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little baby erik

| currently listening to: Big Poppa, Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die, 1994 | LINK

the photography:
i am pretty jealous of my friend Bones. he spent the weekend rolling around the mountains of stratton, vermont, taking pictures of the 27th Annual U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships. that bum… i think i am more jealous because he is spending the winter back in our home state of vermont. it’s amazingly gorgeous. and during this long mid-west winter, i have missed the green mountains more than i thought i ever would. it just so happens that it’s also a fantastic place to spend the days taking photographs. sigh.

but i digress… cath and i spent a wonderful day with our friends who just welcomed (six months ago) a baby boy. we decided that six months is the perfect age for which to celebrate your first photo shoot. erik kept asking for craft services and his mom kept calling someone in wardrobe on her cell phone and yelling at them to bring more bibs. it was, in one word, spectacular. brats and drinks followed. what a great sunday night. soon we’ll be grilling on the back porch watching the el go by.

the music:
there is nothing better than a six month old baby dancing to a (gulp) 15 year old club hit in an adidas jump suit. it was awesome. this song still holds some serious weight when it comes to the end of the gangster rapper as viable creative artist. these days it’s about nothing. back then, it was still about something.

one block radius

| currently listening to: Stars, Hum, You’d Prefer An Astronaut, 1995 | LINK

the photography:
during my down time during the week i sometimes sneak away and walk around the block. alleyways and the people that inhabit them are a couple of my favorite subjects. i have walked up and down this one alley a couple of dozen times and every time i see something new that i had missed from the walk before. three dozen dumpsters line this alleyway and more than four major office buildings, a dozen restaurants, and one very large parking garage supply it’s ever growing trash piles. when you have as much garbage truck traffic as this alley has seen, you are bound to look different every day of the year. it never ceases to amaze me.

the music:
from the small metropolis of champaign illinois, the foursome known as Hum have made a large impact on the sound of a generation of rock and rollers whether they know it or not. large chords, blistering amplifiers, and sci-fi nerds meets graphic novel lyrics stuck in space made this band a “must have” in any collection of 1990’s alternative rock. you may know this song from the newest cadillac CTS car commercial with kate walsh. this is the song that comes crashing in when she’s done talking about the car “turning her on”. sweet.

macro via extension tubes

| currently listening to: Silly Girl, The Descendents, I Don’t Want To Grow Up, 1985 | LINK

the photography:
“I’ve also noticed that you tend to favor the landscape/horizontal format, twist that bad girl 90 degrees every once in a while . . .” my friend bones wrote this in a note to me not too long ago. he’s right. i spend so much time photographing cars (a very horizontal shape indeed) that i almost never shoot vertically these days. anyways, i just wanted to add a couple of photos to the blog that were (at the very least) north south and not so much east west. these photos were taken with a tube extension attached between my 24-70mm lens and the body of my camera. the subject is a old voltage/ampage/place-name-here-age meter that i transformed into a lamp.

the extension tube is an interesting and inexpensive piece of equipment that allows for the exact same focal length (even though it extends the lens from the body by about 1/3-1/2 of an inch) but decreases the focal distance. it’s a pretty sweet way to shoot macro photography. the only drawback? you need to be pretty close to the subject to use it. really close.
the music: “we are the proud, the few, the descendents rocking you home tonight”. great music for a slow morning of editing auto photos. just add coffee, turn volume to 11, repeat as needed.

city themes

| currently listening to: Run It, The Replacements, Hootenanny, 1983 | LINK

the photography:
i spent this weekend (much like last weekend) eating my way from one dinner party to the next brunch, to the next restaurant, etc. i am going to live on lettuce and water chestnuts for the next year. too much bread, butter, and ribs were ingested this weekend and i need to get out and about. but it sure was fun. i did get s snippet of time where i wasn’t eating my day away on saturday afternoon so i hopped the damen bus down to wicker park for some bookstore shopping and leisurely strolls with one of my friends. divine. and boy did i need the exercise.

getting out and and about for me means cruising the city streets with my friends and family. i could ride a city bus or hop on a train at any given moment and get myself lost for hours. it’s something i enjoy doing and inevitably, i find something to aim my camera at.
the music: this song precedes one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever (color me impressed) and in the great “rock and roll album centric music listening experience”, this song gets you ready for it. i miss the days when albums were meant to be listened to in song order or (gasp) to be listened to in order by the sides of the record.

portraits in four; part three

| currently listening to: Fitz & Dizzyspells, Andrew Bird, Noble Beast, 2008 | LINK

this is part three of a three part series.

i have found that the best way for me to practice my photography is to experiment as much as possible. this means getting friends and family involved. after a comfy dinner party on a warm late summer night, we took over a back yard and set up some strobes and umbrellas. the photos that were produced from the first have of the shoot were pretty straight forward and rather plain. as my models were getting bored i decided that i would heed the advice of one of my mentors.

“when a subject starts to become mundane or boring, leave your lights where they are and move yourself to a side of the subject that you haven’t been photographing. hopefully when you’re there, you’ll find an angle or a view that will be exciting enough to keep the shoot going and will keep you (as the photographer) interested. once you loose your interest, your models will as well.”

so i walked around the other side of my models and discovered an entirely different perspective. suddenly the backyard, which was earlier being lit up by the strobes, disappeared to black and the hard lines of backlighting began to shape the photos. as the models turned their backs to the flashing lights, umbrellas, and soft boxes, their demeanor lightened and they relaxed. everyone had a blast and the photos that resulted from a change in perspective were the ones that i love the most. it’s all about putting the subjects into the right perspective.

to give you an idea of where the lights were set up, here is a wider shot.

the music: i am a huge fan of local chicago musician andrew bird but i feel like his new record is a little too “out there” for pop audiences to grasp. his last record was filled with uplifting pop gems that were disguised as intricate indie chamber pop. the record brought bird to edge of a national breakthrough. in contrast, the new record is so very esoteric in it’s music and in it’s lyrics. this makes it hard to understand at times as musical genre experimentation, lengthy words, and (for lack of a better word) noodling leave the listener wanting a standard song structure and for andrew to put the thesaurus down. cluttered is what i would call it. i like it. in fact i like it a lot. but i don’t think a lot of the record buying public will. Fitz & Dizzyspells is probably the best traditional single from the record. it’s really good. there’s a video for it, found here.

portraits in four; part two

| currently listening to: C-Lo, Proof, s/t, 2004 | LINK

this is part two of a three part series.

photographing other photographers can be a lot harder than you’d expect. many photographers know the small intricacies involved with handling/working with models but once the tables are turned, things can go awry quite quickly. my friend jay falls into the category of “one of those photographers who has no problem getting his picture taken”. in fact, sometimes i feel that jay might actually enjoy being in front of the camera. either way, these photos are great examples of backlit bright sun light versus the shade. Both light sources are the exact same (color temperature, angle, intensity, etc.) sun and these portraits were taken within a 10 minute period of each other on a cold afternoon of shopping in chicago while jay was visiting from north carolina. as you can see, the colors are much more vivid and the yellows jump off the screen with the backlit photos while the shade of the alleyway provides a blue/grey hue. these are four examples of training yourself to bring your camera everywhere and to shoot photos all the time because you never know when you’ll get some good looking shots or when you’ll walk into some unique lighting. thanks to jay on this one. his glasses were fantastic that day.

the music should be noted as a great band that should be taking the country by storm. this song is about one night that jay and the song’s writer spent with the late great chicago band, sweep the leg johnny. a tip of the cap to all those involved.