Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tacoma Skyline At Night: Take 2! (A different perspective)

After shooting the Tacoma Night Skyline looking south from the 11th St Bridge, I wondered what it might look like if I were to shoot it in the opposite direction!?

I looked for a spot from which to get a different perspective.  First I tried east of the water, after sneaking into the secure private docks, but the docks sat too low to get a nice broad view of the downtown buildings, and they were too unstable for a long exposure...they moved with the small waves etc.

I looked east....and saw the Hwy 509 Cable bridge, the same one seen in the photo I took looking south.  Looks good to me!

I drove over to the Cable Bridge and parked my car in the median just as the nice day turned to rain.  Hmm, I was about 45 minutes early so I walked about looking for the best view and angle as I determined how I might shield the camera from all of the powerful lights that point upwards and onto the cabling of the bridge.  It looks nice with all that light, but it is a photographers nightmare, especially when trying to take a long exposure, night shot!

I was set up and taking a few test shots, when a local Police Officer stopped by to ask what the hell I was doing with my car parked in the median and why I was over the side of the bridge 80 feet over the water!?  Ooops!!  Good thing I knew him!  I told him that he had arrived just in time to save me from throwing myself off the bridge!!!... and we had a good laugh.  I explained the picture taking thing and he was on his way. (I will be handing off a print of the finished photo to him as a thank you)

When the lighting allowed for a properly balanced and exposed "13 second exposure", I began taking pictures.  The bridge is large, but cars and trucks crossing it while my camera's shutter was open, was bound to blur my photos due to the vibration and movement of the bridge that they caused. (Suspended by cables...duh)  I took about 9 shots before I lost the balanced lighting I sought.  Two of the shots were taken when only a small car had crossed the bridge behind me and I was relatively certain that it had not blurred the photo too much.

I had been rained on for the better part of an hour as I held my hand over and to the side of the lens to keep the powerful stray light and the rainwater out of my camera's lens!

Pretty successful outing and I dried off in no time.

Here is the Tacoma Night Skyline....looking north towards the same bridge I had taken the southern facing shot just a week before.

Tacoma Docks at Night

And here is the same photo, (Taken the following day!) but with the 11th St Bridge included so you can see where I took the previous blog post photo from!  Both Bridges captured, each captured while standing on the other!

Tacoma Docks at Night


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Looking Back and Down Under...

I was recently on Ebay, late at night, looking for an album or two to buy.  As usual, I started looking at one thing, which led to another, which took me to a completely different genre of music than I had first intended!  Such is Ebay!

I came across a band that I had not heard in a very long time.  I remembered their very popular song, Georgy Girl, and the 1966'ish film of the same name.  I recalled hearing the song on AM radio back when I was a single digit kid, and I remember liking both the song and particularly, the lead voice. 

There was a "timbre" or quality to her voice that I (and apparently a lot of others) particularly liked.  Sometimes its that "timbre" that reels me in.  Jim Croce is a good example of this, as I really like his "honky tonk" and "smoke filled bar" style of singing...but his voice has a quality to it that I just find appealing.   

Well, there were two songs that this group did, that I especially liked, one was "Georgy Girl" and the other "I'll Never Find Another You".  The group was an Australian band..or more accurately, started out in the very early 1960's as a "Folk Influenced, Pop Quartet".  The bands' name was, "The Seekers".

The Seekers featured three men...two of which were Guitarists that sang harmony, (they played banjo and mandolin as well sometimes) and a Double Bass player (The bass that looks like a huge violin sitting upright on the floor for you younger folks) that also sang harmony.  Judith Durham played piano and was the lead singer.  I should mention that the three men in the band really do a great job harmonizing and completing the vocal sound of the group, though Judith really brings a distinct upper range/sound to the group.  She has a big voice for such a small lady, and admittedly, I like the hint of that Australian accent!  It doesn't hurt that she is "easy on the eyes" as well!

This was the first Australian band to top the UK and U.S. Charts...ever.  They reached number two in the U.S. and number one in the U.K.  This was at a time when the Beatles were at their peak, so no small achievement!  They are in the Guinness World Record Book for the highest attendance at a concert in the Southern Hemisphere! (200,000 people attended their "Return To Australia Concert" in Melbourne)

Long story short, I bought two albums.  I could not find an album with both songs on it!  Ughhhhh!  I received one of the albums today and after a quick cleaning, threw it on the phonograph and had a MONO!  There was the unique voice of Judith Durham that I remembered...and you can actually hear the double bass being played by "Athol Guy". (yeah...Athol?!? Unusual name!)

I remember telling my daughter, when she was actively singing and involved a bit more in chorus and solo singing activities, "You don't need a gimmick and don't need to sing all weird the way many do these days...the good ones just Stand and Sing!"  A good voice doesn't need a show to back it up, and I thought how fitting it was that the two YouTube videos I have included here (so you can hear the songs) show Judith Durham literally, standing and singing!  (Some of it with her hands on her hips!)

Oh, and I love the Australian annunciation of "Fortune" that you hear when Judith is singing the third verse in "I'll Never Find Another You"...haha..I don't know why, but I do!

Have a listen....all the way back to the 1960's..and from, Down Under!

Georgy Girl

I'll Never Find Another You (Enhanced Audio)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tacoma Skyline At Night (With The Right lens!)

Soooo, I went back out to capture the night scene that I tried to get two weeks ago.  This time I brought ALL my lenses just in case!!  I ended up using the standard kit lens, and intended on duplicating the shots with my 40mm prime lens, as it is a bit sharper.

Well, I got into taking the photos and got busy with keeping track of exposures and shutter speed times and was simply to lazy to duplicate the shots with the better lens....again:)

This time, I took longer exposures to allow the lighting in the scene to light the roadways and water etc.  I was simply too hurried/impatient last time, to really work on getting the best/most flattering exposure for this scene.  This time, I relaxed and took the time to get it right.  I was pleased with the shot below and I was glad I went back out to refine the shot.

Tacoma Night Skyline

It is a significantly better shot in my opinion! (Even though Blogger compresses the $^@& out of my pics!)


Sunday, June 8, 2014

More Street Photography!

Well, as unusual as it is for me to actually follow through with a thought/plan...I actually got out a couple of weeks ago to practice some more Street Photography!  In truth, I had been sent a cell phone pic of the Tacoma Docks area, and I really liked it.  It was a great photo and had been taken in the morning, around sunrise.  This provided some very nice lighting and I commented how nice I thought the photo was.

I set out a week or so later to see if I could capture a similar scene at dusk, as I had wanted to compile a few locations from which to shoot a nice "Night Skyline" of Tacoma.  (You may remember the "Searching For A Skyline" post some time ago)

At any rate, I went out to the "11th Street Bridge", which looks to the south and takes in the Tacoma Docks, as well as the relatively new Cable Bridge and the Tacoma Dome in the background.  It is a nice view that includes a little bit of water that is so much a part of Tacoma.

I waked out onto the bridge a bit early and set up my tripod and took a few cell phone pics of my own!  I have wanted to try out my recently acquired "Cell Phone Tripod Adapter" anyway!...haha, I's cheesy but whatever!  Below is an actual cell phone camera pic I shot that evening using my ultra cool adapter!

When I left the house, I had grabbed my camera bag (an old army green, canvas shoulder bag) which contains my kit lens and a strobe with a couple of remote triggers just in case...or so I thought.  As I am setting up, I reach into my bag and discover there is no kit lens!?  Are you #^!@$!#%^  kidding me?!  I only use two lenses with my DSLR...the kit lens, which allows for a wide angle to mild telephoto (Zoom) and a fixed focal length, 40mm pancake lens. (Short telephoto)  Today, I would be stuck with the 40mm lens and its "restrictive" view...hmmm.  Oh well, no wide angle for me!

As I am waiting for the sun to go down, I realize how different the lighting is from the photo my friend had taken on his cell phone.  I realize that with the sun setting in the west, my "scene" was in the shade cast by the taller buildings downtown and not in the more flattering warm light normally cast at this transition between day and night.  The sunrise from the east obviously cast a more flattering light on this hindsight.  I was a bit disappointed and took a few, very "flat" looking shots. 

I decided to simply wait until it was a bit darker, so I could shoot a few true "dusk" photos.  While I had been waiting, I had noticed a young "skateboarder" moving across and down the grade of the bridge I was shooting from.  I tried to snap off a few pics, but they too were "flat", given the boring lighting.

As it became a bit darker, the street lights came on.  The lights began to cast slight shadows on the surroundings at this point.  I took a few more shots with the nearby buildings lit a bit, and the sky darkening.  At about this time, I see the skateboarder and what turned out to be his Mom (I thought they were a couple) walking towards me from the east.  I really liked the lighting at this point and a skateboarder on a bridge...lit by a street light?  Sounded like a great "Street Photo"!

I took about 6 shots of the young man atop his skateboard.  One or two had the lighting and "look" that I wanted.   It was that "urban" look that looks great in black and white.   I was happy that I was able to capture one person out on the streets that evening, as I wasn't expecting to have this kind of opportunity.  The photo posted here is the shot I liked best. 

Skateboarder in Downtown Tacoma

It was just after this that I was able to capture my "Tacoma Docks" photo, in lighting that would provide for that "Dusk'ish" look that I wanted.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but you have to take what you can get and make the best of it.  It is typical Tacoma...a few pretty sights with an older building or two and a vacant parking lot.  Contrasts...both figuratively and literally!  All in all, a pleasant shot.

After snapping a few more photos, I loaded the tripod and camera back into the car and headed home.  I had used a fixed focal length lens instead of my more desirable lens and had pulled off a couple of respectable photos anyway!  Not a bad two hours or so...and I surprised myself again with a couple of local "Street" photos.