Captured Memories - Summer Breeze

Sometimes at a race, you'll get just one image that really strikes you to the core, but when I photographed Brazen Racing's Summer Breeze race, three such images popped out.

The first image was in the early morning, just before the start of the half marathon.  It was about 15 minutes before race start and the half marathoners were slowing working their way towards the starting corral.  Some were jittery, some were calm.  We all have our rituals -- myself included -- when it comes to races.  As I worked my way to the starting arch, I looked to the west, towards the bay, and noticed a lone runner sitting on a bench, contemplating.  I watched her for about a minute and noticed that she was still, lost in her own thoughts.  With the bay and the people in the background, it made such powerful image.  A moment of solitude before the madness of the race began.

ISO 400   50-140 lens @ 140mm   f/2.8   1/220sec

As is always the case, as the runners are lining up before the start of the pre-race briefing, I like to mingle amongst them and take their photos.  This was during the pre-race briefing for the 5K.  I came across these young ladies in their tutus.  But it was the comradrie of that single moment that struck me the most.

ISO 200   50-140mm lens @ 51.6mm   f/2.8   1/400sec

The most powerful image that day was this brotherly embrace.  Two brothers.  One running the 5K and the other dashing to give the older brother a hug as he crossed the finish line.  It was a touching moment.  A victorious moment for the older brother and a moment of pride for the younger one.  A moment of brotherhood captured in time.

ISO 200   50-140mm lens @140mm   f/2.8   1/600sec

Of Things to Come - Laura Benitez

There's something about country music that I never appreciated before until I listened to Laura Benitez at a solo concert.  The beauty of her voice and the emotion of the lyrics tugged at my heart strings the day that I shot this photo.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2.0   1/125sec

More pictures of Laura's concert in the next few weeks.

Captured Memories - Serenity Before the Race

Brazen Racing's Bad Bass Half Marathon is my anniversary race with the organization.  I will admit being a basket case a day or two before any half marathons because -- well, it's just me.  But upon arriving at Lake Chabot on that early Saturday morning, there was frost on the ground still at 6am -- frost in the summer!?! -- and hardly any people there, save for the Brazen Racing crew setting up.

As I walked toward the start / finish area with my camera, I was treated to an amazing sight.

ISO 200    16-55 lens @ 47mm   f/2.8   1/100sec

In the peace and serenity of the mist-covered lake, two fisherman stood patiently.  The image above was cropped quite a bit because my lens didn't have the reach, but the sensor of the Fuji X-T2 helped bring me in a little closer.

The above sight helped calm me down so that I could face the heat and the hills and the distance of the upcoming race.

Captured Memories - Solitude After The Race

A solitary runner sits on a rock.  Resting.  Contemplating.  The heat bears down on him.  He holds his finishers medal in his hands.  The agony of the race, was it worth it?

I shot the above image last year at Brazen Racing's Tarantula Run.  The previous year I had done the half marathon, and it was brutal!  The year this photo was taken, I did the 10k, which was hard enough in the heat.  Some time after I had crossed the finish line, and after I'd grabbed my camera to take some post-race shots, I saw this gentleman sitting on a rock.  I couldn't tell which distance he ran, but the look of exhaustion tells me it was the half marathon.  I snapped this shot as quickly as I could.  This image captures exactly what it was like to run such a long distance, climb up towards the sky, and have the sun beat down on you.

Though like most half marathoners, including myself, I'm sure this guy rested a bit, then went home and planned for his next race.

Joel Tepper Piano Concert at the Cadillac Hotel

It's summer at the Cadillac Hotel and concert season is in full swing.  Last month, pianist Joel Tepper dropped by to entertain the residents and passersby.

One of the inherent challenges of photographing pianists is that they're always in a fixed position, unless they're talking to the audience.  So it's always a challenge to photograph them in such a way that it looks interesting.

As always, I shot the entire concert with prime lenses, specifically the Fuji 23mm, 56mm, and 90mm lenses.

In an effort to counter motion-blur, my shutter speed was fixed at 1/125sec.  ISO was set to auto, but capped at 800.  And more often than not, I shot wide open.

Camera settings have been provided for reference.

ISO 200   23mm lens   f/1.4   1/125sec

Above is the Patricia Walkup piano, over 100 years old!

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/125sec

ISO 800   56mm lens   f/6.4   1/125sec

The above image is the only one where I shot at other than wide open.  I wanted not only the details of the pianist in focus, but also the sheet music.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/125sec

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/125sec

ISO 800   23mm lens   f/1.4   1/125sec

As always, I like photographing from the back of the concert venue because the mailboxes provide such a nice leading line.

Stay tuned for more concert photos in the next few weeks!

Captured Memories - Stars & Stripes 5K 2017

There are shots that sometimes stand out.  You know the one.  It's that photo that, once you see it, brings back a flood of memories of an event.  This shot captured the entire day for me.  

I don't know the true story behind it, but looking at it, the story this photo tells me is that of a big sister finishing her 5K and her little sister rushing out from the crowd to run with her towards the finish line.

It's such a beautiful photo.  It speaks of family and sisterhood and the joy that permeated that 4th of July day.

Red, White, and Blue

It's a long holiday weekend for most of the United States.  I caught a fireworks display at the San Francisco Olympic Club a few days before 4th of July.  I tried to photograph this fireworks show last year, but the fog was so thick!  All anyone could see was the glow of the fireworks in the clouds.  This year though, the fog layer was a lot higher

I achieved the below shot using the Fuji X-T2 with 16mm f/1.4 lens set to f/11 and with manual focus.  I used a Fuji remote trigger and set the camera to bulb mode.  This shot was a 6 second exposure.

Early Happy 4th of July!!!!

On the Ride - Golden Gate Bridge Cycling Tour

REI's classes never fail to impress me.  It's not just the locations, but the quality of instruction for each class.  REI's instructors love what they do and many of them have other jobs and teach for REI on the side.

This particular class was more of an urban cycling course.  I must admit a certain fear of urban cycling.  Being a runner, the thought of being on the street anywhere near a car is frightening.  Basically, I worry about getting hit.  And I've been in enough situations where a driver is not looking while making a turn and had I not been paying attention, my next stop would have been the hospital.  This class, though guided and with several fellow classmates, got me comfortable enough to at least ride on the streets in designated bike paths/lanes.

Here's our route.

I'm not sure why the photos are showing in the bay itself.  I used the Lightroom App to take pics and it doesn't seem to always get the GPS coordinates correct.

One of our first stops along the way was the home of Lucas Films.  Loved this statue of Yoda!

And here are the rest of the photos.  Enjoy!

Vista Point at the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Cycling corral of sorts on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Taken from the Warming Hut on the way back to our start location.

Check out REI's website for classes in your area.  They're well worth it!

On the Ride - Lake Langunitas

I know that normally this has to do with photos on the run, but this time around it's about cycling.  I took an Introduction to Mountain Biking class through REI.  It was held at Lake Langunitas, which is on the north side of Mount Tamalpias in Fairfax, California.  I had never ridden a mountain bike before so this was a very unique and interesting experience.  After our REI instructors introduced us to the mountain bikes and gave us a basic instructions on braking and shifting and steering -- plus a few lessons on being able to maneuver the bikes on various terrain -- we headed out on our ride and I snapped at the following photo:

I would have snapped more photos but I was having too much fun riding the trails.

Due to weight limitations on the bike, I had to rely on my iPhone SE and the Lightroom app.  For the most part, it worked out well.  There's still no way to control and of the camera settings, but on future excursions, I plan on using the Camera+ app, which now shoots in RAW DNG, and import those images into the Lightroom app for editing.

This summer is going to be a summer of REI adventures. Will it change the fact that this website and blog is Photos On The Run?  Definitely not!  But I plan to document some of the rides and the runs and other outings with REI while using various equipment and apps.

REI has a lot of great outdoor classes throughout the year, and they're not that expensive.  Check them out! 

Balance - with Alaish Wren

I'd had in mind to photograph someone doing ballet, but I also have a preference for someone who can show a range of facial expressions as well.  After perusing Model Mayhem and finding Alaish's profile, I went to her website and found that she's an actress and also knows a little ballet.  I asked her if she was interested in a shoot and she agreed.

I chose Stern Grove as our location because the textures of the park lend itself to so many different backgrounds.  And also, there's a small chalet in the park that I'd hadn't really shot at.

Alaish struck a pose for this first shot.  I like the lines in the background, plus the contrasting lines that her body makes.  There's symmetry and balance to the image.  For this shot and the second shot, we made use of the stage at Stern Grove.  Since concert season hadn't started yet, the stage was devoid of much of the heavy equipment that normally is set up during the summer concerts.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

This second shot too, with her hands held up in prayer, again creates a sense of balance and symmetry.  Just like the first shot, it's all natural lighting.  It was an overcast day in San Francisco, so there were no worries about using a speedlight or reflector on her.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

I saw a cherry blossom tree during my reconnoiter of the park a few days earlier and knew that I had to take her photo near the tree.  We found a spot for her to sit and I framed the shot  so that the cherry blossoms would highlight the upper portion of the frame, creating a balance between the her dark dance outfit and the brightness of the flowers themselves.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1250sec

This fourth shot is what I call my Eponine shot.  I had in mind to capture a little sadness, and I was hoping that Alaish would be able to give me something similar to a sad longing.  As you can see, she did it.  And the image below conveys that sad longing, perhaps of love lost, and momentary grief, and yet a resiliency to go on.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/1000sec

This final shot is my favorite of the entire shoot!  It brings several compositional elements together that have always intrigued me:  balance and leading lines.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/500sec

There's so many leading lines in the above photo, from the pillars to the white fence to the yellow wood paneling of the house, plus the straightness of her legs and the angle of her right leg touching one of the leading lines.  There's balance in the photo too, from dark to light, and with her pose itself.

This was definitely a fun shoot.  I like working with actors, because I like pulling out emotions.  A single look can change the emotion of a photo and unleash the story within it.

If you'd like to book Alaish for a gig, check out her website.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2 with 56mm f/1.2 lens.

Downtown Vancouver at Sunrise

Sometimes you just have one of those days where you snap a picture that convinces you that you actually know what you're doing.  At least for that moment in time.

Here I was, going for a run along the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C.  It was fairly early in the morning, about 8am or so, but being so far north, the sun was pretty high in the sky.  And the summer weather was starting to settle in as well, so it was warm.  About 4.5 miles into my run, I saw this great view of downtown Vancouver.  It was perfectly framed by trees and the bench.  These days, I don't run with my XT-2 or XT-1, so all I had was my handy-dandy iPhone SE.  So I snapped the below photo and ... voila!

ISO 25   4.5mm focal length   f/2.2   1/1250sec

I've included the settings above, but since I was using the Lightroom Mobile App, the settings were determined by the software.  Still, the shot was pretty decent!  Not bad for lacking sleep due to allergies!

I'm continually impressed by the Lightroom Mobile App.  The photos that it's able to capture are just stunning!  I did make minor enhancements on the photo using the app:  Temperature increase and Vibrancy increase because I wanted it to really feel like sunrise and also wanted the greenery to pop out.  I normally run with amber tinted sunglasses, so this is how things looked through the sunglasses, so I wanted the same effect with the photo.

More running pics, model pics, and musician pics coming up over the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

Noel Benkman at the Cadillac Hotel

Two weeks after I took photos of Rebecca Roudman and Noel Benkman at the Cadillac Hotel, I returned to the hotel for Noel Benkman's solo piano concert.  Having just photographed Noel performing afford me some opportunities to get some nice close-up shots, and to try to capture some images that I wasn't able to during the previous concert.

I'm a huge fan of leading lines because when used properly they draw your attention to the subject, and by doing, help move a story along. 

ISO 800   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/200sec

In the case of the above shot, the leading lines start our tale of the pianist. 

What I could have done better though is to have lined up the leading lines of the mailboxes so that at least one line is perfectly horizontal. However overall, the lines still lead our attention to the pianist in the background. 

It was another great performance by Noel.  I'll let the rest of the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!

ISO 640   35mm   f/1.4   1/60sec

Still trying to capture the hands!

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

I thought this next one provided a unique perspective and went for it. 

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2    1/125sec

ISO 800   90mm   f/2   1/125sec

ISO 800   35mm   f/1.4   1/125sec

Check out Noel's website if you want to learn more about him.

Gear used: Fuji X-T2 with 35mm, 56mm, and 90mm lenses.

Lily Holbrook - Spring at the Stonestown Farmer's Market

It was over two years ago when I first ran into Lily Holbrook entertaining the Stonestown Farmer's Market shoppers, and here I was, photographing her again.  It was a feeling of full circle for me.  When I first met her, I was just getting to know my Fuji X-T1.  Now two years later, I'm using the Fuji X-T2.  And while I'll admit that I'm still a noob when it comes to photography, I've learned a bit more about composition and depth of field, and most importantly, trying to make things interesting by telling a story.

This time around, when I ran into Lily, I was using the XF 50mm f/2.  It's a compact, weather-resistant lens that doesn't really telegraph to everyone that you're a "photographer".  This was my first outing with the XF 50 lens and what better way to test it out than to photograph someone who I knew.

ISO 200  50mm lens   f/2   1/4000sec

I took the above shot while chatting with Lily in-between songs.  We'd realized that it had been almost a year since we'd run into each other.  I saw something neat about her ponytail and decided to take a shot of it.

Unlike the first time I'd run into Lily, where it was raining, today was a bright, sunny day.  The abundance of light pushed the shutter speed of my X-T2 right up to the max: 1/8000sec.  But I wanted to shoot wide open at f/2.

ISO 200   50mm lens   f/2   1/8000sec

One of the most important "tools of the trade" for a musician are the hands, so I tried to capture Lily's hands in motion.  The high shutter speed helped a lot in freezing the motion.  I wish I'd gotten a lot closer to her hands for the above shot, but I didn't want to interrupt her singing and the folks watching might have thought it weird...

For the next shot, I wanted to capture a little bit of the farmer's market itself, to show what things were like from Lily's perspective.

ISO 200   50mm lens   f/2   1/4400sec

I couldn't resist taking the next shot.  The little boy sitting on the ground was fascinated by Lily and listened to her for several minutes before wandering off.  We both noticed him and commented that it was neat a child was interested in listening to her music.  Perhaps she'll inspire him to be a musician as well?  As I've mentioned before in this blog, "inspiring the next generation, that's what it's all about, right?"

ISO 200   50mm lens   f/2   1/5400sec

Next is one of my favorite shots of the day because of the lighting.  She's got a nice, natural hair-light thanks to the sun behind her to the left, but also the light reflecting off the ground makes a nice, soft fill light for her face.

ISO 200   59mm lens   f/2   1/2700sec

I was worried that because of the sunlight, it would be a high contrast situation, but I was pleasantly surprised when viewing the images.  I like the trees in the background as well because the complement they entire image.  The only thing I could do without is the safety pole by her right arm.  I could have converted the image to black and white but decided against it because I liked all of the colors.  Removing it in Photoshop could have been another option, but I again decided against it.  I should have just stood a little more to her left and her body would have hidden the pole.  Next time I'll have to pay more attention to objects like that which might distract from the overall image...

And finally, Lily's winning smile!  Like all artists, it's a hard job, but she tackles it with energy and enthusiasm.

ISO 200  50mm lens   f/2   1/5000sec

If you're interested in seeing more of Lily's work, check out her website and Facebook page.

Gear used: Fuji X-T2 with 50mm f/2 lens.

On The Run - A Doe!

Now that I'm back to running, I'm discovering a lot of things about nature that I miss.  This was the third time I'd run Crystal Springs Reservoir, but the first time from the north end. The one disadvantage of the north end is that you get a nice downhill in that first mile, but have to deal with it on the way back...

Despite the hill and the difficulty climbing it, there was a lot of wildlife in the park that you just don't see in the city parks.  Like the doe in the below photo.

She and her two companions seemed oblivious to my presence.  I got close enough to snap this photo.

I'll have to run this course again, perhaps with my Fuji X-T1 if I'm crazy enough.

In the meantime, coming up over the next few weeks will be a few musician and model photo sessions.  But that doesn't mean there won't be other On The Run entries.  I'm getting ready for my first trail half marathon in over eight months, and I'm sure it's going to be painful.  Stay tuned!

On the Run - Don't Step On Me!

It's been a while since I blogged a topic about being On The Run.  Imagine my surprise recently when I was going for a run and saw what looked like a piece of tree bark moving on its own, probably blown by the wind.  But when I really got closer to it, it stopped!  Upon closer inspection, it was...

Could this be some type of moth?  I couldn't tell.

Here's a close-up.

Lovely how it's clothed in colors allowing it to blend in with the environment.  It just stayed still as I photographed it using the Lightroom app in my iPhone SE.  And then I moved on.

The Sea is Endless

At least from our human perspective.

Where land meets the ocean it's like the beginning and the end.  The beginning of life.  The end of life.  And yet the endlessness of the sea, and the crashing of the waves brings forth a peace and serenity that transcends understanding.

In Memoriam

I recently lost my mom to cancer.  She fought a brave fight against it, but her form of cancer is considered incurable and she finally succumbed to the disease not too long ago.  In between all of the busyness of preparing for her memorial service, I stumbled upon this photo.

I remember taking this photo in July 2015 when we visited Fort Vancouver, just across the river from Portland, Oregon.  It was kinda empty while were there that morning.  I saw my mom walking through this portal of green and snapped the picture.

When I stumbled upon it a few days ago, the photo spoke to me so much about the end of her journey in this life.  I took up the exposure of the photo to make it look like she was walking straight into Heaven.  I know my mom is in Heaven now because she professed that Jesus was her Lord and Healer, so I know that I will see her some day, but not yet.

I miss you mom!

The Girl with the Umbrella - Honey Baby88

I had done previous photo shoots with Honey Baby88, such as a bridal shoot, a Red Riding Hood shoot, mermaid shoot, and an umbrella shoot.  Honey had another idea this time around where she wanted to do another shot with an umbrella.  Initially, she envisioned a rainy day shoot, but there's no way to actually control the weather.  (And seeing how my X-T2 didn't survive it's last exposure to rain, there was no way I was going to risk getting it that wet again, especially seeing the Fujifilm wouldn't repair it under warranty and charged me an arm and a leg for the repair.)

So Honey and I decided to just set a date to shoot, regardless of the weather.  We decided to meet at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  The below shot, as often is the case, just happened to have everything working for it.  Being the God-fearing man that I am, I always like to think that for shots like below, there was some divine intervention going on.  My camera settings are listed below the photo.

ISO 200   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/250sec

So how was this shot achieved?

First off, it was an awfully bright day and you can see that I was shooting wide open at f/1.2. That pushed the mechanic shutter speed of my X-T2 way beyond the maximum of 1/8000sec.  At that point the image was still way too bright.  I could have stopped down the aperture, but I wanted to shoot wide open in order to get that very shallow depth of field.  Not only that, but because of the very bright backlighting, Honey's face was almost completely in shadow, which necessitated the use of a speedlight.  And the X-T2's flash sync speed is 1/250sec.

So what I did was pop on a 3 stop ND filter, specifically the B+W ND8.  This enabled me to shoot wide open while bringing the shutter speed low enough to be able to shoot at the X-T2's flash sync speed.

Post-processing was only done in Lightroom, and the clouds you see were actual clouds in the sky at the time we shot.  It doesn't get any better than that, eh?

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 lens, B+W ND8 filter, Calumet Lightstand, Yongnuo 560ii speedlight and remote trigger.

More photos from this shoot will be profiled in a future post.

Rebecca Roudman & Noel Benkman Concert at the Cadillac Hotel

Concert season is well under way again at the Cadillac Hotel in San Francisco.  This time around it was a pleasure to listen to, and photograph, cellist Rebecca Roudman and pianist Noel Benkman as they entertained a lunchtime crowd with classical music.  It was a stormy day outside, but Rebecca and Noel made the hotel come alive with their music.

I'll let the photos mostly speak for themselves.  As always, my camera settings are included under each photo.

ISO  640   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/60sec

ISO  640   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/60sec

ISO  640   35mm lens   f/1.4   1/60sec

For the above three photos, my shutter speed was a wee bit too slow.  There wasn't that much motion blur though.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

ISO  640   56mm lens   f/1.2 1/60sec

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

I worked hard to get the above shot just right.  The intricacies of a pianist's hands are so difficult to capture. One of the dangers of using a high focal length lens is that you run the risk of motion blur.  I used 1/200sec, which made the image darker in my live view, but because of the dynamic range of the X-T2, all it took was a minor adjustment in Lightroom to bring the exposure to where I wanted it to be.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

The above picture is my favorite of the concert.  The depth of emotion and concentration in Rebecca's face; she's in tune with the music.

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

ISO 800   90mm lens   f/2   1/200sec

The above shot is something that I've also wanted to try to capture.  I had been thinking about since ever since I found out about the concert.  The central question: What one single image would represent the concert?  I always try to find the answer to that question whenever I decide to photograph an event.  The hands are really integral to most musicians, so when I got an angle on this, I went for it.  Rebecca's hand is out of focus, with the focus mostly being Noel's hands, but I think it still works.  There's symmetry in the angle of the piano keyboard and Rebecca's hand and both of Noel's hands.  Increasing the F-Stop to get everything in focus would have meant a really really dark image, and possibly a grainy one too.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2, 35mm f/1.4 lens, 56mm f/1.2 lens, and 90mm f/2 lens.