At the Arboretum

I spent part of Friday at Rancho San Rafael Park with a group of co-workers doing clean-up of the Wilbur D. May Arboretum (link).  Of course, I put my rake down for a bit to get in a few shots.

We worked this sunny patch as our first order of business. Temps were expected to get to over 100 later in the day, so we figured it was best to get this taken care of early.

Even at that early hour, it was freakin’ hot.  And dusty.

After getting this area cleared, we moved into shade by the labyrinth where I took a few minutes to capture some of the lovelies.

Buddy has an owie on his lip

I have a feeling I know how he’s doing it (this is his second scraped lip).  Our neighbors, on occasion, let their dog run free. He runs up to the outside of our wooden fence and races back and forth. Nina and Buddy just about kill themselves running back and forth with him. Buddy puts his face very close to the fence to keep an eye on the interloper, and I think he scrapes it when he bolts to run with the neighbor dog.

You can’t see it from this angle, but it actually extends up and sideways under his right nostril. It looks like it hurts…

Test flight

I finally broke down and bought myself a EF 70-200mm f/2.8L (the less expensive one) and I’ve been taking it out for a whirl.  So far I am quite pleased. The clarity of the photos are very good, even under low light and high ISO. (The photos I posted of Buddy and Nina yesterday were taken with this lens – Buddy’s image was taken at ISO 3200, f/2.8, 1/50s, 200mm and Nina’s at ISO 1250, f/5.0, 1/50s, 200mm.)

Today I ventured out into the backyard.  I wanted to see what it would do at 200mm in bright sun, shooting wide open at very fast shutter speed.

These doves were coming in for a landing on our power pole at the corner of our lot. ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/1600s, 200mm.

This one was taken in our backyard. The dove is sitting high above me on Sweetie’s weather station. ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/1000s, 200mm.

Nina nosing around by the barren vegetable beds. ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1000s, 200mm.

While I was sleeping

This humble blog passed 400 followers.   For all of you “real” ones, and you know who you are, thank you!  You aren’t trying to sell me anything; you just like my work. And I am humbled.

It’s too hot to do much of anything . . .

. . . except lay around the house. It’s 104 degrees outside right now.  (“Yeah but it’s a dry heat.”)

I’ve got the swamp cooler running on high and can only get the house to 77.

The pups have the right idea.

Nina study.

The challenge of cookies

What’s that you say?  Cookies? Seems simple enough. Oh yeah, sure. Oatmeal, chocolate chip, snicker-doodles.  Easy-peasy.

But  how do you make Black Forest Red Velvet cookies read as cookies and not raw hamburger?  That was the challenge Jeff Ross gave me on Tuesday night.

We had a fun shoot with Nicholle, the proprietress of Homage Bakery (FB page). Best part of the night? Eating the samples when the shoot was through.  To die for. I can’t wait to get some more.

Food Photography – Not something I’m going to be racing out to do, but . . .

Getting technique in one’s tool box is always important, so I’m taking a two-session food photography class through the Nevada Museum of Art. Regular readers won’t be surprised when I mention who is teaching it. None other than Jeff Ross (my lighting instructor at University of Nevada, and commercial photographer extraordinaire).

Last week we had a chef come in and we photographed four different dishes. It’s challenging. It’s not easy to make food look good. To have it pop, yet avoid weird reflections, muddy colors, etc.  Tonight we are supposed to bring our images from last week’s session in for critique, and Jeff also gave us an optional homework assignment: to photograph either ice cream (making sure to get the cracks and ridges) or to photograph beer with the perfect amount of foam. With weather being in the mid-90’s lately, I wasn’t about to try ice cream, even if I did manage to get it in the freezer immediately after scooping. Not only that, I’d be too tempted to eat it instead of shooting it. So I opted for the beer challenge. The thing is, I’m not a beer drinker, so I don’t even have a beer mug! Instead I opted for an over-sized wine glass which I thought might make an interesting photograph.

I literally spent hours setting this shot up – using a stand-in wine glass. When I was finally ready to shoot the real thing, I grabbed the wine glass I had chilling in the freezer and went to town.  I had to shoot fast!  There’s even room for some ad copy in the upper right quarter of the photo.

Here are my shots from last week’s studio shoot.

To my delight, the chef is vegan, and he prepared two vegan options in addition to the meat entrees.

This one was tough. Trying to show the texture and shine without it looking slimy was a challenge.  Diffuse the light too much and the veggies will look dull and lifeless.

Probably my favorite meal of all time. Pasta and marinara. Num!

I shot at this angle because the meatball was such a prominent feature of the dish. You still see the sauce and pasta, but to me, this meal was all about the meatball.

This one is probably my least favorite shot. I just couldn’t make this burger look special.  The chef said the aioli dressing was a key feature of the dish, so we did our best to try to make it stand out. We tried it first on black plating, but the shine and reflections didn’t work. We then switched to this green plate and well, I just struggled with this one. Just as I was finishing up shooting this entree, we got the chef to toast the top bun and I’m hoping my partner got a better look than I was able to provide.

Tonight we will be photographing baked goods. And afterwards we get to eat some!