 800. Leica M-240 with a 60mm Konica Minolta Hexanon-- cropped-- shot from center track, turn 1-2 with a little on-camera flash and off-camera flash to the left.

The questions:

  1. As with most derby-action phtoos, the intent is to show some sort of sportsy intense roller derby action moment-- this jammer shot has two jammers -- one chasing -- being chased by the other.
  2. I always find it easier to shoot horizontal and while gently cropped -- I did keep the same 3x2 aspect ratio.  these sorts of shots-- I almost always leave a bit of room in the frame for the skaters to skate into.
  3. lines & shapes:  There's the line of the track boundary -- the line of the sport court and the repeated shape of the 2 jammers-- the dominant "line" is the line if you could connect the head of the white jammer to the tail of the black jammer-- that's what commands the eye's attention.
  4. the light-- is a mix of ambient and the strobe-- the background is blurred by the two light sources as well as the faster hands and feet of the near skater.  The off-camera flash to the left make the leading face/shoulders/face mask glow-- which is really quite nice.
  5. I'm shooting from center track standing up-- so I'm a little higher than the skaters-- I imagine it might be a stronger image if I was crouching a bit-- but it's hard to do that shooting center track-- I have to keep 1/2 an eye on the inside referees after all.
  6. The moment is two jammers chasing. I wonder if the moment was a bit latter-- the black jammer about 2 heads closer to the white jammer with her dark helmet framed by the other jammer's white jersey-- would that image be stronger-- a bit more dramatic if the two jammers were closer together?  yes-- but it's sports photography-- you get the moment that you get-- the moment that is presented to you.
  7.  I do like the repeated elements of the two jammers in very similar poses- one black-- one white.
  8. The background elements are not so important to the image.  I think the image would work better if the background was of an out-of-focus audience instead of vendor tables.
  9. It's a color photograph-- it's red and black and white.  Nothing too clashy -- or noteworthy-- but the red stars work nicely-- the common element of the two jammers.
  10. I think the image is balanced.
also the printed glossy version does look nice.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

the moss island of the icelandic highlands: compelling frame: lesson 1 frame 5.


18 August 2017. The highlands of Iceland.  Leica Q. f4 1/400 ISO 100.

Yet another quirky out-of-focus landscape.

Let's go. This is some sort of moss-like plant in the highlands of Iceland during summer.

  1. My intent.  Is to make a "landscape" of something that is small.
  2. It's a landscape -- so landscape orientation and 3x2 because that's what the camera does and I typically don't crop landscapes-- not even lightly
  3. Lines and shapes-- we have a bright green out of focus horizon and an out of focus mountain range in the background and a diagonal reflection in the water.  Many of these lines frame the mostly in focus moss island on the left.
  4. The light is bright, uniform non-directional light.  If the light had harsh shadows would the photo be different?  Maybe, but what makes the photo/light magical are the soft focus reflections.
  5. Again, the camera-- if not my eye-- is low to the ground to see a landscape half an inch above the water.  We got the moss island in-focus to the left in a "rule of thirds" sort of thing going on.  A different perspective might look like a drone shot.  F208_L2100490
  6. The moment is just the time of day with the light.
  7. It's mostly shapes--there's the island shape, the diagonal mountain, the reflection lines, the mostly bright green horizontal line.  The lines guide the eye to and from the island
  8. I suppose you can always say that some elements are more important than others, but I don't think there are any weak elements-- imagine any element not being there-- would the frame be stronger?  do we need the sky? Yes the sky adds to the image.
  9. The colors are mostly green and grey and a little bit of blue-- more of a "bicolor" than a color photograph.
  10. I'm not sure what this question means.  I think the image is balanced even if it isn't symmetrical.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

minas tirith: compelling frame: lesson 1 frame 4

minas tirith
minas tirith  17 April 2016. with the Leica Q. UCSC Arboretum.

 One of my photographic obsessions is with the quirky out-of-focus landscape.  It was inspired by some work I saw years ago on flickr where at first glance it wasn't obvious what the distance scale was.  Can a "landscape in miniature" be as epic and grand as a more traditional landscape?  Or is it merely a sly joke pretending to be grand? Can it be a little bit of both?  

I named the photograph "minas tirith" after the fictional city of the Lord of the Rings.  In Peter Jackson's movie, Lord Denethor (the mayor of Minas Tirith and Steward of Gondor) jumps off a cliff to his death.  Is this little lizard also precariously on the edge of a cliff? Or is he just sunning himself on a eucalyptus stump as a photographer sticks a camera in his face?

Let's get to the questions.
  1. My intent.  Oh, look! a cute lizard thing on the edge of a precipice/stump (see above).
  2. Horizontal because it's a landscape.  3x2 aspect ratio is the same.  I tried to frame it in such a way to have lots of gloriously out of focus background.
  3. the most well defined lines are on the edge of the stump and the radial lines cross/cutting underneath the lizard.  The most dominant shape is the semicircular stump, half in focus, half out of focus.  The radial lines may guide the eye toward/away from the gecko.  And the lines of the in-focus branches also point toward the gecko.
  4.  There's the bright light of/on the stump and the more subdued out of focus background light.  I was definitely attracted to the light--- this image is just a few feet and on the same day away as the prickly rasp ferns. 
  5. I had to hold the camera lower and out and frame using the little TV screen on the back of the camera.  To be nearly level with the gecko is a better perspective than being above the gecko.  Having the gecko nearly center frame is best as the little guy is such a small element in the entire frame, I think.
  6. the moment is of a gecko sunning himself on a stump, while being slightly perturbed that there's a camera in his face-- he's looking towards the camera.  I think the composition is slightly stronger with the creature looking toward me.
  7. It's certainly a contrasty image which I pumped up the contrast.  The in and out of focus radial lines of the stump are an interesting pattern.
  8. It's possible that some of the gratuitous out of focus background subtracts from the image.  Does there have to be so much of that?  But I really like that, I think the image would be weaker if there wasn't the in focus branches pointing back towards the gecko. 
  9. The colors are relatively subdued--- just green and brown. I don't think the green distracts from the main focus of the photo.
  10. I think the image is balanced. The edges of the stump-- lower left, right, upper left have a rule of thirds (or fifths) thing going for it.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

the most cleanest derby background ever: Compelling frame. lesson 1. frame 3.


22 June 2013. Memorial Auditorium. Sacramento, CA.
Sacred City vs Viva Roller Derby.
M9 Monochrome + 90 summicron.

so, yeah, it's another shot from the inside track of a jammer -- maybe not the most intensist derby action ever.  The judges in the old Roller Derby Photo Contest would go on about CLEAN backgrounds. 

And derby photographers would respond (perhaps only in their own heads) how is that even possible?  There's the whiteboard center track and SEVEN referees on skates, never mind the NSOs.

This is Skirt Vonnegut, after she skated for Silicon Valley and before she skated for Santa Cruz.  She skated for Sacred City.

  1.   intent.  It is what it is. A lead jammer in that in between moments after she's broken through the pack and before she encounters the pack again.
  2. yes, horizontal.  I believe the image is lightly cropped. I could have chosen to crop out the out of focus ref's hand indicating lead jammer, but the out of focus hand tells a story.
  3. As I said before, this is a derby bout photo with the cleanest background.  I love how the line of the outside track boundary and the boundary between the track and the black are slightly out of focus.  This may not answer the question as asked but it is the answer I have.
  4. I may have used on-camera flash for this --- but I may not have as this turn was lit a bit more than elsewhere on the rack.  Her face is lit, the track is lit--- the background is jet black.  It's the perfect light for this photo.
  5. I'm at turn 3-4 center track. I'm standing which makes me slightly above the subject.
  6. Jammer is skating from righto left with some room within the frame to skate into.
  7. This is really just a "full body" derby portrait of a jammer through turn three --- no repeated elements.  
  8. You could make the case for cropping out the out of focus referee's hand.  I didn't crop that out.
  9. black and white with a black and white camera.  Imagine the colors --- dark scarlet of Sacred City's uniforms.
  10. I believe the image is balanced with the jammer just right of center frame with room within the frame to skate into.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

She is Danymite: Compelling Frame: lesson 1 frame 2.


She is Danymite.  18 March 2017. 16th Street Station. Oakland, CA.  Oakland Outlaws vs the San Francisco ShEvil Dead.  Taken with a Leica M-246 Monochrome and a 90mm APO Summicron.

I took this photo this spring.  It's at the 16th Street Station outdoors on a concrete patio roller derby.  

Here's the story of this photo.  I'm taking photos-- I have the pack in the frame and I notice a movement in the upper right part of the frame and I click instinctively and I click several times in the aftermath -- Danymite didn't land the jump cleanly -- after a bit  a photographer next to me asked, "Did you get that?!"  "let me check" I click through backwards in time through the frames to this photo and I yelled, "Aaaaahhh! I think I got it."

  1. My intent -- to show a moment of peak action in roller derby.
  2. Landscape mode captures roller derby action a bit easier with a rangefinder.  I did crop the photo (quite a bit).  I did keep the aspect ratio the same -- although now I think I could crop the right a little bit tighter.
  3.  The lines in the background mostly give a a context to the action in the foreground.
  4. Overall the original "out of the camera" image was over-exposed -- which create a soft high key light in the sky and some of the other whites blend in to the sky.  It was fairly...
  5. I'm sitting on the ground at turn two.  So I'm a little bit below the scene so I tend to get the horizon about waist level to the skaters when shooting derby.  Also turn two is a good place to get apex jumps by jammers.
  6. I've captured the jammer jumping past the pack and a blocker trying (mostly in vain) to stop her.   this particular moment is of peak action.
  7.  The pack is all in focus -- all in the same plane -- with the audience enough out of focus in the background to focus the attention on the action.  There's lots of audience which gives the impression of a well attended fun interesting sporting event, which adds to the photo. The lights and telephone pole in the background may be distracting but generally I am at ease with visual complexity.  That last bit -- I sometimes believe simpler images -- simpler designs are more compelling... and yet... I'm at ease with visual complexity.  I'm not sure if that's a defect or a feature.
  8. That's the thing with sport photography.  It's "shoot tight and crop tighter" and don't have so much distracting shit in the background.  In this case, the audience -- out of focus -- tells the story -- the lights -- not so much -- but sometimes you can't eliminate distracting elements in the photograph.
  9. This is a black and white photograph -- high key and high contrast (is that possible?)
  10. I think the images is balanced.  The skaters are all there -- it may take a little while for the eye to see Danymite -- the jammer jumping.
 my handwriting

Monday, October 16, 2017

I went to Iceland August 2017

In August 2017, I went on a photo adventure to Iceland sponsored by Leica  Miami.  I was able to borrow a Leica SL and a 24-90 zoom lens for the adventure (as well as an Leica M-lens adapter for the SL).  I took my own M-246, M-240 and my "Panasonic" and various M-lenses as well.

day 1

I took a flight from San Francisco to Keflavik via WOW airlines.  Took the FlyBus to KEF Lights Hotel.  This was the only hotel I stayed in Iceland to feature in-room hot water for tea.  So yes, take your fancier than average tea bags to Iceland with you.  And maybe some Run Gum, if you're really desperate to maintain your caffeine addiction.  You don't really need to take the fancy loose leaf tea if you need to try to make weight (20 kg = 44 pounds for check-in luggage on WOW airlines).  Check in, brew some tea, call AT&T to see what's up with your access to local cellular networks and a shower.

Now we live on a common planet. We have clouds everywhere.  Take a fancy phone photo of the glorious Reykjavik cloud porn outside your hotel window.

ohmagawd! the glorious cloud porn!

KEA lights cloud porn

The electricity in Iceland isn't like the electricity in North America or Hong Kong. It's "European."  Which means you ought buy one of these converters and then plug in your North American power strips into the converter to charge your camera batteries, cell phone, and lap-top.

day 2


Geysir is the original geyser, the geyser that all geysers are named after. They have more than one geyser there.  I didn't get a really good photo of any of them.


My best photos at Geysir were of the quirky soft focus landscape kind of the hot runoff from the geysir.



Gullfoss is a really really big waterfall.




This is on the way to the Kerlingarfjoll hotel. 

Kerlingarfjoll Hotel and camp ground

At the end of day 2, we arrive at Kerlingarfjoll.

There is a hotel and these quaint little triangular cabins,



a nice restaurant,


and a campground.



They don't have WiFi there, so don't even ask if they have WiFi there.  They don't. They don't have WiFi.

This is how you get from Reykjavik to Kerlingarfjoll.


day 3

Up early in the morning to get to the Kerlingarfjoll Mountains for sunrise.  This was probably the coldest day while I was there.  About 40 degrees Fahrenheit, maybe 20 mile-an-hour winds on the ridge, and a bit of sprinkles, which you can see evidence of from this sign describing the troll-women who live there.

The story of the troll woman


"Folk tales depict the Kerlingarfjoll Mountains as a refuge for outlaws and trolls.  The world "kerling" means an 'old hag.'  This the name of the 30 meter high stone pillar in the west part of the mountain range.  Legend has it that this old hag was a troll woman and possibly the daughter of the fire giant Surtur from the Norse mythology. One day she did not make it home before sunrise, and was therefore turned to stone."

None of our photo-adventuring party turned into stone upon sunrise.  We are not trolls.

It was a little cloudy and hazy that morning, but some of the haze is from geothermal steam.



This is map of the mountains.  A few of us noted that many of the tourist maps in Iceland do not have "you are here" marked on them.  Which does seem a bit odd.  Is there something about Iceland that is immune to the "you are here" theorem.  Or perhaps Icelandic mapmakers are unaware of the Bernach fixed point theorem.




Later in the day on our way to the Highland Center Hrauneyjar, we came across Gygjarfoss.








On the way to Hajlparfoss, there was the most glorious shooting straight-into-the-sun cloud porn, but we didn't quite make it in time to the parking lot before it partially dissipated.

It ended up being super sunny and contrasty there.


They got basalt in Iceland,


and some sort of power station in the distance.



Next foss is Haifoss.



I think it's called Haifoss because is really hai.  I didn't dare get close enough to the edge to look for the bottom of the foss.



Somewhere between the Haifoss parking lot and Highland Center Hrauneyjar, I lost track of baby goat.

here's the story about baby goat.

I sneaked him onto the airplane.  I got him past immigration and customs undetected.  I bring him out for a photo shoot at Haifoss.  He loves it! Look at the joy on his face.  He loves Iceland so much he decides to just run off without telling me or saying goodbye.

baby goat says hai from haifoss

If you're in Iceland, and you see my baby goat, tell him I miss him and wish him all the luck.


And yeah, Haifoss is on one of those roads that "requires" a "4x4" to get to. On a nice day, during summer, when we arrived, I can imagine that I would be able to drive my 4-door Honda Civic there without too much trouble.

When we reach the Highland Center Hrauneyjar,


I see a notice about Hekla.  Not Hekla the black kitten on Keeping up with the Kattarshians, but Hekla the volcano.


Hekla (the volcano) did not misbehave while we were in Iceland.

day 4

Sigoldugljufer Canyon

At least that's what I think it's called.  There's this canyon we went to shoot sunrise and sunset, and the GPS result on the SL suggests that it's called Sigoldugljufer.

The light was a little difficult at sunrise


and at some point I just left the SL on it's tripod


and found the light somewhere else with the Q.


Sunset at the canyon though was really quite nice tho



Brahlyur, Frostastaðavatn, and Mad Max F208 road.

We stopped along the way to Landmannalaugar.  First stop was this crater lake which the GPS data on the SL raw files suggests it is called Brahlyur.






Also, there was the most glorious cloud porn,


At one point I became fascinated by this one chopped off rugged mountain in the distance



And there we a few of us that imagined the vehicles using the road between us and the mountains and the cloud porn to be in some sort of action movie.


Like maybe something out of Mad Max?

Or that classic MTV music video by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers of my youth (except that Tom is driving on asphalt roads with lanes marked on them).

Next stop,  Frostastaðavatn, according to the GPS



I got some photos of strong diagonals while in Iceland.  You might ask, "what makes it strong?"  I answer, "It's mostly a strong diagonal because there is a diagonal."



The Mercedes Monster Truck.

Perhaps it's time to say a little something about how you go about traveling on roads that look like this in Iceland (a little bit before or a little bit after this photo was taken, a grader and a roller went by to maintain the gravel road).


Our local guide was Brynjar Agústsson.  He's an accomplished photographer. He knows all the locations and light and everything.  And he drives a Mercedes Monster Truck.


traveling Iceland in style: The Mercedes Monster Truck

That's how you get around Iceland in style.


Finally we reach Landmannalaugar to do a little hiking through the lava fields before getting back to the canyon for sunset.


Base camp.




More hot geothermal run off


And a quirky out of focus landscape shot with the SL and an m-mount 60mm-Hexanon.


This is how you get from there to there on day 4.


day 5

On our way back to Landmannalaugar, but before we get far we need to let the tire pressure out for the bumpy roads near a power station. This is how "European" electricity is transported.



walking through the lava fields at Landmannalaugar


Geothermal steam.

For me, this photo has a sort of Werner Herzog Nosferatu//Fitzcarraldo feel to it. But this is Iceland, not Transylvania/Amazon.  So, there might be a troll behind that steamy ridge.


How to get there from here.  All the right angles.

every which way

Two hikers.




Icelandic cotton

icelandic cotton

Icelandic horses.



Landmannalaugar at sunset

I imagine that the two figures in the lower center of the frame are having a semi-slapstick sort of argument of where to go after reaching base camp (lamb stew and coffee? or just straight to the hot springs?).


maybe like a couple of droids I know.





day 6

F208 to Hali Country Hotel

Today we make our way out of the highlands and to the south coast of Iceland.

We crossed this small lake in the monster truck, in this photo it looks like it's about a quarter mile across, but maybe is was only a eighth mile?


and we found some sheep and some moss.



As we got closer to the coast, things got a little less barren and a lot greener.


It's possible that this is a practicable application of the Bernach fixed-point theorem (you are here!).


This is where we crossed a creek with a bridge with a weight limit on it.... our monster truck was just slim enough to cross?  In any case, we made it across.


How to get from Highland Center Hrauneyjar to Farewell Hali Country Hotel.



After checking in we made it out to Jökulsárlón, or Ice Lagoon for sunset.





At one point, I hoped to find Superman's Fortress of Solitude here.  Perhaps someday I'll make it back to find it.


Aurora Borealis

Later, that night we made it back to the Ice Lagoon to shoot the aurora.  I shot it with a 24-lux on the M-240.  In retrospect it may have been better to shoot it with the 24-lux on the SL with an M-mount adapter to get the better high ISO performance and a bit better sensor in general.  Also, I should have exposed for 6-8 seconds instead of the 2-4 seconds that I did.  Perhaps next time, when/if there's a next time.  I got a couple of decent shots.



day 7

Exploring all lagoons on the south coast.


This is the single lane bridge across the river flowing from Ice Lagoon to Ice Beach.







Batman Lagoon

This is a rainbow on the way to the Batman Lagoon.


I believe this place is called Batman Lagoon, because part of one of the Batman movies was filmed there.





Driving Highway 1 along the south coast.

Even Monster Trucks gotta gas up.  I take a photo of the gas pump (because that's the sort of thing I take photos of).


I get back onto the Monster Truck to watch the most extraordinary scene take place in the parking lot.  Am I watching the outtakes of an Ulfur Ulfur video?

There's a huge German Shepard dog behind the wheel of a brown bus that is labeled "BANGBUS" on the front of it.

It seemed like a scene from an Ulfur Ulfur video.  A German Shepard driving the brown bus pop-started the blue bus driven by the prettiest girl.

ulfur ulfur #1

ulfur ulfur #2

ulfur ulfur #3

day 8

Up early in the morning


to get to the Ice Beach for sunrise.


The broken off bits of ice wash up on the black sand beach



and slowly melt in the sea water.





I want that hat






a few photos at Fjallsárlón before heading up the coast to Stoksness.




Hoffell Glacier.







Stokksness at sunset

the strongest diagonal.






day  9

Farewell Hali Country Hotel




running up the south coast back to Reykjavik.

Ice Lagoon to Ice Beach


Bryinar's drone










and puffins




drone running

shooting a foss with an "iPhone"


the home stretch.

day 10

How to towel in Icelandic hotels


and at the airport waiting for the WOW flight back home.


What is missing from this account of an adventure in Iceland:
  • how to book a hotel
  • how to rent a car
    • what insurance to get for your rented car.
    • do I need a 4x4 or will a 2x4 do?
  • how to drive on roads
  • how to buy gas at a gas station.
Because I didn't do any of those things.

I did buy some dried fruit a couple of times with my credit card. You stick your credit card into the little machine with the chip in the machine.  Then everything comes up in Icelandic on the machine, and you have a choice between a red button on the lower left, and a green button on the lower right.  Press the green button.

A collection of all the Iceland photos may be found here.

Highlights are found here.

All the touristy fancy phone photos here.