Friday, June 25, 2010

Black Skimmers

1) Black Skimmers are one of my favorite birds to photograph. They have a very unique technique by which they catch fish. They have very long beaks and literally skim the surface of the water with their beaks open. When they come upon a fish, the beak snaps down and its dinner time.

2) I've been dreaming about getting shots like this for the past few years. Black skimmers are migratory birds and are only found here certain times of the year. I tried to get some shots of them last year but I could not get close enough for decent shots. A photographer friend of mine named Thang had posted on the fredmiranda nature and wildlife forum that he had spotted some recently at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. I was psyched.

3) San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places to shoot them for a couple of reasons. The ponds there are relatively small and so this lets you get close up shots of the skimmers. Also you can get down to the water line and shoot low angle shots. Getting low angle shots is really key. It helps to create a cleaner background. Also in the late evening close to sunset, the golden light reflects off the water and makes for some really beautiful compositions.

4) Double head on shot.

5) I really can't describe how graceful they are to watch. They glide over the surface of the water so beautifully and remind me of olympic speed skaters as they whip around a corner. One of the things I tried to do with these shots is to capture a sense of motion in a still picture. The water wake adds a nice element of movement to these compositions.


7) Dinner time.

8) Sometimes you don't need to go for the super close up shots. By opening up the frame its gives the subject more room to breath sorta speak. Also it gives you room to place the subject in the frame which makes a huge difference in the final composition. I always try to avoid putting the subject dead center. I often will leave some room in front of the subject to give it a sense of space to move into. However in this shot, I left more room behind it because of the water wake which illustrates where the subject came from and the speed by which it is traveling across the frame.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Noah's 1st birthday

1) Noah had his 1st birthday this past week. For the record he actually doesn't turn one until the 16th which is in 2 days, but what the hey. I don't think he minded.

2) I shot the whole party with my 35mm f1.4 and used my speedlite for fill flash. It worked out great. I even used flash outdoors which is is unheard of for me since I'm always blabbering on and on about he beauty of natural ambient light. However with the ever changing light conditions between the indoors shooting and the harsh mid day light outdoors, the fill flash helped to even out the exposure. Here is a shot of Khang (my cousin) and Tom ( my old roomate from med school).

3) Here's the little birthday boy with his own cupcake. I thought he would eat least put some of it in his mouth but he was content just to mush the frosting with his fingers.

4) The two grandpas, Ted and Ai.

5) Michael is now on a swim team, hence the tan.

6) My brother Richard, sniping away with his new lens.

7) Megan and her BFF Kristen. They are classmates from preschool.

8) Catherine was a roomate of Sandy's from college.

9) Maria, Charmaine and Heidi are Sandy's coworkers.

10) James, Sandy's cousin.

11) James and Cindy.

12) Special cupcakes with theme rings from King's Hawaiian bakery.

13) Paradise cake from King's Hawaiian bakery.

14) Megan with her cupcake frosting mustache.

15) Ethan with his cupcake frosting mustache.

16) Kids love their cupcakes.

17) Can you tell that this is an asian house?

18) Denise is Sandy's friend from college.

19) Cathy, Sandy's cousin.

20) Grandpa Ai and Noah.

21) Kayla enjoying some paradise cake.

22) Donna, Carly and Emi.

23) Sandy's aunts.

24) Sandy chatting it up with Jie and her husband Dale.


26) Following the traditional Japanese customs, we got Noah a pinata for his 1st birthday. =P

27) Kayla gives it a good wack.

28) Nicholas gives it a go.

29) Lynn shows that pinata who's boss.

30) Ethan gives it a go.


32) Waiting for their turn. Little kids first, big kids last.

33) Kai takes a big swing.

34) Ryan waits for his turn. I really like the effect of the fill flash on this shot considering the harsh mid day lighting.

35) The kids have their goodie bags ready to scoop up the candy.

36) Audrey and Micheal joke around.

37) Nicholas grabs a handful of candy.

38) Michael blings out with his cool spiderman ring.

39) Kevin scooping up the loot.

40) Lynn tries to put her candy in her goodie bag.

41) Janet and Catherine chatting while watching the kids in the bouncy house.

42) Megan and Kayla make a dash for the bouncy house.

43) Grandpa Ted hanging out with Noah in the garage. I really like the natural light on this shot. No fill flash used.

44) Audrey and Megan making a dash for the bouncy house. They kept on going in and out of the bouncy house all day long.

45) Ethan sliding out of the bouncy house.

46) Caitlyn sliding out of the bouncy house.

47) Mathew and kids bouncing around.

48) More bouncy house action.

49) Nicholas bounces up and almost into me. Entering the bouncy house is like entering the octagon in the ufc.


51) Megan and her crazy hair.

52) Yes, big trouble does come in small packages.



55) You are never too old to enjoy a bouncy house.

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