One Drop, One Pop, One Shot

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I have loved skateboarding since I first stepped foot on one almost 20 years ago.  When life took over and I no longer had time to progress at the sport, I turned to photographing it to keep a hold of something so dear to me.  The problem with that is that if you don’t know anyone that skates, it is a little difficult to photograph it.  I still have friends in San Diego that skate and when I get down there we sometimes meet up, but where I am currently living I do not know anyone that skates.  Because I have a past involvement in skateboarding I do know what to look for in a skate spot so when I spot one I will mark it on a map.

For this shot, however, I did not need to search for spots; this was taken in San Francisco at a spot that has been frequented for many years and, coincidentally, was just downstairs from the hotel I was put up in for a job in The City.  This brings me to why it is one of my favorite shots.

I was photographing a week long conference for a large company that put me and a fellow colleague in a hotel in San Francisco for a week.  The first night I was there (eager to photograph something) I noticed the popular skate spot easily; I had been through that area many times and had seen skateboarders there 99% of the times I had driven past.  As soon as I was checked in and dinner was comfortably in my belly I made a beeline in hopes to get some fun shots.

The first half hour I was wondering around the area I did not see anyone trying anything that I was interested in photographing; there is a certain line in skate photography of the difficulty of the trick relating to the excitement drawn from the photo.  If the trick is nothing too special, the photograph will mirror that.  There was one guy I saw skating smooth, fast, and with a good array of tricks.  Before I approached him I wanted to make sure I had an idea of where and how I wanted to take a shot…  That is, if he even obliged.  I finally had an idea that I approached him with (something he was already trying of course, and close by) and with my luck of course he was exhausted and ready to leave.

So this is where the business side of my business came in handy.  I have talked with many different clients, from social to commercial, and I felt I was pretty good at conveying my ideas in a way that got others on board.  He didn’t seem too into it, but saw that I had my gear all ready to go and set up of lights would only take a minute, so he said yes.  I got everything up, popped off a shot or two to adjust exposure, and gave him the ok.  He dropped his board, popped his trick, and I shot the shutter…  DONE!

One try for the skater, only one shot taken by me, and this is the result.  Because of the circumstances, this is one of my favorite skateboarding photographs I have taken to date.  No more than three minutes before this was taken all of my equipment was in my camera bag, and no more than two minutes following it we were each going our separate ways!  I really feel the story behind this one gives a new intrigue to all who view it.

Enjoy!

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The Spirit of a New York City Cab

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When I was little, I remember saying once that I wanted to be a New York City cab driver when I grew up.  That sounds very odd for a young boy to say but to this day I always remember having a love for people watching and seeing how different people react to different situations.  Where else is there as much interesting people interaction than in a cab in New York City?  They have made TV shows (plural) on different aspects of New York City cabs!

Anyway, this image is on my website, and it has been posted a few other places.  It is one of my favorites not only for its visual characteristics, but for the story behind it as well.  I will mention the technique first.  This is a typical panning photograph.  If you are not familiar with that technique, it is where you shoot at a long exposure and pan the camera at the same speed and direction as a moving subject in the hopes to get the subject sharp and give the background a good motion blur.  If you are familiar with this technique, you know that you will pop off endless exposures only to POSSIBLY get one good one.  I think I was successful.

I shot this back in 2007 when I was in New York for the annual PDN Expo & Conference.  If you ever get the chance to go to this, I highly recommend it.  There is a wealth of information in different classes that you can attend in a variety of photographic subjects.  They also have a tradeshow that runs the entire week with vendor booths exhibiting many new products.  This night in particular was after the last of the classes on my last night in the city.  My buddy and I had visited Ground Zero and walked back to Times Square.  It was a four hour walk which had us returning to our hotel around 3 am; that was when this was taken.

Before we went up to our room, we noticed so many taxi cabs flowing down the streets and proceeded to take shots of as many as we could.  Some cabbies stopped or slowed down to “pose” while others (the ones we preferred) just continued on their night as did we.  I must have taken close to two hundred shots myself.  It was a good night of photographing, to say the least, to top off a wonderful trip to a great city!

What’s to come…

So it has been a couple months since my last post, and I always say I am going to try to post more often so I won’t say it this time. However, in an effort to try to post more often, I am every so often going to try something new.

In addition to what I normally write about, I am going to try to throw in the occasional posting of one of my favorite images that I have shot. This could be a wedding shot, or some random street shot… Just whatever I’m feeling that day. What I want to do, though, is give a little background story of how the photo came to be. Whether that be as a “how I did it” post or just a little story of my thoughts or feelings the day the shoot took place, will probably change depending on the chosen image.

Some of the photos might come from my website (and if you have yet to view my website, please do so at http://www.ksj-photography.com) but some might very well be work that I never have posted in the digital world. I might even dust off the old negative scanner and throw a film shot in there if your lucky! Either way, stay tuned for future posts and maybe you’ll see something that inspires you…