I Love Dandelion Photographs

dandelion photograph photographyI love dandelions. My neighbors all treat their yard to get rid of these pretty yellow flowers, but I don’t touch them. I like to let them grow in my yard because I think their yellow looks so nice mixed in with the green grass. Every spring for about 3 weeks they’re in full force and I have to keep up with the mowing or my yard starts to look like a vacant lot with all the dandelion stems sticking up everywhere, but as long as I’m vigilant with my mowing it looks like a mountain meadow. Many people believe that dandelions are beneficial to humanity as both an herb and medicine, but I don’t have any experience with eating them. I just like the way they look.yellow dandelion photograph photography

I grabbed my camera the other day and put on my macro lens set to capture two photos of the dandelions in my yard. I wanted one of a flower in bloom and one of the plant after it went to seed. I chose a cloudy day because I didn’t want a bunch of harsh shadows or contrast on the plants. Laying on the ground with my camera’s lens nearly touching them, I snapped a series of photos of different dandelions at different angles. These are my favorite two of the bunch.

 

Epic portraits of Aaron, my 6th grade son

portrait of 6th grade boy AaronI decided to post these epic portraits of Aaron, by 12 year old son, because I’ve been doing a ton of photography for clients, but the projects aren’t green lighted to blog about here yet. I can’t wait to post about what I’ve been doing lately though because I’m really excited to show some of my latest work. In the mean time, here’s a short photo shoot with Aaron all dressed up for his school’s spring concert a few weeks back.

portrait of 6th grade boy running

Waiting for the signal.

Aaron is a dynamic person, and that long blonde hair of his is really fun to photograph. His blue eyes along with that blue shirt and tie made such a great combination that it was easy to make these photos look good. I was using my 55-200 Nikkor lens to shoot these because I wanted to test it on a running subject before the Akron Color Vibe 5k that I was scheduled to shoot the upcoming weekend. The camera and lens worked out perfectly and made the photos you see here pretty epic looking if you ask me. My biggest concern was the speed of the lens focusing on a subject running directly at me with the sun behind him, as sometimes in strong backlight some lenses have a difficult time focusing.

After I saw that the lens would have no issues focusing on him running, I told him to just stand there and let me shoot some portraits. I used mostly available light for them, as the sun had been covered by clouds at that point. In a few shots I also used the popup flash set just to fill in. I didn’t want a lot of light thrown on Aaron, just a little to lift him away from the background. Because there was so much available light, the fill light doesn’t look harsh even though it’s shot directly at him with a bare bulb.

portrait of 6th grade boy

Aaron edited this photo himself. He made a really striking look.

When we got back from the concert I showed the photos to Aaron and we went through and selected the ones he liked best to be edited. In this photo he really wanted to use Photoshop himself to make the photo just like he wanted to. portrait of 6th grade boyI normally don’t let the kids touch my work computer, but I trust Aaron. After about 15 minutes playing around with sliders in Photoshop, here’s the image he came up with. I must say that I think its quite awesome looking. I wouldn’t have processed it like that, but he had a different vision of how his portrait should look and I like it.

Hopefully by next week I can blog about my recent work for clients. I’m really excited about what I shot recently and have coming up this spring!

A Cute Baby Bunny I Just Had To Photograph

I love this cute bunny photograph

The Super Cute and Adorable Baby Bunny

A friend of mine found this cute baby bunny last night and I wanted to photograph it because it was just too adorable. Apparently his cats were toying with the poor defenseless creature, and the bunny didn’t have the speed needed to outrun them, so he rescued the poor little things from the claws of his felines and brought it inside. After my initial gush of “Awwww! Its soooo cute!” my next thought was “I need to photograph this incredibly cute little creature! Fast!”. My children were all over the rabbit and it was torture for them not to be able to hold it and cuddle with the bunny, but we didn’t know if it has fleas, lice, etc, so they could only lightly pet the poor terrified rabbit then immediately wash their hands.

Jill and the cute bunny

Jill and the Bunny

I ran upstairs and grabbed my camera and decided to use my 55-200 lens so I could keep some distance between me and the bunny I because I was going to have to use my hot shoe flash to properly illuminate things properly and I didn’t want the flash to be to close to it (the 55-200 lens was also already on my camera, which made the choice even easier). To avoid the harsh light of a flash shot directly at the bunny, I angled and tilted the flash head to reflect off of the wall and ceiling in my kitchen, which makes the light softer and more appealing. My concern was that the bunny would jump out of her hand before I was able to get a decent photograph, so I had to work quickly.

After the photos and the round of goodbye petting by all the kids, my friend decided to let the bunny go in a different yard than the one where his cats were, but when he did, the rabbit acted like it had a hurt leg. At the beckoning of Jill, his girlfriend, he decided to let the bunny stay the night in a box so it would have the opportunity to rest and recover it’s strength. After he let the bunny go, his cats found it again! Now they’re going to turn it over to a wildlife rescue organization for care, which it it’s best opportunity for a full life.

Nathan (my son) Being Overjoyed About The Bunny

Nathan (my son) Being Overjoyed About The Bunny

***Editor’s note: This is a little bit different than I normally post, and the photos aren’t a result of intensive work (they were quite rushed and impromptu). However, I think the subject matter is so adorable (and the photos did turn out pretty well too) that I hope my readers can look past that***

2013 Brodyn’s Friends Golfing for a Cure Event Photography

Family portrait akron portrait photographyRecently I worked with the organizers of the 2013 Brodyn’s Friends Golfing for a Cure to be held on Monday, July 15th at the Ridgewood Country Club. Brodyn is a super sweet boy who was born with Nonketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH) and has been bravely battling it along with his supportive family and a wonderful group of friends. Founded by his loving parents, Heidi and Dan, Brodyn’s Friends has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help find a cure for Nonketotic Hyperglycinemia (NKH). The annual Golfing for a Cure is the group’s largest fundraiser of the year and promises to be a great time for all those involved.

Boy on a swing akron portrait photographyI volunteered to take portraits of Brodyn for use on event marketing material. Being such a sweet boy, Brodyn was all smiles and fun, which made my job easy. His parents made him laugh and kept his spirits high throughout the entire photo shoot. After an hour of me taking photos of him he was still as high-spirited and fun-loving (something that many adults aren’t able to pull off). I primarily used an on-camera hotshoe flash set to TTL -2, because Boy on playground akron portrait photographyI didn’t want to blow the photo out with a lot of flash light. Using the walls and ceiling, I tried to simulate the look of a large softbox, rather than on-camera lighting.

Take a look at the event at brodynsfriends.com and consider attending the golfing event. There are few causes in the area that are truly locally-based and will have such a positive and direct impact on the life of a local child living with a disease. For more information about Golfing for a Cure, please call Heidi Leslie at 330-414-9949 or email her at Heidi@BrodynsFriends.com.

Here’s the flyer for Golfing For a Cure: Golfing For A Cure Flyer

2013 Color Vibe Akron 5k Run Photography

The Color Vibe 5k Akron PhotographyI was hired to photograph the 2013 Color Vibe Akron 5k took place on April 27th at the Summit County Fairgrounds. From looking at the photos, you can tell this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill 5k run. Participants of the Color Vibe 5k are guaranteed an event unlike any run they’ve probably ever taken part in. With over 8,000 runners showing up the morning of the run, the fairgrounds were full and lively well before the run got under way.The Color Vibe 5k Akron Photography

Being April in northeastern Ohio, the weather is always a gamble with an outdoor event, but nature was kind to us and we had the most outstanding conditions imaginable. In the morning it was bright and clear and about 45 degrees, but the sun quickly warmed things up and everybody was in t-shirts before the first wave of runners hit the course. Every participant is given a white event t-shirt and a pair of Color Vibe sunglasses. These aren’t simply to look cool, but the white shirt gives the perfect canvas for the brilliant colors, that are the event’s namesake, to be painted on. The sunglasses look fun, but also protect the wearer from getting a blast of color in the eyes. The Color Vibe 5k Akron PhotographyThe colored power itself is nothing more than cornstarch with a biodegradable pigment which is made in the USA and is safe for the participants and the environment (and hopefully for camera gear).

At the staging area, runners are given bags containing the colored powder and they began dousing themselves and others with bright, fun designs, or simply tossing it in the air and letting the cloud waft color onto everybody surrounding them. Upbeat music is pumped out by a DJ the entire day and keeps the entire event feeling like a giant neon-colored party. Runners were let off in waves of 1,000 at a time and start at an easy jog. They proceed though multiple “color stations” where event volunteers are waiting with truckloads of different colored powder to be squirted, lobbed, tossed and wafted onto the passing event participants. Runners can decide to go directly through the thick of the color station and get the full dousing of powder, or if they’ve had enough color for the time being, they can go to the outside and skip that particular color station.

Color Vibe 903At the end of the 5k, plenty of water was available for the runners and the DJ really ramped up the party atmosphere. Free prizes were thrown into the crowd and participants could join in the dancing and partying or decide to sit under the shade of a nearby tree and relax their painted and (possibly) tired bodies.

Throughout the entire Color Vibe 5k, the event organizers were easy to spot for runners with questions and all the corresponding stations were well marked with large flags. The party atmosphere was never tense and everybody was enjoying their time at this one-of-a-kind event. For next year’s 2014 Color Vibe 5k, the event will be moved to a larger venue to accommodate an even larger number of participants.

More information about upcoming Color Vibe runs can be found at http://www.TheColorVibe.com.

Microsoft Paparazzi Photographer Gig in Cleveland

Brodyn and Microsoft 216A few weeks ago I was hired to pose as a paparazzi photographer and photograph people at the grand opening of the new Microsoft Store in Beachwood Place Mall in Cleveland, OH. Kelly Clarkston was putting on a free concert in the mall’s parking lot to celebrate the opening of the new store and we were hired to shoot paparazzi-style photographs of the crowd as they came into the concert. In total there were 5 photographers shooting the event, with all five of us placed in front of the Mictosoft/MSN backdrop. Our job was to call out to people as they filed past us to pose for us so we could snap their photo and give them the experience of being a celebrity on the red carpet.Brodyn and Microsoft 190

After being photographed, they were given a card telling them where they could view and download their photo on Microsoft’s website. The photos I shot weren’t used, but the people got quite an experience posing in front of 5 photographers with large DSLR cameras and hot shoe flashes blazing away. The crowd got a real kick out of being called out to by us and having us ask for them to pose and smile.

Brodyn and Microsoft 263 It was a cold and rainy day so people were all bundled up and the camera gear kept getting wet, but the equipment I use is weather sealed, so it wasn’t a problem. The photographers weren’t weather sealed and we all were quite cold by the time the gig ended and were happy to go into the mall to warm up. It was a really fun gig in part because the people had a lot of fun posing for the cameras and also because we had full freedom with the entire photographic process.

50th Wedding Anniversary for Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz at the MAPS Air Museum

MAPS Air Museum event photography

The MAPS Air Museum

I was honored recently to be asked to photograph the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz at the MAPS Air Museum in Canton, OH. The parents of a good friend of mine, they have enjoyed a half century of good health and a large family of five children.

Mr. Schwartz serves of the board at the MAPS Air Museum and is highly respected there. He was able to arrange the use of the main hanger at the Museum to house the large, and happy celebration that lasted the entire afternoon and into the night. Banks of large windows let in bright sunlight that showed the air power of the United States in years past and toward the present, presenting a backdrop to the event that few other events can top.

My job at the event was to capture the happy atmosphere that was present and the feeling of the party at such an impressive location. MAPS Air Museum event photographyWe also had the idea of setting up a photo booth that allowed me to photograph people and have their photos printed on-location and inserted into a frame, giving the guests a physical reminder of the event. I chose a location directly in front of a large Navy prop plane because I liked the light from the windows near it and the way that this particular plane had it’s engines and cockpit near each other, allowing me to capture both in-frame while at the same time being close to the guests.

Schwarts 50th Anniversary 624

Portraits were taken in front of this airplane

After night fell, I lit the plane and guests with off-camera strobes, which looked beautiful.

Schwarts 50th Anniversary 596

50 years of wedded bliss!

The cake topper was the same one used 50 years ago, I was sure to capture it as well as the ceremonial cake eating, although there was no cake smeared on each others face. The staff at the MAPS Air Museum was first-class. When guests wondered around the celebration, there was no shortage of fascinating history to read abut or displays to look over. Before dinner I went from table to table photographing the guests for the happy couple and there was no shortage of kind words and compliments for the family or the entire event. Compliments to the Schwartz family for putting on such a wonderful event and for Mr. and Mrs. Schwartz 50 years of wedded bliss.

Amish Paradise

In a departure from more serious photography, I present to you one of the funniest photos I’ve ever snapped. A few months ago I was on vacation to the Bahamas and was at a very exclusive resort in Freeport when I saw an Amish couple walking around in paradise. Living in Ohio, seeing Amish people isn’t anything new. They drive their buggies down the same roads I drive on and shop at many of the same stores I do (seeing an Amish family in Walmart is still humorous to me).

Amish paradise bahamas

Chillin’ out relaxin’. Maxin’ out cool.

However, seeing an Amish couple in the tropics dressed in their traditional handmade wool clothes was something I’d never imagine. They weren’t acting like there was anything odd about them being there at all. In fact, they acted like they belonged there, almost like they owned the place. No other tourist was laying in the shade on top of this wall. The Amish may have the appearance of a lower income, but some of the Amish that I know have fleets of semi trucks, automated factories, and houses that would make many doctors green with envy. Many Amish carry cell phones and have nicer cars than I’ll ever own, they just hire someone else to drive them (their own limo drivers, if you will).

For the photographers out there, I shot this photo at ISO200, f/11 (to get a deep depth of field) 1/125/sec and was zoomed in to 200mm with IS turned on.

Reebok CrossFit Games 2013 workout 13.5 photos from CrossFit Legacy

CrossFit 13.5 699This was the last week for the athletes at CrossFit Legacy to qualify for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games. Here’s the photo set from the workout.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/st1100pilot/sets/72157633224204945/

Reebok CrossFit Open 13.5 at CrossFit Legacy

CrossFit pull up

The regional qualifying round of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games is complete. The organizers of the CrossFit games wanted them to go out with a bang, so they saved what could be considered the most intense workout for last. Clocking in at 4 minutes, the 13.5 workout gave the athletes the shortest workout of the Open, which means it was probably be the most physically intense one too. As a general rule, the shorter the workout, the more intense it will be. Talking about the short time span, William Christian commented, “It’s…tricky. You can do anything for 4 minutes, but you have to be smart about it… For me, it was more of a mental challenge.”, referring to the intensity and duration of the exercises. The 13.5 CrossFit workout also had a twist that no previous workout offered.  It rewarded the fittest athletes with an additional “Bonus Round” of punishing workout time if they exceeded a preset number of reps.

CrossFit pull upThe 13.5 CrossFit Workout consisted of:
4 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
15 Thrusters (100lbs for men, 65lbs for women)
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
*4 minute bonus for every 90 reps

As with the 13.4 workout, the athletes had to use a combination of free weights and pull-up type exercises. Comparing the two workouts, Brian Yoak said, “In difficulty it felt similar to to 13.4, in that it hit you fast”. To allow quick access to the overhead bars, the athletes are packed into a tight bunch of raw muscle power and intense, powerful motion that has to be seen to understand how impressive it really is. The close proximity of so many powerful bodies all performing identical movements is awe-inspiring.

CrossFit thrusterA thruster is a muscle-draining exercise that combines squats and a barbell. An athlete must squat down, lift the barbell off the floor, squat with the barbell on their chest, then stand and lift the barbell over their head. Performing a thruster during competition is quite different than lifting some weights in your garage or even just to warm up. There’s the pressure of completing enough reps to move on to the next step with the need to conserve enough strength to go back to the barbell and pound out another set afterward with no rest in between. “The bar felt heavier than 100lbs after the previous 60 reps, being able to control breathing while moving the bar was key”, commented Yoak.

“The extra capacity it takes for chest to bar increases breathing and if you don’t remain consistent in your movements and know how to breath when working as hard as you can, the thrusters would be tons more difficult.” – Brian Yoak

After the required number of thrusters are completed, the CrossFit Legacy athletes run to the pull-up bar and throw themselves into chest-to-bars. These are like chin-ups on steroids. “The hardest part was trying to maintain a good pace during the chest to bar”, commented CrossFit athlete William Christian. An athlete must lift themselves up high enough so their chest comes in contact with the bar they’re holding onto. The vertical lift they are required to perform is extraordinary with many athletes’ feet coming over 3′ off the ground with every rep. CrossFit athletes try not to simply do a chin-up type motion, but to complete a butterfly movement where they swing their entire body all the way back and all the way forward as if on a trapeze. This is a very efficient movement and allows for a high number of reps in a short period of time as long as a rhythm is able to be maintained, but it’s immensely tiring and quite difficult to continue rep after rep.

CrossFit thruster

The view from the bonus round

The athletes kept moving back and forth between thrusters and chin-to-bars until the 4 minute mark was hit. That is, unless. they were able to complete 90 reps (3 rounds of each exercise)  in the 4 minute span, in which case they got to continue the workout for another 4 minutes in a bonus round. The bonus round was an additional set of reps that pushed an athlete to the brink of their physical and mental endurance. CrossFit 13.5 098Many athletes really felt the burn set in around the 70-80 rep mark. Christian commented, “I felt like I was spent when I got to 70 (reps)”. The thought of another 4 minutes is a motivator but also a bit of a relief. Brian Yoak didn’t make the bonus round, but summed it up well, “I was disappointed i didn’t make it past 4 min, but the fear of the pain also made it a relief.” Typically, there was only one athlete from a heat that would be able to make the bonus round, and that athlete had the entire gym as a cheering section. All eyes were focused on that lone athlete throwing everything they had against the workout and never giving in. This test of the athlete’s mettle was rewarded by the satisfaction of knowing that they are among the most elite athletes in CrossFit and the additional reward of accruing additional points toward the CrossFit Regional score, propelling them further ahead in the qualifying round.

CrossFit pull up

I workout at CrossFit legacy because of the motivation. I see different people hitting different goals and getting an incredible amount of support. – William Christian

With the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Open qualifying round drawing to a close, CrossFit Legacy is able to look back with pride at it’s athlete’s hard work and effort. cross the gym, the scores were even higher than the 2012 CrossFit Games and the number of athletes competing was higher as well. Most athletes bested their 2012 scores considerably and have every confidence that the 2014 CrossFit Games will be an even higher mark in their personal best. Brian Yoak, CrossFit Legacy owner, is immensely proud of his athletes. Through their hard work and dedication combined with his drive to forge the fittest athletes, CrossFit Legacy sets itself apart from every gym in northeast Ohio, and cements it’s place as one of the premiere CrossFit gyms in the country.

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