Friday, April 30, 2010

JLOP -vs- The Melrose Lightspace Studio: Round V

This is really really getting to the point where I have to start calling this something other than my hobby.



It feels like the practice is paying off and I'm actually getting better at taking still pictures.

I know. It's about time.



This was the second studio outing that I attended that weekend. I need to remember to buy my lovely wife flowers for being so secure about this.



Heck, maybe I could practice by just shooting mannequins, but somehow I just don't think it would work out the same.

It's a pretty important part of getting better at this that I work with actual people.



Of course, if I got really good at working with mannequins, I might be able to shoot the Old Navy print ads.

That wouldn't be so bad.



Maybe at some point, I'll shoot a few more male models. I'm just not going to shoot male mannequins.

That's where I'm going to have to draw the line.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cleaning Day

Sitting in the dentist chair. Come on, vacation. Hurry up and get here already.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Freeway Shooting.

Hmm, maybe I need to rephrase that. I meant photo shooting.

I noticed quite a while ago that the bridge spanning the North bound lanes of the 110 Harbor Freeway at the Slauson Avenue bus stop has an open section of stairway with a view to the South.



Shucks, I bet that'd be an awesome place to snag a few pictures of the sunrise (or sunset or whenever).



There were a few days last week where I was just fried when I finally left the office. Emotionally and physically drained.

I didn't shoot these pictures on those days. Those days I just drove home. Had a beer. Fell asleep watching TV on the comfy couch.

Probably growled and grumbled while I was sleeping.



I think it was Wednesday that a big early call shoot got cancelled.

Woo-hoo!

Did a little work around the station and then actually beat the bulk of the rush hour traffic through downtown. There's still some congestion South of downtown, but it's smooth sailing compared to coming from the 101 Freeway to the downtown four level interchange (woo, I should shoot that too someday).



SO ANYWAY, the Metro Transit Bus Stop for (I think) the Metro Silver Line was calling out to me as I approached it from the North.



It was one of those "too good to pass up" photo opportunities that most people do pass up.



I found the green mesh of the metal suicide prevention/car assault deterrent screens made for interesting texture in some of the shots. I also appreciated the weathered concrete.

It's not everyday that I have it in me to stop and get my art on. I'm just glad I did that day. I still fell asleep on the comfy couch when I got home, but at least I got one thing done.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Long Obama Monday.

After juggling the desk duties all day on Monday, I was ready for the drive home and the thought of a well deserved ice cold beer was dancing around in my head and putting a smile on my face.

The only thing is, you have to remember that plans can change quickly when you work in news.

My smile faded when I got the call to saddle up a SAT truck about ten minutes before the end of my shift.



It's a pretty good long story, but I don't have time to tell it properly.  Let me hit the main parts.

Obama was appearing at events in Exposition Park, but the media only had access to the pool footage being shot by way of an uplink.  My job was to downlink and record the pool footage for our nightside reporter.

Sending me out was a late in the game decision.  By the time I got to the area, the President had already arrived (I could see his helicopter landing from my spot in the freeway traffic).  The streets surrounding Exposition Park were gridlocked and traffic was NOT being allowed anywhere near where Obama was speaking.



It took me a long time to find a spot to land the SAT truck.  I exhausted every possible way into the now cordoned off media area.  I eventually landed on Jefferson Street and only had all of the USC campus between me and the crew I was supposed supply with pool footage.



Add to that the fact that the footage was coming down off a satellite which I had never used before and because of the traffic snarl, I was already late in setting up.

Pretty often I'm lucky.  I think on Monday, I was luckier than I've been in a long time.



The first live feed was long gone, but as I was setting up the big dish, I actually stumbled across a re-feed being uplinked by CBS Newspath.  BINGO!  I quckly rolled on the return and worked it out with our assignment desk to get a second uplink of the feed rolled to pick up what I had missed.

Whew!

But it didn't end there.  A second appearance by Obama was supposed to be uplinked and we were going to source it through the CBS Newspath office just like the first.

Frank Luck struck again!

While the crew (who had to leave the media area to find me) edited from the video of the first downlink, I tried to find the satellite I was supposed to downlink from originally. Found it in less than a minute.  Punched in the frequency for the downlink and was quite surprised to find the "live" pool footage being uplinked.

We weren't expecting it until later, but there it was.

I started rolling on it and had it for the crew.  They were still crashing for their first hit, but I was done with the SAT duties for this event and for the day.

Clocked out that night at 11:30pm, fifteen hours after clocking in and just a little more than 8 hours before the start of my next shift on Tuesday morning.

Yeah, that beer I was thinking about is going to be really good when I finally get to have it.  Maybe tonight.  I'd say, wish me luck, but I think that's used up for the week.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday! Sunday! SUNDAY!

Had a blast hanging with the still photo guys at the Grand Prix yesterday. It was interesting to see how shooting stills compared to my day job.



There was a lot of ground to cover for the event, but I think I got some pretty good race shots.

As awesome as it was, I think I prefer the quick turn around of shooting video for local news. When I've covered the race in years past, I was in and out of the race area in under an hour. I also missed having sound be a part of the images I captured.


"Vroom, Vroom, VRRRROOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!"

See, it's just not the same.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Go Daddy!

Shooting stills at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Everthing is fun except the getting up at 5:30am on a Sunday.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Do-si-do and Promenaaaaaaaade!

Okay, I'll be honest.  Our original story fell through.  Suzie Suh and I were on the way to Fontana when we got the call from our interview subject.  I wasn't on the phone, so this might just be paraphrased a bit.

"I really wanted to meet the legendary BeFrank, but I can't talk to the media. It might jeopardize the case."

Our response?

"Crap!"

Okay, it happens, just find another story (also, let's do the happy we-don't-have-to-drive-to-Fontana dance).

That's how we wound up covering the last meeting of a group that's been square dancing for the past 50 years.



Square Dancing?

Sure, I have somewhat eclectic tastes, but square dancing is pretty far out of my range of experience.  I think a lot of people might just write it off as something from another era and not look beyond the surface.  Shame on me for being one of those people.

Still, it seemed like a good opportunity to shoot something fun as opposed to shooting something tragic.



The first thing I noticed was how welcoming they were (also how old).



It's kind of tough to write about the group without sounding like a snarky young whippersnapper.  Shucks, it's just not easy to speak of how poetically sweet it all was.  Especially compared to the hard edge that's more typical of my day to day experience shooting news.



You might just look at this as being more suited to a kinder and gentler time, but up until yesterday it was absolutely a part of the reality for these folks.



You can't really judge who they are by the fact that once a month or so, they all got together and danced in a way that seems antiquated by today's popular standards.

Some or all might be wolves in western clothing.  You just never know.



Yet, somehow I doubt it these people are responsible for any of the bad things you might have seen in the news.  I like that.  Rich or poor, they socialized and held on to something that was of value simply for what it was.

So, where do they go from here?  I doubt this is going to be their very last dance.

They might not meet again on a regular basis, but a common sentiment expressed by the people we talked with seemed to indicate they would be getting together to socialize in other ways.  If not square dancing, then dinners, gallery openings, concerts or maybe a movie.

Nice.

I think "Kick-Ass" opens this week.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Artsy BeFrank.

After a long day at the office, it's a struggle to stop and pull out the camera to shoot. Especially without a group to back me up.



I took the time last night. In part because I've been promising myself I would. Mostly though, because I dug the way the low clouds (fog?) were hanging around the top of the Citibank building.

With a little encouragement, I might be persuaded to keep shooting.

Seriously, somebody say something nice before I crawl up in a fetal position here.
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News Central: R.I.P.

News Central is becoming more and more of a memory and with the de-logofication of our news vans this week, we won't even have the rolling billboards to remind us anymore.

It won't go down in history as MY favorite short lived marketing campaign.  My heart still belongs to the KCBS: "Station of the People" campaign of a few years ago.



It certainly took the crews a lot less time to take the decals off than it took to put them on.  I think they finished pulling the decals off the entire fleet in just a day.



It was interesting to watch them heat up the graphics with a blowtorch.  Kind of reminded me of my misspent youth.  Oh, the shenanigans we'd have gotten into if we could have gotten our grubby little hands on a blow torch.



I was a little surprised that the station elected to have the entire decal removed.



I know some photographers prefer to drive completely unmarked vans.  Funny, but it never really bothered me.



I worked pretty hard and did a fair amount of sacrifice (no small animals, just a year in Bakersfield) to get my first job freelancing in the Los Angeles news market.  It was a risky thing to do, but it worked out and I was very happy to be at KCAL (and later the CBS2/KCAL duopoly).

Sure, I suffer the random disgruntled middle finger salute, but I still get more waves and smiles than curses as I zip around the city.  Really, I think some of my photographer brethren just would rather not be so readily identifiable.

Zipping around the city is sometimes frowned upon by the people who write tickets and those (with nothing better to do) that have all the local stations on speed dial.

Just remember, if you see a blue newsvan ( any shade of blue) moving at speeds even marginally above the posted limits call KABC Channel 7 right away.

Heh-heh.  There goes that news van.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hey, That's Pamela Anderson.

We had the great fortune to be assigned to cover the Larry King divorce story. Didn't catch much of Larry King while kickin' it papparrazzi style, but Pamela Anderson was a guest on his show. I got the shot for our story, but she rolled up the window before I could get a clear shot with my Blackberry. Oh, well.

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Surfing Photoinduced

I know you just don't have any MORE time to spend on the web, but I've been checking out this site lately and thought it might be good to share it with the folks who visit my blog.

Interesting articles on photography and some good links to other photography related web sites.



I particularly liked their list of current exhibitions and I was gently reminded that April is MOPLA (Month of Photography LA). It's been my experience that art events don't always get a lot of publicity and lots of this stuff will slip right past if you don't keep you eyes open.

Check it out.

Photoinduced

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aw, Hail!

Hey, look at me, I survived my week of working a surveillance assignment.  Maybe sometime in May when the piece runs, I'll be able to talk more about the story I was helping out on.

Until then, I don't know nothing.

So, last night I was back on the general assignment party train.



You want to know what went wrong first?  Okay, let's go there.

Up in the Lakeview Terrance area of Los Angeles County there was a "freak" storm that left a bunch of the area covered in hail.

It looked like snow.  Probably felt like rocks if you were caught up in it.  I'm glad I didn't, but the weather left a chill in the air, so I bundled up after the sun went down.  I'm lucky the rain had stopped.  I can't say I was completely prepared for the weather.  I was pretty lucky I had at least dressed warmly.



The hail had happened earlier in the day, but I was working the night shift and I was with Suzie Suh.  We had an 8:00pm live shot, so we had to hustle.

Drove out to one of the neighborhoods that got pelted and even though the sun had come out, there was still just enough unmelted hail on the ground for us to crunch around a bit.



Suzie even managed to collect enough to use as a nice visual for our live shot.  If we had more time, I probably would have collected some and would have waged a short ice war with Suzie.

That's the kind of thing I do when I have too much time on my hands.



What about the stuff that went wrong?  Well, we made slot.  I can tell you that.

Failure is not an option.

Suzie Suh is a good reporter to work with because she's well organized and if you can key in on the rythm of the short voice tracks she uses to tell the story, it actually makes the editing a breeze.



Funny thing, when we started we had plenty of time to put the story together and do the live shot.  The only glitch came when it was time to link in the microwave transmitter (that's how we send the video back to the station).

I knew the area we were in was very marginal for microwave, but I'm a shade on the stubborn side.  We spent over thirty minutes trying to link in the shot before finally throwing in the towel, dropping the mast and moving to another area.

Thirty minutes was actually cutting deep into my editing time.



We moved the truck and it took less than five minute to link in from the new location (about a mile or two away).

Take a deep breath and cross your fingers that the equipment doesn't decide to act up.  It doesn't happen often, but it has happened before.  Even one technical hiccup will make you always a little skittish when you're crunched for time.

We cut.  We shipped.  We went live.

This wasn't one of the more extreme days at the office.  All in all, this one was pretty tame (maybe the anxiety meter rose just a bit when we couldn't link in), but all that ever matters really is that we get the story on the air.  The folks at home never know how easy or how difficult that can be at times.

Do me a favor.  Don't tell them.  Let's keep it our little secret, okay?


(BTW - Lakeview Terrace is the area where the Rodney King incident took place.)
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Undercover Cameraman

Pictures? Yes, we have no pictures.

Instead of being out on general assignment in the field and snapping a picture here and there to illustrate my life of action and adventure, I've been working the past few days in the Special Projects/Investigative Unit. Not a whole lot of opportunity to give the Canon 5D mkII a proper workout.

That's why I've been a little light on posting (shuh, yeah, that's the only reason). I'm filling in because one of the regular shooters is out for a few days and shucks, news marches on, you know?

By the way, you know the first rule about Special Projects? Yup, I can't talk about Special Projects. We wouldn't want to tip our hand to the other stations in town and we really don't want to give any sort of heads up to the people we're investigating.

Next week I hope to be back to my regularly scheduled mayhem. It's just been a few days, but again I was feeling a bit out of sorts.