North Carolina Bound

I have not taken a vacation, a real vacation in more than a dozen years.  I carry a pretty heavy schedule majority of the time due to working a full time job and photographing events and concerts thought out the year.  But this year I decided I needed a break, a long two week break in the mountains of North Carolina.  My best friend of almost fifty years lives in a little town called Concord.  So on October 15 I boarded flight 818 and headed north. IMG_1422

It was a very short flight; less than an hour and a half and was uneventful.  We landed on and I made my way across the tarmac to my waiting friend.  I should mention that she too is a Debbie.  When I got off the plane the temperature was cooler, but still warm, however I was in for a surprise.

On Tuesday we took off on a road trip up through the Pisgah National Forest and up through the mountains searching for some color and some waterfalls.  The color was missing from this scenario as North Carolina had longer than normal summer temperatures which was keeping the leaves from changing.  Not to mention two hurricane’s had passed through the area.

Our first stop was a little diner where I enjoyed a nice plate of NC style BBQ, one word; Yum!  Our adventure continued as we drove through the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest and the weather took a turn and it started to rain.  This did not stop our trekking the beaten path to find a waterfall; not only did I find one, but a covered bridge too!  Giant score for me photographically speaking.  The rain was coming down pretty steady but my excitement built as I heard the sound of rushing water and once we arrived the sound became deafening, but in such a wonderful restorative way.IMG_1373North Carolina-3

This next week we stayed close to home and I was able to photograph some local birds and experience a change in temperature.  Then on Saturday our other best friend flew in so we made another road trip into Charlotte to pick her up. Did I mention she too is a Debbie? (North Carolina will never be the same).

 

That weekend we invited a few friends who live in the area over for a gathering, it was great to see them and to meet their families.  So much love in one place……incredible.

On Monday October 22 we three Debbie’s took off on a road trip once again.  We drove up through the Blue Ridge Parkway and I was able to find more color, the temperature had dropped from the upper 70’s to the mid 30’s and settled around 45 degrees.  For this Florida girl it was cold, but the crisp air, sharing time with my best friends and just enjoying the ride and the color seeping through the trees was something I can’t explain in words, only heart can.  We drove up to about 5000 feet, found a lovely little restaunt to have lunch  and then off to find Linville Falls.  We didn’t hike to the top, but I was happy with what we found.  Continuing our drive we found icicles popping out of the side of a mountain.  So we pulled in to a parking area and I hiked back to the area where water was seeping out of the rocks.  My lungs were screaming with the thinner and colder 37 degree air, but it was so beautiful.

I needed this time away, I needed to do some life reflection and to be with my girls who know me so well.  I have not laughed or loved like this in a very long time.  They are amazing; we are amazing to have had this friendship of 50 years that is so deep and unshakeable. The T-shirts Debbie brought us says it all the back has the three D’s and it says “True Friendship Grows Forever”.

I love these girls so much and I was sad to depart.  I will be back…..again.

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Moving Forward…

 

I feel as if I’ve been MIA for way too long.  I have not written much since the end of April, because life took me for a loop for a while.  I’ve been stressed and really haven’t felt much like writing, always had good intentions then as soon as I would get home, my brain kicked off and I shut down.  I’m not sure what I am going through, but it’s definitely a funk of some sort.  I have been trying to figure out the reasons for it and have come up with several plausible excuses.  Moving; this was a big one, moving for me, being alone is extremely stressful.  I did have some wonderful help from friends and my youngest son on the big move day, but still I did a lot of loads by myself.  I think in the beginning of the move I really didn’t have a place to live, and had a lot going on in the photography part of my life and it sent me over the edge of being confused and stressed.  The next element to lead up to this funk is that I’ve not had enough down time, and I don’t mean just weekends at home, I mean true down time with being out of doors camping and spending time with my son.  My schedule this past season was so busy I didn’t have time to really release myself to the outdoors.  I miss it, I miss spending time with family, and I think that has a huge play in my current feelings.  And third, I just have no motivation, my creativity has decreased and I think it all relates back to reason one & two.  I am tired……really tired, the kind of tired that all you want to do is to stay in bed and sleep kind of tired, but I make myself get up, get dressed and go out.  Last night was the first time in quite some time I did photography for me, for my own pleasure and although I totally enjoy going out with my shutterbug friends, I felt as if I was detached and not really into what I was doing; this needs to change.  I took some beautiful shots which I will include as a slideshow at the end of this writing.

I need to get myself back to being excited and wanting to go out and shoot beyond my concerts, which I still find so enjoyable and exciting! I have the possibility of four of them in the next couple of weeks with one of them getting me away and in a hotel for a night….this will be good, because I can then take myself to visit someplace new the morning after.  I will not only be photographing three of my top bands, I will also be attending the concert as fan.

My energy definitely goes up when it comes to concerts; I love the excitement of being in the pit and challenging myself to get those near perfect shots, I also need to get out into nature and stop coming up with excuses on why I can’t or won’t.  I need to be behind the lens……..

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Finding My Way Back

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted something substantial.  My last post was 23 days ago and that was to explain how unmotivated I’ve been.

It’s been a rough and stressful couple of months, I had to pack and prepare for a complete move to a new place by mid May.  Not only was I stressed, but my poor cat Harpo had totally stressed out and hid for about three full days before I saw him again. He’s now at his usual place,sleeping at me feet as I write this.                                                   I finally finished unpacking last week and simply wore myself out.  I rarely left the house during the Memorial Day weekend, but this week I feel like I’m back to normal with a busy shooting schedule and my normal work week.

I’m going to try and catch you up on what’s been happening in my world.

April was an incredibly busy month with packing, portraits, events and a two-day festival, Fort Rock.

It began with me being hired to shoot Stars on Ice at Germain Arena, and I was thrilled to meet a few of the Olympic Champions.  My day began at 10am and ended around 11pm; but what an opportunity! It started with me up on a twelve foot ladder on the ice to take the promotional tour shots……this is one of my images from that adventure. I have a fear of heights and being on a ladder just totally freaks me out, let alone being on one where there is slippery ice involved.  However, I did it and I really didn’t even think much about it as I was working my camera. Amazing what you can do when you are concentrating on your craft.

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I also photographed the dress rehearsal, warmups, the merchandise area and the entire show later in the evening.  What a wonderful day spent with incredible people.

Next, I had two mini-sessions with two beautiful ladies.  These ladies are such a pleasure to work with and they both enjoyed their “modeling” session.

Lastly at the end of April I was once again at the annual Fort Rock Festival with radio station 93xfm where I was fortunate enough to once again photograph their meet & greets and work with one of my favorite photographers Ron Dukeshire. Ron is my right and left hand partner at Fort Rock he handles the bands as I am busy in the tent with the station crew and the fans for the meet & greets.  When time allowed, I also photographed a few of the bands including  Sunday night’s headliner Soundgarden with the late Chris Cornell; RIPSound Garden-16

May is Prom season and this year was no different for me.  I worked with a cute couple I had met at Fort Rock and truly enjoyed the time I spent with them.

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I also photographed Disney on Ice for Germain, but due to copyright restrictions I am unable to post any of them.

The last day of the month found me at Germain Arena for Brit Floyd, an incredible Pink Floyd Tribute band with an amazing light/laser show.Brit Floyd-21

All of this was accomplished while, packing my home up, moving to a new place, unpacking and editing the work to meet my dead-lines, however I have found my way back.

 

 

Winter Weddings in Florida

On February 26, 2017 my son Tommy and I once again were hired to photograph another lovely couple at the Edison Country Club.  This historic club is a public course with an added restaurant and a lovely banquet room.  The wedding was performed indoors and it was interesting to see how the room was transformed from reception hall to ceremony space and back again.

The décor was beautiful glass with blue & silver accents and a white runner aisle for the bride to walk down.

As her father walked her down the aisle, you could see his emotion welling up within him.  He was giving away his baby girl.  It’s always beautiful to see the sweet relationship between the bride and her father. You could see how proud he was of her.

As dad passed off his daughter to the eager awaiting groom the ceremony commenced and soon they were pronounced husband and wife.

After signing the license, the couple took to the outdoors so we could get the iconic Edison in the background of their portrait shots.

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We didn’t have the usual Florida sunset on this particular evening, however we had some beautiful gold light, and the wedding party still had a great time.

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I’m a Gear Nerd

Being a photographer I have a good collection of gear.  I love gear, new, used, doesn’t matter, if it goes on or near my camera I want it. I have great lenses, extra batteries, things to light up my subjects from the smallest critter to an entire family of people;  I can create beautiful images in natural settings or provide the gear to set up a studio.  Yep, that’s me the gear nerd!  Recently I added to my addiction in the purchase of a new (to me) Canon 70d crop frame camera.  I had the opportunity to purchase another full frame Canon 6d, but opted for the crop frame for several reasons.  First of all, I needed a second body so that I don’t need to change lenses while in the concert pit or at weddings and chance missing the shot, the second reason is because the 70d’s button placement is almost the same as my 6d and lastly because my son shoots with the 70d and as my second for weddings I may need for him to use the second body and he needs to not have to think about where the buttons are and what to control.  I tried it out this past weekend and I like it a lot, the shutter is a bit noisier, but overall the pictures were clean and crisp; I will use silent shutter for events.

My next purchase is an upgraded 50mm.  I currently own the Nifty Fifty which is Canon’s f1.8 5omm lens.  Great little lens, but I need something a bit sharper and faster.  I have looked at the Canon f1.2 and have read, watched videos and compared it to Sigma’s ART series F1.4 50mm.  With a cost difference of about $400 I think I may be going with the Sigma Art Lens.  The reviews are incredible and I’ve even seen a few who pit it against the Canon f1.2.  Stay tuned………..

Mentor/Mentee

I belong to a local Meetup group called the South West Florida Shutterbugs and in two weeks we will be six months old as a group.  In that six months we have offered learning opportunities, trips both local and out of area and have met some really cool people.  Recently, we have initiated a mentor/mentee program and I have decided it’s time to take my skills to another level by working with an incredible portrait photographer.  This will stretch my knowledge and also take me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve already worked with him on a few shoots and he makes what he does look so effortless.  I know this will make me better, especially when it comes to using off camera flash.

Now, for the next part, I will be mentoring a more beginner photographer.  I really appreciate what has been taught to me and I want to give back.  When I started shooting I had no one to guide me and I learned on my own.  I learned that concerts and events were sometimes a crap shoot depending on the lighting, but now I go into them full of confidence in my own skills.  This mentoring will hopefully allow another beginner to feel more confident with their camera without having to learn it all on their own.

If you are in the South West Florida area and want to join a top-notch photography group, feel free to check out Meetup.com.  Happy shooting.

Eye Contact

You hear all the time that the eyes are the window to the soul, one of my goals when I’m shooting concerts is to get the eye contact; now mind you I don’t ask for it, I don’t do anything distracting to get it, but generally it happens, even when I don’t think they can even see me as with Alice Cooper.  I was way over off to the side and a couple of rows up, yet this happened;Alice Cooper-6

There wasn’t anyone that I could see in his direct eye contact, I even asked the photographer behind me if she got him looking our way…….she didn’t.

On Monday I got kind of the same thing, but it was almost as if I was recognized, don’t see how that’s possible, but REO’s bassist comes out on stage and this happened;REO

and it continues with the other two bands Tesla………Tesla-14Tesla-3

and…….Def Leppard;Def Leppard-15