Saturday, September 29, 2007

Glorious Saturday

Wow, we couldn't believe the beautiful weather today so we had to get out and enjoy it!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Deep Creek Lake

Denise, Jordan, Nathan & I had an awesome time up at Deep Creek Lake. We met up with the rest of the family at the large lake house :)

Here are a few photos... check out the rest HERE!

Nate & I near Swallow Falls

Early morning sun...

Muddy Creek Falls at Swallow Falls State Park

Late afternoon sun...

Devin's "magazine cover" shot :)

Zack, Travis, Nathan, Devin & Marley giving me their best!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Erin & Chris' Album Layout

Hey everyone! Album designer Grace Chou & I finished up an album layout for Erin & Chris. This will be a 20 sided book, and what you'll see here are the "spreads". Each full-page spread (layout) is equal to two sides. Once we finish uploading all the high res files, Asuka Books will build the book and ship it in about 4 weeks. Enough talk, take a look at the slideshow!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Speed of Light!

Okay, when it comes to photography, it's all about shooting "light". There are many factors that go into that, but for now, I want to talk about shutter speed... wikipedia goes into detail about it. But let me try and demonstrate...

Without getting into the understanding of exposure and factoring in your ISO and aperture camera settings, shutter speed is how many seconds you set your shutter to stay open. The longer you leave it open, the more light will be let in. Shutters typically open and close real fast like they do in a simple point-and-shoot camera. SLR cameras allow you to control how "fast" or how "slow" the shutter will open and close. A slow shutter speed, such as 1/8 to a full second, will let in more light, letting you blur an object or capture a night shot. Slow shutter speeds settings I use are anywhere from 1/20th of a second to a full 3 seconds, depending on what I want to accomplish and how much light I'm dealing with. Here are some examples:

I used 1/4th sec. shutter speed here, notice the softer "blur" look the water has. Yes, a popular technique you've seen before

I used a setting of 1/2 a second here to let in more light and capture detail in the dark. Notice some of the people in motion down below are blurred (like the waterfall shot above)

With a faster shutter speed, you can "freeze" action, which is great for sports photography, weddings (sometimes), or any action you want to capture sharp. Keep in mind that when you use fast shutter speeds, you're telling the camera to open and close very fast, letting in very little light. Your shots will be dark if you don't compensate for this loss of light by adjusting your aperture (e.g., f-stop) and ISO settings (sensitivity to light), but that's another topic!

Here are some examples:

I shot this at 1/750th of a second so you can see the ripples and droplets (taken at the World War Memorial)

We all know how fast a bullet travels. The .45 caliber round travels at approximately 950 feet per second, a heavy and hard hitting round (yes I know my guns, I was a firearms instructor remember?). Now I don't have a shot of a bullet traveling down range (I'm working on it, hehe), but I found an image showing the shell casings ejecting out of .45 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun.

This dramatic example of fast shutter speeds was shot by a fellow Canon shooter, probably at or around 1/1000ths of a second, maybe more or less depending on available light.

In the image above from Erin and Chris' wedding, you can see the bouquet was "frozen" in mid-air at 1/200ths of a second... so cool :)

So there's your photography insight of the day.... now where's my shotgun? :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Analytics!!

Yesterday for the first time I started tracking visits to my website and blog, something I should've started in the beginning! Google Analytics helps me learn more about where my visitors come from and how they interact with my sites. Since yesterday, I've had visitors from cities in California, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, DC, and Florida.

Way Cool!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Over the summer I stopped by Baltimore's Inner Harbor and snapped a few colorful images.
You can see the Baltimore Aquarium across the water in this image. Those "dragon" paddle boats were real cool to see in the water.

One of many musicians and artists performing at the Harbor

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Jordan's Playtime

Jordan loves the swing!
Denise & I took turns taking photos of her having a blast. She'll be 7 months on Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some of you may have already seen this, but I saw it for the first time yesterday. This should bring a smile to your face, if it doesn't make you laugh out loud!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Honor & Bravery - Where I Was Six Years Ago

Six years ago I was off duty barely awake after a very long night of police work when I got the call from Alexandria PD to turn on my television to see the horror unfolding. As soon as I saw the smoke from the towers and the news about the Pentagon, it wasn't even a minute gone by when my SWAT pager started beeping at me, "ALL SOT (Special Operations Team) MEMBERS REPORT TO HQ FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE BRIEFING." My heart jumped and I immediately suited up in my all-black BDUs, jumped in my police cruiser, and went Code 3 through traffic in Fairfax County towards the City of Alexandria. When I arrived I was detailed to my designated spot, another potential terrorist target, The Woodrow Wilson Bridge. While it may not have been an intended target, any large transportation structure could be a disaster waiting to happen if destroyed (think of the bridge in Minneapolis!). So there I was, me & my partner screening every car that passes under the WW Bridge. There's a road that travels under it near Jones Point Park. I still couldn't get over what happened, I didn't have time to process the NYC and Pentagon events, I just did what I was trained to do - react. At first, some of the people I stopped didn't understand what I was doing and felt violated and inconvenienced, but being dressed the way I was with a badge and MP5 sub-machine gun slung around my body, I hardly encountered any resistance. Soon though, news was spreading and people became much more understanding. I couldn't help but wonder how my fellow brothers & sisters were doing at the Pentagon and in lower Manhattan, I just could not imagine at the time. But I knew the intense impact this was having on us, on our families, the sudden shock and disbelief that many felt, "This can't be happening!" Well it did, and I don't feel we should let fear drive us on 9/11. If we do, then the terrorists accomplished their mission - to instill terror in us all! NO, we must not be afraid on 9/11, we must remember our fallen and brave police officers, firefighters, and the soldiers who've died thereafter overseas. We must remain strong and vigilant, not paranoid and terrified. If we are panic stricken all the time, then the terrorists are winning the psychological part of the war. Let's not let that happen.

Eventually I drove to the Pentagon to assist Arlington PD with traffic control. The scene was hard to describe, the smell of the smoke was strong, and the day finally hit me. That's all I can say really. To this day, I remember how helpless I did feel at the time when people were dying in the South & North towers and at the Pentagon. As a cop, you wanna try and help save everybody, but that's just not always possible. As a cop you're trained to take control of the situation. 9/11 was beyond control. The memories still haunt me to this day. Yet I still believe in the bravery, the honor, and the actions of those on United 93, the first responders at the Pentagon & lower Manhattan, and the soldiers that fight to this day. Where were you on 9/11?

(below is my 9/11 Commemorative Badge)

(this is my patch, duty badge, pistol expert pin, and SOT pins)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

OMG! Last Minute Celebrity Wedding!!!!!

LOL, I bet the title got your attention didn't it?... No, sorry it was not ME who got the celebrity gig, but the talented Southern CA wedding photographer, Mike Colon, got a call at 2am on 9/1/07 and was on a flight 4 hours later to Atlanta to shoot Usher's wedding last Saturday after they had a quiet civil ceremony. Anyway, check out Mike's blog post about this amazing story featured in People Magazine. L.A. Event Planner, Diane Valentine, first called celebrity wedding photog, Joe Buissink, but he was unavailable and referred Mike Colon for the job. Ah yes, it pays to network with other photographers!

And heck ya, I'd jump outta bed in the middle of the night to shoot a major celebrity wedding any day, especially at $20,000+ a pop (Mike's starting rate)! Of course, after taxes, albums, equipment, expenses, and hired help, you're left with maybe a little more than $10k+ in profit... okay that's still not bad :)

Nathan's First Soccer Game!

Nate had a very fun time yesterday at his first soccer game. I can't believe he started kindergarten and soccer! I'm so proud of him!

Click on the image below to see more photos!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Erin & Chris' Wedding!

This past weekend I covered Erin & Chris' wedding and they were extremely pleased with the results (see Erin's feedback in COMMENTS). The weather was great, the couple was wonderful, and the wedding party was a lot of fun to shoot. Erin & I have also been talking about a Trash-the-Dress session in Clearwater Beach. But for now, check out their slideshow.

And as a special photo session that Erin requested, I photographed her "Pre-Bridal" portraits back in July. She finally showed it to her new husband Chris who was amazed by the results. Check it out...

Thank you Chris & Erin for letting me be a part of a major event in your life, and for the chance to document your memories for a lifetime.

Event Coordinator at the Dulles Hyatt, Stefanie Mousseau, did an awesome job bringing it all together and making me my crew feel welcomed! DJ Ian Lade of Digital Sound Services kept the party going! A big thanks goes to Noah Hayes for shooting with me at the wedding, and to my wife Denise for being the best assistant EVAH! :) Noah brought a few gadgets to play with, such as Pocket Wizards for off-camera flash work, and a remote for his Nikon D200 so I can trigger the shot while he "aims" from overhead.

Yours truly caught "chimping"... lol.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My Blog Has Been Tagged!

Becky Waurio of Toute Ma Vie Photography tagged me to share some things about myself. A group of photographers have been participating in a a "blog tag" game where you have to list 8 random things about yourself and then tag others, so here goes...

1. I was an Alexandria City Police Officer from `97-`03, the pinnacle of my career there was being accepted into their Special Operations Team (a.k.a., SWAT).
2. I'm a motorsports fan and I used to race my Dodge SRT-4 ... "legally" :)
3. I grew up playing the piano many years ago it seems... I'm so outta practice!
4. I am from a large filipino family and I'm married to a woman from a large italian family, and we've yet to have EVERYONE gather for a special occassion of some sort. We'll probably have to rent a stadium for that :)
5. Some of the best trips I've ever had were actually 2-4 week business trips to the Southwestern US and South Florida. I made the most out of my 2-year stint at Booz Allen Hamilton, lol.
6. I'm working on photos from this weekend's wedding
7. I'm amending my business plan
8. And I can't believe Becky actually got me to do this, haha.

Alright, I guess I need to tag some other photogs...

Melissa Jill
Lane Kinzie
Erin Antagnoli
Sally Brewer
Heather Jorgenson
Annette Williams