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Back in the Swing of Things…

Well it happened again…I have let far too much time go by without shooting, so in trying to get back to a regular shooting schedule I have these photos to offer.  I have started tutoring a student, Max, and took him to one of my favorite spots in all of Washington DC to take pictures, the Hirshhorn.  Always interesting backgrounds and plenty of people.

Dwarf or child? Who knows?

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One of my favorite spots is the lower section of thr Hirshhorn where they always have some random video playing on a giant projector screen…

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This installation will have to be revisited, but I do like what came out of a few minutes of people watching.

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Art or did the cleaning crew just get really lazy?

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Then a quick stop by the American History Museum.

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Favorite “one” of the day; this is three frames put together.

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Hopefully this is the start of my blogging getting back to some sort of a regular schedule.  Until next time…

Starlight Children’s Foundation…

From time to time I stop and think about what it will be like to have children, it completely stresses me out. I worry about everything. Will I have any girls? If so, how much will a pony farm cost? How do you nurture something you love more than yourself without over doing it? Will they be rebels? Will they be half as accident prone as I was growing up? Then the one question that creeps in briefly before I quickly dismiss it, will they be healthy? I can’t imagine the added stress that comes with having a sick child. Everyone is effected parents, siblings, and most of all the sick child.

This weekend I was able to work with an amazing group, Starlight Children’s Foundation. What they do, “When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, the day-to-day joys of childhood take a back seat to the rigors of treatment and hospitalization. For nearly 30 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for children around the globe with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and life-altering injuries by providing entertainment, education and family activities that help them cope with the pain, fear and isolation of prolonged illness.”

Face painting was the first stop.

Finally getting to see the work of the face painter.

At times the mesh from the bounce castle was the only thing separating this volunteer from the most adorable mauling of his life.

After bouncing for a while, Miss Teen Virginia stopped by for a visit.  Clearly a princess is not complete without a REAL crown, and Miss Teen Virginia was a more than willing to let the girls try on her crown.

Everyone wanted their time with Miss Teen Virginia.

Some wanted the crown, but not Spiderman.  He knew what he wanted. Notice him above taking position to make his move, eyes locked on target.

The AMAZING Jonathan was up next.

It was easy to see how much fun the kids were having, but these events are also needed breaks for the parents.  Here two dads help the AMAZING Jonathan get on his extremely tall unicycle.

The reaction of the crowd is great, but one person was less than impressed.  I like your style Spiderman.

There was dancing. The dance floor was ruled by a stern but fair Queen.  She kept everyone in order.

I can’t really stress how much people flipped for the bounce castle…(Side note: one of the hardest places I have ever tried to light/shoot in.)

I’m pretty sure that if her handler hadn’t been there Miss Teen Virginia would have been in that bounce castle with the rest of us, crown or no crown.

Towards the end of the night a group of girls were choreographing a dance, and I noticed this one little girl struggling with her balloon.

From this exchange came my favorite photo of the night.  Here, after my offering of help, she contemplates whether or not she wants me to fix her balloon.

The night ended with a few last photos to remind them of better things other than hospitals and medicine.

If you would like to donate to please look at their website, www.starlight.org. You don’t have to just donate money, you can volunteer your time. The strength of all these families is truly both humbling and inspiring. I am thankful I had the opportunity to photograph this event, and I look forward to working with them more in the future.

Here is the whole group.

Más Ocupar…

 

These photos are from yesterday’s Occupy DC action at the offices’ of the US House of Representatives.     The protest had already started as I arrived, so I quickly made my way to the middle of the crowd.  Anyone who has seen some of my previous post might be sick of seeing my photos of people taking photos, but this is a little different because many of the Occupiers are now streaming live videos with chat as they protest. Tracesofjupiter:History in the making! #OccupyCongress #J17

After being outside the Occupiers moved into the Congressional offices.

Waiting for his fellow Occupiers…

After wandering the halls for a bit it was time to head back to the streets.  Apparently more people like V for Vendetta than I thought.  Who knew?

Some bus riders we fans of the protest unfolding around them; some just wanted to get home.

Here a police officer found himself outnumbered and surrounded. There were no injuries and for the most part everyone behaved themselves on both sides of the Law.

The following photos are from around the Capital building, where the crowd went after marching.

My favorite of the day…

After eating food and rehydrating the crowd went to the Supreme Court, then on to the White House.

Until next time…

Insert Quarter to Begin…

This weekend over 6,000 people headed to the National Harbor to take part in the annual event known as Mag Fest.  Mag Fest is a gathering of video gamers, tabletop players, movie buffs, and RPG’ers.  Mag Fest runs from Thursday to Sunday, 24 hours a day, nonstop.  Some might call them nerds or geeks, but I would just call them like-minded people enjoying what they like to do in their free time.

Now whip it

Into shape

Shape it up

Get straight

Go forward

Move ahead

Try to detect it

It’s not too late

To whip it

Whip it good

Dance Dance  Revolution was a crowd favorite.

Must keep gaming…..

What looks like a normal racing simulator…

Was in a minivan.

On top of all the gaming there were concerts where bands played songs from popular video games.

The biggest concert was the band, Earthbound Papas.  Popular because band member, Nobuo Uematsu is the composer for all the Final Fantasy video games. The Final Fantasy video game series has sold over 100 million copies, so it is kind of a big deal.

And still more gaming…

On my way to grab a bite to eat one night I saw this family eatting dinner. Not very exciting I know.  What grabbed my attention was that they were all watching TV instead of talking to one another.

I will end with one of my favorite photos from the weekend.

Jay Maisel.

It isn’t often that you are given the chance to spend several days with one of your heros, but in the middle of December I was fortunate enough to get that chance. I had the amazing opportunity to spend time with one of the most talented, highest earning, well respected, and just plain great guys, Jay Maisel.

I first heard about Jay through the director of the photography program I attended in Washington DC, Chris Alvanas. Chris would always talk about the salon groups Jay would take part of in New York City. When Chris would talk about Jay it was as if he was describing some mythic photographic creature. After seeing his work I was hooked; regurgitating the stories I had heard from Chris about Jay to anyone that wanted to listen to them. Jay is a master of both available light and his understanding/implementation of color. So for a photographer like myself that only likes to shoot with available light and in color it was inevitable that he would become one of my heros.

The workshop began with a questioner. One of the questions was, “What do you hope to gain from this workshop?” I answered, “Inspiration.” It seemed like a logical answer at the time, now in hindsight I realize that I couldn’t have ever known what I would gain from my few days with Jay. I will return to this thought in a moment.

One of the best things about the workshop was that it was held in Jay’s house. Calling Jay’s house a house is a bit of a stretch. He lives in a 6 story, 35,000-square-foot bank building that was built at the turn of the 20th century. The building itself is amazing, but what’s inside is so much better.

It only makes sense to keep all his negatives and prints in his climate controlled bank vault.

Two floors are used primarily as gallery space.  These are just a few photos of some of his work on display.

Jay studied painting and graphic design at Cooper Union and Yale, and the next floor showed how his studies continue on today.

Colors and shapes that excite him are everywhere.

 I will build this in my house one day.

Inspiration. That’s was the best I could come up with? What a total cliché. Of course I would be inspired. It didn’t hit me until the end of the workshop that I really understood what it was I wanted from his workshop. I wanted validation and hope. I have spent a lot of time with many different photographers, but Jay was the first one that I have ever met that is always shooting. He is always shooting because he always has his camera with him. I pride myself on always having my camera with me, but Jay humiliates me in comparison.

It is easy to build someone up in your head, more often than not they are never as great as you imagine they will be. Somehow after seeing how Jay still loves photography gave me this feeling of validation. It gave me hope that I will still love photography as much now as when I’m 80. It has taken me almost a month to write this all because I still can’t express how 5 days with Jay Maisel has undoubtedly changed my outlook on my life as a photographer. Maybe in a few more weeks I’ll be able to better express myself.

  Here are some of the photos from the workshop.  Thanks to my Mother for making it all possible.  

Headed home… until next time.

Lets Get This Party Started…

Balance.  It is a constant exercise. Whether it is finding time for friends between work, the right jacket to wear on a day that is cold but not that cold, or, more importantly for me, the visual balance of elements in a photograph.  Balance is what we are all trying to find daily in our lives.  This post isn’t about the first two situations, but it is the first post of many about trying to visually balance a photograph.  Well at least it is about the elements of balance I think about when I’m making photographs and then editing photographs.

How I go from this…

…to this.

I’m using the word balance in a metaphysical sense; really I’m talking about the execution of compositional techniques.  Points of interest, the visual weight they all hold, and how to accentuate elements of a photograph through various methods.  Over the next few months my goal is to break down some of my photographs, possibly some more famous works, in order to help others, and myself, to be able to speak more intelligently about a piece of “art.”  To try to broaden the collective lexicon when describing art further than just, “I like it because…well I just do.”

By simplifying the contents of my photos, using bright dayglow colors, franticly drawn zigzag lines, pompous use of polysyllabic words,  and some humor I hope to get more people excited to think and talk about composition.  So if you like AWESOME diagrams like this than you’re in luck because that’s where I’m going with this series of post.

So stay tuned, because next week we will begin our visual journey.

MLK Dedication…

 

Will write some thoughts tonight, but wanted to post these photos of the Martin Lurther King Jr. Memorial dedication.