Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Margaret Bourke-White

The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject, and the camera will all but take you by the hand and point the way. - Margaret Bourke-White

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Passion

There are a few things I have discovered about myself as I go through life. I love photography and I really do love teaching someone photography.

Last weekend, I took my friends daughter and two of her friends to Santa Barbara for a photo outing. It gave myself and her a chance to get out of LA and photograph what we saw. It was a rainy and gray day in La and Santa Barbara was gorgeous and a perfect fall day.

I had been to Santa Barbara once and had vowed at that point to go back when I could drive around and capture what I saw. This is one of the images below, I still have some editing to do but worked on one image thus far.

I took them to one of the SB's local landmarks and we traveled down to the pier and walked around. The Courthouse, Designed by William Mooser III, the Spanish-Moorish style building was completed in 1929, after the 1925 earthquake ruined much of the city. It occupies a square block in downtown Santa Barbara. The benefit, it's a free tour, you can walk around the grounds and capture much of the building through images.

It was a short trip, all in all we spent around 5 hours traveling and walking around. The girls had a good time and it was great to get out of LA. Taking them home, I did discover that every Tuesday there is a farmers market at the mall, up the street from where we all live, so I'm going to be taking her again, just to get her out there to shoot. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Have been abducted by that thing called work... play will resume shortly!

So, I head back to work tomorrow, bit stressed about the whole thing, after having 6 weeks off to recover from surgery (which i'm really not done), I get to go back to the 8 hour days....sigh : (.
It's really too bad you can't just sit at home or do other things and earn a
I do love my job, where else in the world can I play with camera equipment all day, and not just what I own, but with equipment I want. Give me a Nikon, I can shoot, and tell you how to set it up.

The good thing is I do have a few new toys to play with when I get back....The bad thing is I have alot to learn once I get back, the photography world will pass you by if you do not pay attention. New cameras lenses, software. It can be a bit overwhelming.

Lately I've gone back to putting the camera in much of a manual mode as I can and tweeking it the way I want. There is a lot that you can miss, the trick is knowing how to adjust quickly.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Growing up; Mercedes

This is one of the photos I've recently shot of Mercedes. I have had the pleasure of watching her grow up through my lens. Since she was 8 we have been taking photos together. Now a teenager, starting highschool.

Beautiful girl, but definitely a teenager which is perfectly normal, we were all there at one point in our lives.

The funny thing is, and I always have to ask my mom how I was because in my mind, I was the perfect daughter and never did anything wrong, BUT I now know that is not true.

High school was a blur, filled with art class, choir and friends. I was not one of the cool kids. I was average. Everyone knew me because of the camera I carried for yearbook. (it was my moms camera). I didn't buy "a pro camera" until college. I shot with an old Minolta, fully manual camera until my junior year in college. I knew and loved that camera. Unfortunately, I didn't keep it. I now wish I had.

If someone asked if I would want to do high school over again, it would be a big "NO". I had fun, but to go back to the angst, the decisions of which college I wanted to go to, of being a teenager...I'll pass.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rembering 9/11

World Trade Center one year after 9/11
Nine years ago, was the longest day of my life. My family one one of the lucky ones. The memory of that day will always be in my mind. I had just had knee surgery and was sleeping on the couch downstairs when my phone rang @ 9am. 

Below are two of the stories I wrote while working at the Repository in Canton, Ohio as a staff photographer.

Part 1

A smoke break saved my brothers life.

Tuesday, at around 8:40 a.m., my brother Joel and a few of his coworkers were taking a break during their second day of a three week training program at the Morgan Stanley financial firm in the World Trade Center, when the first building shook. Above them an explosion. Papers began to rain down on them, taking cover in one of the buildings, they decided to make their way back to the hotel.

Back here in Ohio, I was awakened by a message from my friend Kathy Sutton, who didn't know my brother was in New York. Half asleep, I heard the answering machine. All I remember hearing was World Trade and planes. Frantically, I replayed the message and redialed her number. All I could say was, What? Which Channel, "All of them," she said.

Turning on the TV, the first thing I saw was the second plane slamming into the building. I still cannot explain what I felt when I saw it. My heart stopped. I began shaking and screaming into the phone, Oh my God! Joel is there, Joel is there. I couldn't breathe. My hands were shaking. I hung up with Kathy and shouted, Oh dear God, please, please let him be OK! I called Joel's wife, Missi, in Pittsburgh. Both of us were in tears and were not sure where he was.

In 1996 and 1997 I lived in New Jersey, spending every weekend I could in New York. I had been to the top of the World Trade Center, watching the city crawl below. Its amazing how quiet the world was up there. All you heard was the wind. I was planning to visit during one of the weekends Joel was there. Unfortunately, I had to have knee surgery and wasn't able to go.
After talking with Missi, I called Joel's boss in Pittsburgh. Still shaking, I said my brother, Joel Newcomb, was in New York, and that I needed to talk with his boss, Autumn, and I had no idea what her last name is. They put me through. After reaching her, I told her who I was. She said she had not heard from any of them.

My worst fears began to engulf me. Autumn asked me to stay calm, and told me that as soon as she heard anything, she would call me. She gave me the name of Joel's hotel and room number, then gave me every single phone number of hers, telling me to call her if I needed anything, day or night.
Shortly afterward, I tried to locate my parents. I called the house. No answer. I called their cell phones. No answer. I couldn't think straight, or focus on what I needed to do. I didn't want to leave a message on the machine at their home, but I knew I had to. I don't remember what I said exactly, but my dad said later that he had to sit down as he listened to the machine. Finally, I remembered my mom was at the Alliance Country Club. Calling the pro shop in the clearest voice I could, I gave them my name and her name, and said they needed to find her no matter what it took because it was a family emergency.
Hours seemed to pass in those few minutes I waited. The phone rang.
Mom, theres been an accident, were the first few words I could say. The World Trade Centers been hit by planes. I began crying and told her Joel's training was in one of those buildings. She said she was on her way over.
I'm really not sure how much time passed. I still did not know where Joel was. The phone rang again. It was Autumn, Joel's boss. All I heard was, "Joel is OK".
Relief. My legs gave out. It was Autumn, she told me that Joel was outside having a smoke when it all began. Thank God he smokes, I replied. I hung up and tried to call my mom again on her cell phone, no answer. I called Missi, his wife and and told her. I called my dad. No luck. Pacing at the front door, I waited for my mom to show up to tell her the good news.
As she walked in the front door, I told her. We hugged and cried for a long time. I tried to call my dad again. Still no answer. I left another message. Better news this time.
Meantime, my friend Kathy showed up. We hugged as I told her Joel was OK.
Finally, my dad arrived home and heard the messages, and called my moms cell phone. As they were talking, Dad got another call: he clicked over, It was Joel.
God, its good to hear your voice, Dad said. Dad clicked back over on the telephone to let us know Joel had called. Hearing from someone that hes OK is a relief. Having him actually talk to someone in the family is unexplainable.

During the next few hours, we watched in horror as both buildings collapsed. All those lives. All those families who weren't as lucky as we were. We still didn't know where he was supposed to be in those buildings. I continually called his hotel in New York and left messages, each time, wishing I could just talk to him. I called Missi, his wife, again, to tell her he was safe, because Joel had no way to call her. They had just settled in an apartment outside Pittsburgh, so he didn't know the number. The only number he had was mine and my parents. Finally, they connected.
After making his was though the city and the chaos he got back to the hotel. He told me they had been in the second building that was hit, that it took them nearly three hours to reach their hotel. As we talked to him, Mom and I cried even more.
Joel said it was the fastest he had ever run in his life. He said that by the time the second plane hit, he and another trainee were near the church, which sits to the northeast of the trade center. Too close for comfort.
My brother is alive, and for that, I thank God every day. We found out later the training was on the 61st floor of Tower 2.
I still cry not for my brother, but for all those who werent as lucky. For those who still dont know. This has changed me in a way I'm not even sure of, as it has many people in our country. Maybe it has given me greater respect for life, not taking things for granted, realizing that petty things dont really matter.
My parents and I are driving to Pittsburgh on Saturday. We know Joel is safe, but all we want is to see him and hug him. For a very long time.

Bryant Park, the chars represented the number of people lost on 9/11
Part II
A year later...

One year ago, smoking a cigarette saved my brothers life. One year ago, I experienced the longest and worst day of my life.
We all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard that the World Trade Center towers were hit by two hijacked commercial airplanes. Next, a plane struck the Pentagon. Then, a fourth plane crashed southeast of Pittsburgh.
It seemed as if the entire world were coming to an end.
I was in my living room, using the couch as a crutch, afraid that if I let go, my heart, mind and life would fall apart.
Last September, my brother, Joel, had stepped outside Two World Trade Center, the south tower, for a cigarette break. He began three weeks of training for his new job at Morgan Stanley that Monday.
Sept. 11 was his second day at work.
When my brother decided to return to New York a year later, he knew without question that I would be going with him. Its been five years since I've been in New York City. In 1996 I spent a year working in New Jersey and spent every weekend I could in New York, soaking up the culture, the people, the places. I had been at the top of the World Trade Center towers, where the only sound you could hear was the wind.
Today, my brother, his wife, Melissa, her sister, Tina Proudfoot, and I exit a subway station onto Canal Street, and head toward the site. Flowers, flags and photos of friends or loved ones cover a fence surrounding a church that sits next to Ground Zero. My eyes keep searching for something that is no longer there.
Were standing at Ground Zero.
Vendors line the street selling American flags, patriotic T-shirts, buttons, banners and photos.
Surrounding the 16-acre site is a 13-foot fence covered in a mossy green mesh. At one corner and side is a viewing area. We enter the site, and my brother tries to describe where he was, but he cant finish. We walk to an opening. Part of the way through, my brother looks out over the hole, a gaping space of what used to be the World Trade Center. He puts his arm around his wife. In the distance, bagpipes play "Oh Danny Boy".
Tears slide down his cheek as he looks back at me. I cant help but cry myself. I walk over to him and kiss his cheek.
Today, we realize how close he really was to the horror.
We search around the site, looking for the statue of the businessman eating lunch, only to discover its been removed due to the devastation, and the small park it was in, torn down. We wander around the city for the rest of the afternoon, visiting such sites as Times Square and the Empire State Building. We watch the city in motion. The scenery has changed a bit, but its the same great city it has always been. Later, we stop for dinner at Annie Moores, a small Irish pub near Grand Central Station, before we catch the train back to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where were staying. When we were standing next to Ground Zero, it was very hard for my brother to try to describe what had happened to him on that day a year ago. But the more hours that passed, the more he talked about Sept. 11, 2001.
At dinner, Joel talked about the people standing, mesmerized by the unbelievable horror and hearing windows break from falling debris as he ran.
The noises were incredible and peoples reactions were incredible, he said. Its something you cant explain.
Joel said he saw both buildings get hit by the planes, and he felt the earth shake beneath him when they crashed to the ground. He talked about the surreal nature of an empty city.
Our return to New York City helped us put an end to a day that will be forever a part of our lives, a part of everyone's lives.
It was good for me, Joel said. It was good for all of us.

Wall St, covered in the Red White and Blue

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back in LA

Made it back to LA, still having some slight pain, I finally get to head back to work in just over a week. One side of my incision, has yet to close, so I put in a call to the doc today to see what I should do about that.

Physically I feel ok, I am still tired, but I have to assume that after someone cuts you open it will take awhile to feel like yourself again. I'm trying not to lift anything to heavy. (just in case).

I spent the day today helping my dad build his business website. Trying to KISS it. (Keep it Simple) so once he learns the back end, he can update it when he needs to. I am a self-taught web designer. I was given dreamweaver by a friend but not taught how to use it. So I taught myself and have since built more than 10 sites, and redesigned. Lots of nights pulling out my hair and chain smoking to get it all to work right when I first started, then one day it kinda all clicked.

It's taken some time, but I've got most of it down, now I just have to learn flash, php script etc's neverending. Although the benefit, I know I can earn money doing this for other people (if and that's a BIG if, I ever stop taking photographs) which is highly unlikely.

Since I was in recovery, I didnt get to do as much as I would of liked to while I was in Ohio, but I did get the camera out a couple of days and shot around my parents home. They love to garden and have fresh veggies which great for color and texture.

This photo was processed through photoshop and a few filters were added to give it the boarder and grainier appearance.

I used the same process, but change some of the hue in the filter. The wheel barrel, may have been sitting there 10 years and the vines have claimed it.

It's amazing what you can find to shoot in your own (or parents) backyard.

Monday, August 30, 2010

In Ohio

The surgery was scheduled almost three weeks before I needed to be in Ohio for my friends shower and bachlorette party. Thankfully the doc gave me the ok to fly. Told me I would not be comfortable but I could do it. Had to have a wheelchair through each airport. I had my backpack but it had to be light, still no lifting. Not even allowed to put the bag in the overhead bin.

Thankfully I had my iPad for the trip. Two movies later and a couple of chapters in the book on it I'm reading, I landed in Ohio.

My mom and one of my best friends met me at the airport. Ohio thankfully was not humid. Not yet.

After shopping Friday, we get to the familiar back yard and I dont have the camera I want but had to snap a shot of the back of the house; lots of texture and vow to get the other camera out and reshoot.

The next couple of days it would be busy, shopping for the shower gift, bachlorette party and then bridal shower, all done by sunday at 6. Busy weekend. I overdid it slightly and pretty sure I have and will pay for moving so much. Woke up Monday at 11:30am. Definitly caught up on my sleep. The parties were a HUGE success and the bride and groom to be enjoyed themselves, which is all anyone can ask for.