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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hen-House Warming Hootenanny







So my friend Rachel moved in to this place a few months ago and forgot to have a housewarming party. But now she's got chickens, so they had a housewarming.



Our neck of the woods, KCK, is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Kansas City metro area. It makes no sense, it's perfectly livable and the eastern end of it where Westheight and Strawberry Hill are, very centrally located. And dirt cheap. A house you can grab in Brookside or Midtown for a quarter million dollars might fetch $70,000. Cuz no respect, like I say.





Actually I think Strawberry Hill is starting to get some cachet.





The chickens were a hit. One guest even came dressed as one. The chickens, in turn, were so excited they laid extra eggs. Or maybe that was a coincidence, but when someone opened the coop and commented that there were three eggs, Rachel was like, I already got two out of there today.





Corinna's been making preparations for chickens at our little urban farmstead. Of course, being Corinna she doesn't think in terms of a couple of chickens, her default setting is start with six chicks (the max according to local laws), plus a rabbit hutch and bluegill pond. I'm no different, the first year I grew tomatoes I felt constrained to 20 plants, if I'd had the budget for it at the time my enthusiasm would have easily led to 80 or 100.





And obviously I had fun with my camera. I kind of wished I'd brought my guitar though the broken right index finger would make picking tricky. Especially when others did bring their axes and of course Rachel plays banjo and bass.





I didn't get good shots of half my favorite people because the light got so low the camera wouldn't focus.







Friday, June 16, 2017

Ally Brand Yoga Shoot



So I met up with Ally to shoot some yoga poses. The light wasn't as good as I expected at the appointed time, this time of year the shift in the length of days can really throw you. But I had my SB-800s and as we worked the sun got lower and helped things along.





There's plenty I wish I'd gotten better. I shot about 250 frames, there were 20 that were good enough to be candidate shots for sharing. I shed a few more. And of what is here some have definite imperfections that are not Ally's fault at all, they're all operator error on my part.





Shadows on eyes, that's on me. I had the tools to correct for that, it just didn't happen. See also depth of field mistakes, shooting fast is all well and good, but for most of these shots I wanted her to be in sharp focus with the bokeh limited to the background.





So like this one where she's laying on the hot, rough pavement with the one leg going straight into the stratosphere, I'm sharing the photo because it has enough going for it (her amazing pose, her face is sharp, I like how the bridge in the background echoes her pose), but her raised leg should be as in focus as her face. F2.5, which isn't as fast as I sometimes go, was too fast for this shot. Probably should have gone more like F5 or F8, the distance between her and the background features would have still isolated her nicely and those lovely limbs would be hella sharper.





She's a very easy model to shoot, gets right to it, takes direction well, has her own good ideas. I hope to do more with her in the future, more yoga shots, and some other stuff too. She's got a ballet background so a dance oriented shoot could be fun, and I've seen shots of her dolled up for car shows and such, she has some range. I was glad she didn't show up with a bunch of heavy makeup for this, heavy makeup on a yoga shoot would make sense like an evening gown for a yoga shoot.





I showed these to a coworker who's been taking yoga and she was astonished by the core strength and balance required to pull these moves off. I was like, yeah, and she'd do it for a long time and do it a bunch of times until I got my shot, or as close as I was going to get to my shot (the depth of field errors and such are tricky to catch just chimping).





I actually had some sore muscles from getting down on the ground to get a good angle on some of these, and while I'm not in the greatest shape I'm not some sofa sloth either.





Heck of a way to spend a Tuesday evening.





Confluence



So I set out to ride 70 miles last Saturday, RAGBRAI is coming up fast and my conditioning ain't what it was two years ago. My friend Michelle was having a bicycle pub crawl birthday party that evening, so I figured I'd try to include that in it. Between the heat, wind and social interactions, I got to the Red Front where the wild rumpus was to begin exhausted. And with text messages from my wife to bring home groceries.



I ended up at home with barely over 60 miles, having bailed on my friend's party without even getting a good photo of her. I got a couple of our mutual friends pretty good, Pete and Ann, but Michelle doesn't dig being photographed and it takes some time and frames to get her with her guard down. I guess given how she feels about being photographed, my birthday present to her is her picture isn't in this blog post.



It's not much of a gift, it would have been better if I hadn't burned myself out before the party.



Oh, and I got a pic of the new sculpture in the West Bottoms, Confluence. I'm not sure I get it but I think I like it.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Brandon Shoot





So I was supposed to shoot a pretty, 21-year-old woman Monday night. She's an aspiring model, and through the miracle of Facebook we met, settled on a plan and then, two hours before, when I'd rearranged my schedule to be available with my gear down in the West Bottoms, yeah. Got a message saying something had comeup, can we reschedule? Well, I wasn't happy about it but I was getting what I paid for, this was supposed to be a TFP shoot.



So rather than whine about it, I posted to the modeling group I met her with asking if anyone wanted to come play, I was all geared up and nobody to shoot. The Sirens group, you'd think, is women, so I was a little surprised when a male model was the one that piped up.

I realized my portfolio is light on men. Shot some of Greg Chaffee at a Sirens shoot a couple years back, but when I first saw him that day he had a camera in hand so he had to jump into shots a lot before I realized he was there to pose.

When I talked to my wife on the phone that evening, told her of the substitution, she was like, 'sorry you didn't get to shoot the pretty girl.' I was like, that's okay, this guy was approximately as pretty and way more experienced.



He'd obviously had some experience in front of the camera, he signed the release, checked his reflection in my car window and struck a pose. He was obviously aware of how he looks in front of the camera, was open to direction, had his own suggestions for shots he wanted to get, was basically all I could ask for as a photographer.



Some of my favorite shots from this shoot aren't here. Brandon asked if I'd sit on some shots he thinks he can get into a magazine. That's a feat, if he can do it I'll be thrilled to have something I shot actually make the printed page. In this day and age, selling still photos to fashion magazines is harder than selling sand to Saudi Arabia.





Bonus, I've got a yoga shoot lined up for next week, a model I've been Facebook friends with for a long time who keeps posting shots of her poses from her apartment. They're amazing but I keep thinking if not for those blinds and that lighting... So hopefully next Tuesday I get to document her extreme bendy-ness with some flattering backdrops. I'm stoked, the poses are really dramatic, what with being up on her hands and having her feet practically in the next room or one floor up.

The Ongoing Crisis



So Comey's testimony in the Senate today, yeah. After seeing the dumpster fires on Facebook and the like, I pulled up McCain's questioning of the traduced FBI director on YouTube. Holy shit.



I mean, I'm not a member of the John McCain Fan Club, but he's normally coherent even when he's wrong. He's one of the guys on Capitol Hill I tend to think have some integrity even when I disagree with them. But watching this, I wondered if he'd braced himself with a few martinis before this session. He keeps hammering on the same basic question, and no matter what Comey does to explain that the Hillary email investigation he (inappropriately) declared closed last July was a separate deal from the current investigation into Russian campaign meddling and the Trump campaign colluding with it are two separate investigations.



In case you're drunk or otherwise intellectually disabled/impaired, here's a handy chart showing the overlap between Hillary's email server and the totally different investigation into how an FSB asset became Commander in Chief. It's only in John McCain's mind. He seems like an old, demented idiot who's confused by the information that maybe a new, even worse, version of Nixon might be guilty of obstructing justice when his term hasn't even lost its New President Smell.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Midtown Tags



I used to be fairly obsessed with documenting the tags that beautify Kansas City. Then I got, uh, distracted or something. But these new-ish pieces off Broadway and Westport Road were worth stopping to shoot. They've blacked out the murals that were there last time I explored this alley with my Nikon.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Aleš Juvanc



So I'm just out for a ride, trying to get my body in shape for RAGBRAI, blowing off some steam from the weekend, enjoying my bike. And I spot a guy who's obviously out on tour.



Aleš Juvanc from Slovenia. Says so right on his kit, he was asking me how far to Kansas and I'm like maybe a mile (we were in the River Market). He needed to clip a corner of Kansas to check a box on his LA to Quebec tour, and he was trying to make it to Odessa tonight.

He asked about taking I-70 to Odessa, which I thought was strange. If he's ridden from LA, by now he's got to be aware of the prohibition against bikes on interstates. But he looks like the real thing, split lips and all. Said he's ridden 75 countries so far. Which is really cool.

He seemed surprised, looking at my bike, that I wasn't on tour. I was just on a grocery run if you get right down to it. I'd extended it to get a few more hills and such but yeah, I was just getting cooking oil and salad dressing. On my Long Haul Trucker with front and back racks.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Critical Mass May









The best party ever, we meet at Scumfresh on the last Friday of the month and hilarity ensues. I'd made spoke cards for six straight months last year and got spooked when several people asked me if I was the organizer.







I'm like, I don't even fully accept responsibility for my actions at this event. There isn't an organizer, it's not organized.







A lot of folk have too much faith in organization. In authority. When I tell them Critical Mass goes where the rider up front goes unless the rider behind decides that's bullshit (and literally, this is how the route is determined), the general reaction is 'how does that work?' Very well, actually.





As I put it on my May 2017 spoke card, it's 'half party, half parade, half protest, half bad at fractions.'





I had to make spoke cards this month, last month when people were asking me why I hadn't, before I could explain about the theoretical liability issues, someone asked, 'Do you need contributions to the spoke card fund?'





The question kind of caught me off guard, I don't make money off the spoke cards, I just make them and give them away.





So if people are liking the cards enough they'd pay to keep them coming, how can I not show up with cards?





So I did. I made 80 cards, ran out pretty early actually. I think we had around 150 riders total this time