Meanwhile, I’ve been playing with photos and have created a new gallery/slide show of my lightning photography. Click to check it out!
It’s so nice to get back into nature and do a little shooting for pleasure. At Viera Wetlands on Thursday, I used my still camera as well as a new video camera I’m trying out to capture a few images of the birds and alligators that flock to this area in our Florida “winter.” I was especially amused by a cranky great blue heron who wouldn’t let another heron anywhere near a nest, from which babies occasionally poked their fuzzy heads.
See the photo gallery, or check out a short video, below. Make sure you choose 720HD from the settings menu on the video (the gear- or flower-shaped symbol) to get the best quality.
“Casual portrait” sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? “Portrait” makes one think of posing in front of a mottled blue cloth, perhaps at a department store, and gazing into the flat, bright lights of the studio. And the blue cloth certainly has its place, sometimes – I was window-shopping for one recently myself. But I much prefer to take photos of people outdoors, when the light is good, and when the setting has a chance to become part of the photos. The beach has endless appeal in this area, but recently, I visited Pennsylvania and had the opportunity to do portrait shoots in park settings. The flowers were gorgeous, and the grass and trees were lush and green. With the sun low in the sky, the light was divine. One of the shoots was with members of my family, and as they started to relax and have fun, the pictures reflected their mood. I especially like the shots of my dad playing with my nephew; it was so nice to see such rare happiness. Little kids have a lot to do with that! The pictures of my brother’s family came out well, too. It was as if summer added its glow to the scene.
Are you getting portraits taken of your family for a special occasion, or maybe for holiday cards? Or maybe you’re just overdue. I recommend having a photographer do a portrait session in a beautiful place, or a place with texture and interest, or a place that means something to you. Prepare to spend some time. Coordinate your clothes, but you don’t all have to wear the same thing. (Though jeans and white or pastel shirts can be very effective!) Avoid brand names and logos on the kids’ shirts, for a more timeless look. And play. A good photographer will play with you, and you’ll get joyous, spontaneous and even some “formal” informal portraits to treasure.
See more photos from these sessions and others in my photo galleries.
The lightning may have been sparse, but it was pretty. I’ve found sometimes the best crawlers happen in the dying phases of the storm, and sometimes you have to wait several minutes between flashes to nab them. But this storm hovering off Cape Canaveral really stopped when it stopped producing, allowing me to get several more mosquito bites as I painstakingly held the shutter open for 20 or 30 seconds at a time, hoping against hope. Oh, well. Comes with the territory.
It had been almost 15 years since I’d been to Las Vegas, and this time, I was traveling with friends, so it was better. It was also vastly different, with a number of properties that weren’t there before.
Previously, I’d used the city mostly as a base for day trips to places like Death Valley and the Grand Canyon (why, you say, that’s not a day trip, Chris! It is if you are a crazy drivin’ fool). While I got outside the city this time, to beautiful Red Rock Canyon and monumental Hoover Dam, I saw more inside the city, from the glamorous new casino properties to the low-key cool of the Pinball Hall of Fame. Speaking of which, here is an eerie video of me playing with a strange old coin-operated marionette clown at the place, shot by Kathryn Gonzalez. Meet Peppy the Clown.
Vegas is a photographer’s playground, but it’s also a loud, fake, glitzy, loud, smoky, frenetic, loud – did I say loud? – cheap, rich man’s paradise. I feel I barely scratched the surface, photographically speaking.
I’m saving my energy for another day to write about the extraordinary meal we had at Jose Andres’ “e” restaurant. But here’s a selection of photos from Las Vegas.
Earlier Monday, I drove south to check out some storms and saw a lightning bolt hit well ahead of the rain and clouds – one of those bolts from the blue. That’s why the lightning safety folks say, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
Ah, luminous youth! See the photos here.