January 03, 2013
Nope, not an Oscar preview post… I am referring to a photo I took this past Christmas at Casa De Carmichael (Actual) back in Jacksonville. I took a number of images varying in subjects from birds (a Great White Heron and a Wood Stork) to a pair of 8 week old Schnoodle (1/2 Schnauzer and 1/2 Poodle) puppies my Mom and Dad received for Christmas, to a shot of Jacksonville Beach highlighted in a waxing near full moon’s glow. All fun shots to take… but one I am most proud of is this one of Mom!
I have posted on these pages before how frustrated I have been in my efforts to photograph Mom. First off as a photographer I always want to catch a person in their most flattering light (meaning capturing their personality). Mom, as most of you know is a wonderful, fun, bright thoughtful and warm woman full of Southern Charm. And it’s not as if she’s not photogenic, she is! I’ve always wanted to capture that. But Mom always seems to have other intentions. She constantly challenges me in my efforts to capture a “Good” image. Yes, this is on purpose. I think its payback for all the grief I put her though growing up!
Every time she sees that lens pointed her direction, her expression changes, her eyes dart to anything other than my lens, she’ll frown, she’ll talk, she’ll do whatever I don’t want her to do. As photographers I’m sure we all have experienced this challenge before. Photographing people is not one of my specialties… landscapes? Wildlife? Airplanes? Structures? Sure, bagged good shots of each over the years. But people? Notsomuch. And candids I am even worse! BUT NOT THIS TIME!
Victory is Mine! And as a result yours too! This image is easily one of the best I have ever taken of my Mom! And I am thrilled!
Oh, and by the way, I captured a pretty good one of Hoagy too!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
October 11, 2012
Back from Vacation…
Certainly with less money than I departed with… Vegas will do that to you… but with great memories of fun with friends!
A few items…
- The Cosmopolitan Hotel is the BOMB!
- I am glad Colorado does not have an “In and Out Burger” else, I would be fat… wait what?
- Don’t sit Karyn near the light switches in an Italian Restaurant…
- KA is good… Mystere and Love are still better, in my book
- Emeril’s place at MGM is still some of the best food around!
- Blackjack Dealers sure have a knack of having a 7 hole card when they have a 4 showing!
- Downtown has really gone downhill! Not that it was ever too Up Hill…
- Hugos has lost its mojo… Time to find a new, hidden gem in Vegas
- Play the Red Rocks Arroyo Course… Pass on the Sienna Course… But no matter what, playing golf in Vegas is probably the best spent $100.00… it certainly lasts the longest!
- D-Bott is hilarious at broken escalators, and very photogenic!
- 5 and a half days is not too long in Vegas… so long as you play two rounds of golf, and catch a show!
Now time for the pics… you didn’t think I went without my camera did you?
To begin, this is the view Ginger and I had from our “Wrap Around Suite” at the Cosmopolitan… Stunning!
The inside was none too shabby either…
But as night fell upon “The Strip”… it got better!
And of course there was the Bellagio Fountains to watch!
Now a few of our fellow travelers!
On “Day One” coincidentally our buddy and pool teammate, John Neuhalfen was in Vegas (for a Grateful Dead Concert) so we joined up at Mon Ami Gabi at the base of the Eifel Tower for a Anniversary Lunch. It was the first time John has ever tried Escargot! I think he is hooked now… and is seriously contemplating becoming a Snail Rancher!
D-Bott, the character!
Karyn and Bob, liv’n and laughing it up at Hugos!
And Pam and Cliff enjoying the spectacle!
There was a lot of laughter this trip. Actually how all vacations should be in my mind!
The scenes from the trip were a photographer’s playground…
And finally, the trip was made all that much better by enjoying my and Ginger’s 5th Anniversary! She’s more beautiful to me now than ever!
And there you have it… Now, GET BACK TO WORK!
October 02, 2012
The 2012 Grand Junction Airshow
This post is part 1 of a 2 part article… This initial post will focus on the Airshow in Grand Junction Colorado… Part 2, will focus more on the “Cattle Baron’s BBQ and Tailhook Gathering.
The weekend of September 21-23 I found myself on the western side of the Rocky Mountains to attend the Grand Junction Airshow. I had received a “Media Pass” to the event due to my affiliation with The Tailhook Association as the Editor of “The Tailhook Daily Briefing”, the association’s online blog presence. Now, ‘Media Passes’ sound all glamorous and preferential and all… but in reality all they do is allow for access to the field on the Practice Day and then grant me early access to the field on the Show days with preferred parking. (hmm maybe that is preferential…)
As a certified “Aviation Geek”, I look forward to this event every 3 to 4 years, it is really too bad this is not an annual event because the venue is fantastic! Grand Junction Airport is nestled up against the “Bookcliffs” Mesa, with Mt Garfield providing an appropriate bookend to the range. These cliffs provide for an excellent backdrop to photos taken at the show.
Also, Grand Junction’s Airshow is still small enough to have that wonderful ‘Down Home’ feel to it. It is reminiscent of the older style of airshows, much more intimate with attendance measured in the thousands instead of the 100’s of thousands like Miramar. Never the less, it was still quite beneficial for an aviation photographer like me to have access to the flight line the day before the crowds align the rails.
Friday morning, Ginger, Ken Schoeni (who had flown in the day before from his home in Seattle) and I all piled into the GMC and began our roughly 4 hour trek west along I-70 over the Rockies. The drive was splendid… Vail Pass was decked out in all of its Autumn Glory, the aspens presenting explosions of gold among a sea of evergreens. We arrived at the Hotel in Grand Junction right on time, checked in and headed to the room to deposit our bags. Ginger had some work to follow up on so she took the opportunity to hole up in the room and catch up. Ken and I headed over to the Airport. Actually, since we were close enough, we walked the mile from the hotel to the West Star Aviation Terminal where I had been told my Media Pass would await.
Inside the terminal lounge, a variety of people were milling about. Many were West Star employees trying to finish preparations for the show, coordinating everything from fuel for the birds to beer for the spectators. But also loitering were the various airshow performers including a couple of the ‘civilian’ acts, the Navy Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration guys of VFA-106 outta Oceana, and the V-22 Osprey folks from VMM-166 “The Sea Elks” from Miramar. I took a few minutes to introduce myself to the crews, toss about some casual conversation and then proceeded to the counter to inquire about my media credentials.
The young lady (fresh outta high school by my estimates) behind the counter greeted me politely, but then her look rapidly turned to one of confusion. Apparently not an uncommon look these past few days. They seemed to embrace their disorganization more as the status quo than the exception.
“Um… What Media list?” was the response I received from young blonde…
Rather than try to explain what should have been there behind the counter, and apparently wasn’t (…I’ve tried that pointless action before only to end up right back where I started, shorter on patience and 5 minutes closer to my death than I had been…), I simply excused myself for a brief moment to make a phone call. To the Director of Marketing for the show. Within five minutes, the media list was delivered to the girls behind the counter, with my name clearly in attendance. “Sorry for the mix up Mr. Carmichael, please go right ahead…” And off to the flight line, camera gear slung over my shoulder I went. I had Airplanes to photograph!
There is something very surreal about walking onto a flight line that is fully decked out in preparation for the masses to attend, yet few people are about. A photographer’s dream, not having to muscle your way to the front, fighting for a vantage point without obstacles, like speaker stands, trash cans, umbrellas, kids! Nirvana I’m tell’n you!
On the apron static displays abound. Dominating the landscape is one of VMM-166’s V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor Aircraft. In its shadow, a WWII vintage TBM, looking very well preserved considering her age, a great testament to the love and care provided by her owner. I crawled all through that TBM and with the exception of an oil leak from the cowling… which in these aircraft simply means, “She ain’t Empty!” it was immaculate!
But alas, I was here for the flying!
The first to go for the Friday practice sessions was VFA-106’s US Navy’s Super Hornet Flight Demonstration crewed by, LT Tony “Neon” Rizio and LT Jacob “Rooney” Lerner. And I had front row seats! --- of course, in hindsight, that might have been poor planning on my part!
Ya see… their crew chief directed them out for what was to be a "Right Turn Out"... Which, woulda been fine with me...
What none of us expected was the 170 degree right turn! As I was filming, I realized in a classic "Ahhhhh Craaaap" moment that the Blowers were about to point right at me, just as the "Need for Speed" - (Taxi Speed anyway) came upon the crew. Lemme tell ya, that zephyr is hot! And quite gusty!
I maintained my stance amazingly enough (well, I took a knee actually!), but the VIP folding chairs behind me got blasted all over the Grand Junction Apron! Oh and so did the rest of my camera gear including 2 lenses that happened to be sitting on one of the now "Gone With the Wind" chairs!
I captured and assembled a little video (amateur as it is...) that shows the initial taxi, the turn , and then some stills of the after... The video concludes with stills from the debrief where 'Neon' and 'Rooney' are told of the carnage. [Link]
Ah well, the hazards of Naval Aviation!
The only real casualty of having that big blow dryer pointing at me is that my big lens, the 70-300mm, took a tumble and pretty much has given up the ghost. I know what is now on my Christmas list!
The crew chiefs of VFA-106 were really cool however, and after “Neon” and “Rooney” were well on their way down the taxiway, they came over to help reset the chairs and pick up my yard sale of lenses and other photographer paraphernalia. Also, when the second crew taxied out for their practice hop, the Crew Chief had already briefed them of “Hurricane Neon” and recommended they keep the right turn to 90 degrees… “Grippy” and “Trig” obliged.
The rest of the day was uneventful… well except for the Sound of Freedom from the Super Hornets, the V-22 Osprey, and oh yeah… the Blue Angels!
More images from the show can be found on my Smugmug pages here: [Link]
Part 2 Soon to come… The Party!
October 01, 2012
When September Ends…
You’d think I’d lost the keys to Carmichael’s Position with the scarcity of posts…
Actually it is simply a function of having been exceptionally busy these past few weeks. September was a blur!
NYC- Early in September, I was back in Manhattan (Brooklyn, Queens, Newburg, Staten Island, Poughkeepsie, and White Plains) New York for my customary business meetings. I happened to be there September 11. So I took the opportunity to head down to Jersey City, directly across the Hudson from the Manhattan “Financial District” to snap a few images of the “Missing Towers” commemorative lights. It was quite impactful.
Looking north, I was afforded a spectacular view of Mid-Town as well.
I spent a couple of hours along the walkway just absorbing the enormity of what took place eleven years ago, and what has transpired since.
The next day I had a couple of meetings on Staten Island, and while usually I drive to the island, this day’s schedule precluded any chance of that. So I had to take the Staten Island Ferry. Fortunately, unlike my last adventure with the Ferry, this day was beautiful, and… there was not a herd of
misunderstood youth thugs boisterously bragging about their female conquests, and pugilistic accomplishments. (I was thankful). The views afforded of New York Harbor were spectacular.
I recommend, if you find yourself in Manhattan with a couple of hours to spare, head down to the southern tip of the island and jump a ferry ride. It’s FREE!!! By the way! Seriously it is easily the best ticket in town for views of the harbor. (On a clear day… that is…).
The Oven - Upon my return to Casa de Carmichael, I was treated to a new oven! Ya see whist I was off in NYC doing my part to Bring Home the Bacon… my lovely bride was doing her part to insure we could cook the bacon! Our (came with the house) nearly 20 year old oven decided to give up the ghost! So Ginger went and acquired a fancy-schmancy stainless steel glass top job. Hey, as long as it gets used… I ‘m good with it. And considering, Ginger cooks an average of 5 nights a week, it’s getting a workout.
Golf League - The weekend of my return from NYC, we also played in our Golf League’s year end tournament. I played poorly in the tourney, BUT!… I did come in first in the league. What was a little awkward was we had a side competition in the league where each player submitted an entry stating who you thought would win the league and what you thought that person’s final cumulative score would be… Eh…er… uhm… I won that too… Very fun tourney and banquet never the less, and a great group of people! I am already looking forward to next May when we crank it up again.
Airshow - And finally, the weekend of the 21-23 I found myself in Grand Junction, Colorado for the (not often enough) Grand Junction Airshow and Tailhook get-together. More on that in the next article… It’s a bit involved…
August 13, 2012
“I’ve Seen it Raining Fire in the Sky!”
This line is from the John Denver hit song “Rocky Mountain High” and was reportedly inspired when he and some friends spent the evening in the high Colorado Rocky Mountains (above tree line) staring at the clear night sky, and were captivated by the intensity of shooting stars during the Perseid Meteor Shower.
This weekend my bride Ginger, a couple of buddies of ours, and I went camping and fishing up near Steamboat CO. One thing I was looking forward to (in addition to ‘getting away from life’s daily small stuff’) was having opportunity to cross off one of my Photography ‘Bucket-List’ entries. Taking a good star field photo, to include the Milky Way if possible. I had forgotten, until Friday that the annual Perseid Meteor shower was this weekend!
We arrived at our campsite Friday evening about 7:30, greeted by a low cloud deck and notification that the local ‘Fire Ban’ had been re-initiated that very day… Meaning no campfires! Ok, that’s like going to a movie and finding out there’s no popcorn! But what option do we have, we’ve journeyed 3 hours to get here, its not like we’re gunna flip a uhey and head back home. We’ll tough it out… and do what I did before during a ‘Fire Ban Camping Trip’… put one of our electric lanterns in the pit and gather around the warmth of a glowing LED!
Fortunately gas stoves were not affected by the ban, Beer Brats (and Saturday night’s chicken) were tasty!
The serendipitous advantage of the fire ban was a great reduction in nighttime ambient light… Looking up, as the clouds began to yield to the black, stars began to appear. And once the lantern was extinguished, our canopy was a cathedral of light! The Milky Way directly overhead…
We were still pretty close to the Steamboat City Limits so every cloud reflected the red-orange glow from the town, still made for some interesting images.
The next evening promised clearer skies, so Dan (my fellow photography hobbyist) and I planned for greater opportunity to photograph the star fields arrayed above us. Late Saturday afternoon, we had gone fly fishing on the Elk River, and on our trek to the fishing grounds, we reconnoitered locations for good dark conditions for our expedition. The best we could find (within 20 minutes of our campsite) was a rancher’s field a few miles north.
That night, the mostly clear skies materialized! And off to our spot we went, Nikons and tripods in hand! Always good when the directions to our spot included the sentence, “Ok, turn left here and proceed up the dirt road for about a mile!”
We set up our rigs, set our cameras with the proper parameters necessary for capturing the stars (there’s a lot of technical considerations when doing this by the way), did our best at focusing (not an easy task in low light conditions mind you…) and fired away. Within a couple of minutes of our arrival in the field, the show really began… Intense, long trail, brilliant streaks of light began to sprint across the heavens. The Perseids! Some burned across half the sky! Others dashed like a stone skipping across a pond, it was a sight to behold! and… photograph! If I could!
In this first image below, you can see a few (3 actually) streaks just above the ridgeline. Two of these streaks are actually aircraft, the long exposure allowing their anti-collision strobes to form trails in the sky, the third (highest one in the image) is one of the meteors.
In another shot, a slightly different angle of that same telephone pole, you can see another couple of meteors (one crossing left to right just above the transmission lines, and the other paralleling the Milky Way just below the transmission lines). The clouds are reflecting the lights of Steamboat Springs to our southeast.
And then finally a shot looking at the Southern sky… The lit-up trees are what I presume to be the Rancher’s residence, and the glow off to the right is once again light pollution from nearby Steamboat Springs.
And there you have it…
July 17, 2012
New York, July 2012 Photography
Back from my New York trip last week. This visit had me driving the countryside of New Jersey… That’s right, New Jersey does have a “Countryside!” it’s not all Newark! (Thank Gawd!)
Unfortunately all of my drives through said countryside required my attentiveness behind the wheel, and as such did not take any pictures of the lush green woodlands and fields.
This first image really challenged my knowledge of the new technology that is Digital SLR Photography. A year or so ago I upgraded my equipment to now include a Nikon D7000 camera. At the time it was the leader in Mid-Level Semi-Pro Camera Bodies. I’ll spare you all of the Marketing Propaganda, but one of the advanced features of this camera is better resolution and less noise at higher ISO Numbers. (In English… The Camera has better ability to process images in low light conditions). I really tested that ability with this image… This shot was taken from about 1,500 feet over Manhattan as my airplane flew the "’Downwind, up the Hudson” leg of our approach to LaGuardia. This was about 15 to 20 minutes AFTER sunset! The plane is moving along at nearly 250 miles per hour and bouncing a bit. I make the necessary adjustments to the camera (for those who understand camera hieroglyphics: ISO800, 1/60, f3.5, 18mm) and take the shot.
Which was right behind the zoomed in one I had taken a few seconds prior…
This next one was of the White Plains Train Station, deserted at 10:30pm on Sunday night.
I did have my usual allotment of meetings in Manhattan, but those were going to be mostly on Friday. Tuesday was the only evening I had that was “unaccounted for” so I took the liberty of jumping the train from White Plains down to “The City” as it is referred to in the burbs, to see if I could find a way to take photos of landmarks that have already been photographed hundreds of millions of times!
I’m sure not one of these images are anywhere near an original photographic idea… but at least I challenged myself to exercise some creativity.
Top left is the Empire State Building (duh…) as seen from Bryant Park. The highlights in the foliage on the left is created by a bank of lights (think night baseball game) shining down on the park from the rooftop of the building at 1095 Avenue of the Americas.
Top right is a creative shot I took at Times Square of the 42nd street subway station entrance. Shot with a shallow depth of field and a long exposure. I reduced the color in Photoshop to help draw attention to the subway station.
And finally, the bottom shot is of Times Square… probably THE most photographed landmark in NYC. So I tried something different. This shot was achieved by literally placing the camera on the ground! Then executing a long exposure using a wireless shutter release. I love the motion effect of the cabs streaking by, and the spinning sign on the Paramount Theater’s Façade.
And there you have it… July in NYC.
June 18, 2012
New York last week…
Duty called and I responded… last week I was in NYC, NJ and the Hudson Valley visiting clients and insuring our company is performing to our clients expectations. We are… of course… we don’t fail in Client Services… at least not on MY watch!!!
As is my usual I always have my camera attached to my brief case in case a good photo op presents itself. And New York, for all of it’s many faults, does usually deliver photo opportunities. The question is… do I have the eye at that particular time to recognize it? Or the time to take advantage of the scene before me. Sometimes “yes” sometimes “no”.
This trip was not one for too many opportunities. I was on the run constantly. 15 meetings in 4 days will do that to you. But alas I did capture a few.
This one was along Park Avenue (quite near the Waldorf) I was actually trying to capture a little bit of the hustle that is New York. My challenge was to create that feeling using a long exposure to illustrate both the motion and the structure of NYC. I liked how the image conveys the motion of the traffic yet shows that some can take a break in all the bustle.
This next one was taken of the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie New York. Nothing really spectacular about this shot (as it was shot in the middle of the day… not recommended for capturing any emotion in an image) but I was working on capturing a foreground element in a landscape.
And finally, the one I like the most. An abstract of 8 Spruce Street. A new tower completed last year by renowned architect Frank Gehry. I often feel its cheating a bit when I take a picture of something that by design is artistic, it’s like painting a picture of a painting… but, to hell with it! How many pictures of buildings have you seen in your lifetime?! There’s a reason they look cool!… So we appreciate them!!!
May 20, 2012
Annular Eclipse as seen from Casa de Carmichael
Tonight, as the sun set over the Rockies, the moon got in the way. Voila’ an eclipse! But as the moon is at apogee (the farthest away from the earth in it’s elliptical orbit) it is unable to block the body of the sun in it’s entirety, thus we see an “Annular Eclipse” instead of the more famous “Total Eclipse”. An Annular Eclipse at it’s peak will form a ring of fire, as the moon forms the hole of a Sun Doughnut.
We here in Colorado were just outside the shadow line of a full Annular Eclipse, that privilege was reserved for our neighbors further to our west in Utah, and New Mexico. Didn’t mean I didn’t go out and take my best shot at capturing the partial Eclipse. Here is my result…
This was a fun challenge to photograph. Hope you enjoy…
April 01, 2012
Shot of the Night!
Spent my day relaxing on the veranda here at Casa de Carmichael… It was a balmy 80+ degrees here in the Denver area, and I didn’t have a tee time. So I resigned myself to being a lazy bum under the blue skies.
I did, as I often do, have my Nikon sitting next to me incase the world passing by presented opportunity. Actually I was presented with a few this afternoon, mostly shots of the cats, an occasional bird or two and one pissed off squirrel that Scrunch (my cat) had tree’d.
But much of my attention was drawn to the blisteringly clear blue today, I watched as countless airliners flew over on their approach to Denver International Airport (KDEN… or DIA to the locals). As the half moon climbed overhead I noticed once again that the approach path followed by the aircraft was nearing an intercept course with the moon, which would present another opportunity for one of my usual moon crossing images. I’ve taken a few of these in my history as a photographer, but they are always a fun challenge.
I must have waited and shot dozens of planes as they came close but never quite crossed the moon. Day moved into dusk and I was hoping to get a good image of a plane, highlighted by the sun crossing the moon’s path, but alas it was not to be… (A number came close… but just not there).
It was getting dark now, and my chances for my desired shot were rapidly decreasing with each minute after the sun had bid its farewell. I was about to pack it in for the evening when I saw a behemoth of a bird (a Boeing 767) approaching from the southwest. I thought, well I’ll give one more try.
I altered my settings on my camera to be able to take the shot handheld, and expose properly for the moon’s brightness against a darkening sky. I advanced the ISO to 1600 to allow for a 1/200 second of a shot to reduce as much motion (my motion that is) blur in the resulting shot. I focused on the approaching plane noticing that indeed it was looking promising for passing across the moon’s face. But damn that plane was dark… I heard the voice of the wingman in Star Wars ringing in my ears… “Stay on target…” I continued to pan with the plane… and as I saw the glow of the moon enter my view I squeezed the shutter in multi-shot high frame rate mode… all 6 shots per second of it!
And sho-nuff! Bagged me the image I was seeking! Here it is for your viewing pleasure.
I know it’s a little dark, but again I was exposing for the moon, not the plane so the details of the 1/2 moon are prevalent. Besides, it was more night than dusk by this time! Below are the sequenced shots leading up to and following this one… (each has been lightened a bit so you can more clearly see the plane as it approached). I really liked shots 5, 6 and 7.
And there you have it. Love that Nikon by the way! 9 shots in rapid succession, low light an all!
March 26, 2012
That Ain’t Good, Cuz Those Ain’t Clouds!
Looked out across the backyard this evening and a significant cloud deck to the south caught my eye. Only a mere second or two passed when I realized, “Damn! That’s not a cloud! That’s Smoke!”
That ain’t good! Especially considering we have a relative humidity somewhere near 15% and a sustained wind in the 50 knots neighborhood here today! Gunna be a long night for residents in the Rocky Mountain Foothills here tonight. Not to mention fire fighters!
God bless ‘em all! Thoughts and prayers are with my fellow Coloradans tonight.